This Mom thing

In which I tell my own self how fast it goes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Things At Which I Do Not Suck Volume One Million

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

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

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

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

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



I wrote this instead of napping

It's not normal to want to take a nap evvvvery day, right? I don't have tiny babies, I am not up all night, I do not go to bed fantastically late or get up horrifically early. But I am tired ALL. THE. TIME. I started taking iron pills again. Well, I started last night. So only one so far. 

I'm also trying to figure out when I can get some exercise. And I'm not even talking a run or a TV workout in my living room. Just WALKING, at this point, would be good enough. I think I've identified my pitfalls. The biggest one is that I absolutely hate changing out of my clothes into workout clothes. This sounds really stupid, but I HATE IT and in the time it takes me to change I can almost always talk myself out of whatever I planned to do. I hate ruining whatever hair and makeup I did that morning. I hate exercising WITH a kid, ie: a workout video that they "do" with me, a kid in a stroller, etc. I have to make exercising as easy as it can possibly be.

What worked for me in the past was exercising during nap time BUT! That was when I had absolutely nowhere to be, no school schedule to adhere to, no reason to put real clothes on ever. And I may have had two babies then, but they both took hours-long coordinated naps, leaving me a half hour to run and another two hours to sit around doing whatever the heck I wanted. The child at home with me NOW has recently quit her nap and alone time is PRECIOUS. 

I haven't wanted to work out in the mornings because after I buckle all the kids in the car and drop them at school, Emma and I are ready for our DAY. We grocery shop or regular shop or coffee shop. We visit friends. We do our thing. 

THAT SAID. Mornings are getting rougher for me (see: Always Tired) and it occurred to me that I don't HAVE to get ready before I have to take the kids to school. I COULD drive them to school in my pajamas. Or pajama-like workout clothes. I don't HAVE to wash my hair or layer concealer over the dark circles under my eyes. I COULD take those kids to school, stick Emma on the playroom couch with the iPad, and get on my treadmill. Which is what I did this morning. An hour of that, a shower, and there was still time to sweep the kitchen floor and write bakery emails and let Emma write all over a kindergarten workbook. Was it as awesome as going to Target? Not really. But we hung out with friends after lunch and went to the library during piano lessons and I was still Really Freaking Tired, but I exercised! 

Maybe this could be what works? For now? 

I've got a lot going on this week. I'm helping Katie with my grandma's dessert table. My house is pretty gross since I fired my housecleaners. I'd normally ignore the squalor for another week or so, but my Colorado brother is flying in for the funeral and staying with me Friday night at least, and while his bed has clean sheets, the shower situation is not so stellar. I need to pay my kitchen rent and write whatever I'm going to say at the funeral. (Something short and sweet, nothing big, but still, I need to come up with whatever that is.) The kids don't have school on Friday, but Phillip is going to take a bereavement day and I'm going to get my hair cut. I'm not sure this is a wise or thoughtful thing to do, but the fact is that this long-ish bob STILL feels foreign on my head and the more grown out it gets, the more I hate it. I feel like my face has grown too fat for short hair, but so be it. Short hair is for me. Oh, and a brow wax, because I feel my most confident right after my eyebrow hairs have been forcibly ripped out by the roots.

Morning exercise. Iron. Faking experience and know how in bakery emails. I GOT THIS.


A SAHM shrieks into the empty not-listening evening, then sucks it up (she promises)

I'm going to write myself a small, indulgent, self-pity post, okay? And because this is the internet and it CAN'T go without saying, I LOVE MY FAMILY and I ACKNOWLEDGE MY PRIVILEGE, but I'm still going to whine because MY WEBSITE. 

Also because OH MY GAWD if my three-year-old doesn't start using the potty soon I'm going to need a padded room. She is almost always dry when she wakes up. If I stick her on the potty at regular intervals, all is well. But I can't think of a single time she's told us she needs to go BEFORE SHE'S ACTUALLY GONE. I swear, we are going to be buried alive in filthy pull ups. (I'M SORRY FOR THAT IMAGE.) Memories of potty training the other two are vaguely unpleasant and I know for certain that I never felt like there was a method or rhyme or reason or trick or ANYTHING other than persistence and hope and the knowledge that they wouldn't go to COLLEGE in diapers. But I'm also getting onto myself for not going whole hog and committing a week to getting this over with, you know, like clearing the schedule and wearing underpants or going without and working with her. Except DEAR GOD I can manage, like, one day of that. Then I'm bouncing off the walls. I cannot stay home all week. I cannot give potty training every ounce of my attention and effort and maybe THIS is why she's not trained yet and etc. etc. horrible mother. 

