The Mom Olympics

There is a lot of competition between us moms. Am I caring enough? Do I speak in sweet enough tones to my children? Do I discipline the “right” way? Do I never EVER put convenience above hygiene or general cleanliness? Am I making activities educational enough? Oh, that other kid knows his ABCs at 18 months, should mine too? The list is endless. Add snarky looks from other moms who OBVIOUSLY do it better than me and other moms who could OBVIOUSLY learn so much from me and my mommy-skillz and my self-esteem is always tip-toeing on the wall between the confidence of Kanye West and George-Michael Bluth.

My vote is that we stop this arbitrary and objective competition and hold one that matters for realsies and can actually be scored (preferably by someone holding big white signs with numbers 1-10 on them).

Enter the Mom Olympics.

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We will have general areas of expertise with sub-events in each area. This is an Olympic year, after all. Let’s get in gear, Mama.

Hygiene

  •  Nail-cutting: Momletes would be judged on speed, overall precision, and ability to hold toddler still during event without clipping skin or using “scary mom voice.”
  • Diaper-changing: Momletes will be given a toddler with a dirty diaper who has been fed 3 pixie sticks and shown a light-up toy that is just out of reach and then evaluated on swiftness, ability to keep diaper pad clean, and least number of wet wipes used.
  • Bath-time: Momletes will be given two children ages two years apart to fully bathe while being scored on memory of and cleaning of all parts and crevices, creativity with bath toys, lack of actual or perceived soap-in-eyes, and least amount of body splashed.

Bedtime

  • Bedtime Story: Momletes will be judged on use of theatrical character voices, maintaining control of situation with tired, banshee children, and resistance to urge to suddenly shut the book mid-story and say “the end.”
  • Bedtime Ninja Crawl: Momletes will be given an only somewhat sleepy child and tasked with putting said child to bed, only to be asked by child to “lay down for a minute.” Momletes will then have to wait until child is asleep and then do her best stealthy escape without waking child up with movement, sound, light from outside of room, or annoying 6th sense of child.
  • Post-Bedtime Victory Dance: Momletes will be allowed to include a partner for this event, and will be scored on enthusiasm, overall choreography, creative inclusion of partner, with bonus points given if dance is continued all the way to the place where wine is kept.

Sickness

  • Nose-Sucking: Momletes will be evaluated on ability to hold down child while keeping his/her hands from swiping the bulb mid-suck and completing actual snot-extraction with only her two arms, and also instinctual knowledge of whether there is more gunk in child’s sinuses, paired with decision of whether or not it is worth it to retrieve said gunk or just call it a freaking day.
  • Comforting: Momletes  will be judged on use of soothing tones, creative use of unnecessary medical items (ie: bandaids) as a placebo effect to trick child, and resistance of using the phrase “suck it up” with over-dramatic children.
  • Immune System: Momletes will be scored on dodging of sneezes, coughs, and throw-up, remembering to take Vitamin C tablets (even though science has told us that this mostly does not work), and of course, sheer internal will to not get sick.

Communication and Media

  • Listening: Momletes will be paired with a 7-year-old who had an interesting day at school and then have to listen to the child turn a simple story into a 30-minute saga while being judged on head nodding, tracking sounds that make her seem interested, resistance to checking time or letting mind wander, and performance on detailed quiz at the end.
  • Deciphering Cries: Momletes will be played a series of cries, screams, and tantrums and tasked with deciding whether each one is a result of child letting go of a balloon or of breaking an actual bone.
  • Instagram: Momletes will be paired with a toddler who couldn’t care less about being photographed and then scored on ability to use creative lighting, difficult positions, and non-cooperative child to create the best photo shoot with the wittiest caption.

