What happened with kindergarten, plus Free Time, how do I maximize it?

Emma's not going to kindergarten next year. The story on THAT is: 

  • We thought she was ready to go to kindergarten next year.
  • Our personal experts on the subject - teachers in our family, teachers at the kids' school, ourselves - thought she was more than ready. 
  • We weren't 100% certain we would send her, but we wanted to be able to choose at the last minute. 
  • So we took her to the Early Entrance Screening the district offers for kids born just after the cut off, like Emma
  • When I called her preschool to ask for their help appealing the decision they said, 
  • "Oh, we don't think she should go either."
  • Which. 
  • I mean.
  • I'd talked to them about it. They knew we were planning to do this. I sat in the director's office and told them what we wanted to do.
  • They offered some social emotional reasons, things we wouldn't see at home because they're out of context. Things I would have liked more time to discuss and think about, but at that point we had 24 hours to write an appeal and preschool wasn't going to back us up sooooo
  • Emma's not going to kindergarten!
  • And I have made my peace with that, but not so much with the feeling Very Very Stupid And Foolish And Like A Bad Parent when it comes to my interactions with the preschool. HEY, WE ALL HAVE OUR FLAWS. 

Now I am trying to figure out the What To Do With Emma Next Year question and I would like to know what you think. 

I don't swing either way on the send-them-early, keep-them-home debate. I think each kid is different, yada yada yada. It is weird to me that we'll have a youngest-in-her-class (Molly) and an oldest (Emma), there's something about how they are 3 years apart but will be 4 years apart in school that is like a psychological block for me, I wish I could consult the What Kind of Teenagers Will They Be Crystal Ball, but you know, whatever. There were things I WASN'T sure about with Emma and now getting those things right in time for kindergarten is no longer a pressure and that feels lovely. I am happy to give her another year of solo treats and outings with me. (Or maybe I am happy to give that to ME.) 

But Emma needs to go to school. She might not be socially/emotionally ready, but academically speaking she's beyond where Molly was when she traipsed off to kindergarten and 2 days of preschool plus coloring and Shopkins at home is not cutting it and this kid needs something to DO. 

We reserved a spot in the 5s Program at her current preschool as our back up (good thinking, us!). And that's probably what we'll end up doing. There will only be 8 kids in the class, we love the school (the above communication issue notwithstanding), and she's very happy there. 

BUT. The schedule might kill me. BECAUSE. Next year the big kids are starting 45 minutes earlier (oh, I must have spared you the whole bell times debate in Seattle Public Schools, LUCKY YOU). That means next year I will be

  • Marching the big kids to the bus around 7:15, 7:20ish. (OMG)
  • Hanging out at home with Emma - or going grocery shopping? to a coffee shop? Target? - until 9:15 when I drive her to school (which starts at 9:30)
  • She has lunch at school and I pick her up at 1:30, get home about 1:45ish
  • Big kids walk home from the bus, get home about 2:30

Writing that out, it doesn't look like the MOST horrible thing in the world. I have a good chunk of time while everyone's in school, and this would be every day. It's just that that gap between the big kids and Emma is so annoying NOW, when it's only an hour, and next year it will be twice as long. And then hardly any time between when Emma gets home and the big kids, which right now is a peaceful get-some-stuff-done time at home. It isn't very EFFICIENT and you guys, I like efficiency. Having my day broken up like that is doable, but I won't like it. 

But a friend who sends her daughter to Catholic school came over this morning and tried to talk me into sending Emma to the Catholic school PreK. Not doing that, I'd have to drive in rush hour every day, NOPE. But there is a different Catholic school around the corner from our house, and Jack went there for PreK, and his terrible teacher is no longer the teacher, and hmm, let's look at that schedule. 

  • March big kids to the bus around 7:15, 7:20ish.
  • Hang out with Emma at home before we drive the 30 seconds or walk the 5 minutes to her school which starts at 8:30.
  • She has a snack at school, but I drive/walk to pick her up at noon and she has lunch at home.
  • Big kids get home about 2:30. 

What do we think about THAT? 

She's in school less time (half hour less) and this would be 4 days instead of 5 days at her current school (because of how the tuition works out, omg this is so expensive). It's not as much time at school, but I don't spend as much time driving back and forth so MY amount of free time is probably the same. I was thinking she might have to skip a bunch of Fridays anyway because those are the days I usually need to work with Katie on bakery stuff and I wouldn't be able to do all THAT driving with the first schedule. 

As for the actual SCHOOL, I don't know. I am absolutely certain the current school's 5s program will be awesome. We've loved everything about that school, there will only be 8 kids, she'll have so much fun and attention. I am less familiar with the Catholic school. I know it will have way more students, but it will also have the benefit of being part of the bigger school and she'll get to go to library and art and GUESS WHAT WE'RE CATHOLIC and I like all that praying in school. 

Okay, so basically I am writing all this out because I know my mom will read it (HI MOM!) and then she'll call me and tell me what she thinks. The rest of you are bored to death. And Phillip has no idea what he's walking into when he gets home. HEH. 


We just finished a 500 cookie order. I deliver it tomorrow. It was less work (for me, not poor Katie heh) than I anticipated and hey, we'll get paid this month! That'll be new! 

And this is the last week of school for all my kids. We pick them up early from the last day to head to the ocean for our annual my-side-of-the-family weekend in a VRBO house. I am alternately delighted not to have to scream at everyone to get ready in the mornings while making lunch and breakfast at the same time, and terrified by memories of kids demanding I be their cruise director last summer. We have swim lessons, VBS, a few weekend trips, and plenty of friends to play with over the next 2 months, but I won't lie, I live in trepidation of the Surly Sullen Child Who Demands The iPad At All Hours. But do not fear, in the face of surly I respond with unsympathetic momness that insists on checking out SOMETHING from the public library each week. 

Now I'm gonna go collapse face first into my bed before I have to start thinking about what in the world we're having for dinner. 