Also, just my three-year-old in general. Anyone who follows my instagram account knows how very sunk in love Phillip and I are with our BAYBEEEEE, but this kid never shuts up and guess who gets to hear eeeeeverything. Emma has never had a thought she hasn't expressed out loud. She's never heard a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift song she hasn't needed to shoutsing (again: stellar parenting). I absolutely adore her, but sometimes I need some QUIET. I'm like Davis in White Christmas. I need her to get married and have five children and if she only spends five minutes a day with each kid that's FORTY-FIVE MINUTES FOR ME. 

I know I'm supposed to find myself a mother's helper or childcare so I can work at home, but there's not a lot of room in the budget for that. So I ask my in-laws for help a lot (and they always say yes, THEY ARE LOVELY), but right now I'm still feeling frustrated that I haven't been able to do the website updates for Thumbprints. The day I planned to spend working on my own, for which I had childcare, I ended up spending with my family while my grandmother was in the hospital. Obviously I am not sorry I did that! But it's been really hard to find any time to do real things I need to do. I feel GUILTY that I haven't secured a regular babysitter or childcare, because that's what everyone tells me to do, and I feel guilty for WANTING to secure a babysitter or other childcare because we can't really add that into our budget! 

ALSO Phillip is leaving tomorrow night for a long weekend with old friends, skiing in Montana. This was his Christmas present. I am not at ALL begrudging this trip and it's fun to see how excited he is. But I AM begrudging the fact that he's leaving for a long weekend without having to think AT ALL about how to manage everything at home. He doesn't have to! I am here! I will take care of everything! All he had to do was get the day off work on Monday and boom. He's off. Whereas I am going to a conference at the end of February and had to move mountains to figure out how to take care of the kids while he's at work. Like, actual mental gymnastics. Getting people cars ahead of time, asking in-laws to get Emma on certain days at certain times, writing out a schedule for my sister, and of course I'm going to freeze some dinners and leave notes on the refrigerator, AND THEN FEEL GUILTY THE WHOLE TIME because I'm taking four days away from my family to do something unnecessary and totally for my own self. 

My family makes fun of me a lot for being The Guilty One. So I know. I know that I maybe feel more guilt about this sort of thing than the average SAHM. But maybe not. I don't know. I feel guilty that I don't have a job that contributes financially to our family. I feel guilty for asking other people to take care of my kids so I can go away and do something fun, or asking my husband to adjust his work schedule. I feel guilty about not wanting to spend the money for childcare when I am already home. I feel guilty for not having my website updated yet. I feel guilty about ALL THE THINGS, ALL THE TIME, and then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. 

I mean, I PREVAIL. Guilt is not STOPPING me from going on my mini road trip to the conference in February and it's certainly not stopping me from dumping my kids with my mom and dad when all the Blathering ladies are here (where in the world is Phillip going to go?!) And I'm clearly not so guilty that I can't feel frustrated with the world for being the one who has to manage it all. 

I'm just feeling like there's things I wanna get DONE, but NO, I have to change yet another three-year-old diaper and everyone is TALKING at me and the sink is full of dishes and when am I going to cross this stuff off my list and why do I bother cleaning anything up when everyone is going to mess it up again and WHY IS THIS ALL ON ME (AND WHY I CAN'T I DO IT BETTER?)

GAAAAHHHHH ok I'm done. I'm going to put on my grown up mom pants and figure out what we're going to eat for dinner (it IS 5:40pm) and run to Target tonight for last minute catering open house supplies for tomorrow, for which my in-laws are babysitting, and then OK YES I CAN DO THIS.

On budgeting, SAHMing, and Purpose In Life-ing

Money talk is SO AWKWARD, isn't it?*

Budgeting has not been a strong point in the Cheung Household (UNDERSTATEMENT), but we are giving it another go in 2015. For a long while Phillip paid all the bills and did all the money stuff and I was a proper 1950s housewife who knew nothing about nothing. Then he went back to school and taking over the money stuff was something I could help with - and shoot, I kept myself afloat through college, working and paying my own bills and whatnot, I'm not TOTALLY useless. And I developed my own "budgeting" system (mostly a very neurotic Excel spreadsheet and stacks of receipts), but I'd say that all of the budgeting we've ever done has been more of a "Oh, huh, look at all the categories we overspent in THIS month!" rather than a "Oh, huh, look at that category, we should probably not go out to dinner tonight." You know? I was SUPER GOOD at tracking what big spenders we were, basically. 

Earlier this year when the bakery started taking over my life, Phillip went back to doing the money stuff. And he started using Mint, which I absolutely positively cannot stand. For unidentifiable reasons. I just do. Also Phillip's mode of budgeting was basically the same as mine (excellent tracking! not so much with the cutting!), except he added an element of OHHHH NOOOO and this is where everything went to pot. Many many MANY discussions this year re: our differing approaches to money, our differing views on what is enough money, our differing views on what to do with the money. I should say that we are in full agreement on the big questions; it's the small nitty gritty questions where we butt heads. 

