March 31, 2007

Boo To, Or Possibly From, A Goose

My, what a healthy breakfast I just had! Semi-Desperate Housewife put me in the mood for Grape-Nuts with raisins, and so I had a bowl of that and a glass of orange juice. While I was chewing (eating a bowl of Grape-Nuts is a physical and mental commitment), I was thinking about a diet I was on before getting pregnant, which didn't allow cereals that had more than 100 calories per cup. Nor did it allow raisins or other dried fruits. Nor did it allow juice.

I'll tell you this: I'm done with that kind of diet. A diet that doesn't allow GRAPE-NUTS or RAISINS? My goal is "try to eat fewer boxes of Dove ice cream bars per day," so I'm not going along with anything that says dried fruit has too much sugar and is off-limits. I understand that the diet writers don't want people sitting down and eating a whole canister of raisins and wondering why they're not losing weight on this stupid useless diet when they're eating nothing but fruit, but binging on dried fruit is not my problem. My problem is broader than that, and involves foods that do not technically belong to food groups. Going from "non-food-group food" to "food-group food" is a big step for me. Eating Grape-Nuts and raisins is a very good thing indeed, and I don't want to hear boo from a goose about it. Or no, wait: we say boo to the goose. Well, I don't want to hear anyone saying boo to the goose about it, either. This is none of the goose's business.

It seems to me that any diet requires a certain level of customization. I've had diets that allowed certain foods that, as it turns out, I can't handle: if I have a little, I have to have a lot. So even though the diet permits it, I modify it and don't allow that food. More often it's the other way: the diet forbids certain healthy foods that I don't think should be forbidden. If I find I'm struggling with the impulse to eat an entire box of Grape-Nuts at one sitting, I'll reconsider my modifications--but until then, Grape-Nuts are a good food, and I don't feel the urge to eat more than a serving of them, and I don't crave them irresponsibly between meals, and so Grape-Nuts are allowed. Besides, I'm not on a diet right now anyway. So boo to you, diet writers.

March 29, 2007

Loophole

Paul is getting sick again. He told me about four times over the course of yesterday evening that he was feeling funny, and then he said in a pathetic voice that he sure hoped he wasn't getting sick, and then he asked me to feel his forehead and see if he had a fever, and then he went to bed an hour and a half early, and then he called out in a small weak voice asking if I could bring him another blanket, and he shivered as I put the blanket over him. At 3:30 in the morning he woke up his pregnant wife (that's me, but I'm disassociating to lessen the emotional impact of the experience) to ask for acetaminophen. This morning he chose not to go to work (all together now: "Must be nice"), and now he's moping around, drinking Gatorade (to replace all the electrolytes he lost by sleeping, presumably), lying down on the bed and groaning, and seeing if he can possibly choke down two of the muffins William and I made this morning. Sometimes he manages to bravely drag himself to his computer.

He's been sick more often than the kids this winter, and this is my fourth pregnancy in which he's spent almost the whole 9 months expecting sympathy FROM me without giving any TO me, and keeping me awake with his snoring and his groaning. As I understand it, there's an "in sickness and in health" clause in our marriage contract--but as I also understand it, there's an "until death do us part" loophole.

March 28, 2007

30 Weeks (Tomorrow)

I had my 30-week OB visit today, and now I'll be going back every 2 weeks instead of every 4 weeks. The nurse is going to call me tomorrow with my c-section date. They're scheduling the c-section. Scheduling the c-section! I'm not sure you heard me: they're scheduling the c-section. That means we are getting seriously close now.

I had to get up and go to the kitchen to look at the calendar and make sure I was right that I'm 30 weeks tomorrow. At 30 weeks, things start going very quickly for me. I was chatting with another pregnant woman who said she has the opposite experience: in the beginning it feels like she's flying along, but then the last couple of months are an eternity. For me, I think it's a matter of how big a chunk "one week" is of the time remaining. When I go from 8 to 9 weeks pregnant, I've reduced my remaining time by about 1/30th. Whoop-dee-do. When I go from 33 to 34 weeks pregnant, I've reduced my remaining time by about 1/5th. That's significantly more exciting.

Listen, don't quibble with me about my math. It's nearly 11:00 at night, and I've just spent twenty minutes trying to figure out if I was supposed to make the fraction out of the 33-week-mark "time remaining" or out of the 34-week-mark "time remaining," and I have furrowed my brow in vain because I still don't know. Furthermore, I no longer care. I am pregnant and I am crabby, and you do not want to correct my calculations while I am still holding this well-sharpened pencil. Let's just agree that I'm right in spirit if not in actual mathematical fact.

Four Boxes In The Freezer

When you must go to the grocery store with toddler twins and a kindergartner and a huge round tum, because you are out of milk and have been out of milk for two days and things are getting desperate now that the bananas are gone too, it helps to know that the Dove ice cream bars are on a really good sale. And so are the Dove ice cream miniatures, which they should not advertise as having "only 60 calories each!" because that seems like a lot for such a small yummy bite, and also it is too easy to multiply by, for example, ten.

My Solution To The Dilemma

My mom has a good rule of thumb for deciding whether to go back to fix a store error in your own favor: if you would have gone back for the same error in the store's favor, you go back; otherwise, you figure it balances out in the end and it's not worth the confusion and trouble.

I like this rule of thumb because it isn't too tight-assed. I'm not in favor of mincing back to the customer service counter to give them back the extra nickel and wait for my parade, nor do I feel as if every mistaken penny is a black mark on my conscience. I routinely let errors in the store's favor slip past because it isn't worth it, and so I am glad to see errors in my favor making it all even-steven.

In this particular case, I think the amount of money involved is very close to being right on the line, and so other things have to be taken into consideration in order to make the decision. If W@lmart had made this mistake, I'd be rejoicing that I was finally getting some payback for all the times the shelf price said one thing and the item rang up much higher, because they are always screwing me over, not to mention putting huge pallets in every possible throughway, and, if they run out of pallets, having clerks stand in the way, since the clerks are never running enough registers and never know the answers to customer questions and so have nothing better to do than stand in my way looking sullen.

But I have two Targets I go to regularly and both of them are completely awesome: great clerks who all seem like they're working there part-time for the love of the job while double-majoring in business and helpfulness, customer service people who take back anything in any condition with the attitude that they totally agree with your decision to return it and don't even need to hear an explanation, and so few wrong ring-ups I hardly bother to check my receipt anymore. So I have this feeling of wanting to do good by them, and that makes my decision for me: I want to give them the money for the earrings.

I still feel like a suck-up going to the customer service counter with this problem. I've worked a few different retail jobs, and every so often you get someone who wants you to correct an error in their favor and then, presumably, issue them a halo and thank them tearfully for renewing your faith in humankind. I wish there was a way I could pay the $3.74 without coming across this way.

And so I came up with a genius idea. What if I snuck the earrings into the store and then put them with my other purchases when I was checking out? That way if they did ring up at $14.99 (and you guys have me a little freaked about that possibility now), I could just not buy them. The only downside is if somehow I was caught with those earrings in my purse or something, it would look like I was shoplifting them, and my truth would not sound even one bit like actual truth. But I usually get a cart while I'm still in the parking lot (hard to lug twins without wheels); I could put the earrings in the cart at that point, semi-concealed by the diaper bag or something.

This plan solves all the problems: It allows me to handle this the next time I go to the store, without having to make a special trip. It means I don't have to explain the situation to someone who's going to look at me funny. It lets me avoid the whole "I'm so awesome to be doing this, please give me my medal now" problem. It dodges the "Oops, the earrings are $14.99 now" possibility. And it wipes away the potential bad-memory taint from the earrings. Perfect? I think so.

March 27, 2007

Two Triumphs And A Dilemma

Two minor domestic triumphs:

1) Located Source of Mysterious Bad Smell. First thing this morning, I started encountering little air pockets of Bad Smell, mostly in the kitchen but also everywhere else. The usual culprits proclaimed their innocence: twins' diapers were clean, kitchen trash seemed fine; the diaper pail, while not exactly springtime fresh, was within normal limits. I kept smelling something, though. Then, as I went to wipe up the twins after their breakfast, I found the problem: a nasty washcloth. A washcloth can turn on you like that. I spritzed the hell out of it with Febreze: when a washcloth smells that terrible, I like to do prep before it goes through the wash.

2) Used a $10 Off Coupon at Target. The challenge was to spend the necessary $100, but on things we would buy anyway. A coupon for $10 off $100 is good, but if I buy a bunch of pretty-sparklies and dishes and baby clothes we don't need, it's only 10% off--that's hardly even a sale. If I buy diapers and dish soap and cat food, it's a free package of diapers. I came home with the world's most boring Target haul (paper towels! light bulbs!), but I used that coupon.