Being in Public

  • Grocery Store: Momletes will be given 3 children and an extensive shopping list and then evaluated on tantrum policing, control of situation on cereal and snack aisles, and will-power to not abandon cart and carry all children football-style to car.
  • Other Children: Momletes will be paired with a child in dire need of a nap and placed in a dentist office waiting room with badly behaved children whose mother is at the point of waving a white flag and doing nothing to control them. Momletes will then be judged on ability keep child from also turning into a monster and resistance to crazy-eyes.
  • Mall-Escape: Momletes will be placed in a crowded shopping mall and paired with a child who has been told “no” multiple times when he or she requested to purchase wildly unnecessary items. Momletes will then be scored on attempts to keep child’s spirits up, followed by ability to stop child from laying down in the middle of the mall while throwing a tantrum, and finally, discretion on best timing to airlift child and take situation to restroom or vehicle.

Playtime

  • Park: Momletes will be tasked with taking a child to the park and evaluated on ability to push child on swing with vague “correct” speed and height, coming up with new and convincing reasons why she cannot play tag beyond a quick 3-minute stint, and knowledge of when to put down phone and look attentive to child for the sake of other, judgy moms.
  • Arts and Crafts: Momletes will be given multiple children with varying personalities and tasked with casting their hands, putting together a gingerbread house, and supervising them playing with a bead set. Momletes will be judged on ability to pep-talk herself before activity begins, willingness to throw structure, order, and instructions out the window, and coming out of event without crazy-eyes or more than one child punished.
  • Make-Believe: Momletes will be scored on correct portrayal of character they barely remember from some children’s show, enthusiasm while being stabbed by fake sword, shot by fake gun, or otherwise slayed as a dragon, and ability to expertly repeat mildly decipherable line of dialog fed to her by child.

The award system will be tiered with:

Gold: Night in a hotel to yourself

Silver: Drinking an entire beverage while it is still hot

Bronze: Getting to pee alone

I really feel like this should be a thing. Can we get on this? 

What events am I missing? Lay ’em on me!

Love, Alex

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The Epic Homework Battle of 2016…and 2015

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Like many kids who have come from the system, El Oso is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in stubbornness wrapped in self-esteem issues wrapped in a rabbit hole of baggage. We have been working with him on no short of 20 bazillion issues all at once. Ok fine, maybe a little short of that. I digress. It’s been rough, no surprises there. He has been improving on so much, though! He came to us with the maturity of maybe a 10 year old, and I’d say he’s up to 13ish now, which is huge! He’s getting better with his social cues, his knowledge and understanding of wrong and right, his acclimation into a normal family life in general, and a crap-ton of other things.

The big problem right now?

Schoolwork. AKA the bane of my existence.

It’s an interesting concept when I have to sympathize with my parents and all they had to deal with when raising me and/or my siblings…only 8 years after they were done doing it. It helps that they are still in the thick of the child-rearing with my sister, but still, it’s super weird to talk teenagers with them when I was one a mere 6 years ago.

We were/are brought up to believe that school was an important key to getting to our goals in life. We wouldn’t fathom not turning in homework or not studying when we needed to or not participating in class or any other things that we could control in regards to school without fear of lengthy lectures followed by some form of punishment. Ahem, discipline. Sure, I didn’t always study, but I didn’t always need to study, and I knew that and had the wherewithal to regulate and manage my own crap. My brother forgot to turn in homework all the time in high school and was usually punished for it. He is also smart enough to where he could literally be on his phone the entirety of a class period and then ace a test on what was covered. Stupid smarty pants. This is why he is in med school though. Glad one of us can buy that retirement beach house my parents have always dreamed of, I guess.

The point is, we had 14 full years of of parenting before we reached high school. My parents had 14 years to teach us how to be responsible and how to care about our grades and how to expect the best out of ourselves. We weren’t always perfect of course, believe me, (I once spent a good 2-3 solid months grounded. My siblings have been in similar predicaments, but they read this blog and one of them still cares about the world knowing this stuff. So if you want to private message me…just kidding) but it went a long way. So what do you do with a kid who has been told his whole life that trying in any capacity at all or that doing even a small amount of the work in any shape or form constitutes “him trying his very best?” My anger and frustration fades to sympathy when I realize that this is truly not his fault. He doesn’t know. Sweet Oso. (Or Oso Dulche, as the creator of his nickname would say it.)

So this is where we are. The past week, or more maybe, I try to lose count, we have had a blow out every single night about the stupid schoolwork. I’m exhausted. Bryan is exhausted. El Oso has to be exhausted.

