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Since the baby arrived, I haven’t really made any purchases. (Well, that’s a lie. I bought some nursing bras, on two separate occasions, which was an experience both humiliating and shocking. And I’ve purchased an ENORMOUS amount of stuff for the baby – clothes, baby food, breast milk bags by the hundreds, little tiny socks that look like wee shoes.) And I haven’t really WANTED to, either, which is odd for me, as I usually like to buy clothes here and there all year long.

So I don’t know if it’s that a recent spate of decent sleep has me able to think about things other than work and baby, or if the endless winter has me seeking out new ways to distract myself, but I am in the mood to shop.

First on the list is a whole stack of new clothing items.

I am not going to talk too much about how difficult it is to dress the post-partum body. Just thinking about it makes me weary.

Suffice it to say: my body, post-baby, is different than it used to be.

And I suspect that it will change again once I’m done breastfeeding.

So none of my clothes fit – at least, they don’t fit well – and yet I am reluctant to spend money on new clothes that I may only be able to wear for a few more months.

But I think I have finally reached That Point where I just cannot bear to go to work another week wearing some combination of:

–          Six pairs of pants that fit well-ish

–          Only one pair is actually dress pants

–          Three dresses that fit and aren’t maternity-ish and are breast-pump friendly

–          Okay, really only two of the dresses aren’t maternity-ish. I wore one of them the whole time I was pregnant, but it’s not an ACTUAL maternity dress, so it seems like I should still be able to wear it.

–          Two pairs of boots (all of my other shoes are inappropriate – i.e. sandals/open toe – or have sky-high heels that are not safe for me to wear while carrying Carla in her car seat, especially on the snow and ice that will not go away)

–          Seven cardigans, in varying states of pilling

–          Two sweaters, identical except for color

–          Three dressy-ish shirts, but I wore them while pregnant so they aren’t the most flattering anymore

–          A handful of shirts that are either too casual or too dressy for my Casual Business Attire workplace

–          Two white button-down shirts, except I can’t find one of them

–          Two other button-down shirts

–          Two of the four button-down shirts strain a bit, across the bust, so I can only wear them UNDER something.

–          A bunch of maternity camisoles that I wear under everything, or sometimes alone (but not to work) with leggings-as-pants (BUT NOT TO WORK)

Okay, looking at that list, it’s actually a decent collection. And I wear it ALL. But I am just SICK of everything. And most of it is ill-fitting, as it is. The pants are mostly baggy in the rear and the shirts strain across the chest area and I have to wear the dresses with cardigans because they are both low-cut and sleeveless, and the boots make everything look more casual than it should.

(I wonder if it would be worthwhile – and more cost-effective? – to take my vast collection of dress pants to a tailor and get them taken in? Would I be able to get them let out if/when I gain a bunch of weaning weight?)

I’m not ready to make a bunch of big purchases, but I do think I need a couple of things to get me through to summer.

–          Green cardigan. I found a cardigan I LOVE in the exact right fit and the exact right shade of green at Banana Republic. It was of course on sale for 40% off, so I bought it. Now I just have to exchange it, as I got the wrong size.

–          Some pants that FIT, and that go with a) flats, b) boots, and c) strappy sandals. While at Banana buying the green cardigan, I found this GREAT pair of grass-green pants that I think fit the bill. They may not go with boots (I haven’t tried yet) but they DO go with flats and heels/sandals! Plus they are beautiful. I am going to wear them with my green cardigan. (Just kidding.)

Oooh oooh! I ALSO found a pair of black pants at Banana that I love! They are a little long – so don’t really fit the bill of wearability with all types of shoe. But I can wear them with heels and I can wear them with heeled sandals in summer. So, okay, just heels. But they fit really well and I want ten pairs.

–          A dress that has sleeves and looks cute with boots. This has been harder for me to find than I anticipated. I have a BUNCH of dresses, but some of them just look weird with boots. And the dress that I wear most often with boots is made of a sweater-y material and has started to pill. Plus, it’s all baggy and stretched out. As I mentioned, I have been pairing the sleeveless dresses with cardigans, and sometimes a belt OVER the cardigan which I see other people doing with great flair, but on me it seems dowdy. I don’t want people to look at me and get hit with an impression of dowd. So I am seeking a new solution to my dress-needs problem.

–          A new pair of dressy-ish boots. Something that’s not as chunky as what I normally wear – maybe with a little (teeny tiny) kitten heel? I had three pairs of boots die on me this year. I took two into the cobbler to be rehabilitated, but a) the pair that needed a whole new heel has disintegrated into flaps of leather. Seriously. It looks like leather fringe. And b) the pair that just needed a heel repair now stabs me in the ball of my foot when I walk. Plus, both pairs have three-inch heels because I used to be insane. So it’s really a good thing that they are falling apart. I need to go in a different boot direction.

–          At least one pair of closed-toe heels with a little kitten heel. I need something that looks professional and I want something pretty, but I need to be able to not fall while I’m carrying the baby. If I find a style I like, I want one pair in black and one in nude.

–          A pair of flats I love. I’ve been on this quest for nearly a decade. No dice so far. Probably the REAL issue is that I don’t like the way I look in flats.

–          A new winter coat. I know, this isn’t the time to be shopping for a coat. But I’ve been on the lookout for a year and haven’t found anything that fits my Very Specific Criteria: grey, belted, knee-length, warm.

–          Boot-length socks that don’t strangle my calves. Socks are one of those items that I hate paying for. I see all the pretty pairs at, like, Banana or J. Crew or wherever and I think, “Really? $10.50 for a single pair of socks?” (Or, “You have got to be KIDDING ME, Anthropologie. I am not paying $18 for something I am going to stuff inside my shoes all day.”) It seems like an item of clothing that should be $5, tops. So I usually end up buying socks on clearance at Target. And they are cute! But they hate my legs. And I am really sick of getting home after work and having huge red welts on my calves.

–          Shirts that are the perfect blend between dressy and casual. Why so hard to find? The girls in my office have, of late, been wearing loose blousey tops with fun patterns. Like, ships. Or dogs. Or fish. I have no idea. But unexpected images repeated over and over. I want a shirt like that, but I’m afraid it’s not the right style for my body type. I have traditionally been a tight-on-top, flowy-on-bottom type of girl. Then again, my body type may have changed. If not for good, at least for now. Argh. Frustrating.

I am also going to need some new bras. But I will spare you by ending this post right now.