Hey, ethical dilemma: The other day when I went to Target, I got a pair of earrings that were 75% off--$3.74. When I got home and was looking at the receipt to see if I needed to save it, I noticed that the earrings were not on there. They were in my bag, but unpaid for. On one hand, it's only $3.74, and I'm going to feel like a major kiss-up dork if I go to customer service and insist on paying. On the other hand, it doesn't sit well with me to just let it go. Usually I wear new earrings the very next day, but I find that when I look at them, I think uncomfortably of how I--totally inadvertently--"stole" them. What would you do? I'll tell you later what I've decided.

March 26, 2007

Do-Overs: Music Meme. Also, Instructions.

Listen up, everyone, and Professor Swistle will tell you how to get a little orange music-playing rectangle of your very own!

First! Go to http://www.radioblogclub.com/

Second! Register! It's free. You do have to give them a user name, a password, and a valid email address, but you don't have to answer any of the other personal questions.

Third! In the box that says, "Enter an artist's name or song title," you should enter an artist's name or song title.

Fourth! From the list of matches, choose the one you think is probably the one you want. Click the little blue box next to the title.

Fifth! Because you clicked that box, some stuff will have appeared in a column on the right. That stuff will be marked 1, 2, and 3. 1 is the preview: what your little box looks like right this minute. 2 lets you fiddle around with the colors to make your little box look snappy on your own personal site. 3 is the code you cut and paste into your blog entry to make the little box appear.

Now. I'm going to redo the music meme, because now I can do it right.

The Flying Mum tagged me for a "7 Songs I've Been Enjoying Lately" meme. I'm supposed to select 7 songs (see title of meme) that I've been enjoying lately (see title of meme), and I'm supposed to include links so you can mock my choices on the spot.

1) Dragostea Din Tei, by OZone


2) Welcome to the Black Parade, by My Chemical Romance


3) Life Less Ordinary, by Carbon Leaf


4) What Hurts the Most, by Rascal Flatts


5) Behind These Hazel Eyes, by Kelly Clarkson


6) Too Little Too Late, by JoJo


7) Angel, by Shaggy


I tag Shelly of Scenic Overlook and Laura of Coffee Stained.

March 24, 2007

Testing Music Dealie

Does this little orange rectangle play you a song when you click the play button? (The song starts out a little soft and indistinct, and then gets clearer and louder.)



I felt dumb about not being able to correctly do that music meme a few days ago, so I showed Paul the music dealie in one of Sundry's posts, and I said to him, "Get that for me! I want it!"--just like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only without the accent or the foot-stomping. And he did. So if the orange rectangle does indeed play you a song, you can thank Sundry and Paul.

And then I'll need to go re-post that music meme.

Children's DVDs

I really liked the suggestion some of you made about getting a DVD player for the trip I'll be going on, the one where I will be trying to contain a toddler for hours and hours and hours and hours. I'd had it in my head that the only way to have a DVD player in the car was to buy a car with a DVD player already installed. Then, when you guys mentioned purchasing the DVD player sans vehicle, I looked into it and found that hey! you can BUY these things! Furthermore, my dad thinks he might be able to rig his portable DVD player somehow, and he has made it his mission to make something work. So--thanks! I don't mind telling you I'm a big fan of television, especially in its child-muzzling capacity.

Anyway, this got me thinking about children's DVDs, and what I could stand to be trapped in a car with. There are certain children's shows that would motivate me to fling myself out of the moving car, thanking the gods of momentum and gravity for the privilege. The first few notes of Barney, for example, make me run for the remote yelling "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA" to keep any sound from entering my brain. I don't care if he does have the best clean-up song ever, he's horrible, and so are those child actors. Someone must be holding those children's parents at knifepoint right in front of them to elicit such strained and vigorously cheerful performances.

And Caillou. I don't think I have ever heard such irritating whining. And Maya and Miguel, with their whole "He thinks with his brain! She thinks with her heart and with her sparkly twirling ponytail! Because she's a silly girl!" And the newly-formatted Sesame Street, with "Journey to Ernie" and "Elmo's World" taking over all the good stuff.

Well. I enjoy anything that gives me an excuse to buy things I've been wanting to buy anyway, and I was thinking this trip would be a good excuse to buy those "old school" Sesame Street episodes that have started coming out on DVD. I might also buy some Blue's Clues. Do I have to specify that they'd be the ones with Steve? Of course they'd be the ones with Steve. We have a bunch of Blue's Clues episodes on videotapes that are totally legal, legitimately purchased, not at all taped off the TV--but we have nothing on DVD. I wish there were more than just a couple of episodes per DVD, though. If someone were to tape onto their own videotapes, for example, they might get more like 15 episodes per tape. I'm just saying if.

Successful and non-irritating DVDs we already own are:

1) Baby Bach, Baby Mozart, and Baby Beethoven from the some-good-some-bad Baby Einstein series. These are good because the background sound is mostly just classical music, rather than hyper piping voices or "the FISH song! Fish-fish-fish! fish-fish-fish! fish-fish-fish-fish-fish!" And I can look away from the screen when Little Miss "I Think of Myself as a Hand Model" is on, or when they're doing the not-exactly-Jim-Henson-quality puppetry.

2) Schoolhouse Rock! I never saw these as a child, but Paul did, and I've really been enjoying the 30th Anniversary Edition he insisted we buy. It has all the songs, and you can watch them by category (grammar, government, etc.) or you can put it on shuffle mode so it plays them in random order. I've never been so close to understanding how our government, circulatory, and banking systems work. It's way too old for a 2-year-old, but our resident nearly-2-year-olds don't seem bothered by that--they like the animation and the music.

3) They Might Be Giants have a kid DVD called Here Come the ABCs, and it is great. We bought the DVD/CD combo pack so we can listen to the music in the car and watch the DVD at home. The kids like it, we like it, everyone's happy.

Okay, spill: tell me the children's shows you hate, and the ones you love. My credit card is itching for action, and I have such a good excuse for using it.

March 23, 2007

Walk Like A (Pregnant) Egyptian

Hey! Hey, I just swayed as I walked down the hall. Houston, we have waddling.

Talking

One of my strengths as a parent is Talking. I can talk at great length with a child who wants to know why we wear dark dressy clothes to funerals even if we're not sad about the person who died, or why thank-you notes are crucial and how they should be written. I can even handle "What happens to us after we die?" and "But how did the baby START in your tummy?" and "WHY do we have to zip up before we come out of the bathroom?" Rob and I do particularly well as a parent-child team: he likes to repeatedly talk every subject into the ground and I am happy to oblige.

With William, I have more trouble. When we were making muffins this morning, he said thoughtfully, "That sugar looks like it's picking its nose." You tell me how to start an attentive and loving conversation around that opener. I thought we were on a better track when he asked, "Can we talk about what I want to grow up as?" and I said, with relief, "YES! What do you want to be when you grow up?," and he said, "A sound wave." Oh. Not a firefighter? Because I have a whole conversation about being a firefighter.

March 22, 2007

Sweater

This morning I was getting Elizabeth dressed, and she was playing with a sweater that had been on top of the changing table. When I was finished dressing her, she indicated clearly (grabbing the sweater, yelling, trying to wrap the sweater around herself) that she wanted to wear the sweater.

I explained to her that the sweater had been on the changing table like that because she'd outgrown it and I needed to put it in the handmedowns bag. I pointed out that the sweater did not go with her outfit anyway. I reminded her that the weather report had suggested that today was going to be warm and springlike, not a good day for sweaters.

Her debating tactics need work: her only argument was "EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"

Outcome of our disagreement?


Whose debating tactics need work NOW?

Abandoning! Memeing!

Maybe you have been wondering why there have been no Digging Ourselves Out entries lately? There are three reasons. First, I was getting jumpy about the number of posts: I would think, "Well, I already posted a Digging Out entry, and now I've posted a regular entry, so I really shouldn't post another entry." Second, I think that whole cleaning idea might have been Second Trimester Energy. It didn't feel like it at the time, but compared to how I feel here in the third trimester, I think it was. Third, here are the Before and After pictures from one of my first tasks, the kitchen table project:



Doesn't that look nice, all clean and smooth? So much better. And now here's the After After:


It's not as bad as the original Before picture, but nearly. And the worst part is, I didn't put that stuff there. Those are Legos put there by Paul and Rob and William, a mask put there by William, school papers put there by Rob, magazines put there by Paul, etc. I know The F1y L@dy says that if your family doesn't cooperate with your clean-up ideas, you should go ahead and do all the clean-up for them, but I say SCREW THAT!

The Flying Mum tagged me for a "7 Songs I've Been Enjoying Lately" meme. I'm supposed to include links to clips, but apparently I am too dim to do that: I tried copying The Flying Mum's idea of using Rhapsody, but couldn't make it cooperate with me. I am failing this meme.
  1. Dragostea Din Tei, by OZone
  2. Welcome to the Black Parade, by My Chemical Romance
  3. Life Less Ordinary, by Carbon Leaf
  4. What Hurts the Most, by Rascal Flatts
  5. Behind These Hazel Eyes, by Kelly Clarkson
  6. Too Little Too Late, by JoJo
  7. Angel, by Shaggy
Do you know, I am actually a little nervous making that list? I feel like maybe you're going to be snorting and saying, "She likes THAT song? She is SO lame."

