Thursday, November 14, 2013

Our Favorite Toys, The Almost Eight (!) Months Old Edition

Hi, my name is Courtney, and I'm a toyaholic. It's been two days since I bought a toy for my baby girl. (A textured red ball at Target. She tried to eat it at the store, so I had to buy it - right?) I realize a baby is entertained by a cardboard box and wooden spoon, but I stand by my toy addiction for the following reasons: (1) Pippa loves to play with several toys at once, switching between toys every few minutes; (2) every week, Pippa can do new things, and she is ready for more complicated toys; (3) it's much more fun to buy toys than things like paper towels and diapers; (4) I can donate any toys that Pippa doesn't like; (5) I'm playing with these toys, too, and there's only so many hours I can spend with Freddie the Firefly before I go bat shit crazy; (6) I keep stashes of toys in the car, stroller, and various rooms of the house because I'm too lazy to be constantly carrying around the same three toys; and (7) it's good for the economy. (Amazing how that seventh reason can be used to justify almost any purchase.)

At seven months old (almost EIGHT months old, holy crap), these are Pippa's favorite toys:
  • Chatterbox Telephone: I was shopping with my mom when we saw this old toy. I remember loving Chatterbox but I doubted Pippa would be interested in it. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of today's new toys. But my mom insisted on buying it, and thank God, because it's Pippa's favorite toy by a mile. She cannot get enough of Chatterbox. She would probably sleep with Chatterbox if I let her. When I pretend to talk on the phone, she cracks up, even though she has never seen am actual real rotary phone. We do not even have a phone hooked up to our land line! We just use the land line for internet stuff. Thanks to Chatterbox, Pippa will probably assume that in the Old Days, all phones had wheels, blinking eyes and pull cords.
  • Water bottles: The best non-toy toy.  End of discussion.
  • Mommy's iPhone: No, wait, let's reopen that discussion. THIS is Pippa's favorite non-toy toy. She especially likes to slobber all over my iPhone until the speaker is clogged with drool. If Pippa was writing this blog entry, she would argue that Mommy's iPhone is the best non-toy toy, end of discussion. But I maintain that the water bottle is the best non-toy toy because if the Sweet Pea destroys it, you are out $2.00 at most.
  • The Activity Triangle: Pippa has loved this toy for two months strong and her love for it keeps growing stronger and stronger.
  • The remote control: I actually had to give Pippa the remote control to get her to sit still for some Halloween costume portraits. Then the remote control disappeared. We found the remote two days later completely buried under the couch pillows. No idea how Pippa accomplished this feat, but it prompted Nathan to give her a defunct remote from some forgotten VCR. Ten bucks says she'll still want to drool all over the real remote when she's sitting in daddy's lap.
  • Keys: She would like to play with my keys, but I have refused this desire to date. I'm afraid she'll cut or stab herself. Instead, I let her play with a set of teething keys that can go in the freezer. When I open the freezer and Pippa sees the keys, she waves her arms around in excitement.
  • Butterfly Spinner: My parents have this one at their house, and there's an old battered one at our mommy and me class. Pippa loves any variation of this toy. We actually don't have one for our house! Shocking, I know.
  • Stack and Roll Cups: The folks at Fisher Price really know their shit. This toy seems so simple, and yet Pippa is wild about it. 
  • Freddie the Firefly: We own two, and my parents have one as well. This thing must be bewitched because Pippa is mesmerized whenever I fly it about the room.
  • Whoozit - Pippa is obsessed with her Whoozit, but she hates riding in the car if she's alone in the backseat. Solution: I keep the Whoozit in my car, and she only gets to play with it there.  So far, this strategy has been an unmitigated success.  
  • Mommy's hair - So fun to yank! Bonus points if you can make mommy cry.
  • Einstein ball: The Baby Einstein toys are consistently good.
  • Rhyme and discover book: I did not want to buy this toy. It's a plastic book with lots of moving parts and music, and that felt sacrilegious to this bookworm. But it looked like the perfect toy to entertain the Sweet Pea during our road trip to Sonoma, so I bought it anyway. Then Pippa got a cold so we cancelled the trip, and I brought the toy out since my sick baby deserved a new toy. And oh but she loves her musical book. 
  • Toys at our mommy and me class: there are an assortment of toys available at our Mommy and Me class. And Pippa always lunges for the toy that looks like it is harboring the bubonic plague.
  • Bead mazes: These are a double edged sword. Pippa gets very excited when she spots a bead maze, but she gets uber frustrated when she discovers she cannot put the entire thing in her mouth. As she desperately tries to get all the beads in her mouth, she loses her balance and topples over, bringing the bead maze down on top of her. Which scares her shitless, causing her to scream as if she is being eaten alive by killer pandas.  This means she can only play with a bead maze if I am sitting no more than six inches away from her.
  • Nuby teethers: Thank you, Nuby, your teethers were clearly designed by Jesus himself.
  • That toy the dog ate: Thanks, Rowan. You asshat.
  • Balloon: I bought Pippa a balloon the day she got her second flu shot. I figured she deserved a balloon even if she forgot about the shot 45 seconds after it happened. I splurged on a foil butterfly and it's still floating merrily in our den. But once I brought the damn balloon into the house, I realized it was a huge hazard. Stupid Mommy.
  • Mirrors, especially this one: At first, I used the mirror to trick Pippa into enjoying tummy time. Now I'm using the mirror to encourage Pippa to crawl. The girl can move, but she prefers scooting around on her butt through a series of intricate moves. And she will butt scoot towards anything interesting except her mirror. If she sees the damn mirror, she screams until I put it within her tiny arms' reach.
  • Sea Dreams Soother: This gizmo helped Pippa nap for about six weeks. Now I save it for emergencies, e.g. she's teething and pissed at the entire world and needs a distraction from her dumbass teeth which are taking their sweet time arriving and wrecking havoc upon her beleaguered.
  • Daddy's hair: Almost as fun as Mommy's hair, but harder to grasp.
  • Desperation Dinosaur: Fisher Price does not actually call this toy the Desperation Dinosaur. That's my moniker for my favorite prehistoric beast. I have only brought it out twice, when Pippa had a fever from her second flu shot. She was miserable, but the Desperation Dinosaur cheered her up with its popping magic. The Desperation Dinosaur lives in our guest room, away from Pippa's other toys. It's an insurance policy against sick/rainy days.
  • Jack in the Box (Maybe): I let Pippa play with a clown Jack in the Box when we were at Babies R Us a couple of weeks ago. She clearly enjoyed the toy, but she enjoys anything that is (a) colorful and (b) chewable. (Her definition of "chewable" is much broader than mine.) But baby's are easy to trick, so I dumped the Jack in the Box in the baby food aisle when the Sweet Pea wasn't looking. Maybe Santa will bring one for Christmas.
  • ABC floor tiles: I bought these at Babies R Us to soften the tile floor in our den. I thought I was just buying flooring but Pippa loves them. As she gets older, we'll be able to reconfigure the tiles into tunnels, forts, etc.  
Oh my God, I'm exhausted. There are a few more toys I could add to this list, but I'm officially sick of this post.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Greetings from Scenic Snotsylvania

I do believe this is a personal first: I am blogging while standing up. The Sweet Pea has a cold and is struggling to nap. I discovered that she sleeps best if I keep her in the Ergo and move around. I tried rocking her on a chair but no dice. She needs movement while standing. So I finished watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother while standing and now I'm blogging at our kitchen island. My clothes may or may not be stained with baby snot.

Note to Mom: I am still a few episodes behind on this season of HIMYM, so no spoilers!

I've invented a game. It doesn't have a name.  And I've never played it before. So let's play it now! In this blog entry, I will list a few random current facts. Then, every month or so, I can see how these random facts have or have not changed. I guess it's not a game. It's more of a narcissistic list. So let's call this "game" the Narcissistic List.

Courtney's November Narcissistic List
Last t.v. show I watched: A month old episode of HIMYM.

Last movie I watched: Random snippets of Conan the Barbarian. Not my movie of choice, but my husband started watching it while I was folding laundry. Did you know that Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay?1 We all have to start somewhere.

