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October 2013
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December 2013

November 2013

I'm allowed to finally tell you that (DUN DUN DUN):

I prepped for this post (HAAAAA PREPPING FOR A BLOG POST!) by delving into my own archives, specifically November 2012 (the reason in a moment) and UH OH. This whole time I've been saying, "We can't have Thanksgiving at my brother's house because it's our turn to go to Phillip's parents' house! Sorry! We TAKE TURNS! We just CAN'T! And also, my mother-in-law makes sticky rice stuffing! Have you TRIED sticky rice stuffing?" But my November 2012 archives tell me that we actually went to my in-laws' last year, which means this year we should be going to my brother's house. So now I feel terrible. A wiser person than me would just keep this little historical tidbit to herself, but I have never been a good liar and even not writing about what I found out in my archives just now feels like LYING and OH GOD DID I RUIN THANKSGIVING? 

Whatever. Phillip and I were both incredibly blessed with families who, upon finding this out, will go, "Eh." Can you imagine the kind of guilt complexes I would have if other people besides my own self were making me feel guilty? I mean CAN YOU? IMAGINE? 

Okay. Now that I've made my little confession there (SORRY MOM) I can get on with the Main Subject of this blog post which is: 

... in the space of what feels like three hours, Phillip applied for, interviewed for, negotiated with, received an offer for, gave notice at his current one, and accepted the offer for: a new job. 

*deep breath*

And the reason I was going through my archives is because it's practically a YEAR TO THE DAY that we were happy dancing about quitting the previous job and accepting the current one! In fact I was having this existential philosophical carthasis about the whole thing. I was just so thankful the TRAVELING was going to be OVER. That things might return to normal-ish! 

That job, that came at what felt like the last minute, that rescued our family, that sped Phillip out of a place where months later much of his team was laid off, it's been SO good to us. The commute is hell, but it wasn't until Phillip accepted the new new job that I realized how RESTFUL this year has been. For ME. There was no travel. There were no late nights. Sometimes there were 10pm conference calls to India in the office downstairs, but mostly Phillip came home in time for dinner and he knew what was going on with us and Work wasn't hanging over everything. 

Except. Phillip likes work. And he never felt completely IN this job, I think. And there was this company that's been on his radar for a long time, a local company experiencing a lot of success and growth and one night he went out for beers with an old classmate who works there and a few days after that he was applying for a job and a few days after that he was interviewing and BAM. He wasn't really looking, he was actually in a great place with the current job, but things happen. This thing happened. Actually, what I think, is that we prayed. Not FOR the job - it's a long story and I have to get permission to tell it - but more like we were trying hard to put God in his rightful provider place in our lives and then... things started happening. I hope I get to share that. Sometime. 

Anyway. He starts December 9. Everything is so amicable and friendly and positive and Phillip is so happy and I am so proud of him. I am delighted for him and slightly nervous for myself. I think there might be a return of Worker Bee Phillip, perhaps a disappearance of the Phillip Who Remembers To Call Me To Tell Me He'll Be Late BEFORE He Is Actually Late. This is what triggered my little anxious episode last weekend (which has completely dissipated, by the way). I stood up straight and said, "SO. I'm a little WORRIED." And told him why. And instead of an argument he said, "Huh! I see what you're saying!" 

MIRACLES ABOUND in the Cheung household, folks. 

In which I learn my child has an alternate (and better behaved!) personality when he's not around me. (OBVS)

Had parent teacher conferences tonight. Pretty much the only thing Jack's teacher wanted to talk about is how much he reads, how much he likes reading, how well he's doing, how he talks about what he's reading with his reading partner, how cute they are when they're reading together, etc. etc. etc. So. Also the part where she said that he's such a great direction-follower and probably knows what to do in the class better than she does - are we talking about the same kid? 

(Also: my projected fears about J increase with every teacher conversation. If he's so much like First Grade Me, what sort of terrible psychological disorder will he have at age 22? I'm sorry, Jack! I will pay for all the therapy!)

Molly's teacher knows that my parents are former teachers. Tonight he said to me, "You know, sometimes I think you're reluctant to talk to me because you don't want to be THAT PARENT, you know, the ones you heard your parents talking about. So let me tell you: don't worry. You are NOT that parent. Please come talk to me about ANYTHING."

