Lead Balloon

Dessert, It’s What’s for Dinner
August 29, 2007, 11:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

My main pregnancy indulgence has been the sweets. I love dessert. After every meal. I’m not really picky about what it is…I love ice cream, anything chocolate, and a banana-pudding type of concoction is something that I always go for at the restaurants. Also chocolate pie. At Luby’s. With chocolate milk. At breakfast, I kill two birds with one stone by eating a sugary cereal for the meal itself, which also doubles as the dessert. Of course, then an hour or two later I’m left with the shakes and am in misery. But it was always definitely worth it.

Aside from the breakfast two-fer, I have to have the final course of dessert following every meal – lunch and dinner. Sometimes, though, I have a hard time waiting on the meal itself before partaking in the dessert. This is a problem, though, because once I eat the pre-meal dessert…Then the meal…Then I definitely want dessert again. So I have it. Sometimes I have something different. The pantry is stocked full of options.

My question is – what happens post-pregnancy? How do I break this awful habit and chain of events? Is there a 12-step for a terminal sweet tooth? You know, thank GOD I’m not much of a baker. If I actually knew how to bake a mean chocolate pie…And actually had the energy to do so…I’d be in big trouble. I basically need to buy everything ready-to-eat at the store. If something takes time, it doesn’t really satisfy me. I need easy access.

While visiting my mom and sister not long ago, I discovered some really good new 100-calorie treats that I’d not seen before. Those are quick, easy, and come with less guilt than some of my other dessert staples. Of course, sometimes I have to have two packages to really tame the rabid beast inside of me that requires the sweetness. But I’d say that overall, I’m not REALLY bad…Most of the ice cream I eat is low-fat, plus I’m doing these 100-calories things now.

What I don’t get is this…How, after eating the desserts like I have been…have I been able to remain “on target” with my pregnancy weight gain? I’m actually at the lower end of the spectrum. And I’m very thankful for that. I’m not posting that here out of pride…I’m posting the question here because I’m seriously dumbfounded. Because there’s also the fast food…The lack of exercise. I think what I’ve got here is a big, hungry baby. I think that when this baby is born, there won’t be a need for me to focus on not eating the sweets in the house, because this baby is going to come out demanding sweets and fast food (probably using some choice bad words in the process) and won’t be willing to share them with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the number on the scale and cringe. Never in my life have I weighed this much, and I hope to never weigh this much again. I’ve got a lot to lose once this baby comes out…And I think that even means saying goodbye to the 100-calorie snacks. I think it means that I actually have to start working out again. This is all music to my husband’s ears, he’s got a work out addiction. Total weirdo.

Or, I could just keep on having babies and not worry about it.

That’s the thing that I’ve truly enjoyed about being pregnant. Not being so conscious of my body image. Not caring what I look like in a swimsuit. Feeling it’s totally acceptable that my face is a little fatter. I hope I can take with me a little of that confidence and disregard for things physical through this pregnancy and beyond…That would be nice.


Neighborhood Watch
August 14, 2007, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I remember when I was a kid, there was a push to fully integrate this “Neighborhood Watch” program in our particular neighborhood, and I assume neighborhoods all around. You’ve seen the signs like these – here and here. I’m not sure which organization started it.

I’m sure before they put the signs up, every house in the neighborhood got a pamphlet or a door-to-door description of just what it meant to live in a neighborhood with a “Neighborhood Watch” program. I’m sure people slept more soundly for a little while after that program went into effect. Knowing that their neighbors would certainly call the police or other authorities if any suspicious activities were taking place while you were sleeping or out of town…

Well I noticed as I was driving into our neighborhood the other day that we also have a “Neighborhood Watch” sign. And it caused me to pause and ask myself a few quick questions:
– What the heck is Neighborhood Watch? Am I a citizen on patrol?
– How old is that sign? I can barely read it. It’s hidden behind a tree limb!
– Do they really think that sign deters crime and violence?
– Do I even know the names of my neighbors?

I just wonder how many of these signs are still up across the country, and I wonder if there’s been any real return on investment measured from the signs or the program in general. I think it might be a good idea to take the signs down, recycle them or something. I would imagine that local governments don’t even have this program on their radars. I only remember it because I can remember the signs going up in our neighborhood as a child…What about people who have no idea or recollection of the start of this program?