Last book I finished reading: My Antonia, by Willa Cather. I read this for school in the ninth grade and all I could remember was (a) I hated it and (b) there was something with an owl. I decided to reread it since it's the great Nebraskan novel and I married a Nebraskan. I discovered that (a) I love My Antonia and want to read more books by Cather and (b) there's no owl in My Antonia. I think the owl might be from Bless Me Ultima, another book from the ninth grade reading list, which coincidentally, I also hated. Damnit now I have to reread Ultima to see if I can track down this owl.

Last major outing: The California Science Museum to see the space shuttle Endeavor. So cool! And inspiring! And much smaller than I expected. (That's what she said.)

Last trip: Wow, that was over a year ago, when Nathan and I went to Orlando to visit Nathan's brother and our sister-in-law. We were supposed to be driving to Sonoma today to meet my new niece Beatrice, but instead we are trapped in Snotsylvania. We did not want to share our germs with one-month-old Bea. But oh I cannot wait to meet her! She has more hair than Pippa and such a sweet pretty face. She is my second favorite baby.

Last song I listened to: Some kids song on my iPhone. Let me check... Ah, yes, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. I believe Metallica did a cover version of this classic song in the late 90s.

Last meal in a restaurant: Um, wait, I can do this... CPK! Yes, I ate at CPK at the mall on Monday afternoon, just me and Pippa, after our Mommy and Me class. At this point, I thought she was just having a rough day of teething. I did not realize until Tuesday morning that she had fallen victim to Count Snotula. Crap I hope we did not infect our entire Mommy and Me class!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Life Lately

1. My daughter and I are Ergo-holics. (The Ergo is our baby carrier of choice.) Right now, she is napping in the Ergo while I sit at my desk and write.

2. Technically, it's not my desk. It's the family desk.

3. For years, Green has been my favorite color. And I still love green deeply and truly. But Purple staged a rebellion and usurped Green's throne.

4. I want to read the dictionary. From start to finish. I actually bought a new dictionary for this purpose. If I pace myself, I figure I can finish the M's before I die.

5. I am an aunt! My niece Bea was born almost a month ago. I cannot wait to meet her.  In fact, the Cranky Pumpkin family is road tripping to Northern California next week to meet Bea. This trip will require Pippa to stay in her car seat for about eight hours total in one day. Pray for us.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Open Letter to My Mother

Dear Mom, 

I am craving your rice pudding. I gave you a grandchild. Give me rice pudding!

Love,
Your favorite eldest child

p.s. Please. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

My New Favorite Hobby

Since I was a young child, I have enjoyed the pursuit of new hobbies. I can't help myself! I am a nerd who loves to learn things, and hobbies are a fun way to learn a new skill. 

(I wonder how many loyal readers I just lost as a result of that paragraph.)

(Not to suggest I have hoards of loyal readers.)

(In fact, if you are a Cranky Pumpkin loyal reader, and we are not related by blood or marriage, you should probably have your head examined.)

Over the years, I have learned to knit, crochet, embroider, sew, cross stitch, decoupage, bake, cook and play the piano.  I've gardened, walked, jogged, bicycled, lifted weights and played on a law firm softball team. I've played tennis, quit tennis, played tennis, quit tennis, etc. etc. Man, I have played a lot of tennis! And how could I forget my racquetball phase in college, which was soon squashed by the squash phase. I even owned a squash racquet! And holy shit, I nearly forgot about the ice skating lessons I took as a college freshman. That was fun (mostly because the instructors were hot members of the ice hockey team.)

I could continue, but this is getting tedious. And if I continue, I'll have to talk about skiing, and I need about six or seven years of therapy before I can do that. 

(Excuse me while I take a moment to lie down in the fetal position and return my skiing memories to their emotional vault. There, they are nicely buried again beneath some traumatizing memories from my cotillion lessons.)

Anyway, I enjoyed my time in the dark room and behind the pottery wheel, but after years of searching, I have discovered the best hobby in the world: cuddling and rocking my sleeping baby. I have held many sleeping babies before, but my baby is the best cuddler and my baby makes the sweetest coos on her sleep. So there!

I suppose, technically, cuddling my sleeping baby is more of a pastime than a hobby. But since this activity has supplanted all my other hobbies, lets just call it a hobby and not argue semantics, okay? 

I wonder how long I will get to partake in this, my favorite hobby. Will Pippa still be able to nap on me when she's a toddler? Or will she decide next week that she naps best in her crib? I don't know, so that's why I am sitting here now, with a wedgie, uncomfortably full bladder, and shirt that is damp with spit up, because the baby is napping in my arms and this is therefore the best place to be. It's not like my knitting needles are going to go to college someday. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Things I have dropped on my baby while feeding her:

• Various crumbs from pop tarts, bagels, chocolate bars, etc.;
• pad thai (which precipitated a minor panic attack because what if she had a peanut allergy? And what if the proximity to the rogue pad thai noodle killed her? OMG I will never again eat Thai food while holding the baby!!!);
• my iPhone (shameful);
• the tv remote control (which actually just slid off the chair's arm and gently nudged the baby, but still, shameful); and most recently - and bizarrely...
• a box of corn muffin mix. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Note to Self

Keep bags of trail mix strategically strewn about the house. You never know when the baby will fall asleep in your arms. And remember, just as rock beats scissor, a sleeping baby beats mommy's empty stomach. (Sleeping baby also beats bladder - until bladder enters the "possibly causing irrevocable damage to kidneys" zone). 

On the plus side, my stomach's rumblings are probably helping the baby sink into a delightfully deep sleep. 

On the plus-sized side, if I keep forgetting to replenish my trail mix supplies, I will lose the baby weight that much faster. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New shoe anxiety

I don't know how many pairs of shoes I have tried on in my life time, but the number is easily in the hundreds if not thousands. Well, I hope the number is not in the thousands! That is an awful lot of time to spend trying on different pairs of shoes. 

I am currently living in shoe limbo. Like most pregnant women, my feet got bigger while I was incubating my little darling. By the end of the pregnancy, I was living in flip-flops and my Crocs clogs. I understand that for some women the increase in shoe size is permanent, but other women go back to their old shoe size about six months after delivering their bundle of joy. So right now I am stuck! I need new shoes, but I don't want to spend a lot of money on new shoes if I'm going to be able to wear my old shoes again. Fortunately, the baby and I spend most of our days hibernating at home; I don't think the dirty laundry and dishes are critiquing my footwear. (And Nathan would only notice my shoes if they were on fire). 

But even if I won't be strolling the streets of Manhattan or Paris anytime soon, I still need new shoes! I've started taking baby girl on a walk almost every morning, but my old walking shoes are a bit too snug for my post-pregnancy feet. They make my feet hurt like hell, and that's the last thing a new mother needs.

So I ordered these bad boys from Amazon:


I love them! Green is my favorite color, and the green of these shoes is my absolute favorite shade of green. 

But. 

I can't tell if the shoes fit right. They might be just a smidge too tight for the toes. But I know if I go up a size, they will be way too big. This is where my new shoe anxiety sets in. Will the shoes stretch as I wear them? Maybe the shoes fit perfectly, and a week from now they will be molded perfectly to my feet. Or, maybe the shoes will not stretch enough, and I will have wasted 60 bucks on a pair shoes that do not fit. Oh, the inhumanity!

This really shouldn't be such a dilemma. After all, I have tried on countless pairs of shoes. With my experience, I should know instinctively whether or not the shoes will stretch to fit. But no, like every other pair of shoes I've tried on before, I am going to agonize and fret over whether the shoes work or not for my feet. And if I decide to keep the shoes, I will secretly doubt myself and worry I kept an uncomfortable pair of shoes just because I thought they were cute. In other words, time that could be used productively doing, oh, anything else will be squandered on these pedestrian concerns. Damn my new shoe anxiety!
 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Father's Day

This June, Nathan celebrates his first Father's Day as Pippa's dad - woot woot! I asked Pippa what she wanted to buy Daddy, but she just cooed and then tried to eat her hand. I guess it's up to me to figure out the perfect gift to celebrate Nathan's first year of fatherhood. 

I am looking for something that says "thank you for being such an amazing father to our beautiful baby girl. And thank you for being such a supportive husband as I figure out this whole mommy thing. Thank you for telling me I am beautiful even when I am wearing sweatpants and a formless t-shirt that is covered with spit-up stains. Thank you for soothing Pippa to sleep - you really are magical. And thank you for cutting up my chicken when I'm nursing and famished. You are a freaking rock star of a dad!"

