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Book Review: Exploiting My Baby *Because It’s Exploiting Me

I’ve been looking for pregnancy memoirs lately – books that I can relate to and maybe even get a laugh of association from. I found Jenny McCarthy’s book but, honestly, it left me wanting. I needed more substance, more entertainment, more humor. Then I stumbled upon Teresa Strasser’s book, Exploiting My Baby (Because It’s Exploiting Me).

At first, I have to say, I was a little turned off by the title. It just rubbed me the wrong way, you know? You et that feeling sometimes and you’re like nah, I think I’ll pass. But I read some Amazon reviews and they were all pretty solid and the book was available at my local library so I figured, what the heck, it can’t be any worse than Before, right?

This decision to jump into this book anyway reaffirmed the old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover (or title), because this book has everything Jenny’s doesn’t.

PhotobucketFirst off, the book has substance. Teresa doesn’t just give quick anecdotes and then move on to the next thing. She weaves each little nuance of pregnancy throughout her stories, with themes of loss (ie, “I miss you toxins”), worry (she might worry a bit too much, but what first-timer doesn’t from time to time?), obsession (her Google search history is pretty hilarious), realism (sometimes it sucks to find out you’re having the gender opposite of what you wanted, but then you realize it’s cool), the desire for companionship (her search for pregnant ladies to befriend) and always, humor. This girl is funny, and I laughed out loud which is really my measurement of how actually funny a book is, of course. Because sometimes books are funny but they don’t actually make you LOL, you know? The real funny books, the real ones, make strangers wonder what the heck is so funny and how can they get their hands on it.

I read this entire book in one Saturday, and not because it’s short because at almost 300 pages I wouldn’t call it a brief read at all. I read it all because I could not put it down, it was so good. Maybe I’m biased because I’m coming off the heels of Belly Laughs and Before, but this book is exactly what I was looking for in the pregnancy memoir genre. I only hope to find more books just like it.

Next review: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.

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Friday Update: Week 24

PhotobucketContinuing with last week’s baby’s-size-is-a-shoe theme, this week baby is about as big as a shoe box at almost 12 inches long! Here’s a picture of a Rocket Dog shoe box because I love my Rocket Dog flats!

This week I have noticed some nesting starting. Very light nesting, and it is mostly interior decorating thoughts than cleaning and organizing.I can feel myself starting to obsess – I know it’s bad when I have dreams about the supplies I’ve bought and the things I want to do with them. Fabric has been dancing in my head – it’s taking over!

Next week I’m off work for Spring Break, which is probably a catalyst because I want to get so many projects done in that time. Here are some of the things I’m hoping to accomplish:

  • Frame two new posters: I bought two new Degas prints because I didn’t think any of the art I already had fit the color scheme we’ve chosen for the nursery. Also, my currently held prints and general vision for the space isn’t very girly, so I figured some whimsical Degas dancers would feminize everything a bit. I’m excited to post pictures of those when I’m done!
  • Start the giant mobile that I’ve been talking about: I have a bunch of paper lanterns being delivered today and I already bought fabric for the poofs so it’s time to get started. I have two lanterns that I dion’t have to do anything to, two lanterns that I’m covering in a specific color with tissue paper, two lanterns to make poofs of and two that I’m going to cover in paper flowers.
  • Make a crib skirt (I foudn yet another awesome online tutorial): After weeks of obsessing and searching, I finally found what I think is the perfect fabric for the crib skirt, pillows and who knows what else. I ordered it from Mountain of the Dragon on Etsy. Monica was awesome and helpful, plus it looks like the shipping will be really fast. I was going to buy a crib skirt already completed from this fabric, but I wound up getting twice the fabric AND a used sewing machine on Craig’s List for even less than I would have paid for the crib skirt.
  • Since I want to make a crib skirt I’m going to have to buy a crib: I kind of wanted to put this one off, mostly because it’s going to take up space and looking at an empty crib for three months could be kind of weird. However, we need a place to put the stuff we’ve started to accumulate so I guess an empty crib isn’t so bad.
  • Get started on a crochet project.

I think that should keep me busy, but if it doesn’t I do have a few things to finish from my second trimester to-do list, including writing our living and final wills with Mr. Handsome. Plus doing a bunch of fun stuff with Kiddo1! Visiting the zoo is a given, probably the science center, taking the dog to the park, building legos, reading, bike riding, getting exhausted just thinking about it all, you name it!