We had another of these painful conversations last night, and a lot of OTHER stuff plays into these conversations too, right? How you grew up, expectations, general levels of stress, how you cope, all sorts of really complicated things that you just have to accept and put aside and deal. We manage to do that by having a fight first, then having a productive conversation. Is there a better way to do this? Probably! We just haven't figured out how yet. 

ANYWAY. For a multitude of reasons, not least because I never understood Mint, we downloaded the free trial of You Need A Budget and set the whole thing up. We are hopeful! I already understand the system better than I ever understood Mint, and Phillip appreciates having everything accessible and uploadable and not color coded in aqua and pink and yellow with circular reference errors all over the place (I didn't say I was GOOD at Excel). 

But we did decide that we couldn't send EJ to preschool like I hoped. It's not a HUGE deal and we WILL find a way to make it work next year when she's four, but stuff like Europe Trips and house maintenance are the big deals currently. And preschool's expensive, even the cheap ones. I cut the housecleaner because they were honestly causing me more stress than helping, but I know that will be annoying as soon as it's time to clean a toilet. We made up good-sounding amounts for groceries and dining out and clothing, but have we ever adhered to those amounts before? This feels a bit like a new year's resolution to lose weight that's bound to crap out by February. I have a definite "oh, everything works out!" personality which drives my poor husband around the bend, so it's in the interest of our marriage that I stay engaged and concerned. And I plan to. I'd like to learn how to SAVE money and go to Europe AGAIN! (Phillip: hanging head)

Any discussion of money, though, takes me into the Is It Okay That I'm A SAHM frets and I feel kinda insecure tonight. Especially reading everyone's tweets about their kick ass working moms today. I know Phillip would have preferred I stay working, though it wasn't a choice I made so much as my job sort of disappeared after I left it and I wasn't sure how to "go back" to work. And also we were making it work on one income. And I never liked my job. Or working in an office. And I really loved staying home. And yes, I have ALWAYS felt like someone was going to TELL ON ME or something, that's how much I loved (love) staying home. 

I don't think I'm especially GOOD at it or anything. I am not SuperMom. I do as little housework and cooking as I can get away with. When they were babies I hung out with my friends with babies as much as humanly possible. I've done a lot of shopping and coffee drinking and napping. For a while I did a lot of exercising. My kids are clean and fed and taken care of, but am I teaching them to read or doing art projects or playing games? Um, SOMEtimes? Not REALLY? They know their families really well. They know about being kind. They are forced to eat vegetables every couple of days. ???

I think one thing I feel confident about, but also mixed-feelings about, is that because I stayed home with the kids, Phillip has been able to pursue everything he's wanted to pursue. Grad school, business travel, switching jobs several times, without ever worrying about how to manage things at home. I have always taken care of that and I for sure don't know how he would have earned that Master's degree without me holding down the fort. (I suppose there's an argument to be made re: "but YOU'RE the one who wanted to have kids", but that's a dark mental pit that doesn't actually exist in the real world and I try to stay away from it.) 

THAT SAID. I'm not sure what that gets me as a woman in the 21st century. I have family members and friends for whom it's VERY IMPORTANT to be able to earn your own living. And I... can't do that. Something happens to Phillip? Not sure what I'd do. I have nothing to fall back on. And I never found The Thing I Like Doing. Although... I think I HAVE, actually, but no one pays you to be a professional pray-er. (This is my problem, Phillip says. Everything I work hard at is not paid work. ALAS.)

In that respect I feel failure-ish. It's all on my husband to support our family. Even if I WANTED to help, childcare would cost more than whatever I would take home. (At least now, while we still have one at home.) Perhaps I have let myself down? I have not been All I Could Be? Am not fabulous career woman, famous writer, rich business lady, cannot even buy my own lip gloss.

But even THAT... I mean, I LIKE my life! I don't feel unfulfilled or unhappy. I DO feel guilty, sometimes, that I am not contributing financially. And that what I AM doing (bakery work, long weekends for churchy conferences) is somewhat hard on my husband without any financial gain for us. Most of the time I feel like I have plenty of time to figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up, though I suspect it doesn't involve an office or more schooling or any sort of financial independence. Gah. Uh... life would be pretty DULL without me?! **


*I have an Asian-American husband, Asian-American in-laws, and two Asian-American best friends and this means I talk about money in public a LOT. The cultural differences here, they are big time. 

**I KNOOOOOOW. I KNOW I AM WORTHY AND VALUABLE EVEN IF I DON'T HAVE A PAYCHECK. I'm just saying, if I kept writing about that this blog post would be eons long. It's ALREADY eons long. I AM AMAZED YOU GOT THIS FAR. 

Keep on keeping on

Yesterday was rough. The day before that was rough. Today is rough. I THINK things are getting better? On the whole? But yesterday and today instead of getting on the stupid treadmill (and just WALKING FTLOG) I crawled into my bed and slept. I just wanted to escape. Naps don't make me FEEL better. I feel terrible, all groggy and out of sorts when I wake up. But I can disappear for that half hour or hour... 

