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My First Step Towards Meal Planning

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Meal planning. Am I doin’ it right?

I’ve been throwing around the idea of meal planning for a while now. When it was just a little family of three – me, Tiny Boss and my husband – putting a meal together was easy (although I didn’t know it back then). In the Cerritos/Artesia area where I live, there is no shortage of inexpensive and tasty Chinese, Korean and Filipino food. Give the kids some rice, the husband some meat and dinner is served.

But now with two kids, getting out of the house was a challenge itself. You have to get their shoes on (which takes about two days, if you’re lucky) and everyone seated in their appropriate car seats. Then when you finally get to the restaurant you get to choose your poison. You can either:

1) dine in even though the kid-to-parent ratio is not in your favor, which is basically the cosmic equivalent of giving the universe two middle fingers, or

eff2) drive home clutching your hard-earned food while its deliciousness circulates through the car, taunting all hangry kids within a half-mile radius.

Either way, there will be consequences.

screwedAhem. So back to meal planning. There’s plenty of sites that have good menus, tips, and ideas (see here, here and here). But the first step is this:

Write it down. Be clear on what you want to cook on what day. Buy a good dry erase board, which you can get at Amazon here. It’s officially known as the “frameless Quartet Magnetic Dry-Erase Weekly Organizer, 6 x 10 Inches, Daily Planner.”

I like this one because it’s organized by days of the week and has enough room for one or two meals a day. Plus it comes with magnets on the back so it can stick right onto your fridge.

This is NOT a sponsored post. I don't get any money for this. I'm actually trying to be helpful. For once.

This is NOT a sponsored post so no, I don’t get any money for promoting this dry erase board. I’m actually trying to be helpful. For once.

This magical board has already helped me:

1) remember what I need to cook,

2) keep me focused on what I’m prepping without getting sidetracked,

3) help me pencil in leftovers for meals so they aren’t forgotten and

4) reduce food waste at our house.

IMG_9863I love it.

How do you guys do meal planning?

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Legal Ways to Get Revenge on Your Toddler

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As my daughter transitions from infancy into toddlerhood and my son devolves from toddlerhood to a threenager, I decided a prudent course of action to take would be to start a list of ways to get revenge on both of them.

Pretty sure we all know the answer to this one.

Pretty sure we all know the answer to this one.

This way I’ll feel better, knowing I have my revenge ready, the next time we’re eating out and my daughter catapults silverware over to the next table like a miniature and crappy assassin. So here’s my list so far:

Top 5 Ways to Get Revenge on Your Toddler/Preschooler

5) Blend healthy stuff they absolutely hate into their smoothies.

Oh, it's not just kale in there, hon. There's probiotics too. And DHA. Boom, son. Who's your mama?

Oh, it’s not just kale in there, hon. There’s celery too. And DHA. Boom, son. Who’s your mama?

4) Convincing them that if they drink soda, they’ll shrink until they’re smaller than their baby sister.

3) Telling them there’s no more ice cream/chocolate/chips just so you can eat it by yourself later. Alone. In silence.

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2) Angry toy cleaning (read: disposal) in the middle of the night.

1) Tying their shoelaces together when they’re sitting in the shopping cart seat so they can’t move. I’ve actually been looking on Amazon for little kid shoes with shoelaces just so I can do this.

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Parents, help me out. There must be more!

And what transgressions would warrant any of the above reprisals?

5) Yelling in public “YOU KNOCKED ME DOWN, MAMA!” after tripping over his own feet.

“WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, MOM?????”

4) Causing a panicked and embarrassing phone call to Poison Control about ingesting KY lube.

3) Letting out a 110 decibel fart while Mom’s on a client call.

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2) Distracting Mom so she doesn’t notice she’s walking around Target with her nursing tank top unstrapped.

1) Water + any iOS device.

omfgWhat’s the worst/most embarrassing thing your kid has ever done to you? Leave a comment.

My Toddler Stylist

My Toddler Stylist

A month ago, Summer Bellessa posted a hugely popular blog post about how she let her toddler dress her for a week. Of course I thought this was a brilliant idea so I did it too, until I decided I was at risk for being known around town as the crazy mom and needed to wear something normal before the neighbors requested a welfare check on me and the kids.

