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December 2015

I'd like to settle in for my long winter's nap now

Another Cheung Christmas party in the books, another post-party week of me flinging myself across the couch all, "NOW WHAT?!" Because I am super mixed up on the reason for the season and after all the booze is drunk, I'm always a bit surprised there's actually more of Christmas left. Kids opening presents? The Christmas pageant? Family? Eh? 

This was my best year for party stress, mainly because I decided not to stand in the kitchen all day handwringing over homemade appetizers. I finally allowed myself to JUST NOT MAKE FOOD this year. I know! I mean, there was FOOD, but nothing I slaved over (and subsequently ruined) and therefore no running around like a crazed banshee during the half hour before guests arrive trying to get the food done. And guess what! THE PARTY STILL HAPPENED! I KNOW! Of course, no one appeared to EAT anything (COINCIDENCE?) I would be much more upset with myself about this if it weren't for the fact that this year my guests only drank half a bottle of Makers Mark as opposed to last year when the entire bottle disappeared within the first 20 minutes of the party. Maybe we were all just a bit more moderate this year. This is what I'm going with. 

I ALSO did not freak out about enough people coming/WHO was coming/what I would wear (that much)/the decorations/the little stupid food labels/whether or not the hot cocoa display could hang with the other hot cocoa displays on Pinterest/getting fancy Christmas soap for the bathroom/people who RSVPed and didn't show/people who didn't RSVP and came/whether or not the food was any good. I just didn't. And I know, I'm suspicious too, it's like someone switched out the Type A for Type Anything Else, but let's just hope it sticks. Not being crazy is so much better than being crazy. 

ANYWAY. That's over. We did my-side-of-the-family Christmas the very next day and yesterday I cowered in a corner and sobbed. No, I was fine, until the late afternoon and hour nine million of dense dark gray rain and I had to go to the Christmas pageant rehearsal. Which! Was fine! But you know what? If I do this again next year? GROWN UPS ARE NOT INVITED. I'm just going to leave that there. It will be a lovely fifteen minutes on Christmas Eve and then I don't have to think about it until next December. And next December I shall be better prepared, with a flask and strong-Christmas-pageant-related-opinion earplugs. 

The bakery madness is over, thank God. We have some big things to think about for next year, if Thumbprints continues to exist. Did you know the FPC is having a baby? In February? YESSSSSS and guess who will be saying, "NO COOKIES IN FEBRUARY (OR MARCH, APRIL, POSSIBLY JUNE AS WELL!)" I turned down a TON of orders this month because our two corporate orders were just that big and time consuming. We basically did nothing except those two things, but tripled the amount of money we made from last December. The issue is no longer "What does it look like for Thumbprints to operate" - I think we've figured that out. Now it's a matter of, "Does this work for us? Do we want to keep it up? Is it worth it?" All questions to figure out later. After I've done all the taxes, obvs. SIGH. But I'll tell you this much: if the bakery still exists next December, we're either going to be as exclusive and choosy as we want to be, OR we are hiring helpers and a big kitchen with storage space and working until we fall over. We got so many calls this month SO MANY CALLS. And I think I might enjoy bossing a few extra bakery hands around.

Speaking of bosses, I got an email from my first job boss wanting to know if I want to work a few hours from home for him ummmmm hmmmm... (No. The right answer is no. Don't let me keep pondering that.)

The next few days we're just getting ready for OUR Christmas. We're a Christmas Eve family, so after the pageant and church, we'll come home and eat incredibly unhealthy snacky foods and open presents. I will miss my family and all the noise and movement, but I just want to do it at home so much. It does make me remember growing up overseas, though, where you never have any family around and your friends come over on the holidays and I miss and want that too. Why don't I have any orphaned friends to invite over?! Phillip is going to have to adopt some young work people away from their families. 

Christmas Day we usually host a brunch for Phillip's much smaller side of the family, but this year his mom is leaving (tomorrow!) to work on a Mercy Ship in Madagascar! Ack! And because hosting a Phillip's family thing without his [wonderful wonderful] mom around is not something I want to do, we changed plans. FORTUITOUSLY one of Phillip's cousins opened a Chinese restaurant this year. Two minutes from his parents' house. Like, it's where his dad eats all his meals now. AND GUESS WHERE I SUGGESTED WE HAVE CHRISTMAS LUNCH? Am I not the smartest person in the world? And it's just so FITTING, my husband's family being Chinese and me being half Jewish, right? Everyone will be much happier doing this than eating strata at my house anyway. 

