The Best Husband in the World and why I don't blog about it

I have the best husband in the whole world and I don't remember the last time I blogged about it.

Actually, it's been a conscious decision I have made to NOT blog about this. I read my friends' blogs, and often there is a "I have the best husband in the world" post which I end up skimming whilst thinking to myself, "Sheesh, did they REALLY have to post this?"

You know what, I am glad that people blog about that if it's something that will strengthen their relationship. Yay for relationships, yay for marriage. I'm just saying that an entire blog post about how wonderful my husband is and how much I love him and all the great things he does for me and our family and us - yeah I think that would both nauseate and embarrass my husband to the shade of fire-truck red.

But part of me feels extremely guilty, because I really DO have the best husband in the whole world, who dotes on me and cares for me, gets me endless glasses of water, always is willing to listen to me, changes countless poopy diapers, honors his Priesthood, etc. etc. And let's face it, he is pretty much the center of my life, which is supposedly what this blog is about. Yet I almost never mention him more than in descriptions of conversations or events. I should be blogging about his greatness every single day!

So the other day I apologized to Danny for not praising him on my blog more. He looked at me as if I was insane and then we had a long conversation about how he would really prefer I not do that because it was too embarrassing.

He also mentioned how he thinks writing something on my blog that I can just say to him in person is totally stupid. So I asked him if I could write about how great he is sometimes, and he said sure, just don't write a whole post about it.

(Which, if you will note, I subtly just succeeded in doing, even whilst describing how I wouldn't do it, mwahahahaha)

There was a long pause, and then he said, "But you will probably blog about not blogging about it."


"The Year Living Biblically" by A. J. Jacobs

The following is something I wrote in an email to my in-laws that I never ended up sending. Sometimes, I dunno, I just sit down to write and I end up with a novel, something way, way, way too long for me to actually send. Plus, I realized that while I was trying to recommend them to read the book, I really ended up saying all the reasons they shouldn't read it. Finally, when I realized how much apologizing I was doing for Jacobs, I decided that there was no way I could honestly recommend it. And so why write a ten page email about a book I can't recommend?

But hey, that's what blogs are for!

"So Danny and I read a book that is really interesting and funny. Well, more accurately, sometimes I read passages of the book out loud to Danny. Also, I only read the first half of the book because I read a bunch of online reviews that criticized the second half. So, it's kind of silly that I'm recommending this book, since I didn't really read the whole thing at all, but honestly while reading it, I kept imagining what your guys' reaction would be. I think you'd think it was very funny.

It's called "The Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs. It's not a book I would own, but rather one I would get from the library. And I totally hate the cover because it's just too over the top and slightly sacrilegious. And actually, there were a few parts I skimmed. But if you can get over these things, I can vouch for the first half of the book being quite entertaining.

It's about this agnostic American Jew who tries to spend a year living all the literal commandments in the Bible. The first half of the book focuses on the Old Testament, and the second on the New Testament. I think the reason he does a better job with living the literal commandments of the Old Testament is because they are way, WAY WAYYYYY easier to follow. For example, one thing he has to do is not wear wool and linen at the same time (Deuteronomy 22:11). Apparently there are Jews whose profession is to examine your clothing under a microscope to make sure it's not mixing fibers, because the labels can be wrong! So, this seems totally weird and crazy. But in the end, it's way easier to do than to follow Christ and believe in Him. I read about one chapter into the New Testament section, and he was basically explaining why he didn't think he could ever accept Christ as his Savior. Not very uplifting! Which is why I read the online reviews, and I'm glad, because now I don't have to waste my time reading something that's not going to be uplifting. Danny said, "Well, then he completely fails his goal to live the Bible literally, since accepting Christ as the Savior is like the one main commandment of the New Testament!" Very true. I can see how he would have had an easier time with the Old Testament anyway, seeing as he has his own family's heritage to lean on.

But the first part is hilarious and I learned a whole lot of things about Judaism that I didn't know/hadn't considered. Danny says that mostly it made him even more convinced that Jewish law/customs are totally...pharasee-ical? Like at one point he talks about how it was a commandment to wear tassels, and even though in the OT it mentions that there were several strands of blue thread in these tassels, for centuries Jews didn't put blue strands in because they weren't sure the exact shade of blue. Until recently, when scientists discovered the type of snail that would have made the blue dye used in Israel way back when. So now sometimes the tassels do have blue threads in them. Interesting.

He tries to keep the commandment to "spare not the rod" when his 2 year old son is misbehaving, and so he ends up getting a nerf stick. Which totally doesn't work; he whacks his son, but instead of disciplining him, his son just laughs and whacks him back with something else. That was funny.