So obviously he's now my favorite person in the world. He understands my psychological disorders and showers me with affirmation. 

We had all three with us for conferences, which I would have rather DIED than do last year, but this year it was just a necessary evil. Jack and Molly alternately showed off and kept busy. Emma talked. And talked and talked and sang and shouted and barked orders at her siblings and I wondered aloud what her first parent teacher conference will be like. "She's a great kid, but she has to sit in this tiny plexiglass cage by herself because no one can hear themselves think."

What's the other thing I was going to tell you. OH! Katie and I are through with the recipe and label misery! Mostly! There are a few things we're missing, but for the most part, all of the recipes and labels have been typed and edited and YAY. It took me half an hour to write up the packaging process for all of our items and Katie is working on the list of what equipment we will use and how we will clean it. (YES.) Basicaly we're 99% done with the hardest part. The rest of the application will just be writing up some processes, printing everything out, putting it together, and writing the check. And I will be super excited until our packet is returned with a bunch of corrections. SIGH. But I'm feeling motivated and optimistic for now. So motivated that I started working on our bakery website and it just feels REAL! 

Things that stink: I am a terrible web designer, I have no graphic design skills, and it takes me forever to do really simple things. However, I do work for free and at this point that's the only job requirement. Also I have a basic grasp of English so people who use our website will at least have the right information. Other things that stink: I really want to start advertising what we can do for Christmas and I'm almost certain we won't be legal by then. More things that stink: wondering if people will actually order stuff from us. I DON'T KNOOOOOOW! NAIL BITING!!!!!!



Impromptu history lesson in the Cheung playroom this evening (alternately titled: do you have ideas for books for little boys?)

Holy shnikeys. Okay. SO! I just finished reading my first grader a first grade-level biography of Abraham Lincoln. But I somehow neglected to consider the fact that reading my first grader a first grade-level biography of Abraham Lincoln would STILL involve discussion of slavery and war and assassinations and DEAR GOD I'M GLAD THAT'S OVER. 

I am tired of Jackson telling me he doesn't like to read. Not like he's said that a LOT or anything, but just the once or twice was enough to make me think OH NO YOU DON'T and develop a Plan. The plan is basically to bombard him with books he can 1) read himself and 2) ARE OF INTEREST. He is moderately interested in the Star Wars early reader books (GAG) but was MUCH more interested in our collection of books about the human body or freaky animals or volcanoes. A while back I was talking about learning to read with my parents (not about Jack necessarily) and my dad said that many little boys appear to be uninterested in reading, but the truth is that they're just not interested in they're offered. He suggested biographies for gifts for my nephews so I marched myself to Barnes & Noble yesterday to look for... biographies a first grader could read. 

Guess what! There aren't many! Well, I suppose there are if you have an especially advanced reader, but Jack isn't and I didn't want to frustrate him with books that were too hard. Almost all of the biographies and nonfiction early readers were at higher levels (and sometimes I think even level 1 is high!) I ended up buying two readers about George Washington that I thought we could read together, one easier one about Abraham Lincoln and one about storms, both National Geographic readers. Oh, I also bought a book about the First Thanksgiving because guess what! My kids have yet to hear Thanksgiving mentioned in school! I intend to ask why at conferences. Anyway. We've been reading that before bedtime and they seem to be pretty interested AND learning a thing or two! Well done, Me! Parenting Gold Star!

But anyway, he wanted to read about Abraham Lincoln tonight. And of course I got all excited because HE WANTED TO READ! And he COULD read it! And then we got to the page about slavery and UGH. 

I don't particularly want to or feel like I should shield him from Very Bad Things That Happened. Not anymore. (Molly, at this point, had taken herself to bed, her being much more interested in books using the words Fancy and Nancy.) That said, I didn't quite feel PREPARED, you know? And I felt sad that I HAD to explain what happened. And wondered how it was going to sit in his brain. What pieces he would remember and what he would think about and it did not help when he said, "oh, so like slavery is like being a kid." OMG YOU GUYS. I might find this funny later on, but I did NOT FIND IT FUNNY THIS EVENING. He was all, "You know, because you have to clean up and obey your parents and do what you're told." (LIKE HE EVER DOES WHAT HE'S TOLD.) And I said, "Oh no. No no no no no no no. NOOOOO. It is NOT like being a kid." And that is when I chose to go into great and terrible detail about what it might have been like to be a slave and how it was not at ALL like being a kid who lives with his nice mommy and daddy and no no no NOOOOO.

