Pls to advise re: cruise ships (with children) (and irrational Titanic fears)

We don't have a ton of orders lined up for July - actually, if it weren't for the subscription boxes I'd be worried. But because subscription boxes are starting we are scheduled to make over 500 cookies in our rental kitchen this weekend. Katie says this is possible. I... am not sure. 

Between the subscription boxes and preparing for the street fair the first weekend in August, the bakery is giving me hives. Good hives! But oh man, SO MUCH to prepare for and think about. With the additional stress of knowing that EVEN THOUGH we are doing better each month, the thought of being able to pay ourselves seems light years away. My whiteboard displays six different bullet lists noting everything from renting a canopy to printing labels to noting the subscription box that needs to be sent two weeks late to "buy blue sprinkles" to "try sealing bags with flat iron?" Wait, let's ignore that last one as I'm sure some food inspector person will take issue AHEM.

WE ARE DOING WELL. But the rest of life has to happen too, and I can't focus my entire brain on the bakery, and I think this is what's been hard lately. I've also had to think about the end of the school year, having the kids home, family vacations, moving bedrooms, who's grown out of what, etc. etc. I've been short and snotty with everyone in my family because of it. One of my STRENGTHS is to sit down and zero in on something and get it done, but one of my enormous FLAWS is the inability to un-focus when something else needs my attention. This is why I have flown into fifteen rages over someone requesting a drink of water. 

It's also why I have been cranky about something WONDERFUL and FUN and EXPENSES-PAID in my life, that being a week-long Alaska cruise with Phillip's side of the family to celebrate his mom's retirement. I am ASHAMED of my crankiness while also not really trying to un-crankify myself. My issues are: 

  • I have been and forever will be terrified of Massive Bodies of Water and potential Titanic Scenarios. I just am. Drowning is my thing. I have never wanted to go on a cruise and I truly am anxious about the Out In The Middle Of The Ocean-ness, no matter how many times my dad snorts in reply and tells me that we're "only" going up the Inside Passage and I need to get over myself. 
  • You cannot check your email on a boat. At least not as many times as I prefer to check my email. And when I'm able to do so it will be $$$. Did you hear I have started a new business? And am the main point of contact for all potential customers? 
  • I just LOOK at a boat and get seasick.
  • We're going on a cruise to ALASKA, where it will most likely be Not Warm, in the middle of July which is one part of the year in which my city is reliably warm. As a Warm Weather Hoarder, this also makes me anxious. 
  • How much weight am I going to gain a cruise? No really, HOW MUCH. OMG.

Okay, so those are the major cranky factors. I am doing my DARNDEST to focus on the following:

  • When the Babysitters Club went on a Bahama cruise it was super fun and they met lots of exciting people and also Intriguing Love Interests and my inner 12-year-old awaits the many possibilities for At Sea Adventure.
  • The opportunity to bring a bunch of cute dresses and wear all of them. 
  • The opportunity to go out every night. I am TOTALLY the person who will love a cheesy song-and-dance cruise ship show and I TOTALLY intend to watch at least fourteen. 
  • A connecting room with my in-laws means I CAN watch fourteen shows. 
  • The kids will love it. 
  • Phillip has always wanted to go on a cruise. 
  • Katie will take care of everything at home. 
  • DESSERT TABLES. There will be dessert tables, right? 
  • I don't HAVE to get off the ship and sightsee in Alaska. My MIL totally has my back if I just want to hang off the deck, gaze at an iceberg or glacier for a few minutes, and then go find the on ship spa. I don't have to go PAN FOR GOLD or whatever crazy excursions we've looked at over the last few weeks. I CAN BE A HORRIBLE UNINTERESTED IN SIGHTS PERSON. 
  • MIL also tells me there are lectures on the boat! Lectures! I love lectures! I hope they are not ALL about the history of Alaska. Do you think there will be a WW2 expert on board?
  • I am also STRONGLY considering blondness in honor of my 35th birthday (well, as far as my colorist will take me, which will maybe be 3 strands of blond mixed in with proper grown up hair) and I QUITE like the idea of being a BLOND lady with CUTE DRESSES on a SHIP in the EVENINGS with a DEVASTATINGLY HANDSOME CHINESE MAN on my arm and my CHILDREN in BED. Right? That sounds FUN.

Okay, so, now it's your turn. Hit me with your best cruising tips, people. Seriously. I have never done this before and have waited until now to give it more than two seconds' thought. Pretty sure my SIL has every detail imaginable under control, but JUST IN CASE! TELL ME EVERYTHING.

This post should be read with a growl

Today was half-decent until... it wasn't anymore. I don't know what turned. It happens, though. Sometimes I'll be powering through a thoroughly average day and BOOM. My ability to parent mysteriously and instantly disappears and I become a raving loony woman, dangling from the end of a very frayed rope. 