But if you do decide to read it, don't have too high of expectations. He doesn't do as comprehensive a job as he possible could have, and the book mostly feels like he's doing a publicity stunt to sell a book. But I really did think parts of it were super, super funny. I think in the end, the main thing he gains from the whole thing is more appreciation for prayer. I mean, he was a totally a-religious guy before; praying several times a day every day for a year will definitely have some effect on you. I wish he had changed more; he says in the beginning that if his post-year-living-Biblically self were to meet his pre-year-living-Biblically self, they would probably thing each other was delusional. But even though it was happy that he gained some faith, of course it's still sad that he's still mostly a lost person. It seems there are way too many people like that."

My favorite experience of all involving this book was laughing out loud while reading one of the Amazon.com reviews. In the book, Jacobs describes how he is constantly reading the reviews for his other book (about his experience reading the whole encyclopedia). In the review for this book, somebody wrote something about how he knows Jacobs would be reading the review personally, so, um, hi? I thought that was hysterical.

If I were a writer, I would obsess over all my Amazon.com reviews, too.


Yesterday: the worst day ever

10:45 - left my quilting group because Jane was getting grouchy. Decided to cash a check at the bank.

10:50 - thought about turning around because I felt really bad cramps

11:20 - got home, felt really bad cramps, and some contractions. Ate some lunch and put Jane down for a nap. Started timing the contractions with an iPhone app.

12:00 - Noticed the contractions getting worse. Took a bath. No change. They were about 10 minutes apart.

12:30 - Called Danny and told him that I really wanted him to come home. He left right away.

Between 1:00 and 3:000 - contractions very steady, five minutes apart, and strong. I called the doctor. They said to come in to their office. I did, after dropping off Jane at a friend's house. The doctor was not there. The nurse I talked to was like, "Oh, I thought you meant you were going to come in right away; the doctor's gone now." Moron. I really love my doctor, but I really hate her nurse. But I noticed that last time, the nurses working for the midwives at the place I went with in Orem were the same: flake-brained bimbos who were fresh out of college and had no experience being pregnant, yet tried to sympathize with you with every breath they took. But I digress. The nurse told me to go to the hospital. I didn't want to because I really didn't want to just be sent home. But she was insistent. Meanwhile, Danny got there. He picked me up, and we drove to the hospital. We sat outside the hospital in the parking lot while I called my doctor (who is in my stake) to confirm that we were doing the right thing. She said that yes, I should go to the hospital so they could monitor me, just to make sure things were okay since I was only 35 weeks and 6 days yesterday. So we went inside.

Between 3:00ish and 6:00ish - a long, crappy waiting period full of filling out papers, sitting half naked on an exam table, getting felt up by a complete stranger, watching my contractions come regularly on the monitor, watching Danny feel completely helpless and feeling bad that there wasn't anything he could do to make things better, getting felt up again, and after three hours of steady, hard contractions, getting told, "You're not progressing," and that I should just go home. Which is what I thought would happen in the first place. So now they will probably charge us a million dollars for something I intuitively knew, I wasted three hours being scared and anxious in a hospital room when I could have just been curled up in bed, but the worst part is that for all their medical know how, there is nothing new that was revealed about how my baby is doing or when he will come; nothing at all that they could tell me that I didn't already know. The only thing they officially told me was, "Hey, yes, you ARE having contractions!" Um, DUH. And the whole business of checking for dilation...it doesn't even mean anything. People walk around at 2's and 3's for days, even weeks, without "progressing".

Between 6:00 and 8:00ish - Danny brought me home, filled a prescription for Ambien (a hypnotic sleeping drug), got me dinner and a milkshake, picked up Jane from our friend's house, gave me the drugs, and tucked me in to bed. It was the worst, and I mean worst, falling asleep experience I have ever had. I was still in pain and awake (oh yeah, did I forget to mention that at this point my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart, and still very intense?), but the drugs made me groggy and I started to see weird shapes. I tried to fall asleep by myself, but I had to have Danny come sit with me, because it was just to weird and scary. He says I had a hard time recognizing him. I finally fell asleep.

Throughout the night, the contractions continued, but started to lessen. Even though I was on a pretty strong sleeping drug, I still had to get up and pee every few hours. By morning, there weren't any more contractions. My doctor told me I should basically be on "bedrest" today and possibly tomorrow. So Danny stayed home from work to watch Jane and take care of me. What a wonderful husband! I watched movies and ate in bed, and went swimming in the afternoon. There haven't been any big contractions; probably a few small ones. Mostly I feel like I have some mild period cramps. It sucks. You'd think the one advantage of being pregnant is that you don't have to have your period, but what's the advantage if you still feel the pain? I mean, that is the sucky part, combined with PMS. But PMS has nothing on pregnancy hormones HCG and estrogen and progestin. Bleaugh.