I'd like to start a meme of my own, if I may do that and I don't see why I mayn't. It's a perfume meme. List three (or whatever--we're casual in this meme) perfumes that are important to you, or have memories associated with them, or that you currently love, and say why.

Charlie (Revlon)-- I wore this most of the way through high school, and I still have a bottle of it. I remember how appealing the ads were to me: beautiful girls in tough pinstriped suits, and, if I remember correctly, the idea that under their tough career exteriors they were wearing lacy lingerie. That concept makes me barf a little now, but I loved it as a teenager.

Sand & Sable (Coty)-- I wore this during college. I still like it, but I can't smell it without thinking of a relationship that ended very badly, and so I haven't worn it since.

La Chasse Aux Papillons (L'Artisan)-- This is one of my current favorites, and the first very expensive perfume I've owned. The way I found it is a little embarrassing: I read in US Weekly magazine that some celebrity liked it. The way she described it ("like fresh-cut flowers") so intrigued me that I went online and bought a sample of it (I like Luscious Cargo for samples and also for their fun, cool site), and I loved it and now I have a whole entire expensive French bottle of it and it makes me feel special and pretty and not-frumpy to use it.

So! There's my very own meme! And I tag ALL of you! Yes, ALL of you! You are ALL tagged! Well, all of you with blogs. All of you who have blogs and also wear perfume. Go forth and do my bidding!

March 21, 2007

Social Problem: Follow-Up

You guys. You are not going to believe this. I emailed Tal, saying almost exactly my sample email but with more gushing afterwards about the baby to cushion the first sentence, which started with "I don't think it's going to work out to get together..."

He wrote back within a couple of hours, and he says: "Are you on bed rest? Why the grim prognosis for visiting?" And then he talks about how great it would be to get together and catch up sometime soon.

Whuh? Has he experienced severe head trauma? Does he not understand any social cues at all? First I put him off, then I tapered off the emails, then I took ages to reply to this one, and then I said it wasn't going to work out to get together but let's "try" to keep in touch via email. That's pretty clear, right? I mean, it's not as clear as "Look, idiot, I don't like you anymore but you can email me with major life changes if you must," but it's about as direct as I get with these sorts of situations. And he wants to know if I'm ON BEDREST??

Dropped on his head as a baby. Repeatedly. That's my guess. Or else a LOT of recreational drug use since I last saw him.

Social Problem

Short version, for people who dislike reading other people's long and not particularly interesting memories of their youths: Someone from my old teenaged social circle has reappeared and wants to start getting together socially, but I don't like him anymore and need a good way to say "No, you idiot, can't you see we have nothing in common anymore?" without feeling like a jerk.

Long version, for people who love long, unnecessarily detailed descriptions:
Back in high school, there was one summer where I spent almost every single evening with the same group of people. We all had daytime summer jobs, so around 5:00 we'd start calling around saying, "What are we doing tonight?" It was a lot of fun. I'd never been that social, before or since.

One member of the group was named Tal, and back when I was in high school I thought he was pretty great. He was bouncy and theatrical and outgoing and friendly, and the first day we met, he and I were assigned to go out on a snack run, and in the store he slung his arm over my shoulder. The first day we met! Plus, he was cute. Really cute. We saw each other a lot in our group, and he kept making me batiks and drawing charcoal sketches of me and sitting too close to me and so on. We did go out on one real date (he wanted me to meet his parents, who totally interviewed me as a Wife Candidate during that whole dinner--that would have freaked me out if I'd been a little older), but we never officially dated: he went off to two weeks of camp, and while he was gone, the ex-boyfriend I'd pined for all summer came back to me, that stupid loser, and I got back together with him. Later I kicked myself for losing my opportunity to date Tal, but LATER-later I realized it didn't really matter which of them I'd dated, because neither of them were going to work out anyway.

Tal and I lost touch when I went off to college, and in college I lost my taste for bouncy, theatrical guys, instead preferring quiet, environmentally-conscious, flannel-shirt-wearing guys. We wrote a few letters, he sent me a couple of mix tapes (mix tapes!), and that was nearly it: we did write once or twice in a "here's my new address" and "I got married" way, but nothing more.

This past fall, I got an email from him. He said he and his wife had moved to a nearby town, and that he'd love to get back in touch. He said his wife was pregnant with their first child, and he invited me to their baby shower. He hoped I and my whole family could come over some time for dinner.

I went to the baby shower, and here I am getting to the heart of this problem: I don't like him anymore. I don't like the theatrics, which seem even more abrasive in someone who is 32 not 17. I don't like his wife, who says things like "I consume very little sugar" and "I don't see why I have to get the same exact gestational diabetes screening as some obese woman who eats Twinkies all day" and "Yes, well, the way they do it in [country she spent a year in] is they...." She was snappish with him, and he was foppish and childlike. They referred to their cat as their "first baby." I found them both irritating, and their baby registry was annoying.

After the baby shower, Tal and I exchanged a few emails, mostly talking about people we used to know. I allowed the emails to taper off, and when he suggested getting together for dinner (meaning him and his wife, me and Paul and all the children--in their perfect house filled with their international breakable souvenir collection, I'm SO SURE), I put him off with an excuse about being busy over the holidays. Then I didn't email anymore, and I hoped that would be the end of it.

However, recently he emailed with an abject, bowing apology about being out of touch for so long, and reasserting his interest in booking a date for a get-together. I really, really don't want to. I thought he would have noticed at the shower, as I did, that we don't have anything in common anymore, but he hasn't. I'm not sure how to put him off. If it was someone saying, "We should really get together sometime" it would be easier, but he's saying, "Let's set a date and time! How about a week from Sunday?"

There are probably people who would say to him, "Listen, idiot, I don't even like you anymore," but what I need is something more subtle. Something that doesn't make me feel mean, but also doesn't let him keep trying to set up a time, because he's apparently not going to get the hint by me being all vague and "oh, currently too busy but maybe someday" approach. I could just not answer, but I don't think he's going to drop it. What if I wrote something like, "I don't think it's going to work out to get together, but let's try to keep in touch by email--I'd love to hear how your new baby is doing!"

What I really wish is that there were an emoticon I could use. A certain little face that communicated, "Hey, I know we used to be friends, but we're not anymore, and you really need to drop that whole idea before I have to hurt your feelings. Also, your wife is a humorless, judgmental bitch." Anyone seen an emoticon for that?

March 20, 2007

It's A Mixed Bag

Bags of candy containing assorted flavors present a problem in our household.

There are two philosophies regarding mixed bags of candy. The first philosophy is that you should select the flavors you like, and leave the others. Why would you waste candy by eating it when you don't like it? Leave it for someone who does like it. This makes total sense.

But there is another philosophy. This is a philosophy formed when a person who likes all the flavors confronts a bag containing only a few. And it happens again and again, through nearly ten years of married life. And so she never gets to eat certain flavors. This philosophy states that if you don't like all or at least most of the flavors, don't eat from the bag at all. Buy non-mixed bags, containing only the flavors you like. You selfish, thoughtless, inconsiderate jerk.

It has taken me over a dozen years of sharing a household, but I have nearly trained Paul not to THROW AWAY the flavors he doesn't like, which was his former approach to mixed bags. And there are times when I wonder if maybe I should have allowed him to continue that. In some sense, it solves the problem: he goes through all the flavors at a steady rate then, some consumed and some destroyed. And what happens when I forbid it? I get a bag of, say, all the blue SweeTarts. All the Mr. Goodbars. I like blue Sweetarts, but I like them combined with their purple and orange and pink friends; Mr. Goodbars are my favorites, but I like them better when I'm also eating Krackels and plain Hersheys. But first I have to finish off these leavings--and by the time I do, Paul has left me another picked-over bag. This is the kind of situation that gradually begins to seem fraught with underlying meanings. He gets the first pick; I have to accept whatever he leaves behind. He doesn't worry about what happens to the things he doesn't like; it's my job to take care of that. You see how this is dangerous ground?

It isn't that I don't understand his point of view. I like Hershey miniatures, but I don't like the Special Darks. Does that make me a bad person? No. Does that mean I should have to eat full-size candy bars instead of cute miniature ones, just because I happen to dislike one of the four flavors? No. Does that mean I should force myself to eat the Special Darks, out of a sense of duty to the bag of Miniatures? No. What I do is this: my mom likes the Special Darks best, and I give them all to her. That's using smart and considerate candy management principles.

The only time Paul and I are in harmony is with jellybeans. He likes the oranges, the yellows, the greens, and the blacks, ONLY. I like the pinks, the whites, and the purples, ONLY. Neither of us like the reds. We can peacefully share a bag of jellybeans. There, our marriage works, and we are happy. But we have not yet been married long enough to share a bag of Hershey Miniatures.

