Monthly Archives: December 2010

Maternity Fashion: It Doesn’t Have To Be An Oxymoron

You’re pregnant and your growing belly, butt and boobs let you know it won’t be long before you’re bursting at the seams. It’s time for some serious maternity shopping, but what do you buy?

The obstacles are many. Your shape is changing every week getting curvier, bigger. It’s hard to anticipate what your size and shape will be down the pregnancy road. Also, since growing a baby is a nine and a half month venture, that’s two, possibly three seasons of clothing that you’ll need. And you don’t want to break the bank for clothes that you don’t plan to wear much after the baby is born. (Warning: In the weeks, sometimes months after baby, you could still be wearing your maternity clothes.)

Some girls are lucky enough to have a batch of friends or family who just pass a collection of maternity clothes among themselves so they only need to get a few items to personalize their wardrobe. The rest of us have to hit the shops.

First off, handle the basics. You’ll need staples. Cute jeans, black pants, khakis and if you wear them: a versatile skirt and dress. I found it helpful to buy classic styles and colors of shirts so that they could be swapped out with pants as well as not look out-of-date for a pregnancy down the road.

I do like my fashion though and some of the really fun maternity fashions can be pricey, so I admittedly would buy a handful of trendy pieces to mix it up. I’ve found most of my cute affordable stuff online. There’s scads of great boutiques and they have sizing charts that can help you get the right fit. Google your heart out.

There’s also these wonderful things called maternity pant extenders that helps you stay in your pre-preggo pants for quite some time. I have the BellaBand in three colors.

Don’t buy all of your maternity clothes in the beginning. I know it can be exciting to build a new wardrobe, but don’t get carried away. I mean seriously, who knows how large you’re going to get or what your needs will be.

Broaden your personal style. (No pun intended.) For this pregnancy, I was glad leggings were back in. I didn’t wear them much before I was pregnant and in my first trimester, I scoffed at the maternity jeggins thinking, what pregnant woman would want to pour herself into those? Fast forward to the end of my second trimester and that preggo pop was me. I caved and got my own pair of jeggins, size large from Kohl’s.

And paired with my chocolate leather knee-high boots, I must say: they’re pretty boss.

Simply because you’re sporting a new, shapely body doesn’t mean you have to forsake your fashion sense or your finances. Just be creative and have fun with it.

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Basking in the Christmas Afterglow

Looks like we made it through another Christmas. Another season of long shopping lines, crazy sweaters and stuffing the stockings and our tummies with holiday cheer. I’m a bit sad to see it end because I gotta say this was one of the best ever.

Yes, that’s Tiny Tim’s voice you hear in the background. (God bless us, everyone.) But allow me to be a little cheesy in my Christmas afterglow.

Making Christmas cookies.

Since my family lives in Kansas and my husband’s is in Norway, we’re usually traveling for the holidays and being pregnant, that wasn’t possible. Meaning, this was our first Christmas at home, no luggage, no airports, no rental cars, just us and our cozy home.

I admittedly hadn’t prepared much for Christmas because between work, Logan, keeping the house afloat and many visits to the doctor, there wasn’t much time. I was lucky to get a bit of breathing room to get gifts for Logan and our extended family. That meant Christmas Eve morning, I had to jet to Macy’s in the morning to pick up some sweaters for Hubby. He made the same trip that afternoon. We are indeed soul mates.

Other than that, we spent the rest of the day in our pajamas, hanging around the house playing, watching TV, relishing the last few days of being a family of three. Logan and I baked Christmas cookies and I made a roast with veggies for dinner. Afterward, my little guy helped me wrap one of Hubby’s gifts. I told him how it had to stay a secret and that dad would only find out what it was when he opened the present in the morning.

A few minutes later Logan showed off his wrapping handiwork to his dad saying “Dad, you see? This is for you, but you can’t open it until Christmas. And do you know what it’s gonna be? It’s gonna be a shirt, a sweater.”

Nice, thanks. That night, Hubby and I stayed up late wrapping presents just like real parents.

Early Christmas morning Logan was so excited to find that Santa Claus had eaten the cookies and drank the milk we left him. The explosion of gifts that were under the tree was also mind-boggling. And low and behold, Santa got him the beloved crane train he’d asked for, as well as more Thomas the Tank Engine accessories, every vehicle imaginable that you’d see at an airport (planes, ladder trucks, delivery trucks, etc.) Play-Doh, books, it was a toy extravaganza.

It took us awhile to get through all the gifts because Logan had to play with every one before he opened the next, which made it more enjoyable instead of the usual frenetic, clawing of wrapping paper to expose the present inside.

We then played with all of his new toys, Skyped with our families and I made a simple Christmas dinner of Cornish hens, garlic couscous, broccoli and corn on the cob.