Somehow, I don't think the "world's best dad" will adequately convey this message. Especially since Nathan hates coffee and Diet Coke in a mug is just wrong. 

If I had unlimited resources, I would buy Nathan the following presents for Father's Day:

• a bad ass car, like something James Bond would drive, ejector seat included. 
• a mansion on Maui with a private beach 
• an orangutan 
• a spaceship (red, of course), and last but not least, 
• the St. Louis Cardinals 

Since I can't afford any of these things, I will have to keep brainstorming. But with God as my witness, I will NOT buy him a tie or new socks!

p.s. where does one buy an orangutan? The ones at the zoo are not for sale and the pet store does not have a primate section. Is there a monkey black market ?? 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Open Letter to My House Plants

Dear House Plants,

I am sorry that I killed you. Well, "kill" is a bit too strong of a word, don't you think? That makes it sound like I intentionally poisoned you or threw you into a river or buried you alive. Let's try to maintain some perspective. I didn't throw you into a pit of starving vegans! I just forgot to water you. Let me start over. 

Dear House Plants, 

I'm sorry I neglected you. I realize my neglect led to your untimely deaths but give me a break, I had a baby. Did you know babies are a ton of work? True, my baby is the cutest, sweetest thing in the world but she also generates more laundry than a college football team.  Did you really think I would have time to coddle your chloroform asses? That I would haul your lazy terra-cotta pots to the kitchen sink when I could be cuddling my precious angel? Let me start over. 

Dear House Plants,
WTF? Yeah, I forgot to water you for two months but so freaking what? I could understand a few brown leaves and some strategic wilting to get my attention, but don't you think dying was a bit melodramatic? Talk about cutting the nose to spite the face. It's not like I have the power to bring back the dead! Stupid house plants, I hope you enjoy the landfill. Excuse me, I have to shower my baby with kisses. And when she is a little older, we will buy some better house plants. I never liked your ugly smelly leaves anyway!

With scorn and derision, 
Courtney 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Motherhood Haiku No. 1

Beautiful baby, 
Slumbering on me. 
Crap! I have to pee. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Hello There

Pardon my blogging absence, but Baby Girl arrived before her due date (well done, Sweet Pea!) and I've been too busy cuddling her to even think about blogging. Her name is Pippa and she is the most wonderful baby in the world. I know most parents think this about their child, but here is the difference between me and most parents: I'm right, they are wrong. Pippa is the best baby ever, end of discussion. Nathan and I are madly in love with her. We would not change a single atom or particle that makes up her precious existence. You know how people often refer to little girls as "princesses"? Well, we call her our Queen, because she is now the ruler of our hearts and we would do absolutely anything to keep her safe and happy.

I suppose this is the part where I'm supposed to post a dozen photos of my gorgeous, magnificent, glorious daughter so you can post comments about how cute she is... except I'm not going to do that. I'm not exactly certain how this blog fits into my life now that Pippa is here, but I do know that I want to protect Pippa's privacy and online identity. Although I read, enjoy and respect several "mommy blogs," I am not comfortable sharing photos of my daughter with the entire world. Hell, I'm not even comfortable posting her photos on Facebook! I will instead be sharing Pippa photos privately with friends and family.

Incidentally, if you fall into the category of "friends and family" and you do not receive any Pippa photos in the next few days month and you'd like to drool over her Royal Cuteness, shoot me or Nathan an email and I'll make sure you get some photos. My goal is to share photos from her first month by the end of this week... but ha, I'll be happy if I share the photos by Memorial Day! And if you don't know how to get in touch with me or Nathan, then you probably do not qualify as "friends or family." Sorry, Random Dude in Brazil, but you don't get to admire photos of my sweet baby girl.

On a completely different note, I'm happy to report that I've been able to shower every day since Nathan returned to work. This feels like a major accomplishment. I was convinced Pippa would wail whenever I tried to bathe, and I'd be reduced to a furtive weekly bath, but the sound of the shower lulls my Sweet Pea to sleep. I just bring her into the bathroom in her car seat and she naps while I wash away the baby spit-up. Of course, once I turn the shower water off, then I have a two-five minute window to dry off and retrieve my sweet baby girl from her car seat before she hits the panic button and starts to scream as if the world is coming to an end. But while the shower water is running, she is happy to sleep, sleep, sleep.

So I have a confession. Sometimes I bring Pippa to the bathroom, turn on the shower, and then run around and tidy up the house for five minutes while gallons of unused water go down the drain. I'm 99.99% confident that Al Gore would not approve of this strategy, but I highly doubt Al Gore ever breastfed a newborn. If Mr. Gore ever breastfeeds a baby, then we can discuss my blatantly shameful waste of water.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Doula Thinks I'm Lame, And I Really Don't Care

As I explained in yesterday's post, I don't actually have a doula. I did, however, attend a prenatal yoga class that was taught by a doula, so I like to pretend I have a doula-by-association. Also, for purposes of this post, "doula" just sounds cooler than "yoga instructor."

At the beginning of every yoga class, the doula asked a question like, 'Have you had any weird pregnancy symptoms?" or "Have you picked the baby's name yet?" Then we went around the room, introduced ourselves, and answered the question.

One week, the doula asked, "Who is going to be present with you during labor?"

Most of the students answered, "Just my husband." One student responded, "My husband and my mom." (Her mom is a labor and delivery nurse.) I was the last person to answer the question, so when it was my turn, I said, "My husband and a big stack of DVDs."

To my response, my doula-by-association said, "Okaaaay." From her tone of voice, I could tell she was really saying, "How lame. Who on earth would want to miss out on the amazing miracle of labor? Courtney, please, you should be embracing your every contraction and celebrating every wave of pain that racks your mortal flesh. Don't space out and watch a movie! Only lame weaklings watch dvd's when they are in labor."

Yeah? Well, maybe I am a lame weakling, but I don't care. I have no idea what I'm going to be like when I'm in labor. I might be very chatty. I might be very quiet. I might want to scrub the kitchen floor. I might want to take a shower, bake some cookies, do the Hustle and take another shower. And yes, I might want to watch a movie to pass the time.

I know I'm not alone in this desire because the labor and delivery rooms at our hospital are equipped with blu-ray players. Since the thought of being able to watch a favorite movie comforts me, I have filled my hospital bag with an ass shit ton of DVDs and Blu-rays. (I'm sorry, I don't know why, but lately I'm obsessed with the phrase "ass shit ton.")

In case you are curious, these are the movies that have secured a place in my hospital bag:

- The Avengers: I specifically bought this for labor and told Nathan we cannot, under any circumstances, watch it until the contractions start. I can't wait to see Hulk smash.
- Beetlejuice: An old favorite.
- Inception: I could watch this movie every week and never tire of it.
- Despicable Me: The minions and Gru always take me to a happy place.
- Clueless: As if! This will satisfy any desire I have to watch a chick flick without making Nathan puke.
- Napolean Dynamite: If this does not distract me, then I'll know it's time for the epidural.
- Seabiscuit: Although my favorite race horse is Secretariat, this is my favorite movie about a race horse.
- The Back to the Future trilogy: There are no words to describe my love for Marty McFly and Doc Brown.
- Julie & Julia: I love me a good cooking movie. And I love me Meryl Strep and Amy Adams.
- Pride & Prejudice, the Keira Knightley version: On the one hand, I will be the one in labor, so if I need some Jane Austen, Nathan is just going to have to deal. On the other hand, I love my husband, so I'm not going to subject him to the longer BBC Colin Firth version.
- The Muppets: Jason Segal, Amy Adams, and Kermit? If the opening dance number doesn't make you smile, then I'm sorry but you have no soul.
- Sideways: Not only is this movie amazing and hilarious, but it involves lots of beautiful wine. I have not had a drop of wine since June. Two weekends ago, I sniffed my cousin Julie's glass of Chardonnay and oh my god, I wanted to die, it smelled so good. Maybe this movie can inspire me to get through labor so I can celebrate with a glass of something bubbly.
- Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves: Confession: I asked for this movie for Christmas when I was in junior high school. My parents assumed I had a crush on Christian Bale, but actually, I had a huge crush on Kevin Costner.
- The Truman Show: This movie is one of my all-time favorites but I haven't seen it in years. And holy crap, Paul Giamatti is in it? Oh shoot, I so want to watch this movie now. Must... exercise... self-control....
- Master and Commander, The Far Side of the World: Because sometimes a girl in labor needs some Russell Crowe, and we just watched Gladiator in January.