Trip Toys

In June, when the new baby is about 3 weeks old, I'm going on a 3-day trip with my mom and my dad and one toddler (probably Edward) and the new baby, to attend my cousin's wedding. It will be one full day of driving, one full day for the wedding, and then another full day of driving.

Some of you will think this is berserk, but consider for a moment:
  • If I stay home, I will be exclusively in charge of five children: a fighting 8-year-old and 6-year-old, two 2-year-olds, and a newborn. If I go on the trip, there will be two additional adults and three fewer children.
  • If I go on the trip, I will get to eat meals out three times a day, without having to cook or even open the fridge.
  • If I go on the trip, I will be able to go to a wedding, and I love weddings. I will get to buy a wedding gift, and I love buying wedding gifts.
  • I am fond of my cousin, and would like to be there on an important day like this.

Now I realize there is a flip side:
  • If I go on the trip, we will have to stop every 2-3 hours so I can nurse a newborn.
  • That newborn will probably spit up all over his car seat.
  • Spit up IF WE'RE LUCKY.
  • A toddler in a car for two days.
  • A toddler in a hotel room.
  • A toddler at a wedding reception.
But still! I think it will go okay. I think it might in fact be very nice: I tend to be a little overwhelmed and weepy at 3 weeks post-partum, feeling as if all the happy anticipation of life has drained away. A little trip like this might be great. I don't have to do any driving, and can rest in the car. I can eat lots of nummy snacks. I can buy new postcards for my collection. I don't have to look at a dirty house. I can show off the new baby to lots of relatives who, because of being related to the baby, will refrain from noting how rashy-cheeked and patchy-haired and generally unappealing he is.

I think I even have a dress I can wear. I was worried about that, because I'll still be kind of puffy and pregnant-looking 3 weeks after the c-section. And it IS a little worrying, because it's not as if I can try the dress on right NOW and see if it'll fit: I'll have to try it on after the baby is born and make a decision THEN if it'll work or if I have to somehow drag myself out shopping. But I think it will work. It's a dark blue floral print, and it's a forgiving cut. If I remember correctly, it's the kind that's really loose and then there's a string in the back to tie it the right tightness. It's not high fashion, but who's going to be looking at me anyway? It's a wedding, so there's the bride just for starters, but also I'll have a newborn baby with me. I could wear nothing but a hospital johnny and an arch expression and no one would notice.

Oh! I nearly forgot the point of this post! Which is that I will have a toddler in the car for about 24 hours. And I'm going to buy some new toys for the trip, and I am hoping for recommendations. Edward will have just turned two years old. He likes things with buttons: an old TV remote was a big hit for awhile, until he realized the buttons didn't do anything. I'm thinking along the lines of handheld battery-run toys that aren't so annoying that an adult trapped in the car with them will go nuts. And of course if you know of any SILENT toys that are just as entrancing, TELL ME RIGHT NOW YOU MUST TELL ME RIGHT NOW.

March 19, 2007

Click click. Click click click click click.

There are few things as maddening as a confusing problem in the middle of the night. Periodically, maybe every four to six months, our thermostat does this: "Click click. *pause* Click click click. *pause* Click click click click click click click click click click click click. *pause* Click click click click click click click click click click click. *pause* Click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click click"--where each click is, individually, the sound the thermostat normally makes when it cues the furnace to come on or shut off. Meanwhile, the poor furnace is attempting to comply with the thermostat by swoofing on and then almost immediately turning off, and then swoofing on again, and then turning off.

Why is the thermostat doing this to us? Our loose working theory is that it happens when the batteries get low. We have to believe this or we will go mad, because clearly the actual explanation is that the thermostat is messing with us. This clicking thing only happens in the middle of the night, never in the day. Also, the thermostat has a "low battery" warning message, and we have seen that before, but it is not on before or during this clicking problem. Nevertheless, when it is 2:00 in the morning and the clicking and the swoofing are happening, I always change the batteries. Then I lie wide awake in the darkness, waiting for the clicking and the swoofing to continue or to stop.

Here is what that wily thermostat does then: it continues to click and it continues to make the furnace swoof, but it does it much less often. So then I think, "Well, I did just get those batteries out of the unheated basement. Don't batteries work less well if they're cold? Maybe they just need to warm up. It's not clicking as much. I'll just wait and see." I think this way not because I am a woman of extraordinary patience who can take a "wait and see" attitude even at 2:00 in the morning, but because I am out of ideas. Changing the batteries is all I've got.

These are the times when I could seriously kick Paul out into the dark, monster-ridden night. Why is he sleeping through it? When I change the batteries, I have to go creaking down the stairs, and creaking back up. I have to turn on the hall lights. I don't technically have to open our bedroom door wide to let the light wash over him while I do it, but I do--just to include him in my life. He snores on. I suspect that if a serial killer came into our house and made one single giveaway clicking sound, Paul would not awaken, leap from bed in fighting stance, and save the day. No, it would be me, leaping out of bed with fresh batteries already in hand.

March 17, 2007

John C. McGinley, Pregnancy Reading, Blog Like Me, Weekend Once More

John C. McGinley wove through my dreams last night, lucky girl that I am. Unfortunately he was there mostly as a background presence in various stressful situations (brought wrong child to pediatrician, discovered most of my teeth had cavities, late to class and can't remember where the classroom is), rather than in the sort of situation where I could, for example, grab one of his biceps and give it a little squeeze.

I was looking in my old journals to see what pregnancy was like at this stage in other pregnancies, and I found that always at this stage I am doing very little reading. Too distracted, I think. I do continue to read People magazine, because, you know, I need to keep up with important current events. And this time around, I'm reading a ton of blogs. I think this is comparable to my last pregnancy, when I spent zillions of hours reading and posting to message boards in a group of women all due the same month as me: it's not really reading, even though reading is involved--it's more cruising for social interaction.

One thing I have noticed, as I cruise the bloggerhood, is that more blogs need a section like *ahem* mine. See up at the top righthand side, where it says my name and my husband's name and the names and birth years of our kids? That would be a very handy thing to have in most blogs. Often I find a blog, and I'm trying to figure out what's going on, but who are all these people? I've come into a room filled with strangers, and I don't know who is the husband, who is the baby, who is the cat, who is the blogger. I need a list of the cast members. Once I read nearly an entire post before realizing that the code-named individual was a dog and not a child.

This morning has been our usual weekend routine: I try to set things up so that Paul realizes his help is required, and he cruises obliviously past. Today I was in my pajamas feeding the twins their breakfast, and he said that he and William were going down to the workshop to do a project. I said oh, that's a great idea, but was he going to want the twins left in their high chairs, or put down in their playpen? because first I was going to take a shower (here I glanced so rapidly it was almost subliminal at his clean, dressed person) and have breakfast (another rapid glance at the crumby plate he was bringing to the sink).

Edited to add: Thanks to Coffee Stained for letting me know that comments were disabled--I thought nobody loved me anymore.

March 15, 2007

Cloth Diapers

Kara of Baa Baa Black Sheep is clearly my comment-box muse these days. She left another comment that made me feel all chatty, so I thought I'd make a new post about it so we can all be chatty:

So, hey, you guys. This got me wondering--do any of you use cloth diapers? If so, can you talk about your experiences with them? We're not planning on trying to start a family for 6 months to a year, but it's nice to know about these things.

We used cloth diapers with our first baby. I had a great experience with it. For one thing, a cloth diaper service went out of business while I was pregnant, so we were able to buy heaps and heaps of diaper-service diapers for very cheap, plus we bought some of the pails they gave to customers to use for diaper collection.

Then, I bought a bunch of different kinds of plastic pants at a consignment shop for pennies (not a popular resale product, it turns out), and so I got to try all the kinds and see what I liked best. Hands down, my favorite were the Dappi pants. They used to sell them at Target; I don't believe they do anymore. They were...nylon? I think. So they could be laundered (I think I hung them up to dry, though), and they didn't rip anywhere near as quickly or as easily as the kind made of plastic. They were less crinkly, too. They were more expensive than the regular plastic, but I got a whole bunch on clearance, and also I thought they were worth it even at full price.

For wipes, I cut up cloth diapers that were getting tattered. The diaper service started us out with some of these as "hey, take these as freebies," which really helped; if I hadn't had those, I probably would have used washcloths. I do not sew in any skillful sense of the word, but I can thread a needle, so I used pretty colors of embroidery thread and did some crude round-and-round stitching to keep the edges from falling apart. I kept a bottle (it was one they gave us in the hospital) on the changing table filled with a baby-shampoo-and-water solution, for wetting the wipes. Then the wipes went into the laundry with the diapers.

I had a mental hurdle at first, with cloth. Rinsing the first few diapers in the toilet (I wore rubber gloves) was...unpleasant. After that, it was nothing. It felt totally normal. I got completely used to it, and felt satisfied with my system. We had a particularly excellent set-up: the washing machine was between the nursery and the bathroom, so I could take the diaper to the bathroom to rinse it, then drop it in the washer on my way back to the nursery with the bucket. I enjoyed taking all those clean fluffy diapers out of the dryer. And I liked it that when the baby peed in a fresh diaper, I didn't hear the ching-ching of coins dropping into the trash can, the way I do with disposables.

