August 31, 2011

Why you should NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant

*Disclaimer:* I needed to get out some emotions and frustrations today. However, I do think this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Feel free to skip to the Public Service Announcement at the bottom. Just doing my part to educate the masses. :)

At church this past week, I got asked not once but TWICE if I were pregnant. I'm indeed not. I'm pretty sure there is a cardinal rule out there that you never, and I mean NEVER, ask a woman if she is pregnant. You might as well walk up to her and say, "how much do you weigh?" Tisk. Tisk. (See update below for offender #2)

The fact is that I get asked if I'm pregnant a lot. I can recall for you each and every time, where I was, who asked me, and what I was wearing. The reason I can remember what I was wearing is because I have never worn those outfits again. Even my little (ha!) black dress from the most recent incident is in danger of going down in flames.

The problem is that I know how my tummy looks. Trust me, I see it every day. The bigger problem, it isn't going anywhere. Even when I was 10 pounds lighter (at the end of my breastfeeding era), the tummy was still there. I've been doing hot yoga regularly since last October. Still there. It will always be there for a couple of reasons.
  1. I have a hideous C-section scar that is indented down to the muscle thus making the upper part of my tummy stick over and out. Basically, I have a surgical muffin top going on. How's that for a visual?
  2. I have a rectus diastasis, meaning that my abdominal muscles are separated, never to go back together again.
I suspected that I had a small diastasis before I was pregnant. Why? Because the first time I was asked the infamous question was before I was married. I blame it on the coach in high school who made us hold leg raises every day for 1 minute. If one person dropped their legs then we had to start over. So we all struggled to get it right no matter what the cost. If you don't do abdominal exercises properly, they actually do more harm than good. After gaining excessive amounts of fluid in the last months of my pregnancy and delivering my nearly 10-pound daughter, there was no going back for my poor abs.

I didn't even know that there was a proper name for this until I started working for a plastic surgeon's office. You know what? This diastasis issue is pretty common. Lots of women come in with this exact problem. At least I'm not alone, right?! I always thought that a tummy tuck was just removing fat. Nope. In fact, the main thing they accomplish is sewing your stomach muscles back together. It's kinda like when you suck in, because that forces the muscles back together for a second. The surgeon does that permanently for you. Nice, huh? Sign me up. Seriously, it's next on my list. Not kidding.

The reason the pregnancy question offends me so much (other than the fact that it is just plain RUDE) is because I don't necessarily want to have other children. That's not to say that I won't change my mind (MUCH) later down the road, but it's not even on the horizon for me right now. Mainly because I have my heart (and hands) full with the child I already have. I don't think I could cope, mentally or physically, with another one. Also, if you haven't noticed, pregnancy was not kind to me. My delivery was less than ideal to boot. In fact, the whole thing was a nightmare and the exact opposite from what I wanted. Agreeing (or being forced) into that C-section is quite possibly the worst decision and event that has ever happened to me. It still haunts me. So, every time the "are you pregnant" question is raised, my mind automatically reflects to all the negatives that I experienced. Naturally, the every day Joe can't possibly know this about me but the effect happens just the same.

Asking someone if they are pregnant, when they are indeed not, is the kind of thing that could make a woman jump off a bridge. It can be detrimental to her self-esteem. Luckily, I'm in a good state of mind these days and I have a decent sense of humor. Plus, I'm pretty forgiving. In all honesty, the pregnancy question is getting quite comical. I mean, each and every time is emotionally scarring and inflicts insecurity, but sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Do NOT ever, ever, EVER ask a woman if she is pregnant!

*Update: One of the folks who questioned my midsection did approach me today (before this post went live) and apologized profoundly for what happened. Said they have felt horrible about it since it happened and generally always follow the above rule. Since I'm a nice gal with a good sense of humor, and because they were genuine and sincere, I forgave them. I guess there is hope for humanity after all. :)

RECIPE: Chicken Parmesan Lasagna

I made a little dish the other night that got rave reviews by my family and several folks requested the recipe. The truth is, I don't have a recipe. I totally made it up on the fly. Don't go thinking that I'm Betty Crocker. I'm not. I just got lucky this time.

I was making my meal plan for the week and asked hubby if he had any special requests. He threw out Chicken Parmesan. Easy enough, except I didn't have any spaghetti noodles on hand. He mentioned making some sort of lasagna instead but with chicken. I mean, Italian is Italian after all. The ingredients are basically the same just paired in a different way. Kinda like Taco Bell. They are the only chain I know of that can take the same 5 ingredients and continue to make up new stuff. You know it's true. Marketing, it's a wonderful thing!

So, here is my "recipe". Feel free to alter it and make it your own.