Notable omissions:
- The original Star Wars trilogy should be first on the list, but I don't own the DVD or Blu-ray. And I refuse to buy it until the powers that be release the Blu-ray of the original version, before George Lucas screwed it up by adding new scenes and special effects. If I have to watch the fake CGI Jabba the Hut while I'm in labor, I'll kill someone.
- I'm leaving the Lord of the Rings at home because despite my love for hobbits and dwarves, I can't handle Samwise Gamgee while I'm in labor. He's just too earnest and genuine.
- Many chick flicks did not make the cut because if I see Nathan smirk at Bridget Jones or Lucy Honeychurch, I will hit him until he cries like a girl.
- I am also leaving behind anything that will make me cry, e.g. The Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises and Moulin Rouge. (As for Moulin Rouge, I know I'd end up throwing Nathan out of the room during the first musical number.)

Hopefully I will not have time to watch even half the movies in my hospital bag. But, if the Universe has decided I need to have one of those epic marathon labor sessions, I am prepared!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Doula's Favorite Breathing Strategy

For those of you who don't know, a doula is a labor coach/advocate/support person. I don't actually have a doula.  Although I know people who loved having a doula's support during labor and delivery, that's just not my style. A doula would annoy the crap out of me and make me feel unnecessarily self-conscious. (And I might get arrested if I punched her in the face.)

So technically, for sanity reasons, I myself do not have a doula. But for several months, I went to a prenatal yoga class that was taught by a doula, so I feel like I had a doula-by-association (or something like that - I'm sure my dad can think of a better phrase than my feeble pregnant brain).

I generally loved my doula-by-association and her yoga classes. At the beginning of every class, the doula led a mediation and taught breathing techniques that can be used during labor. I'm not really good at sitting and breathing, especially if a spandexed-and-hennaed yogi is telling me to quiet my thoughts. But it was very relaxing to practice the doula's breathing techniques, and her strategies for dealing with labor pain made sense.

Usually.

One time, the doula spoke about her personal experience with labor. She gave birth to her daughter sans medication. Tangent/rant: the doula would say she gave birth to her daughter naturally, but I'm sorry, I refuse to perpetuate the misuse of the phrase "natural childbirth" because it implies that childbirth that involves medication is "unnatural" and that's just a big pile of bullshit. Do we call it "natural pneumonia" or "natural meningitis" if you decide to forego the antibiotics? Of course not, we just call that "stupid." Not to say that you are stupid if you decide to breathe your way through labor, but don't tell me I'm being "unnatural" if I get an epidural.

Anyway, the doula had an unmedicated childbirth, and she told my yoga class that she got through her labor by "observing her contractions." She regarded labor as a learning process whereby she could study and learn more about the contraction. Every time she had a contraction, she breathed quietly and thought, "Oh wow, this is a contraction... this is what it feels like to have a contraction... it is so amazing what the female body can do..."

This strategy worked for my doula - and wow, more power to her - but I highly doubt it will work for me. Nathan and I went to a labor and delivery class last month that was taught by another doula. Tangent/rant: we feel like we were conned, because the class was taught at our hospital, so we were expecting a non-doula instructor. But what do we know? Apparently half the population of Southern California are practicing doulas.

At one point during the labor and delivery class, the doula passed around wooden clothes pins, had us clip the pins to our ear lobes, and guided us through some breathing exercises. I spent the entire exercise thinking, "Holy crap, this clothes pin really, really hurts. Can I take it off? Shit, everyone else still has their clothes pin on. Even my husband is doing this lame ass exercise. Traitor. I can't believe we're inflicting pain on ourselves. I am learning nothing. Am I breathing right? Holy shit, this really, really, really hurts. I hate everything."

Since I could not handle the clothes pin exercise, I highly doubt I will be able to get through labor by simply "observing my contractions." I intend to go with a completely different approach. Rather than observe and study my contractions, I am going to do everything in my power to ignore them. I will breathe and pace and sit on the birth ball (yes, we have a birth ball!) and do whatever it takes to distract myself from the pain. And Nathan will rub my back and brush my hair and tell me I'm beautiful and do whatever he can to help me forget the contractions. Some people might be curious to experience a contraction, but I do not have that sort of interest in pain and suffering. I'm just interested in getting to the good part, when Baby Girl joins the world and draws her first breath. I don't need to experience a Middle Ages-style labor to revel in my daughter's birth.

And does anyone actually think that women of earlier times were delivering babies by so-called "natural methods"? Shit, no! They were probably drinking booze and laudanum until they passed out.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Cardigan for Baby Girl

Yesterday, I finally put the finishing touches on a cardigan I've been knitting for Baby Girl:


I finished the cardigan a few weeks ago but needed buttons. There is a fabric store in West Los Angeles that has the most amazing button selection, but yeah, I didn't have the energy to make the pilgrimage. I decided to visit our local JoAnne's instead - except I kept delaying that outing as well, again for lack of energy. Finally, after lunch yesterday, I managed to drag my pregnant ass to JoAnne's and was rewarded with these sweet bunny buttons:


The pattern for this cardigan is in More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It's the first pattern I tried from the book, and I pretty much want to knit everything in the book. The cardigan was relatively easy to knit but it was a learning experience. It's been a long time since I knit something more complicated than a blanket or scarf, and I thought I could knit this cardigan while watching television. BIG EFFING MISTAKE. I was 90% done with the cardigan when I realized I had done something ass-backwards that could not be undone. This mistake was entirely my fault and I had to unravel the entire sweater and start over.

Fortunately, baby sweaters are so tiny it hurts, so starting over is not such a big deal. But seven or eight years ago, I was a crazy perfectionist. If something like this had happened, I would have cried and raged at myself and buried all of my knitting supplies in the back of my closet. I would not have touched my needles for at least a year.

But I've grown up a lot and become much more patient with myself. When I realized I had totally effed up Baby Girl's cardigan, I shook my head, laughed a little, calmly frogged the project, and happily started over. Maybe this is just a sign that I'm getting older and wiser. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones. Or maybe it's the fact that I haven't had caffeine since before I got pregnant. But I think it also has something to do with cooking.

I've been cooking more and more over the last decade, and cooking has taught me a lot about mistakes and improvisation. If you cook enough, you will ruin your fair share of dishes and that's okay. At least twice a year, I completely ruin dinner and Nathan has to run to McDonald's for burgers and that's okay. Sometimes the roasted asparagus is a little too salty or the cookies are a little burned, but hey, that's okay. Cooking has taught me to be patient and kind to myself when I whip up a kitchen disaster. Lucky for me, that patience has spilled over into the rest of my life.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Whew!

Until recently, I was able to "exercise" in a way that actually resembled exercise. But in the past two weeks, my belly has gotten so big, I am lucky if I can waddle around the block. For example, before writing this post, I took a 15 minute walk around my neighborhood ... and I feel like I deserve a parade and medal.

Thank God we are enjoying lovely warm spring weather in Pasadena, because tying my sneakers has become virtually impossible. I'm all about slip-on shoes these days - even if that means wearing my lime green Crocs in public:


Getting a photo of my feet is an exercise in balance and patience.
 
Ordinarily, I only wear these Crocs at home, but these days, my belly, aka The Circus Sideshow, gets all the attention. No one is paying to my footwear. Just look at my shadow:

If you listen closely, you can hear my shadow
laughing at me.

No matter how big my belly gets, I am determined to keep moving (even if that means waddling around the block in slow motion). Movement keeps me feeling healthy and energized. I used to go to a prenatal yoga class that made my body feel like HEAVEN. But last Tuesday, I went to class and discovered my body could no longer handle the poses. I thought I was going to die as I tried to contort my body into a floor pose. I kept toppling over, so I bailed early and left class during the break. Sometimes, you just need to listen to your body (or, in my case, sometimes I just need to listen to my belly, which was saying, "Screw yoga, let's get a vanilla shake.")