I was going to post the pictures right after I took them, but then preschool registration hit. This was followed by the stomach bug, which tapered off into my birthday, so OBVIOUSLY I had better things to do, like clean other people’s puke out of my hair and argue with Tiny Boss over whether it was his birthday month or mine.

But then today my friend sent me this link, which is kind of a compilation of other moms who let their toddlers pick out their clothes for a the week. Because what better way is there to assess the level of antipathy your toddler holds for you than to give him free reign over your public appearance for a few days?

Anyways, here are my “TODDLER DRESSED ME FOR A WEEK. TODDLER HAS WRONGED ME” photos. Enjoy!

Day 1: Barefoot Running Meets Elegance

Passes for normal? Don't worry, he was just warming up.

Passes for normal? Don't worry, he was just warming up.

 

Although I had to draw the line at bathrobes, this wasn’t a bad ensemble, even with the Vibram Five Fingers on my feet.

Day 2: Pattern Blindness

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Would you like to know how Tiny Boss chose this outfit? You can recreate this “dressed in the dark look” in just four easy steps:

1) Rummage through pants drawer and choose the first pair of pants you see that aren’t jeans or khakis.

2) Spend ONE FULL MINUTE swinging shirts around on hangers before discovering one that’s both too tight around the arms and the belly.

3) Stop to quote Anna Wintour: you either know fashion or you don’t.

4) Find a handbag that usually isn’t used because, you know, it’s kind of ugly.

As we headed out the door, I got smart. I’ll just throw a jacket over this hot mess! Problem solved.

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Throw on a jacket, problem solved! Right?

“Find me a jacket,” I commanded (you can’t let them know you’re afraid, or they’ll tear you apart like a pack of wild dogs).

“This one!” he said, with a confidence I pray he keeps when he’s older. He grabbed a wool coat I used to wear to work all the time. You know, before I had kids who picked out garish outfits for blogging’s sake.

And because I’m a masochist: “Now shoes?”

A pair of neutral patent leather wedges. And off we went to breakfast on that Sunday. I did turn a few heads – “These are my church clothes!” – was what I had practiced saying in my head in case anyone said anything to me, but no one actually seemed to want to make eye contact after the initial double take.

whaaa

All in all, the second day was a good experiment. I posted my outfit picture onto Facebook and received some very helpful insight, including:

1) Apparently my purse looks like both a diaper bag and also a laptop bag. Can I sell this idea on The Shark Tank?

2) Other people want to pick my clothes, too.

3) I have nice scarves.

Day 3: Well, That Escalated Quickly

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This day has traumatized me so much that I just can’t even. A lot of my friends who saw the photos actually told me they liked it, but they probably are just hoping I write them in my will so that in the likely event I die of embarrassment, they get a cut.

The alternate outfit chosen for me today was this:

Since I'm breastfeeding and I have two kids, I can't be drunk. Otherwise, I might have actually considered wearing in public this Liz Lange Target nightgown.

Since I'm breastfeeding and I have two kids, I can't be drunk. Otherwise, I might have actually considered wearing in public this Liz Lange Target nightgown.

Day 4: Grin and Bear It

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Some of those same supportive friends suddenly turned on me. “Why do you have those pants at all?” “The fact you’re wearing them means these were in your closet!” Talk about victim blaming.

Others insisted they liked it. I’m sure they think they do, but until I see them in a polka dot top paired with criss-cross lattice pants, I’m going to take their compliments with a grain of salt.

Day 5: Salvation

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I know you won’t believe me after seeing the carnage from Days 3 and 4, but Tiny Boss picked this entire outfit! Something I would actually have picked for myself! so, Tiny Boss, maybe we’ll have to try this again after all. Like, in 15 years when whatever I’m wearing is actually embarrassing you more than me.

 

Welcome back, old self. It only took 16 months. That’s like low term in state prison.

Welcome back, old self. It only took 16 months. That’s like low term in state prison.

It’s been over a year since I’ve blogged.