It was all very easy, very stress-free and very perfect.

A Stumble Down the Stairs, the Facebook Fallout and a Trip To The Hospital

You know that saying what a difference a day makes? I’m not sure this is what they were talking about, but I recently had a 24 hour period that left me asking: What’s next?

It started on Thursday. I was working from home, my blood pressure was a little high, but I figured it soon would drop. After all, it had to, as we had a babysitter coming over. Hubby and I were going out to dinner to celebrate a huge accomplishment at his job and to go Christmas shopping for Logan.

Like every time a sitter comes over, Logan gets a little clingier, starts moving like molasses through our evening routine. I was trying to get him to go downstairs so he could get a good start on dinner before the sitter came. My stubborn mini-me, refused, despite my commands to “get down here!” Finally I decided to put him on my back since that’s the best way to tote him. (Yes, I shouldn’t be lifting him, at 9 months pregnant, but I dare you to find me a woman who hasn’t had to lift their toddler during their pregnancy.)

Logan knows I’m not a fan of carrying him, so he announces: “I’m going to hold on tight.” I said: “good!” and one step later I slipped. Everything kicked into slow motion. I realized I couldn’t fall forward because of the baby in my belly. I couldn’t fall backwards because of the baby on my back. Panic singed my soul as I ground my feet into the stairs trying to stop hurtling downward. I saw my pinky toe jut out at a 90 degree angle and thought, that ain’t right.

Finally gravity was through with me, we were done with the stairs and both of my babes were fine. My toe however, was another story. I put Logan down, began howling and cursed. Logan started laughing, mimicking me. I just prayed he didn’t repeat my bad language, especially at day care.

About 30 minutes later, the sitter and Hubby came home. I didn’t mention the fall and I was relieved Logan didn’t either. After walking with me for a bit, I had to explain to Hubby my gimp. His eyes bulged and he quietly gave me a fierce hug. Then it was off to dinner and then shopping.

We hobbled through Toys R Us and had a blast finishing up Logan’s Christmas shopping. I’m not sure who will enjoy Logan’s gifts more, my husband or my son, as Hubby grew giddier each time we put an item in the cart. A date night to go Christmas shopping is surely going to be a new holiday tradition in our family.

On the way home, Hubby put air in the tires and I waited in the car. Bored, I whipped out my Droid and hopped on Facebook. I updated my status with a flip comment about my trip down the stairs. That was a mistake as I misjudged how it might be received and immediately got scads of very concerned comments. I suppose they thought I did a triple back flip down the stairs maiming, Logan, Bean and myself. Eventually I deleted the post. Note to friends: Thanks for the concern, but if something ever is really wrong, you won’t read about it on Facebook. 🙂

The next day, my blood pressure still was pretty high, as in 150/100. I again was working from home, lying on my left side along with my laptop and my blood pressure wouldn’t go down. I knew I should have called the docs on Thursday, but now I *really* had to call them. Sure enough, when I rang, they wanted me to head to the hospital immediately for monitoring. Let me say, I *hate* hospitals. Hate them. They do a lot of good, but I can’t stand to be in them.

I was worried that they’d decide to induce me that day and I fretted that I still hadn’t packed my hospital bag. I actually tried to argue with the nurse that I didn’t need to come in. Obviously, I lost.

Hubby met me at the train station and we jetted to the hospital. After being monitored for three hours and some blood work, my blood pressure finally went down, all the tests came back great and I was told I could go home. I thought about having someone check out my toe while there, since it hurt like a b*tch, but was too much in a hurry leave.

After returning to the burbs, I swung by a friend’s house to drop off a thank-you gift and relayed to her the zaniness of the past 24 hours. I began joking with her and her hubby about my possibly broken toe. He looked at me quizically, I’d forgotten he was a podiatrist. They insisted he take a look, asking me, if my toe was purple and blue. I answered: “it’s brown.” (Duh, I’m African American, ALL of my toes are brown.)  Clearly, I was very tired.

After some poking and prodding he confirmed it was broken and advised me on taping it up.

Finally, I made it back home and shut out the rest of the world. It was really, really nice to just be with me, my boys and my broken brown toe.

Doing It Our Way: Making New Christmas Traditions

Logan’s preschool sometimes gives him “homework” assignments, which always means after school work for mum and dad too. This week we had to do a piece on our family’s Christmas traditions and it got me thinking, what *are* our traditions?

Logan helps decorate our tree.

Our family is still pretty young and small, so we don’t have a lot of them yet, largely because this is our first Christmas at home. But that’s one of the cool things about having your own family, you get to start your own traditions, do things your way.

I looked back on my childhood to see, what did we do? Three things popped into my mind.

Baking Christmas goods for the neighbors. I grew up in a cul-de-sac and all the neighbors would swap treats. I remember loving to make homemade sugar cookies, mostly because I like eating icing. Also mom’s peanut clusters, were beyond yummy.