The very worst part is this huge conflict I feel in my head: I'm glad that I didn't go into labor yesterday because the baby would have been premature. I mean, it's only a week premature, so it's not a huge, huge deal, but there are advantages to him staying in utero even for a few more days: like his lungs being more developed, and him having more layers of fat to keep him warm. But to be honest, I am sick of being pregnant and I want to see my baby. So there's the conflict: I want him to come right away, but I don't want him to come right away.

Anyway, that's what happened. Do not comment unless you have something nice to say.


Conversations with Jane this morning

Jane: [bird] I hear a bird!
Me: [bird] "Yes, I hear a bird, too!"
Jane: [swimming] I see the swimming pool!
Me: [swimming, fun] "Yes, swimming is fun, don't you think?"
Jane: [fun?] What does that mean?
Me: [fun] "Fun, ha-ha-ha!"

(She sees me drinking some orange juice)
Jane: [water? water? water?] Hey, is that water? I want some!!
Me: [juice] "No, this is is juice."
Jane: [juice! juice! juice!] Hey! That's juice? I want some!!
Me: [please] "Okay, I will give you some. But what do you say? Can you say 'please'?"
Jane: [please] Please?
Me: [juice] "Yes, I will give you some juice!"
Jane: [juice] I just drank some juice!

Jane: [some unrecognizable sign]
Me: [grape, raisin, cracker] "Do you want something else? Do you want a grape, a raisin or a cracker?"
(long pause)
Jane: [cracker] I want a cracker!
Me: [please] "What do you say? Can you say 'please'?"
Jane: [please] Please?

So, as you can see, the conversations are not exactly mind blowing or earth shattering, but it's sure a lot nicer than a bunch of grunting and arm waving. Here are the signs she knows right now, that I can think of, that she can do:
Good job! Hooray!
mommy/daddy (she can't differentiate between the two)
car (gah!)
balloon (bmm!)
diaper (da-da-da)
socks (gah!)
juice (jess!)
cookie (just learned that this morning!)
orange juice
kiss (kss!)
boat (goh!)
dog (DAH!)
duck (same sign as bird, but she says "duh!")
Jesus (jss-ess)
music (interestingly, she only does the sign for music with certain kinds of music, like primary songs or latin music!)
Pain or owwy!
Jewelry (ring)
Nose (well, she just points to my noise. I don't even know the sign)
All Done

So, that's about a vocabulary of 50 words. Pretty impressive, no? According to this website, an 18 month year old will have a vocabulary of 5-20 words. Jane is six months younger and has more than twice the amount if you count her signs as words. If you count the utterances that she makes that are recognizable (to me, her mom, who is around her all day - probably not to other people!), she has about 10. If you only count the words that would be clearly recognizable to anyone, she's already at 2 ("jess" for juice and "dah!" for dog). I think she's doing really great!

That same website described a thing called "echolalia." Jane has a bad case of this! Don't worry, it just means she repeats words and sounds I make. She is very, very verbal. It sounds like she is carrying on a conversation with "dugha dugha dugha" and other sounds. I can tell her mood by her voice's inflection. I've read that she can understand voice inflections, too. That's pretty amazing. I'm so proud.

Signs we are working on (well, the short list of the ones that come to mind):
nap time/sleep
thank you


"Um, excuse me, can you please help me with my HEMORRHOIDS?"

That's not exactly what I said, but pretty darn close.

I was in Target, getting all the things I would need for this next baby. The most expensive thing, by far, was a new carseat for Jane. I got the Graco MyRide 65:
To be honest, the main reason I got this one is because it matches the other carseat, and it's not the color of poo. I probably spent more than was necessary for these two things, but hey, I'm going to have to look at this thing every single day. So. That's worth an extra $60, right? Right? Maybe not. But the cupholders are a lot better than the EvenFlo kind. And guess what, this carseat lasts up to 65 pounds, a whole whoppin' 5 more pounds than the other ones at the store. That's a good reason to pick this one, right? Bleaugh. I feel nauseated at how much this thing cost (freaking $150). Let's face it, there's nothing that is going to make me feel good about spending that much on a stupid car seat. These car seat companies must have excellent lobbyists. Thirty years ago, people didn't even USE car seats. And now it's a necessity. Which of course, it is. That's not what I'm arguing. I'm just saying it's a darn expensive necessity.

I also got newborn diapers, baby powder, some more bottles, sippy cups for Jane (who is transitioning to them right now), and some huge pants that maybe my butt will fit into.

Last pregnancy, I didn't even think about what my body would be like after giving birth. But this time, let me tell you, I am prepared. I got a gigantic package of the largest size night-time maxi pads possible, and two huge cannisters of generic brand "tucks".

Why? After you give birth, cue the wonderful world of lochia. In brief: it's like an extended stay version of a period, lasting for weeks, gradually diminishing until all the blood is gone. It's not that pleasant.

