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The Heart of Life

The Heart of Life: March 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Quest for Baby Mamma Jeans

The other day I had a sudden impulse to go try on maternity pants.  My normal pants still fit ok, but I wanted to see what my options are.  I’ve never delved very far into the maternity section of any store, so I was curious to see what I would find and what they’d feel like.

First stop:  Ross

Ross didn’t have much.  However, the merchandise at Ross tends to fluctuate, so it probably just depends when you go.  There were a few pairs of skinny jeans, along with some yoga pants and dress pants.  I tried on one pair of skinny jeans, but they were very meh.  The fit wasn’t great and they were a little shorter than I prefer.

Second stop:  Kohls

I looked high and low for the maternity section and it was nowhere to be found.  I conveniently gave up close to the baby clothes and decided to do a quick meander through when I happened upon an itty bitty maternity section nestled into a corner of the baby clothes section.  I got a “mom jean” vibe from most of the pants there, and there weren’t many pants in my size.  I did try on a pair of coral crops, but they didn’t really do anything for me. 

Third stop:  TJ Maxx

I searched diligently, but found no maternity clothes at this TJ Maxx.  None.  I looked pretty thoroughly.  Maybe they don’t ever carry maternity clothes, or maybe it’s something that comes and goes.

Fourth stop:  H&M

H&M had a pretty good selection of sizes and styles.  There were dark wash and greyish wash skinny jeans, but my calves proved to be no match for these skinnies, and they were ridiculously tight on me.  There were also five or six different colors and patterns of skinny jeans, but the fit was also too tight.  They had the potential to be really cute, but they just weren’t made for my legs.

Fifth stop:  The Gap

My coworker who is also pregnant has some really cute maternity pants from the Gap, but I was a little doubtful that they would fit in my budget.  I mean, it’s the Gap.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the same pants on sale, but when I tried them on they were that awkward inch-above-the-ankle length.  It was fourth grade all over again.  I continued to look, and I found another clearance rack of maternity pants.  I tried on a few pairs in my size and found that they ran pretty baggy and short.  Pregnant clown.  Dear me.  Back to the rack. 

And then I came across the lone pair of {the size which shall not be named} dark wash extra-long skinny jeans.  It went against every fiber of my being to even try {the size which shall not be named}.  It’s a size made for anorexic people and 11-year-olds.  It can’t be healthy to even try on.  They ended up being a near perfect fit, although slightly baggy in the butt.  I promise I’ve been eating.  They were plenty long, not too tight around the calves, and the fit was pretty acceptable.  And they were comfy.  They had an under-the-belly waistband rather than the bodysuit kind that goes all the way up to the armpits (I exaggerate, but they go way up there).  The under-the-belly kind feel more like sweatpants, which I like.  They were originally $70, but they were marked down to $35.  Booyah.

Thus, I purchased the anorexia maternity pants.  I have no regrets.  They’re comfy.  They’re belly-flattering.  Sorry, normal pants.  The anorexia maternity pants win.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Secret Clinical Strength Stress Response

A little while ago I got into Influenster.  Essentially it’s a site where you can review products, read other reviews, and ask and answer questions about products.  It’s kind of fun.  Another fun feature are VoxBoxes.  These are complimentary products qualified Influensters get to test and review.  I was fortunate enough to receive a recent VoxBox, and included in it was some clinical strength deodorant from Secret of the “Stress Response” variety. 


I’ve never used a deodorant quite like this.  It’s not really a solid, but it’s not a gel either.  The way it’s distributed is like a gel—the clicky bottom and the deodorant bursting out of holes at the top.  But it’s not a gel—it’s more like a super-soft solid.  Lotion-esque almost.  But not so liquidy, of course.  But unlike a solid, I haven’t noticed white marks on my clothes.  And unlike a gel I don’t have to hold my arms over my head waiting for my deodorant to dry.  It’s kind of the best of both worlds.

The directions recommend using “two clicks” of product, but don’t specify whether it’s two clicks per pit or one click per pit (a total of two clicks).  Personally, one click per pit seems like plenty of deodorant.

I must say, the smell alone is pretty delightful.  It’s fresh without being too overwhelming—nice and subtle.  Occasionally I catch a whiff of myself and think, “Where is that nice smell coming from?”  Then I realize it’s me.  It’s always a pleasant surprise.