The problem, and I say “the problem” like it’s the only one or like I even fully understand “the problem,” is that he has never had the expectations that he has now with us. He all of the sudden has people checking up on his crap and calling him out on it and he is acting like the freaking apocalypse must be nigh.

Now let me be clear. This is NOT a situation where he is truly only capable of his current output. He is not lower functioning and hasn’t had even HALF of the experiences that most kids in the system have dealt with. He has experienced very little movement during his time in care and has managed to not only NOT fall behind one to two grades as is common in foster care, but has maintained being a year AHEAD of where he should be according to his age and the cutoff date. This has been accomplished via years of skating by. He has had it drilled into his head that if he can just stay below the radar, everything will be fine. Don’t excel, don’t fail too hard. As long as other kids are falling on their faces harder than I am, everything will be ok. And this has of course laid the groundwork for a whole crop of laziness to grow as well.

My reaction to this has been very mature and understanding. I always speak in soft tones and refuse to let my frustration translate out of my brain and into a vein slightly protruding from my forehead, or, Heaven forbid, a snarky comment…or two.

I’ll let you decide whether or not that is fact or crap.

On the real though. This ridiculousness continues to be HARD. On Monday we opted to order take-out so that I could spend the entire evening walking through his homework and studying with him. We made leaps and bounds of progress! Developed a new system! It was wonderful! And then while I was still patting my own back for a job well-done Tuesday evening, we found him fallen asleep mid-homework with almost zero of the Monday’s knowledge having transferred. Cue another lengthy conversation about responsibility and listening, and selfishness, and rebellion and blah blah blah blah blah.

Can you see it? ALL OF THE MATURITY SPEWING FROM ME, THE PARENT?

Sometimes, I want to declare responsibility bankruptcy too, kid. Do you have room in the center of the universe for me as well? Does this sound a bit harsh? Just wait for the annoyingly hard lesson that always comes after I get too wrapped up in someone else’s problems.

During my epic tantrum is usually when God comes in all High and Mighty (<– see what I did there?) and is like “You see it don’t you? How ridiculous you’re acting about something that you do as well, but on a bigger scale?” Ugh God. You and Your logic. The theme continues: I learn more about myself and my bratty, ungrateful, selfish nature by getting mad at someone else for doing it to me. God: “El Oso’s stubborn and refuses to see the logic and do the right thing for the hundredth time? Hmm sounds like someone else I know.”

God: Infinity.

Alex: Still zero.

I’m glad someone’s got this, because I sure don’t.

Love, Alex

For fellow foster/adoptive parents: This is not news to you and I would love to have coffee with you. Everyone else, I welcome your comments and encouragement IN LOVE.

 

Spicy


Don’t let this photo fool you. My child is everything they said babies wouldn’t be. He is never cold, and has always gotten too hot for me to put him in those adorable fuzzy pajamas. He is strong willed and opinionated. And he is the opposite of cuddly and sweet.

I tell him all the time that he is not sweet, he’s spicy…just like his mama. I’m telling y’all, this child may look a lot like his daddy, but he is 100% my personality. I’m both proud of this and terrified for my and his (and Bryan’s) future.

This photo was taken while trying to get him to wind down and get ready for bed. He had been fighting me and trying to buck out of my arms. I held him tightly and said calming things to him as he fought and fought and finally was still.

God uses adorable little scenarios like this to gently wave my behavior at me like “Oh hey, see that? That’s you.” He tries to help and teach and refine me and I just fight Him. Nonstop. No matter how many times I’ve “learned my lesson” Having a baby has taught me a lot about how God must see us. Babies are ridiculous and irrational and unwise and clumsy and everything seems so obvious to everyone except them. Hm… I mean really. Babies be crazy. Perfect baby logic: “What’s this? The edge of the bed? Seems smart to just crawl off of here.” God tells us to trust Him, that He knows the way and that it’s better than ours, but we would rather just roll off the bed and hope for the best.

I love this Spicy child with my whole entire heart, and I am beyond grateful that someone loves me that much and more through all of my shortcomings and stupid behavior.