I also went swimming a few times in February. By "swimming," I mean "clutching a kick board while jogging my feet underwater." When I was in the pool, I felt light and free. But then, at the end of the swim, I always had to get out of the pool... and the force of gravity made me feel like I weighed 1000 pounds. Let's just say I have a good idea what a walrus must feel like as it heaves its body to shore. Regardless, I won't be swimming again until the summer. It's too much of a production to "shimmy" into my maternity swimsuit, drive to the pool, claim a lane, etc. etc.

But I can waddle, so waddle I will until Baby Girl is ready to make her big debut. Hopefully my belly won't scare any of the neighborhood kids. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Breaking Up Is Never Easy

I think I'm going to break up with Girls. But, there are only two episodes left of Season Two, so I am going to give Lena Dunham two more chances to redeem herself. Unfortunately, in light of recent episodes (and lots of unnecessary nudity [gag]), that seems highly unlikely.

Man, I hate breaking up with t.v. shows! It's one thing to watch a show once or twice and decide, This show is not for me. For example, everyone and their mother loves Breaking Bad, but I could not get through the first episode. It was way too intense for me. I have no regrets on the Breaking Bad front because our relationship never got past that first crappy blind date.

But it's another thing to watch an entire season of a television show, proclaim your undying affection for it and then realize the relationship is going nowhere and needs to be severed. Of course, a television show is an inanimate objection and there's no need for an uncomfortable break up talk (and there's no chance that Girls will stalk me and send me inappropriate text messages at 2 a.m.) But still, I do not take the decision to break up likely. What if the show and I are just going through a rough patch? What if the show is about to get its shit back together? I always feel obligated to watch just one more episode to see what happens even when my heart knows I'm delaying the inevitable.

I have had my heart broken by television shows before. Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and Glee come to mind. I loved those shows intensely ... and then the love was over and every episode felt like a terrible homework assignment. I agonized over my decision to break up with each of those shows; and every time, when I deleted the show's season ticket from my DVR, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of relief and joy. (Especially Glee. I still congratulate myself on ending that abusive relationship.)

I know it will be this way with Girls. But it's tough because I thought Girls had the potential to be one of my soul mate shows. I'd watch every episode religiously; read interviews with all the stars; buy every season on Blu-ray; and spend hours gossiping about the characters as if they were real people. Season One was scandalous and crass, but every episode engaged my attention. I knew we were in love and it was the forever kind of love.

But then along came Season Two, and it turns out I fell in love with a bratty, selfish, obnoxious show. And worse, it's boring. I check email and play Words With Friends, something I usually only do while watching mindless reality shows. I think the problem is I don't like any of the main characters. And it's not just that I don't like them: I'm not interested in their stories. I don't care what happens to Hannah or Marni or even Jessa. I'm only interested in what happens to Ray and Adam (which seems like a minor problem on a show named after the female sex).

Maybe one of the main characters will actually do something interesting next Sunday, but I'm not holding my breath. At least my relationship with Downton Abbey is still strong and wonderful.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Please Keep Your Horror Stories to Yourselves, Thank You Very Much

I'm going to my cousin's baby shower this weekend. Well, let me rephrase that: I am planning to go to my cousin's baby shower this weekend. I'll be 36 weeks pregnant tomorrow and at this stage of the game, my body is unpredictable. If the shower was today, I'd definitely be there. But Sunday? I might not be in any sort of condition to leave the house and drive to the Westside! I am, however, optimistic and keeping my fingers crossed.

I am excited to attend my cousin's shower. She is due two weeks after me (how cool is that?) but since we live on opposite sides of L.A. County, I haven't seen her since Christmas Eve. I can't wait to compare our pregnant bellies in person. Also, I decided to skip having a shower for Baby Girl, mainly because I lacked faith in my fussy tummy's ability to handle an entire party. (Would you want to go to a shower if the guest of honor was puking in the bathroom 70% of the time? I think not.) Since I did not have my own shower, it will be fun to vicariously soak up the atmosphere of storks, rattles and bottles.

But I am also a teeny-tiny bit apprehensive about the shower. When some people see a pregnant belly, they feel compelled to share the most horrifying labor and delivery stories they know. I'm worried that the baby shower atmosphere will only enhance this phenomenon, and I'm not interested! I am feeling calm and mellow about the coming weeks, and I'd like to stay that way, thank you very much. I don't want to hear any stories that involve "tears" or "temporary paralysis." I don't care if your sister-in-law's cousin's freshman roommate gave birth in a broken elevator. I don't need my head filled with a bunch of worst case scenarios.  

I suppose if anyone tries to tell me a labor horror story, I can just practice the breathing and focus techniques I've been learning at my prenatal yoga classes. And if that doesn't work, I'll just use my pregnant bladder as an excuse to walk waddle* away from the story. The pregnant bladder does have some usefulness, from time to time.

*Nathan claims "waddle" is not the right word for my new walking style. He says it's more of a "stomp" since I am very deliberate about the way I place my feet on the ground. Hey, call it what you want, but it works. Despite my belly's best efforts, I have not tripped!

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Stayed Awake Past My Bedtime!

Last night, Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I predicted this last October. Excuse me while I take a moment to gloat and bask in my psychic powers.

In even more exciting news, I stayed awake past 9 p.m. and watched the entire Oscars, from start to finish! Okay, we didn't watch the entire show. We recorded the show and then Nathan skipped over the boring bits (of which there were many). But the important thing is that I saw Ben Affleck's acceptance speech live, and folks, I have not stayed awake past 9 p.m. in MONTHS. If I'm awake past 8 p.m., that is a miracle deserving a parade and fireworks. But 9 p.m.? I didn't think it was possible!

Thank you, Seth MacFarlane. You were an entertaining host and you kept this pregnant lady awake waaaaay past her bedtime. Now, if only Mr. MacFarlane could do something about my uncontrollable pregnancy thirst... (Seriously, folks, I guzzle water all day and all night, but the more I drink, the more my uterus demands.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Dumbass Pregnant Brain

My cousin Emily is also pregnant, and as she likes to joke, we are basically "operating at stoner capacity." Lately I feel like Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Here are some of my favorite "pregnancy brain" moments from the past few weeks:

  • I went shopping and bought some stuff for Baby Girl. About 45 minutes later, as I was driving home, I had a nagging suspicion that my shopping bag with Baby Girl's goodies had not made it into the trunk of my car. Sure enough, when I got home, I confirmed that the shopping bag had indeed been lost at some point during my shopping excursion. Fortunately, after several phone calls, I located the errant bag and the store was happy to hold it for me. And now I shop almost exclusively online.
  • I left my yoga mat at the yoga studio and had no idea my mat was missing until my next class. Fortunately, some kind soul had turned my mat into the Lost and Found.
  • I only wash my hair every few days (if not every four or five days). With my limited energy, I can't be drying my hair every day or two! I washed my hair this past Monday. On Tuesday, I told myself, I don't need to wash my hair, I washed it yesterday. About 30 seconds later, I was in the shower, applying shampoo. Doh! Then, when I was drying my hair, I realized I had forgotten to rinse out my conditioner. Are you freaking kidding me?! As a matter of principle, I refuse to wash my hair until tomorrow morning even though it feels a little gnarly from the excess conditioner. (Le sigh).
  • Just yesterday, I decided to assemble our Diaper Genie. It looked easy enough. According to the directions, I literally needed to snap Part A into Part B, and voilĂ , we'd have a functioning Diaper Genie. But my feeble pregnant brain could not handle this task.
  • Last night, as we were cleaning up dinner, Nathan asked if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty. I assured him that the dishes were clean, that I myself had run the dishwasher just that morning. I was 110% confident the dishes were clean. Nathan started to put the dishes away ... and suffice to say, they were not clean.
  • Last but not least, the Shift key on my laptop has been acting up. Nathan asked me, Are both Shift keys broken or is it just the one you normally use? I paused for a long time and finally said, My laptop has two Shift keys? My third grade computer teacher would be so disappointed!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Baby Onesies

So far, I have exercised excellent restraint in the baby clothes department - but man, it's been hard. Baby clothes are so freaking cute! I've been browsing the baby onesies on Etsy, and holy crap, I'm in trouble. Maybe I'll just live in a flour sack and dedicate our 2013 wardrobe budget to Baby Girl's onesies collection. 