Why did we stop using cloth? We moved to a new place, and it had coin-operated laundry. Also, one of the big parts of my cloth-diaper system was filling the washer and dropping each diaper into it to soak until I did a load of diapers. I couldn't do that in the shared laundry facilities. I switched to disposable. Why am I not using cloth again, now that we are in our own home with our own washer? Part of it is that I was so, so stupid, and I gave away all our cloth diapers and Dappi pants when we went so long without our own washer, and I thought we wouldn't be able to get a house before we were done having children. Then the thought of buying all those things again was...disheartening. And part of it is that stores like W@lmart and Target made their own brands of disposables that cost about half of the ones I'd had to buy before, which made it easier to stomach the cost element of the disposable disadvantage.

So! Weigh in, cloth diaper users! Your experiences! Your favorite products!

March 14, 2007

Let's Talk About....MENSTRUATION!

Obviously you guys need to check out Jonniker's post about menstrual cups, because I found myself posting a lengthy response (which I then deleted and turned into this post) in my own comment section in response to Kara, who has also read Jonniker's post. So that's at least two of us here who feel like talking about it, and if the rest of you want to join in you're going to have to visit Jonniker first so you know what we're talking about. Read her comment section, too, because it's pretty great and also gives more information on the topic.

Now. On to the discussion. I want to know who here has experience with these things, and, if you own one or you've ordered one, which of the dumb-named items did you choose? If you've read Jonniker's comment section, you'll have seen my comment, which was this:

I’m not grossed out by the CONCEPT of the cup, but I agree it needs an image makeover. First of all, the names, which are stoooopid. “Diva Cup”? I am not using ANY product that requires me to favor the diva concept, as if I am a 12-year-old with a rhinestone t-shirt. And “The Keeper” is both creepy (because of all the horror novels called The Keep) and also creepy (because of the implication that the point is to SAVE the contents, perhaps forever).

Secondly, the color. I agree that brown is gross, and that clear would also be gross, and so would white be gross. I think it needs to be available in a selection of patterns: a swirling paisley, a jungle floral, a pink camo, etc. I want CHOICES, and I want them NON-GROSS.

I agree with what Kara of Baa Baa Black Sheep said (in Jonniker's comments) about doing your own small part for the environment, and in fact I have a partially-written post on this very topic (not in re menstrual products per se, but overall) that I keep not posting because it wavers between preachy/pious and uncaring/flippant, which in case you are wondering is not a pleasant combination and leaves me looking like a self-satisfied jackass, and so the post just sits there unfinished and unpostable.

Where was I? Oh yes! I agree with the concept of each of us doing the environmental pleasantries that we don't mind doing, and this is one I don't think I'd mind doing. I think there would initially be a mental hurdle involved in using such a product, but I had the same hurdle for using tampons, and in fact for my whole period in general. If this is not too much information, and I think maybe it is too much information, I personally would like tampons best but am too scared to use them because of TSS. I know, it's rare, but I would feel so dumb if I died of it. And so I use pads, which are way worse for the environment, not that I would let that stop me from using them (and in fact, I do use them, so there you are) if I were truly grossed out by the menstrual cups. But speaking of grossness--and now this really is too much information but at least it isn't about me personally--isn't it just as gross to see it on a pad as to see it in a little cup? I think it might be, but that I'm just not used to the cup and I am used to the pad, and that gets us back to the mental hurdle thing from the beginning of the paragraph. See how beautifully that all ties together?

So! Please do tell. What with all the pregnancy and breastfeeding, I've only had my period four times in the last two and a half years, so I need information from people who are on the front lines of this issue, as it were.

Naptime

I'm not saying that without naptime I would go insane, but I WILL say that I appreciate naptime. Look forward to naptime. Anticipate naptime all morning. Consider drugging my children in order to get them to take a longer naptime.

So why is Elizabeth setting out to destroy me? Here is what happens nearly every single day now. I feed the twins their lunch. Then I take William to kindergarten. Then I put the twins down for their nap, and I settle in at my computer, or in a comfy chair with a book, or in front of the freezer to eat ice cream directly out of it, or whatever.

Elizabeth starts crying. Has she perhaps taken advantage of her nice clean dry pre-nap diaper? Why, yes she has. So I change her, and after I do that she clings to me in a way that is both loving and manipulative. Edward is already sound asleep, so I am whispering to her: "You are going to have to go back into your crib. It is naptime. I got you out to change your diaper, but now you need to go back in." She has not given up hope, and she pushes her face into my neck, making a little "mmmmm" sound. She knows this is difficult to resist.

Easier to resist is her angry astonished crying when I put her back into her crib anyway. Edward is a good sleeper, and he is used to this; he continues to sleep. I leave the room. She continues to cry. Finally she wakes up Edward. Now they are both awake, less than an hour after the beginning of naptime.

Alternate ending: Elizabeth finally does go to sleep, just as she succeeds in waking Edward. I wait as long as I can to go get him: he is making gentle little talking sounds, not crying, and the sound of not-crying is good to me and I want to take advantage of it. Then he begins crying. Elizabeth is a light sleeper, and so when I go in to get Edward, she wakes up, crabby and tired and definitely not going back to sleep. Now they are both awake, less than an hour after the beginning of naptime.

MEMMMMM-REEEEEEEEES!

I'm starting to notice Tum Interference occurring. I'm walking funny. My tum gets sore. I feel tired from walking around. It's difficult to carry things that I would normally carry in front of me. It's difficult to lean forward. It's difficult to get up from the floor, or out of bed. It's the beginning of the third trimester, all right.

I was thinking about my most recent pregnancy, the twin pregnancy. I looked it up in my journal to make sure I was remembering correctly, and I was: It sucked. I had to lie down for awhile, queasy and shaky, after taking a shower. I almost couldn't face the idea of a short errand. I couldn't get comfortable in any position. My legs retained water all the way up to my hips--enough water to give me stretch marks. My feet went up two sizes. I could barely walk, and when I did walk it was slow and painful. At around 32 weeks, I couldn't lie down anymore without excruciating pain in my pelvis and hips, so I had to sleep sitting up in a recliner for the rest of the pregnancy. I felt lousy and sick all the time. I felt like I was dying of a painful terminal illness.

Hard to complain about it, though, when there are women who would have given up one of their limbs just to have carried their twins another week, or to have felt bad but have no actual complications, or to not have been on bedrest for months. But just because I was very, very lucky in comparison doesn't mean it didn't still utterly suck. It did. It utterly sucked. I acknowledge my luckiness, without giving up my claim to the suckiness.

I was partially hoping that this pregnancy would be twins again, because I have so loved almost everything about having twins (I have to use that qualifier because of the times when they both had blow-out diapers and then both spit up over their clean outfits and freshly-washed hair), and because it would be so comical and unusual to have two sets of twins less than two years apart. But when I found out I was having just a single baby this time, I felt like I could look forward to the pregnancy. Definitely it is not buttercups and Christmas morning, but there's woe and then there's WOE, and I am better able to handle woe.

March 12, 2007

Real Moms...Uh...

Jennifer at Playgroups Are No Place For Children has tagged me for a meme. Jennifer's crack at it was so good and so funny, I kept trying to do it. I kept being like, "Real Moms......um......*drool*......Oh, I know! Real Moms......uh......they, uh......they. Uh." Apparently Real Moms sometimes have insufficient brain cells not currently occupied with saying "I'm pregnant I'm pregnant I'm pregnant I'm pregnant I'm pregnant I'm pregnant." Instead I'm sending you over to her to see hers.

March 10, 2007

Honey, You've Got To Try It

I came home from shopping today, and the jar of honey was in the kitchen sink. I said to Paul, "Why is the honey in the kitchen sink?" and he said, "Because I was pretty sure it didn't belong in the SHOWER."

That logic doesn't really follow, does it? Besides, if the honey is in the shower, it's not the same as if it's in the refrigerator and maybe someone just got a little absentminded. If it's in the shower, someone must have put it there on purpose. And yes, it was me.

You all have honey in your showers too, right? Or, okay, fine, on your bathroom sinks if you prefer. Because we're all doing Sundry's honey challenge, aren't we? This is exactly the sort of thing I loved to do in high school, and while some women might mourn the hips of their youth or the boyfriends of their youth, what I mourn is the beauty product experiments of my youth: I used to cruise the beauty aisle, babysitting money climbing out of my purse looking for what would be coming home with us today. The facial scrub, with real bits of apricot pit? The peel-away masks, as thrilling as peeling off dried Elmer's glue? The mud masks, so very very ugly and full of minerals? Did I want to tighten? glow? exfoliate? peel?

I tried the honey this morning in the shower, and Sundry is right that it isn't sticky and yucky as you'd expect: it went on smooth and nice, and of course it smelled delicious. I rinsed it off a few minutes later, and my face felt just as nice as with any of the other facials I've tried over the years. I don't know yet if this says something about the honey, or if it says something about the other facials.