We are trying to figure out our trip to Italy and perhaps other parts European this May and June. Phillip is working things out with his job and I won't really know what our options are until November, but every time I scout plane fare, each ticket is as much as our mortgage payment. All my Alaska miles (and the $750 in vouchers I received from that disaster trip to Colorado) are not going to help me on an international flight booked through Alaska mileage plan partners. So I'm feeling stupid about trying to go that route in the first place and just defeated in general. We will make it work (I am nothing if not a We Will Make It Work kinda person), but [shakes fist at].

I haven't seen my friends in forever. I miss Liz. I take kids to school. I go to Target. I have conversations with my sister about bakery work. I watch a lot of cable news. I fold laundry (sometimes). I clean up the kitchen (sometimes). I think about planning a date with Phillip or meeting friends for happy hour and then I worry that doing something out of the ordinary in the evening will mess with how I get ready to go to sleep, a very important part of Anxiety Management. And then I get mad about that. 

I've been on this weird tear to BUY stuff. I keep going to my usual clothing store websites, piling things in carts, being shocked by the total, not entering my credit card info, moseying over to another site. I've bought a few oversized sweaters at TJ Maxx. I bought Emma a whole bunch of cute stuff at Old Navy yesterday. Navy sweater with white stripes and red heart-shaped elbow patches SWOON. But the hole I am attempting to fill is not filled. Maybe if I splurge on a gorgeous pair of boots? But boots never fit around my wide [AVERAGE SIZED, FTLOG] calves and whenever I wear them I look in the mirror and suspect tall boots aren't the best look on my stubby legs anyway. So maybe not. 

The best part of my day is reading books to my kids before they go to bed. I KNOW. Phillip used to do all of that. I used to get away with not doing bedtime at ALL. Then we had Emma and I would usually put Emma to bed (easier/quicker) than putting big kids to bed. But this summer it started to be the time that I would sort of "make up for" being a distant crappy mom during the daytime [read: anxious] and for whatever reason it was calming and comforting to be with them. Just in general my kids have been a huge consolation to me during this latest episode. But I've read two Narnia books to them, that they really loved (me: ugh) and Jack and I tore through a Jack-appropriate book on the Revolutionary War the last two nights and I just feel like YEAH! I love reading, even though I haven't done much of it lately (everything I read stresses me out somehow and I don't need more of that) and my kids haven't been super excited about reading, but we finally found a book they WANTED to keep reading and it made me SO EXCITED. And Jack wanting to keep reading about Paul Revere and George Washington: YES. Weird, maybe, but these times at night and the looking for books they'd like has been a balm to my soul the last couple of months. 

Usually I'm pretty upbeat, Internet, but tonight I just want to cry it out. God I'm tired. 

Room Update (snore) + Recently Improved Parenting

I'm done painting YAAAAAYYYYY MUPPET ARMS!!! Painting is not the WORST thing in the world, but halfway through all the cutting in it starts to FEEL like the worst thing. But anyway, thanks for the Barely Pink recommendations - I went to Home Depot, asked for 2 gallons, and you were right, it is PERFECT. I wouldn't have picked it out at the store, but it's the perfect color on the wall. That room already feels so different. I don't think the previous paint color ITSELF was super ugly, but in that room? SO dreary and BLAH. The pink has brightened and livened it up a little. The bed should get here on Monday and I CANNOT WAIT. 

I cannot wait so much that I dragged Molly's pink and white desk into the room, taped up my beloved elephant fabric (from my super botched Homemade Roman Shades project), and then decided that the kids should all camp out in there tonight because I PAINTED THIS ROOM GOLDARNIT IT MUST BE APPRECIATED! 

The challenge is: decorate this room without spending any! money! (gaaaahhhh) This shall prove to be difficult since I've decided I need to throw some navy blue in there, to de-sweet-ify the pink, and then per Twitter, maybe some GOLD? Or some MINT? Things I already have: a two-toned pink rug, a pink and white Eiffel tower lamp, a giant hot pink 'E'... My mom is going to salvage my elephant fabric for curtains, adding some material to the top and bottom to make the panels long enough. Plus I have a white dresser and a white bookshelf and a white doll bed (which my mother's godfather built for her when she was little AWWWW) that we will fill with EJ's nine hundred stuffed animals. Yes, I definitely need some navy/gold/mint. I forsee a lot more standing around and surveying the room landscape in the next couple weeks. 

And you guys, I haven't even STARTED planning Emma's old room, the new guest room slash Room Of Bakery Storage And Staging aaaiiieeeee!!!