I think he got it. It takes a lot to chasten Jackson Cheung, but I think I achieved Satisfactory Chastening.

And that was before we even got to the Civil War and the assassination.

So! Lotsa learning in the Cheung household tonight! I do feel it was appropriate, seeing as how today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Best of all, Jack was interested. He asked questions. He wanted to read the whole thing. He correctly answered all the"questions for review" at the end of the book (which HE wanted to do btw, I didn't make him do it.) I wondered if I have switched to reading mainly nonfiction because somehow my subconscious knew that my kid would prefer it and I would want to be excited instead of bummed.

He DOES like Nate the Great. Not all is lost.

And Molly will read anything with a pink cover.

I am starting to feel anxious about what they are learning (or NOT learning, rather) in school. But that's another post. I'll save it for after my conference interrogations. (Ha. Like I actually have it in me to interrogate anyone.) (NO.)

What books do your little boys enjoy? I need things to tide us over until we're ready for chapter books.  

If I'd known I'd still be trying to figure this out 12 years later...

Stressful things are happening in Mightyland, but the only one I can really share with you right now is the fact that I can't find a Christmas party dress. Wait. Let me be more specific. I can't find a Christmas party dress that wouldn't require me to spend a seriously obscene amount of money. I am not against spending obscene amounts of money, as a rule, but even I am not frivolous enough to spend a mortgage payment on a dress I will wear IN MY HOUSE for four-ish hours. So. The retailers are going to have to step up, is what I'm saying. 

Another stressful talk-able thing is how I was already sort of tense Friday night when Phillip went out with friends, and then I went on to read a Disturbing Murder Mystery while alone in my dark quiet house and THEN, even more stupid, curled up in bed reading the news on my phone and GAHHHH THE WORLD IS A SCARY PLACE. I was kind of a nut case when Phillip got home and I was still a nutcase on Saturday. In a fit of needing distraction I took myself to Target and threw things in my cart willy nilly (not a mortgage payment's worth, AND I had lots of coupons, so there) and how you know I was not in my right mind is the fact that I bought a blazer. 

Can we discuss blazers? And how everyone looks great in them except for me? And I didn't buy just any blazer, I bought the one hanging next to the sequinned black t-shirt (which I also bought), the WHITE tuxedo-ish blazer with the black lapels. THAT blazer. It looked awesome on the hanger? I would like to be the sort of person who WEARS a white tuxedo-ish blazer with black lapels?

I don't know. Pinterest really loves blazers and they're on all the Must Have Essentials lists, but eh. I don't think they're for me. I'll take a drapey slouchy formless blanket of a cardigan over a structured blazer any day. It's going back to Target. (Same with the sequin t-shirt. Turns out I have no need for a sequinned t-shirt. Sad, huh?)

But yeah, it was kind of a hard weekend for me, anxiety-wise. Even though I am taking something like 94 capsules of God knows what every day. But also DIFFERENT. I shall attempt to explain. 

So USUALLY how it goes is a) I get anxious out of thin air or b) something completely irrational triggers a Thing and if I am already prone to anxiety (ie: hormonal!) then BOOM everything goes kaput. And it usually takes a few days for things to sort itself out. (It used to be months. So! Improvement!) So like, even if I am OVER the thing and I am not obsessing or focusing or dwelling or circular-thinking about ANYTHING, I will still feel anxious. I call that Residual Anxiety. It's like my body just has to get it out of its system and/or relearn Normal Person Reactions again. This has been the case for me for years, it's the best way I can think of to explain it, it seems logical to me, but I have no idea what my condescending brain doctor would think of my little theory. So note, Internet: NOT A DOCTOR. 

This weekend was a Thing. I guess it's good that it wasn't a TRIGGER thing. Those are worse (see: always irrational!) But there was Stress and I think I was already in the Anxious Place and then I upset myself with upsetting things and there you go. Not smart, Me! 