Little Joys

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I’m typing this while laying in bed. Not that that’s important, I just thought it was worth mentioning. I’ve never written a blog post from bed before. I should make it a new thing. This is comfy.

ARE YOU BORED YET? SORRY.

Anyway.

I thought I’d share a quick list of the joys that motherhood has brought me so far. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times where I want to cry. Just the other day, I told my baby child that he was being kind of a butthead BECAUSE HE WAS OK. But much of the time, this non-mushy mama feels all the feels and smiles all the smiles. So here you go. The best things:

1. Whenever I wake him up and he immediately smiles at me…just before stretching and doing this hilarious duck face every.single.time.

2. He’s been making this surprised face lately that’s just so funny. Like when we mock-throw him in the air, he will open his mouth really wide and gasp. It’s almost like he’s overacting on purpose. Putting on a show. The other day, he had been with my parents all night so I could sleep off a cold, and when we walked in he did the surprised face like “OMG you’re here. I could just die I’m so happy!” (You have to say it in a southern belle accent, otherwise it doesn’t sound as funny as it seemed that day.

3. We just started solids, so he is learning how to swallow nonmilk food and not spit it all over the place and me. So he gets frustrated and will whine a lot during these feeding times, even as they are getting better. But the best part is that he will whine and fuss, but as soon as I make a big deal out of him taking a bite and swallowing it correctly (“Yay Grady! Good job buddy!”), he immediately stops whining and gets this huge grin on his face….and then back to the whining and stuffing his bib in his mouth, but I digress.

4. We try really hard to communicate to Grady that people are ok if we say they are. We want him to have a healthy fear of stranger-danger, but not of the babysitter or friend at church that wants to hold him. However, he has started the phase where he categorizes people as “mommy” and “not mommy.” Most of the time, he’s cool with “not mommy,” just as long as “mommy” is within eyesight. Anyway, the other day he turned his shoulder to my mom for the first time while I was holding him and she tried to take him. For a second, my mama heart was full because realizing that he loves me too and wants to stay with me is huge.

5. He has started squealing, especially when he thinks something is funny. So anytime we do something repetitively during playtime like tickle him and then stop and then tickle him again or give him raspberries on his belly, he anticipates the next time and will squeal with excitement. It makes me smile just thinking about how cute it is.

Ok, that’s enough mushy for now. I have realized how different I am in regards to my son compared to my usual non-touchy-feely self. I’m down with it. He makes me so happy.

Love, Alex

Grady’s Nursery!

Nothing to see here, just being a mom, not posting on my blog. Ugh. Ok fine, here’s another picture of my kid.

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Up on dat drool game.

Despite my best efforts and complete lack of skills, Grady has a pretty bomb nursery. It’s bear themed (What else?) and I had some amazing help with almost every aspect, mostly from my amazing craft-queen of a friend, Rachel Hamen. She has a super successful Etsy shop called One Crafty Foxx where she sells everything from themed party decor packages to t-shirt designs to witty kitchen signs. She’s my go-to for all things crafty or design-oriented and she should totally be yours too!

I hope you also enjoy a virtual tour of our baby room, complete with my meaningless commentary.

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My grandfather painted this bed gray for us. It was so sweet and cute. He was extremely concerned about the paint being safe to have around Grady and went to great lengths to ensure that the bed was perfect for our little guy.

My grandfather painted this bed gray for us. It was so sweet and cute. He was extremely concerned about the paint being safe to have around Grady and went to great lengths to ensure that the bed was perfect for our little guy.

Bryan's second mom had that quilt made. When I found out we were getting a quilt, I was a little worried because I am not a quilt person at all, but I couldn't love this more! It's adorable and fits the room perfectly. Those cute pillows were handmade by my friend Kim, who maintains my sanity on a regular basis.

Bryan’s second mom had that quilt made. When I found out we were getting a quilt, I was a little worried because I am not a quilt person at all, but I couldn’t love this more! It’s adorable and fits the room perfectly. Those cute pillows were handmade by my friend Kim, who maintains my sanity on a regular basis.