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I’ve been meaning to blog, but with the birth of my second child, I just haven’t felt up to it. Blogging was constantly on my mind, but it was hard for me to do it. Honestly, going back to writing is about as awkward, unsettling, and weird as having sex for the first time after giving birth (if you don’t know what I mean, read Erin Donovan’s “Dead Vagina Walking” to get caught up to speed). Plus, there was just so much to write about I honestly didn’t know where to start.

Since blogging about all that I had wanted to write about in the past year would take forever, so I’ve just made a timeline. Here’s a year of my life, condensed:

12/2013: I give birth to #2! After laboring at home and giving up because my beloved husband FELL ASLEEP while I was dancing to speed things up, we end up at the hospital, 6cm dilated and me yelling for an epidural because 1) holy oxytocin, back labor and 2) I was so desperate for sleep.

Eight hours later, my husband would help deliver a sunny side up, 7 pound 3 ounce baby girl. Unlike with my first baby, the moment they put Juliette into my arms, I was in love. Unlike with my first, I was not overwhelmed with the knowledge that I was now responsible, legally, morally and otherwise, for a tiny human being whose survival depended on me. Instead, I felt proud and confident. The past nine months had been terrible, both physically and emotionally, but after giving birth I felt amazing.

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Of course, no way could I ACTUALLY do this immediately after giving birth.

1/2014: On New Year’s Day, we go to Disneyland with my son and my brand new baby girl. Being in the hospital had been terribly tough on Tiny Boss, and I wanted to do something special for him. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a horrible idea and I end up with a sick, feverish infant and several sleepless nights. Those sleepless nights haven’t disappeared, by the way.

2/2014: I am pumping so I can save milk for Tinier Boss because FFS, she is going on the bottle as soon as we get her two month shots. I am NOT making the same mistake I did with her older brother (who never took a bottle and therefore I never got a break).

3/2014: I have way too much milk because she’s not on the bottle. I’m going to start donating milk. Or maybe I should sell it. I found a website that puts you in touch with parents who need milk. This person is willing to pay $2/ounce for fresh, unfrozen milk. I’m pumping 6-12 ounces a day. I am literally a cash cow! Wait, not a cow. Poor choice of words.

Later in 3/2014: I make $20 selling breast milk! After emailing the buyer, who promises to be discreet (ok?), we meet at Starbucks.

You’re K.C.?”

whaaa

Fine. Maybe he’s a dad? But a few hours after we meet up, K.C. texts me, “Your milk is delicious.”

ewBut maybe I shouldn’t judge because thanks to Google, I’ve learned that some cancer patients drink breast milk (it is full of nutrients and extremely easy to digest). Also, some bodybuilders do it too, although based solely on appearance, this guy wasn’t a bodybuilder . . . I speculate that I have sold 10 ounces of my breastmilk to an adult baby (thanks Wikipedia!).

4/2014: I am still disappointed that I can’t make money with my boobs.

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What happens to a dream deferred?

8/2014: We travel to Mexico with both kids by plane.

Vacationing with tiny humans is awesome!

Vacationing with tiny humans is awesome!

The kids do awesome and I am proud. On the return flight we are stuck in a holding pattern for almost two hours due to bad weather and no one under the age of three in my row has a meltdown. On the other hand, our surrounding passengers must have been coming back from a convention for assholes. I regret not being a Tom Clancy fan; otherwise I could yell out spoilers at the man sitting next to me pretending to read but he can’t due to the amount of eye rolling going on. Bless his heart, he can’t seem to stop alternating between rolling his eyes and huffing like he’s trying to get to the head of the Hometown Buffet line. dwight

Next time I board a plane with kids, I’m printing out required reading (including this and this) to pass out. How’s that for goody bags?

booobitch9/2014: My son is potty trained! I’m forever grateful for the 3 Day Potty Training method.

At first, this is awesome, but then the realization that my schedule is now ruled by his bladder (or worse) quickly sets in. I learn the importance of always knowing the location of a bathroom or a good bush wherever I go and accumulate bad juju for the number of times we have peed on the seat or elsewhere (shudder). I spend good money on a Kalencom portable potette that is used and accepted by every American toddler except for ours.

11/2014: Flu season has set in. You know what’s worse than being sick with one kid? You guessed it.