One of the commenters on Sundry's honey post says you can mix honey with your hair conditioner, too. Well, count me in! High time we had some fun beauty product experiments around here!

March 9, 2007

Appointments, Baby Names

That "vote on a name" comments section was THE MOST FUN EVER. I loved reading all your comments. LOVED. IT. Well, except for the Milo and Otis comments, because I found out that I am very, very elderly. I didn't even know what you were talking about until I looked it up, because I was way too old in 1989 for movies such as that one to make an impact on my consciousness. Dead Poets Society, yes. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, yes. Uncle Buck, yes. Story about a kitty and a doggy who are friends? NO. So now I feel old, thanks so much. (I'm waving a cane irritably in your direction.)

One commenter wanted to know what we thought of three girl name candidates: Evelyn, Eve, or Gwen. I'm a big fan of the name Eve. If we were having a girl this time, I'd be pushing for Millicent around here, and Paul would be pushing for Penelope; we both like Ivy and Eve even better than the names we'd be championing, but can't use either of them for other reasons.

I should have re-mentioned before posting that vote thing that I use pseudonyms for my kids' names. So although Milo would be a bad, bad match and Henry would be like the perfectest fit ever, in actual life either name is about the same, match-wise. They're both equally good with our surname, too. Well, okay, Henry is a shade better on both points. But only a shade.

Well. Yesterday's appointments. Elizabeth has a massive ear infection, and the usually very understanding pediatrician made me feel bad about it. When he looked in her ear, he said, "Whoof." "HOW long has she had the cough?," he added. And when I said to her, "Oh, no! An ear infection? Has your ear been owie?," he said, "She would have had to have felt that." Me: *sinking into hole in earth, while simultaneously declaring my total innocence since the child never seemed bothered by her ears at all, I swear*

And Elizabeth was totally working it, looking at the doctor with the large pitiful eyes and limp posture of a Truly Sick Child, communicating with every fiber of her being that she had tried and tried to tell me but I wouldn't listen.

The thing is, I brought Edward in less than 2 weeks ago for this same cough, and I felt like a total overreacting idiot because he was absolutely fine and I'd dragged three children and a double stroller into a tiny exam room for nothing. So with Elizabeth I waited a little longer. Edward had had a low fever and no appetite and he looked cruddy, but Elizabeth seemed happy and healthy except that she had this cough: no fever, no loss of appetite, no batting at her ears, nothing. In this whole parenting thing, one of my biggest struggles is the "When to call the doctor" struggle. I feel like I always go the wrong way.

I had my ultrasound, and got the all-clear on the placenta previa situation. I'm very glad. Then I had my usual OB appointment, and confirmed that I'm now in the third trimester. I'd been confused on that point, because my week-by-week book says it starts week 27, but Baby Center says it starts week 28. The OB says week 27. I'm going with that, because I like that answer better.

The screens for gestational diabetes and anemia both came back fine. Blood pressure was kind of high for me, but only the top number, and I personally think it was because their ultrasound tech is an irritable sadist who nearly leaves bruises every time I see her, plus is always sighing as if I am ruining her day. For my mid-pregnancy ultrasound I asked to go to the hospital instead, because they don't try to KILL me there.

So, here we go! About 12 weeks left until the c-section, which will probably be scheduled when I go back to the OB in 3 weeks. And they didn't say word one about my weight, which was good because I was still a little fired up from earlier this week, but it would have been difficult to defend myself considering I had Cadbury Fruit & Nut Bar breath.

March 8, 2007

Vote!

Choose one baby name: Milo or Henry. Say why, unless it is mean and would make me cry.

March 7, 2007

EMBARRASSED

My blog is mostly secret. I told Paul and my parents about it after a few months because I kept slipping and almost telling them, and plus I wanted to be able to tell them happy or funny blog-connected things. All three have promised not to go cruising around the blog on their own, and they read only the posts I send to them. Nobody else in my life knows about the blog, because I don't think I can trust anyone else to be so good. I think I have mentioned before that my mother was the kind of mother who could be trusted to walk past an open diary. I don't think that's common in the general population, do you?

This blog is anonymous, so I say things that I might not even say to my best friends. Or I say things that I might say to one best friend but not to the other. Or I say things that otherwise I might not have said except in my own head. This blog is technically public, but because it's anonymous, it feels private.

Well. Today. I left a comment on a friend's blog. While I was logged in as Swistle. I deleted the comment, but it still says "Swistle said..." with a link to the Swistle blog. Also, then I tried to re-leave my comment, and I accidentally used the Swistle name A SECOND TIME. I've emailed my friend, begging her to delete the link and then forget she ever saw it, but I haven't heard back from her yet. She has three children including a very young baby, and so who knows when she'll get back to her computer? I am DYING here. Her family is friends with my family. Her family is very dear to me. Her family can NOT read some of the things I've written.

I am so mortified. At any moment, one of those dear people could be thinking, "Huh. I wonder who this is, who wrote a comment and then changed their mind TWICE? I'll just click and see." And then they will be here. And THEN what?

It was bound to happen, I suppose. I'm so very, very careful, but even "very, very careful" isn't one hundred percent reliable. Exhibit A: fifth child. Exhibit B: leaving comment while logged in.

Unloading Some Of The Things I Keep Jotting Down To Say But Not Having A Full Post For

If only a stick of deodorant did not have to bid its farewell by breaking off startlingly into moist, powdery chunks all over the sink and floor, leaving the empty plastic shell to scrape unpleasantly against the armpit.

Rob said he had a dream about lemon toothpaste. The next time I went to the store, I blew his little mind by bringing home a tube of that very thing. I tried it and thought it was pretty good, like lemon drops. Weird flavor for toothpaste, but not bad. Then Paul said he thought it tasted like Lemon Pledge, and the next time I used it I realized he was absolutely right. It tastes like Lemon Pledge.

Now that we have a large freezer, we are getting better at going grocery shopping once a week rather than twice or even thrice, but the bananas don't work on this system: they're eaten up by the second or third day, but if we buy extras they go bad before we can use them, and I only want to make so many banana muffins/fritters.

Tomorrow I have an ultrasound to take a look at the placenta previa situation from the ultrasound I had in mid-January. I am glad to be getting this looked at, because then I can either stop worrying or else I can start worrying in earnest, rather than this silly worry limbo where I'm feeling like I could be worrying over something that would turn out to be nothing, not that that's an unusual situation for me, considering how often I worry about how I'd cope if Cujo were outside my minivan.

I haven't been posting separate Digging Ourselves Out entries because my projects have been so very, very dull and unphotoworthy, but that doesn't seem to be changing so I'll mention what I did today. We have a recliner too short for the vacuum cleaner to fit under the edges. From the chair in the kitchen where I feed the twins, I can see right directly under that chair, and the accumulation of dirt was bugging me. I moved the recliner and vacuumed under it.

Also, our dustbuster had been making me feel sad and low. We bought it to replace one that I used all the time until it finally broke, but we'd had this new one only a few months when it started seeming as if I might as well turn it on its back and stick the Cheerios one by one into the little slot. I was feeling grouchy about having made an expensive purchase that turned so useless so soon. Then I thought maybe it would help to use a little brush to brush out what looked like little lint-clogged holes. As I was doing that, I thought, Hey, this part looks like it snaps off. Snapping it off revealed practically an entire cat curled around the filter. This dustbuster has a different design than our old one, and evidently there is a filter that is supposed to be cleaned. After I cleaned it, the dustbuster's strength was so restored it nearly suctioned itself to the floor. So that is happy.

But you see how those tasks are difficult to assign, per se. Well, how about this: spend 5 minutes or less doing a small cleaning task that is bugging you every time you see it unclean. And if you have a dustbuster, and it has a filter, clean the filter. There!

March 6, 2007

Weight Gain During Pregnancy--RANT!

Okay, fine. You said go ahead and post the rant, and since I can't make editing headway with it anyway, I'm going to.

I think it's time we talked about weight gain during pregnancy, but I want to be careful because there are few topics more danger-laden than weight. Furthermore, I could get a little crabby, because I have a mother-in-law story associated with the subject.

In fact, let's just get the mother-in-law thing out in the open. That way, if you sense a certain...tension to my tone, you'll know it's because I'm thinking of her, and not because I am mad at you. When my mother-in-law was pregnant with Paul, she gained only ten pounds. When she was pregnant with Paul's sister Beth, she LOST ten pounds, and she was thin to begin with. Beth was born with learning disabilities and birth defects, most of unknown origin (that is, it is not possible to say whether they are genetic or spontaneous).

My mother-in-law continues to brag about losing weight during that pregnancy. I think she's probably told me the story twenty times over the past ten years. Considering how many women wring themselves ragged with guilt over pregnancy problems and birth defects that had absolutely nothing to do with anything they did or didn't do, why wouldn't it at least cross my mother-in-law's mind to wonder if perhaps she should stop flapping her yap about how proud she is of her weight loss?

