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March 2015

February 2015

Out of Office Message

Hey Internet! I felt like I should tell you I'm headed out of town in the morning. EARLY in the morning. My friend and I are road tripping to Redding, CA for a church conference and while I love my friend, I am strongly doubting her claim that she will be here at 5am. Nonetheless I shall be up and ready to go because WHAT IF SHE IS?

Don't ask me what the church conference is about. I actually don't know. I honestly have no idea what sort of thing I'll be attending for 3 days. All I know is that my friend has been before, raaaaaaaved about it, and told me I should go. And now I am! I am easily swayed. 

But I feel like the amount of work it's taken to enable me to be away from my house for 4 days was INSANE. Maybe I didn't have to make a freezer meal and do all the laundry in addition to figuring out every single logistical detail, but I did and it has lessened the guilt somewhat. What is this guilt about? I guess it's because I don't HAVE to go to a church conference for four days? 

This morning I'm telling the kids what's happening and what to expect and how Aunt Katie is going to pick them up from school and Jack said, "Things don't work very well without you!" If he hadn't been all the way in the back of the van I would have smothered him with kisses. Things WILL work well without me, and even though I'm sure he doesn't really know what he meant, I felt his meaning and I loved it. Then he said something about how Daddy should just not work while I'm away because who is going to take care of everything? And THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT, KIDS. I take care of EVERYTHING. 

I'm so tired. I still have to eat dinner and pack my shampoo and make sure I don't forget my contact solution like I do on every other trip and OH I should probably call my mother. But I felt like I should say HEY, I'LL BE AWAY I don't know. You = whatevs. 

P.S. The bakery had a great February. Without us doing a Dang Thing. I absolutely cannot wait until this presentation to other catering managers (in April) LOOK OUT! WORLD DOMINATION!

The Annual Lenten Whine

Long time blog readers are well aware that this is my absolute favorite time of year, a solemn and profound forty days of reflection, sacrifice, and personal growth. I am so looking forward to sharing my many insights and revelations with you during this season of penance and fastHA HA HA NOPE. 

Oh Lent. You're here again. 

One thing that is a teeny bit different about THIS Lent as opposed to all my other Lents is that I actually DID think about it BEFORE it arrived. I wondered what to do with the kids, what I should give up, what I should add to my life, and wondered all of it BEFORE this morning. Progress!

Which isn't to say I came up with any ideas or made any decisions. Of course. I am still not sure about the kids, for example. I have read a bunch of suggestions from helpful People Who Observe Lent Properly and I hope I can put a few of those into action. As for myself, I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, as a way to be more present in my real life and with my kids. And I decided to give up chocolate. Real chocolate. Actual chocolate. Chunks and bars and bites and bags of bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips, aka Maggie's Lifeline When The World Is Going Kaput. 

I spent a long time trying to figure out what I would give up. Giving up food always seems so EXPECTED. Heaven forbid I give up something boring, right? Giving up social media seemed like a good idea until I thought about all the people with whom I communicate purely through social media, and how those are IMPORTANT people, not people I can ignore for 40 days. So deleting the apps from my phone makes it possible to keep in touch with those folks while curbing the actual issue, which is the incessant scrolling through Twitter whenever I have a free five seconds. But it wasn't like I felt EXCITED about my sacrifices, right? There was nothing I thought of that burned brighter in my brain, all, "YES! I am the thing you should sacrifice! Giving ME up will be the MOST meaningful!"

But when I thought about this a little more I realized that there was probably NOTHING in my life that was going to stand out as The Thing I should sacrifice because (dum de dum dum ) I DON'T WANT TO SACRIFICE ANYTHING. Duh. This is why it's called a sacrifice. I am not going to be EXCITED to give up ANYTHING. And so I decided to go with something that, while embarrassingly un-original, would definitely be the most day-to-day sacrificial, and that would be my handfuls of medicinal chocolate. It's going to be horrible. Prepare yourself for plenty of whining. 

What are you doing? I bet you're DOING something. (Let me copy?)