Thank you, thank you for all your wonderful, reasonable advice about traveling with a baby. I will report back!

In the meantime, I feel like I have to confess something. Two things, really.

You know, those things that you keep replaying in your head, over and over, ad infinitum, despite the fact that no matter how much perseverating you do, you cannot change the past? That’s what I’m talking about. I am hoping that by writing about these things here, I will be able to stop Groundhog’s Daying them in my brain.

Listen. I try to live my life according to the principle of Don’t Be an A-Hole. Really, I do. I mean, I have bad days like anybody. And sometimes I pretend not to see the person in the lane next to me who wants really badly to get into my lane just because I am grouchy or in a hurry or whatever. But MAINLY, for the MAJORITY of the time, I try to be Nice and Fair and Not an A-Hole.

I am trying to get away from cursing, so let’s take the next step and change “A-Hole” to “Jerk Face.”

It is hardest, for me, to remain a non-jerk face whilst driving. Because it seems, some days, that EVERYONE is hell bent on not only being a jerk face, but on being the jerkiest jerk face there ever was. Like there’s some big cash prize for jerk-facery that I’m not aware of, and everyone around me is competing.

One of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers is texting while driving. I just CANNOT. It can wait. Seriously. And if it CAN’T? Pull over and give it your full attention.

Let me also add: Ever since Carla arrived on the scene, I have been extra anxious while driving. At any second someone could veer into us and… well, that thought process leads only to tears, so let’s stop right there and just say: I am super nervous driving these days. Other drivers scare me to death. This is not an excuse for my jerk face behavior, but I hope it does give you some background.

So the other day, I was driving home from work and the van in front of me was being captained by a truly terrible driver. Drifting left into the median, and then suddenly swerving back into the lane. Slowing down waaaaaay before an intersection, and then suddenly speeding through a red light. Just terrible.

Somehow, I was behind this person for most of my commute – which takes place entirely on city streets.  Two lanes of traffic in each direction with a turn lane/demarcated-by-lines-in-the-pavement median in the middle. I decided I needed to get far, far away from this person. Luckily, the driver was going 25 miles per hour in a 35 zone (and doing so IN THE MEDIAN for blocks and blocks – I am not exaggerating), so it was easy for me to get into the right of the two lanes and get away.

But. Then we got stopped at a red light at the same time. And I looked over at the driver, just out of curiosity, and – sure enough! – she was TEXTING. Had her smartphone plugged into the car charger, holding it up to her face, and concentrating very hard on whatever critically important thing was happening on the screen.

The light turned green, and I left her behind. Because she was so caught up in her phone that she didn’t notice the light change. I peeked at her in my rearview mirror, and I was half a block away by the time she started. As soon as she noticed that she was sitting at a green light, she ZOOMED forward. And caught up to me at the next red light. So I looked over at her, very pointedly, and when she felt my laser gaze burning into her skull and looked up, I mouthed at her: “STOP TEXTING” and made the international hand gesture for texting.

She looked very surprised, and shook her head vigorously and mouthed “I’M NOT!” but the light was green so I drove off.

My heart was pounding the entire rest of the way to pick up Carla. What had I done? I am not a confrontational person. And this was a STRANGER. That I had chided for doing something that… I honestly didn’t know FOR SURE she was doing!

I still feel like a jerk face. Who am I to judge this woman? She was a grandmotherly type – in her 50s or 60s – and who knows what was going on? Maybe she WASN’T texting and was just a very terrible driver – and I’d seen her just when she picked up her phone at a red light (and who hasn’t done that? I have.). Or maybe she was talking on the phone rather than typing on it (its own form of distraction, but I do it all the time so: glass houses). Or maybe she was having a terrible day and was distracted and not driving her best. Or or or. I DON’T KNOW HER LIFE. And yet I SCOLDED her.

I wish I could apologize to her. Man, how am I supposed to raise Carla to be a non-jerk face when I can’t even lead by example?

Ugh.

So I arrived at Carla’s daycare, feeling like a jerk face to the max, and tried to calm down.

Carla was there, happy as a clam, playing with her buddies. And I collected her car seat and her coat and sat down at the edge of the playmat to perform the acrobatics that is dressing her and putting her IN the car seat.

One of the other parents was there to pick up his son. He has a baby, like Carla, and he also has a daughter who must be four or five. He was putting the baby into a snowsuit and stuffing him into a car seat – a real feat of engineering, as his baby is at least twice Carla’s size.

The daughter came over to me – danced over to me, more like it; I can’t WAIT for Carla to be that age – and asked what I was doing.

“Putting my baby in her coat,” I responded.

“Why?”

“It’s cold outside, so she needs a coat to keep her warm.”

“My daddy is putting MY baby in a coat, too!” she informed me.

“I see!” I said, stuffing a protesting Carla into her car seat.

“Where’s YOUR coat?” I asked her. “It’s cold outside! You need a coat, too!”

I said it because it was part of the conversation, and she wasn’t wearing a coat. Not because I am the coat police. And I know her dad heard me, because he was in the process of hoisting the baby-clad-in-car seat into the air while simultaneously grabbing his daughter’s hand and gently nudging her out the door.

Out the door and into the cold air. Without the little girl wearing a coat.

Which – whatever! I don’t know the story behind the coat! Maybe she had a huge temper tantrum when he tried to put a coat on her and it wasn’t worth the fight! Maybe she was wearing the coat and spilled raspberry jam all over it! Maybe the coat was in the car! Who KNOWS? He’s a good dad, and his kids are happy and healthy – I see them most days of the week – and his car (probably already WARM from his commute) was ten feet from the daycare doors at most and I don’t CARE about the coat! I don’t! Coat shmoat!

But I felt like an instant – though accidental, this time – jerk face because I think my “you need a coat too!” came across as judgmental and scoldy and directed at the father. When really I was just carrying on a conversation with his daughter.

Ugggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh.

Sometimes I think I should be banned from interacting with other people.

Despite your excellent answers – and the good dose of Swisdom – in response to my Baby Name Quandary post, I have yet to stop dithering about what to call the baby here.

I asked my husband what he thought, and he suggested Carla.

So perhaps I should go with that.

Let’s try it out, just for this post, and… if you return to this blog in future days and see that I have begun calling the baby something else entirely, well, just know that is a possibility.

So Carla and I are westward bound. Alone. Together.