Even though I've been painting and I'm anxious and it was Cookie Weekend I'm not totally All There right now, I've been trying hard to spend time with the kids, especially the big kids. We're managing to do a Fairly Fun Thing each morning, but the afternoons are shot. Emma still sleeps for hours so we can't go anywhere and I don't want the big kids being loud or bothering Emma, so they end up playing a lot of Minecraft and I end up reading a lot of Twitter and watching cable news. I don't think any of those pursuits are particularly GOOD for us, but the kids are 1) quiet and 2) happy and I'm grateful for time to myself during these days when we are together 24/7. Then I end up making something boring and easy for dinner (this is what the kids prefer, at least) and Phillip gets home at 6 or sometimes later and then it's bedtime... I spent a lot of July feeling like I was totally ignoring my family, mainly to get bakery stuff done. I haven't figured out a schedule for myself (there IS no schedule with the bakery) and my tendency is to work work work work work work until the task is finished - no breaks, no wondering if I should take 2 days instead of 1... that kind of thing. 

So I guess I'm trying to make up for that now? We've done the summer dollar movies twice (Rise of the Guardians and Turbo - thumbs up from my crowd for both), we got a membership at the science center so we did that this morning. A big crafty project at the library, just GOING to the library which is getting to be more and more enjoyable (for me, at least). And I've been trying to find a Big Book to read to them at night. A year or so ago I tried Harry Potter, but my kids hate anything scary and they didn't GET Harry Potter and now they say they don't LIKE Harry Potter, so I wonder if I basically ruined Harry Potter for them. I tried Beverly Cleary, one time I tried the Best Christmas Pageant Ever - they don't like anything. I totally feel like I've failed in the Raising Children Who Love To Read department HOWEVER! The other night I thought I'd try The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. WHICH I DO NOT LIKE. I did not like the Narnia books as a kid and fantasy books, in general, are not my thing. Lord of the Rings - snore. SORRY. I just... not my thing! But I know that MOST PEOPLE DO like the Narnia books and MAYBE JUST MAYBE my kids might like them? So I started reading the first one and GUESS WHAT THEY LIKE IT. I am shocked. Mostly because they haven't liked anything I've read to them so I wasn't expecting that to change. But they BOTH like it and they BOTH want to keep reading when I say it's time to go to bed and THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. 

Also the fact that I am reading a significant amount of story to them each night - that makes me happy. The big morning things we manage to do, the reading at night, the puzzle I helped them put together yesterday, hopefully all of these things are making up for my complete disregard for them during July and also all the Minecraft. 

I just tell myself that if my kids are super awesome at Minecraft it's more likely they'll major in something Useful in college and get decent jobs. As opposed to English majors such as myself, a degree which is last on the List Of Lucrative Degrees. 

Or maybe they'll take over a family bakery business MWAH HA HA oh man I'm tired. LATER INTERNET.




On being my own taskmaster (spoiler: it's not going so great)

The hours between school pick up and dinner have become the worst hours of my day. I wouldn't say they were ever the BEST hours, but I didn't have to actively prepare myself to Deal like I'm doing this week. Almost as soon as the big kids hop in the car to go home from school I feel done with them. Emma too, by that point. And I feel TERRIBLE about it! They are at school all day! I shouldn't be Ragey Angry Mom as soon as they get in the CAR, right? 

I really truly do think that the Pr0zac was masking some of my Kid Frustration (or general Mom rage). The lightheadedness was helping me gauge where I was in the withdrawl process (it's almost all gone), but right when I got super lightheaded in the afternoons is right when my frustration with them ramped up. So I think that's part of it, definitely. 


Most of what sets me off is noise, chatter, and talking at me. I've always felt that I have a pretty high tolerance for Kid Noise, like kid music and playing together and laughing and being silly. But MY GOD it has disappeared. Jack and Molly are SO SILLY the second they get in the car after school and I just can't handle it. I bark at them to shut it and it doesn't stop until dinner. I usually make them a huge snack and we watch a show or two, that's usually a good barrier between school and home, a chance to zone out. Maybe they don't need that zone anymore, though, because it's instant chaos, whether or not they have a giant plate of fruit and crackers and Wild Kratts. They get everything out, they run wild, they start noisy games with each other, they accidentally hurt each other constantly, Emma demands to be part of the fun, and the constant constant requests for more more more. More of everything, please. 

Since the weather's been getting nicer I've been forcing them into the backyard and everyone is usually happy with that. Even if they don't want to go out initially, their mom isn't out there yelling at them to be quiet or stop being crazy or whatnot. And I feel bad for not feeling like I can deal with them WHEN I HAVEN'T DEALT WITH THEM ALL DAY, but it's not like I'm forcing them into cages or anything. It's outside! Outside is good! 