9 lasagna noodles
2 cups chicken breasts
1 egg
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 jar spaghetti sauce, garden variety*
1 package shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package parmesan cheese
coconut/olive oil
some picky but unsuspecting dinner guests

Cook noodles according to package directions. Chop chicken into bite size pieces. Put in egg bath then cover with bread crumbs. Heat oil in a skillet and add chicken. Cook until no longer pink in the center. In your 9x13 pan, cover the bottom with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Put down 3 noodles. Top with a thin layer of sauce, 1 cup chicken, 1/2 cup** of both cheeses. Repeat. Cover the top layer of noodles with more sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes***.

*If you have super picky eaters, you could puree the sauce so they don't see the vegetables.
**Seriously, I didn't measure the cheese. I just sprinkled to my heart's content. We like cheese!
***I have no idea how long I let it cook. Technically it's all precooked and you are just wanting the cheese to melt. I left mine in until the bread was done.

No picture of the dish. Maybe next time. I wasn't expecting it to be so popular but I'm glad it was. In the words of Skylar (before EVERY meal), Bon Appetite! :)

August 17, 2011

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

1st Day of PreK

The new school year has started. I'll be honest, I'm having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I find this highly unusual for me. I LOVE routine. I like knowing what to expect and being able to plan based on those expectations.

Mainly, I think I'm just having a hard time letting go of summer. For one, the weather has finally cooled off just a smidge (also unusual for August) so it's actually enjoyable to be outside in the evening. Don't get me wrong. I love ALL of summer, even the heat, but this July was a scorcher. Even for me. Secondly, there was no real agenda this summer other than to have fun and keep our household running. There was no rush to be in bed by a certain time. No rush to get out the door every morning. We just kinda went with the flow. Fast forward to now when the clock is set for 6:00. Oiy!

Skylar, however, appears to be adjusting well to with returning to the school schedule. We've managed to get her in bed by 8 each night, with no major fussing, and have gotten to school early every day (granted, we are only on day 3). I think the ease of this transition has a lot to do with something we put into place last year: Morning and Bedtime Charts.

These are really helpful for me too, especially the bedtime routine. Because there is an associated time for each item, I know that I must stop whatever I am working on by 7:20 or else it will be my fault if she is in bed later than 8. The time stamps are also helpful for Skylar who can easily drag the nightly routine on and on and on. We have a portable clock that we carry from room to room as we complete the chart. If she gets behind on an item, she runs the risk of mom choosing the uniform for the next day or being cut short on books (her two favorite parts). It's also helpful because it isn't "me" telling her what is next. I blame it on the chart. "The chart says it's time to brush your teeth." That usually eliminates the power struggle.

The Get Ready Chart doesn't have time stamps because she wakes up at various times each morning. I wish her wake up time was more predictable but it never has been. It may be 6 am tomorrow and then I have to drag her out of bed at 7 the following morning. You just never know. I try to be up by 6:15 and showered and ready so I can help her when she wakes up. If she gets up before I'm ready, she gets to snuggle in my bed until I'm done. The ultimate goal is to be downstairs by 7:15 for me to make her lunch and be pulling out by 7:35. If she gets ready early then she gets to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until it's time to go. I've learned to turn the TV off as soon as Mickey goes off. Otherwise, she hears the start up music for Jake and the Neverland Pirates. If that happens, getting her in the car looks more like trying to put a cat in a swimming pool.

I have been really pleased with how well she has adjusted to getting back on track with our school routine. Now, if I can only get myself to get with the program. Somehow 11 pm has become my new bedtime and 6 am comes pretty quickly. I'm a 9-hours of sleep per night kinda gal. Then again, I haven't had 9 hours of solid sleep in Lord knows when. :/

How are you and yours getting back into the swing of things?

August 9, 2011

Sentimental... that even the right word?

I'm not sure.

All I know for certain is that The Little Girl is growing up and I don't like it. Not one bit. She's always been big for her age. She came into the world practically weighing 10 pounds and hasn't stopped growing. I never got the chance to snuggle an itty bitty. She's always had her own little line on the growth chart well above the 95th percentile. When she finally made it onto the chart for weight, she made up for it in height. Even recently, the child grew 7 inches from age 3-4!!! People always assume she is older than she is. It's happened several times this summer that I've been asked if she is going into 1st grade this year. Um, no. Pre-K.

I remember the 1st time I flew with her and received all sorts of nasty looks when she decided she was O-V-E-R being on that plane. One woman even said, "Oh, she must be 2." Not quite, we were just a few months out from her turning 1. Skylar was a passy-holic and held onto it for dear life until 2.5, except that she was as tall as a 4 year old. That didn't go over well with some folks. And when those terrible twos rared their ugly head and public tantrums were common, I didn't get much sympathy from the public because they "assumed" that she was much older than she actually was and therefore "assumed" that she should be in better control of her behavior. Not so. Or the time when she was in swimming lessons and had the skills to move to the next class but her teacher didn't realize that she wasn't emotionally ready to be in a class without mommy. The other kids were 3-3.5 and my baby had just had her 2nd birthday. That was the year she refused to swim at all. Looking back, I'm not surprised.