But for now, I'm just admiring the baby onesies. There are many onesies that make me swoon, like this and this and this. But there are also some onesies that annoy and disturb me. These are a few alarming trends I've noticed:

  • Fifty Shades of Grey: People actually make and sell baby onesies that refer to Fifty Shades of Grey. Are you $%&ing kidding me? How deranged do you have to be to let your child wear that? Whenever I see this type of onesie, I think about Susie from Curb Your Enthusiasm chewing out Larry and Jeff. Watch this montage if you want to understand my rage. (If you are not familiar with Susie's potty mouth, be warned that this montage should not be watched at work or while in the company of a nun.)
  • Poop Jokes: Look, I know baby's poop a lot, but let's not parade our babies around in onesies that make poop jokes. Leave the baby a shred of dignity for God's sake.
  • Politics: Whatever your politics may be, please do not treat your baby as a billboard for your political agenda. It's just creepy.
  • Onesies About Parents, Grandparents, etc.: I hate baby onesies that say "I love Mommy" or "My Aunt Is Hot And Single." A baby onesie should not be used as a way to bolster one's self-esteem. Let's just stick to the onesies with cute images of elephants and ducks, okay?
  • Hateful Sports-Related Onesies: I have no problem with baby's wearing clothes for their parents' favorite teams. Baby Girl will probably wear a ton of Huskers gear in the fall. However, I have also seen onesies that say stuff like "F___ the Yankees" or "Mizou Sucks." That's not cool, my friends, not cool at all. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some Random Thoughts After The Long Weekend

Did you enjoy your holiday weekend? Was it filled with presidential celebrations? I stopped doing legal work last month, so I was not exactly pining for a work vacation, but it was certainly nice to have Nathan home for an extra day. Lots of random stuff happened over the weekend:

  • I finished reading The Good House, by Ann Leary. Loved it! The novel takes place in a small coastal New England town, and the main character, Hildy Good, is the town's most successful realtor. She also happens to be a descendant of one of the witches burned at Salem. The story feels like the novel-equivalent of a three-hour conversation with a long-lost friend who is always plugged in to the best gossip.
  • I also finished reading Tiny Beautiful ThingsAdvice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed. Dear Sugar was an advice column that ran on The Rumpus, and Strayed elevated the advice column to an art form. I tried to read this collection of columns as slowly as possible, but I could not put the book down. I've already started reading Strayed's memoir Wild, which so far, is also excellent (and which I had avoided reading because I have some weird bias against the Oprah book club selections).
  • Nathan and I watched at least a dozen episodes of The League. We are just slightly obsessed. The show is about five friends who have a fantasy football league, but you don't need to understand football or fantasy football to enjoy the show. It's like the male version of Sex and the City. Warning: Just like SATC, it's very, very crass.
  • I watched the season finale of Downton Abbey. When does Season Four start? Next week?! Please?!?! In the meantime, Nathan gave me the BBC version of the first two seasons for Christmas (extra footage! deleted scenes!), so I'll just have to watch that for my Downton Abbey fix.
  • And most importantly, we transformed our office into a nursery. By "we," I mean "Nathan, my dad, and my sister" although I did my best to help (which generally meant staying out of the way and saying "thank you"). The nursery still needs some work, but you can definitely tell a baby is going to sleep there some day soon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Yarn!

I love yarn! Usually I just knit with it, but I've been branching out lately in my crafty yarn endeavors.

I made this wreath during the Super Bowl:


First, I wrapped dark pink yarn around a styrofoam wreath from Michael's. The wreath obviously needed a little bird, so I sewed one from felt using a pattern in Little Birds. Well, I sort of followed the pattern - I accidentally collapsed two of the steps together, and I made the wings and feet a little differently, and then I gave the little guy some yarn hair on top, but hey, it worked. (Nathan says the bird looks like a pig-devil hybrid, which I can see, but whatever, I love my fat little bird.) Once I had lashed the bird to the pink wreath, I added some extra bands of color with light pink and green yarn. This started as a Valentine's wreath, but since I'm primarily using pink and green in Baby Girl's nursery, I think this might actually be a Nursery Wreath. We shall see.

I also learned how to make pom poms:

 

My first batch of pink pom poms look like something you'd find in a tide pool. But I strung them together into a garland and now this doorway has some Valentine's loving. They make me happy (and Nathan instinctively ducks every time he passes through this door, even though he's not quite tall enough to get hit!)

Now I'm making pom poms with a very thick wool yarn:


These guys are much more plump and festive. I'm 99% certain that once I've made enough, they will become a garland for Baby Girl's nursery. I used this tutorial on the Minted blog to learn how to make pom poms. This tutorial on DesignSponge inspired me to use multiple colors in the same pom pom. 

The pom pom making process is very soothing and relaxing. Some people meditate. I make pom poms.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I've Been Reading

In the past month, my consumption of novels has matched by consumption of vanilla milkshakes (and damn, I've been drinking a lot of milkshakes). This probably has something to do with the fact that I'm in my third trimester and have less energy these days; so my afternoons are often spent in bed with my Kindle. These are the books I recently enjoyed the most:

  • If I Stay and its sequel, Where She Went, by Gayle Forman. In the first book, a high school senior is in a coma after surviving a terrible car accident. I don't want to say anything more for fear of ruining the plot. I cried at least a dozen times, but they were cathartic cries. I inhaled the book in a 24 hour period, and then read its sequel during the next 48 hours. Both books are compelling stories that will make you think - a lot.
  • The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan. This is the story of three sisters who danced at the Paris Opera. One of them also poses for Edgar Degas (you know, the artist who painted all the ballerinas.) The story is based on true stories and feels very well researched. This is the sort of historical fiction that makes me only want to read historical fiction. (It also makes me want to own a Degas painting, but that's not happening in this or any lifetime.)
  • The Family Fang, by Kevin Wilson. If you liked The Royal Tennebaums, you'll highly enjoy this book. If you don't like Wes Anderson... you should probably read something else.

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Favorite Pregnancy Purchase (So Far)

I cannot say enough good things about this gizmo:
 

It's the Ez2Care Aluminum Reacher and every pregnant lady needs at least one. My bump recently got to the point where bending over is a challenge; and once it became a challenge, it felt like I had to bend over at least a thousand times a day to pick something up. Nathan is a saint and helps as much as he can, but he's not always home. And if my shoes are on the floor, I can't exactly wait eight hours until he gets home from work and can pick them up for me.

This is where the Reacher comes in handy. It is glorious. I mostly use it to pick up socks and shoes, but it picks up almost everything I need. I love it soooo much, and I can't believe no one suggested I buy one. I have received so much advice from friends, relatives, books and blogs, and no one ever thought to say, "Hey, when your bump becomes huge and cumbersome, get yourself one of those arm extender thingees." My husband had to think of this idea (while he was picking up a ball of yarn I had dropped for like the twentieth time that evening).

Every pregnant lady should receive one of these the day she starts her third trimester. It's a life saver. And I imagine I'll keep using it after Baby Girl arrives. Rather than bend over while holding a newborn, I'll just use my Reacher to clean up the floor. Screw Gandalf's wizard staff. My magical weapon of choice is the Ez2Care Aluminum Reacher.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Omnibus Wedding Advice Post

Nathan and I got married a year and a half ago, and I started this blog shortly after our honeymoon. At the time, since I still had the wedding on the brain, I wrote a long ass list of advice I wanted to share with my baby sister. I figured it would be easier to post the advice on my blog, so she could read it at her leisure. This seemed much more civilized than inundating her with a bunch of (unwanted) advice when she gets engaged some day.