But even more unpleasant is the feeling in your perenium. Hey, it's understandable. You've just squeezed a 5 to 13 pound thing through a tiny, tiny area. Last time they sent me home with a small cannister of tucks, a.k.a. "Hemorrhoidal Pads With Witch Hazel". They were awesome. But Tucks must have some kind of deal with Orem Community Hospital, because they didn't give me nearly enough. This time, I decided to be prepared. It sucked walking to the store last time post-partum (with Danny), to buy maxi pads and tucks. Not this time.

Except, I wandered the medicine aisles at Target for about 10 minutes to no avail. I could not find the stupid things anywhere. So finally I went over to the pharmacy. I was hoping the younger female pharmacist would help me, but instead it was an older male pharmacist in his 50's.

"Um, excuse me, can you please help me find the tucks?"
"Sure! They're right down this aisle! In fact, I can see them from here!"

He sure was chipper. I was pretty embarrassed. I guess he's been asked about far more embarrassing medication, being a pharmacist. "Can you please help me with my PROSTATE?" But even so, talk about embarrassing! But very blog worthy.


"Seeing Stars" by Diane Hammond

This is a book about a bunch of teens and their parents who go or send them to Hollywood in search of fame. The final message of the book is: "Children need parents who love and care about them and who are involved in their every day lives more than they need fame and celebrity." I liked that message because it's very true.

There were some parts of this book that were really hard for me to believe. For example, how horrible and neglectful some of the parents were. They just carted their kids out to Hollywood and paid strangers to house them, seeing them only briefly at holidays. Two of the protagonists, Quinn and Allison, were essentially orphans.

Here's what I disliked about the book:
  • Hammond used an overabundance of the f word, especially while narrating Quinn's thoughts. I suppose it made the story more real, but was it necessary?
  • There was too much vulgarity, swearing, and especially taking the Lord's name in vain for my taste. I would not feel comfortable recommending this book to a church book group.
  • I didn't think Angie and Laurel added very much to the book at all. Their story was totally separate from the others'. Their characters seemed very flat. Not to mention, if she really loved her husband as much as she professed to, why would she leave him during the last few months she had to live, to try to pursue her daughter's fame? That did not make much sense to me.
  • There is one extremely graphic/violent rape scene that I walked right into, and while it was pretty short, I read more of it than I would have cared to. Reading that kind of stuff is totally damaging to the soul, in my opinion. I suppose it was a necessary plot point, and I ended up skipping the worst parts easily because it didn't go on and on for pages (I think it ended up being about 2 pages long), but I wonder: could Hammond have pulled off the same scene in a more tasteful way? BTW, I don't profess to know how to do that.

Here's what I really enjoyed about the book:
  • As I grew to know the characters, their stories became like mysteries. Which one of them is going to "make it big"? Who is the next star going to be? Which one is going to go home? I honestly couldn't tell until the very end.
  • The overall message is very good. Parents are more important to teens than fame. That was made clear by the attitudes of all of the characters, even the ones who end up "making it".
  • It seemed like Hammond really researched this subject. There were so many interesting details that me, a layperson, had no clue about. Like, for example, have you ever really thought about how many takes they do while filming fried chicken commercials? Enough to have buckets by the actors' feet so they can spit out the chicken. Isn't that a nasty thought? So, basically one reason that this book was so successful was because the setting brought up some really interesting ideas that I had never thought of before, which force the reader to ask hard questions: "Should teenagers really be career actors?" "Who are these people I see in the commercials, really?" Hammond also pointed out things that I am sure happen, like producers putting their own family photos on the fridge in commercials, or hiring a person just to keep track of where props are exactly on set so that one take isn't missing a lamp, or the clock hands are in the same place.
  • Hammond did an excellent job portraying believable young preteens and teens. Their behavior was just the right combination of bratty and innocent.
  • Each character had flaws, but they were also mostly likable. Some were more likable than others, but that's true to life!
  • The real antagonist of the book was not just one person, but rather the force that drives people so hard after fame that they end up neglecting their children. That, combined with general ambivalence towards parental responsibilities.
  • She did a great job narrating. She showed the characters by subtly changing the narrator's voice when various characters were in the spotlight, even though it was third person. I really enjoyed her writing style.
  • On more than one occasion she referenced some random trivial thing that I had learned (probably mostly from NPR) and thought about, but had never heard anybody else talk about before. It's hard to come up with an example, but I remember thinking, "Hey! She actually has heard that, too?" on more than one occasion.
  • Hammond doesn't glorify celebrities for their celebrity status. She recognizes talent, and that acting takes work and skill. She did a great job describing the process of acting. But she didn't take part in the swoon fest that the rest of the world seems to automatically get when watching television and seeing someone whose name they know.
  • Each character had a happy yet bittersweet resolution. I like that.
  • The final line in the book was great.

