Monday, March 26, 2012

Am I crazy? (don't answer that!)

So, the rumors are true.  We're expecting our 3rd!  I'm excited and nervous and uncomfortable and hating all those women who say they love being pregnant. I hate it, but I'm thankful for it. The only part that is enjoyable is those short moments of watching a large belly change shape before my eyes and kick random items (like the remote control) off when I put them on my belly. But I'm months from that point, so I simply endure and remember that in a short while (even though it seems like forever away), I'm going to get to know another little personality and grow to love it.

I do some days wonder what the heck we're doing. We finally are without diapers and sippy cups and life is getting a lot easier, but when I think of getting old, we decided it would be worth the few years of sacrificing my body and freedom to have 3 kids and their families come home for holidays.  And let's face it.  There's nothing quite as beautiful as baby giggles.

Last week, a complete stranger pointed out to me that I was pregnant.  Yes, with my 3rd, I'm definately showing more than the first time at this same point, but I wasn't showing much more than she was...and she was not pregnant.  If I hadn't been with my children, I might have denied it or asked when she was due, but I put on my friendly face and sucked it up.  She's lucky, because I don't typically let people get away with the time I was grocery shopping and some ditsy blond teenager told me I was the cutest pregnant woman ever.  I glared at her and told her I wasn't, but thank you very much for ruining my day.  She'll never make that mistake again...I hope (teens don't seem to be learning much of anything these days).

As I get older and wiser, I've learned what questions and comments to avoid while talking with pregnant women, and I've compiled my top ten offensive things to say to a pregnant woman. I do realize that some of these questions may not be completely off the table for close friends and family and you may feel comfortable enough to ask them, but be careful. Even family can be offensive to an expectant mom.

Q: Are you having twins?
A: No, when are you due?
This tops the list of rude questions. No woman wants to be told she looks gigantic. She already feels it.  Tell her she's beautiful or say nothing at all.

Q: Are you hoping for a boy/girl this time? Will you be disappointed if it's not?
A: Are you hoping for a better behaved and less ugly child this time? I'm sure you'll be disappointed too.
Admittedly, I've been guilty of having an opinion about what I thought the mother wanted in the past (though I hope I was a little less directly rude). I've never met a mother who has been disappointed with the birth of her child, even if she has 8 boys or 6 girls. And when the mom announces that she's having her 4th boy, don't react with disappointment and sympathy. Celebrate with her! Even if she's secretly disappointed, your enthusiasm might help her realize that this is something to be excited about. I'm finding myself very annoyed with people when they tell me what they want me to have.  It's one thing to "call it" and say you think they're having one or the other, but don't assume that's what they want.

Q: How much weight have you gained?
A: 3 lbs.  How much have YOU gained? Is that still from Christmas?
Seriously? The questions people think they can ask a pregant woman are ridiculous. You'd never dream of asking this of someone who had put on a few extra pounds at Christmas. (Unless you're in Turkey...according to my friend who lives over there, they comment on each other's weight all the time)

Q: Are you having a "natural" childbirth?
A: No, I'm hoping for one of those "Men in Black" alien births where the baby reaches its hand out of my belly button and emerges looking like a slimy gray 3-eyed monster.
Aren't all birth's natural? This is not a real question. Instead the asker is telling you her opinion of what's best for you. This is one of those "holier than thou" questions. "Are you going to give birth the way GOD intended you to do it, the RIGHT way and endure the pain GOD wants you to endure? A mother who gives birth GOD's way obviously loves her child more because she's sacrificed herself and her comfort for her child."

Q. You're huge! I can't believe you have 2 months left. (or "When are you going to have that baby already?" is something a good friend of mine was just asked.)
A. Your face is ugly. I can't believe you have to look like that for the rest of your life.
Another variation of the twins question. Tell me I've never looked better, even if you're lying.

Q: Were you TRYING or was this an oops?
A: Are you trying to be rude or was that an oops?
Usually, if the pregnancy is unexpected, the information will be obvious or else offered by the expectant mom, so there's no need to ask. I can understand asking a good friend this question, but be careful, it may not be something she wants to share.

Q. You're going to breastfeed, right?
A. What do you plan to do with YOUR boobs during the next year?
This is such an intensely personal decision that causes great stress on many mothers.  The fact is that some mothers simply cannot for a host of various reasons.  Most mothers feel great guilt about their decision to not breastfeed or the inability to do it, so having someone give them more "holier than thou" crap by asking about how they intend to provide nutrition to their child just makes them angry.  So keep your snit to yourself.  This is something the pediatrician may ask and they usually do it nicer than you can.

Q. Should you be eating that?
A. Shouldn't you be drinking less?
Let's make a deal.  You keep your dietary comments to yourself and I won't accuse you of being an alcoholic.

Q. You look tired! (or any variation of this: You look sick/green/uncomfortable)
A. Thank you.
No one likes to hear that they look terrible.  I've already had someone tell me I looked sick.  I didn't feel sick at the time.  That was nice.