In which I tell my own self how fast it goes

I forgot about our big trip there for a second. Then yesterday I realized we have no tickets for Venice to London and I should probably get on that and then I got frustrated with my options (suuuuuper cheap for an 11pm flight, nearly 3x as much for a daytime flight) and now I'm done again. My dad keeps asking me about cars and car seat regulations and of COURSE I haven't figured that out because that's got to be the most boring part of our trip to research. But we booked the London apartment. We have tickets to cross the Atlantic there and back. The Paris flights are purchased. Big stuff accomplished. 

(Except for the packing. Oh my God, the packing. Every time I start to think about what suitcases or what kind of carryon bag or how many pairs of underwear or if I need to buy the kids new things because maybe they've grown out of their summer clothes I MAYBE start to cry. A little bit. Paging Emily Cassee.)

I was thinking February was going to be a nice drifting back into routine, but NO, have you heard of Valentine's Day coupled with 100 Day and (imagine Jack motormouthing excitedly) PAJAMA DAY TOO! I did not think about Valentine anything (except for bakery stuff, I suppose, and barely even that since I took our store down and we're not shipping anymore SORRY), until maybe yesterday. Oh right! I have to get the kids valentines! (See how I didn't even CONSIDER helping them MAKE valentines?) 

Also 100 Day. Yippee. And Pajama Day is stupid. There. I said it.

Also there are LOTS of February birthdays I 1) have already forgotten and 2) am bound to forget. And did I tell you I'm going on a little road trip with a friend at the END of February? Which is actually not that far away? I did plan out the whole thing and everyone's been notified and I know what's going on, but still, whoa. That's coming up quick. (Church conference. Redding, CA. DRIVING. God help us.)

My parents took Emma overnight last week and it was freakishly quiet for almost 48 hours in my house. I could THINK! I started to wonder if this is what it will be like when she goes to kindergarten. Preschool, when she starts, will just make everything worse. I want very much for HER to go, but it's not a convenient schedule and will involve lots and lots of driving back and forth for pick ups and drop offs. But it can't be worse than the year I had a kindergartner and a preschooler and a BABY, so chin up, Maggie. No, the rest of this year (we're attempting to start her in preschool at the end of February, early March, just until we go on the trip) and all of next will be all about the Annoying Schedules. MAYBE the following year, if we decide not to test her for early entrance to kindergarten (born 3 weeks past the cut off). But the year she DOES go? Whatever shall I do with myself? 

MAYBE the bakery will be ready for world domination and I'll be very busy indeed. Even if it isn't, our hope is that we get busy THIS year and will need a sort of on-call additional baker. That's the goal. So it's entirely possible that even a regular baby bakery will keep me busy. 

But what if it doesn't? Or what if we don't HAVE the bakery then? 

See how I was all whiny about being busy at the start of this post and now I'm freaking out about NOT being busy? I must be excruciatingly difficult to live with. 

My big kids are getting SO. BIG. and my little kid is getting big too - she wanted me to hold her in church and my arms wanted to die. I keep thinking about how when JACK was 3 he was a BIG BOY and I sent him to preschool and he had to be nice to his little sister. And now his littlest sister is 3 but she's still my BABY. Junior high me is severely unimpressed with my lack of attention and care for birth order unfairnesses. 

I was telling my mom how it suddenly got hard staying home with just Emma. I think that has MUCH to do with the fact that she stopped napping, if not EVERYTHING. But also the not being potty trained, the not having a preschool or class or regular outing we do (besides, ah, coffee and pink cake pops.) I've been thinking so much about preschool and mother's helpers and childcare at gyms and stuff like that, but I know from having the older two, once it starts it just keeps going. No more little kids at home with me. 

It hasn't even happened yet and I'm still marveling at how fast it went. 