BUT. Saturday I woke up feeling mostly okay, but got progressively crazier and tenser through the day. My trip to Target actually helped a lot. I don't know if it was getting out of the house or being around people or being In The World or spending money willy nilly or what, but I did feel a lot better afterwards. And then I kept... feeling better. By Saturday night I felt FINE. 

AND THAT IS DIFFERENT. AND SUPER WEIRD. I do not get better that fast. I do not run the gamut of anxiety and no anxiety in one single day. Ever. 

Today I woke up totally fine. I had moments of anxiety all day long and I don't feel totally normal, but I feel pretty good right now. A long ways away from the NOT THIS AGAIN I CAN'T STAND IT rage that compelled me to buy a BLAZER.

But I don't know if that's good, bad, truly different, a result of my new hippie medicine regime or WHAT. After finding out I had the gene mutation my naturopath put me on two different kinds of methyl supplements, in addition to my SSRI (and the iron, which I am always forgetting to take, sigh.) I take these things several times a day. Are they actually doing something?

If they are, is it something good? I was VERY ANXIOUS Friday night and Saturday day. I wanted to break out sobbing in the Target dollar section because GOD THIS SUCKS! But then I felt better VERY QUICKLY. And a day later I am not ALL better, but I am MUCH better than I would expect. Does that mean ANYTHING? It could mean something or it could mean nothing. 

I just don't know. Saturday I thought: why am I doing this? Why am I not on the highest dose of this evidence-based everyone-agrees-about-it SSRI? Who cares if you suspect it's the reason you can't lose any weight? Who cares if you don't really want to be on brain meds for the rest of your life? Who cares if you think there's actually something to this methyl supplement idea? STOP BEING AN IDIOT FTLOG. 

So... ? That's kind of where I am with that. I'm supposed to make a follow up appointment this week. I think I would rather eat a bowl of cilantro. 

(Cilantro is the devil's weed.)

And so I sit here and browse the internet for pretty dresses. I'm supposed to be editing my last ten recipes and labels (only 10!) but I'm feeling entitled and resentful and confused and maybe a crazy blazer of a dress might make me feel better.

Tiny collection of unrelated thoughts with a nonfiction book rec at the end

Do you guys miss my links posts? Reads & Recommends? I miss them. It's not that I haven't been reading anything, I've just been too lazy to save the links. Or I read them on my phone and I am somehow incapable of finding something I read on my phone. 


Phillip is out with friends tonight, which is nice for him, and I have spent the last hour combing through Pinterest for modernized versions of flapper dresses. I have absolutely no idea why I am so taken with 1920s fashion, but I was seriously born in the wrong era. What is it about embellished sacks that makes me swoon? It's not because I have the right boyish body type that looks right in those dresses (HA HA HA). Somewhere in my twenties and thirties I became smitten with sequins and beaded shifts and now I spend actual minutes wondering if headpieces will ever make a comeback. I could totally rock feathers in my hair. And why do all the best 1920s-ish dresses cost so much? (I'm looking at you, Anthro and Sue Wong.)

All this to say: whatever shall I wear to my Christmas party?!


Phillip and I are both sort of slackjawed and helpless in front of the Philippines coverage. We keep talking about what we, personally, can do, and then not acting because the enormity of what occurred and the utter smallness of what we could affect is horribly laughable. I want to elaborate on this thought, but I know it will only sound privileged and first world and self-absorbed. It IS, I suppose. But I had to work through those thoughts anyway - am I really so overwhelmed by what I cannot do that I don't do ANYTHING? Hopefully I have enabled Catholic Relief Services in the tiniest way to better do what they can. 


I helped in Jack's Sunday School class this week. It was really nice. I was encouraged. I felt the slightest bit better about Church In General. Phillip registered us in the parish for totally practical reasons, but I rebelled against the idea and got anxious when he did it anyway. For someone who loves community, I don't know what my problem is with stepping into another one. (OH WAIT, I REMEMBER. COMMITTEES SUCK.)


