"Baby Laughs: the Naked Truth about the First Year of Mommyhood" by Jenny McCarthy

Funny book at times. Probably I would have enjoyed her "Belly Laughs" more.

It took until the end of the book for her to admit that she, too, handed off her baby to the system, even though she really wanted to be a stay at home mom. Her excuse was she couldn't afford it.

Reading between the lines, you can understand how she wouldn't be able to afford the kind of lifestyle she had been living. She and her husband live in Hollywood, have multiple pets, order takeout a lot, and she works for MTV. The kind of culture of that lifestyle revolves around a continual flow of money. I have very little doubt that if she and her husband were to change their lifestyle, she could easily stay home and still live comfortably. It's pretty lame that she used that as an excuse. The real reason is because she wanted to work more than she wanted to stay at home.

Again, it's not my place to be the judge of what other women choose. Like Ms. Pleshette Murphy (7 stages of Motherhood), she says she wanted to be a stay at home mom. Well, excuse me for noticing, but you probably could if you were willing to make enough sacrifices. Blaming anybody but yourself and possibly your spouse for making this decision is not right. Women far poorer than you can afford to stay home and mother their own children.

Obviously, I do have a strong opinion about this: I think it's best for women to stay home and mother their own children instead of handing them off to near total strangers. This lady had qualms about a Chinese nanny. But she brings in total strangers who are between acting gigs, American teens. Um....well I guess if you don't have the structure of church, it would be a lot harder to find trustworthy people to babysit your kids.

Also, the book is way lax about premarital sex and sexuality in general. Not good.

And her chapter on breastfeeding was about how she didn't breastfeed. Huh.

The book is mostly about the first few weeks after being home with your baby, which she does a good job remembering specific tiny details that are totally true. Like how it's hard to go to the bathroom at first, or stroller envy, etc. It's got a few bits about teething a bit later, but other than that, there was very little about being a mom to a non-newborn. So the title of the book is totally wrong.

McCarthy swears too much, and her language is too informal. All in all, I would not recommend this book. A few parts did make me laugh.


I read about Jenny McCarthy on wikipedia. Didn't impress me much. She started down the road to fame by being a playboy model, for starters. She got a divorce when the book was published. She's living with Jim Carrey. She still works for playboy. Sounds like her life is really miserable, and there's little wonder that I don't relate to her very much.

"7 Stages of Motherhood" by Ann Pleshette Murphy

Kind of grim that its title is a spoof off the seven stages of grief. I only read the first few chapters, about pregnancy and birth. Once she started trying to justify herself for returning to work, I didn't feel like I could relate anymore. It was annoying because she kept on explaining why it was okay for her to be away from home, even while she felt gut-wrenching guilt. Lady, there's a reason you felt that guilt.

I don't want to be the judge of other women who go back to work and have careers while their babies are small. I'm not knocking them. When an author spends several pages detailing how she was all ready to quit her job to be a stay at home mom, but then right when she was going to tell her boss she was quitting, her boss told her she was getting a huge raise, so she decided to stay - I don't know. It invites judgment. I wonder, "What would I have done?" Well, I'd like to think that if I felt the inspiration (which I know to be from God) to stay home and mother my own children instead of handing them off to the system, I would do it no matter what the cost.

But I really enjoyed the first two or so chapters of the book; she was able to articulate something that I had felt very strongly as a brand new mother. Actually, I think it was one of the moms she interviewed. They said they kept imagining horrible things happening to their baby, kind of "what if..." scenarios, always really violent and gruesome. I had always been afraid to admit those feelings to myself, because of all the warnings given about having violent thoughts towards your baby and needing to get psychiatric help. But I knew that I wasn't desiring to hurt her, it was just she was so tiny and helpless, and all of these thoughts just came to my head. The way these thoughts were explained in the book were as fears, which I had never considered but is totally true and dead on accurate. I was really glad to know somebody else had feelings like that. Honestly, the first time Jane started to choke on something was a vivid memory for me because it was so terrifying, and then later I felt so relieved that when something horrible happened to Jane my reaction was to freak out and not goad it on. Of course it wouldn't have been, but not having realized that those thoughts were my fears, I was a little worried.

