Monday, April 26, 2010

Best Mom Tip #89: Be grateful for your birth control

The cover of Newsweek for this week is about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. It's actually the 50th anniversary of The Pill becoming legal in the U.S., but still, it is a momentous event.

I am a dorky history teacher so patterns in work forces, changes in societal structure, and roles of traditionally marginalized segments of society (like women) are all things I study and, in turn, teach to adolescents. Birth control is one of those things that I teach about very delicately when talking to teenagers.

The Pill is a big deal for a few reasons. Being able to plan pregnancies allows women to have careers instead of "jobs" for the first time in history. The American workforce of the last 50 years certainly reflects that. It also opened the discussions about the roles of birth control methods--and unless you have 1 kid for every year you've been married, you're practicing SOME form of birth control. And, really, I don't think the Duggars read this, so I'm talking to you.

At the beginning of the 20th century it was illegal to sell condoms, teach women about their reproductive cycles, or advise married couples on ways to avoid additional pregnancies. Families had more children than they could afford and women placed themselves at increased risk for complications during pregnancy.

I know there are a lot of problems that come with hormonal birth control. But there are quite a lot of benefits and the idea that we can actually have choices about when we have kids is great in my world.

Every time I teach about the changes that come with women's rights and the advent of legal birth control options I am grateful that I live now. I have been well educated about how my body works and what I can do to try and keep myself healthy.

I don't have to have more children than I can afford to feed in order to have a normal marital relationship. I can buy condoms, an IUD, a diaphragm, the female condom, the O-ring, spermicide, AND a wide variety of hormonal options--in patch, pill, and injectable form. I can even choose to track my fertility cycles with a wide variety of books, websites, and doctor resources if I want to use "natural" family planning.

The Pill, for all it's faults, opened the door for that knowledge. So thanks to Margaret Sanger (who received death threats for trying to teach working class women how to limit their number of children) and Frank Colton (who invented the first hormonal pill) and all the researchers who have come since then. I appreciate it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Best Mom Tip #88: Hang a DIY headboard

I like to do home improvement projects. I like learning new things and using power tools. And I like avoiding regular house work. Unfortunately for my husband, my version of nesting means that we now have a really long list of projects to do in the next two months. The one we just finished making is a headboard for our new king-size bed and since I had a hard time finding out how to hang it, I thought I'd post what we did here.


Here's our room before the project. Notice I left it like it really looks and without nice lighting.

STEP 1: I went to Lowe's and bought a piece of 4'x8' birch plywood. We had Lowe's cut it down to 76" inches (2 inches wider than the bed is) and then had it cut in two. You don't have to have that last cut, I just liked the way it looked with a seam once it was finished.

STEP 2: I put the two 2'x6'4" pieces of plywood on folding card tables in my garage--because I don't actually have a woodworking shop--and sanded the wood with an orbital sander. You can use sandpaper and do it by hand, but it is a LOT harder--and, besides, this way you get to use a power tool.

STEP 3: Apply a coat of wood conditioner (sold in the stain section at Lowe's--I got Minwax because that's the kind of stain I got). After it soaks in for about 10 minutes, you're ready to stain the wood.

STEP 4: Apply the stain. I used Minwax Polyshades because it has the stain and the polyurethane protective coating in one. This is their Bombay Mahogany shade--I applied 3 coats (with 1 day drying time in between each one).

STEP 5: For this project, we needed to attach the two pieces of wood together so that they could hang as one unit, but if you didn't cut the plywood in two you wouldn't have this step. This is Jay using brackets to connect the two pieces together. The boards are face down on our bedroom floor.

STEP 6: Attach the mounting hardware. This was the part I couldn't find online, but I found a great product at Lowe's called The Hangman Picture Hanging System. One metal strip is screwed into the wall (it even comes with a level in it) and one metal strip is screwed into whatever you want to hang. The strip on the item to be hung then slides down on top of the one on the wall. You can even slide the item along the strip if it isn't quite centered. It is wonderful. We got the 18" one, but it comes in several lengths.

STEP 7: Hang the headboard. With the wall mounting strip drilled into 2 studs (used our stud finder again) and three anchors, the 45lb headboard won't be going anywhere. The Hangman thing says it holds up to 200lbs if supported by studs, so I will definitely be using it again.

FINISHED PRODUCT: In true before and after fashion, here is the headboard complete with made up bed, new wall sconces, and new bedside tables. I also spend a lot of money while pregnant.

I don't have a fancy camera and the lights in my ceiling fan are all burned out so the headboard looks quite dark in this picture. You also can't really see the seam that I wanted to have with two pieces of wood. But trust me, in person it matches my grandmother's vanity nicely and is very shiny. This is one of my more successful home projects and I'm really glad to have found that Hangman thing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Best Mom Tip #87: Invest in good carpet cleaner

Last night I got the opportunity to go to the bathroom by myself. I know... you're jealous of my fabulous life.

During that time, my husband was getting the kids into the bath tub when I suddenly heard him yell, "Ahhhh! Buddy, are you peeing? Stop! Don't pee on the floor!"

A moment later I heard, "Oh, God! Are you pooping? STOP!"

I decided that it might be time for me to finish my alone bathroom time and see what was going on.

It turns out that Jay had helped our son get undressed for bath time and then walked toward the bathroom. Our cute little boy apparently stopped to relieve himself in the hallway. When Jay went to go get a towel and the carpet cleaner he returned to find our boy squatting over the floor.

Jay was able to take care of the problem and clean up the unfortunate flooring with our amazing series of carpet cleaners. We already owned several because of the special barf that this kid has hurled up in the past.