I'm one of those people who doesn't love Thanksgiving. I don't HATE it, but it's definitely not my favorite food and I don't get excited about it. I'm one of those people who is already playing Christmas music on her piano. But I WOULD like to acknowledge Thanksgiving with my kids somehow. I suppose I should be combing Pinterest for those ideas instead of dresses I'll never wear. As far as I could tell, Thanksgiving wasn't much discussed in school last year. Some combination of Age-Appropriate History and Proper Christian Thankfulness would be nice for them, I think. Do you have any little traditions you can share? We are going to my in-laws, where holidays aren't a super huge deal, but that just means I don't have to stomp on anyone else's tradition before making everyone do what *I* want to do. HEH. 


Speaking of history, I will once again recommend Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick, a seriously awesome, in-no-way-boring, historical read. Although this new Kindle Single, Mayflower: The Voyage From Hell by Kevin Jackson looks kinda good too. And is cheap. And you have to be interested in something with that subtitle, yes?

Quick bakery update and J. Cheung makes the newspaper

Hi Internet. Have you been wondering why I haven't written anything about the bakery lately? (Or maybe you haven't. Maybe you're all, "Oh thank GOD she stopped talking about THAT", in which case you might want to click over to something else right now.) Well, I haven't been saying much because what we're doing right now is the Height of Boring. There is really no good way to make paperwork interesting. 

But that's what's going on: paperwork. We actually finished typing up all the recipes and matching ingredient labels (we have 60+ so far). Katie's been through them once and I will do the final edit and print everything out. It feels great to be so far into the process! It is totally discouraging to think about how much we still have to do! The next step is to write out any processing steps that weren't included in the recipe AND the packaging steps. As in, "Using gloved hands I take two cookies and place them inside a food grade plastic bag" type description. That's the example they give you in the application packet. Okay, I'm quoting from memory, BUT STILL. For EVERY RECIPE. And while I am doing that, Katie will be typing out how she plans to clean and sanitize every piece of equipment we plan to use. 

Aaaaand... okay, it's probably not a wise idea to further express our feelings in such a public forum. Ha ha ha. I'll just say that Katie does a lot of grumbling and I do a lot of "yes, but we have to do it anyway!" and then we both bang our heads against the table and swear at our computers and give up and make cookies. I am under no delusion that we will have this thing done in time to sell Christmas cookies. MAYBE Valentine cookies. 

Oh, but I have I told you about the friend who is also attempting the CF application, even though she has the option of using a commercial kitchen, because the commercial kitchen is so DIRTY? Yes. That. Can you see where I'm going with this? 

SO ANYWAY. The bakery. The online version. It is going. Slowly. I feel like maybe this is good practice for jumping through all the additional hoops of opening a storefront? Maybe? When I'm feeling optimistic and generous? 

I'll cap off this super boring paperwork post with a link to a news article featuring a picture of none other than Jackson G. Cheung, Esq. A reporter visited the first grade and EXCITEMENT ABOUNDS!


Housework and losing weight: a reflection on two of my least favorite things

A while back I posted here that I was trying something new: cleaning the kitchen throughout the day, rather than waiting for the Point Of No Return, usually hitting it right before Phillip got home, throwing everything in the dishwasher, putting all the food and dishes away, but ignoring most of the clutter because come on. Clutter is a way of life. 

So that didn't last very long. I felt like all I was doing with my days was cleaning the kitchen. Feeling good about having a clean kitchen came at too high a price, it felt like, and I slowly (okay, quickly) returned to my lazy eh-I'll-get-to-it-eventually habits. 

THEN. Katie, the FPC, and I made the decision that our cottage food industry would use my kitchen instead of hers. And I started to get a little nervous. 

A few days after that decision I went full OCD on my kitchen, throwing out everything sitting on the window sills or counters that I could reasonably throw out, washing everything, wiping down every surface, sweeping, organizing, using half a container of those Lysol wipes. 

I haven't stopped. 

Just this afternoon while Emma napped and my kids played on my computer, I used up another half container of Lysol wipes. (I think it's the smell. The smell proves it's clean.) I think it's been about two weeks, which is longer than any cleaning promise I've ever endeavored to keep. And I feel GOOD about it. I can't really explain why. I am most certainly spending more time cleaning my kitchen than I did even during that couple of days I blogged about it. It just feels different. Even though I know everyone I live with is conspiring to dirty it immediately, it still feels WORTH it to keep it looking fresh and uncluttered and clean. It's IMPORTANT. It's POSSIBLE. I feel BETTER about LIFE.