12/2014: Baby girl is one year old. I can’t believe a year went by.

And that’s what I’ve been up to since I last blogged.

IMG_9513Actually, it wasn’t that bad getting back into writing. Stay tuned for my next post, which will be about transitioning from one to two kids, and the number of new gray hairs that have coincidentally sprouted at the same time.

Advice to (New) Mom-ttorneys

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Recently a friend-of-a-friend asked me for some advice since she had just both passed the bar to become an attorney as well as found out she was pregnant.

I wanted to say “congratulations” to the baby and “oh, I’m sorry to hear” to the bar passage – but instead, I came up with this list, which I hope will find its way to her somehow. I usually don’t do advice in my blog, because the only topics I’m really qualified to opine upon are either irrelevant (“don’t try to wax your boyfriend’s face”) or scientifically unsound (“you’ll get severe stomach cramps if you sleep in a crop top”). But because this woman is about to have a baby and become a work from home attorney – she wants to start up her own family law practice – I feel like I need to warn her pass on some words of encouragement.

Top 10 Advice for New Work-at-Home-Moms:

10. Flexible work arrangement = baby first, work second, and mom third. This is bad.

I’ve talked to a lot of WAHMs, moms with a flexible work schedule, moms who telecommute, and moms who own their own businesses, and they all agree – you end up working 24/7 when you work from home. Work begins to bleed and consume all of your waking moments that aren’t occupied by your offspring. Document review and phone calls are scheduled around nap times. Briefs are written late into the night, and police reports are read in bed, in the dark, so as not to awaken the ticking time bomb that is your child.

But you’ll burn out that way. What they say in parenting books about “setting boundaries” or “creating routines” needs to be applied to your work. Try something like “no work emails after 10pm” or, at least, “no squinting at client emails/texts at 2am in the dark while nursing.”

9. Expect your views on your career to change.

Assistant Branch Manager looks pretty good too.

It’s only a title.

I never expected to give up my practice, but I’ve pretty much all but done just that – and I’m much happier now than I have ever been.

Also – I never thought I would consider going back to work as a government attorney, but the temptation of great coworkers, a steady paycheck, and top benefits are extremely alluring once you have a family. Stability and good companionship are underrated when you’re a mom.

8. Also underrated when you’re a mom? Sanity.

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Your attorney/mom friends will be much more sympathetic than this.

Solo practice can be very lonely, and at the same time, so can motherhood. Although I often think “ain’t nobody got time for dat,” I find myself infinitely recharged after spending time with my friends, especially attorney friends who can relate to my complaints about judges or clients or baby DAs.

Also, I used to think mom groups were dumb. I don’t know why I thought that; I just did. I now love spending time with a select group of mom friends because, again, they know exactly what I’m going through. As a new mom/new attorney, you’ll need that support from people who’ve been there, done that.

7. Be selfish.

Which brings me to being “selfish” enough to take some time for yourself. Otherwise you’ll seriously go batsh*t crazy. Right now I’m blogging this from the parking lot in front of a Skate Depot because after a day where I took Tiny Boss to gymnastics and the children’s museum and was rewarded with only a 20-minute-nap all day, I could not spend one extra second with him anymore. As soon as his dad came home, I was out the door.

I did this even though I know my son prefers I stay home with him and not his dad. It’s a developmental age thing, I’m told.

I did this even though I know that if Tiny Boss wakes up, which he is wont to do, he’ll cry incessantly for me until, well, he stops and accepts the fact that Dad is the one who’s going to give him milk and lull him back to sleep to the sounds of the Imperial March hummed in baritone.

And do I feel a little guilty for not giving my son “the best,” or at least, what he wants? Yeah, I do feel a little bad. But mind over matter, I know he is fine, and so here I am, blogging to you fine folks in my car, using stolen wifi.

6. Write down all your ultimatums – and thrown them away.

hundredpercentYes, this includes things like breastfeeding, cosleeping, baby food-making, sleep training, and anything else that has to do with parenthood.

The number one lesson I’ve learned from being a mother – never say never. Your own flexibility and open-mindedness will surprise you. Have I thought about trying the cry-it-out method with my second, still unborn child? Yes, even though a year ago I was convinced Ferberizing a kid would turn her into a psychopath, or worse, Donald Trump. Will I do it to my second, still unborn child? Probably not. But still – never say never.

