What I'm doing about it

You may have heard some jubilant shouting on Twitter last week - that was me announcing that the school board voted the right way. I know. I KNOW. This thing for which we completely lost hope suddenly turned around and the school board HEARD us and then made the right decision! And I do say "right" because the options were 1. let ALL the kids in our school go to the fancy just-built school in 2017 or 2. let everyone but the lowest income, not-white, English language learner kids go back and put those undesirable ones in the super crappy substandard building. I am not exaggerating. This is what the boundary change amounted to. When I used the words "outrageous" and "scandalous" and "segregation" in my letter to the school board I was stating FACTS. 

But the school board voted the right way. Want to know why? Because when the school year started, the REST of North Seattle caught wind of how THEY would be affected by the boundary changes. And they were not happy. Their kids were going to have to move schools for no discernible and/or good reason. Safe routes to school became an issue. Leaving friends became an issue. Getting jerked around by the school district just because became a very big issue. And those parents began to turn out in droves. They showed up to Saturday afternoon school board director meetings at public libraries. They swamped the school board email account. They went to the school board meetings which take place at 4pm on a weekday south of downtown - nigh impossible to get to for a North Seattle family - and signed up for testimony slots. They were mad, they had a voice, and they were making themselves known. Guess who benefited. 

It's clear that the turning point for our issue happened when those families - from whiter and wealthier schools than ours - started advocating for themselves. Several longtime advocates were instrumental in communicating to those families how our specific boundary issue was tied up with theirs. And through Facebook posts and a local blog and communication between PTAs, those families at other schools began to care about what was happening at our school. It was easy to tie in our issue with theirs when testifying before the school board. The school board directors could see the connected dots AND THEY AGREED WITH US. Then they voted the right way. 

Phillip has a less magnanimous and probably more realistic view on this. Because the school district staff got the boundary stuff so incredibly wrong, EVERYONE was angry and we just lucked out. I like my theory better, but I'll accept this one.

It feels good to have this victory so soon after the election (upon which I received a text from my husband, stuck at a work conference in Texas: "I feel like everything I understood about the world is wrong.")

Grappling with what it all means has meant, for me, that I've had ten times as many conversations about race as I've had in my entire life. Some of these are conversations about "ok, white friends, how are we going to be more engaged in this issue." And a lot of them have been, "ok, white friends, here's why your pro-life or anti-Hillary or I-just-want-some-freaking-change vote is frightening to people of color." I have been surprised that people need an explanation. But some do, and I've been providing it. At some point I came to the (terribly belated) realization: I want to do the work of making sure fewer people need this explanation. 

Is this a very low bar? I think it is. But it's more than I've done before. I've talked about race a LOT - with people who are safe. People who think the same as me. People who know more than me, so I can learn and listen and ponder... and what have I done with it? I've kept it to myself. I've avoided awkwardness and confrontation and risk. 

Well, I'm sorry I've avoided. Not that any intervention I'd engaged in earlier would have changed, say, an election result. But I have a better understanding, now, of what my friends of color are working with. Phillip has often talked about being the token Asian in a group, having to explain martial arts or fielding questions about model minority myths. Maybe it's MY turn to be the Race Ambassador. I can be the one to explain why the melting pot metaphor "melts" everyone into sameness and is hurtful. When someone says "I don't even SEE Phillip as Chinese!" instead of rolling my eyes I can say, "But he doesn't have that choice." When someone tries to make racism a "strictly interpersonal issue of hatred and intolerance" I can talk about stuff like, you know, housing segregation and its effect on, say, PUBLIC SCHOOL BOUNDARIES. (That quote is from this article, which resonated hard for me.) 

Today we went to a panel/workshop/discussion thingy about race and public education, put on by a multiethnic church who is committed to having these conversations and promoting justice. For me, and everyone else there, the "church" part is a very important part of this conversation. Or, rather, all of us in this work need Jesus to fill in the gaps. I'm going to say something stupid. Someone else is going to lose her patience. Someone else will misunderstand. All of us may have different priorities. But knowing that we all rested in Jesus made this a truly "safe space". In our fumbling and confusion and awkwardness, Jesus is there to fall back on, to help, to pave a path, to make a Third Way. 

Phillip will say this a lot to himself when it's just the two of us struggling to figure out the marriage things we are always struggling to figure out. We both want to find a solution so badly, but sometimes there isn't one. Sometimes we just are the way we are, and Phillip will finally say, "I guess this is why we have GOD." Like, FINE THEN. I GIVE UP. 

I think, on this race issue (and I should say, there are PLENTY of issues to engage in right now, this is just the one I feel called to), it's best if we come to the table already surrendered. Especially us white people. Listen! And then believe what you hear. Do it over and over. Eventually God will give you something to say, probably something to share with other white people. I think that's what's happened with me. 

Last month I went to a churchy conference that was pretty much useless except for this one line that I kept hearing in my heart over and over. The speaker said, "Because I KNOW all lives matter, I am not AFRAID to say that BLACK lives matter." Isn't that the truth of it? As people who believe in a loving creator God, who knows our names, who gives us destinies and desires and hopes and joys and deeply desires relationship with us, we KNOW that all lives matter. I repent of the ways I've held back, out of fear.  I'm praying that in the spaces I move in, I will be bold in speaking up for the lives that our broken culture doesn't value as much as mine. 

What I'm going to tell my kids tomorrow

Good morning, guys! Yes, we did finally figure out who the new president is, and it's President Trump! 

[try not to gag]


[what in the world do I say now?]

Yep, you're right, Mommy and Daddy did not vote for Trump. Are we sad? Yeah, I think we're a little sad. And people at school might be a little sad too. And tired! Mommy was up past midnight watching TV! 

