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One of the first things my mother said to me when I got pregnant was how terrific she felt while pregnant and how it would probably be the same for me. Well ladies, let me just slay that mythical unicorn right now and call it what it is, a big steaming pile.
My mother had Crohn’s disease so she was very sick prior to her pregnancy which probably had a lot to do with her feeling so good . As far as I can tell there wasn’t a whole lot of that during each of my three pregnancies. I’m not trying to scare you first time pregnant Mamas. I’m giving you the gift of truth. Pregnancy is rough. Your body is not your own and I want you to know those glowing, happy, feeling great mamas are NOT the norm.
The Secret Sauce of “Pregnancy Glow”
You want to know what that pregnancy glow consists of – sweat and oil. There’s a reason they say you’ve got a bun in the oven. You feel like an oven. I myself had the misfortune of having two of my babies in the miserable heat of summer (July and August) and hot doesn’t begin to describe it. Near the end of my August pregnancy, there were several occasions when the temperature reached above 70 degrees in the office I worked in and I had to be sent home because the heat made me so sick. Whatever the thermostat says, add at least 10 degrees due to your baby oven. The oil is not much better.
My skin has always been acne prone, but nothing could have prepared me for the horror show that my skin became during pregnancy with my daughters. All that extra estrogen coursing through my veins made literal mountains out of mole hills on my face. Though I did have fabulous skin when I was pregnant with my son.
You Never Forget Having PUPPS
But while I had no acne, I got the PUPPS (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) rash late in my pregnancy with him. If you’ve ever had this rash you don’t soon forget it. Imagine taking a whip, setting it on fire and striking it all over your body. Yup, that is the horror of PUPPS and for most women the only real cure is giving birth. For me it got worse AFTER I gave birth.
Every Symptom In The Book
I had almost every pain and problem of pregnancy you read about in the pregnancy bible, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I spent the majority of my time with my head over a toilet bowl or finding concealed places on the side of the road to toss my cookies. I’ve marked my pregnancy territory over much of Orange and Sullivan Counties.
I had pelvic pain like nobody’s business. I had Braxton Hicks Contractions (a.k.a. practice contractions) so painful I couldn’t walk. So if your doctor, friend or your mom tries to convince you they are painless you can call shenanigans on them.
High Risk Mamas Are My Heroes
I count myself lucky that I only had the most common aches, pains, and challenges of pregnancy. Those mamas with high risk pregnancies, on bed rest for months, you ladies are my heroes. You are a testament to motherly love!
So why I am telling you about my pregnancy miseries? It’s not so you run screaming from the pregnancy test aisle at the drugstore. It’s to let you know that it’s normal. There’s nothing worse than wondering where the hell your glow is? Where is this happy go lucky pregnancy people speak of?
Let’s stop putting unrealistic expectations of pregnancy on new moms. Pregnancy and labor suck out loud. There’s no doubt about it.
Pregnancy Is All About The End Game
Pregnancy is the preview for the coming attraction of parenting. They’ll be many days of worry, many nights of misery and many moments of pure heart melting joy like when you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time or when you meet that little person who’s been using your bladder as a trampoline for 9 months. So breathe deep the smell of their little fresh-from-the-womb faces. That’s what makes it all worth it.
Pregnancy is all about the end game. I look at my kids and think, “What wouldn’t I have gone through to have you?” Most people wouldn’t willingly go through the emotional and physical upheaval that pregnancy puts you through without expecting the reward at the end.
The Real Unicorns
If you know a surrogate who selflessly goes through the misery of pregnancy, knowing they are walking away with the scars and no baby, well then my friend there just might be a real life unicorn in your midst. As for the myth of “easy” pregnancy, consider it slayed.
P.S. If you laughed while reading this post and are pregnant or just gave birth and peed a little let me just say, “Welcome to motherhood!”
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent Magazine when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on Money Saving Mom and Mamapedia.
Winter, especially these recent chilly days with rain or snow, is the perfect season for soup. A bowl of comfort food is always appreciated, even more so at the end of a cold day. This minestrone soup recipe hits the spot every single time. We aim for meatless meals once to twice a week, and this one is very satisfying with its beans, pasta, and so many veggies. A crusty slice of bread or square of cornbread would win over those people (ahem, my husband) who miss their meat. No surprise, I made a few alterations to meet the likings of our family, which I will share below. Naturally dairy, gluten, soy, and nut-free, it’s a meal that can meet the needs of just about anyone’s diet.