The plan was to treadmill the minute Phillip came home, but instead I threw myself on the couch and just SAT. I don't do that. I mean, I find OTHER ways to transfer child-wrangling responsibility. I'll make it look like I'm super busy cleaning the kitchen or finishing dinner or whoops, look at this huge pile of laundry I need to fold RIGHT NOW. I don't really SIT. But I sat tonight and when my sister and brother-in-law came over a bit later I was still sitting there and BIL, who speaks only when absolutely necessary, said, "YOU look TIRED."

And now I am STILL not treadmilling, I am eyeing the internet grouchily and chowing down on a bag of Valentine candy I meant to sprinkle in a package to friends in Hawaii. (A package I meant to send for Christmas, mind you. CHRISTMAS.)

I don't feel like I have a good reason to be grouchy, but whatever, I'm going with it. I've even made a short list of Things, When Combined, Produce A Grouchy Me:

  • When the kids are playing, but the playing is interspersed with bouts of sobbing (the girl) or whining (the boy) at five minute intervals, most requiring parental intervention, at which point they realize it's them against me and go back to being horribly loud (yet happy)
  • The contractor came to talk to me about my staircase and that was okay, but he told me that a grand total redesign/rebuild of the upstairs bathroom would cost me 30-40K HA HA HA.
  • I am really down about the baby weight today, even though I keep telling myself I've lost nearly 20 pounds since she was born (it's not helping) (not like NOT treadmilling is helping either)
  • When I started talking to Jack about kindergarten and he said, "How come I'm not going to go to the kindergarten in the big building? [at his current school]" and I felt REALLY SAD.
  • I bought this new workbook thing for Molly and I to do while Jack is in school and it sucks. 
  • My calves are sore. WHY ARE MY CALVES SORE?
  • Why are my calves sore even BEFORE I have attempted to do the Shred post-Emma? 
  • Every time I clean the kitchen it gets messy again.
  • And! I feel like all I ever do is yell at my kids to BE QUIET YOUR SISTER IS SLEEPING!!!

But here is a list of reasons why I have no business feeling grouchy:

  • I started planning a trip to Hawaii for our ten-year anniversary next year. 
  • I am super excited about all the wedding and baby stuff going on with my sisters.
  • EJ is not necessarily sleeping longer stretches, but she's getting SO much easier to put down I can barely believe it. On occasion she will even fall asleep on her own!
  • It will be relatively easy and affordable to build a staircase down to the backyard. And I have an awesome contractor dude.
  • I'm going to Portland in a few weeks for a college ministry retreat - I get to pray behind the scenes with some really gifted people and I am SO SUPER EXCITED. My parents are going to take the big kids and Phillip and Emma are going to come with me and just hang out on the sidelines and I am SO GRATEFUL because otherwise I don't think I'd go. 
  • Carrie sent me a really beautiful note about what I write on this stupid website and it really made my day, by which I mean it ruined my eye makeup.
  • My mother spent about eight hours on the phone with me discussing my large scale what-I-want-to-do-with-my-house plans. She takes my kids AND she indulges me. 

So. There you go. SUCK IT UP, ME!

I'll try sucking it up for a bit, and when that inevitably fails I think I'll go buy some fabric on Etsy. My curtain "headboard" needs to get itself DONE. There's nothing like spending a little money to cure the grouchy.

Obvs I need to go open the wine

I've been stuck in my house (and, to be fair, the two blocks SURROUNDING my house) since Saturday afternoon. I suppose I COULD have driven somewhere, but 1) we live on a hill and 2) I AM the Seattle driver who can't drive in snow, so it's just better for everyone if I stay home. 

AND I think I've handled it quite well. The kids have played in the snow every day, we've done puzzles and games and stamping, we've made snow ice cream (success!) and snow candy (fail!), we've made real dinners, we've done laundry and cleaned the house and picked up our toys, we have NOT watched TV all day long. I've been treadmilling and eating the right things and calling people when I start to feel despairing that the snow will ever melt. 

UNTIL TODAY. Today feels like my breaking point. I am just done. I am tired. I want to go somewhere. ANYWHERE. Tonight Phillip asked me if he could get together with two other guys tomorrow night, not even for anything fun, but to be all job networky, and I snapped. I WANT TO GO SOMEWHERE! WHY CAN'T I GO SOMEWHERE?!

I also have "Phillip is leaving on Sunday" in my head - I don't think that makes it better. 

Anyway, today I ate all sorts of horrible things and chose NOT to treadmill, so you are catching me at a Feeling Somewhat Bad About (And Also Sorry For) Myself point. I'd wanted to lose about 3.5 more pounds before next weekend. It's possible! If I do nothing except run and shred and eat apples. But we all know that isn't going to happen. 

I have lost 13 pounds since I started Really Trying To Lose Weight after Emma. And that feels impressive to me. Some people don't lose any pounds! And I've lost 13! During the holidays! Yay! Then again, I have TWENTY MORE POUNDS TO GO and that feels overwhelming. Also very HEAVY as you would expect twenty extra pounds to be. 