SAHMing, and realizing the end of an era quickly approaches

I'm feeling extraordinarily proud of my momming today, you guys. I took Emma to the local library story time, which she loved, and then there was crafting, which I actually participated in, and then we picked out books and now we're home eating lunch. I feel like a proper stay at home mom instead of a mom who stays home and spoils her kid in coffee shops every morning and spends too much money at Target. 

Now that it's January I feel acutely aware of how much full time momming I've got left. Emma's birthday is a few weeks past the kindergarten cut off date, but in the opinions of me, Phillip, my former teacher parents, and my current teacher friends, she will be totally ready for kindergarten in the fall. (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE POTTY TRAINING ISSUE, which we will discuss in a moment.) So if she actually does go to kindergarten in September, I've only got six months left of Big Kids Go To School, Little Kid Hangs Out With Mommy. I expect All Kids Are At School to be really really different. Moms already in this position tell me that I won't have as much time as I think I'll have, but I still expect it to be DIFFERENT. The preschool driving back and forth, the figuring out what to do with us on not-preschool days, the eating lunch together, the snuggling in bed and waiting until the absolute last second to pick the kids up at the bus stop... those days are quickly flying by and I'm feeling the pressure to Cherish! Every! Moment! 

And I WANT to. I'm not being obnoxious or sarcastic. Even on the rotten days when my kids are horrible and I'm exhausted and out of patience, I've been thankful for the option of being a stay at home mom. I quite enjoy not having a boss or responsibilities to other people besides my family. It's given me space to devote to the not-paid things I'm really interested in doing. I am a terrible housewife and a lazy mom, but I'm good at lots of other things (and other aspects of being a mom!) and I can do all of that because I stay home. I'm suited to it, which really does surprise me, and because I stay home my career-oriented husband has had near complete freedom to pursue his goals. I struggle with not earning money and the paycheck=worth feeling, I sometimes feel useless or not as accomplished as my working mom friends, and the full-time working husband/stay at home wife dynamic can be confusing in 2015. But ninety-nine percent of the time, I'm confident in my role. 

So what will it be like when Emma goes to kindergarten?!?!

I've had MANY more-experienced-parents say to me that as your kids get older it becomes more important to be around for them. I... am not sure about that! I mean, we'll see how it goes, right? But just on a daily taking-care-of-everyone's-needs basis, it seems like things are only going to get simpler. (Until my kids start demanding to be driven to sports and social engagements, I suppose. I'm sort of hoping they are couch potato nerds on that front.) People might start being actual helps in the taking out the garbage department, the cleaning up of the kitchen department, the laundry department, and the - could it BE? - cleaning the toilet department. (All things I am notably lazy and bad at, btw.)

And when all three kids are in school I expect finding time for bakery emails and the gym and meeting up with church people and PTA social media and whatever else I've dipped a toe in to be MUCH MUCH EASIER. I will probably not go back to work, the big reason being that I don't have a Work to go back to. I was "in publishing" (the scare quotes are super valid) before and have no interest in going back. The career-type jobs that interest me (design, coding, user experience stuff) feel very hard to get into at age 36. I think I missed the boat on those things, which is probably just how it goes when you have absolutely no idea what you want to be until you're no longer in your 20s. And the stuff I'm ACTUALLY interested in (almost all church-related things) aren't paid. Ha. Honestly, if I went back to work it'd probably be as a part time admin or a barista or some job at the kids' school, something where I would leave all my work at work and still have enough time to do the things I'm involved in now. And I could see that happening. If something presented itself, I'd seriously think about it. Grad school? HA HA HA. What for? I can't justify however many thousands of dollars for an MFA, which is really the only degree that sounds awesome. Phillip went to the iSchool (I like to think of his master's degree as my third child, Emma being the fourth) which could potentially be up my alley, but again, I don't think I want a Real Job. Maybe some sort of spiritual direction type certificate, but when I'm, like, 50. That's got plenty of time to percolate. 

ANYWAY. ALL THAT TO SAY. These last (hopefully) months with just Emma and me at home, that's an Era coming to an END. I just want to be aware of it and make the most of it, while also reserving my right to fall down foaming at the mouth on Terrible Children Days. Library story time, which I regret to say I didn't even bother to look up until this morning, is every Monday. What if we did the gym after the bus stop and then headed to the library on Mondays? That would be a GREAT routine! Preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays - more gym and plenty of unpaid-work-that-I-still-have-to-get-done time for me. Wednesdays and Fridays reserved for our typical coffee and shopping, or visiting Grandma, or hanging out with Mommy's friends, or folding clothes in front of TV. 

Maybe all this stuff is also on my mind because of how BIG Emma is getting. She's just a big girl these days, with plenty to say about everything. She's the little spoiled sister in our family, but when it's just her and me I can see how much her brain is expanding: her vocabulary, her ideas, her thought processes. IF ONLY this would extend to the bathroom! I keep saying I'm going to take her to a naturopath, so I should actually get on that. I think I've been slow because in my heart of hearts I suspect this is a LEARNED ATTITUDE, not a physical issue, and I am not going to get the potty training timeline I prefer. What kid do you know who's been dry overnight with nary an accident for 1.5 years, yet will not even TELL you when she needs to go poop? (Sorry Future Emma, but the fact that I have to resort to discussing your habits (or lack thereof) on the blog is YOUR fault, not mine.) I mean, I devoted my Christmas novena to this issue. I AM PRAYING FOR HONEST TO GOD MIRACULOUS HEALING. 

Let us all direct our good juju to the potty training gods and the people who decide whether a four-year-old-but-turns-5-in-3-weeks gets to enter kindergarten in Seattle Public Schools. I thank you for your efforts. 


My mother would like to know what the point of having a blog is if I'm not going to write about her grandchildren so HERE YA GO, MOM

As this is/used to be/poses as a Mommy Blog, I thought I'd throw a bone to at least my mother and write about the kids. I have kids! Do we remember them? This used to be all about them! Now they are... big. They also have absolutely no idea that I write about them on the internet. I suspect all three would be pleased in some way, though the only one who would ACT pleased is the middle one and for sure the oldest one would have some sort of cheek-sucking, "Well, I don't know how I really FEEL about that..." comment. Though the cheek-sucking is there to contain the Secretly Pleased that he can't help but show whenever anyone is paying attention to him. And then the youngest, I mean, she's still trying to color her whole self with pink highlighter, so does her opinion matter much?