And now, my "baby" is physically too big to be held but, at a mere 4.5 (BTW, she's quite proud of that half), she still wants to be held and emotionally needs to be held. As her mommy, I still want to hold her and need to hold her. I remember someone telling me once that "they are always smaller in your arms." Oh this is so true. I remember nursing her when she was almost 2. The feet that used to be cuddled up in my lap now dangled well over my legs but she was still just a baby in my eyes. Even now, I can tuck her up into a ball and she seems smaller but those legs are O so long.

I'm in a strange emotional place these days. I'm wondering if this is what "baby fever" feels like? Is it when you realize that your babe has grown too big to be picked up and held and you yearn for another little warm, snuggly body to hold? I want that, I really do. However, I don't want a new little body to snuggle. I just want my big girl to be a baby again. I want to do it all over again, with her.

In some ways, I'm downright mad that she has always been accused of being older than she actually is. I've even been guilty of expecting things from her because she appears a more mature age. I wonder if she has been emotionally scarred in some way because expectations are always higher for her. Especially those emotional and behavioral expectations that she can't or isn't ready to meet. In other ways, having her look older has provided some opportunities for her to do things that an average-sized child couldn't.

Regardless, I'm having a hard time with the sheer size of her these days. I desperately want to scoop her up and slather her with kisses and put her in a sling and carry her around with me. I miss that part. I miss having her fall asleep in my arms. I miss having her snuggled into my chest. I miss baby breath.

I remember trying to cherish the moments when she was little. I really took notice of the comments that "they grow up so fast" and tried to stuff my brain with those memories. I also remember getting to a point where I wanted to help foster her independence to get her out from under my every move. I wish I had the patience back then that I have gained now.

There is really no good way to end this blog post. I've come to no great revelations after typing out my feelings. I'm some ways, I feel I've been cheated. I feel she has too. Basically, I just want my baby to stop growing and be little again. End of story.

August 1, 2011

Life Lesson: Go For It!

I took The Little Girl to Monkey Joes over the weekend. She had been kind enough to be stuck at home with a sick mommy and not drive me insane. I thought we both deserved a treat. I got a milkshake for my sore throat. She got to play and bounce around. Win-Win!

Parents can't play at Monkey Joes so she had to do the inflatables on her own. I knew she was happy just to be out of the house so I wasn't too concerned that our impromptu trip was without friends. She did great for about 15-20 minutes be-bopping from one slide to another but I could tell she was getting bored, fast. Then, Monkey Joe himself comes out from a birthday party and begins to make his way back to the office. Skylar stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at me and said "C'mon Mom" and we started off in his direction. She stayed at a cautious distance. Every few steps she would turn to make sure I was right there with her. Some other kids had rushed up to him and their mom snapped a quick iPhone photo. Skylar still stood a safe distance away. Having been a school mascot before, I know for a fact that if you aren't directly in front of the character, they have no idea you even exist because they can't see you. After the photo with the other kids Monkey Joe headed for the break room. Skylar stalked after him and then turned to me in utter disappointment when she realized he wasn't coming back. "But, Mom, I wanted to see him."

We took our popsicle and headed to sit down. With my arm around her, I said, "Honey, I'm gonna tell you something that is called a Life Lesson. This is something that can be used in many different situations. When there is something that you want or something that you want to do, you just have to go for it. You can't be worried about what other people will think and be wondering if there is someone to go with you. If you truly want something then you just have to go for it on your own."

We talked about the situation with Monkey Joe and I left it alone hoping she somehow grasped this important lesson that I was trying to share with her but she was still pretty pouty. A few minutes later she got up to go play and then game running back to me saying, with great excitement, "Mommy, you know what? I made up my mind and I decided to do something!"

"Okay, honey. Great! What is it?"

"I decided I am going to make a friend and play" and off she went.

Now, I could end the post right here and be so proud but the part after this is another lesson to be learned.

I saw that she had her eye on a little boy probably twice her age, so probably 7 or 8. He had on a green shirt. She followed him in and out of every bouncy thing he tried. Let me tell ya, he was fast. I heard her call out to him "Wait, wait!" He was so fast that she never even got a chance to catch him and ask him to play with her. He was clearly uninterested.

I can't tell you how sad I was as a parent to watch her try so hard to make a friend but never even get the chance to introduce herself. I thought about intervening. Trying to explain to her that this boy was a lot older and was playing with his brother and she might want to try to find someone closer to her age to play with. I refrained. Eventually, she did make another friend, all own her own. She made friends with the green-shirt boy's even older sister. Ha!

Moral of the story: If you can't get a boy to notice you, make friends with his sibling.

Oh, wait. Not that! I meant....

Always go for what you want and keep trying. You might find something better along the way.