So you see, I am not going to do a very good job of being cool and objective on this topic. It does indeed piss me off when I hear women bragging about how little weight they've gained. When I found there were online groups devoted to women trying to gain as little weight as possible during pregnancy--and in fact, ideally to use pregnancy as an opportunity to lose weight--I felt like throwing up all over them.

Part of the reason it makes me so sick is that I can see the appeal. I don't like it that I can, but I can. I have even thought to myself how cool it would be to gain 0 pounds during a pregnancy, and then be automatically 25-35 pounds lower after the pregnancy was over--as if I am dumb enough to think that the amount of weight you're supposed to gain is a guaranteed loss afterwards, and might as well capitalize on it. I gag when I think it, but I do think it.

Furthermore, I've acted on those thoughts. I was upset that during my first pregnancy, I gained over 40 pounds. My OB didn't say anything about it, but I considered myself overweight to begin with, and all the literature says that overweight women don't usually gain as much. After the baby was born, I lost the weight without trying. So when I was pregnant with William, I came up with a theory. My theory was that if I didn't gain any weight with that pregnancy, I'd be down 40 pounds afterwards. I'm feeling gross just typing that out. Gross and dumb.

For the first two trimesters of that pregnancy, I didn't gain any weight, and in fact I lost some weight. I did it by eating a lot of salads, and I don't mean the nutritious kinds with lots of vegetables and dark leafy greens, I mean the kind with iceberg lettuce and fat-free dressing. I ate canned vegetable soup, the kind where the vegetables have the nutritional content of the label on the can, but the calories are about the same as eating the label, too. I am glad to be able to say that I also drank a lot of skim milk, and I ate eggs and yogurt, and I ate carrots and cantaloupe and oranges and Grape-Nuts and wheat germ, so I was not as stupid as I could have been. Part of my brain was being stupid, but another part of my brain was trying to keep the baby healthy and safe, and apparently succeeded.

In the last eight weeks or so, I couldn't do it anymore, and I ate and ate and ate. I gained fourteen pounds over my starting weight during that pregnancy, and it was all in those last eight weeks. I wish I'd eaten sooner, because after the baby was born, do you know how many pounds I lost? Fourteen. Not forty as I'd fantasized. I could have gone right ahead and let my body gain forty the way it so dearly wanted to.

Here is what pisses me off so, so much. My OB praised me during those first two trimesters, and so did his nurse. They praised me and praised me. They told me I was doing so great with my weight. Those stupid idiots. It is right and natural to gain weight during pregnancy. They should have been kicking my ass up and down the office hallway. At the minimum, they should have been questioning me about why I wasn't gaining weight: was I eating well but just didn't happen to be gaining? or was I eating iceberg lettuce and soup can labels? At one point the nurse noticed that I'd gained 40 pounds with my first pregnancy. Instead of wondering to herself why I was breaking the pattern this time, she said knowingly, "There's a learning curve!" As if the first time around, I'd thought I could eat the entire earth because I was pregnant, but now I knew better, what a smart girl!

My theory--not exactly a ground-breaking one--about pregnancy weight gain is that any one particular woman gains based on a combination of two factors: (1) her own body's genetic tendencies, and (2) her eating habits during the pregnancy--but mostly number 1. Here are my body's genetic tendencies: I gain more than the average amount of weight during each pregnancy, and it comes off automatically afterwards; I lose ten additional pounds while breastfeeding, but I don't get too familiar with that situation because I always get them back when I wean. That's my pattern. I can change it, but only through extreme measures in my diet, as with my second pregnancy. Other women gain less weight, but then have to work hard to lose it; or they don't lose their last 10 pounds until they wean; or they gain more weight and never lose it; or they gain much more weight and do lose it--whatever their own patterns are, that's what happens to them.

When I was pregnant with the twins, I gained 55 pounds. My OB (a different OB) never said anything about my weight gain one way or the other. His nurse commented at every single visit. "Oooh," she'd say, breathing in through her teeth. "Looks like another six." I should have said something, something like, "I don't know if they covered this in your nurse training, but it is normal to gain weight during pregnancy." I am not assertive enough to do that. What I did instead, every single time she gave me what she clearly considered to be "the bad news," is I said, "Oh, good!"--in a really happy tone of voice.

I think it is difficult and crappy to gain weight during pregnancy. I think women are pressured all the time not to gain weight, and in fact to lose weight, and I think that kind of pressure is hard to shake off even when we know it should be shaken off. I think it's even hard for OBs to shake off. I think some of them have started thinking it's a good thing when a woman doesn't gain much weight. I think that's crap.

I think no one should make a pregnant woman feel even slightly bad about gaining weight, because I think we feel bad enough about it already. It's hard for us to change our bodies like that, and there isn't much support for it. Some of us have people in our lives who say, "Oh my god, you are getting so fat!" or "Look how HUGE you're getting!" or "Do you really think you should be eating that?" or "Eating for two, huh?" It takes focus and dedication to allow those numbers to go up so steadily and so relentlessly. I think OBs need to shut about about it unless they are talking about how the woman needs to gain MORE. I've had more trouble from the nurses, so I'd like to decree that they need to shut up about it completely, unless the OB has specifically asked them to talk to the patient about her weight, which I'm guessing never ever happens. Romantic partners will keep their lips zipped unless they want to lose a vital body part of the pregnant woman's choice.

There is one more category of people who need to shut the hell up, and I'm afraid that category is made up of a subset of other pregnant women and other women who have been pregnant. Sometimes pregnant women don't gain much weight because they are stupid and vain and put their own figures ahead of the health of their babies. Sometimes pregnant women don't gain much weight because that happens to be their own particular pattern: they're eating healthily and plenty and they're not being stupid, but they just don't gain very much weight. Whatever the reason for it, those women are hereby mandated to keep their mouths shut about it, during the pregnancy and in all future conversations about pregnancy-related weight gain. Those of us who gain more, we know how good it must feel to gain less. But that's not how our bodies work, and you are hurting us and pissing us off when you shrug and lower your eyes and say you can't believe you're 30 weeks and have only gained 5 pounds. We can hear the pleasure in your voices. Anyone who pretends to be happy for you is actually picturing the damage she could do to your shrugging shoulders with a well-placed fork.

Furthermore, considering the mental and physical hurdle that must be leapt for a woman to make herself gain the healthy weight she needs to gain, everyone around her should in fact be encouraging her to gain. Romantic partners, I am speaking especially to you. BRING FOOD. Encourage eating. Don't do That Look when you see her eating something, like you think maybe she shouldn't eat it. That makes us want to kill you where you stand, and we have the hormonal chops to pull it off so don't push us.

Anyway. With this pregnancy, I will tell you, I have gained almost 25 pounds so far. I am 26 weeks pregnant, soon to enter the trimester when it is expected that you will gain one pound per week--which is what I've already been doing. It looks like I'm headed for another 40-pound gain. And I will TAKE IT.

Baby Name Books

I'm working on a post, but I'm not getting it right. It's about pregnancy weight gain, and I keep getting so pissed as I'm writing, I am beginning to think that what I'm actually writing is a rant. Nothing wrong with rants, I like rants, but I was hoping for a different effect, something more...detached. The post is also way, way too long, the kind of length not even a very interested reader would tackle, but I can't cut out a single word--and in fact, when I try, I end up adding words. This is another indicator that what I have on my hands is a rant. I think I'd better back away slowly and come back to it later.

Instead I will write about my new baby name book, which is a disappointment but not the kind of disappointment that provokes a too-long, too-angry post. This is more a situation where the book is pretty good, but not as good as I'd hoped.

The book is The Baby Name Bible by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, and they get off on the wrong foot with me right away by claiming to have started the WHOLE IDEA of choosing baby names: before they came along with their first baby-name book about 20 years ago, everyone just picked names out of thin air without giving it a moment's thought.

They go on to bother me by saying that my goal should be to "fall in love with" a baby name. This makes me feel pressured and tense. I've only "fallen in love with" one of the four names we've used so far, and I still do feel all crushy about it. The other three, I liked well enough, and then they grew on me even more. I'm just trying to find a name I like well enough to use, and when they tell me I have to be in love, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

Many of the name entries seem to be there only to plump the total number of names high enough that they can say "50,000+ baby names!" on the cover. The authors seem to think so, too, because the descriptions for these names are things like "Don't even think about it" and "Only for girls." Other descriptions seem to go for the easy joke rather than actually giving an opinion of the name.

I'm not sorry I bought the book. For one thing, I like to buy a new baby name book with each pregnancy, as a sort of Happy Pregnancy present. But if I were buying a baby name book for someone else, I would definitely, definitely go with The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg instead. It's my top favorite so far. I love the entries enough to read them straight through one after another, even for names I'm not at all interested in using. I love the sibling name suggestions, which not only give actual good suggestions, they're also intended to give you an idea of the kind of category other people will put your child's name into.