But I'm not sure how much longer the Pleased will continue. The oldest is eight. EIGHT. And now he is all tanned legs and knee-length baggy shorts and sports camp t-shirts and "Can I play the Xbox? Can I play the iPad? Okay then, can I play your PHONE? And can we get a new game?" This reveals poor parenting, I know, but I feel that I can blame this particular flaw on my husband, seeing as how HE is the one who had to have one each of the the Xbox, Wii, Apple TV, Roku, Newest Phone, Newest Laptop, ETC. How am I supposed to stem the tide of Screens when I am married to that? 

I have my own screen habit btw, if you hadn't noticed. 

Jackson is going into third grade and while second grade memories are, for me, spotty, THIRD grade is when my real life began. So I am tremendously excited and tremendously afraid. This is when all the reasons he'll have to go to therapy as an adult will start happening, am I right? Now he's going to REMEMBER all my parenting flaws. And these are numerous lately, as I contend with a Jackson who is also not being the best version of himself. This summer we've had conversations on what exactly denotes a dirty pair of shorts, how (and why) to not steamroll one's grandparents, how to move about the house your mother is losing her mind with you (pretend you do not exist), why Reading is Important, how much your mother does not care what state that license plate is from on that car up there (like, so so so does not care), and why saying "please" or a "no, thank you" to something you say does not automatically make it good manners. This is the summer that real and true Boredom has set in, meaning it is the summer I have started saying things like, "You could fold this laundry right here and put it away! You could sweep the deck! Do you want to do the dishes? I CAN THINK OF LOTS OF THINGS FOR YOU TO DO."

He is moody, whiny, and entirely self-absorbed which makes me tremble with fear for his future as a teenager living in my house. He is only eight. Why so much existential angst? How bad can it be when one lives on one's favorite orange processed noodle food, has built approximately thirteen million Minecraft cities, and is continually asked to play by the cute blond girl down the street? Is this such a rough life? 

That said, the key to getting this kid to be a Good and Decent Human Being, one that does not walk about the house like a Freaking Martyr, is not taking away his beloved electronics or yelling or lectures or solitary confinement or early bedtimes. (Though none of those things are his favorite and can often serve to make his parents feel better.) No, it's actually putting absolutely everything else aside and sitting down with just Jackson in his own space and Asking Him How He's Doing. He will tell you (!) and usually at least half of it makes you want to explode with annoyance or resentment or frustration, but really he wants to be Heard and then loved on a little bit. Reading him a story (even though he's EIGHT and doesn't LIKE READING STOP MAKING HIM DO IT) or playing a game or watching him do his magic tricks or talking about what we'll do tomorrow or next weekend. A little one on one time, a little attention, and suddenly I have my sweet little boy back, the one who draws me get well cards and snuggles and cleans up the living room as a "surprise" for me. He beams with happiness, he gets the giggles, he wears what I tell him to wear, he is kind and loving to his sisters, he actually secretly does like reading. 

Molly finds the entire world to be a delight and in doing so is a Delight herself. She has her occasional moments of Devastation, for example when Jackson throws a ball and it glances off her elbow, or when Jackson (again) says something less than completely complimentary about her French braid. We understand - after all, we live with Jackson too - but we can usually find a way to move on from these bits of Crushing Despair and move right back into out of control laughing and going along with whatever anyone else wants to do. 

She's taken to sitting at the table and intently drawing girl upon girl upon girl upon girl, all with different styles and colors of hair and dresses. As I remember doing this exact same thing, I find it enchanting. She makes up stories and her response to Enforced Reading Time is generally happiness for twenty minutes or so, then, "Mommy, can I WRITE my own story?" To which Mommy always enthusiastically nods. (When she is not half asleep on the couch - HER response to Enforced Reading Time.) 

Molly is all tanned legs, too-short skirts and dresses and shorts because DEAR GOD this child is a weed, and hair that WANTS to be Princess Elsa, but is more (and beautifully so), end-of-the-movie Mulan. She is up for anything at any time. As she kept telling me in Italy, "I want to do EVERYTHING!" A former nearly-seven-year-old girl myself, I know that this effervescent cheer does not last, that one day everything will be terrible, that no one will understand her, that her mother, especially, will not care one ounce about her emotional well being or fragile state of mind or the thousands of feelings she will have in the space of one fourteen-year-old hour - so I am VERY MUCH ENJOYING nearly-seven-year-old Molly who seems to have no clue about Mean Girls and cannot wait to go back to school and see all of her favorite people, which is all of the people. 

I suspect she takes after her father, and not because she will often a choose a potato chip over a cookie (although this is because she knows her brother and sister will choose a cookie and then she can get them to share, thereby enjoying both a cookie AND a potato chip - smart). Like Phillip, Molly floats along, not really noticing the not so nice people or comments that could be taken a certain way or unpleasant dynamics. I think this will change as she gets older - she IS a girl - but for now I am in awe of this cheery oblivious-ish personality and the lack of drama compared to so many of my friends' girls of the same age. As long as we are wearing a cute skirt and braid and Mommy has allowed her to pick out her own snack, everything is very very good. 

As for the youngest, she is... the youngest. As the oldest I vowed - V.O.W.E.D. - to treat all of my future children equally, to not lay more responsibility upon the oldest, to not baby the youngest, to not ignore the middle, and especially not to let the younger kids do things at an earlier age than I allowed the oldest. HEAVEN FORBID. While that hasn't been a problem yet (no one is quite asking to shave her legs), I have utterly failed at not babying my youngest. I coddle her, I expect less independence of her than I did with Jack when he was her age. I rarely say no to anything - treats, toys, anything that should be special tends to be the norm with Emma. The thing is, I'm not sure I can help it and (worse) I'm not sure I want to. I KNOW. I AM A TERRIBLE HORRIBLE UN-EQUAL MOTHER AND MY KID-SELF IS FURIOUS. 