Christmas light drives. My mom, dad, my sister and I would get in the car and drive around looking at people’s crazy holiday light displays. The local newspaper would print out the best houses in various neighborhoods which we’d use as a guide to the spectacular shows. The most packed display was the Kirby’s house. There wasn’t a square inch of their yard that wasn’t blazing, singing or dancing to spread Christmas cheer.

Opening Gifts. We use to pick one gift to open on Dec. 24 and then tear into the rest of our packages on Dec. 25. The Dec. 24 gift had to be picked carefully, you didn’t want to open it up and find a lame sweater, but you also didn’t want it to be your “big” gift.

I think we’ll carry at least two of those traditions to our family. Though I vow to make Christmas cookies each year, I’ve not done so in the past three years. But wait, I’ve still got time this year! Not quite ready to break cookie promises.

Also, even before Logan was born, Hubby and I would drive around looking at people’s Christmas lights. For me it was nostalgia, for Hubby (who’s Norwegian) it’s bearing witness to the stereotype of how over-the-top Americans can be. Though he’s increasingly becoming one of us, this year our display grew in that we got a 4 foot tall inflatable Santa/Christmas tree/Snowman combo. We don’t have the Kirby’s house, but it’s a good display.

As far as opening one gift on Dec. 24, I’m not sure how to deal with that, Hubby and I will probably play that by ear. In Norway, Santa Clause comes late on Dec. 23, so that on the morning of Dec. 24 the kids tear open their presents. It kinda makes sense though for him to spread the gift-giving out over two nights instead of packing the deliveries into one.

What about you? What are your traditions?

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ½ cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. Toss margarine in large bowl and mix the rest of ingredients.
  2. Cool dough in refrigerator 2 hours
  3. Roll and cut dough.
  4. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  5. Place cookies on cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden brown.

Peanut Clusters

  • 1 (12 ounce) package Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages of  Nestle Toll House butterscotch morsels
  • 1 (6 ounce) can salted peanuts (1 – 1 1/2 cups)

Directions:

  1. Microwave chocolate and butterscotch chips in a 2 quart glass dish for 5-6 minutes on 60% power, or until melted.
  2. Watch them closely as they don’t actually melt, but appear very shiny.
  3. Add peanuts and mix well.
  4. Drop by tablespoons on waxed paper.
  5. Cool in refrigerator
  6. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

They May Be Strange, But They’re Still My Neighbors

My neighbors are strange. And I don’t mean hide-your-teenage-daughter strange, but weird strange. They’ve lived across the street from us for about four years and I don’t know their real names, I just call them the Klopeks.

That’s the name of the deranged family that was in the Tom Hanks movie The ‘Burbs. (I often give people private nicknames.) A few months after the Klopeks moved to our quiet little community, they created a stir by the massive amounts of trash they piled at the end of their drive. Every week for an entire year they’d throw out so much stuff it was about the size of a Mini Cooper. At first I thought nothing of it, but after six months I wondered what was going on in this family of four. Are they eating off of paper plates and cups and using copious amounts of paper towels? Are they disposing of dismembered bodies? Dead cats?

One night, I got my answer. Around midnight Hubby and I heard a THWACK! THWACK! Something strange was going on at the Klopeks. We turned off our lights and peeked out the window. The father was attacking a sofa with a hammer. He wasn’t in a blind rage, it was a precise, methodic mutilation. We watched through the blinds as he disassembled the entire thing and then one of his two sons began helping him bag up the innards. Over the next month we witnessed the dissection of two arm chairs and at least one more sofa.

When I was on maternity leave with Logan, I got to observe more about the Klopeks. Like how no matter which of the three cars they drive, no one sits in the passenger front seat. It will be dad driving and mom in the back or dad driving with two adult sons in the back.

But they are unfailingly polite, awkward and eccentric, yes, but nice people.

We have a door that opens into the garage and is tricky in that it locks at the most inconvenient times. Once when Logan was 4 months old, I was loading up the car and the door slammed shut. He was inside, strapped in his car seat, while I was locked out. The Klopeks pulled up into their drive. I ran across the street biting down the panic and explained how I was locked out of my house and my baby was inside. I suggested their youngest son use our ladder to climb in through our balcony. I knew that door was open.

We were getting the ladder out when the dad, sporting his usual fishing jacket and comb-over like swirl, walks into the garage with two steak knives. I stop futzing with the ladder and watch him. He slips the knives into the door and five seconds later it flings open. I’m stunned. I thank them profusely though part of me is concerned that he can break into my home with two steak knives and lightning fast speed.

They may be strange, but they’re my neighbors.