(I have noticed, however, that the rest of my house remains an unholy dump. I've recently realized that at this stage of life I cannot have all the things clean at the same time. Ever. I can have a sparkling kitchen, but my living room will be a disaster. I can clean up the kids' room, but the playroom will be littered in junk. It's just not going to happen and I think I'm okay with that and what is most amazing about the last two weeks is that instead of moaning about just wanting a housecleaner for my kitchen and bathrooms, I've started thinking I only need the imaginary houscleaner for the bathrooms. SO. There is PROGRESS, at least.)

Anyway. As I was wiping down my hateful tile counters with the ancient disgusting grout (UGH! MY KINGDOM FOR GLEAMING WHITE QUARTZ!) I was thinking about my housework struggle and how it (kind of sort of a little bit) mirrors my weight loss struggle. 

BECAUSE. I happened to go out with my two beautiful, slender, stylish, who-knows-why-they-keep-this-chubby-white-girl-around friends and confessed, because confession is good, that I am Struggling. With myself. And how I look. And how it's beginning to feel less like hating how I look than hating that I let myself look this way. That maybe something happened in my Hot By 30 days and I started to believe something, maybe, that wasn't true, and now that most of that weight is back I'm some sort of Moral Failure. A Disappointment. A Laughingstock. Which sounds terribly dramatic and even a little silly when I write it out, but is TOTALLY the way it sounds in my head. 

I also confessed to not giving a flying you know what about what I eat these days, to the point where maybe something's Wrong. I asked my friends, "Am I USING food? Do I have that Twisted Emotional Relationship with food now?" But one of them said, "Hey, if *I* had spent an entire year doing all the things that had worked before to lose weight and nothing happened, I'd eat whatever I wanted too."

And that... that was helpful. That was REALLY helpful. I knew I'd given up, but she helped me figure out WHY. It wasn't hard to see, but it was helpful for someone else to say it. And they said all the right things too, the things you want your friends to say when you're having a rough time. I went home feeling like yeah, I AM in this place, but maybe I won't ALWAYS be here. 

Because it's happened with cleaning my kitchen. The caring piece suddenly matched with the possibility piece. Too simplistic? Awkward comparison? I don't know, it's working for me right now. What I care about, what feels possible, what IS possible, what is important, what needs to happen - those things are not at ALL lined up. Not in my brain, not in real life. But I keep catching glimpses of MAYBE and SOMEDAY and in the meantime I sign up for Stitch Fix and learn how to do a smoky eye and start a Christmas party spreadsheet and press forward.

In which I take two terrible selfies

SO. One thing I DO really like about myself is my hair. 

Photo (6)

Wow, that is big. Ok then. This is me, just now, taking a picture of myself. (I'm shutting my eyes because I feel silly. If you don't look, you don't see how silly it is. Until you post it on your blog. ANYWAY.)

I haven't cut my hair since a week before the Blathering, at the end of September. 

Photo (7)

See? (Still embarrassed, but this time my hair is hiding my shame. Also I have no idea why this is sideways. Who cares!)

I need a haircut and I am STRESSING because if I get my hair cut NOW, then what do I do 5 weeks from now when I throw a Christmas party and need Fabulous Hair? 5 weeks is the earliest I like to go back, but I know from experience that I will not be feeling all leisurely and haircutty the morning before the party. THERE IS DECORATING TO BE DONE! So I could go the weekend BEFORE, but then that would only be 4 weeks and that feels too soon. Hair cuts are not cheap, for one thing, and you want them to COUNT... Sigh. First world problems, etc. 

While I was debating when to schedule my hair cut (the jury is still out) I started googling around for pictures. Except I've sort of explored all the short cuts I'm comfortable with and the short/tight in the back with long bangs seems to be the one that works for me. I toyed with growing it out this summer and no. So I'm a tiny bit BORED with my hair. I like it, I even like how you go from one style to a much different style in the span of 5 or 6 weeks. But, well, wouldn't, you know, wouldn't going BLOND be kinda FUN?