To start, we use chicken broth instead of beef; not sure how much of a difference that makes. Italian-style beans are traditional in Minestrone soup, so I use white beans (cannellini) or chickpea (garbanzo), and kidney beans. As long as I have it, I add fresh spinach instead of frozen, chunks of fresh zucchini (which are so delicious in this soup), and green beans. I always stir spinach (fresh or frozen) and zucchini into crockpot dishes about 20 minutes before the end of cooking time, otherwise they overcook and lose all of their nutrients. Finally, I cook the (gluten-free) pasta separately and add a scoop as I serve the soup, so it does not get gummy. It’s great with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast if you’re dairy-free.
Kind of like chili, Minestrone can be customized to include your favorite beans, vegetables, and side accompaniments. It’s one that the kids love, meat-craving husbands find satisfying, and I just adore a healthy bowl of warm vegetables and pasta. A win-win dinner that cooks itself while you attend to your busy day. Other than a sunny day in February, what else could you ask for?
This week I took a break from the kid stuff to focus on having some fun for myself. I grabbed a crew of my mom friends and hit the silks at a local Aerial Yoga class at The Body Art Barn in Blooming Grove, NY. We chose this adventure to celebrate a belated Galentine’s Day (traditionally celebrated on February 13th). What better way to celebrate friendship than cheering each other on through aerial feats?
We drove about an hour to our class and not one of us knew what to expect. A dear friend of mine is the instructor. I was excited to finally get the chance to participate. The class description on the website said all levels are welcome and “One does not need any experience in yoga, acrobatics or aerial dance to reap the benefits of this class.” However, we did find you do need a tiny bit of upper body strength. Thankfully, the instructors in the class are ready to help you through any pose you have difficulty with.
Entering the barn with its sensuous smell of oils and the warm, vibrant colors immediately puts me in a zen mood. When I signed us all up for this event I had zero reservations about it. That is until we arrived and I took off my shoes to stand in front of my yoga hammock (or silk). It was in that moment I questioned my own sanity and ability to do this. Note the look of panic on my face:
It was too late to turn back now, so I had to buck up and get through the class as best I could. At one point I did get stuck upside down and was the only one swinging out of control. I was instructed how to slow down and get myself out of the fabric. It was kind of cool to feel like I was flying for a bit. I will add that I got myself out with a small amount of gracefulness.
This is not your typical yoga class. No one is quiet, there is a lot of chatting as you get into the poses. As a first timer I was thankful no one else in the class was paying attention to me. We were all too busy trying to stay upright in the silks and over thinking our next steps. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But, that was the fun part! Challenging myself to do something new! My day as a mom can feel mundane and routine. It was exciting to do something well outside of my “usual.”
My favorite part of the whole class was at the very end (not because it was over). We opened up the hammocks to lie down inside. The lights were off and we could hear the Beatles “Let It Be” playing. It was time to relax in our little cocoon suspended in the air. It was really relaxing to snuggle into the fabric and just breathe. When class was over I felt energized and comfortably stretched.
I worried my friends would think I was out of my mind for making them take this class. But, we all agree we would take another class in a heartbeat! Not only were our instructors awesome, but the class was not nearly as challenging as we first thought. It was definitely scary in the beginning because it was so new. But, by the end of the class we felt accomplished! If this group of moms can survive this class, so can you!
This one hour and 15 minute class is only $20 to drop in and try it out for yourself. You can register for a class online through The Body Art Barn website. This class was super fun, but I would love to go back with a group again for a Henna and Yoga party. For $30 per person you get an hour on the silks and henna tattoos by Michelle and Debra dubbed “The Henna Chicks.” You can find more info on the website or find them on Facebook. If you have a kid interested in learning to flip and fly check out the Circus Camp being offered during Spring break! You won’t regret any classes here!
The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.
Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare
For those few minutes I couldn’t breathe, the air wouldn’t move in my lungs, my heart beat wildly. The screams of my son’s name were so loud in my ears, I could barely register that it was me screaming. It’s every parent’s WORST nightmare. My son was lost at a very large county fair and he was only three.