There is one thing about Emma that drives us positively INSANE and that is the fact that she will be wearing pull ups in college. Oh, also that if she happens to sleep during the day, even for five minutes, she'll be up until the wee hours in her bed, singing the Wicked soundtrack and/or Taylor Swift and annoying the entire house. Some people sleepwalk, Emma Cheung sleepsings. Whether or not Emma took a nap that day is a question the entire family asks, every day. We like to be prepared. 

That said, I have been ridiculously attached to this kid from Day One and that combined with the fact that she is likely our last makes it very very hard to be Objective or Stern. About anything. We find her charming and endlessly entertaining. The other day I found a video on my phone of 1-year-old Emma doing something silly with a toy, and then continuing to do it because it made the rest of us laugh. I suppose that is quintessential youngest child as well? When she's not milking her Youngest Status (and we ALL get suckered by that, her siblings included), she's searching for the thing to say, the thing to do (or sing!) that will make us all laugh. 

She loves Jack, but she wants to BE Molly. One day she'll hate that all of her clothes used to be Molly's, but right now it is the best! thing! ever! Did MOLLY wear this when SHE was three?! THAT IS JUST THE MOST AMAZING THING SHE'S EVER HEARD!!!!!

Emma had just started to bloom - happily leaving me for preschool, playing with other kids on her own - when we whisked her out of preschool and went to Europe for three weeks. Since then she's back to her clingy self, getting out of community center ballet class by whimpering, "I miss Mommy!" She's alternately terrified of and in love with other people's pets, glued to my leg while one hand gingerly pets a furry head. You ask her what she wants to do and nine times out of ten the answer is "Go shopping with Mommy." (I MEAN COME ON.) In the fall she goes back to school, now three days a week, and staying for lunch. It will be wonderful, and it will be sad. The only thing sadder will be kindergarten. Let's not think about it. 

Together they are amazing. As one of five kids, all 1 year apart, I know from fighting and my kids don't do it. Not like we did. Jack and Molly will annoy each other, take each other's thing, accidentally poke or shove or hit, but most of the time they are super tight, two heads put together making up games or shows or the most amazing domino run in the world. They're almost always happy to let their little sister play too, and if Jack can find something better than Minecraft for ten minutes, he's motivating the others and I don't even care that they're destroying the house because ALL THREE ARE OCCUPYING THEMSELVES AND HAVING A GOOD TIME AND I CAN READ THE INTERNET IN PEACE. 

The little blond girl down the street is absolutely devastated every time she rings the doorbell and Jack and Molly aren't home - they're at camp, or out at the pool with their dad, or something like that - and she is SO. VERY. SAD. And my kids aren't ever like that because they have each other and I'm just amazed and thrilled that it turned out the way it did. It is my deepest dearest hope that they are friends when they grow up - good, close friends like they are now. At swim lessons, Jack and Molly are in different classes, but if they bump up against each other in the water, they're like OH LOOK, IT'S MY SIBLING WHO I HAVEN'T SEEN IN FOUR WHOLE MINUTES HEY HEY HIIIII THIS IS SO COOL! And at school when their classes are passing by in the hallway, they throw out a secret sibling wave that everyone can see. And then Emma is on the sidelines with me, not quite old enough to have her own class yet, and shouting, "HEY I SEE MY SISTER!" and that sister will hear and throw a wave to the other one. I could not love it more. 

Still need school to start soon. I'm not THAT in love with these kids that they don't need to spend copious amounts of time away from me each day. LET'S NOT GET CARRIED AWAY HERE. 


Oh yeah, I used to write about my kids

ALL RIGHT. Things are looking up. There was a sudden influx of capital to Thumbprints Baking Co., for which the owners are terribly grateful and over the moon. We have picked a kitchen. We have insurance. The next step is formalizing the agreement and the step after that is (OH GOD) going through the county health department food business application process. I am guessing I will need to restock the liquor cabinet. 

But I want to exercise my mommyblogger chops tonight and write down a few things I've noticed about my kids. Before I forget. So you can leave now, it's okay, I totally won't be offended. 

So there's this huge amazing CRAZY thing I've been more and more aware of lately and that is the fact that my two biggest kids seem to be best friends. This is wild to me. It's not that they never fight (they always fight) but they also really really like each other. They don't really want to do anything without the other. We keep asking them if they're ready to stop sharing a room (when are a brother and sister too old to share a room?) and neither of them are interested. Well, they're very interested, just not right NOW. Even when I make a point of reminding them that Molly would share with Emma and we'd move the girls into the room next to Jack's so he wouldn't be alone downstairs. No no, they don't want to do that yet. 

And they play with the same things and play the same way. They would both choose to do an art project over almost anything else (except perform Let It Go in princess dresses for their parents and all their parents' friends.) They make up plays. They build elaborate forts in the living room and pretend that Emma is their kid or their pet or just some random baby they get to boss around. They squabble constantly and accidentally hurt each other all the time, but I'm not sure either of them has ever been purposefully vicious to the other. 

My brother and I are the same number of months apart as Jack and Molly. I suppose it's possible we liked each other when we were very small? But my main memories of my brother are of him barging into my room (which was 1) not allowed and 2) totally unnecessary, no I am still not over this and have refused to "just ignore him" for 34 years), messing up my stuff, and being mean to me. Always! My whole life! Not that I was a total peach to him - I remember my dad telling me, many many times, "Some day he'll be bigger than you, Mag! Watch out!" So yes, I shall grudgingly admit that I possibly beat up on him too. I sort of remember playing outside with him, making mud soup and charging through the patch of forest across the street from our house and riding bikes. My mom is probably reading this and thinking, "You did TOO have fun together!" Maybe it wasn't until we were a little older that he became my main reason for wanting to hurry up and go to college already. (Like 5th grade older.)