I've been losing about a pound a week, which is FINE, but also VERY SLOW. I mean, that gets me all sorts of approval from the Lose It AND Keep It Off crowd, but it's not really working for me in dressing rooms, if you know what I mean. I feel confident that I WILL lose this weight eventually, but next weekend I will be hanging out with my Old And Dear Friends and I may have mentioned this before, but they are two very slim, very hot, very super cute Asian girls and I AM NOT ANY OF THOSE THINGS. I am pretty sure they are bringing swim suits and GUESS WHO ISN'T. 

I know that's awful. I KNOW IT. I know I shouldn't talk like that. BUT I DO. SO THERE. 

We just finally - FINALLY! - organized the Cheung Family Trip and I am 99% sure it's happening in June, so I would really REALLY like to be VERY CLOSE to my goal if not AT my goal. I for SURE will be at my goal weight a little later in the summer at a family wedding. Oh yes I will.

Why am I not writing this on my weight loss blog? I DON'T KNOW. AM CRANKY.

So today is a loss, I think. Today I ate the kids' mac and cheese and one too many granola bars and a handful of animal crackers and a slice of Forbidden Cheese and God knows what else. Oh yes, BROWNIES. Because I am SNOWED IN and you know what? Sometimes food DOES make me feel better. 

I just... I've got things to DO, Seattle Weather. Apparently it's going to start raining tonight and tomorrow and drastically warm up and I am HOPEFUL but I have also been SNOWED IN for nearly a week and that starts to do things to your rational reasoning skills. Let us not talk about how Phillip is flying in the direction of the storm and may get stuck at his airport on his way home (MAYBE!) and unable to fly home (MAYBE!) and I would be stuck with the kids another week PLUS miss my own trip (MAYBE!) Seriously, the ONLY positive thing about that scenario would be not feeling fat in Palm Springs.  

I know this should probably go on the Catholic blog but whatever. PEEVED.

I expect I'll regret posting this too, but...

Between the six rather unfortunate wives of King Henry VIII, the questions put to Michele Bachmann about being submissive to her husband, and the rechent "advice" posts from Christian author Donald Miller about creating "a good love story" I'm feeling a little despairing. 

(1. I finished my King Henry book. GAH. 2. I know next to nothing about Michele Bachmann, but I do watch the news. 3. For the backstory on this one, here are the original [deleted] posts, courtesy of my smartypants husband: For the girls. For the guys. Rachel Held Evans' response. And I did like Elizabeth Esther's response as well.)

I think the advice posts have been thoroughly hacked over by comment sections everywhere and I don't really have anything new to add. For me it's a mixture of "well, I sort of see your point" and "your point is lost in your language and obvious prejudices and therefore I decline to take you seriously". 

I guess I'm sort of hearkening back to my college days, when I was a bit of a know nothing feminist, but also heavily involved in a non-denominational Christian fellowship that had Ideas and Book Suggestions about dating. I should point out that I knew nothing about dating myself, being an introverted, timid, suspicious-of-intentions sort of person. I shouldn't have been wary of dating and marriage, as I honestly only had wonderful examples at home, but the NDCF put a different spin on things and suddenly I had to figure out terms like "submission" and OH I DID NOT LIKE THEM. 

College Me would have written nineteen papers on the abuses and cruelty suffered by those poor doomed queens. College Me would have narrowed her angry, suspicious eyes at Michele Bachmann and muttered, "Yeah, spit it out lady, what DOES it mean to be submissive?" And I'm pretty sure College Me would have been wildly freaked out by Donald Miller's thoughts on women. 

Ugh I'm sitting here thinking that the last thing the internet needs is another post on this topic, least of all written by yours truly, but I just feel YUCKY. I feel yucky about the whole thing. I am so blessed to have a husband - he actually read these posts FIRST - who wanted to talk about it and talked about it in that measured, fair, peaceful way of his. Whereas, you know, I'm bouncing off the walls. 

I HAVE a love story, but Phillip didn't write it. While it's true that I spent a lot of time sitting around waiting to see if he'd ever pay attention to me, what got me to the place where I was ready to date and marry him honestly didn't have much to do with HIM. It was God and me, working through all my misconceptions and fears and dumb ideas. I was fundamentally changed, refined, reworked, and that story is mine

When it became our love story, that's when I slowly learned what submission truly means. And I don't blame Michele Bachmann for not truly attempting to explain the idea in a one minute televised response - it took me years. And while I'm not sure what I think about her as a politician, I know for damn sure what she means when she says it's about respect, and in a voice that implies that maybe everyone ELSE is getting it wrong. 

And wow, to read a post where the strongest bit of advice to women is to keep themselves chaste so a future husband won't struggle over the woman he loves being "damaged goods"... that's still a thing? That's still A THING? Like I said, it's not the message so much as the language and tone and the prejudices those things imply. I just finished a giant tome on six women who had utterly no control over their own lives, who could be and were killed for being "damaged goods". While the men, of course, were EXPECTED to go around damaging. HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO! I just feel like... women are more than that! Where is the grace in this advice? Where is the forgiveness? Where is the part that says You Are More Than Your Mistakes. Where is the part that says God Does Not See You In That Light.