Do you think you'll talk about the election in your classes? Oh yeah, I do remember when the kids in your class said Trump was a "raisin"! Well, that's one of the big reasons why Mommy and Daddy didn't want Trump to be president. But you know what? One of the most amazing things about our country is that everyone gets to say who they want to be president and whoever gets the most votes wins. And then even if we don't like who wins, we agree that he's the president anyway, and we'll vote for someone else in four years. It's a pretty great thing that we do this. When you're older you'll learn about countries who start fights over who the president should be and all the bad things that happen. We don't want that!

But that doesn't mean we have to agree with everything President Trump says. The BEST thing about our country is that we can say what we think. So if there are things President Trump says or does that we don't like, we can say so. If he keeps being a raisin we can say, "HEY. THAT'S NOT COOL." And make sure to show that we love our friends who speak other languages and friends whose skin is different colors from ours. Like right now Mommy and Daddy are trying to change the rules for school, so that those friends can go to the same school as you. I bet there are ways that you can try to make things fair too, like when you're playing a game at recess, or if you see a kid picking on another kid on the bus. Sometimes it's easier for us to speak up than it is for others, so be brave! 

The election was a big deal, wasn't it. We had lots of people come over and I let you stay up and eat more Halloween candy. It's too bad you had to go to bed before we knew who the new president was. But even though it was a big deal, we believe in GOD and we know he is WAY WAY SUPER HUGE BIGGER than us, and that includes President Trump. What do we know about God? We know that he loves us, that he cares about all people, that he's with us all the time. Do you think God is with President Trump too? I know! He is. So we have to pray that God gives lots of wisdom and fairness and patience and truthfulness to President Trump. You know how I pray for you and we pray for other people? We can pray for the president too!

And let's pray for our friends who wanted Hillary to win, because they're feeling sad and scared. Let's pray that God is reminding them that he loves them, he loves their friends, and that he knows they're worried, but he is with us. Right? Right. He will help us figure it all out. 


[drop kids at school]

[crawl into bed with the Bombay Sapphire.]



The bathroom remodel is done. I know. I KNOW. 

Three months, folks. Three months to the DAY. He said 6 weeks or so, I expected two months, maybe two and a half, and those last two weeks were killer. And things got tense - not between our bathroom guy and me, nope, we're besties - but between Phillip and me because I wasn't being the Taskmaster Project Manager at home and I felt his expectations were insane and *yoga breath*. 

But it's over. The bathroom guy and I are still buddies and Phillip and I are still married. Excellent! Also, there was one time where Phillip took bathroom guy out to lunch and they had a lovely time and I think THEY are friends too.

And isn't it funny that that's the first thing I need to tell you? That my relationships stayed intact and conflict was kept to a minimum (in public, at least) and A+ ON YOUR FIRST REMODEL, MAGGIE CHEUNG. 

The bathrooms? Oh, they're pretty awesome. I QUITE enjoyed that process, to be perfectly honest. The plumbing part was beyond boring and don't get me started on having to wait around for WIRING, but the picking stuff out and watching it go in and making design decisions on the fly with your bathroom builder? Oh yeah, I liked those parts. I would totally do those parts again. Should we start pestering Phillip about the kitchen? Hmm?

What? Pictures? 

Okay, so it USED to look like this:



And now it looks like this:


The other bit of that side of the bathroom used to look like this:


That little wall was a pocket door that divided the lone upstairs jack-and-jill bathroom between the hall and our bedroom. We walled it off to create two separate bathrooms. 

Not the right angle, but now it looks like this:


I have 3 picture ledges on that wall above the toilet (talllll ceilings) and nothing to put on them. YET. 

My thoughts on the hall bathroom: I love the floor and the tiny sink and the mirror and the hanging modern lamp that I couldn't take a picture of because it's too dark with it off and too eye blinding bright when it's on. I like the shower tile, though it reads light gray on the floor in the master bath and everywhere else except THIS bathroom, where it reads BEIGE and BROWN. Which is not QUITE what I was going for, but OH WELL. Also the paint color. This is the SECOND paint color. (I painted. I didn't make anyone crazy.) The first was too light. This one is not quite dark/gray enough. I didn't want to go dark here, but I think I should have gone a bit less Little Boy Bedroom. But you know what? OH WELL AGAIN.

But wait, there's more.

The rest of the bathroom used to look like this:


And now it looks like this: 


 And a little bit more:


We were going to do some built in shelving there until our budget and and brains caught up with us. For now that old shelf from our first apartment is working juuuust fiiiine. Also you can sort of see the barn door we hung on our bedroom wall to fix the awkwardness of the swinging-in door in the too-small space.

The other side used to look like this:


And again, wrong angle, but it looks like this now:


There is pretty much nothing about this bathroom that I do not like. Favorite everything. It needs a toilet paper holder and some pretty stuff on that little ledge above the sink and something nicer in the little storage area, but I am Rawther Delighted with the whole thing. 

Oh wait, that ridonkulous shower head. Not my favorite. But Phillip picked out one single thing for this remodel and it was that shower head. (Well, and the dozen too-smart-for-me switches and electrical thingies. Those don't count.) Anyway, the shower head, yes it does spit out water from, like, five different places, but it's mounted too tall for me to take advantage of them properly, ahem, but when your husband lets you spend an ungodly amount of money on blue tile where you could have just slapped up some paint, you allow a ridonkulous shower head. 

Loved our bathroom guy. NOT the fastest bathroom guy in the world. But good work, bathroom guy. 

In terms of what we picked out and finishes... I did buy fancy blue tile. The glass penny tile in the master bathroom was not cheap. But the blue glass bricks in the shower WERE cheap, because I got samples from every company under the sun and basically found a perfect dupe of the really expensive tile I fell in love with. Boom. All other tile off the shelf from Home Depot. (Oh the floor penny tile I ordered from Home Depot sight unseen.) Vanity, sink, pendant light I didn't show you, and some hardware from Ikea. Both shower doors, shower head, and faucets from Amazon. Barn door, toilets, shower bases, pretty much everything else from Home Depot, even the tiny sink which took me nine million years to pick out, SIGH. And that silly round mirror is from Crate and Barrel and I wonder if it looks a bit odd, but don't tell me, because I love it so. 