But I don't see that with Jack and Molly. Really. I suppose it's possible and I'm sure one day they won't want to do the same things all the time and play with the same kids and feel bad that having a "boys only" birthday party means Molly can't come. (Jack is turning 7 next month. Omg.) But still. They really really like each other, they look out for each other, they give each other heads up when their mom is on the warpath. I'm starting to wonder if they're going to be the kind of brother and sister who are buddies growing up. Who don't have to turn 30 and live in separate houses before they finally tolerate each other. (You may think I'm being snotty about my brother, but I bet you anything he would agree. Also, he called the other day to talk about the bakery and wanted to give me some feedback and he had to say, "Look, I'm not being a jackass like usual, I'm really trying to help." SEE? EVEN HE SAYS SO.)

And you know what, I'm writing this on April 1, which is basically my brother's personal holiday, the day on which he switched out my morning cereal for dog food, shortsheeted my bed, and set my alarm clock to go off in the middle of the night. HOW APT.

So yeah, my heart IS warmed over by the affection my two oldest show each other. (Ask me again when they're teenagers.)

Emma, however, worships the very ground on which her brother and sister tread. All day long I am reminded that something is Molly's, something is Jack's favorite, something is what Molly wants, something is what Jack did. Everything - EVERYTHING - relates to her two favorite people, some way or another. She will play any game they want to play. The big thing right now is "putting Emma to bed" - in the middle of the day, for whatever reason, and she gaily goes along with it, climbing into her bed with her stuffed cow and her pacifier and staying there however long they require. She's the baby and she has her manipulative moments, her fickle devotions, her sudden wails of distress. But for the most part she's all about being where they are, doing whatever they are doing. Including homework. Emma does lots and lots of homework. 

I just think they are the neatest. I could have never dreamed them up. My creative, sensitive, sweet little boy. My absentminded, giggly, kind little girl. My utterly charming, delighted by everything two-year-old. They are just perfect.




Pink potties, rabid fans, days off

Miss EJ spent the majority of her day wearing various pairs of hand me down Dora underpants and getting them dirty. I honestly don't know what possessed me today, thinking we would try potty training. I think I've overheard various people talk about their potty trained two-year-olds over the past few weeks and maybe it just caught up with me. IS THERE SOMETHING I AM NOT WINNING?!?! 

So EJ and I and EJ's cousin, who I was babysitting, and who was thoroughly unimpressed with the entire thing, went to Target and bought a pink and white potty with a crown on the lid that plays a triumphant tune when it detects, ah, contents. And then I dug out the underpants because hey! EJ loves Dora! And you guys I have NO MEMORIES of how I potty trained the older two. I know it didn't really happen until they were three. Ish. I also know that whatever I tried didn't work and I basically just had to wait until it happened. But for whatever reason this hasn't deterred me from attempting to control the situation with Baby #3. Apparently SOME children take to this whole training thing. Some of them are not much older than EJ! 

Anyway, in case you are concerned, I am not COMMITTED or anything. We are basically going to not care about wet pants for a few days and see what happens. I am totally fine with sticking the potty in the closet for a few months and trying again later. But I have also notified the trainee that she gets ice cream if she goes in the potty SO. We shall see. 

Why I decided I was up for this after the impromptu Super Bowl shindig is beyond me because DUDES. That was EXHAUSTING. I find caring about sports teams sort of exhausting in the first place. I get, you know, EMOTIONALLY INVESTED. Even when I actively try NOT to be emotionally invested. My sympathies for the losing team made me a less than valuable high school sports player. (My team always won. It did. Not because of me. HA HA HA. My school mysteriously had the best girl AND boy athletes in the league. Every year. For every sport. I should count myself lucky that they let me warm the bench let alone get any playing time.) 

But the whole CITY has gone MAD, people. I've been volunteering in Jack's Sunday School class and even the kids (the ones who showed up on Sunday, anyway) were rabid Bronco-hating football know-it-alls. (Even Jack, who was obviously making it all up. Poor kid.) I do love me a good theme party, so I was pretty excited to have a house full of crazy 12th men, but whoa. I think what got me was all the preparation for the kids. I knew no one wanted their game interrupted with "can you get me a drink?" so I did my best to make spaces for the kids and provide them with their own snacks and juice boxes and all that. ANYWAY. There were lots of people and lots of kids and lots of yelling (and then lots of "THIS IS BORING") and I could barely pick myself up off the couch to go to bed last night. AND THIS IS SOMEONE WHO CARES NOT MUCH ABOUT THE BIG GAME, SEAHAWKS OR NOT.

It is fun, though, to see the people you love get all excited and happy. Isn't it? 

The rest of this week involves bakery orders. Which is great! Each order is a new challenge for me, packaging-wise. I should probably just invest in a good supply of boxes from Nashville Wraps, but in the meantime I've been hunting in various less-than-stellar stores and since everything is special order I'm never quite sure what's going to fit in what. And this week I am shipping CROISSANTS and OH GOD we are very nervous about that. The croissant buyer has assured us she is well aware of the risks, but we still had to CONFERENCE today about HOW TO SHIP THE CROISSANTS. (My ideas were flatly rejected. Apparently I know nothing about the special needs of baked goods.) Anyway, each order is always a teeny bit nervewracking until I figure it out. I have several of those this week. 

Oh! We have a Facebook page. You should go Like it. (This is where I bat my eyelashes at you and smile prettily.) 

OH WAIT! I didn't tell you about my day off! Dudes, it pays to publish your whiny screeds to the internet, because sometimes your husband reads them and takes action. Friday night Phillip drove the kids to his parents' house and didn't come home until SATURDAY NIGHT. Like, straight-to-bedtime Saturday night. I hardly knew what to do with myself! It was crazy! I had already made plans to meet friends Friday night, so I did that, and then I lulled myself to sleep with a good history book. Early Saturday morning I had plans to meet another friend for coffee and after THAT I got my hair cut. Sort of. It was more of a Maintenance Trim. Right now I am shooting for this. I don't really want to grow it OUT grow it out, but this is long enough to mess with while short enough to be short and maybe if I keep coloring my hair it'll feel kicky and not too mommish. 

I spent the rest of my day doing some bakery errand running, packaging up some orders, baking for the Super Bowl party, and lying on the couch with my book. Man, I LOVE lying on the couch with my book. Other women fear turning into their mothers, but I am turning into my dad. The type of book and all. HRRRMMM.