Things At Which I Do Not Suck Volume One Million

Today, which is not yet over, was a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE DAY. Many many things went wrong today, including: 

  • my treadmill flat out STOPPING in the middle of a RUN! And it was quite possibly the slowest run I've ever run on that stupid treadmill! What gives, Treadmill?! Has my girth finally become too girthy for you? Do you completely reject the notion that I will ever lose any weight? I GET TO REJECT THAT NOTION, NOT YOU. FTLOG Treadmill, GET IT TOGETHER.
  • Emma was a huge PILL. Clingy, whiny, and forevermore un-potty-trained. On the frillionth changing of the pull up I groused at her, made a few unnecessary Vehement Gestures, snapped, complained, whined back, and made my three-year-old cry. WELL DONE, ME! That's a surefire way to encourage using the potty! 
  • I bought this wire shelf thingy that was going to be the reason why I could bring myself to clean the bathroom. I was going to put all my daily lotions and potions in it, thereby permanently-ish clearing off the bathroom counter, aka one of the most tedious cleaning-the-bathroom-tasks. But when I drilled the hole it wouldn't go all the way through. I could put an anchor in the second hole, but the first hole wasn't deep enough. In my frustration I stuck in the anchor in there anyway and whaled away with a hammer, thereby BENDING THE ANCHOR and now I have two useless holes in my bathroom wall and it's still filthy.
  • I forgot to buy the next level piano book. And then I forgot that we HAD piano today.
  • Emma fell asleep in the car on during the two-minute ride to school pick up. This means she will not go to bed until, oh, midnight.

I am feeling VERY FAILY, Internet friends. I have FAILED at exercising and will wear leggings FOREVER. I have FAILED at potty-training and Emma will be wearing Doc McStuffins pull ups FOREVER. I have FAILED at keeping my house clean and my family is going to live in squalor FOREVER. I have FAILED at a home improvement project AGAIN which means Phillip has another thing to add to his forever-long list of WIFE HOUSE FAILURE. I have FAILED at keeping track of my kids' one and only extracurricular activity and now they are NEVER going to get to play soccer or learn Russian. And I have VERY MUCH FAILED at this new no-nap situation and I am NEVER going to figure out how to get my stuff done with Emma 1) playing iPad all day or 2) randomly falling asleep during the day when I am helpless to prevent it. EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. 

It is most definitely time for A List Of Things At Which I Do Not Suck (And Some At Which I Am Downright Ass Kicky.) 

  • Ordering Costco groceries from Instacart. It took me about five minutes to place my order. It will be here at 7pm. ROCK ON.
  • Not following through on Potty Training Threats. "I know I said you don't get a marshmallow, but you look so pathetic, here, have four."
  • Typing one-handed on account of holding a mopey clingy three-year-old in my lap. 
  • Not freaking out about cutting all my hair off. (GOODBYE, LONG DEAD-ENDED BOB! HELLO UNDERCUT WITH SUPER SHORT SIDEBURNS!)
  • Planning Europe trips. 
  •  Accruing frequent flyer miles I cannot use. 
  • Calling my mother when I have a spare 5 minutes and cutting her off when I have to go pick up a kid.
  • Binge-watching television. 
  • Collecting stuff for Goodwill. 
  • Not waking up when Phillip's alarm goes off. 
  • Scrounging enough food to compose two grade schooler lunch boxes. 
  • Texting despairing messages to my friends. 
  • Sending invoices for macarons. 
  • Saying, "Huh! Wow! Neat!" when repeatedly asked to admire a Minecraft creation/drawing/interpretive dance to 'Let It Go'.



On losing

Because I am only interested in football to the extent which my husband is emotionally invested, and as it is a begrudging, reluctant, and generally suspicious-of-rabid sports-fans interest, I will not be writing about The Big Game that just finished a bit ago. I hoped you'd humor me for one more post about my grandmother - her funeral was Saturday afternoon and I wanted to write down some thoughts. 

At some point my grandma disappeared into herself. I didn't see her often enough to know when it happened or what it was like - I was very busy with my own life an hour away from hers. When I saw her it tended to be at my parents' house, usually with other people around, and she sat in her chair with a cup of coffee and a cookie - or, if she was lucky, one of the new babies that keep showing up in my family - and didn't speak unless spoken to. And even then you couldn't be sure that she actually heard you. It wasn't that I didn't remember the grandmother that used to cook massive meals for her giant family, or the grandmother who spent all her time sewing her granddaughters' wardrobe or playing cards with her neighbors or writing us cards. I just... well, that wasn't her anymore and while I missed that grandma, I wasn't around as much to have cause to WANT that grandma back. If that makes sense. I hope it doesn't sound harsh. I think I'd grown up and I didn't need or even necessarily want a giant dish of ice cream and a card game or black and white movie on a Saturday afternoon. 