Thankfully I found him safe and sound. It was however one of the single scariest moments of my life. Now imagine that these moments are not so few and far between. Imagine for a moment, the fear and dread of waking up each day not knowing if your child will wander away and get hurt, abducted or worse. This is the everyday reality for Gabby of Gardiner.
Finding Help For Individuals Who Wander
Her four-year-old son Jamie has Autism, which makes him prone to wandering away. “He takes off at any opportunity,” Gabby explains. He no longer tries to get out of the house, but he has tried to take off for the woods or for bodies of water like when we go to the beach. He’ll take off in a split second. He takes no notice of cars in parking lots. I have to hold his hand every second we’re out.”
Thankfully someone reached out to Gabby to tell her about Project Lifesaver, an ankle monitoring system for kids and adults with Down syndrome, Autism, Alzheimer’s, dementia or other cognitive conditions which make them likely to wander away from their homes. Immediately she started making calls and eventually got a hold of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office who was able to admit her son to the program.
It took a few months to set up. Though there is a cost associated with participating in the program, she received a grant and the Sheriff’s Office took care of the paperwork for her.
Her son wears an ankle bracelet that emits a unique frequency. They have transmitters in all the Sheriff’s cars and a file with her son’s photo and all of his information is kept with the dispatcher, ready to relay to all officers responding to the call if he goes missing. The officers shoot a transmitter gun to send a ping to his bracelet and it only pings in the direction that he is heading.
Peace of Mind Through Project Lifesaver
An officer calls her once a month just to check in with her to see how the program is going. “It’s a great peace of mind for me because I know that if anything happens, I can call the Sheriff’s office right away and they know exactly what to do,” Gabby explains.
Gabby wants other moms to have the same peace of mind, which is why she reached out to me to write about this amazing program. It’s her hope that other parents who also live with this constant fear can finally breathe deeply or sleep soundly at night, knowing their child can be found quickly if he or she gets lost.
For more information about Project Lifesaver or to find out if the program exists in your area go to www.projectlifesaver.org.
Quiche is often served for brunch, but as an adult, I realized I love quiche not only in the middle of the day, but for dinner on Meatless Monday (or Tuesday. or Wednesday. I don’t discriminate). Quiche seemed intimidating until I began making it. Early on, I learned how to make a crust that used oil instead of butter and didn’t require any rolling. This saved some time, but recently, I realized we could skip the crust all together. If we’re pairing up quiche with muffins or some other breakfasty-baked good, no one even missed the crust. Awesome. Even better, it means that all of the filling can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, then poured into the pan and popped in the oven right before baking. This allows you to have quiche on a weekday morning (bake it while you shower!), for dinner (bake it while you help with homework!), or anytime in between.
A Quick, Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
12 oz cooked, diced broccoli
1 1/2 c shredded cheese
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Mix in onion, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir in broccoli and cheese, and pour mixture into greased 9-in pie plate. Bake at 375 for 55-60 minutes, or until set in the middle. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving. We usually enjoy quiche with fruit salad, and I typically bake something else alongside in the oven (muffins, scones, etc).
A simple, meatless dinner doesn’t have to be boring. Everyone gets excited about quiche night in our house, and there’s usually one piece left for someone to enjoy for lunch the next day. To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.
I sit on the accordion mat, biting my lower lip. I’m fighting the urge to scream out, sometimes unsuccessfully. I’m giving her pep talks from the sidelines during water breaks. No, it’s not a championship game. There’s no reason to be worked up, but something primal takes over when I watch my daughter play basketball.
Invisible Till It’s Time To Pass
She’s only nine and this is her first team sport. I had my reservations after the soccer fiasco when she was five. I have a timid child, but it’s made worse by the fact that she is a girl. I suspect that had she been a boy, she would not be as invisible as she is when the other players are scanning for a pass. But the only time she magically appears to the boys on her team is in those rare, but glorious moments she actually gets to touch the ball.
I’m all hopeful, heart in my throat, until the screaming starts. It’s not my voice. The bile starts to rise in my belly. “Pass it!,” they shout and it’s all she hears. She passes to the screaming boy EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Let Her Decide
The first few games I tried to tell her, “You can take a second and decide whether or not you want to try and take the shot.” But it barely registers on her face in those briefest of seconds the ball touches her delicate hands. The decision is made by her wonderful heart to give the glory away without ever trying.