* P Cheung runs away shrieking *

Acceptable and unacceptable eye rolls, your own experiences vs. your kid's present and future, and why military bases aren't the always the worst

I will spare us all a blow by blow from last night's school district community meeting about the boundaries because 1) you don't care and 2) nothing new happened. More tone deaf gobbledygook from the district, though I suppose it did reach an impressive new level of condescension, much of which, disappointingly, came from the involved principals. I guess the new thing is that I went from "assuming we've lost and wanting to burn things down" to "whoa, there are a LOT more people pissed off about this now, maybe we still have a chance?" So. 

(What I really want to rant about is the exhortations from the future principal of the "overconcentrated" school to "just believe!" and "think positive!" and "trust us!" as if we are idiot children who think a substandard crappy building will also be full of horrible teachers who will lock up the disadvantaged and underserved children in kennels for six hours a day while they snarf down donuts in the staff room and play Candy Crush. But I already wrote an incredibly bitchy (for me) comment on a local school blog about that and now it's out of my system. Well, not really. But I'm TRYING HERE, OK?)

There is one parent who made the same comment I've heard her make a few times now, and it always makes me think. Her child will be assigned to the substandard school building (mine won't) and she's mainly trying to make peace with it. So she stood up and told the district folks that that neighborhood is exploding in population and what's to say that this tiny neighborhood school won't be instantly overcrowded within a year or two and the boundaries will have to be redrawn all over again? She wants stability, community, and a place where her son will make "lifelong friendships". And I thought: HUH!

Because honestly, the "having to pull a kid out of second grade and send him to another for third grade" is not at all what I find scandalous about this whole situation. And I would bet this parent wouldn't rank it at the top either - she's firmly on the side of This Shouldn't Be Happening. But that's the added consideration for her and, I know, tons of other parents who are facing the redrawn boundaries in all of North Seattle. They are all about not "disrupting" kids and making sure they have "stability". I'm sure a lot of MY unconcern and lack-of-thinking on the topic has to do with the fact that my kids will stay in the same place. But as I thought more about it I also realized how much of my own background has to do with my perspective. How every time I hear a parent talk about "lifelong friendships" I involuntarily (nor do I stop myself) roll my eyes. 

The summer between fourth and fifth grade I moved to a new school in an entirely different country. I did it again between sixth and seventh grades, including the new country part. And again between ninth and tenth grades, to a school in, you guessed it, another new country! (Well, actually, one of the countries I'd already lived in. But the opposite end. Eh.) Andthe  community I was in during those years, that was, like, hardly moving at all. Those military families had been moving every 2 years their whole military lives. My friends had lived in ninety-seven different places before I met them. What stability? 

Which is not to say that I think switching schools and moving and a life that gets turned on end every couple of years is no big. None of those moves were easy ones. And now that I can look back with an adult's eyes, I have more understanding for behavior and attitudes I encountered from my fellow students, especially in high school. I have often thought friendships that began in elementary school would be amazing to have, especially when I was a very lonely college freshman and my roommate had a gang of insta-friends from her high school to do things with. (Of course I thought this was way lame at the time. HIGH SCHOOL. SNORT.) It would be so fun to have peers who knew me way back when, instead of, say, my PE teacher from 2nd grade who stayed friends with my parents all that time. 

But I think there is also a lot to be said for Something New, and I think if capacity issues (which are huge and real in our district) required my kids going to a new school, I don't THINK I'd freak out about it. I probably would freak, but more for my own self (having to get to know a whole new school/principal/teachers/system) than the kids. Last year Molly didn't stay with the cohort of 2nd graders who'd been mostly kept together since kindergarten because the parents (and kids) were so happy and gelled together. She made new friends in her new class and this year she's back with much of that cohort, but also knows all the OTHER kids. Granted this is Molly, the most easy going child on earth, but this would have been good for Jack too. I shared this with a parent friend who is upset with the class her daughter is in this year in hopes of encouraging her. Sometimes change is really good. 

I see, though, that this is me looking back at my experience and thinking, "I turned out okay!" (RIGHT?) I am actually often wowed by the idea that my kids WON'T move, that they'll live HERE and be from HERE and won't be 25 or 30 until they feel like they're FROM somewhere. My kids are going to have a completely different experience! WHOA! (An eye roll here WOULD be appropriate.) 

One thing I DO feel strongly about is the experience of attending diverse and equitable schools. There was ONE school and EVERYONE went to it. We were all different ethnicities and races, and while there were socioeconomic factors, the base commander's kids went to the same school as the lowest NCO's kids and everyone partook of the same resources and offerings. The first time I realized this was my first week on the University of Washington campus. There were tons of white kids, more Asian kids than I'd ever seen in my life, and the handful of black students were all, as far as I could tell, athletes. Were there Hispanics? No idea. I remember calling my dad and babbling incoherently about it. (And then my best friend from high school, a Filipino-Chinese guy who went to Berkeley came up to visit me and and marveled about my "whitey" campus. Which - could there BE more Asian people at a campus? APPARENTLY SO.) 

I don't know that American Department of Defense schools overseas are the model of integrated funded schools (hello, your taxpayer dollars funded many foreign country crazy fun extracurricular trips for me, thank you) but it does give you a certain frame of reference. 

Because I went to those schools I also got to go to very small schools where everyone knew you (it helped, perhaps, that your parents were teachers). And if I got to choose for my kids, they'd go to very small schools. Our school has grown from 250 to 350 and next year the brand new school can fit 660. It's not my ideal, but we live in Seattle where the reality is that there is no space for a whole bunch of small schools and maybe not even enough space and funding to build the giant schools we need. I don't want to live in Small Town, WA so this is the trade off we make. I may have had the opportunity to play sports AND do drama AND be on the student council AND be in the band AND pretty much everything else my high school offered, but I hear the giant local high schools will have way more opportunities and pathways not to mention all different kinds of people than the tiny somewhat stifling 50-person graduating class I had. 