And then the next day I get on a plane for St. Louis where I will volunteer at Urbana for a week. I am... I feel terrible about leaving the kids right when they get all their new stuff and we want to organize and play and have fun. Molly and Emma are getting all these things for their Target brand American Girl dolls and I want to help them set it all up! Figuring out childcare was hard. Leaving Phillip for a week is sad. I kind of think of Urbana as "work travel" for me, because I really am going to train and learn and grow in the things I want to grow in, but it's NOT, obviously, and it's a big deal for me to be gone a whole week when the kids are out of school, and during the holidays! It's a big deal and I'm thankful Phillip is so supportive of me and my "work". 

Of course, on the other hand, I have been so tired and frustrated with so many things, that a week in a nice hotel room with one of my best friends super super far away sounds soooooo niiiiiice...

Was that not the most mommybloggy update in the world? SNORE. But here I am, dropping a digital pin on this point in my life. 

I think I'll eat some cake now. Katie made me a passionfruit ganache cake for Christmas (BEST GIFT EVER?) and I am slowly (okay, not that slowly) working my way through. It's hard work, but I'll get it done, no worries. 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! If you're St. Louis adjacent hit me an email and maybe we can meet for lunch!


In which Maggie needs to remember what she's good at. Again.



I just wrote this massive blog post in which I reached the conclusion: some things are not my jam, and that's okay. 

I guess sometimes you just really have to write a massive blog post! But I won't put you through the misery of reading it. How nice of me. 

This stems from a tiny bit of Mom Insecurity which appears to be leftover from when my big kids were babies and toddlers, the time when Mom Insecurity ran high. I wasn't insecure about being a MOM, more like there were a lot of things I thought I was supposed to do or enjoy or be as a Public Mom that I... didn't want to do. Like be in a PEPS group. Seattle people know what this is. PEPS is an organization that groups new parents by neighborhood and their babies' age, so I ended up in a group of women who lived near me and whose kids were all born within a few weeks of mine. They were great! I know people who found their best friends in PEPS! But I still didn't like being in the organized group, for a number of reasons, and I felt guilty and what-is-wrong-with-me when I slowly and unofficially stopped going. 

Or things like outings. I hate outings. All of my friends were constantly going to the zoo and the aquarium and big parks and I kept wondering why we couldn't all just visit each other in our houses and drink mimosas while the kids entertained each other. 

My kids are older now which means I have to do less stuff with them and therefore have to spend less time with other women I don't know very well and their children. So the insecurity opportunities are less. But recently I wonder if the opportunities are just DIFFERENT. Like the PTA. I am doing the one thing I am half decent at for the PTA (newsletters and social media, heh), but I still feel lame because I don't know enough people, don't volunteer at school for anything, and DON'T WANT TO. Aren't I at stay at home mom with tons of time?! 

There's an extra level of Church Mom Insecurity. Am I involved in the right way? Am I participating in the right things? Are my kids sufficiently holy? Am I demonstrating to the people with influence that I am worthy of friendship? (Oh wait, is my Three showing?)

Chatting with the preschool moms? PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME. They are all great, they really are, but I have other friends and I want to use up every last drop of preschool time to do stuff FOR ME. As soon as my kid walks in the door I RUN to the car for ME TIME.

Crafting costumes for the Christmas play? IF I MUST. But I will suck at it and also get really annoyed and frustrated with the disorganization and mess, EVEN THOUGH we get it done in half the time and with tons of help. 

Girl Scouts? That's not something I can just drop her off at, right? 

Co-op preschool? SNORT.

And possibly worst of all, I have yet to sign my kids up for a sports team. There is no soccer every Saturday morning for the Cheung kids, no gymnastics, no martial arts at night, no dance recitals. They take piano, because Chinese grandparents (also half-musical parents) and swimming in the summers because their mom is deathly afraid of water. But otherwise... honestly, just the day when I do preschool and piano is exhausting. 

I guess you can just read this as LAZY. LAZY MOM. But you guys, I am not lazy. I may flee in the face of the volunteer form and have the housekeeping abilities of a frat boy, but you should see me work on my stupid little business. You should see the hours I put in tying stupid perfect bows on those cookie boxes. The time I devote to making sure the people in whom I'm already invested are well loved. The work I do to keep our family on track. The weeknights I give to the church ministry where my gifts are best used and most welcome - which has nothing to do with children or families specifically. The time I will put in this week to give my friends a kick ass time at our holiday party on Saturday. 

That stuff isn't Public Mom stuff, so sometimes I feel like it doesn't count. You know? I think I'm have a stretch of Public Mom Failure. (All brought on by myself, of course. AS PER USUAL.)

It's made me think: maybe I shouldn't BE a stay at home mom! SAHMs are supposed to be a certain way! Crafty, creative, whizzes at time management! The truth is that I AM all those things, just not when it comes to my KIDS. I can think of one single time that I pulled it together and was SAHM Awesome and that's when I instituted Homeschool Art Class. But that was born of desperation, folks. My public schoolers didn't know about impressionism. UNACCEPTABLE. 