So, all in all, I would recommend this book to my siblings, but probably not my parents or church book club.


"Freakin' Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else" by Clinton Kelly

One reason I really like Clinton Kelly is that he doesn't use his personal life to promote his career. Like, until I finally caved and read his Wikipedia page, I lived in blissful denial about his sexual orientation. He succeeds because of his overabundance of confidence. His credibility has nothing to do with his personal life, in stark contrast to the TV series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (this interesting insight is not mine; I stole it from his Wikipedia page).

Reading this book was like watching him on television. Except, I dunno, maybe it's because Stacy London, the "What Not To Wear" cohost, has always seemed much more over the top snarky than he does, I guess I always thought he was the "nice one". You know, good cop, bad cop syndrome? Well, without Stacy as the "bad cop", he seems a lot more snarky, and to be honest, borderline rude. Actually, in some cases it's not that borderline.

The book has great photography and design which is probably one of the top reasons I would have ever picked it up to read. It's like a magazine. The actual information within?

The book is divided into approximately the following sections (I may have missed a few, if so they obviously weren't memorable enough): how to dress, how to speak, how to drink, how to cook, and how to throw a great party. The section on how to dress was by far the most interesting to me (maybe because he has already proven his prowess on this front in my eyes?). The how to speak section was hilarious because of the example sentences he gave. Actually, that's the main reason why I checked the book out of the library.

This is my typical should-I-check-this-book-out test: I read the title, then I take the book off the shelf and look at it. I read the subtitle. If it's fiction, I try to read as little of the back as possible so that I can "get" what the book is about, but not have the whole plot ruined. Sometimes this involves reading the News Weekly reviews on the inside jacket cover instead of the synopsis on the back. There's nothing worse than knowing the main conflict before the characters do. I think the back of books should not contain anything more than you can get out of the first chapter, plus maybe a general statement on the theme of the book.

If the book is NON fiction, instead of reading the cover, I just flip the book open to a random spot and start reading. The books I check out are usually in this ratio: 90% nonfiction, 10% fiction (I think the books I actually read are more of an 80-20% ratio, though). This random reading will determine whether or not I check out the book, unless of course, it has piqued my interest in one of the previous steps. Usually I skip most of the books in the beauty section; they have titles like, "Make Your Skin Look 10 Years Younger!" But I saw Clinton's face on this book, and flipped to a page where he advocates using the subjunctive with this example:

"Instead of 'I wish I was a princess,' say 'I wish I were a princess.' (and for the record, I don't wish I were I princess)."

That cracked me up, I checked out the book, and read it.

Skipped the section on how to drink because I don't drink.

I also skimmed the section on language. The main reason he wrote it was, apparently, because he went to a prestigious (read: expensive) university and majored in communication, or something that required him to know grammar. The examples were funny, but a little too snide and sarcastic to read in one sitting.

I also skimmed the section on how to cook. He advocates memorizing how to cook 4 or 5 things, and nearly all of those special recipes were variations of Julia Child's recipes.

The section on how to throw a great party was 90% recipes for hors-d'oeuvres, which was interesting, but...I don't read recipes for fun, I read them if I'm trying to decide what to make! One really great tip that he gave for how to throw a great party is to not start making certain platters of hors-d'oeuvres until the first guests arrive, and then put them to work instead of sitting around in uncomfortable limbo. I know my mother in law does this, and she is the best hostess I've ever met.

So, would I recommend this book? Yes, if you're looking for some really light and fun reading. But you know, truth be told, at the end of my reading/skimming of the book, I mostly felt pretty trashy. Kind of the same feeling I get after reading People magazine. It's just so...worldly. I mean who actually lives the kind of lifestyle this guy is promoting? There are multiple references to promiscuity as normal, drinking TONS as normal, and obsessions with consumerism as normal. Even if those things technically are "normal", I don't want to be involved with them! And I personally think they aren't as "normal" as he insinuates between the lines.

I grew to view Clinton Kelly as a crotchety man in his forties who likes to pretend he's in his twenties, but whose real love is throwing parties and cooking for others. The only chapters where he wasn't as snarky or snide, and where he seemed to actually take a deeper interest in the subjects were when he described cooking and hosting. I bet he is a great host.

The main message of the book is, "Eat, drink, and be merry." So if you want some truly meaningful advice about how to be a better person, this is not the book. If you're looking for some shallow advice on how to do certain worldly things with more "style", illustrated with many glossy photos, this is a great read.

One last thing: the kinds of style advice he recommends are all general, timeless, and classic. So in that sense, there's another message to this book: "You don't have to be trendy to have style and class, you just have to perfect some basic aspects of fashion/cooking/hosting/drinking etc. and you will have style and class." I like that message because I have never had the patience/resources (both in dinero and ability to sift the "cool" from the "lame") to follow the trends.