5. You can’t have it all.

Nope, you can’t have it all – there will be some things that you’ll give up, even if you think now that you’ll never do it. For me, it was working out regularly – as well as regular hair highlights and manicures. Nothing like pushing a human being out of your crotch in front of a room of strangers to rid you of most of your vanity!

4. Set realistic goals and expectations.

tumblr_inline_mpa7m7vTV51qz4rgp#5 and #4 kind of go together. In all honesty, the learning curve is steep for both lawyering and parenting. You’ll have self-doubts about your abilities at both. But you’ll be fine when it comes to the mom thing, at least.

3. Get help where you can. 

In the beginning, let others take care of you. I once read that lawyers have a hard time taking physical cues from their bodies because we become extraordinarily talented at making counterarguments – especially with ourselves – and also focusing on analyzing and interpreting facts rather than listening to how we feel. For new attorney moms, my advice is to make sure to say yes to the people who want to help – whether it’s to bring you food, or wash your dishes, or to watch the kid for a couple of hours so you can take a nap. Which brings me to . . .

2. Don’t be a control freak.

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You don’t have the luxury of being a perfectionist in your work anymore when you’re a WAHM. I can’t stress this enough.

1. Ignore everything I just said. 

For one thing, everything I’ve just written about is much easier said than done. Also, everyone will give you advice, but you’ll mostly pave your own way by finding out what works for you.

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Yes, mom-ttorney, you are awesome.

And lastly, and most importantly, you will be fine at being a mom, and somehow the lawyer part will work itself out. And trust me – at the end of each day, when you look at your baby for one more time before you go to bed and wake up in two hours to make sure she’s still alive/to feed her, you’ll know without a doubt that yes, it was all worth it.

10 Rules Toddlers Live By That Are Designed to Break Your Spirit

Someday, with any luck, my kid will read this post and thank me.

And also one day, with any luck, my kid will read this blog and thank me.

10) Once a routine has been established and you’ve both settled into it, that’s when the toddler will decide the routine is no longer valid.

9) Diaper blowouts will always be more likely to occur in the car seat than at home. This doubly applies to infants.

8) Events you schedule in advance at certain times suddenly and inexplicably become the prime napping time.
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7) The more tired you are, the less likely it is your toddler will go down for a nap without a fight.

6) Toddlers (and infants) have adult sized farts, adult sized poops, and generate as much laundry as twelve adults.

5) The best place for a tantrum is always in public.

4) No matter how clean your house is, they will find something gross to stick into their mouths, like dead flies or year-old-raisins from under the couch cushion.

3) They refuse to understand the concept of “no” until they’re old enough to loudly, and forcefully, repeat it themselves.

Toddler octopus

Toddler octopus

2) Sharing is caring, but toddlers are selfish little miscreants.

1) Your comfort is always, always, inversely proportional to theirs. This means they’re the most comfortable when you’re standing up and less when you’re sitting down. If you’re actually laying down, you better get used to being perfectly still and ridiculously quiet, like you’re hunting wabbits.

Don't move. The baby's sleeping.  Source: http://dailypicksandflicks.com/

Don’t move. The baby’s finally asleep.
Source: http://dailypicksandflicks.com/

Tale of Two Pregnancies and the Government Shutdown

I haven’t blogged in a while. I blame it on the government shutdown. You want to know what I’ve been up to while our elected officials are busy eating hazelnut chocolates and playing GTA V (which is what I’d do if I was furloughed)?

Well, for one, this:

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Before you get all excited and tell me your potty training tips, I should disclose that I’m not actually potty training. I did think about starting potty training soon, which is why I bought this ridiculous Fisher-Price musical potty. Of course, it never got used for anything besides play because it was just too fun of a toilet. I mean, this thing lights up while making pretend-flushing sounds and exclaims “YAY!” as if you’ve just won an all-expense trip to the Bahamas for you and four of your girlfriends, no kids allowed.

Because the musical potty was so fun, it was never used as a potty but was instead slowly assimilated into Tiny Boss’ toy collection. Until that fateful day.