Anyway, the Other Part is that I have work to do. I am not yet anywhere near efficient with this bakery thing. It takes me hours to package boxes, and the rest of the time I'm organizing the schedule, updating the bookkeeping, making lists of what comes next, making lists of what we need. I feel like this stuff shouldn't take me nearly as long as it does, but for now that's just how it is and it's kind of a big deal. I spent most of my morning and a bit into EJ's nap boxing up cookies and making sure everything had the right labels and cards and packing and ribbons ETC. ETC. and then I should have sat down and had lunch or something. But I kept going... And I get tired. And I just want a few minutes to myself. Some days there's nothing going on and other days I don't sit down. Right when I DID sit down (with Parks and Recreation and an entire mini watermelon), I got a phone call from the school saying a certain kindergartner wet her pants and needed new clothes. 

That's my job too. 

So part of what's going on when the kids are home from school is that I want to finish what I was doing before they got home, and I can't think when they're going a mile a minute. I NEED TO THINK. It's imperative that I am thinking at 100%, right? Part of it's that I'm tired and don't want to listen to them. Part of it is Emma being up from her nap and wanting a drink! snacks! dress up! phone! Kleenex! JACK TOOK MY BAAAALLLLL. 

I guess today I feel like I had a hard enough time getting my stuff done with there were no big kids and Emma was asleep. And now that they're home I just want them AWAY. GO DO SOMETHING. PLAY OUTSIDE. FIND SOMETHING TO DO THAT IS NOT TALKING TO ME. 

I don't feel bad for not playing or doing stuff with them. But I do feel bad for having negative tolerance for their after school fun. I'm trying not to be so snappish. for example, been trying VERY VERY HARD not to yell at Molly for being slow. Even though this may be the thing that kills me first, she is not doing it on purpose. It is, I'm afraid, part of who she is. I am dead serious when I say I can't think of anyone who moves slower than she does. Girl can run across the playground in a flash, but the walk to the shoe closet in the morning takes weeks. And God forbid you bark at her to move faster, because that only makes her move slower. The more you shout, the slower she gets, until she's full on paralyzed and you have to go against your entire being and take that massive freak out down to a soft, gentle, "okay, let's go get those shoes over there first" whisper. OH MY GOD IT IS RAGE-MAKING.

I just put Emma in bed for shrieking at Jack. Jack is half-cleaning up (the only way he supposedly can) the giant mess of blankets and pillows he made in the living room. Molly is wandering around in a daze with two Lego people, talking to herself. I have to make dinner and then I have to do more bakery work and then I have to pass out in my bed. Wait, do I have a husband? Does he fit in there somewhere? 

Extracurriculars: yes/no?

Molly has ballet on Thursday nights. I've signed both big kids up for swim lessons at the community pool starting in two weeks. We tried out a martial arts lesson last night and now Jack wants to do that too, except I didn't know it's 2 days a week and costs three times as much as the gym membership I looked into today. Because I looked into a gym membership today, did you know that? What am I, crazy? 

I struggle with wanting to kick the kids out of the house as soon as they get home from school and not see their faces again until dinnertime, like the Olden Days people write about, where you didn't manage and schedule and craft and play and blah blah blah. And then wanting to sign them up for absolutely everything, because there are so many NEAT THINGS they can do and why wouldn't I want them to have every opportunity?! Ballet! Piano! Tae kwon do! Swimming! Camps! MUSICAL THEATER!!!

Molly is taking ballet because I happened to find a great dance studio near our house with totally affordable and easy-to-schedule lessons. And because she wanted to. And I thought it would be cute. I signed them up for swim lessons (we started last spring at the Y, but these community pool lessons are SO much cheaper) because that seems like a safety issue. And I don't know how to swim. And I have an enduring fear of water, so much so that I am not really looking forward to an expenses-paid Phillip's-side-of-the-family vacation cruise this summer. And I don't want them to be like me. 

I REALLY want them to take piano (and so does my FIL, sheesh), but I haven't set that up because it's another night, another expense, with the added bonus of having to make them practice. Sometimes I feel like *I* could teach them, but SNORT we all know where that's going. Phillip found a piano lesson iPad app and is kind of sort of teaching the big kids. (I took yeeeeeeeears of piano lessons. Phillip took a few. But he can play better than me AND knows everything about chords and time signatures and keys and WHATEVER, PHILLIP. HOW NICE FOR YOU.)

I would love love love to get them involved in music - piano lessons, choirs, theater stuff with music. I would love for them to play soccer and do gymnastics and have dance recitals. I've been looking at summer camp opportunities through the community center system and yes, we'll do all of those, thank you. Oh, and I would also like to join a gym. 

I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS. I am just now starting to understand the effect starting a small business has had on my free time. Or, I should say, the time that I divide between chores and household shopping and paying bills and driving around and Managing The Household. I was DISAPPOINTED to remember that this week is watching week at ballet which means I can't edit bakery pictures in the waiting room like I'd planned. When am I going to edit those pictures? WHEN AM I GOING TO WORK ON THE BLATHERING WEBSITE?!

(Right now, you are saying. Stop blogging and do it now.) 