"Beyond the Myth: The Story of Joan of Arc" by Polly Schoyer Brooks

Honestly, I only read the first half of this book. I'm not exactly sure why, because it was very interesting. The author dedicated the book to her daughter, Joan. Wouldn't it be fascinating to be a fly on the wall and see what really happened? Or to interview Joan herself, and find out what her motivations really were? She was only 14. I guess the main reason she accomplished so much was because a. her gender was so radical, b. she was a virtuous, faithful girl who stuck to her standard of virginity until marriage (which she never got to experience), and c. she had guts and confidence. She didn't actually ever kill anybody, just rallied lots of troops and instilled confidence in her cohorts and fear in her enemies. I would like to learn more about her, especially when I have adolescent girls in my house.

"Being the Mom: 10 Coping Strategies I Learned by Accident Because I Had Children on Purpose" by Emily Watts

This book was written by a self-deprecating, friendly LDS mom of five (I think?) kids. It was a quick, easy, fun read. I got it from interlibrary loan from a library in Salt Lake. It's always interesting to me where the ILL books come from.

And by self deprecating, I really mean it. She subtly puts herself down quite often throughout the book, which was a bit annoying. But I think she meant it to be humorous, as she actually seems to have quite a bit of self confidence and talent. I think it's just the "socially acceptable" way to talk about yourself; some women seem to believe that confidence comes across as pride. I think that's kind of weird. It was just part of the general tone of the book that made me think this, nothing super specific.

It was a very conversational, easy to read book. She gives her opinions on many things, including LDS doctrines relating to motherhood. Many of the stories she shared were interesting, but not very memorable. I don't remember the "10 strategies". Basically, the point of the book was, "Being a mom is hard, and so sometimes you just have to deal with being an imperfect mom, and that's okay, and actually better for you and your family." So, a good message. I enjoyed reading this, and would recommend it for LDS moms. I think maybe a non-LDS reader would not really "get it". I think the book will be far more enjoyable to read when I have older teenagers, because that is primarily what she wrote about.


"Twice Blessed: Everything You Need To Know About Having A Second Child" by Joan Leonard

Joan Leonard wrote this book to complain about how crappy and difficult it was for her to have a second baby. At least, that's how it felt. The book does not offer any new insight about how to deal with going from one to two children. Like, I could have written this book, with the knowledge I have from having one child, and being one of four kids. And just observing other people.

This book does not encourage you to have children. Kind of a shame, because the people who end up interested in reading this book (well, at least from the title and cover) seems mostly to be those who are pregnant with their second one, who are DYING for pregnancy literature about having a second child! I mean, come on, there are five million books out there detailing what life will be like when you get your first baby, but so far there has not been anything remotely useful that I have been able to find about transitioning from parenting one little being to two little beings.

Something else rather strange, Leonard believes that a "real family" is a family of four. She blatantly states how she was excited to finally have a "real family". What the heck? When you're married, you and your spouse are a family. I can sort of see why childless couples think having a baby will make them "have a family"; I totally disagree, but it makes a little sense. The family dynamic changes drastically when you add a baby. But what is "real" about having two?! I mean, this lady is clearly imposing her own family goals and values on the rest of the world and touting it as an "everything you need to know" guidebook. Stupid.

I think the book's intended audience is supposed to be people who are considering the possibility of having another child, not those of us who are already pregnant or have two. So she should have changed the title. And you know what, I'm not convinced that life with two kids is going to be as hard as she says. I was talking in the hallway with a mom in my ward who spaced her kids 14 months apart (just like Jane and this new baby will be), and her comment was, "It's way easier to have two babies than to have one baby and be pregnant." Then she had to run off and stop her kid from running away, or something. Which was too bad, because I really wanted her to elaborate on that. It's something I am really eager to believe.

I think mostly, if your attitude towards motherhood is, "Hey, being a mom is hard. Deal with it," you will not really like this book. It was kind of interesting to read, but mostly just a waste of time because I didn't learn much new that common sense hasn't already taught me.

"What Your Parents Never Told You about Being a Mom or Dad" by Stan and Jan Berenstein

Stan and Jan Berenstein wrote about something besides "down a sunny dirt road in Bear country"?! I had to investigate. Apparently, they have written quite a lot of books on parenting, including a guide on how to talk to your kids about sex! Now that sounds entertaining. But I'm fairly certain this was their first "parenting" book.

(I guess all of their books are about parenting, in a way. Very moralistic. I LOVED them as a kid, and we had about two billion of them, including the one about 'beary bubbies' - a spoof on beany babies.)