I have a sneaky feeling that criminals don’t drive into our neighborhood and think, “I’m not going to break into any of these houses…they’re got Neighborhood Watch!” I think you have to actually live in a gated community these days to truly deter the criminals.

And, I apologize…But now that I’ve brought this to your attention, you’re going to be noticing the signs more often. OR – maybe you will feel more comfortable calling the cops when you see some suspicious behavior! Maybe not.

Rant: Cost of Child Care
August 11, 2007, 7:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two more things on our list of things to do before baby: 1) Interview and find a pediatrician, and 2) Find out what the heck we’re going to do with this baby once I go back to work. The pediatrician part was relatively easy. We got a couple of referrals from friends or co-workers, made the phone calls and set up appointments to interview them, hopefully over the next couple of weeks we’ll have chosen one we like and moved on.

The child care piece, though…Not so easy. When we bought our house I was a little excited about the fact that there’s a day care facility right at the entrance of the neighborhood. I thought, “How convenient…that’s a no-brainer.” For quite some time, I’d been fooling myself into thinking that there was no decision to be made there – the convenience factor alone would dictate that THAT was the place we’d take our children as long as we lived in this God forsaken neighborhood. My only fear was a waiting list…So a few months ago I called and found out there was no waiting list at the time, and I felt better…Pushed this “to do” further down on the list.

Then I started thinking…I work from home. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone come to our house to take care of the baby? I could nurse and feel like a “working stay at home mom”…I’d be able to oversee the care of the child and never feel disconnected. It’s the best case scenario. And, like the overall climate and weather in California, there’s a price to pay for the “best case scenario”. It’s expensive. And let me stop right here to say that in my discussions with others about child care, some people really think that expense should play no role in the determination of what’s best for the child. You make do, you do whatever you have to do, to give it the “best case scenario” in care. I’m here to tell you, those people are crazy and obviously don’t live in the real world. Maybe their cars are paid for. Maybe they don’t have student loans. Maybe they just need to shut the F up and leave me alone.

The cost of child care is OUTRAGEOUS. There are those of you moms who are reading this, nodding your heads and saying, “She’s right, it’s pretty crazy.” But there are those of you out there who have no children…You’re maybe sitting there drinking a really nice glass of wine, maybe wearing something you just bought yesterday, a cute little something that you just had to have for $120….maybe you even have a handbag worth more than the stove you never use to cook meals for yourself because you’ve got the convenience of eating out all the time… Let me just warn you now. Try for one month to put $1,000 of your salary away for childcare. Once you see how that feels – do it for a full 12 months. That’s $12,000.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here – I’m not complaining about having to pay $12,000 a year for child care. This is part of parenting when one parent can’t stay home and when you don’t live in a small town. (I qualify that “small town” bit because I’m hearing my mom and sister’s thoughts right now…about how if I lived in my hometown there’d be plenty of nice grandmas who would take care of my child for next to nothing. And trust me, I’ve considered packing it up and moving a couple times over the past few months.) I’m complaining because that $12,000 a year doesn’t buy me the “best case scenario.” Seriously, if I wanted someone to come to my home everyday from 8-5, I’d be paying three or four times that. Not kidding. You get what you pay for.

We were pretty much set on this one caregiver we found who takes care of no more than five children in her home. We went to her house, interviewed her, and we loved her. Her house was clean, the child care area was spotless, she loves what she does and came highly recommended. Her price was even LOWER than everything else I’d researched. There are a few issues…we’d pay for three weeks of vacation for her a year. Not to mention her sick days and continuing education days. That means for over three weeks a year we’d have to find alternate care for the child and pay double for those days and weeks. That reason alone would not be enough to say no, though. We’d pay for that. She also has hours that are a little more difficult for us to keep – 7:30 – 5:30. Everyone knows that 5:30 is near impossible to make on many work days. She’s not just right down the street, unfortunately. Even though I work from home and could handle this most days – I do travel. And when I’m traveling, the pressure that would put on Todd to get to this woman’s house to pick up the baby each day…It just isn’t very feasible. Our hearts were a little broken when we finally looked at each other and decided that this lovely woman might not be an option for us at all.