Speaking of high school - moving during high school was probably the Premier Formative Event in my personal history and I probably will do everything I can to make it so my kids don't have to switch high schools because it was so miserable for me. Does this negate everything I said above? Hopefully not - even if my kids had to move high schools, it wouldn't be the same experience I had. It could be worse (but I think because it wouldn't also be in a new country with all new everything and where everyone's dad is off bombing Bosnia a few times a week and a Thick Dark Existential Fog hangs over the community it would be easier... but I digress.) 

ANYWAY. The fact that Seattle Public Schools is, in essence, creating a segregated school FROM SCRATCH remains utterly scandalous, in my opinion, and yes, my own experience colors this and I need to be more understanding and open to the other reasons other people object to it. I need to save all my eye rolling for principals cautioning us to "speak positively" about the decision, even though THEY are the ones creating the negative environment, not ME. FTLOG. 

I don't really know if I made a point, if I was trying to make a point, or if I was exploring my own convoluted thoughts on a convoluted subject AS PER USUAL. I've just noticed this idea has come up in my brain more than a few times and sometimes getting it out on virtual paper at least reminds me that I told myself my thinking should expand. I  have now spent all of preschool time writing this instead of writing the most interesting PTA newsletter on earth, YOU'RE WELCOME. 


In which I have no act to even pull together

I am probably the only parent in the world who is struggling with the start of school. All the other parents are off eating bon bons in their bath and hosting mimosa brunches and, I don't know, turning cartwheels and eating cookie dough right out of the tube. All things I fully support and would be doing myself if I could only GET MY ACT TOGETHER. 

I have a list of things to blame. Obvs. First up is the change in school bell times for the big kids' school. All of Seattle Public Schools switched up bell time to accommodate a later high school start. Most elementary schools are now an hour earlier (because of buses, because of money, it's always money, I will not rant about the boundary issue, I will not). WHICH IS FINE. I am just fine with the kids starting earlier and high school kids going later and I AM A COOPERATIVE PARENT but you GUYS it is HARD to get UP. Possibly because by the end of summer none of us, including the four-year-old, were going to bed until 10. I don't know. The guiding force in our parenting is Sloth, followed closely by Inertia, what can I say. 

Anyway. The lucky thing is that Phillip has to get up for work (no bon bons for him!) and he's always berating himself for not going in earlier and guess what! Now he does! Because we have to get the kids to the bus stop by 7:15. (We were rolling out of bed at 7:15 last year. Sigh.) So this is hard for me. I need my beauty rest. And my beauty rest is more like Just Enough To Speak Coherently Rest, beauty has nothing to do with it. Unfortch. 

In a miraculous display of Thinking Ahead and Using My Smarts, I have been laying out clothes and making lunches the night before. We haven't had to drag the kids out of bed yet, which surprises me (just wait for the gloom and doom of late fall and winter, though) so it's just me wandering around in my jammies and rat's nest hair, barking about being late and put your shoes on and is that a milk mustache on your face? I even made a bunch of breakfast burritos so no one can force me to make scrambled eggs in the morning. 

So far so good. Painful but possible. 

The other stuff is just stupid. Like school uniforms. SO SO STUPID AND YET SUCH A BIG DEAL. 

When we signed Emma up for pre-K at the Catholic school I received a packet of info which included a letter from the teacher saying UNIFORMS WERE NOT REQUIRED. But a dress code was enforced and if we wanted to dress "like" the uniform, to buy certain kinds of clothes and colors. Which I duly did because WHEE! Emma in a little school uniform jumper CAN YOU EVEN? 

About a week before school started I took a closer look at the uniform section in the handbook, which the school staff thoughtfully emailed out to all the parents just in case they hadn't felt like they spent enough money yet, and I realized that the primary age students didn't wear NAVY shirts, only WHITE. And they didn't wear KHAKI skorts and pants, they wore NAVY. Oops. So I took all the wrong things back. And Emma wore navy pants, a white polo, and a little navy hooded cardigan on her first day. 

But allllllllll (ALLLLLLL) the other pre-K kids were wearing the regulation uniform. 

I told myself I was paranoid. 

The next day I picked up Emma and she was wearing the regulation school cardigan. Her teacher said, "I just keep this sweater here and she needed it." 


That same day I noticed that not only were alllllll (ALLLLLLL) the kids wearing brand new regulation uniform clothes, ALL the girls were wearing SKIRTS. I said to myself, "Self, a school cannot POSSIBLY demand girls only wear skirts in 2016. That just cannot be the case." But see above: paranoid and also Rule Follower, so I asked the teacher. "Is it okay if Emma wears pants?" 

And she said, "Hmmmmm... you don't have one of those?" And she pointed at a little girl's jumper. 


When I got home I threw all my pride out the window and wrote a panicked whimpering email to the school. WTF IS EMMA SUPPOSED TO WEAR? WHAT DID I DO WRONG? CLEARLY I CANNOT FIGURE OUT, REQUIRE DETAILED ANNOTATED LIST, PREFERABLY WITH LINKS. 

A few hours I received an email from the school. "We are so very sorry! Pre-K IS required to wear the uniform." 

But! Pants are OK. 

You guys, I am ashamed of how stressed I got (sort of still am) this uniform thing. Everyone loves uniforms! I loved uniforms! Why was it so hard! Why didn't I just fork over the $50 per skort and jumper instead of buying the $9 navy skort from Children's Place?! That's what I get for trying to save a little money! That's what I get for assuming the papers in the information packet were correct, even when every single email I received from the school made it pretty clear that everyone wore the uniform! CLEARLY THIS IS ALL MY FAULT. (No.) (But.) (You know.) 