Anyway, here are some things that actually happened this week (as opposed to things I’ve just thought of):

  • Total weight gain: 18 pounds (maybe 19, but I’m probably low-balling again this week). At least a full pound of that is all baby though, depending on which pregnancy app you trust the most. Baby will gain a quarter pound a week (!) for the next six weeks or so. Good luck to me in keeping my pound-a-week goal.
  • Cravings: Junk food, any and all matter of junk food. And not just the chocolate stuff but fried foods, cheesy/creamy foods (Mmmm, Panera Mac ‘N Cheese…), processed foods, all the good stuff. I’m forcing myself to eat a big salad for dinner tonight.
  • Coolest symptom: I feel like baby kicks have dominated this bullet for the last few weeks. This week they’re still pretty darn cool and I have noticed that they’re getting a bit higher in my abdomen. Other cool things also include the thicker nails and softer hair that I noticed a couple weeks ago. Mr. Handsome would probably put the huge boobs in this bullet too.
  • Lamest symptom: The linea negra is totally here, as I had speculated two weeks ago. This isn’t really lame, but it is the lamest thing I could think of. I had a very dark linea negra with Baby1 so I was expecting this! Also, the last two nights I have been woken at 2 am with what I can only imagine are Braxton Hicks contractions. I need to look into this further…
  • Exercise this week (the goal is 210 minutes): 215 minutes! This week I got a much healthier balance of cardio, yoga and weights, too, with 105 minutes of cardio (all elliptical except for 20 minutes of vigorous vacuuming), 90 minutes of yoga and 20 minutes of arms.

Finally, Baby2’s happenings, courtesy babycenter.com:

Your baby’s growing steadily, having gained about 4 ounces since last week. That puts him or her at just over a pound. Since your baby is almost a foot long (picture an ear of corn), he or she cuts a pretty lean figure at this point. But your baby’s body is filling out proportionally and it will soon start to plump up. His or her brain is growing quickly now, and taste buds are continuing to develop. Your baby’s lungs are developing “branches” of the respiratory “tree” as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help air sacs in the lungs inflate once your baby hits the outside world. His or her skin is still thin and translucent, but that will start to change soon.

Book Review: Belly Laughs

The other day I was watching “What Not to Wear” on TLC (have you noticed yet that I’m a fan of the show?). Stacie and Clinton were making over a woman who worked as a personal assistant to and was nominated by Jenny McCarthy and some other woman who is on “Dancing with the Stars” or something (and was obviously starved for screen time. I mean, the nominator does not do the 360 and shopping with the nominee. Why they let her tag along to all that is beyond me. Jenny’s taped segments, on the contrary, were fairly low-key and all about the nominee. Much more classy, in my opinion.)

PhotobucketCoincidentally, the day after my “What Not to Wear” viewing Mr. Handsome brought “Belly Laughs” home from the library for me. Aw, isn’t he sweet?

That night I sat down to have a read, and one read was all it took. I finished this book in about four hours, including several potty breaks and a 30-minute reading session with Kiddo1 (he just started the Harry Potter series, which I’m so excited about!). The short chapters are like individual short stories which makes you feel like you’re just flying through the 161 pages.

I think we all remember “classic” Jenny McCarthy: I’m thinking of the days she was really popular, co-hosted “Singled Out” on MTV and never held back from a fart or poop joke. Jenny totally owns up to this reputation and makes it very clear in her first chapter that this book is not for the modest as she does bring up several subjects that would probably make non-pregnant women a bit uncomfortable. But honestly, to the pregnant (especially the experienced pregnant) there wasn’t a ton of overly-graphic detail. Most of it just gave me a little “ew” expression, like the story about her proctology visit (let’s just say the doctor she visited really seemed to love his job – a lot – and she didn’t go back).

I expected a marginal amount of grossness and she did not fail to deliver. However, I was also expecting a few more laughs. I like a book that can make me laugh out loud, especially if it’s about something that I can relate to. Mr. Handsome gave me a Chelsea Handler book last Christmas and I really had to be careful where I read it because she would have me close to rolling on the floor sometimes. David Sedaris has that same effect, too. Looking back on my Jenny memories, I think that I’ve just never found her to be all that funny. Our styles of humor just don’t “mesh” well. Others have found this book to be quite LOL funny – I mean, it was an NYT bestseller. Maybe you’ll have better luck than me.

One thing that I did take from this book is a reminder that everyone’s pregnancy is different. While we all experience similar “side effects,” some women’s experience can be drastically different than others. What works for some women won’t always work for you. That’s something for me to keep in mind not only with all these pregnancy books I’m reading, but also for all the strangers who will start to comment on and give advice regarding my bump/baby now that it’s become obvious that I’m expecting.