So I visited the day care near our home. It smelled like urine. I observed the infant rooms. The caregivers didn’t look clean or really loving toward the children. They didn’t even look attentive enough, I thought. There was this one baby on its tummy up against the wall, just lying there and staring at me through the Plexiglass window. Was anyone watching her? The sink area looked dirty and the worst part…the cribs they had for the babies to sleep in were more like stacked cages. Cages with warped and uncomfortable looking mattresses. Did I mention that it smelled like urine in there???

So we were back to square one – ready to pay the $1/minute fee for every minute past 5:30 that one of us couldn’t make it to the woman’s house I mentioned earlier to pick up the kid. We were resigned to deal with the unpredictability of her sick days or vacations and finding alternate care from God only knows who, I mean, everyone we know works or lives too far away to help.

Then I went in for my bikini wax. (There are, after all, areas of my body that I can’t see anymore but need to remain kempt.) Anyway. To distract myself from the excruciating pain of the waxing (or “sugaring” for those of us with ultra-sensitive skin), I started to tell the woman removing two layers of my delicate skin with a ball of warm sugar about my child care dilemma. She had the very same concerns about the home care lady. And she didn’t like what she heard about the day care. I had wrongly assumed that all day cares were like the one I visited, and she encouraged me to get up and go check out one down the street that many of her clients use, she’d heard great reviews. I had time before they closed, so I stopped in. And it was different. It was much better. It smelled great! The parents and caregivers were happy. The caregivers looked like they’d showered before coming into work. It was bliss! I was just dreading the part of the tour where they discussed price. I was waiting for them to tell me that this place was much more than we’d imagined we’d be paying for child care. But it wasn’t. It was more, for sure. $50 more a week than the home care lady. Also more than the cage sleeping urine smelling day care in our neighborhood.

But it was still quite a distance (in the wrong direction) from our house, not too far away from the home care lady’s house, actually. So I called Todd. Told him it was much better and that we had more research to do, maybe there was one of the same caliber closer to our house And as I was on my way home, still talking to him about this on my cell phone, I drove past a day care that I’d never seen before, tucked away from the street a bit, about a mile from our house. And it was the same “chain” of places as the lovely one near the bikini wax place! I made a U-turn, went in and visited, and was delighted to find that it was also nice. It also smelled good. There were no baby cages.

This place prefers to be called a “school”, rather than a day care. It’s a day care. Although it does have a full curriculum for learning at all ages (even infancy – complete with sign language!) and a private kindergarten for kids who reach that age. I have friends who refuse to call their child-care institution a “day care” also, and I’m starting to see why. Maybe day cares have cages and urine-scented air fresheners? The thing about all these places, though, is that you can drop off and pick up your child between the hours of 6:30 am and 6:30 pm. This one is just a mile away. I think I convinced Todd last night that, even though our child’s care is the most important factor, we might have to pay a bit also for convenience. I don’t care if someone slaps me around and tells me that parenting isn’t convenient. Or that I’m a horrible mother for not paying a huge premium for keeping the baby at home. This is what is best for us.

Now we just have to pay the deposit and turn in the application form to secure our “spot” in the infant room for November. This is all becoming so real. And scary. Good Lord, I hope my house never smells like urine.

My Contribution to the Planet
August 7, 2007, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m 33 weeks pregnant this week. That means that in four weeks, I’ll be considered “full term”. In seven weeks, I’ll be “officially due”. And the fact that there are a number of days between and after those two milestones means that I am going a little crazy with anticipation. Getting to that point of “it could happen any time” and that, for a control freak, causes some unrest. Not to mention, there are so many things on my “List of Things to Do Before Baby” that have not been done yet. I don’t mean the list that had “Travel the World” and all that stuff on it, the one I scratched through then crumpled up and tossed into the fire when I found out I was pregnant. I mean the REAL list, the list of things I’ve written down on paper, that have to be done pre-baby. Paint the house. Replace the tile in the entry. Return all the bathroom decor I bought months ago that no longer matches or works. Find a china cabinet so that I can free up storage space downstairs. Get a new office desk and chair. Get a car seat. A mattress for the crib. That stuff. The weeks are running out. How did this happen? Crazy.