Being my daughter I observed her for my own pitfalls. I worried that she inherited my fear of failure. I didn’t want her to suffer my inadequacies; being the girl in class, knowing the answer but too afraid of being wrong to open her mouth. But surprisingly that’s not why she doesn’t shoot it.
She got the ball twice tonight and made both shots easily. Nothing but net. There’s no fear of failure in her timid frame. She may not plow into others and try to wrestle the ball away like her teammates do, but she certainly knows what to do with it. It’s just the incessant screaming.
You want your kids to be good teammates. You want them to learn to pass the ball. Being a team means deferring to others when it’s in the best interest of the group. But something sticks in my throat watching her. Perhaps it’s my years growing up as an invisible girl that has me screaming on the inside. I won’t let anyone make her invisible too. She is worthy of being seen. She’s worthy of the glory. She’s worthy of making the decision for herself.
Another mom told me she overheard a dad who had called his son over to tell him to pass to the girls on the team. Sadly there are only a few girls. I didn’t hear it and I don’t know the dad, but I want to high five him. I don’t want anyone to pass my daughter the ball just because she’s a girl. But his words made her visible, perhaps just by one child, but perhaps just long enough for two shots to be seen. His words may have just opened the door for her capabilities to make themselves loud and clear.
A New Chant For Change!
I think we need to teach our sons to pass the ball and our daughters that they don’t need permission to shoot it. Boys naturally go for the shot. They worry less about whether they’ll make it and how it’ll affect everyone else. Girls look for the pass before the opportunity to shoot really sinks in. They care deeply what their actions will mean for everyone else.
The season is almost over and I’ve thought about pulling her out MANY times, but she loves it. I keep waiting for her to get upset or angry. My beautiful Hannah doesn’t measure out the preciseness of justice the way my son Jayden does. She’s not concerned with how well she does or even how well the team does. She’s happy just to be there.
She’s happy simply to run the court, dribble and pass and occasionally make the shot that makes mommy’s heart burst with pride. I couldn’t care less if she misses. I find the victory in the attempt.
Little girls of the world, “shoot the ball.” That’s what we should be cheering loudly. Our words have the power to make them visible and I for one want to see all the many wonderful things they’re capable of when given the chance.
How do you feel about your daughter participating in co-ed sports?
The older my kids are getting, the more I’m appreciating their help around the house, especially in the kitchen. I can easily hand off making salad, prepping ingredients, and sometimes, an entire part of the meal. We had a quiet afternoon this week during which I was able to make a crustless quiche (I’ll share the recipe next week!) and fruit salad, but found myself short on time as I got ready to make muffins. I offered the muffin recipe to my girls and was happy that they had both the skill and confidence to take over. One measured and mixed while the other made the topping, and as a compromise, I wiped down the counter after they put everything away. It was awesome to have the time to work on another task while they handled part of dinner. Definitely one of those pat-yourself-on-the-back, good-job-mommy moments. As I’ve said many times, I wholeheartedly recommend keeping kids in the kitchen from the beginning. Let skills build from them helping you to you helping them. Ultimately, you will be able to step back and watch as they made creations of their own, and never look back.
The quiche, muffins, and fruit salad made a great quick weeknight dinner. Quiche comes together in minutes and fruit salad can always be made in advance. These muffins, with their lush blueberries and crumbly topping, are fun for kids to tackle. Hand over the recipe and let your kids contribute on your next busy weeknight! To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy cooking.
Last week I was really feeling on top of things. I was ahead of the game a bit and had some work pre-loaded, laundry was put away and things felt pretty balanced. Then I got sick with some weird virus. For two whole days I was in bed. Doing nothing. Well, I was breathing, so that’s technically something.
When I am down for the count like that my husband can keep us reasonably afloat for approximately 27 1/2 hours before hell breaks loose and he starts asking questions about food and where I put stuff. By then the twins won’t want daddy to help any more they want mama. Sigh.
I try to not let my mounting to-do list bother me. But, it does. At the top of the list is the class Valentine’s Day party. Oh, Lort if my kids miss that party I will hear about it for another year. Like daily. Ugh. They need to get better fast! And, I need something easy to make!
I finally rally and the next three days go by in a blur of sick kids and snow days. I can’t get out of the house to go get two 99 cent boxes of valentine’s. I asked hubby but his response requires a 12 step explanation so I decide we’ll make them with whatever we have here!