Next Month’s Book: Changing Diapers by Kelly Wels

Tie Tuesday Prologue: Maternity Style Tips

Why Tie Tuesday, you say? Well, there’s a couple reasons:

  • At work, we’re allowed to wear jeans every day, which is awesome, but all my office clothes are now just gathering dust (they just instituted the policy a few weeks ago). So Tuesday is the day that I break out my “nice clothes.” Some guys at work also used the phrase as they day they would all wear ties (on Tuesdays), but Photobucketthat was back when we did have to “dress up” for work (ties were not mandatory). They don’t seem to do the tie thing anymore. I think they’re lazy.
  • At my son’s school, the kids in his class celebrate Tie Tuesday by dressing up for fun. The boys were ties, the girls wear dresses and everyone has a good time. It’s optional, of course, but they all really get into it. They’re so cute!
  • Now, Tie Tuesday will be the title of my weekly outfit posts. They’re for me to catalog some pregnancy memories (like this whole blog is, really) and they’ll be good motivation to keep myself up! I hope those that read my blog might gain a little inspiration as well. Feedback is always welcome!

I don’t yet have much of a bump to show off, so last week and this week I’m just prepping myself to have good maternity style. Here are my “9 best” tips that I’ve gathered from the Amy Tara Koch Blog (link at right) and several years of devoted “What Not to Wear” viewership.

1. Lengthen, lengthen, leeeennnngthen. A long and lean appearance balances out a belly. This is achieved with long scarves, necklaces, straight cut jeans/pants, etc. It also helps to match your shoes to your pants, especially if you’re wearing boots, because it creates an unbroken line of color.

2. Keep it fitted. Show off that bump! Sure you may feel as big as a house (even if you’re only a few months “in trouble,” as they say) but you aren’t. Trust me. Besides, big, over-sized clothes only add pounds; you’re not fooling anyone by hiding under that tent. If you must wear something baggy, belt it. A belt will at least give you a bit of shape. Yes pregnant Photobucketladies do have shape!

3. Speaking of slimming, if you’re really self-conscious your expanding size then keep your “base layer” dark. A perfect base layer (meaning your pants/skirt and shirt/tee) would be a slim-cut dark wash jean with black fitted tee. Accessorize with a funky texture like Halle Berry’s jacket, at right, or something bright to add color and interest, such as a bright scarf, long chunky necklace or bag. Experiment with accessories. They’re easy to change!

4. Accessorize! Accessories can dress an outfit up or down, add color, etc. They are relatively inexpensive (look at Forever 21, LuLu’s, H&M, etc) and, as mentioned, easy to change. You can have a maternity wardrobe with the most basic staples and get away with a light rotation as long as you have a diverse repertoire of accessories. The best part is, they don’t need to be maternity-specific! You can use what you already have and, if you need more, you don’t have to search and search like you do with maternity clothes.

5. Invest in basics. These will require a careful, calculated search but it will be worth it. Basics with a good fit will be your security blanket, in a way. If they fit Photobucketcomfortably and make you feel good then you will be oh so happy you put the time and effort into finding them. Here’s what I plan on investing in: a couple pair of dark, fitted jeans, black slacks, a pencil skirt (I’m dreaming about the one at right by Noppies NYC Maternity; credit to the Maternity Blog by Belly Dance Maternity for the image), a white button-up shirt (super hard to find one that will get you through the ninth month but again, worth it), a couple black tees (not t-shirts, nice fitted cotton tees) and white tanks. Look for stretchy fabrics!

6. Use color. Jazz up your basics with a colorful cardigan, blazer, or shirt. The basics are just that: basics. They aren’t complete outfits without color and a little of #4 (accessories, a word I’m sure you’re tired of reading by now). A world without color is boring and a bump without color is sad. Have a happy bump!

7. Show some skin. V-necks are fantastic for adding length and brightening (and slimming!) your face. Open necklines also slim the bust, which seems to be as expansive as the belly during pregnancy! A little bit of leg never hurts either, as a shorter hemline will once again elongate the silhouette. However, limit the skin-showing to one area at a time. Otherwise you’re just walking around half-naked and Photobucketpregnant and, well, that just gives others the wrong idea, if you know what I mean.

8. Prints. A printed fabric hides and distracts from all body imperfections. Check out Nicole Richie here: you can hardly tell she’s even pregnant! That is the power of prints. Harness it for yourself.

9. DON’Ts. As stated above, shapeless tents don’t hide anything, they make you look bigger. Shiny fabrics often attract light to the wrong places; avoid the risk. Chokers do the opposite of lengthen: they cut off the long line that starts at your face. Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Dressing can be good times!

See you next week for some actual bump photos – of myself! Yay!