For the record, I really loved what Secret Vatican Spy had to say on that topic

I'm just... frustrated. I feel like I'M okay. I'm older now. I figured a few things out. I married a guy worthy of everything I can give him, and have nothing to fear. Dare I say I want to submit to him? I have never ever heard him freely toss the word 'slut' around. Ever. He has never made me feel like I wasn't holy enough. He's never lorded his "leadership" over me, he's never made a huge decision without me. He wants more for our daughter than a nice Christian husband. 

But I think there are women who are not okay, and I'm steamed on their behalf. There are girls who haven't started thinking about this stuff yet. And this is what we're going to tell them?

Well. I still have no idea what I was trying to say and I'm just as firmly convinced that the internet did not need MY thoughts on this, but 1) cheaper than therapy 2) easier on Phillip than making him rehash the entire thing with me all over again and 3) I have to go buy more paint AND figure out how to set up the ladder by myself and I'd rather, you know, sit here and vent. THE END. 

General State of Blah-ness

I've already dissected today's main event for Parenting (tomorrow). I liveblogged it, even (and delay posted). In summary: it's tough being three. AND IT'S TOUGHER PARENTING A THREE-YEAR-OLD. There. I said it. Also! I need to be sent to Remedial Mom School because some of the threats I leveled at Jack this afternoon were, at best, on a three-year-old level. So. No gold stars for me. 

But there are cookies! See, a week or so ago I got this super duper heavy package in the mail from Annie, who I met In Person at the Blathering last year (gratuitous Blathering registration linkage!). Inside was this cute little wall hanging that weighed about three ounces, and the rest of the package was a giant, and I do mean GIANT, sack of flour, sugar and chocolate chips. With instructions. And the instructions said: Add 4 eggs. Also a pound of butter. 

Did you get that? A pound of butter?

I have been baking these cookies for about two hours now. THAT'S HOW MANY COOKIES. Some of these are definitely headed to Phillip's work and heads up if you know me in person: I'm about to send a pound of butter your way!

It makes me very glad I decided to make these this afternoon, since I already got my Yearly Doctor Visit out of the way this morning. And you KNOW I closed my eyes when I stepped on that electronic scale (wearing a long sweater, post-breakfast, post-post-breakfast-snack). I am not up for discussing Body Image today folks, suffice to say all indicators are looking dismal. 

THAT SAID. My doctor is an absolute DOLL. I mean, she's a happy cheery gal to begin with, as evidenced by the nonstop chatter (which ordinarily bugs me, but sure takes my mind off Doctor Visit Unpleasantness) AND she will answer your questions forever and a day. Also, she is in a new office and I don't have to deal with the Nurse I Suspect Is Really A Disgruntled Man. (Anyone remember her?) 

But then I started complaining about how I have lost and gained my Selling The House Weight about fifteen times in the last couple months and woe is me and I cannot possibly go on with my life and she says, "Why are you worried about THAT? You look GREAT!" 

If I'd been in proper clothing I might have plastered her with a nice sloppy kiss. Even though the last time she saw me was six weeks postpartum. I BETTER look great.

THEN she started talking about all these OTHER things it could be and I kept saying, "But it's probably the cookies" and she would say, "But wouldn't it be nice if it were your thyroid?"

I mean, not that it would be REALLY nice but that's exactly the sort of thing you want to hear when you are in the midst of Body Image Woes, am I right? I must also remind you that this is the woman who said not one single word to me about weight gain when I was pregnant with Molly, when I gained Six. Tee. Pounds. 

ANYWAY. I said I wasn't going to talk about this. It makes me unhappy. MOVING ON.

Other Things I Am Feeling Sort Of Bad About:

I think I was supposed to vote. Well, the ballot is sitting here on my desk, so that's a clear indication. And now I am reading Twitter updates about voting and it occurs to me that I have missed the deadline and you GUYS. I am ordinarily SUCH a Model Citizen! I don't even know what's ON the ballot!

I'm reading all these BlogHer recap posts and it appears there was no drama, which I find mildly disappointing since I was looking forward to reading about it. (WHAT?) (In this case, the 'You're just jealous!" accusation totally applies.)

My garden. OH MY GARDEN. All the green tomatoes. The weeds. The money I spent FOR NAUGHT. I might get a few zucchini if I'm lucky, and usually I have more zucchini than I know what to do with. The pumpkin I planted for the kids is growing. Sure, the one thing I had no intention of EATING.

That I have no idea if I've missed a third Mad Men episode or if it hasn't yet aired. My TV cred is swirling down the drain. 

My hair. It's getting really long. And I don't have thick luscious hair either. Hmm. What are your thoughts on Thirty-One-Year-Old Mothers With Really Long Hair. I think I have this idea that Moms should have shortish bouncy hair and dudes, I would chop it all off if I thought I had ANY hope of bouncy hair. But I don't, so I'm AFRAID.

OMG! I just heard a woman in the backyard next to mine say, "I love your hair." I SWEAR! I mean, I know she was saying it to someone else, BUT STILL! A SIGN?!