I'm not entering the "mommy wars" debate of stay home vs. go to work. I just didn't feel like I could relate to the author, so I put the book down. And you have to admit, it's pretty sad that she decided to keep working just because she got a huge promotion. Ironically, it was to work at "Parenting" magazine.

"O Pioneers!" by Willa Cather

I read this book because Willa Cather had a long list of books in the back of the copy of "Robinson Crusoe" that I read. You know, the list of Signet Classics, or whatever.

And I actually really liked some of the book. But the main problem was this: it transplanted the two main characters from "Ethan Frome" and put them in the Nebraska prairie. I'm sorry, whether it's miserable Massachusetts or blossoming Nebraska, I don't like to read about infidelity. I think I'm going to start screening my books; I hate reading about problems in marriage. It's not interesting, or fun, or enjoyable.

And the other thing was, at the end of reading this book I felt inspired to write an essay explaining the characters' symbolism. I'm not sure if that kind of inspiration is good or not. The librarian who returned my books was like, "Yeah, I haven't read that book since 9th grade English, and I don't plan on reading it again. [Leafs through the covers] Nope, definitely not."

(Can't find the cover)


Home Sweet Farm CSA

Danny and I are members of the local CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture called Home Sweet Farm. I'm surprised I haven't written about it before, because it's becoming such a big part of my life.

CSA's are local farms, usually organic, or pesticide free but without the official label of "organic, that grow food that you pick up every week. We have bought a share for the full year, which means we paid in advance to go each week to the closest drop site to pick up an allocated amount of fresh veggies. Ours averages to about $17/week. Yes, it is somewhat expensive. But Danny and I both think it's worth it for the following reasons:

1. We are now eating enough vegetables. I am super motivated to find ways to cook our vegetables so that we don't waste any, since we have already paid for them. Our dinners have gotten much tastier, and the amount of meat we have eaten has decreased. Sometimes our dinners don't have any meat at all! We feel like we are doing better at following the Word of Wisdom.

2. We spend less on groceries now. Because I prepaid for the veggies, I feel a strong need to use them all. This requires planning, because we pick up 4-5 different kinds of veggies every week! These are fresh, and will not usually keep for much longer than a week, if that. So I have to plan ahead, which means I make menus. This means that when I go to the store, I only buy the things on my list. I can't believe how much less the grocery bill is, just from making menus and planning. Yes, this even includes the cost of the vegetables. So many of my grocery store purchases were out of the blue, unplanned splurges. Those really add up. Not to mention the extra grocery store trips mid-week when I discover I'm missing that one essential ingredient. No more!

3. I have vastly expanded my cooking repertoire. This is due to Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" volumes I and II. You may wonder if it's really that healthy to eat vegetables cooked this way (aka doused in butter and cream, what Julia's famous for!). She is a huge proponent of the philosophy that vegetables are not just vitamins you are "required" to eat at each meal; they should stand alone as delicious dishes. Personally, I think that if something is delicious, I am more likely to eat it. Whether or not this is "healthier", I'm not a food scientist so I couldn't say for sure. But I feel healthier now, and I'm conquering my subconscious/silly aversion to beats and greens. In fact, these things are quite tasty! And I know without a doubt that I am eating more vegetables.

4. It feels good to support a local business. Not only that, but it's a way for me to connect with my ancestors who lived not far from where the CSA farm is. I wonder if they ate some of the same things!

5. It's nice to know we are not ingesting tons of pesticides. Danny and I do not care in any way whatsoever about if a vegetable is "organic" or is not genetically modified. How can a living thing not technically be organic, and since when have farmers not genetically modified their food? But it is good to avoid overuse of pesticides. I don't remember ever saying, "Oh, this food is gross because it tastes like pesticide", and sometimes the CSA food has little tiny bugs in them, so I have to wash them really, really, really well. But I do know that overusing certain kinds of pesticides can be very, very bad (which is why I favor genetically modifying the plants to be resistant to bugs!).