This past weekend Hubby and I rented a U-Haul to pick up the new crib and dresser for the nursery and once we got it home, it was clear Hubby needed help getting it into the house.

We were on a tight schedule that day and didn’t want to bother some of our friends who live nearby to come over right *now,* so we thought we’d try the neighbors first. I call the area that we live a retirement community because many of our neighbors are 70+, except for…  the Klopeks.

Hubby asks the oldest son for help and turns out he’s got two furniture dollies (!!?!) and with some sweating, grunting and input from the dad at the very end, the dresser and crib made it into their rightful spot. They seemed very eager to help and we were very grateful for the help. Later that night, Hubby brought them a six pack of beer as a thank you.

I plan on making them some Christmas cookies, besides, isn’t that the neighborly thing to do?

Hee Hee Ho: Tis the Season for Lamaze

With my firstborn we took several baby prep classes. There was Baby 101, Breastfeeding 101, and Prepared Childbirth classes that included Lamaze and other breathing techniques. This time around, everyone comments how since I’m already a mom, I’m a pro and should have no worries, but for the birth, I still wanted a refresher on getting through the labor marathon.

By the time we signed up, the CliffNotes version of the course was full, so we are in Great Expectations: Having A Baby. Deciding we couldn’t sit through an eight-hour course, we’re in a two-part, four hour class in the city.

The city is 30 miles from our house and 40 miles from our daycare, so making this happen was a logistical nightmare and we naturally were 15 minutes late, *but* the key is we made it even with our yummy, greasy Thai food. (You can bring your own dinner.)

The class was really good, there was a lot that I’d forgotten and I liked the breathing techniques. Also when we did introductions, it was clear we were the only second-time-around parents, which made us instant celebs. I sat back and enjoyed watching Hubby extol advice to the boys: “Guys, the pecking order in the house changes, you are no longer the big cheese. I always say I’m below the dog, and we don’t even have a dog… There’s nothing greater than sitting there watching the Bears with your boy… Being a parent is the best thing in the world.”

The moms mostly wanted to know about my labor experience, what it felt like. The teacher asked me what a contraction is like. In my head I answered, “like a big menstrual cramp.” But I heard my mouth say “It feels as if an octopus has latched onto your stomach and it’s squeezing your stomach.” There was a long pause, and Hubby looked at me. I shrugged, it’s true. I always think that when I’m in the middle of a contraction, but I’ve never voiced it. The teacher just nodded and said, “or a big menstrual cramp.”

I’m glad we signed up for the refresher course, not just for the content, but it gives me a new perspective on Hubby and me. I see the anxiousness in the new parents’ faces and while excited for their new adventure, I’m glad I’m not them. I like having grown into our roles as parents. Not that we are anywhere close to having all the answers, and not that we don’t have a lot of fears real and imagined, it’s just a little more comfortable this time around.

And that alone makes it easier to exhale.

Preparing My First Born for The Newer Model

Logan is your typical only child. We adore him and he loves being adored. He doesn’t have to share any of his toys, food or place in the home. Little does he know how much his world is about to be turned upside down.

Erica Lynn Hang Photography

With Bean’s arrival less than a month away, I’m wondering how well he’ll fare with a new kid in town. We’ve followed all the advice, and talked up what a wonderful thing it is to be a “BIG BROTHER.” We’ve discussed how he can help, emphasized that it’s *his* baby in my belly and we’ve given him children’s books on the greatness of being a big brother. We’ve brainwashed him as best as we can.

But I can’t help but think he’s still going to feel like last year’s model, a has-been of sorts. One of my co-workers, who has six grown kids, told me how her doctor once said that having a new sibling in the house is hard for young ones: “Imagine if your husband came home with a young blonde.”

Well said.

Hubby and I know it’ll be good for Logan to have a little brother or sister, I look at it as though we’re giving him a best friend, he just won’t realize it for at least a year. And it’ll be good for him not to always be the center of attention, nevertheless there will be growing pains. And those are what I dread.

Logan is an uber mama’s boy. (But really, can you blame him?) Already he gets jealous of time Hubby spends with me, saying “Daddy, don’t hug mommy.” Or while his chubby arms are wrapped tightly around my neck he’ll turn to Hubby and say “Go away! Leave us alone!” As my belly gets bigger I’ve noticed that he’s gotten even more clingy. It’ll definitely be an interesting transition since he’ll have to be with Hubby as I’ll be busy with Bean.

After Bean is born, we’ve got a plan for when Logan visits me in the hospital, the nurse can present him with his baby instead of him walking in the room and seeing mom cuddling with The Replacement. Also, Bean has already been collecting items for a spectacular gift basket for Logan.

As I said we’re about as prepared as we can be and honestly, I’m sure it’ll work out fine, I’m just trying to minimize some of the bumps in the road. What are some things you guys have done to make the transition a little easier?