Monthly Archives: September 2012

Things TO SAY to Pregnant Women

My husband suggested that after the Title of this post it should just be blank. Very funny, asshole.

There are about a million posts now about the horrible things people should *never* say to someone who is expecting. And sometimes I will see a comment or two on them that suggest that pregnant women are just way too sensitive and take everything the wrong way or too personally. Well, that may be the case, but unless you want to make someone with child more uncomfortable than she already is, you can do her a favor by not saying something she really doesn’t want to hear, and talk about SOMETHING ELSE. You can’t control her hormones, her stress-level, her perception of the statement, all you can do is control what comes out of your mouth. So, to help you navigate what may feel like a potential mine-field to some or a bizarre foreign land to others, I’ve complied a list of “safe” things to say/talk about when you find yourself in the company of a expectant mother, with help from a friend who was more recently in the game. You are most welcome, pregnant ladies.

1. Try talking about something NOT baby related.
Seems obvious, no? If a pregnant woman simply loves talking about her unborn, she will probably bring it up first. In many circumstances, she’s probably relieved to just talk about something normal, and not be seen for the “vessel” role she’s currently playing. If it’s early in the pregnancy, you might not want to talk about food too much (nausea) and if it’s getting late in the game, you might not want to flaunt your recent diet/workout success, but otherwise, TV shows, movies, the news, the weather… the usual fun things are at your disposal.

2. If you simply must comment on her appearance, you will limit your statements to glowing compliments.
Examples: “you look amazing,” “I love your outfit,” and “what an adorable bump!” Telling her things about her “size” even if you mean well are loaded with all kinds of unintended meanings, if she’s worried about gaining weight at the right rate a well-intentioned “you barely look pregnant” can be hard to take.

3. Ask her about any fun or interesting things she’s done lately to get ready for the baby.
She can bring up, on her own, things like baby showers, putting together a nursery, or prenatal yoga or whatever without feeling like she has to justify why she isn’t having a shower, why she hasn’t gotten around to buying stuff, or why she hasn’t felt like getting off the sofa in months.

4. If you really want to know when she’s due, maybe be creative in how you ask. But only if you really want to know.
If it’s a friend, a co-worker, someone you see often, I can understand why knowing when she’s due is nice. But if you are running into someone in a shop or at an event, and you probably will never see them again, why do you care? I think I was asked when I was due about 20 times a day. It gets old. I imagine it’s akin to being Ryan Gosling and being told how attractive you are or say “hey girl.” At a certain point, you get tired of hearing it from random strangers. If the due date is especially soon, it’s even more troublesome. If you really want to know when someone is due and would like to also enliven the question, ask if they know their unborn’s birthstone, their astrological sign, what famous people they will share potential birth-months… It’s a roundabout way of asking, but it’s less repetitive than “so when are you due?” and the subtle sizing-up of how big you are to see if that makes sense.

5. Tell her about cool parks, playgrounds, activities, or cute stores you may have seen for parents with babies.
Even if she’s not interested, it’s nice to know about these things and it’s hard to keep up with all the information out there.

6. Ask if she needs your help with anything.
Don’t insist she can’t do something, needs to sit down, or force a bottle of water on her (all things I experienced pretty often) but merely offer a general statement of helpfulness and it will be appreciated.

7. Discuss fun and wonderful things about babies.
If you have a baby in your life, you can include what lovely things you’ve done with them. Whatever you do, don’t be negative about babies or the lack of sleep they bring or the messes or the huge life-changes. It’s almost never informative, it’s typically unwelcome. Hearing about nice things involving babies is a much more pleasant conversation.

8. If you are better acquainted, you may ask how the family reacted to the baby news.

If you are friends and know that there are no potentially uncomfortable topics in this area for the mom-to-be (her parents are upset, the father is out of the picture, etc) you can talk more freely about how the relatives have responded to the new baby coming.

9. Ask how she’s feeling but be prepared for the truth.
It might not be great. You can probably guess she’s tired, having all kinds of aches and pains, heartburn, or nausea… When you get the full report, what is your ready response? You might want to think of that in advance. It should be noted that if she responds that she feels great, under no circumstances should you point out that it won’t last.

10. If the lady you’re talking to appears to be very close to her due-date, consider restricting your conversation to #1.
Please refrain from indicating she’s about to “pop” or suggesting that she is failing to do something to get the show on the road. You would not believe how many people do this. Since there is a giant weight on her back, hips, ribcage, reminding her every second of the coming baby, talking about other things is probably best. If she wants to vent, it’s nice to let her, don’t compete with it, just circle back to #1 when you can.