My husband has a Medical Conference to attend, and I am, apparently, more apprehensive about spending five days alone at home with Carla than I am about flying with her, alone, on an airplane.

Why are we not flying together with her father? Vacation days, that’s why. I don’t want to use them all up on THIS. We will all fly home together, so that’s good. Especially because I will be, at that point, A Seasoned Flyer-With-Baby-Er, which will certainly impress my husband.

Of course, ever since we booked the flights, I have been in a semi-panic about EVERYTHING.

Not just the flying. Although HOO BOY there is plenty to panic about when it comes to flying!

I have been reading up on flying with a baby, though, so I feel like I have A Plan. Whether it’s A GOOD Plan remains to be seen, but it’s A Plan, and that helps.

First, I am going to check a bag, and carry on just one bag. It will primarily be Carla’s diaper bag, but it will have to contain purse-y type things, too, like my wallet and the phone charger. What will I do with the breast pump? I guess I have to check that, in my luggage? That makes me slightly nervous; that thing has been my near-constant companion for over seven months, and I would hate to lose it. Maybe I can carry that on, as well? I could use the little freezer compartment to hold some frozen milk. Hmmm. Maybe that’s a good idea.

Okay, so my Plan is clearly still taking shape.

One or two carry-ons, plus the baby. She will have her stroller, of course. My husband and I are going back and forth on whether or not to bring a car seat. WAIT A SECOND, before you freak out: Carla will of course travel to the airport in her car seat. And she WILL have a car seat in the Western City we are visiting. We just haven’t decided whether it’s better to rent or bring our own.

The pros to bringing our own:

–          Free

–          Clean

–          Familiar (to us – I doubt Carla cares)

The cons to bringing our own:

–          Just another thing for me to Deal With

–          Possible damage during the gate check process

–          We can’t ALSO bring the base, which reduces the convenience factor about a thousand-fold

So that part of The Plan is still under construction, as are others.

I also plan to bring some little Ziploc baggies with earplugs and a note from Carla inside and maybe some sort of candy. These I will hand out to the passengers in front of us, behind us, and across from us. (What about the people behind and in front of the people across from us?) I have also been panic-thinking about buying a couple of $5 Starbucks gift cards for the people directly around us, juuuuust in case Carla freaks out and spends the whole flight screeching. But a) I doubt my husband would jump on board with that plan and b) it is probably overkill. The baggies with earplugs are probably overkill, I just really really want my fellow passengers to be on my side juuuuust in case.

The Plan involves me bringing a variety of – quiet – and easily washable – toys with me. Several for the diaper bag, that I can switch out as Carla gets bored. And maybe several others that I can pack in my suitcase or in my husband’s suitcase to use on the plane ride home.

It also involves a big package of anti-bacterial wipes that I will use to scour the seat and armrests and tray table and seat belt and my rowmate, if s/he lets me. Carla puts EVERYTHING in her mouth and airplanes are just TEEMING with disgusting things.

It ALSO involves a couple of clothing changes, and probably… five diapers? Is that enough? We aren’t connecting anywhere, thank goodness. And the flight is during the time when she’s getting ready to go to bed, so hopefully she’ll sleep. But I am TERRIFIED that she will have a blow out on the plane, and then I will have to use the on-board lavatory, which I typically avoid at ALL COSTS.

Listen, I can and will change her in an airplane lavatory if necessary. I once had to change her IN A SINK at a restaurant that didn’t have a changing table – it was a complete diaper change and FULL outfit change, and the sink wasn’t exactly a pedestal sink, but the counter wasn’t anything to write home about, and the hand dryer was an automatic jobber that kept leaping to [loud, blow-y] attention every time my elbow passed within five inches of it, and Carla for the most part was stunned into stillness because she was being changed IN A SINK for Pete’s sake, but she did do a little wriggling and maybe licked the faucet, I try not to think about it too hard – and nobody died. But I am totally That Mom who would rather change her baby in the trunk of her car than in a public restroom. So you can imagine that the thought of using the airplane lavatory is giving me the vapors.

Oh, this reminds me of Past Me, who was Not a Fan of kids, and who watched with utter horror and disgust once as a mother changed her baby’s diaper on the seats of the airplane I was flying on. I was just… dumbfounded. And wanted her to be ARRESTED, that instant! for daring to change her grimy little offspring in the very seats where other people rested their delicate rear ends! Oh, Past Me. Pat, pat.

Maybe I will pack ten diapers. Juuuuust in case.

I also plan to bring two bottles. One for takeoff, one for landing. To relieve ear pressure, and also to soothe her to sleep. Listen, I think breastfeeding her would be a better option (and more convenient and less to lug around), but Carla and I have never really mastered the whole nursing-with-a-cover thing. We’ve tried it a couple of times, and she usually reacts by flailing at it the way that you or I might flail at a spiderweb we’d inadvertently walked through.

And even if I were more comfortable about nursing WITHOUT a cover – which I am not, strangely, even though my boobs got a LOT of Public Viewing Time when Carla was wee – the thing is that Carla is extremely nosy. Like to the point that if her own boring old dad walks into the room while she’s nursing, she has to immediately contort her body to be able to see what terribly! fascinating! thing! he is doing. So imagine how distractible she would be in an unfamiliar space with all these cool people walking around and sitting in their seats.

I am going to pack the nursing cover, juuuuust in case, and I will also wear a nursing friendly top, but I am going to bring bottles in hopes that they do the trick.

I have toyed with the idea of bringing the Ergo baby carrier, and trying to wear her on the plane. It has a hood, so presumably she could nurse that way… But I don’t know if it really WORKS while the wearer is sitting… and, even if it does, I’m not sure that I’d be allowed to wear her while we were in the air – or, while taking off and landing. No idea. Plus, it’s a new toy that we haven’t really mastered anyway, so this is probably not the best time to be adding new thing on top of new thing.

So… I think that’s it for the airplane, right?

I’m a little worried about getting through the actual AIRPORT, but I will have the stroller and I’m a seasoned enough traveler that the security stuff doesn’t bug me. I haven’t decided if I will ask to be frisked rather than take Carla through the x-ray machine… Maybe. That doesn’t bug me, to do that – I did it while I was pregnant, so it’s not a big deal.

I better not drink anything the entire day before the flight, right? I mean, how do you use the bathroom with a baby? The toilets in airports aren’t usually built to accommodate a traveler and her carry-on suitcase, let alone a giant stroller, so I don’t have high hopes. I guess I could hold out for a disabled stall? Or use a family restroom? I DON’T KNOW. The best choice is to not have to pee.