When I asked Jay about this later, he said his favorite part of the moment was when he tried to reason with the 20-month-old and get him to stop peeing mid-stream. As he put it, "it takes YEARS to develop that kind of control." I'm not sure what that means and I didn't really want to ask.

But with another boy on the way, I'm thinking I need to invest in carpet cleaner by the gallon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Best Mom Tip #86: Average your days together

Yesterday, I was Supermom.

I woke up and played with the children before work, convincing my 20-month-old that his sippy cup was just as wonderful as his bottle (for which he has an abnormal amount of love). I got to work and taught a great and interactive lesson on the Cold War. I then raced to my OB during my planning period for my 30 week checkup. (Baby is fine, but sitting upright so I'm supposed to walk a lot to encourage him to flip over).

I rushed back to work, taught several more classes and finished the workday feeling accomplished and on top of things. I picked up my kids and took them for a 30 minute walk (as suggested by my midwife) while pulling them in a wagon. Which was very hard.

I made "rainbow dinner" to the delight of the preschoolers and got them ready for bed. (BTW, rainbow dinner was bagel with strawberry cream cheese, a red-orange banana, green eggs, and yellow milk followed by funfetti cupcakes with sprinkles.) Then I watched 24 with Jay and finished a novel.

Today was somewhat different. I woke up late and left grumpy children who were disappointed in the amount of snuggling in our morning. I was very late to work and didn't get to eat breakfast. I fell asleep during my planning period and didn't get my work done. And, honestly, that's pretty embarrassing on several fronts. I was lightheaded when I got home so I let my kids watch TV for almost 2 hours while I lay on the couch keeping my eye out in case my lovely son decided to climb the DVD tower.

I had Jay bring home fast food for dinner and we all ate in front of an episode of Dinosaur Train on PBS.

Yesterday I was Claire Huxtable. Today I'm Roseanne Barr.

Maybe if I average my days together I could end up being Marge Simpson by the end of the week.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Best Mom Tip #85: Keep looking ahead

I am an impatient person. When I decide to change something about my life or to move on to another phase, I go just about crazy waiting for the "new" to start. The result is that I often wind up missing the fun of the here and now. I try to relax and enjoy the moments because I know that the next phase will be here soon enough, but I'm still just biding my time.

This week, however, I got a letter that made me freak out for a minute about my next phase.

I have decided to quit my job as a teacher in order to stay home with my kids. I started teaching in the 2000-2001 school year and I student taught before that so this has been a big part of my life for the last decade. I love teaching--I love the students, the creativity that comes with my job, and having a captive audience that is forced to listen to what I like about history. My own children do not seem as enthralled with the Roman Empire as I am.

But daycare is really expensive, my children are really little, and the Fulton County Board of Education has decided to "furlough" us, which is a euphemism for "don't come to work and we won't pay you any money." So on Tuesday, I gave my principal my letter of resignation.

And in an amazing burst of efficiency, I received an official separation from the County in the mail on Friday. These are the same people who have fingerprinted me 6 times, who took 6 weeks to send me vital insurance information to prevent my entire family from being uninsured, and who made me take a class on how to be a substitute after I was already a certified teacher.

To actually get a processed piece of information 3 days after my initial letter was amazing. And it made me cry.

It spells out that I have resigned after several years of service and that it is not because of a lack of work that I am leaving my job. It is official and important looking and made me afraid for the significant change that is about to happen to my life.

I'm not a teacher anymore. I'm not on leave, as I was in the past when I took time off with my kids, and I have no connection to the public school system for the first time since I was 5.

This time, my ability to look ahead is a good thing for me. I am excited about our third baby to come, grateful that I am able to walk away from a job, and scared to death that I will be a bad stay-at-home mommy. I really don't like the PTA, you know.

So, here it goes. My attempt at a different career path. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Best Mom Tip #84: Pretend you're at the fun house

So today my lovely mother-in-law offered to pick up my children from school, feed them dinner, and bring them back to me for bath and bed time. This gave me almost 2 hours of free time this afternoon. So I went to get a pedicure. I also bought my daughter shorts for her school uniform at Target, but for an entire hour I was selfish and alone at the nail salon.

I read a book, had my feet and legs massaged, and got very pretty toes--which is nice because I have a hard time bending in half enough to hold my hand steady while I paint my own toes at this point.

On the way out I was relaxed and carefree and a nice looking guy in a truck paused and smiled at me while I crossed the parking lot to my car. I felt cute and young and happy that I still bring out chivalry in random strangers.

Then I saw my reflection in my minivan and laughed out loud. For a moment, I had forgotten that I was hugely pregnant with my THIRD kid and that guy was just thinking about his mom when I walked by.

So I decided to pretend that I'm living in the fun house and the bizarrely rotund reflection is a result of warped reflective surfaces. And not the result of swollen breasts and a protruding belly. And sometimes the carnies hit on me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Best Mom Tip #83: Keep your thoughts to yourself

You are not actually allowed to say the things you think. Most of us follow this rule--this is why no one says "yes, you look fat in that outfit" or "that new haircut really makes you look like your mom."

But people seem to completely forget this social nicety when you're pregnant. They say things like "Wow, you're really big already! I guess that happens when it's your third kid." This was from a person who I'm pretty sure had gastric bypass surgery.

Or, from a coworker, "I guess you must be in the bathroom more than any of us, right?" Why are my bodily functions a topic of discussion?

I am also asked how I'm feeling by people whose names I don't even know. And we wear name tags at work.

I feel fine, thank you. And fat, and unwieldy, and unattractive, and like I don't like my hair. None of that is really any of your business if you can't name the father of my children.

So let's keep our thoughts to ourselves. You don't comment on how "round" I'm looking and I won't comment on how low your ass has gotten. Agreed?