Really, though, there is no easier problem to throw money at. I jumped online, bought a handful of sweaters and vests and one jumper because $50 for a size 5T jumper I JUST CANNOT. The school had a used 4t skort that I could use right away and poor Emma, she's wearing it because 1) her mother needed her to be in uniform RIGHT AWAY and not wait for the jumper to arrive and 2) her mother doesn't care that it's a little tight and a little short. Pull it down below her belly, it's all good! 

We've covered early bell times and uniforms, what else? How about the PTA! You guys, not only am I on the PTA, I am on the PTA BOARD. How did that happen?! I don't know?! I volunteered to do all the newsletter/Facebooky things because, well, I can DO those things and also if I do those maybe I don't have to do anything else. But this board meeting yesterday made me realize what a poor excuse for a human being I am that I am not volunteering at school NOR DO I WANT TO. What sort of stay at home mother AM I? Everyone is so! excited! And I am all... eh. But after I finish this bit of drivel I'm going to figure out how to send HTML emails from Gmail and draw up a production schedule for sending this stuff out and can they do THAT? 

Another blog topic for another time: why, whenever I feel inferior, is my first instinct to hunt around for something in which I CAN feel superior? #poorexcuseforhumanbeing 

But you know the worst thing? And I mean worst in that it's the hardest and also MAKES me the worst? Our bathroom still isn't done (maybe by my 40th birthday?) and after I drop the kids off I can't just go home and go back to bed. BECAUSE THERE'S A DUDE IN MY BATHROOM. Hence the hiding out in a coffee shop this morning and writing to you. Otherwise you know I'd be passed out on my couch. Is there a bigger and more I-should-be-ashamed-of-myself first world problem? NO THERE IS NOT. 

Here's to hoping you are handling the transition back to school with more grace and intelligence than your trusty blogger. 

In which I move to Canada

Hi Internet

I'm writing to you from the other side of the street fair, our third so far, and does anyone have a trick for figuring out What's Worth Doing for street fairs? I spent a long time today staring at the [really lovely super nice] ladies selling jewelry next to us and thinking, "If THEY have a bad weekend, at least they don't have to throw out all their inventory!" We had a good Saturday and a not so hot Sunday, which is how these things go, I think, and, well, we made SOME money? I haven't sat down to calculate exactly how many hours Katie worked and how much she got "paid" per hour, mainly because I'm afraid to know. The food business, guys. I don't know that I recommend it. 

That said, I kind of love sitting at these street fairs. We've only done the one in my neighborhood, which is pretty small and tame, but I suspect the bigger the fair, the wider the swath of Bizarre Humanity. The older I get the more fake extroverted I become (fake because I still need that alone time to decompress no matter what) and I quite enjoy interacting with all the various Batty Ladies, Toothless Vagabonds, stressed families with babies, people who can't decide, people who ask me if my macarons and sugar cookies are sugar free, people who think we're selling soap and can't BELIEVE you can EAT THOSE!, Spacey Teenagers, people who can't walk past a Seahawks-themed cookie without feeling obligated to buy it as a token of their devotion, people who want me to open a store, people who come back for seconds, Random Conversation Starters, people who pay in dimes, THEY'RE ALL AMAZING. Especially the ones who walk by, stop in their tracks, and squee because OMG MACARONS THEY'RE MY FAVORITE. These people inevitably ask what MY favorite is and I always say, because I am a tremendously bad liar, that I prefer a massive fudgy brownie to one of these foppish silly little cookies. I know, I need to work on that. 


So here I am, wanting to unwind in front of some fun Olympics television viewing, and I CAN'T, because stupid NBC has me on a West Coast tape delay. I am not a huge Olympics/sports fan so I don't know why this has me so het up, but I keep getting excited to watch certain events with my kids and I keep getting disappointed/frustrated because nothing comes on until so late! And we already know the results for all the swimming because hello, internet, and UGH why don't I live closer to Canada so I can watch THEIR Olympics coverage. 

Maybe Trump will win and the Cheungs will relocate to Phillip's company's Vancouver location and we'll get to watch Canadian Olympics coverage NEXT time!

I come up with the greatest solutions to things. 

We're starting week 4 of Bathroom Remodel. (SEGUE! THERE WASN'T ONE!) It's... ok. So it's going slow - this last week was a hard one for our contractor dude's personal life - but I'm dead serious about having the lowest of low expectations and I am unfazed by Slow. And I think we're actually out of the really slow part, where it's all boring plumbing, and we've moved into framing and actually putting in some bathroom-looking type things. I really like the guy we hired, even though he wasn't around much last week. I also thought having the kids at home during a remodel was going to be horrid, but instead it's made me feel less awkward about having a stranger in my house all the time. Kids give me a reason to do stuff in my own house rather than feeling like I need to escape every day. We've had some design issues come up, but nothing we haven't figured out. I'm nervous the final product will be terrible because 1) I picked everything out and can you trust me and 2) what if the design sucks? But... too late for that! 

I am so Fine about the bathroom remodel that I've been sitting here looking at kitchen remodels on Pinterest during the NBC sucky coverage. I KNOW. 

Honestly, all I'm nervous about right now is that there's going to be some sort of Bathroom Emergency when I'm in Chicago this week and I won't be around to swoop in and Make A Decision. But that's what texting is for, yes? Also: CHICAGO. I am QUITE looking forward to seeing two of my favorite ladies and also feeling QUITE guilty about being gone longer than I've ever been for Something Fun. (Volunteering at Urbana is longer, but volunteering at Urbana is for GOD whereas hanging out in Chicago with @lizritz and @notthatyouasked is more like, hmmm, threatening to my liver.) 

All right. I wanted to watch the men's relay medley, even though I already know who wins, but it's almost 11 which is, like, years past my bedtime, and it's like NBC doesn't actually want anyone to watch the Olympics, don't you think? GAH

Update on What Exactly Are You Using That "Race And Equity Toolkit" FOR, Seattle Public Schools?