Then we get to the part of the trip that has me… I’m not going to say MORE panicked, but… additionally panicked.

The whole Staying in a Hotel With a Baby thing.

I mean, what do you DO with a baby in a hotel? Where am I going to stow her while I take a shower or use the restroom? (Remember, my husband will be at a conference all day.)

I feel about hotels only slightly better than I do about airport lavatories. So I suppose my big package of wipes will come in handy, there, too. I am going to wipe down every surface.

My husband suggested that buying some necessities once we get to Western City is a better idea than transporting them across the country. So I think he will pick up a package of diapers, and some wipes, and some hand soap (I can’t imagine using bar soap for three days, when I wash my hands about 80 times a day, and also need to wash pump parts and bottles). I already ordered, from Amazon, some disposable diaper changing pads, so that I can change her easily in the hotel. Although… where? On the dresser? On one of the beds? (Past Me is gagging the corner, just thinking about it.)

And sleeping. THAT will be interesting.

I am trying, delicately, and without much hope of success, to edge Carla’s sleeping patterns toward waking up later. Because now, she wakes up at six on the dot every morning. Which means that she will wake up at four on the dot every morning in Western City. That sounds… terrible. So if I can coax her into sleeping until seven here… well, we’ll see.

We ordered a little Travel Sleeper that we’ll be taking with us. It’s something that she can use – hopefully – for at least a couple of years (I am now realizing I have no idea what age kids are when they start sleeping in a real bed – two? five?), and it seems simple to pack and use. And easy to clean. But she’ll have to sleep in it on the floor, and I’m not a fan of that.

(By the way, if you are the anxious type, I recommend against researching options for where your baby should sleep while you’re on the road. Because it doesn’t matter whether you are looking into Travel Sleepers or looking into Using the Hotel Pack-and-Play or looking to Co-Sleeping: they are all RIFE with warnings and horror stories and I am in a PANIC about it. I would just as well have Carla sleep between me and my husband, but… HORROR STORIES. Plus, we are planning more trips with her next summer, and we think the travel sleeper we found will be useful multiple times.)

(This is NOT an invitation for you to share ANY horror stories in the comments, please and thank you.)

Should I be packing up her high chair and taking THAT with us? It is really easy to lug around, but… add it to all the other stuff we have to take, and it’s not really something you can just throw in on top of things. But if we don’t take it, where will I put her if we go out to eat? She is MUCH too wriggly for laps. Although that will probably be what happens – we will pass her from lap to lap. And what about feeding her? Carla is just starting to (be forced to) eat purees, and it’s a grueling and messy process (that we try to make delightful, so as not to give her the impression that eating is a grueling and unpleasant experience), and I can’t imagine setting her up on a hotel bed and trying to shove pureed bananas down her throat. Also, I suppose we could buy food there, and maybe bring a spoon and a bowl with us, but it just seems like a lot of trouble, you know? Is it terrible for her to take a break from “solid” food while we’re away?

Likewise, is it terrible for her to take a break from BATHS while we’re away? She still bathes in a little plastic whale-shaped tub that sits inside our bathtub, because she’s just too little. And she is MUCH too slippery to bathe with me, my near heart attack and I can assure you of that. Plus, she’s so small, she doesn’t really get DIRTY. Except for the blowouts. And the pureed food all over her. In any case, I am leaning toward no baths.

And how am I going to keep her entertained in a HOTEL? A lot of my parental survival skills involve moving Carla from Baby Containment Device to Baby Containment Device: she has a swing and a chair and a play gym and a bouncy thing in the kitchen and a bouncy play gym in her bedroom. And then, in desperate times, she has a pack-n-play and a crib, too.

But she’ll have NONE of those things in the hotel. She’ll have her little Baby Sleeper, but that’s not really a place for playing. I can put her on one of the beds, but I can’t leave her there. She’ll fling herself off the edge.

She also spends a lot of time just moving around on the floor. She’ll roll around on her bedroom floor, or the living room floor. I have a towel I set up in the (enclosed) hallway outside my bathroom, so she can roll and crawl around while I get ready in the mornings. But no way am I putting Carla down on the hotel floor. I don’t care WHAT you say about “germs are good for her immune system” – she gets PLENTY of germ exposure at daycare, she doesn’t need to put her face into the yuck that makes up a hotel carpet.

I am happy to stroll her around in the stroller… but I admit, I haven’t really researched this Western City or our location yet, so I’m not sure if there’s anywhere to stroll TO. Plus, if she wakes up at four in the morning? I’m not strolling. I refuse to stroll before seven a.m.

Sure, I’ll have the aforementioned toys. And perhaps I will have to bring a couple of books as well. It’s not like I can bring a LOT of books. Man, it’s going to be a long three days if I have to read Madeline thirty thousand times. Maybe I can read her The Goldfinch.

Why did I agree to do this again?

Perhaps I can cajole my husband into taking Carla with him to the conference. That ought to liven things up for those physicians, right?

I really don’t enjoy chicken. But my husband and I eat it fairly regularly. To disguise the chicken flavor (ick), my favorite ways to eat it involve drowning it in sauce of some sort. Chicken paprikas, for instance. Or Mulligatawny soup. Or coq au vin. Or Jen’s Best Chicken Ever. As long as there is a healthy 5,000-1 sauce-to-chicken ratio, I’m good.

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Mulligatawny soup is SO GOOD of a winter’s night.

Part of why I hate chicken is because I hate dealing with raw chicken. Ew. It smells and it’s slimy and cold and there are red things in it and ick. Just ick.

My husband and I have dealt with my chichekn squeamishness thus far in our relationship by appointing my husband Chief Chicken Dealer Wither (or Handler, I suppose, would be more clear and also more grammatical, what, I’m tired). But with his erratic schedule, that has led to a lot of nights of last-minute scavenging for non-chicken options.

I, of course, can handle chicken. I just prefer not to. But sometimes, in the name of family harmony and hunger prevention, I just suck it up and deal with it. With a knife and fork and no actual hand-to-chicken contact, mind you.