These are a Rachel specialty. She found the perfect colors to go with everything and did the silhouettes exactly like I wanted. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

These are a Rachel specialty. She found the perfect colors to go with everything and did the silhouettes exactly like I wanted. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx&nbsp;

What kid wouldn't love  fake bear rug? Mali and Phoebe like it too, unfortunately.

What kid wouldn’t love fake bear rug? Mali and Phoebe like it too, unfortunately.

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Rachel was the main host for my baby shower, and since she knew she was helping with my nursery, she made decoration for the shower that could double as nursery decor. This bunting was one of those items, and I loved it so much I used it in TWO different places in the room.

This shelf was custom made by Bryan's sister Alicia who has a business called Burnside Woodworking. She is amazing at this stuff and did I mention that SHE MADE THIS BASED ON A SMALL IPHONE PHOTO THAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PATTERN AT ALL? Seriously, girl's got skills.

This shelf was custom made by Bryan’s sister Alicia who has a business called Burnside Woodworking. She is amazing at this stuff and did I mention that SHE MADE THIS BASED ON A SMALL IPHONE PHOTO THAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PATTERN AT ALL? Seriously, girl’s got skills.

We have a bear shelf. you guys! A bear shelf! Just so awesome.

We have a bear shelf. you guys! A bear shelf! Just so awesome.

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That birth plaque may be one of the things I'm most obsessed with. Maybe. There's too much. I asked Rachel to make a stats sign and she whipped this up in like a day. She's awesome. She can do whatever animal and custom colors for this bad boy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

That birth plaque may be one of the things I’m most obsessed with. Maybe. There’s too much. I asked Rachel to make a stats sign and she whipped this up in like a day. She’s awesome. She can do whatever animal and custom colors for this bad boy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

Found that lamp at Walmart y'all. Not kidding.

Found that lamp at Walmart y’all. Not kidding. Also my grandfather made this table for me and painted it the same color as the bed. Tornado Woodcrafters for the win!

What even is the point of a toy bin without a bear on it? Says my husband. #BearsForLife

What even is the point of a toy bin without a bear on it? Says my husband. #BearsForLife

This is the coolest wall in the room. Rachel made everything on it (save for the coat hook). That ombre bear cutout? Good gosh she's good.

This is the coolest wall in the room. Rachel made everything on it (save for the coat hook). That ombre bear cutout? BY HAND. Good gosh she’s good.

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A bear hook for a bear coat. What else?

A bear hook for a bear coat. What else?

Shout out to Brian Bailey of the Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville for this bad boy. So, so cool.

Shout out to Brian Bailey of the Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville for this bad boy. So, so cool.

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Bryan took and edited like 80 photos of this bear because he loves it so much. I’m only leaving you with 2, but trust me, I can give you the hookup on photos of this bear if you want.

Did you think there would be anything that didn't have a bear on it? WRONG! Even his clothes hamper is with the program.

Did you think there would be anything that didn’t have a bear on it? WRONG! Even his clothes hamper is with the program.

Another crafty friend of mine painted Grady's name on this for me. She's super talented as well and you can find her at

Another crafty friend of mine painted Grady’s name on this for me. She’s super talented as well and you can find her at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkvarlaStudios?ref=search_shop_redirect

Obviously I have some extremely talented friends. My nursery would never have looked like it does without their help and we are so grateful. Anyone who can sit down with me and catch my non-vision and somehow turn it into a reality deserves high praise and all of the chai tea, so one more HUGE shout-out to my amazing friend Rachel Hamen at One Crafty Foxx.

All photos taken by Sixth and Burnside Photography.

Love, Alex

What the Proverbs 31 Woman is NOT.

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You want to know a secret? I mostly HATE Christian blog posts about women. What women should be, what women should aspire to be, what kind of men women should seek, what kind of woman men should seek, and the list goes on.

I hate them. With some exceptions of course, I feel like they are sexist, narrow-minded, and generally lacking.

I’ve always held that God NEVER intended for men and women to become so unequal. He created different roles for us within families and somehow, even by earlier biblical times, those roles became known as more and less important and they stretched to become meaningful in society as a whole.