Check-in Counter Quandry

I know we have all seen a version of this happen, maybe even participated in it. I am curious as to your thoughts about the following scenario, which I will use as an example.

On our flight home last month, we arrived to check in at the airport precisely 55 minutes before our scheduled departure. We still had to wait in line at the ticketing counter to get our boarding passes, check our luggage, and make sure that our traveling-with-pet status was indicated. The line wasn’t terribly long, but there was only one agent working for most of the time we were in it.

The woman just behind us was nervously surveying the line’s progress and finally asked us what time our flight departed. We told her 4:20pm. She said something like “oh, 20 minutes after mine” and “sorry” and proceeded to cut the entire line and go up to the agent. At this point, her flight left in about 20 minutes, ours in 40. The airline’s policy is that they require 30 minutes in this case.

She was told by the agent, who seemed to accept the line-cutting, that there was no way she could make her flight, especially since she also had a pet and bags to check. The woman was very upset and the agent looked some things up, took about 5 minutes, insisted on her initial assessment and asked the woman to go back to her spot in line (where she had left her luggage) and she would rebook her for a later flight when she came up. All in all, this probably only took 5-8 minutes, but there were probably 10 people waiting before her and at least in our case, getting dangerously close to being late for our own flights.

So, my question for you is this: Was it acceptable for the woman to cut the line because she her flight was about to board?

I don’t know the reason she was late, I don’t know if that matters or not. I don’t know if the 5+ minutes she took away from the people in line resulted in any missed flights, it’s doubtful. We had to rush a bit, but we were cutting it close on our own. We could have been her, I suppose. We were getting into the check-in line with no time to spare, the only difference was that we were just on the other side of the time-limit.

I know that had I been in her shoes, I might have seriously been tempted to do the same thing and I would have felt guilty about it. But as the person in front of her, I slightly resented her cutting and felt like it wasn’t fair because we got there at the same time and she was making me late and I had a pet too. And a toddler. (She told the gate agent it wasn’t fair to make her wait because her dog couldn’t be in the airport that long). I’m curious about what you think. Let me know in the comments if you like.

Defensive dad finally gets it

One of the most amusing things my husband said to me in the last couple of weeks was the following:

Husband: “Is it irrational to feel annoyed when someone points out that my daughter needs something when I’m taking care of her?”

Me: “You just described the central point of about 72% of all posts by moms on kid-related website message boards.”

Husband: “So it’s totally normal then, to feel slightly insulted?”

Me: “Totally.”

Welcome to the club, Dad. Please learn how to use the eye-roll emoticon.

Two for the Show

It’s taken me a couple weeks, but I wanted to post about the big celebration we just had for my little girl. So, here it goes! My daughter’s second birthday party was a kind of Horseracing/Kentucky Derby/1920’s Jazz themed event. I called it “Two for the Show” and sent out invitations that looked like the first page of the Daily Racing Form.

The party itself had Kentucky-ish food, mint juleps, a lemonade birthday cake, and cake pops. I sort of kept everything in the green, brown, silver, burlap, and white color template. I made these pennant bunting things with colors I liked and put little toy horses in apothecary jars and decorated the tables with burlap runners. My serving table was boards laid out on hay bales.
Anyway, I will show you some pictures and you can sort of see what I did.

Oh, and there were two ponies, one miniature. My daughter LOVED riding them. She was totally unafraid, as many kids can be around horses, and she had such a good time riding that I think maybe some future lessons are in order.

I made posters of my daughter at birth, age 1, and now and put house-numbers onto the foam board they were mounted on.

I put toy horses in some jars, mint in others.

I used canning jars for cups and served basil lemonade and mint limeade. There was also a small pitcher of mint juleps, of which I drank more than anyone…

the birthday girl and I

my daughter finishes her first of 4 cake pops… you can see the bunting I made overhead

blowing out the candles on her big cake

the tiny flags on the cake match the bunting and they also say “2 FOR THE SHOW” if you can’t see it…

My sweet little girl had so much fun and sugar, the food was all eaten up, the kids enjoyed the daylights out of the ponies, and no one lost any money to their bookie, so I’m pretty sure it was fantastic party. I had so much help, those people know who they are and they have my tremendous thanks.

Onto birthday three!

Hitting the Sauce

Last year, around this time, I made some tomato sauce with the tomatoes I bought at the Jean-Talon Market (which is so very nice) here in Montreal. I only bought a couple dozen tomatoes, made about 3 standard-jars-worth of sauce, and put them in the freezer in those small twist-top plastic freezer containers.