Anyway. It was a lovely lovely day and I was so HAPPY to see my husband at the end of it. A saint among men that Phillip Cheung. 


Emma's birthday, remembering a birth day

Two years ago last night I texted a good friend right before I went to bed. She was in labor and I assumed she'd have a new baby when I woke up in the morning. I told her I was thinking about her, wished her good luck, and fell asleep.

Of course, my water broke a few hours later around midnight and I was the one with a new baby in the morning, two weeks early. My friend had her baby later on in the day, a few days late. Because I feel like the universe owes me, here's a link to THAT story

But really, the universe ponied up with Emma, my precious third baby, and I am continually - no really - amazed at the universe's generosity. She is such a delight to our family that sometimes I'll think back to the time of Third Baby Negotiations and feel panicky. What if... ugh, let's not think about it. Plus that line of thinking tends to make me consider Fourth Baby and sheesh, let's not do that today either. 

At two years old, Emma is feisty, cheery, talkative, and makes certain you are aware of her presence. Has there been a noisier baby? No, there has not. At all hours of the day and night this kid is running her mouth. It makes more sense in the daytime - "Wash hands! I do it! Shoes! My Dora! Hi Daddy! BREAKFASSSSSSSSS!" - and drives us to tears in the nighttime. What we have here is not so much talking in one's sleep as whining and moaning and groaning and also singing and hollering in one's sleep. She's also a mama's (and daddy's) girl and shy and suspicious of new people, the better to lead them to believe she's sweet and quiet and demure. HA HA HA.

We had a lovely family brunch on Saturday with peach French toast (KILLER RECIPE, PEOPLE) and rainbow cake and mimosas and plenty of Dora-themed birthday gifts. Today, on her actual birthday, we spent a quiet morning with our birthday buddies and blew out candles on an apple crisp. The birthday girl is now passed out in bed, sleeping off the sugar. 

I am so very tremendously thrilled to spend this year at home with Emma. I am so thankful. 


Someone's in a big girl bed! Also: job update. Because you were on tenterhooks I'm sure.

We're not surprised I bought Emma a toddler bed today, are we? Of course not This is EXACTLY the kind of dumb thing I do that drives my husband crazy. Case in point: I just put the toddler to bed and she is SUPER PISSED that she no longer has bars with which to prop up her feet. She kept holding her leg out to me and grunting indignantly. "Where are my bars, woman?!" 

I bought Emma a toddler bed not because she needed or wanted or was ready to leave her crib behind, no, I bought the bed because I wanted a WHITE bed, a key element for the Redecorating Of Emma's Room. With which I have thrown myself with GUSTO. Up next: wall paint, curtains, PAINTING A DRESSER. Oh yes. This is what happens when I have to put my unused Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit in my garage. 

Yeah, I'm ridiculing my own self right now. It was fun to take pictures of her in it, but I'm not so sure about the SLEEPING in it. She's become a half decent sleeper, even if she does wake up almost every night and thump her head/kick her feet/moan herself back to sleep. At least *I* don't have to do it, right? Why am I messing with that? I WAS NOT THINKING!

Okay, here's what I was thinking:

  • Emma is too big for the pack 'n play so when she stays overnight with Grandma she's going to start sleeping in a toddler bed
  • My sister needs a crib
  • Our crib is the wrong color for my Grand Scheme
  • Even though it's basically the same size, I have a few more furniture arrangement options if I move her out of the crib
  • I thought she was too little still for a twin bed

The end. Not QUITE enough evidence for moving her you say? I guess we'll find out. I've been anti-toddler bed, even. Why do people want to move babies out of cribs! Keep'em in there until they're five! Go right to a twin! Toddler beds are silly!

And yet, here I am. I suppose I could have just painted the crib white. Nahhhh

Today was a blissfully dull one (until Jack contracted some mysterious YMCA Day Camp illness and barfed in the car on the way home. I think he was carsick from a bus ride? Or just hot? He IS a delicate little flower, the sort of native PNWer who says, "Mommy, it's too sunny," on a 65 degree day in April.) I appreciated the Dull since yesterday was the opposite. I would have written the longest blog post ever published, but most of it goes against Blog Policy. Bummer! 

Things I CAN say: the naturopath appointment was awesome. I'm not sure if my new hippie treatment plan will actually WORK, but the appointment itself was hands down the best health care experience I've had since I've had to pay for it myself. I'll write more about it later, including all the parts that will make my pharmacist bff cringe. Heh. Also: acupuncture. I KNOW. 

Another thing I can say: I didn't get the job. But I did get two more emails from the principal late last night thinking up ways I can still get myself employed at her school. Basically I can be an office assistant SUB. Did you know they do that? I didn't! So that means I could work once in a blue moon, but gather the necessary experience to better qualify me to work the following year, which is a possibility because the school is growing. Honestly? This sounds better to me. I wasn't QUITE ready to leave Emma, even part time. Amongst other things I wasn't quite ready for. But the possibility still remains and I will be in the know and yes. So far this sounds good. 

I went on and on about this with Phillip and IRL friends last night, so I feel like I'm boring you and/or repeating myself. But when I heard I didn't get the job I wasn't disappointed - I mean, it's never fun to hear you were rejected, obvs. But I just kept thinking of all the things I wasn't going to get to do. Things with Emma, getting back in shape at the Y every morning (we'll see if this actually happens ANYWAY), starting to write again, house projects, saying yes to prayer conferences, getting back to pursuing the whole mom-friendly bakery idea. I was SO looking forward to a year where the schedule would be the same every day, a year where I might actually get BORED. A year where I would realize hey, I NEED to go back to work! Even though this was only part time, it was going to be a big wrench in family life and I just... I just wasn't SURE. I think if I'd been offered the job I would have taken it. But signing up to be a sub instead, just sticking a toe in the water instead of a whole foot, it feels like a grace year. It feels ridiculous too, like I'm a spoiled brat or a kept woman! If only other women were so lucky to have the choice, right? So I'm aware of that. Well aware. 