This book was not very well organized, but it was an enjoyable read. It skipped around a ton from topic to topic, and mostly it was a compilation of random humorous stories from their own or their friends' experiences as parents.

At the end of the book, I kind of felt like Stan and Jan were cynical, sex-obsessed alcoholics. I'm sure they just emphasized these types of jokes because, well, they are funny. But needless to say it was a very, very strange experience for me to hear their adult, non-children's-book-framed voices.

They wrote this book in an informal voice, which makes it almost conversational. And believe me, this dates them. They were definitely "old geezers" when writing this.

I was sad to learn, after reading this book, that they had passed away. I'd be interested in their biography. Something with a little less snarky tone, which also opens up their inner lives for the public to think about. Sound good?


...after fooling around a little bit with amazon associates, I decided that I completely hate the way their images are tiny, and I feel like blatantly advertising for a product on my blog is A. not respectful to you, my readers, and B. does nothing to enhance my own credibility. Who is to say that I'm not just going to write a whole bunch of glowing hooey just so I can get the commission when you decided to buy the thing?

I'm not anti extra cash coming in. I just REALLY love my blog and I really don't want people to feel like it's a giant walking store.

For now, until someone figures this out in the marketing department chez Amazon, I will continue to save the images to my desktop. But I will provide you a link to the site that has my Amazon affiliate code embedded, so if you do happen to buy the book, I'll get some cash. But there won't be glaring ads, just a simple link (this is how I figured out how to do it). Is this a good compromise? Most of the books I read are selling on Amazon for like, $.01 anyway. I signed up for them to send me a check via mail when I get $100, so figure 4% of $.01 maybe once/month...that means I'll be waiting like, more than twenty thousand years for this check. Ha!

Another thing is, personally I really like links to Amazon. I love to read the book reviews there. I don't feel evil sending you trucking along to Amazon. I just felt grimey using their lousy widgets and in-blog gadgets. Sigh. But they are SO MUCH EASIER.

Am I evil because I joined Amazon Associates?

So here's the debate: to monetize, or not to monetize?

When blogger first added the "monetize" tab, I was like, "Hey, this is cool! I'll give that a try." Anyway, I use an adblocker. So the annoyance of actually seeing adsense ads on the side was moot. So moot, in fact, that I forgot that I actually had enabled it! Until...

...that fateful day when I was on a computer that did NOT have an adblocker. I immediately was shocked and horrified. "My blog is gross! Oh no, no, no!!!!" I quickly disabled the "monetize" feature. There seriously can be no quicker way to turn off a blog reader than to fill your sidebar with ads.

And the honest truth is, would I really make money from them? No. I get less than 500 readers/month. I blog about mundane random things that happen in my life, not expensive products or services.

Last night, right before reading scriptures, my phone went "ding!" meaning, I had a new email. After checking it, I said to Danny, "Hey, guess what? Another 100 hits on my blog!" (I have my blog counter set to send me alerts after every 100 hits).
"How long has it been?"
"I dunno, about a week?"
"You should seriously set up ads! Get some extra cash."

I thought about it for a while. But no, sidebar ads are evil. They make my blog look like a freaking store. That's pretty much the point, no?

Every time I log in to blogger, there's a little banner proclaiming something like, "Do you frequently link to Amazon? Sign up to be an Amazon Associate!"

And actually, I had been meaning to think about potentially checking it out - someday. I guess that day was today.

I feel like a sell out. I get a certain commission if you, my reader, click on a link to the product I post, and buy it. It's very small, something like 4%. And considering the only products I ever review here are books and movies, that is something like $.01 per purchase. Ha. Pathetic.

But you know what? It actually saves me quite a lot of time, being an "Amazon Associate". While directly in the blog post editor, I can search for whatever it is that I am reviewing, and click "add link and image". You know what I had to do before? Open a new tab, go to Amazon.com, find the product I was reviewing, right click on the image, save it to my desktop, go back to my blog post, and insert the image. That more than halves the steps necessary to add an image of the book I am reading to the post! Isn't that awesome?

But they are SO SMALL. I'm sure that Amazon marketing experts do this for a reason: they probably have done psychological tests to determine the exact size at which a picture will register in the brain as something, yet be intriguing enough for you to want to click on it to go to their site. I'm totally positive that just getting you to go to the site is half of their goal.

I love Amazon's book reviews. They are so much fun to read! I wish there were an easy way for me to upload my reviews from my blog to their site, without having to copy and paste. I would totally do that, if it were an option. Sheesh, it's like I'm doing their job for them, for free! But that's a separate issue.

Still, I wonder if I'm just kidding myself. Am I really doing this because I secretly hope all of you will click on my link and buy the books I review, earning me freaking easy cash? Just FYI, I've only bought 1% of the books reviewed so far this year; I get these books from the good 'ole library. Have I turned to the dark side? Does me being an Amazon Associate mean that I have officially sold out and turned my blog into an evil advertising mechanism that fuels greed and consumerism?