More than the usual amount of melodrama

The only good thing I can say about today is that I worked out. THAT IS IT. 

(Oh, I also saw Carrie and Liz and their respective kiddos and that was ALSO a good thing lest they read this and think: WTF, Maggie Cheung, didn't you just spend your morning with your Fave Local Bloggy Ladies, does that not count as GOOD? When it should actually count as FABULOUS, HARRUMPH.)

So. There was that. 

There was also hour after hour after hour of telling Jackson to stop doing one thing so he could start doing YET ANOTHER thing I did not want him to do. Hour after hour of throwing toys, bothering his sister, going over there when I wanted him to come here, refusing to do what I asked, joyously doing what I specifically told him NOT to do - mere seconds after I TOLD HIM SO, my mean mommy face all up in his. 

Molly was either screeching because Jack was taking her things, screeching because I wasn't holding her, or screeching because THAT IS WHAT SHE DOES. 

(Two nights ago I was a friend's house and her husband came home from work and he was all, "Hey Maggie, wassup!" and I was all, "My children are beasts." And he thought I was joking. And later on Molly screamed one of her trademark Everyone Is Going To Die Unless I Get My Way screams and he remarked from the kitchen, "They ARE beasts!")

Also, neither of them ate. I'm used to Jack not eating. Molly, however, is a machine. (Well, a machine that fuels itself on processed carbohydrates and dairy products, but that's more than I can say for Jack.) But today, today was some sort of coordinated attack. Nothing for breakfast. Nothing for lunch until I broke down and threw the little Ritz cracker sandwiches with the peanut butter filling at their plates because HOLY HECK, CHILDREN you cannot subsist on milk alone! And now: nothing for dinner. And I am giving them the Holy Trinity of Toddler Food, people: mac & cheese, hot dogs and grapes. Three things they reluctantly agree to eat at least 99% of the time, which is as good as it gets around here. What else am I supposed to do? It's not like I'm trying to feed them VEGETABLES - I already made THAT idiotic mistake at lunchtime. I am almost positive I could feed a third world nation on the food I throw in the trash every single stupid day.

Not being able to get my kids to eat, and not just eat GOOD for you food but eat AT ALL, is one of the most frustrating downer things in my LIFE. 

I sat down to write this afternoon and instead of pounding out another 1000+ words like I've been doing every other day this month, all I wanted to do was delete half (if not ALL) of everything I've already written. Every idea I had for moving forward felt wrong. Every potential scenario was based on some previous scenario that I wanted to erase. It's not writer's block so much as wondering whether I have anything left to say. My characters are the most boring insipid people ever dreamed up. They live in the dullest town. They go to the most unrealistic high school on the planet. Their parents are morons, their teachers are caricatures, the things they say would never ever come out of the mouths of Actual Teenagers. Perhaps I will just recreate The Flood and have it done with. 

Phillip is really busy with school and work, focusing on some pretty big Life Decision type things in terms of career and what he wants to be when he grows up, and I am sitting here saying Sure, honey, whatever you want to do! I'll just hang out here and get the kids dinner they won't eat! And REALLY, that is REALLY OKAY WITH ME, but last night I was feeling left out and unimportant and lame and forgotten and have I mentioned my "novel" sucks? IT SUCKS SO MUCH. 

And for 10 days I was thinking: yes! This is the Thing I Will Do With Myself. I love this! It makes me feel like I am being who I'm supposed to be! HAR HAR.

I would also like to say that I'm bummed not to be having a Christmas party this year. Of COURSE I am very (maybe more than very) excited about my sister's wedding and SUPER stoked to wear the froofy dress and the shoes and stand up at the altar and eat the food and dance and help plan the big PARTAY. (Additional note to my sister who probably isn't reading this but if she IS: WAAAAAY EXCITED! PROMISE! WOO!) But we've had a Christmas party every year since we've been married, I spend WEEKS making cookies and buying stuff and plotting the white elephant exchange and dreaming up the Signature Cocktails. We invite absolutely everyone we know, knowing that there is no possible way all those people will fit in our house, but every year we see Old and Comfortable Friends and New and Exciting Friends and I, at least, have a blast. I'm going to have to have a replacement party in February, I think.  

In short - motherhood: FAIL. Novel: SUCKS. Career: NONEXISTENT. Christmas: CANCELLED. Blog: Well, I have that I guess. Except, oh wait, I am missing out on some pretty awesome local blogger perks in the upcoming weeks so BOO ON THAT TOO. 

So, uh, now that I've alienated absolutely everyone, AS YOU WERE. HAPPY WEEKEND. I will be writing another couple thousand words if it kills me. TAKE THAT, NANOWRIMO.

[From the email my Partner In NaNoWriMo Angst just sent me: I feel like we both need some sort of waifish self help coach in Lululemon yoga pants to tell us to write affirmations of self value on our mirrors in lipstick. On this end, I have started taking out my frustrations (literary and otherwise) on caramel popcorn and giant cookies. I wonder how Virginia Woolf, or the V-dub as I have taken to calling her, fought the fatness. Oh, yeah, that whole "lying in bed for months at a time due to the bipolar disorder that would eventually claim her life" thing. Scoff. Back to square one.]