Another observation to cap off this post: this might possibly be the nicest summer I've ever had in Seattle. I think I can count on one hand the number of times it's rained in the last two months. It's been glorious - bright, sunny, HOT, beautiful, glittering water everywhere. Someone please help me remember these days come November. 

What we learned this year

The last week of school is going annoyingly. By which I mean it's not Friday yet. It's the regular feeling of "isn't it Friday yet" coupled with "let's get this school stuff over with already" and BLARGH. Today was my last true day of The Schedule and while I did get a bit sniffly at the coffee shop, the rest of the day I traded sentiment for impatient irritation. 

Tomorrow is my last day with just Molly and Emma at home and THAT might be hard. Where it was questionable if Jack would survive the months before kindergarten, Molly is happy at home. She entertains herself, she's happy to fold clothes with me or help empty the dishwasher, she works on projects without needing attention. Not that I have any interest whatsoever in homeschooling, but I can PICTURE doing it with Molly. If I were doing it with Jack one of us would be dead. ANYWAY. All that to say I'd like to do something fun with Molly tomorrow. I don't know what, though. My girl is always game for shopping...

Friday is a silly little day of early releases and I'm going to cap off my year of not hanging out with the preschool moms by blowing off the end of the year picnic in the park. It's at a bad time! Whatever. I actually did make friends, you know. This morning one of the moms said she was going to email me over the summer to do this thing at the library with our babies and while it sounded totally boring, I was all, "HEY. THE PRESCHOOL MOMS LIKE ME!" 

Maybe this whole time they've been seeing me drive up in my minivan, watching my kid hop out on her own, and feeling jealous as I drive away. Maybe this whole time they've been wishing THEY could blow everyone off. 

I really hope I remember to take a picture of Molly and Jack in front of the house on the last day of school, to juxtapose with the first day of school picture. Things are SO DIFFERENT. Molly is just - I don't know the right words. She has grown up SO MUCH. I was so worried about my little preschool drop out and then this year she was all, "I don't need no brother to do all my socializing for me" and had a blast. Jack grew up too, but in a different way. Like he's been exposed to life outside his family and he's trying out all these voices and mannerisms and I have to keep saying, "I DON'T LIKE IT WHEN YOU ACT LIKE [INSERT NAME OF FRIEND]." Also he reads and does math and makes books and his handwriting is terrible and he has blisters on his palms from the monkey bars and every single pair of jeans is holey. His hair is always a mess. He's going to be a first grader. I have a first grader

And Emma? Emma learned to walk. I spent the first half of the year reminding myself to put the Ergo in the car so I could carry her into the school for pick up. She was always bound up next to me, no one saw her face. And then the second half of the year, when I was still carrying her, but on my hip and putting her down once we got inside. And then holding her hand while she walked. And then trying to get her to hold my hand before she gets run over by the hordes of elementary school students running to the bus. Babies change so fast, I know, but the school year really quantifies things, doesn't it. 

It's going to be crazy with Molly in school. I mean the time flying by thing. It wasn't so long ago that I was writing about my two babies. SO CRAZY. Although it's still not entirely certain she'll GO to school - next week we meet with a school psychologist, the second of the two kindergarten early entrance assessments. Her teachers, Jack's teacher, and my personal collection of teachers all say she's ready and I think she is too and I'm not really worried about it, but it'll be nice to make it official. 

And NO, Teachers From Molly's Preschool, I am NOT putting my baby in the Twos program. No no no. 

But first: summer. Lots of summer. Swim lessons, VBS, YMCA camp, Grandma and Grandpa's house, Vancouver, the beach, the spray park, cousins, birthdays, a deck with a SLIDE. It's going to be awesome.


Six years, three kids, a bajillion neuroses

Even though I could positively karate kick every single person who feels compelled to tell me that my baby doesn't look like much of a baby anymore, they're right. At some point in the last few weeks Emma Cheung morphed into the next version of herself. She's not two yet, but for all the whining and demanding and temper having and sheer personality getting thrown around, she might as well be. And it's as I suspected - there's a loud, assertive, charming little extrovert inside that kid and I admit it, I'm a little intimidated. 

I thought my other kids were full of personality at this age too, but I think they were personalities I understood a bit better. Maybe a little more like my own, or easily handled. I see a lot of myself in Jack, and Molly is a sweet, soft, delicious little spoonful of girly whipped cream. Or maybe it's because I'm familiar with them, I know what to expect, and Emma's self is suddenly exploding all over the house. Even Jack and Molly seemed stunned by the force at times, unthinkingly handing over a toy or snack, immediately giving in, yielding to the emotional noise that is their baby sister. 

Just this last week she's begun to choose walking - a drunken stumble, really - over scooting, and she's high on the experience. "LOOK AT ME!" her face says, as if she started walking at 9 months instead of 20. She talks. Constantly. Repeats everything we say. Yells it. And if she can't form the words she emits this awful mind-numbing "Eh-ehhhh!" until we figure out what she wants. She is sweet and darling and cuddly and loving until the instant she is not, and then she is furious, offended, indignant, and spilling white hot tears of HOW COULD YOU?!?!?!

And while she is still very clingy and attached to me, she has absolutely no fear diving (literally) into her siblings' games and toys and carefully structured pillow forts. Aren't all of these things here for her own amusement? Including the older siblings? Is not this entire house and everything within it simply existing for her own personal enjoyment? 

I feel sorry for my kids sometimes, having as they do a mother obsessed with Myers-Briggs and enneagrams and birth order and various other personality theories and assessments. I don't WANT to assign them traits and characteristics before they can pronounce "enneagram" but dudes, if Emma Cheung doesn't have YOUNGEST CHILD oozing out of every pore. I see it in action every day. She studies Jack and Molly, she takes note of what gets a laugh, and she'll do those things over and over again. She REMEMBERS those things, weeks and weeks after they happen. I'm afraid she'll be playing "steal Mommy's napkin" for laughs until she's thirty-five. Even at not quite two she's the ham in this family, though admittedly she doesn't have much competition. I fear for this child, growing up the lone noisy extrovert in a family of rule followers. But see - I'm doing it again. Who knows what she'll be like! Who knows what the other kids will be like! I don't blame her for capitalizing on being Super Cute Funny Baby Sister, a role I've often envied. 