But aside from being gross, raw chicken takes a long time to deal with. And now that there is this BABY who takes up all of our time, you know, with her wanting to be fed and changed and bathed and otherwise cared for, we just don’t always have time to go through the whole de-red-thinging of the chicken and then the de-rawing (cooking) of the chicken after that. Because pretty much once the baby goes to bed, I am ready to go to bed, and it’s kind of difficult to fit in chicken nonsense between putting her to bed and going to bed myself, especially as of late when she is going to bed between 7:00 and 9:00. Like, the whole two hours is used up in putting her to sleep. Like, she falls asleep and then I put her in her crib and she wakes up, and then I say, time to learn how to fall asleep somewhere other than my arms, Buddy (which she CAN, as she does it EVERY DAY at daycare), and loiter around outside her room while she fusses and gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth and then rolls onto her back and slams both legs down on the mattress in a very elephant-crashing-through-the-ceiling kind of way, and then my husband (if he’s home) and I have hushed conversations about whether it’s time to go rescue her from Falling Asleep until the fussing/all-foursing/rolling-over/leg-thumping wears me down and I go collect her and start the process all over again.

Wow, apparently it’s possible to recreate the rising sense of panic that indicates Evening Hysteria just by writing about it!

Our local grocery store spoiled us by selling pulled chicken as part of their (extensive) prepared foods offerings. It was so easy to just… grab a little container of pulled chicken breast and toss it into whatever soup we’re working on – oh, I guess I should have specified from the get go that this “tip” which is turning into a lengthy diatribe mainly applies to things like soup and chicken paprikas and stir fry, not really to some of the other things I listed up there – and voila! Dinner!

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This is chicken paprikas, but there is nowhere NEAR enough sauce on this plate. If I took a photo of what my bowl normally looks like, however, it would just look like… pink sauce.

Okay, to be honest, there’s some other stuffed I just voilaed right over, like chopping veggies and sautéing onions and adding spices and stuff, but I figured you would read between the lines. But I am ALSO going to figure that maybe you are tired like me and your brain has also been dulled by endless off-key renditions of the Hokey Pokey so I am filling in the lines anyway.

So we got used to this super convenient pre-cooked, pre-pulled chicken… and then the grocery store stopped carrying it. Or other people caught on to its wonders and started snatching it off the shelves before we got there, which would be pretty difficult seeing as we go to the grocery store at the crack of dawn these days because BABIES.  We tried to compensate by buying rotisserie chicken, but de-breasting a rotisserie chicken takes time and is wasteful (for us, as we don’t eat the skin or the dark meat) and is also expensive. Seriously. $7.99 for a rotisserie chicken? That seems EGREGIOUS. (I don’t think I used “egregious” in its most accurate form there, but right now it’s conveying my particular level of outrage about the cost of rotisserie chicken, so I’m letting it stay.)

All of this build up is to say that I have begun doing something that possibly you already do, in which case, this whole post was just a straight up waste of time for you and I’m sorry.

What I do is, I buy a bunch of (raw) chicken breasts when they are on sale, and then I go immediately home and, while the baby is asleep in her carseat (on the floor of the kitchen, not in the car), I cut out the red things and other badness, and I chop a couple of carrots and a stalk or two of celery into very rough inch-long or so pieces, and I chop a half an onion in similar chunks, and I grab a few cloves of garlic and break them in half with my hands (like a beast!), and I throw the veg into the bottom of a roasting pan, toss in a cup or so of chicken broth or water, throw in a few sprigs of thyme if I have some handy, cover them with a cooling rack or other perforated food-elevator (read: thing that elevates the food above a surface, not thing that moves food from ground floor to penthouse), and throw the chicken breasts on the rack/elevated-surface, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss into a 400 degree oven for a while. Fifteen minutes, I think, but last time I turned off the timer and forgot about the chicken for an unspecified amount of time. Then I flip the chicken over and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

You’ll note that this activity requires a lot of throwing, but that’s because I am racing to get the chicken in the oven before the baby wakes up.

Once the chicken is cool, I shred it. Or cut it into bite sized pieces. Then I freeze the shreds/bites in Ziploc freezer bags.

If I do this every time chicken is on sale, I build up a nice cache of frozen, shredded chicken. And it is SO EASY. Just grab a bag, toss into… whatever… cook for a while and voila!

Of all the reasons I haven’t been blogging regularly over the past seven months, one stands out as the most ridiculous and easily correctable.

I hate blogging about the baby because I hate calling her “the baby.”

See? Ridiculous.

As an anonymous (loosely) blogger, I prefer to keep her real name out of my blog. Fine. It seems simple enough to just come up with a pseudonym for her, right? Or choose a nickname?

Well, this is where I get stuck. On something equally ridiculous.

I don’t want to fall in love with her blog name, and have it “off the list” for future potential children. (Which is even MORE ridiculous, because, at this time, we aren’t planning on additional kiddos. Which is a topic for another day. But – well, we didn’t plan on wanting ANY kiddos, and then we did. So I don’t want to name-block Future Me with a poorly-chosen blog name.)

Like Eloise or Gwendolyn – both names that I LOVE LOVE LOVE. Eloise was a top contender for this baby, but she just wasn’t (isn’t) an Eloise. But I certainly don’t want to lose it for future babies. And Gwendolyn was one my husband staunchly REFUSED to like… but I don’t want to use it up on the blog and then have him come around to it as the wonderful name it is and be unable to use it for a future child.

(Egads – we are NOT [planning on] HAVING A SECOND CHILD.)

There are a few names that have been Ruled Out as future options because they’ve been given to other babies we know. Abigail is one of those – and it’s a great name, one that was on the original list my husband and I made nearly a year ago. (I saved those lists somewhere, for future nostalgia.) But I’m sort of afraid that I will fall in love with the name and wish that it were my baby’s REAL name. I don’t think Seven-Months-In Baby Naming Regret is a good color on me.

My husband and I tried really hard to find a French name we both loved – our surname is French, as is his heritage (sort of) – but we couldn’t fully commit to one for this baby. So maybe a French name would work? Vivienne, Genevieve, Noemi… all so beautiful.

There are some names that I DON’T love, names the fit my loose criteria of “matching” her real-life name (classic/traditional, long, lots of potential nicknames, not shared by kids of or other bloggers I follow), but I feel ambivalent about those, too.

Like Frances. It’s a family name. It’s one that my husband and I briefly considered and then removed from our lists. I don’t think it would be a future potential name for any future potential babies. It has some good nickname options (Franny, Frankie, Fran, Sissy, Francie). But I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like I’d be writing about This Baby.