So the blog has taken a hit, yes, but I can still do that in a few stolen minutes here and there and it's good for me and helps me figure things out. But I almost never see friends anymore, not during the day. I used to schedule my whole week around playdates and lunches and story times and all that toddler nonsense, but now I take the big kids to school and after that EJ is my Errand Running Companion and/or Dora Watcher While I Do Stuff On My Computer That Isn't Just Reading Go Fug Yourself. On good days I put her down for a nap and hop on the treadmill for the length of a TV show and that is WORKING. Where/why do I think heading to a gym every morning (and putting EJ in the childcare center, which I'm almost positive she would resist) will be easier/better? And what do I do for the kids and what is just silly? 

Jack LOOOOVED the martial arts class last night and has asked me no less than one frillion times if I've signed him up yet. And I'm mad at the class for having us do that before they gave us any information about how to sign up (THEY'RE NOT STUPID). But even if I didn't mind forking over the money every month, that's two nights a week! That's... a lot! 

As I sat in that gym last night watching small children learn to kickbox (it was awesome, I have to agree with Jack), I realized that if we joined, we would basically be committing to a Small Children Learning to Kickbox community. That is what they do. Right? Or my friends whose kids play soccer in the fall - that is just what they do in the fall. Right now the Cheungs don't have a Thing that we Do. And quite honestly, I like it that way. For someone so reliable and committed and devoted I am totally stingy with my time and who owns it. I need to own my time, not a soccer team or a ballet class. 

I don't THINK I'm depriving my kids, but it can feel that way. There's just so much awesome stuff out there and it seems like most families are doing something. On the other hand there's no way I'm going to do ALL of it. It's impossible! And how are they going to learn about disappointment and the unfairness of life?!

I also have this little problem where any time I go to find out about something that costs money, it takes negative effort on the part of the salesperson to get me to buy it. Martial arts lessons? Gym membership? Church kitchen? New car? New HOUSE? SIGN ME UP. 

Poor poor Phillip.

AAAAANYWAY. I'm not sure what to do with all this stuff. WHAT A FIRST WORLD PROBLEM. I want to get Jack involved with something, because his sister has ballet, but I don't think we can do THIS. And I want to get back in shape and develop a habit of fitness, but joining a gym won't magically make that happen. And I want to do piano, but let's face it, that's probably just signing myself up for years of another thing to fight about with the kids. Me = not exactly Tiger Mom. 

Okay! Time to buck up! Ballet in an hour! Homework! Figure out dinner! Put everyone to bed on my own because Phillip works late on Thursdays! I CAN DOOOOO IIIIIT.

That time I fell asleep on the couch and didn't pick my kids up from school

I was never a napper - I was actually an ANTI-napper - until I got pregnant with Emma. I had horrible problems falling asleep AT ALL let alone in the middle of the day on a couch when there were THINGS TO DO. I was an early-to-bed morning type of person. If I was tired, I went to bed when small children went to bed. Naps? Noooo. Naps were unproductive and anxious-making, and if I ever did manage to put myself to sleep in the afternoon I woke up horribly groggy and cranky. No, thank you. 

But then I got pregnant with Emma and daily life turned into a matter of making sure I got my nap every afternoon. Molly was still taking naps, but Jack, horrible child, had given them up. But his sainted grandparents had given him an iPad for his 4th birthday (SPOILED) and that was how I got my nap: we both got in my bed, he played a game or watched a show and I snoozed. Bliss! That entire year is a blur of falling asleep to the grating tune of Busytown Mysteries. 

I did not give up my nap habit after Emma was born. At first this was clearly because she was our worst sleeper. Jack took forever to PUT to sleep, but once he was asleep he was down. Molly was our dream baby. I will never forget putting infant Molly in her crib and WATCHING her slowly close her eyes and fall asleep on her own. I DIDN'T KNOW BABIES DID THAT. Emma, on the other hand, only slept if she felt like it. Which was almost never. At some point we'd just decided that Emma didn't NEED as much sleep as a regular baby. HONEST. That is what we thought. Sometimes we still think that. Remember that month Emma woke up every hour on the hour, every night, for a month? OH ME TOO! FUN TIMES! 

So yeah, I was tired. It wasn't because I had three kids. I had two big kids who were getting more and more self sufficient and who also were, by that point, excellent sleepers, AND I had this non-sleeping version of a baby and THAT was why I conked out on the couch every day. 

But now... okay, kind of a guilty secret, but I still do take naps. A lot. IS THIS A GOOD THING? I don't really think so. I think it makes my nighttime sleep not so great, for starters. It's very hard to keep up an exercise routine when you would rather use one exercise time slot for napping. And unless I sleep for at least two hours, I wake up to my phone alarm (because I have to pick up the kids! on time!) groggy and annoyed. Yes, sometimes I will nap the entire time Emma naps. Three kids and nearly seven years into this parenting gig and I finally figured out how to do that! 