I would also add, though, that I still liked and enjoyed this older more forgetful and frail grandma. She was sweet and loved my babies and I could still make her laugh. I also spent my senior year of college working in an adult family home where I saw dementia and loss of independence and dignity and degenerating bodies to an extent that was sobering and sometimes frightening and I was always very VERY thankful my grandma did not need the level of care that these ladies did. Always in my mind was, "Well, at least she's not like THEM."

So it's been strange for me to spend the last couple of days thinking about my grandma the way she USED to be. I had to think back to those times in order to write the reflection I was asked to give at the funeral. What memories did I want to share? What stayed with me? 

It honestly wasn't until I'd written what I wanted to say and then actually said it - so, halfway through the funeral - before it hit me that this was a whole person who left us. A busy, competent, productive woman who, in the last years of her life, was none of those things. As I listened to my own self speak I realized how I'd packaged my own grandmother into a nice White Fluffy-Haired Forgetful Old Lady box. A TV grandma. A character. And while I'd loved that grandma, she had been so much more. She'd been so much more in my own life

I don't know why or how I did that. Maybe it was easier to think of her this way when my parents would sometimes seem angry or grieved about the things she no longer was. Maybe I was too busy to be sad about it. Maybe it just wasn't something that affected my present day life. Oh, that sounds awful.

I think this is why I was so relieved when she died. Relieved because I believe in Heaven and eternal life and she was free from that frail body and Alzheimered brain. I was only a little bit sad. A little bit affected. I mostly felt happy for her and not much like I'd lost anyone. 

Then, at the end of the ceremony, when the priest waved the incense around her casket and laid his hand on the top while he prayed, when they began to wheel it out of the church, that's when everything became blurry and terrible. This was it! This was the end. And she was gone now and I saw my sister crying in the pew behind me and I thought, Oh, we don't have a grandma anymore. 

We had such a good grandma, you guys. 

This is what I shared at the funeral. I'm typing it here because I will for sure lose the paper I scrawled it on and I'd like to remember what I wrote. 


Just wanted to share a few memories of my grandma.

Because of her, my favorite movie star, for a very long time, was Shirley Temple. And Shirley Temple movies at her house were accompanied by ice cream cones. There really was no better place to be than Grandma's house, where there was always a beater full of frosting, just for me. And then when I was older, when I'd grown out of the frilly dresses she used to make for me, we played cards - usually Spite & Malice. I know she taught my sisters Hand & Foot, but with me it was Spite & Malice. Always with a dish of candy nearby to keep up our strength. 

But what I really associate with Grandma is Christmas. When I was a kid, Christmas wasn't about Santa or the Baby Jesus, it was about Grandma and Grandpa's house. Her crazy red tree, the piles of presents - half of which were slippers, the coffee table covered in snow globes and music boxes, the nativity scene surrounded by that weird angel hair stuff, and a table extended as far as it could possibly go. My Christmas attire was always, of course, a Grandma Original. One year she made a matching Christmas dress for my Cabbage Patch Doll. It was taped to one page of a scrapbook full of doll clothes, like a mini fashion portfolio of all the outfits she'd ever made for me. Christmas, in my mind, was tied so closely to Grandma that when my family moved overseas when I was 10 years old, I wasn't sure what we would DO at Christmastime. I strongly doubted a holiday without my grandmother was possible. 

Earlier today my mom reminded me that she sent cards for every holiday - Valentine's Day, Easter. It really WASN'T possible to celebrate without her. 

Many years later I've learned there are lots of ways to celebrate holidays and special occasions, but Grandma's style continues to be the one I prefer. I've been known to color coordinate a tree and I often buy two bags of candy - one for my guests and one for me. As I reflect on what my grandmother meant to me, I'm reminded that in my home there's no such thing as too many decorations or too many slices of cake, and there are never too many people.