Maybe that’s part of the problem? That I think a pseudonym should fit her as well as her real name does? Gah. Talk about impossible expectations.

And then while I’m thinking about the baby’s blog name, I start wondering what my husband’s blog name should be. And then I think about how sick I am of typing in “Life of a Doctor’s Wife” as my name on other blogs, and how “Mrs. Doctor” is stupid, and…

I have more important equally ridiculous other things to worry about!

If only I had had the foresight to BEGIN the blog with a set of pseudonyms!

Can it even be done, switching blog names midstream? Like, could you just come back to this blog one day (in the distant future, based on my blogging frequency of late) and it could belong to the… La Fleur family?

Welcome to the bloggy home of Isobel and Jean-Phillipe La Fleur, and their petite bebe, Genevieve!

I could decorate my header with flowers and berets and baguettes, and sprinkle my posts with French terms.

BARF.

Wood board, Internet, the ridiculousness is off the charts with this one. I’m done.

The dawn of this new year finds me… tired. Happy, but tiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrred.

I don’t know how many people read these surveys – maybe you’re like me, and you really enjoy reading them, but don’t tend to comment on them. That’s cool. If you don’t read them, that’s cool too. But if you DO like to read them, or if you are a person who likes the GIST of a thing, or if you are in a hurry, let me summarize the below: it’s an awful lot about the baby.

May the coming year bring you and your loved ones health and happiness, Internet! And plenty of sleep.

(This yearly recap quiz originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Had a baby.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, this was as close as I got to making resolutions:

I don’t think I’ll make resolutions for the coming year, either. There are,

however, things I would like to accomplish. I would like to exercise more.

Eat better. (This has been The Autumn of Carbs, which is quickly turning

into The Winter of More Carbs.) Enjoy the happy part of anticipation rather

than perseverating on the nervous-marking part. Make sure that my marriage

remains a top priority, no matter what else is going on in our lives. Blog

more regularly. Have another garden. Paint the kitchen, dining room, and

the upstairs bedroom as well as put up artwork around the whole house.

Re-organize the storage area in the basement. Okay, this is degenerating

rapidly into a list of housework.

On that front, I continued to eat terribly (until the third trimester, when all I wanted was All The Fruit), worry a TON, neglect my blog, and plant a garden and promptly neglect that. But! We DID paint the kitchen, paint and decorate the upstairs bedroom (the baby’s room), and paint and add moulding to the dining room.

I think my priorities for this year (I’m pretending this question asked about priorities rather than resolutions) are keeping the baby alive, my husband, and trying to be better about juggling work, baby, marriage, household stuff. And I know that sentence lacked parallel structure, but I don’t know how else to say “my husband.” He’s a priority, and I want him to continue to be, and that’s that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Well, you don’t get much closer to me than me. A few close friends also had babies, which has been tremendously fun.

 4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. We are so fortunate.

5. What countries did you visit?

I didn’t do a lick of travel. Well, I flew out to see my parents last March, but that was IT.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

More sleep.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 13 – This was the baby’s due date, and so was a major focus for me for nine entire months. Well, okay, eight entire months, since the baby had been cooking for a month by the time we found out about her.

June 28 – This is the day that I went into the hospital for my induction.

June 29 – The day the baby finally made her appearance!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Listen, I am going to say breastfeeding here because it was such a freaking struggle for so long. I think it took me a good six weeks to stop hating every second of it. It’s something I’ve wanted– and tried – to post about, because the one thing that helped me get through it (besides just getting through it) was reading about the breastfeeding experiences of other new moms. But it’s so tangled up with emotions for me that my first few drafts have all reached book-length before I even got past describing the hospital stay. You may be surprised to know that I exercise restraint before I typhoon all over my blog, but I do. Occasionally.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, we can just skip right past blogging, which has all but ceased entirely. (Not for lack of desire. Or even lack of post ideas. I am just so TIRED.) I think my garden was my primary failure, because, well, I am looking out onto my deck right now and the sad, overgrown remains of my poor neglected garden are STILL THERE, covered with about eight inches of snow. Sad. And gross.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from the Daycare Colds my kid brings home every other week, I have been remarkably healthy. Thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I love every inch of the baby’s nursery. We got some super sweet prints for the walls from Etsy that I have some vague notions of posting about at some point. I love my iPhone. But I think the best purchase was the breast pump. Tuna on rye, these answers are SO LAME.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This is boring (SENSING A THEME?), but my husband deserves celebration and applause. My husband has always been a calming, supportive force in my life. But this past year, he was just… above and beyond. Dealing with me for twenty-five weeks while I lay on the couch and moaned with nausea and refused to let him cook anything or eat anything with a scent… then dealing with my constant fretting about the baby for the remainder of the pregnancy… then dealing with my anxieties AFTER the baby arrived… It’s all been more than enough for the guy to deserve about a thousand medals. But I was also surprised and touched by things like how wonderful he was in the delivery room, coaching me to push. And by how upbeat and We Can Do This! he was about everything in those dark, terrifying first weeks with the baby at home. And by how quickly and smoothly he slid into his new role as father. Don’t get me wrong – I had no doubt he’d be an awesome dad. But he has just been so good at it, so quickly.

My parents were also especially wonderful this year. My mom came out and stayed with us for a whole month, and did laundry and cleaning and cooking so my husband and I could get to know the baby. My dad not only flew home when the baby was late (he HATES to fly), but he spent hours on the phone with me, talking me through all my New Baby worries – which doesn’t sound like much, I guess, but it was. It was such a huge help.

And I really need to give a shout out to my boobs. They’ve had to take on some massive responsibilities this year, and they’ve really stepped up. My handy little Baby Connect app says that they have gone through both 212 hours of nursing and 21 hours of pumping AND that they’ve produced over 30 gallons of pumped milk. Way to go, boobs!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I have no idea. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself this year.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Aside from the normal – taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings – we also had hospital bills, daycare, and fun things, like Baby Room Décor. Okay, so “most of my money” didn’t go to Baby Room Décor, but it was still more money than I care to admit.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Um. If by “excited” you mean “terrified,” then the baby, obviously. (And excited, of course.)

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013?

Berceuse by Chopin, which I listened to, on repeat, in the car on the way to and from work for at LEAST the last month of my pregnancy. Often while sobbing loudly.

Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Royals by Lorde

Home by Phillip Phillips

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier!