I've been slacking on my wedding advice series, and with baby's imminent arrival, I predict the slacking will only get worse. In the interest of getting all my advice into the blogosphere, I'm just going to dump my remaining thoughts into this post. Katherine, when it is time for you to plan your wedding, feel free to ignore all of this advice! I realize you are far more stylish than me and my advice is probably total crap.
  • Remember: it's a wedding INDUSTRY. They want to suck as much money out of you our parents as possible.
  • The wedding magazines will make you feel like you have to have your entire life mapped out in order to throw a successful wedding. This is bullshit. You don't need a signature perfume in order to get married. And you may decide in five years that you don't like the sugar bowl you registered for - that doesn't make you an evil human being.
  • Make sure the items on your registry hit a broad range of price points. Someone may actually want to give you a $5 can opener, and someone else may want to spend $300 on a kitchen gadget.
  • Don't make a ton of changes to your diet the month before your wedding. The day before your wedding? Not a good time to start eating more fiber. The week before your wedding? Not a good time to quit caffeine or smoking or heroin. (FYI, if you ever try heroin, I'll kill you.)
  • It's okay to wear flip-flops under your gown, assuming the dress is long enough. They do not need to be expensive. I spent HOURS searching for the perfect pair of bridal flip-flops online and ended up wearing $5 white wedge flip-flops from Old Navy during the reception. They were the same height as the heels I wore during the ceremony, and no one could see them under my dress. (And if anyone could see them? Eff em.)
  • Your man does not have to help you with the registry.
  • In fact, it is probably best if your man does not help with the registry.
  • You do not have to register for china. Only register for what you actually want.
  • Do not be a drunk bride. 
  • It's the bride's job to have fun at her wedding. The guests cannot enjoy themselves if the bride looks miserable (except for maybe a few drunk assholes). Do your best to make sure everyone enjoys the wedding and then let it go. Someone will have a bad time and seriously, that's out of your control. If you spend the entire day obsessing over that one person, the wedding will be ruined.
  • Get your crazies out before the wedding. Then, you can be calm on the happy day. If you need me to hold your hand while you have a nervous breakdown about the shrimp cocktail, I can do that for you.
  • Everyone appreciates a free pair of dancing flip-flops. Because no matter how many weddings they attend, people will always forget to wear comfortable dancing shoes.

  • You don't have to pick a short song for your first dance. After a certain point, the DJ can fade out the song or invite other couples to the floor. If you adopt the second strategy, make sure several couples are prepared to ambush the dance floor at the right moment. Nathan and I are happy to do this for you.
  • You will obsess over something stupid. For me, it was finding the right pair of sexy espadrilles for the honeymoon. After hours of stupid obsessing, I found the right sandals ... and never wore them. But that's okay. It's okay to be stupid about something.
  • You don't have to toss the bouquet. Think about your female guests. Are there a bunch of young unmarried women in their 20s who are happy to fight for the bouquet? Or are there a bunch of unmarried women in their 30s and 40s who are humiliated by the concept?
  • It's okay if the groom is not excited about the wedding planning. His level of interest in the stationary has no bearing whatsoever on your future happiness as a couple. Nathan was interested in the alcohol and honeymoon and ... yeah, that's really it.
  • Be yourself. I hated the idea of having everyone looking at me as Dad escorted me up the aisle. So instead of traditional wedding processional music, I had the DJ play the Star Wars theme song and that made me sooooo happy.
  • But you don't have to personalize every detail. Remember those stupid trivia cards I made? Yeah, so glad I threw those out.
  • Unless the guest list is very, very small, you will not have time to chat with all your guests. That's okay. Just try your best to visit with the guests who traveled.
  • If it's in the budget, I highly recommend a sweets table. Wedding guests love unlimited access to sugar.
  • Boutonniere: don't make your man wear a pink flower unless he wants to.
  • You can't control the weather. If there's a possibility of rain, just make sure there is a covered area for the reception. The ceremony will work itself out.
  • Make sure you designate someone to help with group photos. Your wedding photographer does not have a freaking clue who your Aunt Pam or Uncle Al are.
  • Also, make sure someone is in charge of policing the area that is being used for wedding portraits. It's really unfortunate when the bride has to wave her bouquet in the air and scream, "Aunt Claire! Move out of the way!!!" (Not that I'm speaking from experience.)
  • Your brother can be a bridesmaid.
  • Your wedding cake can be small. Just have a sheet cake in the kitchen that can be sliced up for the guests.
  • You will not look good in every photo. People will post really unflattering shots of you on Facebook. Get over it.
  • If any of your guests are bringing babies or small children, make sure they are seated at a table with an easy escape route.
  • Children are cute, but you don't have to invite everyone's child. My rule was the kid was invited if her parents had traveled from another state or if she was a relative.
  • Have your man look at photos of wedding rings online before you go shopping for his band. He's a guy. He's never thought about jewelry. Ever. His head will explode at the possibilities. He will need a very large slice of pie after this ordeal is over.
  • People don't drink red wine at summer weddings. We bought waaaay too much red wine. Our guests drank beer, white wine and whatever liquor was available.
  • Set aside a few moments with your groom after the ceremony. He's your husband now! You deserve some time together. Have someone bring you a few appetizers while you decompress - you'll be hungry. In that same vein, sweetheart tables are AWESOME.
  • Practice the first kiss.
  • A low key rehearsal dinner can be really fun. Think margaritas and nachos.
  • If you host a day-after brunch, it does not have to be formal. We just had bagels and donuts. Nathan still talks about the donuts. He really enjoyed getting to pick out six dozen donuts at once. I bought the orange juice in advance because no one wants to worry about orange juice the morning after their wedding.
  • Get as much as possible done in advance so you can spend time with friends and family in the 48 hours before your happy day.
  • You do not have to honeymoon in an exotic land. It is very relaxing to honeymoon in an English-speaking destination. Maui = perfect.
  • Do not get a massage the week before your wedding. You don't want to end up with some freak injury.
  • You don't have to attend formal cake tastings. Especially if there's a bakery you already love that does wedding cakes.
  • You don't have to take formal dance lessons. There is nothing wrong with the awkward adolescent sway.
  • Are you actually still reading this?
  • After the major decisions have been made (venue, color scheme, band vs. DJ), stop looking at wedding blogs and magazines. You don't want to question your judgment and drive yourself crazy.
  • Everyone has an opinion. You don't have to follow all the advice you receive. You just have to do what works for you and your groom.
  • You might see your calligrapher in her underpants. It will be kind of traumatizing. This is not really advice, but I just wanted to get that warning out there.
  • You can spend the night before your wedding at your home. You don't have to stay at a fancy hotel. I myself stayed at home because this was calmer. I didn't have to worry about packing all my toiletries.
  • It's okay if the groom sees your dress before the wedding. Trust me, he still won't have any idea what you are going to look like in the dress (unless you are marrying a tailor or fashion designer).
There was no way I could hide
this bad boy from Nathan.
  • You don't have to write your vows. Because if you do, someone's will be better. Do you want to feel crappy that you half-assed your vows while your groom wrote a sonnet for the ages?
  • People will start asking about babies during the rehearsal dinner. Prepare yourself with a vague but friendly response, e.g. "Oh, you'll just have to wait and see [giggle]." 
  • I used this book to get in shape for my wedding dress. Loved it! It's okay to tear off the cover of the book if it shames you (I did).
  • There will be changes to the guest list the week before the wedding. That's okay. We had one table with six chairs and only two guests! Nathan and I were worried for those guests, but they loved it. They had left their young kids at home and were thrilled to enjoy a fancy date night.
  • If you can start the ceremony at 5 p.m., that means you can have a leisurely morning and you won't be frantic as you get dressed.
  • Make sure you are in a committed relationship with your deodorant. Have an entire extra tube on stand-by in case the company that makes your deodorant goes out of business and there is a worldwide shortage.
  • Prepare a wedding day kit with things like floss and tampons. Even if your period is not due for two weeks, you need to be prepared - stranger things have happened!
  • It's okay to have a small wedding party. In fact, this can cut down on the headaches.
Whew! I think that's enough wedding advice, don't you agree? If you read this entire post, congratulations: you are really lame; yes, it's time to make some new friends or get a hobby.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pregnancy Brain

This pregnancy is starting to make me dumb. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store. I picked up all our groceries, from apples to bread to everything in between. I waited in line to check out. I loaded all the groceries on to the conveyor belt. The clerk started to process the items. I handed her my key chain, which has the miniature plastic card that gets me points for exciting coupons. Then I reached inside my purse for my wallet.

That's when I realized my wallet was at home.

For about 0.2 seconds, I hoped that the wallet had been stolen while I was picking out eggs or avocados. Because seriously, I would rather deal with the hassle of being robbed than acknowledge the fact that I'm so dumb, I went to the grocery store without my wallet.