When it comes down to this deodorant’s actual purpose (the sweat and stink thing), it does a pretty good job.  I can’t complain, although I haven’t really noticed much of a difference based on sweat and odor between this and other deodorants I’ve used.  The good people at Influenster keep asking how this deodorant has helped me keep my cool during a stressful situation.  As a preschool teacher I’m in constant stress-mode.  Not once have I thought, “Man, I’m real stressed.  Good thing I put on my Secret Clinical Strength Stress Response this morning or I’d be sweating up a storm.”  Honestly my deodorant is the last thing on my mind in a stressful situation.  And if I’m thinking about my deodorant, it’s probably because it isn’t working.  Anyway, I see it as a good thing that my deodorant isn’t “getting me through” anything.

I’m not sure if this is something I would buy.  As I already mentioned, I haven’t noticed much of a difference (if any) between this and other deodorants (non-clinical strength) I’ve been using lately, and the others are less spendy.  Five years ago or so sweat was more of an issue, and this deodorant might have been a good solution back then, but it’s not so much of a problem anymore.  Now that the weather is warming up a little I’ll have to go back to what’s left of my previous deodorant to make a warm-weather comparison.  If I notice a difference there I may be more likely to buy it.  If not…the nice smell and nice texture alone are probably not enough to win my eternal love.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Low-Down

I never really saw myself as the type to have a “let me tell you about how my pregnancy has been” post, but after holding in my fun little secret for so long, I actually want to talk about it.

Compared to some of my friends, we waited a really long time to tell people.  I was 10 weeks when we finally told our parents and siblings.  This was partially because I just wasn’t emotionally ready to go there yet and partially because I was super paranoid about having a miscarriage.  My mom had a miscarriage with her first pregnancy, so I almost expected that it’d happen to me too.  And if I did miscarry, I kind of wanted it to be a private experience for a while.  I know—I’m weird.  I’d accepted that miscarriage happens a lot, especially in first pregnancies, and that it happens for a reason.  Most of the time it means something really really major was wrong with the baby, so I learned to feel ok about letting that baby go if it means he/she didn’t have to endure much pain.  Plus, I believe miscarriages are included in eternal families.  If I miscarried, that baby would still be mine forever.  Miscarriage is still really sad, though, and I’m glad I have yet to experience it.

As far as morning sickness goes, I was pretty lucky.  Mostly food looked really gross for a while.  Pinterest was no fun at all during this stage.  My browsing was constantly punctuated by internal, “Eww, that looks nasty,” and, “Ick.  Scroll down, scroll down!”  I never got very nauseous, but mornings were definitely the ickiest part of the day, which is weird because I’m normally big into breakfast.  Some mornings the only thing that sounded relatively appetizing was lemon-lime pop and crackers.  Not exactly a healthy breakfast, but I figure it was better than eating nothing.  It was a welcome change when my appetite decided to reemerge about three weeks ago or so.

My immune system didn’t fare so well.  This is where “The Cold That Loved Me Too Hard” comes in.  I’m usually a very high-functioning sick person, and I rarely miss work because I’m sick, but I was really down for the count for almost the entire month of February.  It started out with a cold, then less than two weeks later I got another (different) cold, then a week later I got a bad ear infection.  I missed a total of six days of work, and would have missed an additional five days if I hadn’t been sick on weekends and President’s day.  I spent a total of 11 days in the month of February laying on the couch!  It was ridiculous.  Well-meaning coworkers were constantly giving me suggestions on cold meds I should try.  I always felt a twinge of guilt when I’d say, “Oh yeah, I should look into that,” when I knew very well I couldn’t take it.  Pretty much all that I was cleared to take was Tylenol and Benadryl (and later amoxicillin when I got the ear infection).  I’d heard that being sick is worse pregnant, but wow.  It really is.  But I’m coming up on three consecutive weeks of healthiness, so I’m crossing my fingers the worst is behind me for a little while at least.

These days I pay a lot more attention to those progressive belly shots you see on Pinterest.  I feel itty bitty compared to most.  I only barely started to avoid my more form-fitting shirts (they still fit, but they’re just not flattering anymore), and even then all my jeans still fit fine.  I feel a little chubby, but I haven’t gained any weight at all.  I actually weigh slightly less than I did before I was pregnant.  It’s weird.  My temporary loss of appetite or “The Cold That Loved Me Too Hard” may be to blame for that, but even then my weight has stayed pretty consistent since the beginning of January.  My doctor hasn’t said anything about it, so I guess it’s nothing to be concerned about yet.  On the contrary, he has twice thanked me for being skinny because it makes finding the heartbeat easier.  Kind of a weird compliment, but I’ll take it.  In the meantime I’ve switched from 1% milk to 2%.  I figure it can’t hurt.