Ugh. I don't even know where to start. Do we all even know what's going on? I barely know. Okay, so in 2017 we are looking at two schools opening - one brand new, ginormous, full of community resources LIKE A CLINIC school, and one very small, very old, landmarked so you can't knock any walls down, computer lab ON THE STAGE school. The original proposed boundaries will result in Ginormous School having a more white, less poor, more English speaking population than it did before (though still "diverse", statistically speaking) and Small School starting out "overconcentrated" in ELL, FRL, and minority populations. I believe "overconcentrated" is the word I'm supposed to use instead of "segregated". 

Parents pushed back. Teachers pushed back. We had a handful of entirely pointless "community engagement meetings". After the last one, our own Phillip Cheung went out to coffee with a Race and Equity team representative to be all, "WTF, District?" And, shocker, the Race and Equity Team rep confessed that this whole "race and equity toolkit" the district kept jabbering about wasn't even really established. The team was still learning its job and figuring out their role. They hadn't been involved in boundary decisions before. 


Then the district offered to meet with three engaged parents (including Phillip), the principals of the three schools involved (including the future new principal of the new Small School), and members of the Race and Equity team. The district may have been genuine in wanting feedback and finding a compromise, or at the very least, the least bad solution, but at this point, the options are as follows:

1) Open Small School at the right size, but "overconcentrated" 

2) Open Small School with underenrollment and therefore not enough funding (and possibly over enroll Ginormous School, though some of us strongly dispute those numbers)

Also, at this point, the district has announced these small meetings are finished; it will now meet with the three affected principals, and they'll choose a solution to propose to the board in the fall. 

Because despite the race and equity "lens" the conversations at the meetings were focused more on numbers and right sizes, because a right size school is preferred by the incoming Small School principal, because the right size school option makes concessions to the third school's concerns, because the district would obviously like to go with the easier, less angry parent-making right size option, and because OUR school principal left for a new job (we found out yesterday) the chances of the equitable option being chosen are very slim indeed. 

There IS a way to right size the schools AND make them equitable, but it means drawing boundaries in crazypants ways, uprooting tons of kids at tons of schools, and infuriating all of NE Seattle. Ruminating over all of that has led me into the quagmire of neighborhood schools vs. busing vs. the sort of "apply to the school you want" system Seattle had before it returned to neighborhood schools in 2010. Because that's what's really happening here. Small School, in order to be the right size and assist with the overcrowding that's happening all over the district, will draw students from low income areas, where people are predominantly not white, non native English speaking, and in subsidized housing. Because those are the neighborhoods it draws from, that's what this neighborhood school will look like. Meanwhile, the school that used to draw those neighborhoods (and many others) is being rebuilt with plenty of amenities and resources to serve just those demographics. Opening Small School as a neighborhood school means those students are prevented from taking advantage of those resources, as well as the benefits of going to a school made up of families with more resources. 

Some people have said not to worry, that Ginormous School is still going to have its ELL and FRL population, but we'll be drawing those kids from another school and quite frankly I want to advocate for OUR kids who ARE losing out. These are not interchangeable widgets, folks. The neighborhood school system relies on having a "quality" school in every neighborhood. Because many of our current teachers will stay at Small School when it opens, I can say that Small School will have a stellar teaching staff. But they'll be teaching in a run down building with a library stuffed into a classroom, a computer lab on the stage, no plumbing in the portables, and horribly insufficient bathroom facilities. Should they ever have the funding for art or music there's nowhere to do it. 

I have been sympathetic to the anti-school choice crowd, because it takes funding away from public schools. But a whole lot of good that's doing for our disadvantaged kids in 2017. "Mitigation" is the new buzzword to make us all feel better about how UNequitable this decision is, but does that money even exist? And all the mitigation funding in the world can't help if your tiny crappy building is landmarked, like Small School is, and you're not allowed to knock down walls or build out. Honestly, if it turns out we do get all the funding we're supposed to get under McCleary, who's to say this bloated opposite-of-transparent district is going to spend that money on the kids? Bring on the vouchers, Campbell Brown. 

In which relaxing is bad for the psyche

This morning I'm wondering if it's possible to have a summer that doesn't feel like it's going 90 miles an hour. I feel like I set out to have a slower summer this year, or at least a more thoughtful summer, if that makes sense, and it's still nuts. 

I KNOW, I KNOW it doesn't help that I like to GO 90 miles an hour. But the last year I've tried hard to be aware of how Me Liking To Do Everything affects my family, especially Phillip, and I'm getting better at saying no to things I really want to do and intentionally preserving empty days in our schedule. This year we had several conversations about how terrible the end of last summer was, so we've planned a family getaway for Labor Day, Phillip and I are going to have our own local getaway the weekend after next, and I found a babysitter for sporadic summer date nights. 

BUT STILL! Sometimes I think it's because I have the bakery (though our bakery July is slow indeed) or because both our families are so close and we do so much with them or because I have so MUCH family living nearby. Maybe it's "Northwest Syndrome" where you need to take ultimate advantage any time there's good weather. But it's not like those are bad things or things I want to say no to. 

I signed up the kids for two VBS camps (on back to back weeks, admittedly) and we start swim lessons this afternoon. But that's it. I never got around to signing them up for the Chinese school summer camp and Jack didn't want to do soccer camp. Maybe August will feel slower? 

I'm not complaining. As I may have mentioned ten times in this post already, I LIKE TO BE BUSY. But when I've tried to NOT be busy ON PURPOSE and it isn't happening? That feels... I don't know. Like I messed up somewhere. What would it be like to have a long summer full of very lazy mornings and afternoons at the community pool with all our friends? Yeah, that 1) doesn't exist and 2) those lazy mornings would probably drive me insane. 