To think I forgot to mention The Fatness. WAH.

It starts with a dishwasher and goes nowhere

Our first apartment didn't have a dishwasher. I didn't use the dishwashers in the apartments before that, since I never dirtied enough dishes at one time. And I grew up in Europe, where no one (at least then) had dishwashers in their weird little out-of-an-Ikea-box kitchens. In other words, I know how to wash a dish, and it's hardly my least favorite chore. No dishwasher, no problem.

Of course, this is my first dishwasher-less experience as the mother of two small children and HOLY HECK, Internet, not having a dishwasher is THE WORST.

It broke Friday morning. "La la la!" I sang to myself. "I am going to the Blathering! Phillip's problem! Phillip's problem!" But as far as I can tell, Phillip went above and beyond what was necessary to avoid washing a dish (hello refrigerator full of ancient leftovers!) and only got around to calling a repairman TODAY. And the repairman is not coming until NEXT WEEK.

Next week is suddenly feeling like next YEAR. I thought constant bottle washing was bad, but now I have sippy cups/toddler utensils/frillion little snack bowls/breakfast, lunch and dinner prep, and that's before I even get to MY dishes. I felt like I was constantly loading and unloading the dishwasher, but I can now confirm that task requires less than half the time needed to hand wash every little spoon. My hands are destroyed, my back hurts and all this dishwashing is seriously cutting into my internet time.


Oh, but I have MORE. I found the absolute most perfect office furniture (filing cabinet, wall shelf, small set of drawers) on Craigslist. The exact same color and style as Phillip's desk, almost new and about 90% off the original price. But I was too late. The furniture is gone. I'm now back to deciding between our old ugly stuff or shelling out the cash for exactly what I could have bought on Craigslist if I'd only been a day or two earlier. WAH.

IN ADDITION. I am having company for lunch and it just occurred to me that they might still be here when the cleaning service lady comes to check out my house and give me an estimate. Gak. There are about twenty-five embarrassing things going on in that one sentence, and that's before I tell you that I'm pretty sure I ruined what I'm serving for lunch. DOUBLE GAK.

AAAAND. I am in a ROTTEN mood due to the fact that Phillip has been messing around with TiFaux and suddenly we only have ONE tuner which means I can only record ONE show at a TIME. I hope I don't have to tell you that that is UNACCEPTABLE. Phillip keeps talking about acquiring another little box and dual tuners and I am all, "Didn't we HAVE dual tuners LAST WEEK?" and he is all, "Why don't you ever pay attention to me, woman? We are in the process of an UPGRADE" and I am all, "All 'upgrade' means to me is NOTHING WORKS" and... you're probably done with this little dialogue, aren't you. Sorry. All that to say: I haven't seen Grey's Anatomy OR The Office. WEEP.

I can't believe I'm about to publish this sorry excuse for a post, but I'm TIRED and it's getting LATE and my kids are STILL making noise and I have to watch the end of The Biggest Loser so I can find out if everyone hauls out their shotguns and puts Tracey back in the hospital where everyone liked her best.

State of the Cheungs

I'm going to insert a pause in the near-irrational Blathering excitement (although, please note, I FINALLY decided what I am going to pack, which has been a dilemma of Mammoth and Life-Impacting Proportions) and tell you that we are having a rough-ish time in the Cheung household. These kids, they are not making it easy.

I can think of a million and a half reasons why either the kids are being difficult or seem like they're being more difficult because Phillip and I are stressing about other stuff. Like impending upheavals to the world as we know it, aka Grad School. Truthfully I think it's a combination of both. Phillip and I have a lot of nervous-making stuff going on, but our typically-good sleeper kids have been nightmares for the last two weeks. The boy won't GO to sleep and the girl won't STAY asleep. I don't know how many times in the last two weeks we've had to stash Molly in another room so Jack can cry it out at bedtime, or run into their room at 3am to play musical bedrooms with Molly so SHE can cry it out. We've been staying up late and getting up early, my lower back is killing me because Molly isn't happy unless she's being carried or practicing walking, I am so very much in denial about the amount of time Phillip is going to be around starting next week and why don't I have any fun shoes to wear this weekend?

Most of this boils over into a conversation we've been having near-daily: when we're going to move out of this house. You should have seen my normally calm cool cucumber of a husband yank off his socks and throw them on the floor instead of lazily sliding them off with the opposite feet. "We! Are! MOVING!" he announced, and began munching his Lays potato chips with a little more vigor than usual.

I don't know if YOU do this, but in the CHEUNG household it's a common theme to assume there is One Magic Solution to all of our problems. For the last couple of days that solution has been More Than Two Bedrooms. Well, since we technically have more than two bedrooms right now, I should amend that to Three Bedrooms We Can Actually USE As Bedrooms. We do the cry it out thing and we have yet to be successful at having one kid sleeping peacefully while the other screams bloody murder in the same room. It's just not happening, no matter how many times my mom says, "Oh, they'll get used to each other."