So that’s the low-down on the current situation as of now—15 weeks.  It may be more or less than you wanted to know, but there you have it.


Monday, March 11, 2013

In other news…

Announcement blog version

P.S. This image is slightly different from the one I posted on Facebook—I took out my last name from between “1st” and “baby.”  If you’re Facebook friends with me you can see it in its full glory there.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Petty Parenting Pet Peeves

Sometimes things I see parents do (at church especially) really irk me.  I’m not a parent, so I get that I’m not really an authority on raising kids, but I’ve worked with kids just enough to form opinions about stupid, nit-picky things.  I’m not trying to be critical of parents who do these things, because these things really aren’t a big deal.  However, I can’t for the life of me figure out what they’re thinking.

1.  Parents not dressing their children in weather-appropriate clothing.

There’s a lady in my ward that is a fantastic mom—the way she interacts with her kids is adorable.  However, I’ve noticed for the past month or so at church her baby girl (a ten-month-old maybe) is dressed in sleeveless summery dresses with bare legs and bare feet.  She looks cute, but I can’t help but cringe.  I’m guessing the dresses were a gift or a killer deal and the mom wants to get some use out of them while her baby girl is the right size, but for heaven sakes, put a cardigan (or a long sleeved onesie), tights, and shoes on that little girl!  It’s technically still winter! 

I get that socks fall off like crazy and that baby shoes are a little pointless if they aren’t walking (and the fit can be weird too).  I get that diaper-changing is easier without dealing with tights and onesie snaps.  I also get that maybe the mom is thinking, “Well, I bundle her up in a blanket in her car seat to and from church, and inside the church is warm.”  But still. 

The rule of thumb with babies is that they should wear one more layer than mom is comfortable in.  If mom is hot in one layer of clothes, then a sleeveless summery dress with bare legs is totally ok.  However, the mom is dressed warmly:  long sleeves, a long skirt, and tall boots.  Naturally, you should dress your baby in something warm too, right?  I feel like it’s common sense.  Again, it really isn’t a big deal, but why?

2.  Parents who use toys as a last resort to entertain their baby/toddler.

There’s another mom in my ward—again, a fantastic person—who has an approximately 18-month-old toddler.  At church, she at first sits him on her lap, unentertained.  I think she’s hoping he’ll listen along with her.  Nope.  After about thirty seconds he wiggles away.  Naturally he starts to explore around him—banging on the chair, jumping on the bench, etc.  She pulls him away from whatever he’s doing and sits him down beside her.  He gets up and explores some more.  She sits him down.  She does this over and over and over and over and over until finally she pulls out a toy from her bag.  At this point that toy dinosaur has nothing on the bounciness of the bench, so he almost immediately discards the dino and goes back to jumping.  That poor mom doesn’t get to hear any of the lesson/talk.

I’ve worked with kids enough to know that if you let them get bored they will find something to do, and it’s usually something you don’t want them to do.  Kids like to be busy, and this business helps them to learn tons of skills—hand-eye coordination, problem solving, large and small motor skills, consequences, processes, etc.  Keeping a child busy with a variety of activities is probably the biggest favor a parent can do for their child cognitively and developmentally.

I don’t really understand why she doesn’t give him something to do right away—before he even has the chance to get bored.  Give him a dinosaur and when he’s done with that pull out the Cheerios, then out comes the flap book, then the busy book, etc.  It requires more entertaining and prep, but I’m willing to bet she would get more out of church.

Maybe this mom is trying to teach reverence to her child and sees toys as something irreverent that should be avoided whenever possible.  Maybe she always waits until he’s bored to give him a toy and he always rejects the toy (because he’s already found something more fun to do), so she sees toys as a lost cause.  Maybe it just hasn’t occurred to her to pack more than one or two toys in her church bag.  Maybe she tries to make the toys really count.  I don’t know.  I don’t get it.

Pardon my ranting.  Again, these things are not a big deal in the parenting big picture.  And one day I’ll probably do something stupid with my kids that will make someone else wonder, “What is she thinking?”

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Friday, March 1, 2013


Looooong, long ago when I wrote several posts about parenting, I may have mentioned that I’d talk about creating consequences for kids of all ages.  I probably did.  You can click on the “Parenting 101” tab above for a refresher if you want.

Anyway, with a little help from Dr. Latham’s book, The Power of Positive Parenting I’ve come up with a process along with a lame fun little flow chart to illustrate things.