Q. Who's the father?
A. Your husband.
There is really no other appropriate answer to this question than to be snotty back. Though many do not feel the need to ask this question, because they know the mother is in a committed relationship, many of us know someone who you would want to question. In almost all cases, if you don't know or if the mother doesn't offer the information, it's not your business. However, if it's your teenage daughter, you have all the permission in the world to ask her.

And, as an added extra warning, if you attempt to touch my belly, I'll just touch your boobs...or if you're a guy, worse! Unless you're my friend and I offer to let you feel my baby kick, don't touch me. I don't like being touched, especially when I'm pregnant.

Have a nice day and raise an alcohol-free glass to rude-comment-free pregnancies!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

better than Krispy Kreme?

I was visiting with my lovely neighbor today and her son kept asking when he could eat his donut. She kept saying "later," very much frustrating him, and I was amused at how similarly the same situation would have gone down at my house.  I mentioned to her that my sister gave me a very delicious recipe for donuts. I've made them only twice, but they are heavenly.  I couldn't stop thinking about them, so my girls and I decided that we needed to make a batch.  I'm sure she didn't make up the recipe, but I'm crediting Carol anyway since she introduced me to this delicious slice of fatty, sugary bliss.

Carol's Donuts
2 T. yeast
⅓ c. warm water
1½ c. whole milk
5 T. butter
¼ c. sugar
1 ½ t. salt
2 eggs
23 oz. flour (must be weighed)

Combine yeast and water in mixing bowl.  In small saucepan over low heat, stir together milk, butter, sugar and salt until butter just melts.  Add to yeast mixture.  Add eggs and flour and mix together (dough should be light and sticky). Cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).  Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1" thick.  Cut into donut shapes.  Let rise another 30 minutes.  Deep fry donuts in med-hi oil until golden.  (don't have the oil too hot or the donuts will be dark on the outside and raw in the middle.  Drain on paper towels.  Roll in sugar or drizzle with glaze if desired.

just after they were cut out


I dipped the girls' donuts in a runny glaze of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, then added sprinkles.  For the adults (ie: me), I coated them in white cane sugar with a small amount of cinnamon added.  I let the girls have one donut and 2 holes.  I think I ate 4 donuts and no less than 6 holes and then was comatose on the couch until my stomach ache subsided.  I do not, under any circumstances, recommend eating that many in one sitting.  You WILL pay a harsh price.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

superheros to the rescue

A new client contacted me a month ago (well, she tried to), but being that I've been in absentia from my blog and FB page most of Feburary, I got the message on Friday. Evidently my "fantastic" customer service didn't turn her completely off to me. It turned out that she wanted cupcakes for her son's superhero birthday party, but assumed it was too late as she needed them the next day. Normally, that would be a safe assumption, but I had the afternoon off from my kids and had only planned on being lazy, so I was able to fill the order for her. I've had a break from cakes lately, so I was happy to have some time alone to be artistic.

I made a plan, bought a few supplies and went to work on the Hulk, Thor, Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Silver Surfer whom I'd never heard of...probably because I have girls. We know Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, Hello Kitty and the like, but superheros are not really on our radar. As girly as my daughters are, they did think the superhero cupcakes turned out pretty cool.

So, here they are...

the Silver Surfer



Iron Man


Captain America

This leads me to wonder why no kid ever wants a super villain birthday party.

Friday, March 9, 2012

fixing other people's stupid mistakes

I feel like, in my house, I'm constantly fixing other people's mistakes.  Most of these blunders are thanks to the  former home-owners who either hired a brainless contractor or thought they were good at doing it themselves.  Not all DIY'ers are created equal.  I beg to argue that these people were not even adequate at their DIY projects - at least the ones they did here.  For example, none of the doors in my house are balanced.  They all swing either open or shut which is very annoying and not terribly easy to fix.  Another example?  They re-did the basement and apparently covered electrical junction boxes; our electrician is pretty convinced they did anyway.  We had to hire him to fix some of their blunders when nothing I did could make the bedroom light work (and I'm not without knowledge of the craft; I have wired an entire basement before to pass inspection with flying colors).

My latest fix-it project has been to basically "grout" the wood flooring in my kitchen.  When the pre-finished floors were installed, they did not properly acclimate to the climate and humidity of the house before they were installed.  I'm guessing that the owners did not care how it turned out as they were dumping the house on the next unsuspecting buyers.  Either that or they just didn't have a clue.  I've worked on wood flooring installation before and it's imperative that one uses the correct tools.

The first winter we had here, the floor boards formed major cracks, some almost 1/4" wide between planks.  If this were an old farm house, I'd have thought it was charming, but as I swept and mopped my floor, I noticed the cracks filling in with crumbs and dirt. So a few times a year, I'd take a tooth brush and vacuum cleaner and try to clean them out, inch by inch.  Because I usually have an extra 4 hours in my schedule.