Tie Tuesday Pre-Prologue: Taking a Cue from the Pretty People

Tie Tuesday will be a weekly post about maternity style. I’ll explain the nomenclature next week, but for now let’s get on with the fun stuff… Because let’s face it, the most fun thing about being pregnant is dressing the bump! Sure there are more important things: growing a person, nurturing a person, naming said person, practicing your swaddling (aka baby burrito) technique, blah, blah. But showing off the bump is still the most fun!

While I don’t necessarily consider myself a “person of fashion,” I think I do all right. I mean, I think I do well enough that you won’t find me on an episode of “What Not to Wear” anytime soon. (However, I would certainly give up my entire wardrobe THIS INSTANT if it meant that Stacie and Clinton would dress me for a couple days.) I seem to think that I have a fairly set “style:” I like my basics and my neutrals, some fun/cute shirts here and there and overall easy-care fabrics. Nobody LOVES to take in the dry cleaning, or iron, whether or not you’re dressing for two.

But you know what? Maternity clothes suck! The vast majority of what you find in the stores seem to be stuck in the 90s or something – big, frumpy, bad fits, horrible fabrics, etc. They are very few pieces (other than jeans and tanks) that you can rely on as staples. It isn’t easy to build a solid maternity wardrobe… one that you only wear for maybe six months!

So while I’m still able to rock my current rags, I’m looking to some knocked-up celebs for influence on how to translate my everyday “look” into a maternity style I can hang with. From what I gather, success in this realm is a careful mix of maternity and, get this, NON-maternity wear. Yep, just ’cause you have a bump doesn’t mean everything has to have a “maternity” label on it. So let’s get to the pretty people already:

The Look: blazer + jeans

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Blazers are sweet because you can use your non-maternity stash plus some accessories to jazz up your maternity basics! Adding a blazer makes the whole outfit more professional (for casual Fridays at the office), it pulls everything together, and it emphasizes the belly! Right now I use the blazer to actually cover/disguise my bloat a bit though.

I dig Ali’s simple look – jeans, white tee and blazer action. Victoria’s (yes, she is pregnant in that photo) is a bit more “rock ‘n roll” with the leather jacket/blazer and sky-high Louboutins. Jennifer’s is all pulled together with the burnt orange pashmina topping everything off (I picked up a similar accessory on Amazon for like eight bucks! Score!).

The Look: a belted dress

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Loose non-maternity dressess work will even up to the very end of pregnancy. To enhance the fit, just add a belt above the belly like Jessica Alba! The well-paced belt emphasizes your waist to remind yourself that you do have some shape (because I swear traditional maternity clothes are made to make you think you are now shapeless). Dresses are also great because you can dress them up or down with accessories alone.

The Look: simple denim

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For me, maternity denim is a must-have in my pregnancy wardrobe. I am lucky enough to get to wear jeans to work every day so I need a few choices that I can wear often. I like the range of denim on these three actresses. January has a nice straight leg going on; a straight leg is great because it creates a straight line from the hips, making your expanding frame a little more balanced. I really, really love the Kelly green bag, too! Halle is rocking a skinny jean, which not all of us can pull off but if you can, pregnancy is the time to do it. I think they really balance the hips as long as you wear a tunic or jacket (like pictured here) to keep the hips from sticking out like a sore thumb. And Jennifer, oh how I love her pregnancy style, has a simple bootcut which looks good on everyone. We should all have a little bootcut in our closet to pull out at will. Shoot, with my first pregnancy that’s the only cut of jeans that I had!

The basic rules for denim are 1) keep it dark, 2) wear it fitted (not too tight, not too loose) and 3) accessorize to dress it up.

The Look: maxi dress

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So technically Tori’s outfit is a long tank and skirt, but it all flows together so whatever. Maxi skirts/dresses are another piece from our pre-KU wardrobe that can be used all through pregnancy. They’re so roomy! You can wear it super relaxed like Tori or Jessica with sandals and a loose cardigan or scarf for a lounging or light shopping day. Or add one of those belts again to cinch it up and pull it together like January. A long belted dress with a cute fitted cardigan (a little less loose than January’s) or blazer would even work for the office!

The Look: cardigan

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I didn’t feel like I needed any more examples of this look because everything about this is cute! A pop of color, a pop of belly, a pop of leg. It’s also super easy to put together and comfy, comfy, comfy. Keep those non-maternity cardigans in rotation!

So take a cue from these celebs: you don’t need a ton of maternity clothes, just some basics and well-places accessories! Not only will this save hard-earned dough but it will also allow for continuity of your current look throughout pregnancy.