Anyway, I have been trying VERY HARD to kick my nap habit. Most days now I go watch Veronica Mars on my treadmill instead of napping. Some days I just CAN'T - stuff to do, you know. But there are still many many days, like today, when I've done my kitchen chores and I did my exercise, but I still have an hour or so before I go get the kids and maybe I'll just sit down and watch my DVRed politics talk show and maybe scroll through Twitter andzzzzzzzz. IT JUST HAPPENS. It's like my body is all: couch! zebra-stripe blanket! no one singing Let It Go! SHUT DOWN!

This past summer I nervously asked my brain doctor if perhaps the Pr0zac had a, you know, Napping Side Effect. Because, and this is as true as I can discern, once I was on my full dose I was 1) tired all the time 2) gaining weight (or having massive trouble losing it) and 3) having WACKED OUT DREAMS. I was also not anxious! So didn't really want to mess with it, obvs, but while my brain doctor agreed the meds could be affecting my dreams, he pooh poohed my other concerns. 

I am still on a [low] dose and I have an appointment to get me off of it completely (the methylfolate supplements are working well, so far) and I'm interested to see what life will be like then. And maybe it has nothing to do with it! I don't know! MAYBE MY LIFE IS JUST THIS EXHAUSTING. 

All that to say (seriously, ALL THAT) I have a SYSTEM for napping. And today I didn't follow my system. And I slept through a phone call from Jack's teacher saying, "Uh, your kids? Are still here?"


I did a bunch of stuff this afternoon AND I exercised. It was not going to be a nap day! After I finished everything I ate lunch in front of another Veronica Mars episode (I am never going to finish by Saturday). When it was over I had about 10 or 15 minutes until it was time to wake up Emma (because I always have to wake her up now) and pick up the kids. I knew it was bad to be all snuggled up under my blanket. I knew I shouldn't close my eyes. I especially knew I should go find my phone and set my alarm JUST IN CASE. But I was so sleepy, so warm, and it was SO QUIET. And I fell asleep. 

I woke up once or twice and eyed the clock, just to make sure I hadn't overslept. And I hadn't! Until the THIRD time I opened my eyes, looked at the clock, and promptly lost all sense of time and space because WHAT THAT CANNOT BE THE RIGHT TIME OMG OMG WHATTTTTT.

I woke up at 3:10, exactly twenty minutes after the school bell rings to let the kids out. 

You guys, I thought I would die. DIE. I dashed into Emma's room, ripped her out of bed, grabbed my keys and my phone, flung the baby into her car seat and zoomed out of my cul de sac. I wanted to DIIIIIE. And then my phone started ringing and I knew it was the school and I had the actual thought: I don't have to answer that. BUT THEN WHAT KIND OF PARENT WOULD I BE? AN EVEN WORSE PARENT! So I answered the phone with, "I will be there in 30 seconds!" and they said, "Okay!" and I RACED TO SCHOOL. I drove the wrong way into the parking lot, left Emma in the car, and dashed inside. Where Jack and Molly were looking at me curiously, all, "Where WERE you, Mommy? " 

I couldn't TELL them. They would REPEAT IT. TO EVERYONE. 

I yelled a thank you to the school secretary and beat it out of there before any teacher or other staff person could see my shame. When I hustled the kids back to the car I noticed I had a MESSAGE on my phone, from Jack's teacher. I had to ACKNOWLEDGE it, right? So when we got home I quickly wrote a groveling and massively self-deprecatory email, eager to do whatever it would take to expunge my name from the Unfit Parenting file they probably keep in a locked cabinet somewhere. 


My kids were fine. I felt bad about them, but I mostly felt bad about SCREWING UP and SCREWING UP IN SUCH A PUBLIC WAY. Also, as the daughter of two public school teachers I have heard practically every Stupid Parent story in the universe and OH GOD I HAD TRIED SO HARD NOT TO BE ONE OF THE STUPID PARENTS!!!! I actually had to call my parents, because I can't do a single vaguely screw uppy thing without instantly confessing, and request absolution. Which my father gave, but not in a very nice way. "Oh, I'm sure something else will come along that will knock this episode out of the water!" THANKS, DAD! 

Jack's teacher responded in a VERY kind and sweet and "SERIOUSLY NO BIGGIE" sort of way, and I believe her, which is why I am not STILL flogging myself five hours later. 

This IS the sort of thing that WILL kill me one day. It's not the big heavy serious stuff, it's the stupid little screw ups that make me look like an irresponsible idiot. I am not an irresponsible idiot! Ever! Except when I AM! WOE. 

(Isn't it terrible that this isn't about my kids? Ugh, I am such a THREE.) (SORRY. I CANNOT HELP PERSONALITY TYPING EVERY ASPECT OF MY EXISTENCE.)