(And maybe they are TOO used to each other, since Molly now naps in the office because she and Jack would play peekaboo in their cribs FOR HOURS at nap time. NOT OKAY.)

The third bedroom is two floors away from mine, and therefore is unacceptable for nighttime baby containing. No matter what my husband says, this is the case and I will not budge.

Last night I carefully tried to tell Phillip that moving to a three bedroom house doesn't mean our kids will fall asleep at 8 and sleep till 7 every single blessed night. And I honestly don't see what it will do for the girl who must be hefted around like the oldest daughter of the emperor. Or for the boy who won't eat anything that isn't tubular and orange.

But we take turns at Most Frustrated and Most Desperate. Normally it's me, so I ought to give Phillip his once-in-a-blue-moon pouty meltdowns. And I'm the one who came up with Get New House Quick Scheme. We're thinking about putting the house on the market in the spring, hopefully have it sell by the end of the summer and renting for a year. We can't really buy another house yet, for reasons mostly having to do with still having another year of grad school, but this way we can get more space without having to wait until Phillip is done with school. We THINK. Sometime after the holidays I intend to do some intense internet research and find myself a realtor who Knows Things. I need to know if this will even WORK, for starters.

I love our house. It's new and beautiful and I didn't even mess it up too much with my horrid paint jobs and constant mind-changing about where things should be on the walls. It's the PERFECT HOUSE - for people who don't have kids. Or people who have one tiny kid. Or even just ONE kid. But it's hard with two, and I'm trying to stop feeling guilty about saying that. I mean, you guys saw the pictures of my kitchen! How can I complain about a house that has that kitchen! But while there is enough TOTAL space, it's space that's laid out in a really frustrating way when you are wrangling two people who need constant supervision. There are two flights of stairs. The main floor is one big room, with no corner or alcove where I might stash a sleeping baby. The hallway upstairs has no extra space, no area where the kids can really play or (again) where I might stash a sleeping baby. Space is tight in both the bedrooms upstairs, and whatever extra space we had in the office is now used up by the pack 'n play. And the yard, which I originally loved because it wasn't fenced off into a little pen like every other townhouse on our street, is impossible for Jack to really use BECAUSE it isn't fenced in. Not that I would let him play out there by himself anyway, even if it were fenced, because I spend my time two floors away from that yard. IT'S JUST NOT WORKING ANYMORE.

How did this turn into a rant about my house? I'm sure I have MUCH more complaining to do about the nightly 3am Musical Bedrooms game.

Anyway. That's what's going on with us. We are tired. Don't cross us. And I promise not to talk about it this weekend. MUCH, anyway.

Seven Tired Takes

1. Of course, on his second day back in the office, Phillip has his late night server update whatever-it-is. Thank goodness this was the best day Jack's had since we came home, because Molly is (I think) teething and refuses to be put down or left to her own devices for any period of time. She wants me to carry her or walk her around all day long, which means I have acquired killer biceps and a strained back.

2. I just got an email from the library saying Envy, the third Luxe novel, is waiting for me. FINALLY. I am out of books, which is very boring. Of course, TV is picking up again. Everyone is twittering about the Office right now, but I can't watch because Phillip isn't home. There are few shows he really wants to see and The Office is one of them. Glee? Project Runway? Not so much.

3. Okay, this is really bugging me. We saw Julie & Julia this weekend (LOVED THIS MOVIE) (HATED THE BOOK) (even Phillip liked it! It's husband friendly!) and Julie/Amy Adams wore her wedding ring on top of her engagement ring. I know that's a dorky thing to notice, but there are all these typing scenes and it's just THERE. You NOTICE. And it BUGS because I wear my engagement ring over my wedding ring, as does pretty much everyone else I know. I should note that my mother does not have an engagement ring and I never paid any attention whatsoever to engagement rings until AFTER I was engaged, so it's entirely possible that I live in a bubble and I have no idea about anything. Also, it makes more SENSE to wear your wedding ring on top. ALSO also, I fully understand that the proper way to wear your wedding/engagement rings is: ANY WAY YOU WANT. But still, I must know: is the majority at least on my side? Seriously, it's been a week now and I'm STILL BUGGED.