Did I mention our bathroom got demo-ed yesterday? HA HA HA

I turned 37 yesterday. I am fond of the odd number ages for some reason. They feel good to me, so I feel good about this upcoming year. But even though I'm younger than most of my local friends and a veritable spring chicken when you look at the demographics of the prayer ministry I'm in, I have this very Three anxiety around How Many Good Years I Have Left To Do Something Awesome. WHICH IS RIDONKULOUS. And yet! It's there! I am copping to it! In the same way I am looking at my rapidly graying hair and wondering whether to be a) the lady who covers her gray or b) the lady who cares not or c) the lady who bleaches it and dyes part of it pink because HEY if you're gonna dye your hair you should just go all out, I feel like I need to sort of plot out this second half of my life. 

My mother is reading this and her eyes have never rolled so far, I just know it. 

A few weeks ago I gave a talk (on prayer) (to a small churchy crowd) and you guys I REALLY LIKED GIVING THAT TALK. Seeing as how the one time I was asked to be a lector at church I nearly barfed all over the ambo, I hadn't really considered Speaker as a possible String to my Bow. But when you super dig what you're talking about and you feel like you're meant to share it - huh! That's different! So is that something I could, you know, DO? I've always thought creating and leading retreats would be fun. What about writing again? How much can I do when Emma is in school every morning? Can I go to THAT conference and THAT retreat and THAT night and... oh, and here we are at 90 miles an hour. Oops. 

Phillip is reading this and thinking 1) GOD NO MAKE IT STOP and 2) Why can't she want to do something that earns money?

I have to head out to an appointment with Emma's nurse, so that will spare you Part Two of this post, where I get navel gazey about a million other things... (seriously - I just deleted it because I don't have time to properly navel gaze. You're welcome.) 




Summertime me uses a LOT of caps

Here is a good example of Jack-ness (and also where you say, "Hey, weren't you going to try not to write about your kids so much?" and where I say, "BUT THEN THEY DO STUFF LIKE THIS.")

So I bought all three kids those summer workbooks they sell at Costco. I bought the Summer Fit Activities books for Jack and Molly, and I think those are pretty good, but I bought a different brand for Emma and it's dumb. The big kids are doing Actual Things while Emma is tracing letters. While Emma requires improvement in varied aspects of Preschooler, at age Nearly Five she has better handwriting than her brother and sister. BUT I DIGRESS. 

Right now, in Jack's workbook, it's talking about rounding. Which apparently they did not do in third grade this year? Because Jack is somewhat offended by the concept. He understands how to DO it, and I would I please stop talking to him like he is a CHILD, he GETS IT ALL RIGHT, he just doesn't understand why you would do such a thing. Shouldn't you just say the right number? Why would you not want to say the accurate number? It doesn't make sense. It even sounds sort of stupid. IS THIS LIKE LYING? 

So here I am, rueing the day I bought these stupid books and created incentives for the kids to work through them. Yet another piece of evidence in the Everything You Do That Makes You A Conscientious Not-Lazy Good Mom Is Actually Really Annoying And Drives You To Drink case file. 

Cheerily, the big kids are at a big time VBS this week. May I recommend VBS for the mom who wants to be Conscientious, Not-Lazy, and Good, but really can't hack it most days? Because VBS is basically free childcare for a week in the summer. YEP I SAID IT. We usually do a week of the standard, local, Catholic VBS which goes from 9am to 12pm every day and costs $40 per kid. Not too shabby. But this year we are ALSO doing a week of extremely non-standard (for us stodgy Catholics) not-local (IT'S A HALF HOUR AWAY, THAT'S LIKE DRIVING TO NEBRASKA), Korean megachurch VBS. Okay, I'm not sure if it's really a MEGAchurch, but it's 1) bigger than our church and 2) holy cats, the production values for this VBS, which ALSO cost $40, but goes until 2:30 every day AND includes lunch, ARE INSANE. Like, and I'm dead serious, I'm pretty sure they painted a mural around the entry hall of this church JUST for VBS. There's a giant orange submarine (the theme is "Submerged") hanging from the ceiling. There are nine million people running it and they are wearing matching t-shirts and lanyards and crazy hair bows and they are the most organized and friendliest church people I have ever encountered. This place is NUTS. I watched my kids walk into the sanctuary outfitted with a giant set for the huge song and dance numbers. IS THIS WHAT LIFE IS LIKE WHEN YOU'RE PROTESTANT?!?!

My friend sent her kids last year, that's how I know about it. I'm not in the habit of knowing what's going down at huge Korean churches in the suburbs, but perhaps I should be. 

In the meantime I think I may be booted from my role as a South American saint in the regular Catholic VBS because I would not commit to an hour and a half practice sometime on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Guess what: I do not feel bad about this at all. If I were part of the Korean church I'm sure I would have started practices like three months ago and all my lines would be memorized, but... it's a little too late to schedule an hour and a half practice with someone in sole charge of her three children in the summertime with mere days' notice. AT LEAST THIS IS WHAT I THINK. So sainthood is most likely off the table for me ("I'll try to find someone else, Maggie, you sound too busy" "WORKS FOR ME!"), but let's be honest, no one thinks I'll get there anyway. 

What was happening last time I graced this blog with my presence? Had we gone to Cincinnati yet? I don't think so! We went to Cincinnati, Internet! We apologize to the locals for bringing our terrible PNW weather with us, but we had a lovely time nonetheless. Phillip's brother and sister-in-law may be the dotiest uncle and aunt who ever doted, plus I made everyone traipse around at least three museums, only one of which had the word "Children's" in the name. A good trip is marked by the number of museums visited, don't you think? May I recommend the Cincinnati Art Museum, which was packed full of good stuff, and the Underground Railroad Museum (Freedom Center?) A bit heavy for our last day and we opted out of the modern day slavery exhibit (I know I have to have SOME conversations, but I didn't want to have ALL of them at ONCE), but I thought it was so well done. If you are going with clueless children like mine, may I suggest starting on the second floor at "how slavery happened" exhibit before you start the Underground Railroad exhibit on the first floor? Jackson's logical little self would have appreciated his mother providing some proper chronology. 

Most of our time was spent eating everything in sight and talking grown up stuff while kids played Minecraft. Recommend. 