I think of all the times growing up when I swore to myself that if I ever had kids I would be FAIR! And EQUAL! And I would remember how old the oldest was when she got to shave her legs and not even CONSIDER letting the youngest do it until she was AT LEAST the age the oldest WAS etc. etc. etc. But I cannot fathom a time when Emma won't be my BABY and so much younger than her siblings and therefore needing special treatment and attention. HORRIBLE! But even Jack and Molly fall into this line of thinking, getting irritated when people would try to get Emma to stand on her own and walk, taking over, protectively grabbing Emma's hands and barking, "SHE CAN'T WALK." 

How am I encouraging Jack in his "oldest" role and Emma in her "youngest"? How am I neglecting Molly as the "forgotten middle"? 

It is such a BIZARRE and AMAZING thing to have three brand new never-seen-before individuals living in your house. Where you're observing every minute detail, recording many of those details in a BLOG for heaven's sake. WHO ARE THEY? More importantly, HOW AM I SCREWING THEM UP? 

Glad I've seen it, never want to go back

For most of my growing up my parents were elementary school teachers with the Department of Defense, meaning they taught the dependent children of military families stationed overseas. I lived in Europe, mostly Italy, from 5th through 12th grade and one of my most enduring and firmly ingrained memories is of my dad's unrelenting frustration and exasperation with The Military. 

They lost things. They were unforgivably slow. The right hand didn't know what the left was doing. The pile of paperwork was ridiculous. The hoop jumping was ludicrous. "Your tax dollars at work!" he liked to explode, which meant nothing to me because I didn't PAY taxes and also "your" tax dollars were paying for my multiple sports trips all over Europe so, you know, AWESOME. 

But anyway. That's a little bit what my day at Children's Hospital felt like. Except that it was also one of the most impressive places I've ever experienced. 

So Emma had to go get an ultrasound - wait, an x-ray - wait, WHAT now? - plus have a consultation with a general surgery doctor to discuss issues she'd probably rather not have me write about on the internet. Let's just say girlfriend needs the big bottle of Miralax. And I finally got around to making the appointments and soldiered through the inevitable confusion between what our ped wanted and what the hospital thought our ped wanted - don't worry, I won't explain it because IT IS NOT INTERESTING.

But when I got to the campus this morning - I'd never been there before - and discovered this easily navigable, least intimidating, and possibly most beautiful hospital I've ever seen (if a hospital can be called beautiful?) I felt very... I don't know. Kind of like, "OH. Well. They'll take care of us HERE." 

Even though I went to the wrong place and never (I found out) went to the first desk I should have stopped at, everyone was friendly, cheery, pleasant, helpful, easygoing. I wasn't nervous to begin with, just stressed about having to do something new, but I felt even LESS whatever I WAS feeling. And the waiting room was GINORMOUS and full of TOYS and BOOKS and CRAYONS and I felt like, "Why don't I just come HERE on a rainy Thursday morning?" 

But then bureaucracy set in. The change to an x-ray wasn't made official somehow and I had to wait around for that. Then I had to wait around for something else. Then I receptionist found me kneeling under a table picking up all the crayons Emma dropped and apologetically told me I would be waiting longer because while they appeared to have the appropriate paperwork, they couldn't read the appropriate paperwork.  

FOR SERIOUS? It was an hour before they brought us back for a five minute procedure (during which Emma screamed mightily) and we could go home. 

At home I sat around feeling stressed about going back at 4. To alleviate this I watched the newest episode of Nashville and gawked dreamily at Sam Palladio. Phillip came home early, my in-laws showed up to whisk off the big kids, and Phillip and I took Emma back for the "consultation". 

Except I didn't really know what the consultation was for? I KNOW. BAD PARENT. But I was so confused by this point, I wasn't even really sure they got the right x-rays. My doctor had left a message on my cell telling me "everything looks normal!" and we would wait to see what the hospital doctor said. (About what? The spinal thing? The anatomical issue thing? BLARGH?)

And then we waited some more! During this wait, however, Phillip was entertaining Emma and I was admiring the hospital's check in procedures, the color coded doors and spaces, the amount of space, the ocean theme, the PEOPLE. It's not like I interacted with them, but you could just tell. These were Marvelous People. 

We met some more marvelous people when we were [finally] called back for the exam. Because! It was an exam! Not a sit down where you peer at x-rays, which is what I thought. BUT WHATEVER. A resident and a student came in to talk to us first and they were SO NICE! And so SMART! Maybe a little bit handsome! They asked heaps of questions and wrote heaps of notes. Then they disappeared to go find the Real Doctor, who was older, just as nice, not quite as handsome, but infinitely smarter. This man just EXUDED "I know what the heck I'm doing." And after asking heaps of questions, performing an exam (during which Emma screamed mightily) and spending heaps of time with us, his official diagnosis went something like this: "Uh, why did you come here?" 

He was not rude or condescending or impatient with us AT ALL. The opposite, almost. But I have a feeling our ped might get a Sternly Worded Letter. He went through a big list of people he thought we should have seen before we saw him. Which made me feel stupid, like I should have known better, but it's not really the sort of thing a SAHM with an English degree takes into her own hands. 

Our ped DID say there was a "less than 1 percent chance" this was an issue, and I knew that too, and I knew it was probably overly cautious or whatever. It's still nice to know neither of those things are the issue, like at ALL, and it was kind of fun to hear the general surgery doctor comment on Emma. How big she is, how strong, how she forgives easily (after screaming her head off, she smiled and waved at the doctors when they left.) 

So yeah, kind of this "dude, this hospital IS as super amazing as everyone says" and "REALLY? REALLY? THE PROBLEM IS WHAT NOW? AND I COULD HAVE JUST STAYED HOME?" Probably very dull for you, but one for the blog baby book for me. Thanks for your good thoughts. :)