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March 2015

The finer details of hauling one's husband and three children across the seas

It occurs to me that there are, like, ONLY TWO MONTHS until we go on our big trip. 

*breathes into paper bag*

Okay, so ALL the airfare is purchased. To Venice, to Paris, to London, and back home again. I booked our Paris hotel last night so now all of our lodging is booked. (THANKS MOM AND DAD AND ALSO PHILLIP'S WORK!) 

Now: everything else. Ack.

CAR RENTAL: I have done some cursory investigation into renting a car big enough for five people and their ten tons of luggage. I don't THINK we have to rent a van. I don't WANT to rent a van on account of how much gas is going to cost in Europe. We'll need to pick it up at the Venice airport, drive it to the house my parents are renting, and keep it until we fly to London from the Treviso (near Venice) airport. It's small town Italy and while we can take the train to Venice, if we want to go to the beach or visit old friends or go pretty much anywhere, we need a car. 

CAR SEATS: After MUCH investigation I think we're going to buy those BubbleBum things for the big kids and borrow a Rider Safe vest for Emma. I cannot bear the idea of BRINGING Emma's car seat and while we could rent (sketchy) or buy (expensive) seats while we're there, these options we can bring with us without sacrificing a lot of space and since we hope to borrow two of the three, save us some cash. 

LUGGAGE: I am totally overwhelmed thinking about this. Seriously. We have some suitcases, but are they too big too small too old falling apart manageable for two adults with three kids in an airport I DON'T KNOOOOOW. Chances are, even if they're exactly what we need, Phillip Cheung is going to want to get new ones. Maybe I should put this on HIS list of things to figure out. 

CARRY ONS: I'm thinking each kid will have a backpack with snacks, activities, water bottle, and a change of clothes. Emma's certainly big enough to carry her own little backpack. But I need a carry on for ME which will hold everything ELSE. Phillip will have all the important stuff - documents, tickets, money, and probably his computer, probably the iPad - but I have been stocking up on Stuff To Do for a few months and I need something to hold it all. All the extra snacks. All the pull ups and baby wipes and first aid stuff and kleenex. A place to hide the activity books I'll need to bust out on hour seven of the plane ride. Oh, and I would also like room to bring a book and a chocolate bar for my own self! Does such a bag exist? It needs to have a messenger bag strap, not be too huge or too small, double as a bag I could take on a day trip (it'd be NICE), and preferably have nine zillion pockets because I'm THAT kind of lady. MORE POCKETS MORE HAPPY. I should not spend all the money on ANOTHER Ju Ju Be bag, I should not spend all the money on ANOTHER Ju Ju Be bag...

PACKING: What? I have to do this? People need clothes? Shoes? Huh?

BEING A TOURIST: I THINK I have convinced my dad that we will not hit the ground driving five hours to Pisa. I figure we need a day or two to recover from flying and honestly, just walking down the street for gelato will be enough entertainment at first. We will take the train to Venice more than a few times, I want to go to the beach, and there are plenty of day trips to take. When Phillip and I go to Paris my parents will road trip the kids to Austria - that is enough big trip driving for them. Florence et al will have to wait for another trip. That said, I do want to make a list of things to do in Paris (for me) and London (for the kids and my in-laws). Those will be the more Go Out And See Everything parts of our trip. The Italy part is probably going to be a lot of Going To That One Place My Parents Liked To Go On Field Trips With Their Classes and tons of Having Dinner With My Parents' Friends. Both of which are TOTALLY fine with me. 

I'm forgetting something, aren't I. 


What do I do with my house for 3 weeks? Get a house sitter? 

Still thinking about what kind of project/journal/scrapbook type of thing I'm going to have the kids do while we're away. 

Packing. Omg. (Our London apartment has a washer and dryer. This might be my favorite part of the London apartment.)

We saw some friends the other night who went to Europe earlier this year and after talking to them I felt like I needed to make a separate list of Things We Should Eat. So perhaps that is coming to the blog as well. Stay tuned. 


Conversation In Front Of My Mirror

"Hey, I look GREAT in this shirt! Sure, it's got a giant Captain America shield on the front, but it isn't see through, it's long enough, it doesn't completely highlight my jiggly muffin top - "

"Helps that you finally found some pants that fit - "

"Right, okay, but still, I can leave my house in something other than a dress and leggings. Yay me!"

"It doesn't really look that great from the back. Kinda shows off your mounds of back fat."

"Well, yeah..."

"Is that really your back, even? It's so... lumpy!"

"I HAVE gained a lot of weight in the last year or two. I'm just thankful it dispersed itself somewhat evenly."

"Yeah, I saw you in those pictures from Christmas. And you thought you looked bad in LAST year's Christmas pictures."

"I thought I looked... half decent in those pictures? My makeup was awesome."

"Makeup can't hide 40 extra pounds, dear."

"Oh shut up, I know, okay? I KNOW ABOUT THE EXTRA POUNDS."

"Then how come you're not doing anything about them? Don't you care? Aren't you ashamed?"

"It's just... it's not as easy to lose the weight as it was before."

"Are you blaming your crazy pills again?"

"......... maybe?"

"What about that ice cream you ate last week? What about the cake you ate last night when company was over? What about all the wine? What about that GYM YOU JOINED?"

"I couldn't go this week! Sick kids! I said I'd babysit Rosie! I couldn't go!"

"Right. Sure."

"I look good in this shirt. I wanted to feel good about looking good in something."

"If you feel good about looking like this, what's to stop you from feeling good about 10 pounds more? And 10 pounds after that? You can't ACCEPT yourself like this. You have to DO something about it."

"What if I told you right now that I am the happiest and most myself I have ever been in my life?"

"Even with all this weight you've gained?"