Enter the Proverbs 31 woman. I’ve always liked her, but people use her as an example for something she’s not. She’s not timid or meek. She’s not stuck in a box. She’s certainly not less important. She’s feisty and has gumption. She’s a shrewd businesswoman, she works out, and she trusts her gut. My favorite part about this passage though, is that it says absolutely nothing about how good she is at the things she does.

We women love to both judge and compare ourselves to each other, partly out of nature and mostly out of nurture. Society has fueled in us the need to be better than our lady friends. You know who is the worst at this? Type-A people..

My husband recently said to me “You can’t be the best at everything you know.” While rationally I know this to be true, I let it hurt my feelings and you know what it was about? Rice Crispy Treats. Freaking RICE CRISPY TREATS. Ugh, God has so much work to do on me.

Proverbs 31 is filled with tons of badass things that this lady is and does, but says nothing about her skill level. Maybe she rose while it was still night with bedhead and horrific morning breath and went straight for the coffee because she was sooo not a morning person. Maybe all of the coverings and linens she sewed came out with crooked seams. Maybe her charity didn’t serve as many homeless people as the woman next door’s did. It says she GIVES food to her household and maidens, but maybe the Proverbs 31 woman ordered takeout because she was a terrible cook. MAYBE after all of that rising and sewing and feeding and field-buying she was exhausted and wound down with a bubble bath and a glass of wine… sheepskin of wine? You get the point.

She still lived her life like a boss. She was confident in what she did and delighted in serving her family. Even if she wasn’t the best, her husband was proud to be standing at her side and her children ADORED her.

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That’s all we really can do. Be the best us we know how to be and don’t sweat the rest. As a new mom, I’m learning that this is so important to remember. I’ve already crossed craftiness and staying underwhelmed off the list of things I’m good at, and I can assure you that there are more things on that list than the other one. But you know what I am awesome at? Loving that little guy so much that it hurts. He and Bryan make me want to be better for our family. My job is to keep him alive, lead him toward Christ, and love him, and as long as I am doing those things, even if I’m not the best at it, then I’m a Proverbs 31 woman too.

Love, Alex

Dear Pregnancy Books and Websites…

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In my brief experience with pregnancy thus far, I have noticed some things. These are not pretty things, nor “glowy” things. These are real things. These are the things I wish I could have known. While realistically I know that it would be nearly impossible to pass along every single “what to expect” situation of pregnancy, but c’mon. I need some sassy girlfriend to lay some truth bombs on me for what is quickly becoming “the period in life we shall not speak of.”

I thought I’d compile a list of my findings so far. Not to worry, I’ll give an equally TMI updated version later on, as I am just now almost to the halfway point.

1. The age-old lesson of “Morning sickness isn’t actually just for mornings…” is old news. How about telling me what morning sickness is really like. In my head, morning sickness was this thing where you’d feel nauseous, throw up, and move on with your life until later when you’d do it again. I had no idea the crap-fest that is “morning” sickness. I was clueless to the fact that I would find myself praying to the heavens that I could throw up because then I’d feel better from the misery that is constant nausea. But that answered prayer is never as sweet as you’d think, huh? You lose a little piece of your self-esteem every time you have to throw up in a public space. Side of the road, at work, during a class you’re taking at your church…you haven’t quite experienced pregnancy until your knees become acquainted with the cold, hard floor of a public restroom…that’s my new motto any way. My favorite time was when we (grown adults) thought it was a good idea to hit up Denny’s at 11 pm when everyone had been consuming various amounts of alcohol throughout the evening. There is sick irony in an experience where you are the only one in the group who has not drank a drop…and are also the only one in the group who throws up in the Denny’s parking lot.

2. I grew up in a very open household. Everyone knew when anyone else in the family had any kind of bodily function. And then there was me. While it doesn’t weird or gross me out when others do, I’ve never been the “oversharing type.” It would have been nice if someone had told me that in pregnancy, that adorable privacy evacuates the premises. My dignity is hanging on by a thread at this point. I have lost the give-a-crap for when my husband and many other members of my tribe know the happenings of “the miracle inside me.”