1.  What’s the problem?

This first step can be tempting to skip, because you might be thinking, “Duh, my child is driving me crazy.  That’s the problem.  No brainer.”  But if you don’t define exactly what the specific problem behavior is, how do you expect to change anything? 

You might put your child in time out and tell him he’s there because he must stop the craziness, but then your child doesn’t know exactly why he’s in time out.  He doesn’t know what he was doing that threatened your sanity. 

Was it the zombie noises?  Was it the leaping off the couch?  Was it the water guns in the house?  Sure, he might have an inkling that all of the above are not ok, but at the same time he’s probably thinking, “But she never said I couldn’t make zombie noises, leap off the couch, or have water guns in the house…”

Anyway, the whole process goes a lot better if you start out on the right foot by defining the problem specifically.


  • Child makes a habit of smearing his boogers on his bedroom wall.
  • Child won’t stop making obnoxious, squeaky baby kitty noises.
  • Child won’t clean her bathroom.
  • Child runs out in the street.

2.  What is the natural consequence?

A natural consequence is what could or would happen to the child if you were to allow the unwanted behavior to continue.

For example (based on the above examples):

  • The wall transforms into a solid snot mural, and eventually every future friend that sees the snot art terminates the friendship.
  • Mother pulls hair out and child’s teacher strongly dislikes her.
  • The bathroom becomes disgusting.  Child is embarrassed to have friends over.
  • Child is hit by car.

3.  Concerning the natural consequence:  Is it safe?  Will it work?  Are you ok with it?

Natural consequences can be the best consequences.  There’s nothing like learning from experience—that’s how we learn as adults, after all.  However, not all natural consequences are desirable, so apply the following questions to the natural consequence in mind.

Is it safe?  Obviously, you can’t carry through with a natural consequence that puts your child or someone else in danger.

Will it work?  If you don’t think the natural consequence will eventually stop your child’s behavior, then a natural consequence is no good.

Are you ok with it?  Even if the natural consequence is safe and you think it’ll work, if it’s going to drive you absolutely crazy, ditch it.  The consequence shouldn’t be a punishment for you, so only carry through with it if you can live with it.


  • Snot wall is relatively safe for child (unless there are sharp edges).  It has potential to spread germs to others.  Child is a toddler and doesn’t really care about having boogers on the wall, so letting it continue won’t really do anything to solve the problem.  Also, a snot wall is not something mother wants to live with.  Thus, the natural consequence is not the way to go.
  • Allowing child to continue with the obnoxious mewing isn’t likely to cause bodily harm to child.  It could potentially cause migraines in nearby adults, but it is considered safe.  Child may eventually grow tired of mewing (as mewing teenagers are rare) and stop on her own accord, but where there is nothing immediately discouraging her from stopping it could be years.  Thus, it could work, but probably not for a while.  Mother isn’t willing to endure the mewing, thus the natural consequence isn’t the best solution.
  • A disgusting bathroom is fairly safe, unless a dangerous form of mold is involved.  Depending on child, the natural consequence may be effective.  If the child has friends over frequently and begins to feel self-conscious of the bathroom, child will likely eventually cave in and clean the bathroom and learn that it’s less work when it’s less filthy.  If child could care less about the disgustingness of the bathroom, the natural consequence may not work.  Mother doesn’t use that bathroom and is prepared to let it get nasty.  Thus, the natural consequence is a viable solution.
  • It is not safe to allow child to suffer the natural consequences of running out in the road (getting hit by a car), and thus it’s an option that shouldn’t be explored further.

Is it working?

This question comes up twice in the above diagram, but addressing it once is sufficient.  After you have implemented the consequence, whether it be natural or logical, the time comes to assess the effectiveness of the consequence.  Has the behavior stopped or lessened?  If so, then consider the consequence a success.  Good job!  If things have stayed the same or gotten worse, you’ve got a few things to consider.

First of all, are you being consistent?  If you administer the consequence only occasionally, it will not work.  You must be consistent, and if you aren’t able to be consistent you need to figure out a different consequence that you can be consistent with.

Secondly, how long have you tried out the consequence?  Sometimes consequences take a little time to work.  And sometimes the behavior will get worse before it gets better.  Stick it out for at least a week, and if it’s still not working, work out a different consequence.

Keep in mind that even though you may think the consequence should work, be prepared to abandon it if it doesn’t work.  Being grounded may be the perfect consequence for one child, but it doesn’t mean it’s perfect for every child.  Every kid is different.