But no, I knew exactly where my wallet was. Before I went to the grocery store, I had cleaned all the old receipts out of my wallet. Ambitious and industrious, no? But then, because I'm a dumbass, I just left my wallet on the ledge where we keep our keys and change bowl. And when I left for the market, I didn't think to reclaim my wallet from the ledge.

Such a dumbass.

Fortunately, the grocery clerk was very sweet and friendly. She always recognizes me (the bump is pretty obvious) and asks how I'm doing. She continued to ring up all my groceries and then suspended the transaction so I could go home and get my wallet. Thank God. I would have cried if I had to do a second circuit around the grocery store to reclaim our bread and apples.

About three years ago, I learned how to use a sewing machine, but then I never followed up on the skill. I was thinking about busting out my sewing machine in February so I could sew something for Baby Girl. But with my new dumbass pregnancy brain, I'm thinking that's not such a good idea. Although it might be good practice for the pain of labor, I don't want to accidentally sew my hand to the sewing machine!

Friday, January 25, 2013

So What Brings You To The Cranky Pumpkin?

If you have a blog, you can use Google Analytics to track information about your blog's visitors - e.g. how many people visit your blog, how long they stay, how many pages they read, etc. I like to check Google Analytics from time to time just to make sure I'm not blogging into a vacuum. (Although I'd probably keep blogging even if the only people reading the Cranky Pumpkin were myself, my husband and my parents - does that make me narcissistic or just stupid?)

Anyway, before I continue: Don't worry, I have no idea who you are. Google Analytics does not provide that sort of information (or, if it does, I have no idea how to access it! I have, at best, the computer skills of a very clever monkey.)

But, I can see from Google Analytics the sorts of Google searches that lead people to the Cranky Pumpkin. The most common search that leads to my blog is... cranky pumpkin. (Big "no shit, Sherlock" there.) But there are some bizarre search terms that have led folks to the Cranky Pumpkin. In the past month, people have typed the phrases below into Google and Google recommended one of my blog entries as a search result (and seriously, I'm not making any of these up!):

- "abnormal women with extremely large foreheads" - I don't even want to know. I feel dirty just knowing that someone looking for information about "abnormal women with extremely large foreheads" landed on my blog.

- "bed bug bites in between the fingers are they similar to aunts": Have I blogged about bed bug bites? For the record, we don't have bed bugs! Also, I like all my aunts and would not compare any of them to a bed bug. And hey, dumb ass, learn the difference between "ant" and "aunt" before you even think about coming back to my blog.

-  "bitches be like waiting for the right one skeleton" - Words fail me.

- "attractive self portraits" - wow, I can only imagine this reader's disappointment when they came to my blog in search of an attractive self portrait.

- "castle illegal hay" - seriously?

- "kryptonite nachos" - oh god, now I really want some nachos, but Baby Girl will kick my ass if I even think of eating some before she's born. Damn.

- "lego lord of the rings gondor castle sets" - in case there were any lingering doubts about my nerd status... (and does such a thing exist? Because now I want it.)

- "spoon from coconut shell best from waste" - someone did not actually type this into Google, did they? It sounds like a poem written by a drunken surfer.

- "tiny model Laura" - creeeeeeeeeepy

- "tree that smells like lemon" - you mean, like a lemon tree? Glad to see the Cranky Pumpkin is attracting all the geniuses of the world.

- "watchmyass" - NO, damnit, watch your own freaking ass. Preferably while reading someone else's blog, you weirdo.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unsolicited Advice for My Baby Sister: Survival Tips for Attending A Friend's Wedding

My baby sister Katherine is twenty-four, and the first of her college friends is getting married this summer. Ten years ago, the first of my college friends got married, and since those first nuptials, I have learned a lot about being a wedding guest. Here are some random tips I have for Katherine so she can maximize her fun at the reception:

  • Order A Gift From The Registry ASAP: Buy something off the registry! This is easier for you and the couple. If they really wanted polka dot ice cream bowls, they would have registered for them. But they didn't, so that means they either (a) hate polka dots, (b) hate ice cream, or (c) don't have space for polka dot ice cream bowls. And since you are going to buy a gift off the registry, do it now! Don't wait for the week before the wedding when all the good/affordable stuff is gone. I know it's on the registry, but do you really want to buy a feather duster and soap dispenser for your friend?
  • Screw Group Gifts: Yes, if you pool your resources with your college crowd, you can afford that Cherry Red Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. And if someone else is coordinating the group gift and you just need to write a check, by all means, join the group gift. But don't spearhead the group gift unless you enjoy nagging your friends for money.
  • Don't Bring A Gift To The Wedding: If you order off the registry, then you should be able to ship the gift directly to the bride. DO THIS. You see that big pile of gifts at the wedding reception? Someone has to schlep those gifts to the car, and then the gifts have to be schlepped from the car to the house... Just let UPS work its magic.
  • Don't Pay Extra For Gift Wrap: If you order a gift online from the registry, you can pay extra for gift wrap. SCREW GIFT WRAP. The bride and groom will receive a ton of gifts in the mail in the weeks before the wedding, and gift wrap just means more crap for the waste bin. The box is wrapping enough. (But remember to write a gift message so the bride actually knows who sent the present!)
  • Be Ridiculously Careful With Scandalous Gifts: I have heard many brides complain, I can't believe So-and-So gave me crotchless panties, I was so embarrassed to unwrap that present in front of my grandmother! I have never once heard a bride complain, Geez, the cake pans from Williams Sonoma are awesome but what I was really hoping for was a vibrator and some edible chocolate lotion.
  • Eat Before the Ceremony (And Maybe Even Bring A Snack With You): Weddings are notorious for starting late. Then the cocktail reception might be at another location; but even if it's not, it still might take forever and a day before you get to nibble on some shrimp. Sometimes, there is a catering disaster, and you will have to fight to the death to get one crab puff. So then, you have to wait for dinner... but there might be forty toasts before the kitchen serves dinner... and if you are sitting at the college friends' table, there is a strong possibility you will be among the last to be served. Do yourself a favor and eat a normal meal before the wedding.
  • You Are Not Meeting Your Soulmate At The Wedding: Yeah, I know, I know. It happens all the time in the movies. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your life is not a movie. Just assume the groom's friends are all either (a) in a serious relationship, (b) antisocial, (c) gay, or (d) man whores who are only interested in a one night stand. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised. Probably not.
  • Don't Be That Crazy Drunk Girl Everyone Talks About: It's okay to drink, and hey, if don't have to drive, go ahead and get drunk. (I can't believe I just gave my baby sister permission to get drunk.) But make sure someone is drunker than you. Everyone remembers "the drunkest girl at the wedding" and makes fun of her for years. No one remembers the "second drunkest girl."
  •  Don't Bug The Bride In The Days Before the Wedding: If you have a question about the dress code or weather, ask the bride for advice several weeks (if not months!) before the wedding. Don't wait until the week before the wedding when bridezilla is freaking out about ... well, everything. If it's 48 hours before the wedding and you realize you don't know where to get pizza in Chicago, CHECK YELP, YOU DUMBASS. If you call the bride for directions to the wedding venue as she is getting her make-up done, you are a horrible human being.
  • Wear Dancing Shoes: If you want to dance during the reception, then you need to wear shoes that are comfortable for dancing, end of discussion. If you have any concerns about your shoes' ability to dance all night, sneak a pair of flip-flops into the reception. Your feet will thank you.
  • When In Doubt, Bring A Pashmina: I don't care what the weather forecast says. If the ceremony or reception are outside, it might get cold. My pink pashmina has saved my shivering shoulders at more weddings than I care to remember.
  • If Possible, Figure Out What Color The Bridesmaids Are Wearing: And then wear a different color. No matter how fabulous your dress is, it will suddenly look like crap if it matches the bridesmaids' gowns.
  • Don't Expect To Spend Tons of Quality Time With The Bride: You may actually get to spend a lot of time hanging out with the bride. But then again, maybe you won't. It all depends on the bride. If it's a big ass wedding with 400 guests, it's safe to assume you might only see the bride during a few rushed encounters.
  • Don't Gossip About The Bride, The Groom, Or Their Families: You never know who might be listening. If the groom's sister overhears you making fun of the groom's fat butt, you will spend the rest of the evening feeling sick.