Here is a short list of the ways I have used the vegetables:

Celery stalks: Cream of Celery Soup, the base for several other soups, for cooking chicken etc.
Celery leaves: Celery Flakes
Swiss Chard and Red Chard Leaves: Gratineed Cooked Chard (the name is prettier in French)
Swiss Chard Stems: Gratineed Cooked Chard
Red Chard Stems: stir fry, soup
Golden Beets: Pottage (Danny said it was the best soup he's ever had)
Beet Greens: Mandarin Orange and Beet Greens Salad (Danny preferred this, but I thought it was okay)
Lettuce: Salad, salad, and more salad
Red Russian Kale: Blanched, sauteed with onions and garlic, with a delicious milk sauce
Cabbage: Petit Chou Farci! (Little cabbages stuffed with sausage - that comes from a Czech farm very near to where my ancestors lived! It was in the grocery store, and I was like, "Hey, this will probably be delicious!" and I was right)
Carrot Greens: ingredient in a soup

Here is a short list of how I plan on using the vegetables that are in the fridge:

Red onions: for cooking
Carrots: Cooked with a tiny bit of sugar, mmmmm
Red Beets: Salade de l'Argenson and/or Borscht
Lettuce: more salad
Cauliflower: Blanched with a yummy sauce on top
Broccoli: Blanched with a yummy sauce on top
Red Russian Kale: Same as before, because Danny and Jane gobbled it up! It was sweet, isn't that weird?
Swiss and Red Chard Leaves: Gratineed

Yummy! Thanks to Ginny, for letting me know that these things even exist!


Scripture Mastery

I found a piece of paper a few days ago, not quite sure where, but it was obviously something that I wrote when I was in Early Morning Seminary. There's a list of rhymes to remember the scripture mastery verses, but the funniest thing by far was this:

"For the natural teen is an enemy to his parents, and has been from the start of adolescence (fall of his voice), and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the (not so subtle) enticings of his parents, and putteth off the natural teen and becometh bearable through the great patience and love of the parents, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which his parents seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (or mother, when she's got the cookies)."



I've been reading online about how people in the past did their chores. It's actually very, very interesting. And then I compare it to how this one lady does her chores nowadays, and there are slight but telling differences: for example, everything that has to do with laundry, the modern lady does on Monday whereas in the past, Monday was "wash day", Tuesday was "ironing day", and Wednesday was "mending day" - whew, that's three days of laundry-related things! Wow. But the biggest difference was that the modern lady does most of her household cleaning chores on Sunday. Sunday? Seriously? In the past, that was a day of rest. I personally prefer to do things more like they were done in the past. The first site said that this was how households were run, even through the 1960's. Wow.

I've been thinking a lot about how things have changed since so many women have become career-oriented instead of home-oriented, either by choice or necessity. I thought for a while, "sheesh, I'm giving up the best years of my life here doing chores!" But then, a few nights ago, I realized, "Hey, it's really important that the best years of my life are here at home with my little baby (and soon future baby, and probably more after that), because now is when I am strong enough to be able to really handle this job well, and do my very, very best." It was actually a very comforting thought. I'm only 23, and most of my time is spent at home doing not so fun chores, "fun" chores (like gardening and cooking! So fun!), and taking care of Jane. I don't mean to pass judgment on women who can't be full time moms. I know there are many reasons why that is sometimes impossible. It's very satisfying for me right now, though. I've discovered that this attitude has an almost exact relationship to the amount of sleep/rest I have gotten.