Oh, may I also recommend @hrcopsey, who introduced me to Taste of Belgium and her husband and boys, showed me around her amazing house, and assured my West Coast Snob self that Cincinnati was full of awesome. (Correct.)

We've been home about a week. Summer is supposed to start feeling like summer, right? Any day now, Summer! I'd appreciate sunnier weather, more drinking on decks, and less staring at one's calendar in terrified awe. 

OH HERE'S A PIECE OF NEWS: First, let's recap. Bathroom remodel! Was supposed to begin in April! Until the day before demo was to begin our handyman was diagnosed with cancer. (He is doing rather well, he thanks you!) We found another do-it-all-himself contractor type who said he was available mid July. When I texted him in mid June, this was still the plan! But the other day when we texted to get a start date, he said that oops, he still wasn't done with the project he was doing when we met him, which was the first of TWO projects he needed to finish before starting ours, and now we're looking at a fall start date? OH GOD. But! Today he called Phillip to say that his second project wasn't actually ready yet and would switch places with us. So now we could start... Monday? OH GOD. 

(I still don't think it will happen. Low expectations just make my life more livable.) 

I have to put kids to bed. Then put myself to bed. Because, you know. Summer. 


Now the parking lot is empty

I'm a bit sentimental tonight, Internet, there's your warning. There's a last bit of sunlight streaming through the trees in the backyard and the kids are playing in the living room and Phillip is still at a meeting. It's summer, the doors are open, I have our friend Alexa playing old Indigo Girls songs - I wish someone would have told me that all those hours and dollars I spent in used CD stores would get boxed up in a garage for the rest of time and a small black voice-activated cylinder would cater to my every musical whim. 

We got in very late last night from a long weekend in Cincinnati with Phillip's brother and his family. This was our first trip there with kids. In fact, we've only visited one other time and it was about one year after we'd been married. Twelve years ago. We had no kids then. Weird. We've seen them of course - family trips and visits to our side of the country - but it was good to see them in their natural habitat and have the big cousins show the little ones around. The weather was terrible and it felt rushed and I never stopped being tired, but it was one of those things that needed to happen and it was good and important. I'm glad we went, even if it meant we had a two hour layover in Houston, TX at 11pm. 

But you know, home is good too, even if I'm sitting here staring at the calendar wondering how it's all going to work. I think it was February or March that I said to myself, "Self? This summer is NOT going to be crazy." And here it is, looking crazy. People usually give us a week, max, for bakery orders, so it's hard to plan ahead with that. And there are just so many FUN things to do in the summer and I have Want To Do Everything Syndrome. 

Also random things, like I'm giving a little talk tomorrow night for some churchy folks and honestly, it's a good thing I haven't had much time to think about it because now? OH GOD WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS? I wrote it on the airplane from Houston and gave it twice in front of my mirror today while the kids ate lunch and dinner, but it's sure to be horrid and embarrassing and dumb. At least there will probably only be, like, 20 people there, so my humiliation won't spread too far. I hope. The thing is that I think I would LIKE to be the sort of person who occasionally gives talks, but, I mean, I take medication to NOT feel like this. 

I don't know for how long I've been thinking, "Okay, after this weekend, I can get my bearings and get it all under control." SO MANY WEEKENDS. And here I am saying that about this weekend and oh, next week is when we'll start REAL summer and I'll get the kids in a routine of swim lessons and library and down time and HA HA HA maybe I should just give up on that. 

Emma's encopresis nurse gave me her steely-eyed "Don't try to con ME, young lady" stare the other day and said, "You know, it's hard to manage this when you're so busy." And I was all TELL ME ABOUT IT, but also am I supposed to shut it all down? Maybe I should shut it down? Am I being a bad mother because I'm going to send everyone to VBS so I can go to Target by myself next week? 

Did I tell you the lady running VBS asked me to play a South American saint during one of the morning skits? HA HA HA. I said yes, of course. It's as close to sainthood as I'll ever get. 

I'm listening to the IG song about airplanes. Emily and the... those folk singer sisters, I can't remember their names. Come on, if you're an Indigo Girls fan you know this song. It's so right on. I'm glad I'm listening to it AFTER our trip. 

Oh, Rachael @Hopejumper was here right before we left. One of the zillion things we talked about was recurring nightmares and I couldn't tell her mine because it would basically spoil the plot of Bloodline (which is an excellent show if you aren't totally creeped and stressed out by creepy stressful TV) but HERS is AIRPLANES and omg she went on and on and on about AIRPLANES and again, it's a very good thing I'm on medication. 

Summer is Indigo Girls time. They used to play a show at the pier every summer and I always went with my friend Amy who I haven't seen in years and it was just How It Is. Now I have kids and an online bakery and the pier hasn't been operation for concerts since God knows when. I just sent an email to the PTA president saying I can't go to the Board Retreat (fawncy!) on Friday because I actually need to tie bows on cookies so I can deliver them Saturday morning and OH WOW somehow I became the Communications Chair for the PTA and learned how to tie bows and wrote a talk on an airplane. 

Things are different. 

At the airport during our layover I became obsessed with a family a few chairs over from ours. They had three kids, an oldest boy and two girls, but they were college and high school aged. Also something like seven feet tall, and six feet of those were legs. Wearing their respective school sweatshirts and ponytails like the ones I had when I played high school basketball. I felt like THEY ARE US (except for the whole height and athletic thing). The parents, the three not-quite-children. Phillip thought the same thing, without me pointing it out. We just looked at each other and went back to watching them. And I wonder. I can imagine what my kids will be like in 10 years. I can sort of see their faces and what they might be into and the ways they'll interact, even if I'm just fitting them into the ways that my brothers and sisters and I became teenagers who hung out in airports with our parents. But I cannot imagine what it will be like for ME in 10 years. Besides the completely gray hair, obvs. I hope I'll have figured out how to give a talk without requiring extra meds by then.