I'm not sure. What do you honestly think? (and sorry, mom, if most of this technical bloggy stuff bored you to tears!)

I sent an email to the Amazon customer service requesting that they allow you to make your product preview box larger. I'm sad because now you will miss out on the great cover art, because in their little in-post widget, the picture is smaller than a postage stamp. I want to enlarge it; cover art is a huge part of the experience of reading book reviews. I know this from my experience watching "Reading Rainbow."


"Hey Kate, you're FAT!" or The Top Ten Things Not To Say to Pregnant People

You know how it's not polite to comment about somebody's body size? Well I don't really see how that changes when you are pregnant. Yesterday at church, a woman came up to me and said, "Oh! You're STILL pregnant?" "Um yeah, I'm only 34 weeks." "Oh. How much longer do you have?" "About 6 weeks." I guess she realized I was somewhat annoyed because she tried to apologize by saying, "Oh, well, when I was pregnant I got as big as you, and everyone thought I was having twins!"

But it was okay because I told my friend what she said and her very first reaction was, "Oh, did so and so say that? [yes!] Yeah, she's kind of...blunt." Just the fact that she knew made me feel tons better.

My friend told me about her younger sister's comment. I guess her younger sister had always struggled with weight issues, whereas my friend didn't. They didn't live close to each other, but there was some kind of family get together event that brought them together while my friend was pregnant. I guess her little sister's first reaction to seeing her was something like, "WOW, you are FAT!"

"Um, no. No, I am pregnant. There is a big difference."

Before I was pregnant with Jane, I thought that a pregnant belly would be really jiggly and flabby. Actually, it's exactly the opposite. If you touch it, it feels like I swallowed a bunch of bricks. Also, the stretching of skin as this giant mass expands in my belly causes physical pain. More like achey-ness than pain. I'm just having a hard time imagining being able to get so fat in such a short amount of time that your skin stretching would cause the same achey-ness. Maybe this happens. I just know that other areas of my body are expanding besides my belly, and they don't seem to ache. Also, clearly if somebody were to make a comment like, "Wow, your butt is HUUUUGE!" that would qualify as rude, even though I am pregnant.

Two (two!?) other people at church said, "Wow, you're going to pop!" One of them was also pregnant. Sheesh, I would never say that to her; why did she say it to me?!

I think maybe it has to do with whether or not a person has already been through pregnancy. I don't think I've ever had a comment like this come from a non-parent (yes, one of the people who said, "wow, you're going to pop!" was a man. What!?). Maybe this is just my experience and I'm totally wrong. But my theory is that when you go through pregnancy, either as the pregnant one or the spouse, you suddenly feel like you have the "right" to comment on other people going through it. I guess it's a "right of passage" you have gone through, and your comments to others is an attempt to cheer somebody on from the peanut gallery. I guess comments on a person's size when they are pregnant are supposed to be sympathetic, like, "Wow, I've been there and done that, and I remember that parts of it sucked. Good luck!"

But why not just say, "Wow, I've been there and done that, and I remember that parts of it sucked! Good luck!" Why make comments that can easily be construed to mean, "I can't believe how FAT you are!" I mean, I've heard some crazy statistics about teen girls and negative body image. Something like 80% of American teen girls struggle with negative body image. I'm not a teenager anymore, granted, but having been one, wouldn't it be safer to assume that maybe negative body image was one of my "issues", and disparaging talk about my body should be avoided? Even without the whole body image thing, would you like me to point out how, "You are the size of a whale!"

I bet that people who had eating disorders in the past who get pregnant find this whole weird culture of you-are-huge-comments especially difficult.


10. "You're only seven months pregnant?" Yes, only.
9. "Wow, you are HUGE!" Oh actually, I hadn't noticed any change!
8. "So, how much weight have you gained?" Um, excuse me???
7. "Are you having twins?" No, just one. But thanks for pointing out how you think I'm twice as big I should be.
6. "When [insert name of friend/relative here] was pregnant, they didn't show at all! Like, you couldn't even tell they were pregnant at all." How nice for them. And you're telling me this...why?
5. "You look like you're going to pop!" Thanks, you look nice, too.
4. "Hey, you're FAT!" No, that's called a BABY.
3. "You're still pregnant?" Yes, obviously.
2. "Oh, well, when I was pregnant I was as big as you, and everyone thought I was having twins!" Thanks. Thanks a lot.
1. "Oh, I didn't know you were pregnant!" - after you have the baby. Weirdest thing is, when I got this comment, I was also HOLDING the baby. I guess some people don't think before they open their mouths. "Yes, I am five months pregnant, and I also have this newborn! It's a biological anomaly"