Okay, I had to come back and edit this. I AM happier, for the most part. The baby has truly brought untold joy to this household. But on a day-to-day basis, I think I may be sadder. Not for any REASON, just… there are all these feelings associated with having a baby that I’m dealing with All The Time. Worries and inadequacies and frustrations and TIREDNESS. Plus, I have lingering anger/sadness about the whole birth experience that I wish would just Go Away. And have I mentioned the worrying? I am so constantly focused on What Could Go Wrong that it’s hard to just sink into the happy parts, you know?

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, but that’s cheating since I was four months pregnant at this time last year.

c) richer or poorer? Poorer – hello, daycare!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Going outside when the weather was nice. Sleeping.

I am also going to add that I wish I’d been better about keeping up my relationships. I have all but lost contact with two of my dear friends, and that sucks. And it’s entirely my fault. I’ve been so wrapped up in me and the baby and I have chosen, time and again, sleep or sitting in front of the TV with my husband over calling a friend and staying in touch.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Fretting. Crying.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, for the first time ever, with a real tree my husband and I picked out together (with the baby) and decorated together, with my parents and my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

I fell in love with the baby, of course. She is such a sweet, fun, funny little girl. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next, who she’ll become.

And, barf, I  know, but I fell in love with my husband all over again as we approached this Big Life Change together, and as I witnessed him transform into this even better version of himself.

Okay, you can stop gagging now.

22. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

Justified. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this show. And to think I almost never saw it because I hated the TV promos for it so much!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

24. What was the best book you read?

Well, it certainly wasn’t any of the books here.

25. What did you want and get?

A baby!

26. What did you want and not get?

Um. Diamonds? I don’t know how to answer this.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don’t recall seeing a film. At all. That doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t SEE one, but there you go.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 32, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

For the first half, stripes and polka dots because it seems like maternity wear creators all banded together on the belief that if you’re pregnant, you need to emphasize that fact with lines and circles. For the second half, fluids of various kinds.

 31. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

I have no idea.

34. Who did you miss?

Mr. Sandman.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

The baby.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. Sleep when the baby is awake. Sleep as much as you can because it will never be enough.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.
Happy New Year, Internet!

I wish there were a shortcut to Knowing the Secrets to Doing a New Thing.

What I mean is, you know when you start something new? Not, like, a new puzzle or a new TV series. But something BIG – maybe you got a new job, or you just joined a gym, or you are taking a class to help expand your mind or develop yourself professionally or just get out of the house for a while, I don’t know your life. Whatever it is, it’s something totally new to you, but also something that takes some getting used to.

What I want is something to help speed up the “getting used to” process.

When I started my cuurent job, for instance, I wish that someone had told me that we could use these other bathrooms. There’s one bathroom – which holds a single person at a time – in our department, and I thought that was that. But! It turns out there are other bathrooms! With multiple stalls! That we can use, too! That would have been something I would have liked to have known right up front.

Or, our department has this food club, where some people in the department make food for the other people in the food club, on a rotating basis. Membership in the club is extended to everyone, but if you decline to be in the club and bring food, then you are also opting out of eating the food. But one of the new employees wasn’t invited into the club, or she didn’t understand the rules, or SOMETHING, and so she was eating the food. And someone in the club (not me) was GLARING at her! That’s the kind of thing I mean, where, sure, you find out eventually. But man, it would be nice to know up front on day one, so you don’t feel like a butt.

OR, here’s something else! There were these recycling bins in our department, and I kept putting my Coke cans and water bottles in them. And eventually, a big passive aggressive sign appeared that said, this is for paper only, jackhole, stop leaving your non-paper items in here. I’m paraphrasing. But man, I felt like such an IDIOT when I found out! THAT would have been nice to know!

Getting used to something new is tough enough without having to navigate this ocean full of pointy reefs and bitey sharks and sunken ships. I mean, the waves are making you seasick as it is, wouldn’t it be nice if your new shipmates – or the freaking CAPTAIN – would say, “Hey, guess what, on your starboard side is a pod of dolphins, and you’ll want to avoid those… and up ahead there’s a patch of shallow water, so keep your eyes out” so you don’t accidentally blunder into the dolphins and then they get all irritated and scoffy. (I knew I went too far when I started typing “starboard,” but by then I was in too deep.) (That last bit was a TOTALLY UNINTENTIONAL ocean pun.)

All of this is to say that starting the baby in daycare has taken some getting used to. And I STILL, three weeks of full-time daycare plus four weeks of part-time daycare in, I STILL feel like I am sailing in circles with the jib wrapped around my eyes. (I really have no idea what I’m talking about.)

For instance, on the first day, I brought in a big pack of diapers per the form that the daycare had given me – a form specifically directed at Things to Bring on the Baby’s First Day. And one of the caretakers asked me, “Did you write the baby’s initials on every diaper?”

Well, no. The form told me to bring in three extra outfits and to put the baby’s name in THOSE. But initialing the diapers? That hadn’t occurred to me. So she sat there and wrote the baby’s initials on every single diaper, while I sat there holding the baby, holding back tears (first day of leaving my baaaayyyyybeeee), and feeling like an entitled, inconsiderate jerkbag. And I offered! Of course, I offered to help her! To do it for her! And she shook her head and said no, she’d do it, but really, it was important for me to initial every diaper in the future so that the caretakers didn’t have to do it when they should be feeding or soothing or rocking or playing with one of the many other kids in their charge.

And THEN. I was parking in the parking spot closest to the door. Hey! It was open all the time! Why not?!

Except… a few days into doing this, a sign appeared on the wall of the building in front of the close spot. And it said something like, “Don’t park here, jerkbag. This spot is for the daycare bus.” I’m paraphrasing.

But man! I never would have parked there if I had KNOWN! I am not actively campaigning for Biggest Wad in the Universe!

It ALSO would have been nice to know that there are no bills or invoices or whatever. I seriously feel like an absolute idiot telling you this, because maybe this is The Way of the World and I have just been sheltered or something? But I thought that if you render a service, you BILL the client for it. If not for the client’s benefit, but for your own record-keeping purposes. But this daycare just expects you to pay every week. Which, OF COURSE. Of course they expect to be paid! That’s not my issue here! I am not one to shirk my financial obligations! I AM NOT A SHIRKER! But I was just going along, thinking, I wonder if they will send out the bill monthly or whatever, I mean, we paid our first week up front before the week started, and there was a deposit to hold the baby’s spot, but whatever, I was waiting for a bill.