3. I had to learn pretty quickly that eating is a whole new ball game. The books and websites clued me in to the whole backwards “eat when you’re nauseous and you’ll feel better” phenomenon, but no one told me about how aversions weren’t just for when you suddenly don’t like the taste of foods you previously loved or could stand the smell of. I wish I had known that this sweet, sweet baby of mine would be quick fickle about what I am allowed and not allowed to eat while it is sidling my resources and nourishments for 9 months. “Oh, you thought you could eat that delicious potato salad? Think again. Oooh soup, yum. HAHA. How about I make you bloated for 24 hours?”

4. For some women who I hate, the “starting to show” process is cute and dreamy. For me, this whole chubby-looking phase is lasting much longer than I’d like. The websites talk about the precious bump. No one tells you that it doesn’t look like that until MULTIPLE MONTHS of just looking like you have a slight beer belly.

5. I was unprepared for the fact that things I previously loved to do would be come a source of self-loathing. For example, I feel like I’ve made my love for cooking pretty clear in this blog, social media, and general conversation. I have cooked approximately 3 complete meals since I’ve been pregnant. The smell alone is enough to get me, and that’s not even mentioning the effort. I’ve found myself telling Bryan very sweetly that we can have whatever he feels like making or we can go out, whatever floats his boat. We’ve gone out mostly, in case you were wondering. Our monthly grocery budget is like $50 these days.

6. Whining about how you feel is much more rewarding than one might think. I told Bryan the other day that I really wish I could be one of those cool wives where when this was all over and done with he could look at me fondly and think to himself (and tell all the people) that I never even complained at all and took this process like a champ. “HAHAHAHAHAHA” We said in unison. I’ve complained every 5 minutes on average, as pregnancy sucks much more than everyone else lets on. Maybe next time (if there is one), I will suck it up and be that awesome non-complaining wife, although I imagine that version of Alex is like a unicorn or leprechaun… in likelihood that is.

7. Out of all the things I’ve feared in life, permanent body damage takes the crown. I am still unaware of all the changes to my body that I can look forward to. The other day I found out more body parts that I can plan on…ahem…*tearing* in my near future. I am also currently warding off stretch-marks like it’s my job. I hear coconut oil is the secret, so coconut oil-rubbing is my new daily ritual. I wish these cutesy websites could have a page where they lay it all on the line. I know that some moms-to-be would rather it be an unpleasant surprise, but I’d much prefer that sassy girlfriend be like “Look girl, this is the crap that will happen to you.”

8. Pregnancy Hormones are not as bad as the movies make them out to be. I figured with my PMS record that I would be a friggin’ mess while pregnant. This is one of the few pleasant surprises to come of this. I have not cried because there is no more juice, Bryan left the toilet seat up, or because man, Luke and Lorelei really are the perfect couple, and I’m a crier. I have only been irrationally angry like once. I am also aware that I am jynxing myself by posting about this awesomeness, so Bryan, prepare yourself.

9. Pregnancy guilt is much easier to shrug off than I thought it would be. I have always had a bad case of the “Wanting People to Like Me”s. I’ve learned much more in later years about ridding myself of this awful disease, but I still worried about caring what people think once I was pregnant. Much to my delight, my mom’s long-standing advice of “Know what you believe and why you believe it” has come in handy. “You’re drinking caffeine while you’re pregnant? There’s really no safe amount you know.” YEP. “You’re not even going to try to have a natural childbirth before getting an epidural?” NOPE. To each her own people, to each her own.

10. Because we all know how precious I am, I’ve saved the sweet one for last. The mom support group is so much more important than could have ever imagined. I’m sorry for taking advantage of you before I knew the effect you had. Please don’t abandon me for my ignorance in my time of need. Even though, yes, some of the advice and comments can get annoying (as in any situation), for the most part every seasoned veteran has been helpful and understanding. I like to think that pregnancy is as ridiculous for others as it is for me, and I’ve found so much support for this theory in those who love me. So thank you, other moms, I promise to never disregard your knowledge again… for the most part.