Oh, I will give you a sample entry. This is what it says for the name Oliver, which we are not going to use because we have a cat named Oliver, but otherwise I think it's almost for sure we'd be using it for this baby:
---------------
OLIVER
Popularity: #243
Style: Antique Charm, English, Saints, Shakespearean
Nicknames: Ollie
Sisters: Helena, Cecilia, Lucy, Sophie, Violet
Brothers: Julius, Leo, Edgar, Felix, Solomon
Oliver seemed a little eccentric a generation ago, but fashion has come around to its charms. The name's offbeat style now sounds handsome and rakish. Oliver is already in full fashion flower in the U.K., where they've always appreciated unconventional heartthrobs.
---------------

There are longer descriptions later in the book of all the style categories, and other examples of names within those categories. There is also a little graph next to each name, showing how its popularity has risen or fallen over the years, and where it peaked. I lurrrrrrrrrrrrrve it. I want to marrrrrrrrrrrrrrry it. It's no wonder other books fall short.

March 5, 2007

Question: Swearing

I am writing a post, and in it I am planning to do a little swearing. However, the last couple of days I have been out exploring the bloggerhood ("Hey! Evidently LOTS of people have blogs!"), and I have come across not one but TWO bloggers saying something like, "I wish I could swear in this blog," or "If only bloggers could swear," or things like that. This gives me pause. I wondered if perhaps they knew something I didn't know.

Do any of you know of any reason NOT to swear in a blog, other than the possibility of offending people who don't like swearing? I mean, could it be something like that a blog with swears would get blocked by some people's browsers, something of that sort?

The Big Yellow Bus And The Sad Stale Air

My, was I glad to see the big yellow bus this morning. I waved and waved and jumped around and yelled, "GOOD MORNING!!!," and the bus driver called back, "I hear ya." She has kids, too.

Even when it is not the week after a school vacation, I am always grateful for the bus. For one thing, it separates my vinegar firstborn from my baking soda secondborn. For another thing, it puts me outside in the fresh air for a few minutes. Not only does this provide me with an indignant reply if anyone were to ask me, "Didn't you even leave the house today?," it also cleanses my olfactory palate so I am able to notice when I come back inside that my house smells like onions and diapers, and won't someone put a little Febreze Air Effects into the sad stale air?

Speaking of the sad stale air, I think something is wrong with our Vicks warm-mist vaporizer. It percolated away the whole night long, but this morning it was still over half full (normally it would be down to the sizzling scraps), and the room was not very steamy. It did this last night, too. It was a $10 vaporizer and we've had it for several years, so it's no great loss to replace it--but if anyone has any great vaporizer repair stories they're sitting on, this would be a great time to tell them.

March 3, 2007

Weekends

I don't know why I look forward to weekends; it must be a holdover from my paying-job-and-no-kids days. When Paul is home, the workload is theoretically lighter but it feels heavier.

For example, when I'm the only parent in charge, it doesn't bother me much to be unshowered and unbreakfasted while I'm feeding and bathing the children. When there are two parents, it bothers me very much, especially if Paul has made his own shower and his own breakfast a priority, or if he's all crabby because he hasn't been able to: "I haven't even taken a shower yet," he'll say, ostensibly to the child asking to be played with, but actually to me, to communicate not only his extreme awesomeness but also his extreme suffering. I know it's a particular bad weekend if I have to stop myself from saying, "Oh, yeah? Well, welcome to my WHOLE GODDAMNED LIFE!" more than, say, ten times in a single day. He is not thinking, as I feel he should be, that I do this every day and that he should be supremely grateful that having a stay-at-home mom for a wife means that all he usually has to do in the morning is worry about his own selfish body. He's only feeling put-upon, and perhaps wondering why I run such a lousy household that a man can't relax with his newspaper and his pipe while the children play silently in a spotless nearby room.

By Sunday night, I'm glad that the next day is Monday and we can get back to normal. I can do things my usual way, and I don't have to get in a big knot about what Paul is or isn't doing. I can just do my job, and look forward to him coming home that night from his.

March 2, 2007

In Praise of Shopping

One thing I love about having lots of children is seeing the things I buy for them get used again and again. I've mentioned (and mentioned, and mentioned) that I enjoy getting things on clearance at Target. Just imagine how much my bargain-hunting soul loves to use those items for several children. Buy a child's shirt for $1.74, then bring it out for the third boy in a row, knowing a fourth boy is coming to wear it next, and right there's a little slice of happiness.

I do buy some things new for each new child. Sometimes it's necessary: my first two boys were born in the winter, and my next two are summer babies, so some of the seasonal stuff is the wrong size: the child needs size 12m shorts, and all we have is 12m sweaters. Sometimes it's a matter of things starting to look dated: the things I bought for my first son eight years ago in the late '90s don't look as cute now. Sometimes things wear out: jeans get holes in the knees, onesies get stretched out and thin and grungy. And sometimes it's just fun: fun to have new things, fun to buy things for the new baby.

I like to shop. I'm saying it right out, because I think people who like to shop are supposed to be embarrassed, like we're Paris Hilton or something. I guess it's supposed to be superficial to enjoy seeking out and purchasing material possessions, and I can see how it wouldn't stack up against, say, working with orphans in an impoverished country. Nevertheless, I enjoy it. Not only do I enjoy it, I will go so far as to say I think it is a worthy pursuit. Shopping is seen as a rich woman's activity, but I see it as a poor woman's activity: Making good choices means you can have the good stuff for the price of the crappy stuff. You can have two of something instead of one. You can have this and that, instead of this or that.

When I shop, I'm looking for things we currently need, but I'm mostly looking for things we will need: the less pressured you are, the easier it is to get what you want for a good price. I don't wait until our sheets are full of holes to look for new sheets, I'm always on the lookout for good sheets at 75% off. We don't need them yet, so I can be picky and get ones I like. I buy clothes for the kids in the next size up, and even the next size after that. Not too far ahead, because fashions change and because it's hard to predict who might need slims and who might need huskies, and because as kids get older they might want some say in what they wear, but I do buy enough ahead that I'm not scrambling to buy them a whole new wardrobe at full price because they've suddenly outgrown their old stuff. Basics like winter boots and snowpants, I buy several sizes in advance. I'm willing to handle a certain amount of storage and organization in exchange for paying $6 instead of $24.

When you save money in boring areas, you have more money for fun areas: save $18 on boring winter boots, and you have $18 more to spend on cute birth announcements, or a pretty green vase thing, or a new book. You also have more money in general: if you don't buy the vase thing, the $18 is just extra in the checking account. When the utility bills come in, or when the car insurance is due, or when somebody needs to go to the dentist, it's good to have those extra bits that wouldn't have been there if you'd bought things full price.

New pair of boots bought in November for $24? Or new pair of boots bought in February for $6, plus new sheets bought for $18-down-from-$72? Shopping is not just the act of putting down a credit card, it's the art of choosing. There isn't a thing wrong with buying the boots for $24, but nor is there a thing wrong with enjoying trying to get them for $6.

March 1, 2007

Junk, Yick, Sleep, Chore

I notice that if I eat something purely nutritious, such as a heap of carrots or a fruit smoothie, I feel a little queasy and "off" until I eat something like a Twix bar. I have wondered if, over the years, I have primed my body to expect junk, and so when I eat too much nutritious food I create a Junk Imbalance. It reminds me of when I read, years ago, that the reason carbon monoxide poisoning works is that even though your body can't use carbon monoxide, it prefers it to oxygen. Your body will keep sucking in that carbon monoxide like it's Twix bars, until there's no room for the oxygen. This may not be the purely scientific explanation; it's been a long time since I read anything about carbon monoxide. These days I'm more likely to be reading about Angelina Jolie.

I'm feeling a little yicky this morning. Nothing in particular is wrong, it's more like a mixture of issues from the pregnancy grab-bag: a little short of breath, a little queasy, a little tired, a little crabby, a little sore. Plus, I had a smoothie for breakfast, so I have the aforementioned junk imbalance. I'm 26 weeks pregnant, and so this is the week my OB wants me to go do the gestational diabetes screening. I don't really mind that sweet drink: it's not delicious, but it doesn't make me want to throw up. What I don't like it sitting in the lab waiting room with all the people who look like they're carrying mutant germs. I get restless and have to go walk around and put Germ-X on my hands for the tenth time in an hour. I'm sure this has nothing to do with the sugar in the drink.

I have a suggestion to add to yesterday's sleep tips: have your husband tell you a long, boring story about a small, hard-to-find, complicated problem he encountered at work. Last night I was so wired I couldn't even close my eyes, but then Paul told me just that sort of story and before I knew it I was asleep. Before you start worrying about Paul's tender feelings, let me rush to say that he tells me these stories on purpose to help me sleep. He'll see me lying there all wide-eyed and twitchy, and he'll say sympathetically, "Do you need a long boring work story?"

Today's 10-minute task was cleaning out the drain in our bathroom sink. It was draining very slowly, and all I can say after cleaning it out is NO WONDER. I've spared you the Before and After pictures. You're welcome.