"Even with all this weight I've gained. Is not looking as good in clothes going to cancel out how well I'm doing? How not anxious I am right now? How happy I feel about my life? How much my husband doesn't care?"

"He's lying."

"Not being able to fit into my old jeans should not weigh more than all of the positive things in my life right now."

"WEIGH more, HA HA HA, good one."

"I'm not doing this. I'll go to the gym when I can. I LIKE going to the gym. And I'll try to eat better. And I'll just TRY."

"You've been trying for two years now. It's not happening. And you THINK everything is going well and moving forward in your life, but when other people see you, they see a Chubby Girl Who Can't Stop Eating Cookies and no one takes you seriously."


"People who knew you when you lost all that weight are secretly laughing at you now."


"And you think you can lead things. Be in charge of things. Be respected. Be loved. HEH."

"God doesn't care about my pant size."

"Everyone else does."

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"What the hell is wrong with YOU?"


SAHM, Entrepreneur, Official-Macaron-Taster, and now Art Teacher

Tomorrow I'm starting something completely out of character which is Teaching Small Children. Never in my LIFE have I EVER wanted to be a teacher of small children, work with small children, or supervise small children. Even as a teenager, babysitting was my least favorite (though often only) way to earn money. BUT TOMORROW I'M GONNA DO IT. 

See, my kids are poor, deprived, public school students and our particular school seems particularly deficient in art and music. They do art projects in class and I think 4th and 5th graders get to do band, but it bums me out that these aren't subjects that are taught anymore. Or should I say, that there isn't enough money for these subjects to be taught at OUR school. It's why I spent a not insignificant amount of time mooning over and hoping to send our kids to the Catholic school. THAT SAID, I really truly super duper stinking love our little neighborhood public school. I will just have to teach them art at home. 

So yes, I did a bit of research and bought an actual factual Art Curriculum. It's called Meet The Masters and will do just dandy for not just my kids but the handful of my friends' kids I've invited to do it with us. (Because my kids are going to be more sold on this extracurricular if OTHER kids come and it's MORE like a REAL THING. You know? Instead of mom beating them over the head with a copy of The Starry Night?) 

Tomorrow we're going to do a little introductory lesson where we make a portfolio to hold our masterpieces. But then it's 5 weeks of learning about a particular artist's life, learning a technique, and then trying it out on our own. I know nothing about art, which is not IDEAL, and I cannot draw or paint to save my life, but oh well. The thing is, absolutely everything I know about art I learned in 3rd and 4th grade when I was in a program called 'Challenge' and we did a similar art curriculum. Seriously. This is the only reason why I know any famous painters at all. I can APPRECIATE art - I absolutely love art museums, to the detriment of my poor husband - but I was too busy filling my schedule with poetry classes in college to take a single Art History course. (Art History, History, and Philosophy WHY DIDN'T I TAKE ANY OF THESE?) 

Anyway. I am hopeful that my kids will come out of it at least being able to recognize a famous painting or two, maybe even know what the world "pointilism" means. We'll see. I mean, there are a million things I'd love to expose them to - dead European painters is just the beginning, yes? 

I was telling Molly's teacher about it today and she said, "Oh, and then you can do it as an after school program here!" and I said, "YOU ARE TAKING THINGS TOO FAR, WOMAN!" 

Groups of small children and art supplies - it can only be awesome, right? 

The cure for jet lag is gelato

My mom and dad keep asking what plans we've made for our Europe trip, have we figured out what things we want to do in Italy, and I keep saying DEAR GOD, Parents, I am only SLIGHTLY aware of what I have to do NEXT WEEK! 

Which isn't very nice, since my parents are fronting a large portion of our Europe trip (HELLO, LODGING!) and "we'll tag along with whatever you're doing!" is not anyone's favorite response to "What do you want to do?" Right? I hate those people. 

AND YET. I want to block out a day or two for Airplane Ride Recovery and then a week-ish later when Phillip and I go to Paris my parents are taking all three of my kids on a road trip to Austria and Bavaria (I KNOW, THEY ARE THE BEST) so it's not like I'm going to immediately pack them in a rental car and zoom off to Florence or Pisa or something. I figure the local surroundings plus plentiful train rides to Venice plus a beach trip will be more than enough. They will get museumed within an inch of their lives in London, might as well spend our small town Italy days hitting the markets and eating gelato. 

When we moved to Sicily when I was 10 years old, we flew from (and I remember this OH SO CLEARLY) Seattle to Detroit. Detroit to Philadelphia. Philadelphia to the Azores (where I spent grades 7-9). Azores to The Base Where I Eventually Graduated From High School in northern Italy. That base to a naval base in Sicily. (This was on military flights which were 1) free, but 2) shrouded in cigarette smoke and 3) stopped absolutely everywhere). AND THEN when we finally landed in Sicily, someone picked us up in a rental van and drove us either 2 or 4 hours, this part I DON'T remember) to the base where we would actually LIVE and 25 years later (omg 25 years) I can STILL smell the sickly sweet smell of SOMETHING (this is what rural Italy smells like - gas? sewage? rotten SOMETHING) and feel the nigh unbearable heat and experience the intense car sickness intensified by the smell, the heat, and the windy wackadoodle rural roads HELLO CULTURE SHOCK. 

I have no idea what my kids are going to think or feel and I'm VERY CURIOUS! Maybe it will be no big deal! We will have a MUCH easier flight and northern Italy in May is no Sicily in August. But that first time flying to Europe (age 10) and the time I flew to Asia (age 25), those were the most mind bending moments of my life. The time is not what the time is supposed to be! The air is different! The sun is different! (Or, in the case of Beijing, non-existent!) EVERYTHING IS STRANGE AND FREAKY AND WHAT IS GOING ON. 

Ooooh, I am so excited. At some point I will even start planning.