This year, I decided to do a temporary fix and I really don't know if it's going to work, so I can't nessesarily recommend this to you who may have a similar problem.  I filled in all the cracks with wood filler.  It was a very annoying project, but it may end up saving me lots of frustration in cleaning later.  However, the filler may crack under the pressure of summer humidity and all fall out, but that's a risk I am willing to take.

I tried to take a picture of what my pre-finished floors SHOULD look like when properly installed, but I couldn't find one joint in my entire house that was tight.  So here's my before and after pictures.

notice the lovely dirt.

Not horrible.

It's ugly flooring, so I'm hoping to rip it all out in the next couple years anyway.  All that work for nothing?  No way.  I won't have to clean out the cracks for at least 6 months!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I want to slap you

I'm sure you've all already read a blog or post somewhere about this very subject, but below is my two cents.

You know those people who offer fantastic parenting advice? They have the amazing ability to make you stop complaining almost before you start to unload about your current parenting predicaments. Be it uncomfortable pregnancies, sleepless nights, feeding troubles, permanent markers on the walls, potty training, temper tantrums, sassy backtalk, fighting about appropriate attire or any other number of woes we experience before our direct parenting job is over, these women know just what to say to get you to shut up.  It's like a Christmas miracle how quickly you move on to another subject.

The advice is simple and to the point, as is your response of a flamboyant "Oh, yes! Thanks for the reminder," followed by a polite laugh.

What is it that these people say that makes you suddenly stop complaining and move on to another subject?

It is 3 simple words:

"Enjoy every moment."

Yes, those 3 little words - that are usually followed by a smug "Before you know it, they'll be out of the house!" - are very powerful in getting us to stop complaining.

Instead of a polite laugh and change of subject, here is a small sample of my list of sassy replies that you may choose from the next time you encounter such gracious advice:

-I'm sorry? What part of being deliriously tired to the point of hallucination should I enjoy?

-Really, I should enjoy the sassy remarks my tween makes when I ask him to pick up his dirty socks?

-Can you please tell me how to thoroughly appreciate cleaning up pee all over the house?

-My son just got charged with possession of crack. You're right, this is lovely!

-Oh, I am! I've never had so much fun with sciatica before.

-You're absolutely right, getting up at midnight and 4am to change my daughter's sheets is the best!

-Why don't you come over and clean up the puke all over the living room carpet and then tell me how enjoyable it was for you?

-I can't believe I've let those moments pass me by. I'll start enjoying the screaming and crying during my migraine.

-Come over here so I can smack you.

I'm sure you could think of many more, so feel free to be creative!

Yes, I, like all moms, realize that in a blink my children will be off to college and I will miss them terribly, but did you really just tell me to enjoy the crappy moments of being a parent? Did YOU enjoy those moments or are you simply rubbing in the fact that you don't have to deal with them any more?

I remember reading a Facebook post several years ago of a woman asking for ideas of how to get through the last few weeks of her pregnancy, chasing around an active toddler with her back in such pain that she could hardly function. I kid you not, among the list of practical advice she received, someone actually said, "enjoy this time with your son." I wanted to slap her on behalf of my friend.

Don't get me wrong, being a mother is the most rewarding and wonderful experience I've ever had the pleasure to experience. My daughters give me so much joy and love that I sometimes wonder why we didn't start our family sooner.  I love them so much it hurts and they are very well behaved little girls. I've long been an advocate of trying to make the most out of every day, but some days are filled with so much frustration that I am simply just trying to survive. I'm pretty sure that my parenting experience is not terribly different from other mothers' experiences (other than the fact that my children are nearly perfect in every way). I have talked to honest, down-to-earth mothers who have admitted that there are moments, days or long periods of frustration, exhaustion and even deep sorrow. I can't imagine that the loving parents of a child who has been checked into drug rehab at the tender age of 15 is enjoying that period of time; and the parents of the child who is being bullied at school is not fully appreciating those "moments."

I'm guessing that these cheerful people give these "words of wisdom" for many different reasons. Maybe they really do think they are giving good advice because of the polite reply they are given by the rest of us. Perhaps they feel uncomfortable with people's frustration, so they say something off the cuff to avoid their own discomfort. Some probably have grown children that are wonderful contributing members of society and mother has completely forgotten the day-to-day frustrations she experienced; I think (or hope) this is probably the most likely reason. Or there are those that are completely living in a dream world to block out some painful reality with which they live. Whatever their reasons, I wish they'd try to be a tiny bit empathetic.

So here's my unsolicited advice. When someone is honest enough to tell you that she is not enjoying motherhood that day, don't make her feel stupid or guilty for complaining.  Just listen and say something useful like, "It sucks, but you'll be ok." or "I've been there. Don't worry, this will pass."  or maybe simply offer to pray for her. That has the power to make her feel a little bit normal and can actually encourage her to make it through another day when she feels like giving up.

There, I've said it. It's my rant for the month. I'm hoping my next post will be something delicious or pretty.