Anyway, so here is how I figured out how to do the household chores that I need to do every day. I actually thought up this system BEFORE I learned that this was the way things were done. I suppose that's not quite true; I think I've been exposed to the idea of "wash day" and "baking day" in the past; but my system is a little bit different. Here goes:

I felt like I needed to make some changes in the way I do chores. I often feel really overwhelmed at how dirty my house is. Sometimes dirty with dirt, more likely just cluttered. It's discouraging. Especially when it's right before I go to bed, and I just think at how many rooms are cluttered and messy, and it just makes me want to cry. That kind of attitude does NOT motivate me to do chores. Actually, what it has done is encourage me to procrastinate doing chores. I think it's because I am looking at the WHOLE house, and it is so daunting to think about all the work that has to be done, that it becomes much easier to not think about it at all. But that means things don't get done.

First, I only made a chore chart for the chores that I don't like to do. This is why: the chores that I like to do (budget and pay bills, COOK, garden, reupholster the chair, paint a room, work on a quilt, etc.) those are not really "chores" to me, and they get done. This may have something to do with the way I work, and the way things must get done with having a baby. For example, if I scheduled a time to work on painting a room, of course Jane would not be cooperative, it wouldn't get done, and I would be discouraged. Instead, the chores that I know I will get done because I enjoy doing them for some odd reason, I try to work these around the day's actual circumstances. That way, I accomplish more, and I feel excited to "solve" what I can do next more than if everything had been planned.

Second, I only made a chore chart for the chores that I don't like to do AND that I don't do every day. I think it's pretty dismal to go about looking at a long list of things you have to do every single day. I love making to-do lists, but I am always making the mistake of making them fifty times longer than they could ever possibly be to get everything done. There are some chores that have to get done every day, like the dishes, sweeping the kitchen, wiping the counters in the kitchen, putting the dishes away...if it's obvious that I'm going to have to do it, and I know I will have to do it in order to do other things (mostly, to cook!), I find it too discouraging to put on a list. My list has to be very, very short. It's weird; when the list is short, I usually do much more that is not on the list, so more gets done. But if it's long, I usually won't do even what would have been on the short list! Weird. Maybe your mind works the same way, maybe you think I'm crazy.

So, here is the method behind my chore chart. I made a list of chores that need to be done every week, and chores that need to be done every other week. I divided the list into a two week plan, where every day there is a weekly chore to do, and a bi-weekly chore to do. So far, it has worked very, very well! I'm only in the middle of the second week of doing it, though, so I'll have to continue working at it, to see if it really works.

It turned out that the main chores that needed to be done each week were to tidy, dust, and sweep/vacuum different rooms in the house.

This is the chart that is on my fridge, and it is labeled: "The Not Fun Chores' Chart."

Week 1:
Monday: Nursery
Laundry - all done

Tuesday: Jane's Room (yeah, Jane sleeps in the nursery now, but not for too long!)
Laundry - all put away

Wednesday: Office and Library
Ironing - all done and put away

Thursday: Family and Living Room
Take out trash from around the house

Friday: Bathrooms
Vacuum the stairs

Saturday: Bedroom

Change the sheets

Week 1:
Monday: Nursery
Dust the whole house
Tuesday: Jane's Room
Sweep the whole house
Wednesday: Office and Library
Clean all the upstairs windows
Thursday: Family and Living Room
Clean all the downstairs windows
Friday: Bathrooms
Clean the showers/baths
Saturday: Bedroom
Clean the garage (for a little while)

In a while, I will re-evaluate these chores and how often they get done, and whether or not they should be changed. For now, they seem to work well.

To stay motivated: each time I do one of the day's required 2 sucky chores, I give myself a point. When I get 10 points for each day, I will get a prize. I have no idea what the prize is. Danny says it should be a smartphone or something like that. We will see, something big like that. It only counts if I do it the day of, or the day before or after. So far this has been motivating, but again, it hasn't been THAT long. Let's see if I can keep it up.



Ah I love Pandora.

Right now Danny and I are surfing the internet side by side on the couch, and listening to "the Brothers Four" station.

...which reminds me of that hilarious movie, "A Mighty Wind."