Yes, I'm back there. Again. The platinum blond pixie has been sweetly singing my name for years. And I've ignored it because, dude, ME? My hair is so dark people think it's black. (DARK BROWN, PEOPLE.) I've never colored it. I never thought I COULD color it. It would look so FAKE!

But I have to say, fake sounds kinda FUN. And there's a colorist at my salon whose hair is naturally dark like mine and SHE'S a near-platinum blond. And it looks awesome. SO YEAH, I'M BACK HERE AGAIN. 

This article, by pixied platinum blond Joanna Coles, editor of Cosmo (I know her as a Project Runway judge) did not help. 

Neither did this article, which spoke to my fears about attention and reminded me that a change can INSPIRE!

And shoot, you guys. If Jennifer Connelly can go blond...


Hoping for a third way: a Fine With How I Look update

Would you like to know how the Being Fine With How I Look is going? It is not going well. Now you know. 

It's HARD. I mean, you know this. I just... I think I expected to move forward and I'm not. I'm still mentally haranguing myself just about every day while not doing much of anything about it. I can say, "Hey, God, I don't want to think like this" for about three seconds and then I push forward to the upsetness with myself because... well, WHY? Is it more satisfying? Feels better? I just think it's easier. 

There are two positive things I can note. 

The first is that, for the first time in many months, the thought of exercising does not seem absolutely repulsive to me. As in, I think to myself, "Huh, I bet that would feel good." I've been thinking this mostly in regard to yoga (as in, maybe I should start going to yoga again) and running, but only running outside. I happened to visit a park with Emma a few mornings ago and it was one of those really glorious autumn mornings. Crisp, clear, red, gold, beautiful. A brand new park with a paved perimeter loop. Not crowded, not huge, quiet, and I kept thinking how nice it would be if I were on my own and wearing a pair of running shoes. So while neither of these things has actually happened yet, the fact that "exercising sounds good" is now interspersed with "I feel super guilty about not exercising" is, I think, an improvement. 

Also, first positive thing part 2, I've had moments of wanting to exercise because I love myself, not because I hate myself. 

Okay, so the second positive thing had to do with All Saints Day. I made it to church! Are you proud of me? I'm not really sure how you other Catholics do it, but I've had a REALLY HARD TIME hitting up all the not-Sunday-days since I've had kids. But Friday I took the big kids to school and Emma and I went to the church by our house for the 9am school Mass. And it was nice! All Saints Day might be my favorite "extra church day", I think because of a homily my old priest gave years ago. This priest at the church I rarely attend was all right, and it was geared towards kids (works for me), and then he started talking about Mother Teresa. Saint, right? Definitely. I am one of those Catholics who want to saint-ify everyone. The more the merrier! Yay Saints! And this priest, of whom I am not particulary fond and whose homilies have never spoken to me, starts talking about how beautiful Mother Teresa was. Even with her craggy face and sad eyes. She was beautiful. And I was thinking: she was! She was beautiful. She was amazing. 

And of course, because everything leads back to ME, I think to myself: would I rather be thin and modelicious or would I rather be saintly? And, because I am ME, I respond to myself: can't I have BOTH?

But it did remind me of the many many women I know whose beauty is enhanced by their faith. My first preference is to have both. I would like to be Sandra Bullock (she's my favorite) AND that Mary Ann lady I met at Urbana last year who seems to have God speaking directly in her ear. But if I have to choose, well, striving for a smaller pants size does not necessarily lead to faith, but faith always brings beauty. And a different, more interesting, more lifegiving, better beauty. 

When I'm this size, I spend so much time thinking about how I wish I was smaller, thinner, better looking in clothes. But I also know, now, that when I WAS smaller and thinner I spent so much time being afraid of getting bigger, of losing my motivation to work out, wondering what other people thought of me, and also congratulating myself on my clearly morally superior ability to lose weight. 

I don't like EITHER of those brain places. Neither one is good for my soul. What would it be like to knock What I Look Like off it's top tier position in my head? Maybe some of you have done this. Maybe some of you have never struggled with this. And honestly, I don't feel like this has been My Struggle, you know? Not to the extent that some women have suffered with body image. I know it could be so much worse, so the fact that it's so hard right now feels hopeless. Will I always feel this way about myself? Can I exercise and diet my way to a point where I never feel bad about myself? Do I just continue to be in this place of giving up and hating myself for it? 