But... I already wrote a blog post about this, I don't need to write another one. (TOO LATE.) I think it's time for another round of...


  • Avoiding phone calls for the bakery. Email me, people! EMAIL IS BEAUTIFUL.
  • Planning vacations. You guys, I booked us a Hawaii vacation in one night, using frequent flyer miles from 2 different airlines, in coordination with out of state friends. BOOM.
  • Holding bakery customer hands. It doesn't seem like it would be a thing, but you'd be surprised.
  • Having a filing cabinet. 
  • Making cookies that TASTE good, even if they are not necessarily good-looking.
  • Making my kids laugh. Right now I have two phrases that make them bust up every time. This won't last forever, but I am MILKING IT.
  • Knowing when to put a war book down. 
  • Eyeshadow. Okay, maybe not AMAZING, but I'm getting better. 
  • Initiating time with friends without kids. 
  • Making it possible for my husband to have friends-with-no-kids time. 

I MEAN, THOSE ARE SOME PRETTY AMAZING THINGS RIGHT THERE. And now it is time for me to make dinner, which is something I am decidedly un-awesome at, but the whole point of this post was up there at the top: I just wasn't MADE to be an amazing dinner maker.


December Madness, fueled by sugar cookies

The December Panic kicked in this morning. It's late this year - usually it starts on Thanksgiving, ha. But this morning I find myself wordlessly roaming my house, mentally curling into the fetal position. It's all the usual stuff, plus the stuff that I should care about but don't usually, plus the stuff that I should care about and never do, plus the bakery, plus the Christmas party, plus the fact that I'm leaving for St. Louis the day after Christmas and will be gone for a week... suddenly I care very much about ALL THE THINGS. All the stuff on the deck that I still haven't put away from the summer? VERY IMPORTANT! The kids not putting their things away in their assigned places and just haphazardly stashing in their rooms? PANIC INDUCING! The fact that no one has any clean socks? I HAVE FAILED AS A MOTHER! My inability to choose a Signature Cocktail for the Christmas party? A DISGRACE TO THE HUMAN RACE! 

And the bakery, oh you guys. The bakery basically has two customersSug in December: our big corporate client from last December and then a tiny corporate client who ordered 59 dozen sugar cookies - FAWNCY ones at that. Yesterday we decided that we're not taking any more. We have one tiny order for late December, but that's it. I've turned down lots of orders over the last 2 weeks because we literally have no space, but now it's official. DO NOT CALL US. This is madness, the end. 

I should say more about the bakery, for those two or three of you interested in this entrepreneurial mental illness, but that's a little more procrastination than I mean to have right now. (Basically if I am writing on my website I am avoiding something I really SHOULD be doing. Like dishes.) 

Let's discuss something more important, like my hair appointment tomorrow. Yes, one million things I need to do, but YOU BETCHA I am going to the salon and fixing my head. The hair is in a state of way-grown-out pixie, where it's more like a slightly layered bob, with some random slicing into it since I cut it myself a few weeks ago. I curl it with a flat iron everysingleday. The layer right under the top layer is all going gray. And the fact that I can gather it into the teeniest of ponytails drives me INSANE. A short hair lady cannot abide even the minutest of ponytails. But I am wondering if I SHOULD let it grow, that maybe longer hair suits me right now (but not TOO long). Everyone I ask says, "Oh, I like it like this!" but NO, WRONG ANSWER. 

So when I was wandering around Anthropologie the other day hunting for a Festive Top (this was going to be my too-fat-for-all-my-dresses-holiday-solution), instead I found the most perfect head of hair on the girl manning the dressing rooms. It helped that she was 1) tall and thin and 2) freakishly movie star beautiful. Being none of those things it's entirely possible her hair will not work on my head, but I stalked her anyway and surreptitiously took pictures... I kind of can't believe I did that. So creepy! But she had the perfect long-ish pixie, and her hair was dark like mine and came to a point at the nape of her neck like mine and appeared to be straight-but-worked-over-with-a-flat-iron the way I do mine. SO MAYBE. 

Anyway. Congratulations, Me! Instead of folding the pile of laundry on your bed or doing the breakfast dishes, you wrote a pointless blog post! And now you have to go meet a friend for coffee because HELLO it's not like your priorities are COMPLETELY out of whack. When you get back you have nine million sugar cookies to box (AND YOU GUYS I LEARNED HOW TO TIE REAL BOWS!!!!!) so it's not like anything your family actually needs you to do is going to get done today. But you'll have had a good day! Throw some Xanax at that December anxiety issue and you're ALL GOOD!