Anyway. I haven’t had any true “cravings” during my pregnancy like most women do. I’ve probably allowed myself to eat more fast food than normal – treating myself to a potato, egg and cheese breakfast taquito at Whataburger every Sunday, for instance. Let’s be honest, I get the full meal. The one that comes with hash browns, for extra protein. I love a hamburger and fries, and have eaten more burger combos during the past eight months than I ate in the last two or three years combined – I swear this is true.

The prevalence of fast food in my diet has caused another realization, though, that I’m really ashamed of…as if the fast food wasn’t enough. While I look down on establishments who send their “to go” or “leftover” foods home in Styrofoam containers, I love a Styrofoam cup.

Styrofoam, the brand name for polystyrene thermal insulation material, is terrible for the environment. It takes some 400 years to break it down and it’s so cost prohibitive to recycle it that no one does it. There are cities across America that have outlawed its use in food service industries. (See an interesting story here on that.)

But for some reason, I love to drink beverages, especially water, out of a Styrofoam cup – with crushed ice, complete with a straw and lid (which are also not necessary when consuming beverages in the safety of your own home). Don’t worry, I re-use them over and over again, I don’t get a new one every day or anything crazy like that. The cup really is perfect on so many levels here at home, though. Lily (the cat) can knock it over all day long and the lid keeps the liquid in, safe and sound. She also doesn’t desire to drink from the lidded cup like she does an open glass of water. Also, the Styrofoam doesn’t sweat and leave water marks on my desk. (By “desk” I mean beautiful antique kitchen table that I’m forced to use for the next 7 weeks.) I have a coaster very nearby for those sweaty glasses of water. Sometimes I must be too lazy to get up and get it, because I have seen some water rings lately. When you’re yapping on the phone non-stop, it’s hard to pay attention to the details. This Styrofoam cup is genius for the idiots of the world. It’s basically the adult “sippy cup”.

Anyway, I’m obviously admitting to some things I’m not terribly proud of in this post…But I felt the need to document them here. And mom, I know that stressing about my list of things “to do” before baby is not a good idea, to just “let go” and everything will fall into place. I know that’s true. And mom, I also know that my life doesn’t end just because I’m having a baby…I know these things. Doesn’t mean I won’t obsess over them. That’s just how I roll.

Puppies are cute.
August 1, 2007, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It took everything in us not to get a new Westie puppy (or “another Jack” as we tend to say) this week. On our way to Sonic (my pregnancy staple) Todd swerved over two lanes of traffic as soon as he and I both saw the “Westie Puppies” sign on the side of the road. We got out of the car and this guy claims to not be a breeder – just a “mistake” that his male and female Westie made, that he’s going to get that mama fixed as soon as he gets rid of those puppies. Interesting that someone who doesn’t breed Westies has a professionally made “Westie Puppies” sign and knows all the rules and regulations for setting up shop to sell the dogs in all the neighboring towns. That’s not the point of the story – I’m just not sure why he felt the need to go there as he was trying to sell the pups?

We are the last people in America who need a new, 7 week old puppy. No matter how cute it is, or how much fun Jack will have with it, or how it might make Jack happier to have it around once the real baby arrives, etc., etc., etc. I made several arguments and valid points against getting the dog:
1. It’s one thing to find a dog sitter for one dog, another thing completely to find one for two.
2. When we travel out of town, Jack travels in the back seat and his bag, crate, toys, food, etc. all go in the back of the car. We’re about to add a baby and all it requires to that list. And another dog? Not a good idea.

But ultimately, it was hard to argue against my last point, because it pretty much is a dead end street:
3. Puppies make messes. Poo and pee messes. On the floor. Babies spend a lot of time on the floor. No way, Jose.

So we didn’t get another dog. Again. Again, we didn’t get another dog. Seems we’re always putting ourselves into this position. Todd wants two. And he can have another dog…when this baby is older, I think.

Eight months pregnant now. Freaking out a little bit. Nesting.