I need God to provide that third way, that way where there is no way. I want to stop worshiping this idol of Pants Size. I want to go run around that park because it's beautiful outside and it feels good and because there's diabetes in my family and running makes my brain feel better, not because I hate the way I look in jeans. I NEED THAT THIRD WAY. 

In which we all really liked each other the whole weekend I KNOW

We had this surprisingly lovely weekend and I feel bad for you, Internet, because lovely weekends usually do not good blog posts make. Are you just dying to know about all the errands we ran and projects we started and the numerous pleasant interactions with our children? I didn't think so. 

But it's NOTABLE, because not all weekends are lovely, you know? In fact, most of our family's weekends tend to be Super Fun Yet Very Busy or Kind Of Stressful Interspersed With Moments Of Quality Time or Oh God, It's Sunday Night Already? 

Late Saturday morning our power went out. And right now, as I type, I am wondering if maybe the horrendously low expectations one has for a Day Without Power led to the surprising loveliness of the rest of the day? The night before Phillip and I had had one of those State Of The Union talks, you know, where you go through all the things you want to get done, the things on your List, the things that cost money, the calendar, the priorities, blah blah blah. (That was surprisingly lovely too, but another, completely different story.) Anyway, we woke up planning to Get Stuff Done. 

But I think the reason we actually got stuff done is because the power was out. There just wasn't much else to do! We were FORCED to be productive. Bunking Jack and Molly's beds has been on my list for months now and GUESS WHAT. We got it done. I bought Jack a warmer comforter (he had one of those cute-yet-slowly-crappified-Target quilts) and because it was the cheapest and because I am a sucker, I bought him the godawful Skylanders Giants theme set. Then I bought Molly a cheapie Disney Princess blanket because I wanted her to feel like HER room was going to be new too and DEAR GOD when did I become a) the parent who buys their kid whatever they want and 2) the parent who buys CHARACTER LICENSED BEDDING. (Two things I swore I wouldn't do. For shame. Really.) 

So we spent the day bunking the beds, shopping for new bedding, cleaning the room, moving the kid desks from the playroom into the bedroom, creating all this SPACE and you guys know how I love SPACE. I have approximately one frillion ideas for how to Efficent-ize and Maximize all the different areas of my house and EEEEEEEE!!! I AM EXCITED. 

But I also talked a lot with my kids. We went out for lunch and dinner. We did projects together. We laughed. We told entirely too many knock knock jokes. Jack does them pretty well. "Knock knock!" Molly's are tinged with her Jar Jar Binks accent: "Knocka knock!" And Emma is trying, she really is: "KNAWK KNAWK!" "Who's there?" "UMMM..."

MAYBE I was just in an exceptionally good mood. I don't know. I mean, I'll take it, either way. 

Last week I was feeling listless. Literally. Not a fun feeling for me! And now it's Sunday night and I've got a million things on it: finishing up the recipes for the bakery application, finding Jack a filing cabinet at Goodwill, reorganizing and rearranging the playroom, shopping for the things we agreed to shop for during our State of the Union discussion, printing my Christmas party invitations and starting the planning for that. I get stressed and overwhelmed sometimes, but I would SO much rather be those things than LISTLESS. 

Oh, here's a new big thing: we decided to retile our shower ourselves over Thanksgiving break. Yes. I am now opening the suggestion box for any and all DIY tile information. I bought a book! Phillip has watched many a YouTube video! I think we're going with the plain old white ceramic tile at Lowe's (big rectangles) and maybe doing a mosaic glass strip near the top? I think? We WERE going with the super big square porcelain tiles in the Bulk Things We Have Too Much Of section of the store, but I'm not a fan of Neutral Earthy Tones and when we wall this part of the bathroom off to make a powder room it's going to be dark. White it is. I LIKE WHITE. WHITE EVERYTHING. 

SEE. I told you. Boringest blog post ever. Better luck tomorrow, internet! Maybe something terrible will happen!