But instead, I got a phone call at work – and yes, of course, if you are trying to collect money from your delinquent clients, you WOULD call them at work! I get that! – and I thought it was an emergency with my baby and I had about thirty seconds of my heart just up and leaving the building while I shouted “Hello! Hello! What’s wrong?!” into my phone, before the administrative person said, “Yeah, jerk lady, you need to pay us.” I’m paraphrasing. And you know what? It is TOTALLY REASONABLE to think I’m a jerk if I don’t pay you! But man, I wish I had KNOWN that there was no billing. (Now we are set up to make online payments, which I foisted off on my husband, so that’s good and everyone is getting paid. Stop shaking your head at me.) (Interesting note: The only credit card the online payment accepts? Discover.)

But here’s the rest of the “getting used to it” that I’m wishing came with instructions.

It’s the whole drop off process. When I first went back to work, I would take the baby in without her car seat, because it was warm and I was the one picking her up (so the car seat could stay in my car the whole day) and I really relished those extra snuggles on the way in the door. So I would go in, hand over her bottles, and just kind of stand there until one of the caretakers took her from me.

But then one day I happened to get there at the same time as another parent, and he brought his kid in INSIDE the car seat, and put the car seat – kid inside – on the floor near the toy chest, and said something like, “Is this a good place to leave him?” And the caretaker said yes, and the father left, and the kid stayed there.

So… Is THAT the preferred way to do drop off? To just…leave the kid somewhere so that the caretakers can keep feeding other kids breakfast or changing diapers or whatever?

Since then, I have been bringing the baby into daycare in her car seat, and then taking her out (snuggles), and then putting her in her crib. But… I don’t know if THAT’S the preferred thing to do either! And of course, I have the added anxiety of wondering how long she stays in the crib, staring at the ceiling, wondering why her mother has abandoned her.

But I wish the caretakers had said, Day One, “This is what you do.”

(By the way, I have asked questions of the caretakers. But they do this very unhelpful thing where they say, “Oh don’t worry about it! You do whatever you want!” Which is nice – I mean, I think they are trying to make it easy on ME, which is kind and appreciated. But it is not HELPFUL in understanding what I really should be doing.)

I wish I’d known that the daycare’s primary means of communicating with the parents is via a bulletin board. (Which hangs above a sign-in/sign-out binder that I ALSO didn’t know about until, oh Week 3, at which point I found out that my baby didn’t even have a sheet in the binder, so it’s not like I could have been filling it out ANYWAY.) Because that bulletin board is how I discovered, on a Wednesday, that the daycare was closed the following Monday for an in-service day or something. Luckily, my mother-in-law was able to watch the baby all day that Monday, which was the beginning of my first full week back at work, and so it would have been bad form to take a sick day or whatever.

And I wish I knew what the REAL policy about shoes is. There’s a big sign on the door to the infant room that says, “Please remove your shoes.” But… many of the parents do NOT remove their shoes.

And the caretakers wear shoes. So… am I needlessly removing my shoes every morning and every evening? I would honestly PREFER a room that doesn’t allow shoes in it – I mean, my kid has a tendency of shoving her face into the floor and licking it, so I think the cleaner the better.

(If you are poised, right now, to say “Germs are good for babies!” or “A little dirt never hurt anyone!” or the like, please refrain. Because I KNOW these things. But that knowledge does not make me okay with my kid licking tiny bits of gravel and bacteria from bathroom floors and leaf parts off the floor. Her immune system is going to get PLENTY of beefing up, believe me.)

(Since I’ve already headed down a side road, let’s go even further off course so I can tell that you that the whole “No Shoes in the Infant Room” policy is one that really gets right up under my goat. Right up in there. [You know I’m picturing a shaggy old billy goat, the kind with a white beard and a long-suffering expression and really beautiful eyelashes.] Every daycare we looked at had some sort of no-shoes policy. One daycare had shoe covers. One daycare claimed that their caretakers had special shoes they only wear inside the infant room. But none of those floors is free of Outside Influence. In one daycare, it was okay to wear street shoes in the crib area, but you had to put your shoe covers on while in the play area. But the caretakers – I watched this happen – would wear their shoe-covered shoes into the crib area. Where non-shoe-covered shoes had the habit of walking. Thus exposing the shoe covers to the dirt/bacteria from the uncovered shoes. Or! Like in my daycare. You can wear your shoes in the main hallways of the daycare. You only take off your shoes before entering the infant room. But the caretakers don’t remove their shoes when they walk through the hallways. So there is no point in them wearing Indoors Only shoes. I know this is a big deal to no one but me.)

(This is along the lines of food service prep workers who wear gloves to make food? But also, they wear the gloves to open the microwave, or to pour new rice into the rice container, or to open doors to the storeroom, or to operate the cash register. The gloves are not there to protect YOUR HANDS, they are there to protect MY MOUTH.)

(Also, recently, I went to a sandwich-type place and asked for a wedge salad, and I watched as the food prep person grabbed a brand-new head of iceberg lettuce from the fridge, all fresh and wrapped in the same plastic wrapper that my iceberg from the grocery store comes in, and she just chopped off a wedge and plopped it on a plate, no washing or anything. Do you know what face I’m making? The Face of Incredulous Disgust, is what. At least it wasn’t spinach! I mean, iceberg is tightly contained enough that it is the least grimy of all the lettuces, in my experience. But STILL. You WASH THE LETTUCE when you are preparing a salad for someone to eat!)

Somehow this devolved into lots of talk about germs. Let’s make a sharp turn over someone’s shrubbery and through the leaf pile on the curb and try to get back onto the original pavement of this post.

Ah yes, here we are: Getting back around to my original point, I just really wish that someone would sit down with you (not YOU, really ME) and spell out all the little quirks and rules and “the handbook says the day ends at five, but no one leaves before five thirty” and “we say that you can sign up for parent-teacher conferences, but no one really does” and “the daycare may be open until six, but the caretakers really hate staying until six and will talk about you, sometimes in front of other parents, if you have the habit of showing up at 5:59” and “your list of Must Bring items includes a sleep sack, but we don’t ever put your kid in a sleep sack, so save your money” and on and on so that you can do things right the first time, and not feel like a jerky idiot after you accidentally find out you’ve been Doing It All Wrong the whole time.

It is entirely possible that becoming a mom has made me even MORE neurotic than I was to begin with.

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