4. I tried to get a lot of cleaning done today because we're having a party on Saturday and I'll be gone all day tomorrow. I know I'll have time to clean on Saturday, but I wanted to get the annoying stuff out of the way, like dusting. I also cleaned the kitchen, picked up/organized toys and Swiffered about half the floor. I know those are all things I'll have to do again on Saturday (and, to be honest, I already did them again TODAY) but I thought I'd get a head start. But I just walked into the kitchen after putting the kids down and I can't tell that I cleaned the kitchen floor AT ALL. Honest. There are spots (from the soap spray?) and lines from where I pull the Swiffer back (which was my beef with the Swiffer to begin with) and, well, I know if I got down on my hands and knees with a wet paper towel, I'd wipe off a bunch of grime all over again. So now I need to stop swiffering and go back to my sponge/bucket method, which was better except for the fact that I NEVER DID IT. I hate this, Internet. It gets me so incredibly horribly down. At least with dusting you have a few days before it starts to look awful again. But the floors - I CANNOT KEEP UP. It doesn't even look nice ten minutes after I finish! I've been doing so well keeping my counters clear and clean, but the floors, the toys, the general crazy clutter in my living room, all of that isn't going so well. I started thinking about my housekeeper idea again, but that feels 1) self-indulgent and 2) CRAZY as HELLO we are now paying TUITION BILLS. But on the days when the floors make me cry... I don't know. I want to be self-indulgent and crazy.

5. Thanks for all the sushi links. Phillip made a practice California roll the other night and if I were into eating fake crab I'd say it looked yummy. Phillip seemed to think it was all right. Have you been to one of those conveyor belt sushi places? I like everything that does not contain fish. Even cooked fish. I don't know. My four-year-old palate is no SURPRISE to you people. But I love pretty much everything else on the conveyor belt. Anything with tofu or eggs or just veggies or (my favorite favorite favorite) TEMPURA VEGGIES. So I have a little box of tempura batter on my counter and we shall see how that turns out. I'll also be making chicken katsu, which I've never made myself, but used to watch my Hawaiian roommate make on a near-daily basis. (Along with spam musabi, which, again, I am not going to eat, but will not judge if YOU do.)

6. And thanks for the wedding links. One of you in particular, I owe a big email all about how my mother cannot stop talking about how you decorated and all of your ideas and maybe WE should do what that BLOG reader did because her wedding was BEAUTIFUL! I think you know who you are! Anyway, I think we have been planning this wedding for all of two weeks? And most of it is done. I KNOW. I mean, there's still a lot of WORK, but all the big decisions? Pretty much scheduled, reserved, DONE. My sister will now give a short polite nod while everyone slow claps in amazement.

7. I should make Phillip a birthday cake, but he doesn't want a chocolate cake and I don't have a good not-chocolate-cake recipe and I cannot bear the thought of beating twelve egg whites into an angel food cake, which doesn't even TASTE like cake and is the WORST vehicle for frosting so what is even the POINT of angel food cake... I digress. I have a bunch of nectarines in the fridge and this appears to be a very easy fruit cobbler recipe. I don't mind experimenting on our guests, and Phillip is one of those annoying people who prefer fruit and vanilla and light and airy over my typical death-by-chocolate preferences. So I think it will work. I'll let you know.

More quick takes here.

It doesn't show signs of stopping

I know you're probably all sick of the blogger types in the Pacific Northwest going all Snowpocalypse on you, but DOOOOOOODS. This is nuts. And it's supposed to snow more tonight, which: YAY. CHRISTMAS IS CANCELED.

Phillip and I can't remember the last time it snowed like this. We both have pictures of ourselves as very small people playing in heaps of snow, but it's not like we remember that. Every year we have one or two snowfalls and breathless local news reporters film their segments on some hill downtown while cars slide into each other. People "work from home" and there's excitement in the air and everyone talks wistfully about a white Christmas. But it almost always melts by morning and we're back to our same old same old dreary gray rain. The end. So this - this inches and inches and INCHES of snow for DAYS ON END - is totally something else. It'd be nice if, you know, a rather important holiday wasn't coming up, the kind where people like to visit family. My family has now put off Christmas till Saturday. YIPPEE.

That actually doesn't bother me too much (I'm all for prolonging the present getting as long as possible) but I AM starting to get a little stir crazy. It's been me and the boy and the baby in this house for way too many dull-as-dirt hours. Yes, we've had our bit of fun outside (he FINALLY agreed to try on the mittens and the boots last night, and then screamed when I made him come inside for dinner) but it's freaking COLD out there (sorry Midwest, I know you've got your subzero temps, and I would surely die if subjected to that) and also, there's just only so much you can DO. We can't even make a proper snowman because the snow is too powdery. We delivered cookies to the neighbors and cajoled my sister into visiting more times that she really wanted to, but I am going through Target withdrawal here, people. THINGS ARE GETTING DESPERATE.

I am running out of ways to entertain us. We have found all the Santas on the tree. We have identified all the babies in the Christmas cards. (Hi Eli! Hi Camilla! Hi Asher!) We have read the Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer book 837 times. Today I think we might make some fudge, but I'm out of ideas. Even if Jack cooperated on getting out of the house, the snow is too deep for him to walk anywhere and the stroller gets stuck.

AND I've been forced to snack on Christmas cookies since I'm too much of a wuss to drive to the grocery store and stock up. If I am not Hot By Thirty I am blaming the snow.

Anyway. That's what's going on in my neighborhood. We're going to try and drive down to my mom's tomorrow anyway, even though our rollicking Christmas Eve has been postponed. I have to get out of here. Anyone own a helicopter?