Create a logical consequence.

If you’ve nixed a natural consequence or if a natural consequence back-fired, the time has come to move to a logical consequence.  A logical consequence is a consequence you make up that is directly related to the unwanted behavior.  This can be kind of tricky sometimes and might require a little creativity.

Let’s look at the cleaning the bathroom example from above.  The natural consequence is to let the bathroom get dirty, but if the mother doesn’t want to deal with that, it’s time for a logical consequence.  If the child has friends that come over frequently, a good logical consequence may be that his friends can come over only after the bathroom has had its weekly/bi-weekly cleaning.  Logic:  Friends and guests can’t come over when the bathroom is a disaster.  If the kid is more into tech stuff, the logical consequence may be to limit tech use while the bathroom is nasty.  The phone/iPod/internet password magically disappears when the bathroom isn’t clean.  Logic:  Play doesn’t happen until responsibilities are taken care of.

Concerning logical consequences:  Is it relevant?  Is it realistic?  Is it appropriate?

Much like natural consequences, a logical consequence has to pass a battery of tests before it can be put into action.

Is it relevant?  As I mentioned before, the consequence needs to relate to the unwanted behavior somehow.  If child breaks curfew and the consequence is to clean every window in the house, it don’t really connect.  It might get the point across that the child is in big trouble, but what do clean windows have to do with being late?  A more relevant consequence would be to limit time with friends or limit car use.  Another thing to consider is if the consequence is relevant to the child.  If a kid isn’t very social to begin with, a consequence limiting time with friends isn’t very relevant.

Is it realistic?  A major factor in your logical consequence is your ability to consistently follow through with the consequence.  I knew a kid who always got grounded in three-to-six-month increments.  Did this kid’s parents ever truly ground her for the full three months?  No way.  Few parents are that vigilant.  The consequence has to be do-able for the parents.  This is a good time to mention that empty threats are not a consequence.  Telling the child, “Pack your bags and say goodbye to your friends because we’ve decided to send you to boot camp tomorrow after school,” when you have absolutely no intention of sending said child to boot camp is an empty (and unrealistic) threat.  Sure, it might scare the crap out of your child, but after realizing you got him good, he probably won’t buy into your threats too much again.

Is it appropriate?  There are two things to consider here.  For one, is it age appropriate?  Having the snot-smearing toddler clean all the walls in the house as a consequence isn’t age-appropriate at all.  Most toddlers aren’t developmentally capable of that kind of task.  Plus, it’s probably not the best idea to give a toddler a bottle of Lysol.  Poison control alert!  If a nine-year-old is doing the snot-smearing, however, some wall cleaning would be a fabulous consequence (perhaps with some supervision, depending on the child).  The other thing to consider is if it’s emotionally or physically abusive.  Anything abusive is inappropriate.  Blowing cayenne pepper powder into a child’s eyes is never appropriate.  Locking a child in a closet is inappropriate.  That’s fairly obvious, though.  Emotional abuse isn’t so straightforward.  I saw this picture on Facebook not too long ago:

cruel I disagree.  For one, holding that sign outside a grocery store is totally irrelevant to bullying.  It’s embarrassing, yes, but not relevant.  Secondly, public humiliation is cruel and emotionally abusive.  I’m guessing he learned to bully from his mother.  Now, I’m not saying all embarrassing consequences are bad—mostly just the ones that involve public humiliation.  For example, if this mom had the kid bake cookies and then personally deliver them to each of his bullying victims with a face-to-face apology, it’s likely to be super embarrassing, but it’s also appropriate and actually relevant.  That’s a mom that deserves an award.

Something to keep in mind:

Consequences are all about trial and error.  Keep trying until you figure out something that works.  Also keep in mind that sometimes the problem just isn’t a big deal.

For example, all through elementary/jr. high/high school I liked to stay up late reading.  It drove my parents crazy.  They threatened to take away my reading lamp, but I think we all knew that wouldn’t make me stop reading at night.  They warned me that kids need at least nine hours of sleep each night to function during the day.  That didn’t stop me either, because I never felt tired during the day.  My parents told me that eventually they realized that even though I was staying up past midnight every night, I didn’t act tired (oddly enough, naps were rare for me before I graduated from high school) and I still got good grades.  So they just let it go.  It wasn’t a big deal.

Sorry this post was sooo lengthy, but I didn’t like the idea of dividing up the information into several posts.  So here you have it, all at once!