I thought, why not make a little more this year? I like my tomato sauce, we use a lot of tomato sauce…

So, today I bought a bushel of tomatoes and spent the greater part of the day boiling them, skinning them, seeding them, simmering them, adding more of them, stirring them, adding more of them, adding oregano/basil/garlic/salt/pepper, stirring some more, and finally canning them properly. I also burned the crap out of my hands about 14 times.

Is it worth it to make my own tomato sauce? Let’s break it down shall we:

Tomatoes $10
Oregano $.50
Basil $.50
Jars $10 (I could say that I am pro-rating the cost of jars over all the batches I might make in the future as well, but I won’t just yet)
All other ingredients were negligible cost and I already had them
Total $21

I made about 6 store-size jars of sauce in the end (4L, store jars are 650mL), so that’s $3.50 per jar, which is just about the same price as a jar of Classico at my supermarket. If you take away the cost of the jars, then it’s very cost effective to make your own sauce, provided you can get tomatoes cheaply. If you grow your own tomatoes, then it’s cost effective if you can keep your gardening costs to under about $0.30 a tomato, in my estimation.

All of these calculations can get tossed out if you just prefer your own home-made sauce regardless of cost, time, hand-burning.

My jars are currently cooling on the counter. Their lids occasionally “pop” which is music to my ears. I’m on pop number 5, there are 8 jars total. That should be enough to last us until… October.

Grandparents’ Day

Today is supposed to be Grandparents’ Day. I am not sure what the point of that is, since I always thought Mother’s Day, Father’s Day sorta covered them too, but I guess if Administrative Professionals get a day…

There is a quote bouncing around the internet today (hello pinterest, I take it that you telling me it’s fall now too) by one Donald A. Norberg (who was apparently the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and worked for the USDA):

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent.”

I can surely attest to the enjoyment of my daughter as the grandchild of her respective grandparents. She gets an endless amount of patience, attention, encouragement, and gifts from them. Honestly, they are making me look bad.

I can also attest that they enjoy her immensely and think she’s just the cutest, squishiest, most wonderful little girl ever. I can’t blame them for thinking that, because she is, but I’m supposed to think that.

Not to make this all about me or anything, but one of the oddest experiences in life is to be the parent in between these two parties, who are enjoying the hell out of themselves. I am never quite sure what my role is. Am I supposed to just get out of the way? Am I supposed to be the lifeguard, just around to make sure nothing dangerous happens so that grandparents and grandchild can just focus on all the fun they’re having? Am I supposed to be involved in the fun? Am I just supposed to be the photographer?

Furthermore, I feel like I’m usually cast as the bad cop, the “no you can’t have any more of that” or the “no, you have to go to bed now” enforcer because it’s my responsibility to bring everyone down or something. Frankly, I’m not used to being the voice of reason, caution, practicality. I much prefer overkill, sweeping gestures, and whimsy. In other words, I might make a great grandmother some day.

The point I’m trying to make, is that my daughter has wonderful grandparents who play their roles pretty well. My daughter and they form a pretty nice mutual-admiration society and hopefully everyone goes home feeling great. I would just like it to happen before bedtime.

Home again

Now that the party’s over, summer’s over, the “adventures at grandma’s” are over, we are back home in Montreal. We dragged ourselves, our 190 lbs of luggage (avec birthday gifts), our cat, my violin, and my daughter’s little carry-on that she refused to carry-on through a couple airports, a bus, and a subway yesterday. The cat probably had the worst of it. He didn’t even get to use the iPad.

My daughter spent most of the evening revisiting her toys, most of the night upset about her molars, and most of this morning unpacking her new toys. I was VERY curious to see how nap time would go, and here’s the result:

She went down for a nap without ANY NURSING or ANY CRYING for the first time in her life.

It only took 2 years.

I pretty much talked her into it. We got home from the playground and I just started telling her how we were going to go get her Paddington bear and lay down and it was going to be awesome and Paddington was tired too…
I just did not stop talking. I laid her down in her bed, tucked her bear in with her, rubbed her back, and kept whispering “you are very tired, you and Paddington, you both want to take a nap” and things like that.

She gave me this terrible look like she was SO offended/disappointed in me and put her head down. Closed her eyes. Fell asleep.

Ten Minutes.

I emerged from her room to my husband sitting on the sofa with his laptop (read: my husband in his natural habitat) and literally took a bow.

He golf-clapped.

Maybe it’s good to be home?