Seriously? I'm going to start using kid toilets. They're WAY better than ours.

Seriously? I’m going to start using kid toilets. They’re WAY better than ours.
Check out http://www.ctadigital.com/item.asp?item=3016

I know. It’s my fault. I’m terrible about putting the diaper on Tiny Boss right away. But we’ve never had a changing table, which means I always change him on the bed . . . and the bed is just so comfortable . . . and what’s the harm in letting him roam free for a little bit anyways? He’s got to air out those nuts, right?

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Found this when I looked up “funny testicles” in Google images. I’m hoping it’s Photoshopped. And you’re welcome.

No good deed goes unpunished. I’m trying to let Tiny Boss air out for his own comfort and instead he craps on my bed. But to my credit, I leaped up as best as a pregnant woman can do, grabbed him and plopped him on the Yay Toilet. He obligingly pooped a little –  just enough to make a mess in two spots instead of one.

So I ended up having to stick Tiny Boss in the playpen while I tried to clean the poop up as fast as I could before the dogs caught on that there was something exquisitely interesting and tasty on the bed. In my haste, I got poop on my pant leg, so the sheet-changing, potty scrubbing, and poop disposal were all done with one pant leg rolled up, West-coast style.

LL Cool J probably had poop on one pant leg too.

LL Cool J probably had poop on one pant leg too.

That was week one of the government shutdown.

Week two began with me rubbing baby shampoo all over my pregnant belly.

In my defense, take a look at this bottle from the good folks at Shea Moisture.

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Did you see the Wash & Shampoo part? Yeah? Me neither!

Seriously. I saw “Argan Oil” and “Calm & Comfort.” Sounds good to me!

When I started to pour it out, I noticed the consistency was definitively not oily, but I thought, what the heck? Maybe it’s one of those oil creams or something. What’s an Argan anyways? A quick glance at the ingredients list didn’t help me figure out this was for washing hair either. I mean, this stuff is made from sugar beets, for crying out loud. That sounds like it’s way better for stretch marks than it is for cleaning your hair.

But alas, as I started rubbing it into my stomach, I realized it was most definitely not oil. I got up to pour some water on my stomach in the shower and of course at that very moment, Tiny Boss decides to step down from our mattress and slip, banana-peel-style, on a blanket on the floor and land face first.

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10 minutes later, I’m still comforting him in the rocking chair all the while with a thick layer of shampoo underneath my shirt.

But at least I tried, right? I was so vigilant about oiling my stomach and preventing stretch marks the first time around. Now I’m lucky if I can even get some shampoo on there once a week or so. Which brings me to:

Pregnancy #1 vs. #2

First time pregnant: Prenatal yoga three times a week. Walking every day with the dogs.

This time pregnant: Does toddler wrangling count as exercise? Fighting with the dogs over food left on the counter.

——-

sneeze

First time pregnant: Doing kegels every day. I would try to squeeze them in (see what I did there?) whenever I was at a red light.

This time pregnant: Cursing myself every time I sneeze that I didn’t do more kegels.

——-

First time pregnant: Waking up at 3am and cooking up a storm to satisfy intense hunger.

This time pregnant: Waking up at 3am, putting Tiny Boss back to sleep, feeling hungry, and going back to sleep. For two more hours.

——-

First time pregnant: Meditating as part of my plan for a natural birth.

This time pregnant: Meditating so as not to strangle my spouse/kid/the lady in front of me at the grocery store with 16 items in the express lane.

——-

First time pregnant: Gave up coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks.

This time pregnant: A little concerned about my caffeine intake and its effect on my unborn child; more concerned about how not having my morning coffee will affect my already-born child.

——-

First time pregnant: Religiously doing kick-counts every night.

This time pregnant: Realizing right before I fall asleep that I haven’t done kick-counts, so instead trying to remember the last time she moved. Thinking I could get up and drink some more coffee if I really can’t remember the last time she kicked (kidding!)

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So there you have it, folks. My life the past two weeks during the government shutdown. I blame Obama for the poop incident and the Republicans for the Argan oil shampoo, because I’m fair like that.