That’s what we did. The night before the big party we made 52 valentines out of stationary cards and stickers. I let the kids fill out whatever they wanted inside the card and helped them spell stuff they couldn’t figure out. I am not sure if my one kid wrote more than just her name, but the cards are done and I am done and that’s all that matters. I still have to pack lunches, set out back packs, write THIS BLOG and return emails. Did I mention I am done with the cards?
Half way through making the cards I realize I still need to make snacks. This is where I really shine. I make cute food that kids love. (Just not my kids). Thankfully, a friend of mine shared the tip to cut out heart shapes from blocks of cheese using a small cookie cutter. Forty-five minutes later we have mini cheese hearts for 26 kids. I am sure it didn’t take the person posting pretty pics of heart shaped cheese to Pinterest 45 minutes to make their hearts. But, they also probably weren’t helping a pair of twinadoes sign their names 26 times while simultaneously crafting shapes from cheese.
I know I share fun crafty things each week, but not every week with kids is colorful and fun. Kids get sick. Moms get sick. Stuff still needs to be done. We just have to do whatever we can to wrap up all that reality in a less hideous bow and move on.
So, this is me moving on to packing lunches for tomorrow. I haven’t grocery shopped yet either. Tomorrow we rock a classic lunch. One good ole peanut butter and jelly sandwich and two Oreo cookies with a bottle of water. Oh and a platter full of heart shaped cheese.
Excuse me while I clear a space for my Mother of The Year Trophy.
The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.
One thing I’m grateful for is that my Mom never subscribed to the idea that Valentine’s Day was just for sweethearts. She always made sure my brother and I felt special either by buying us a heart-shaped box of chocolates or stuffed animals or making us homemade cards. Out of all the cards and gifts she’s given me over the course of my life, there is one item I’ve held onto for nearly 30 years; a home-made Valentine’s Day card written from her heart.
With the help of fellow moms from my Facebook moms group I’ve compiled a list of 8 fun and super sweet ways to show your kids love this Valentine’s Day.
1. Figure Out Their Love Language – If you’ve never read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, I highly recommend it to figure out the way your partner prefers you show them love. There’s a fun quiz you can have your child take to find out their love language whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch. It’s recommended for children ages 9-12. Why not show them love this Valentine’s Day the way that they prefer, whether it’s with a gift, a hug or serving them their favorite dinner?
2. Create A Love Bank – With a recycled coffee can, some paper and dollar store craft supplies you can create a bank for love notes for your child. You can deposit notes for them leading up to Valentine’s Day or all year long and have them “withdraw” a note whenever they need a reminder of Mommy and Daddy’s love for them. My kids loved the bank I created for them.
3. Homemade Cards – Cards from the store are just fine, but there is something wonderfully intimate about a card made by your own two hands. Kids are always working hard on homemade gifts and cards for us, so it’s extra special when we show them that we’re willing to take the time to make something for them.
5. Edible Hearts– You can put a greased cookie cutter on the griddle and fill it with pancake batter to make them special heart-cakes for breakfast on Valentine’s Day. You can cut out heart-shaped cookies and have each child decorate and give it to a family member, like Melissa from Kingston does with her children. You could also cut their sandwiches into hearts using cookie cutters like Dorothy from Stone Ridge does.
6. Hide-A-Heart – For days leading up to Valentine’s Day, Jodie from Poughkeepsie cuts out paper hearts with messages of love for each of her girls and hides them under their pillows to find in the morning. What a sweet way to start the day!
7. Hugs & Kisses Trail – You could leave them a trail of Hershey’s Kisses and/or Hugs leading up to a larger surprise like a gift or you could simply give them a basket to collect kisses Easter-egg hunt style. You might want to leave them out in the open as nobody wants to find melted chocolate days, weeks or months later.
8. Make A Date – Whether you take a trip to a museum, the movies or simply go out for lunch, letting your child decide what you should do together makes this date super special. It’s really hard to spend alone time with each child if you have more than one, so a special date alone with Mom or Dad is an amazing gift.
What are your favorite Valentine’s Day traditions with your kids?
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found blogging at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine and thenodramamama.com when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her otherwise three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow me on Facebook or Twitter for my delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails.