Sunday, April 17, 2011

something lacking...

I love this blog. I know it's hard to tell because I only post about once a year... but I do.

When I started this blog I really wanted to do two things.

one- to record my experiences as a mother so that my kids would have something to look back on. Let's face it, I'm not good at keeping a journal or a scrapbook or even taking pictures for that matter.

two- I wanted to share experiences with other moms (parents, ok, guys too...) because there is something comforting in knowing that someone else is also swimming in deep water.

I love to write and laugh at myself at the same time.

But there was something missing from this blog.

Everything I do and everything I am as a parent comes from God. These children that I'm blessed to have stewardship over are a gift from Him who first created their spirits. I can't keep a record of all I do as a mother without including Him.

So, my sister and I started a new blog; one that helps us to include all of the above.

And, since, let's face it, I can't even keep up with one blog- this one will be shut down pretty soon.

Don't worry, you'll find the same self-effacing snark on the new blog. It will just be more centered on what matters most: trying to be the parent God intended me to be.

So come on over to the light side and follow my sister and me on this crazy journey through parenthood at:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bless me, bloggers, for I have sinned...'s been almost a year since my last post. Ok, so, I'm a bad blogger. I admit it. What can I say? I've been a little bit busy. Let's see if I can do the last year justice.

My last post was just before the start of school. I was signing my teaching contract. I remember it like it was just last year...
(this is the part where, if I were on a sitcom, the screen would go all fuzzy and we would have a series of pertinent flashbacks)
August, September, and October were a whirlwind. I was thrown into the deep end of the pool as a high school choir teacher, hired the week before teacher development. I *promise* you will get another post about my first year teaching, but there just isn't room in my confession to do it justice. Suffice it to say that while navigating the bog of teaching in a Title I school (economically disadvantaged), I was also navigating the steep precipice of alternative teacher certification; which is an unfortunate collection of paperwork, classes, online reading modules, and virtually pointless meetings.

**Let's also keep in mind that I was due to deliver baby #6 at the end of October**
So My oldest daughter started early-morning scripture study which starts at the ironically un-godly hour of 5:50 am. So my day started at 5:30, I would pick up 2 carpool kids and head to the church and race back home just in time to shower at 6am. Then I would wake the other kids and get them ready and do breakfast. Family scriptures start at 7 am, followed by herding all the cats out the door. Finally the bus route would start: drop offs at the middle school, elementary school, high school, then preschool before fighting my way onto the freeway for my own drive to school. After teaching all day, I would stop for early dinner before heading to my certification class, which ended at 9pm. I would come home exhausted, put up my swollen feet and do the reading assignment or work on the crazy craft project our certification teacher burdened us with. Thank goodness for a supportive husband who would take off work early to pick up kids from school, make them start homework, and feed them before I got home. My Saturdays were usually full of class again; or, on the rare occasion that I didn't have class, I was judging a choir competition. I was serious when I said that I couldn't wait until maternity leave so I could get some rest.
On my birthday I had the mind-numbing trifecta of choices between my kid's open house, certification class, or the open house at MY school.
I tried to get out of class, but they said I would just have to make it up, which would delay my certification. I tried to get out of the open house, but according to my principal, the only acceptable excuse was a job-related one, so I had to pull the class card. I finally gave up trying to clear the evening, because I knew that if I weren't someplace else, my kids would try to coax me to their open house "Just for a little while, mommy!". I chose certification class. At least there, I got some candy, a song, and free passes to Freebirds *one of my favorite places*. It wasn't birthday dinner with my husband, but of the available choices, not bad.
I worked right up to my due date and was finally induced the last Thursday of the month of October. This is significant, because it meant that I only had to take two days off before starting(unpaid) maternity leave. What do we know about unpaid leave? We know that it's always shorter than paid leave, no matter the situation. I took off the first three weeks in November, and my school district gives the whole week of Thanksgiving off, so that was my doctor's requisite recovery time and I was back in school December 1st.
After the holidays things slowed down a bit. Well, except for the fact that I had a newborn baby at home and a full time job. But there was no class after school and most of my Saturdays were free from work obligations. So, I didn't really have time to blog.
I don't really have time to blog now either. I have food to prepare, laundry to fold, my son's birthday to plan... the list is never ending. And when the mundane household chores are done and all of my kids have been taxied to their activities, I still have scrapbooks to catch up on (only one kid has a baby book and I'm only up to 2003), reading assignments for my Sunday School teaching, and, oh, somewhere in there I need to spend some time with my husband.
I recently heard someone say: "I don't really need to talk to my friends, because I read their blogs and I know what they're up to and I know they're all ok." So, you don't need to talk to me. I haven't fallen off the planet. I'm still ok. I'm still a mother of 6 with a million things on my agenda. I would blog about them, but it would take too long.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The noble calling of Teacher

Lest I should offend anyone, I have to say that I have had many wonderful teachers over the years. I have had many who were role models, heroes, and icons. I have had many who gave me caring support and who nurtured me through difficult patches, both academically and personally.

And then there were the others. (Kindof like "the Others" on Lost, only less confusing.)

The unfortunate truth is that there are many people in the teaching profession who should not be teachers. There are some who just aren't smart enough, and unfortunately there are many who have no clue how to deal with OPC (Other People's Children). Because dealing with your own children is a completely separate matter from dealing with your own. And then there is another separate category of people who have no business being around children in any way.

I was at the school district yesterday signing paper work to begin my formal (certificate-in-hand) teaching career, and there were some others doing the same. Suffice it to say that if you can't figure out where to sign on a stack of paperwork (after you've been told specifically where to sign); or which date to use (yes, really), you should be grateful that someone like me isn't across the desk from you. Because in my estimation, such ineptitude would be grounds for revoking the offer of employment.

Here is a brief history of my favorite teachers, good and bad, over the course of my education.

New Orleans Louisiana:

The principal who pounded out the dent in my lunchbox with a paperweight on his desk. The dent was caused when the lunchbox was slammed into my face by a nice little boy who called me "Honkey White Trash" on my first day of first grade. I was told later by my mother that the principal insinuated racism on my part because when I told him who hit me I said "a big black boy." Apparently he was only big to me.

The first grade teacher who accused me of sassing during a spelling bee because I spelled
F-L-O-W, when the answer she was looking for was: "No, girl! The thing you standin' on!" Oh, how silly of me... F-L-O-O-R.

The gym teacher who carried a metal running baton everywhere he went and routinely smacked kids on the butt when they mouthed off. Or, really, just whenever he felt like it.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota:

The lunch lady who attempted to give me the Heimlich Maneuver when I was "choking" on cake crumbs. The fact that I was still inhaling and coughing had no effect on her brain whatsoever. I think she got some kind of award for saving my life, which tells you how bright the administration must have been. Nowadays I could have gotten a nice settlement and retired.

My Sixth Grade teacher, Mrs. Sonnenfield, who wrote me letters even after I moved away, and was always encouraging and kind.

The gym teacher, who asked me to stay after class on my last day and told me how much he would miss me and my family.

My brother's Sixth grade English teacher, who was always creepy in every possible way. I remember the time we had to go to the library to watch a school related film and I had to ride there in his personal vehicle. Ew.

The principal who was decapitated in a snowmobiling accident (did they really need to tell the kids *how* he died??), and his replacement, who I saw picking his nose on more than one occasion.


The ex-nun turned math teacher who believed that we would remember math solutions if she yelled them at us. "You take all the numbers from the first group, and all the numbers from the second group... THAT - YOU - HAVE - NOT - USED - AL-READY!"

The English teacher, who was also my football coach; who told me it was OK to hate my mom sometimes, and acknowledged my superior wide-receiver skills even though I was the only girl in the club.

The social studies teacher, who we all swore was really a man. She wore her fur coat year-round, on her shoulders, and it actually made her look like a bear. Which is probably why I almost lost bowel function when she yelled at me alone in the hallway for not turning in my notes on "The Importance of the Buffalo".

The science teacher who walked around the room trying to very subtly (and very creepily) ascertain if any of us had B.O. and then gave us a lecture on using deodorant and taking water-conservationist showers. He also told us a story about a friend of his who had a heart attack and died after jumping into a cold pool and warned us to go in knee-deep and splash water on ourselves first. He was the inventor of the dreaded "Red One". Meaning that if we did something really bad or really stupid, we would get a Red mark in the grade book and he would take one point off of our final grade. I remember one particularly bad day, he almost lost his temper but then just turned around dramatically and said "That's a Red One!"

The social studies teacher, who made us all fall asleep every class and insisted on telling us the same story about her friend on the Electoral College at least once a month.

The Algebra teacher who was always more interested in making snarky insulting comments to his students than he was in actually teaching the subject.

The chemistry teacher who never really answered any questions. Or at least, if he did, the answer was lost somewhere in a jumble of irrelevant (although impressively complicated) equations and scientific double-speak.

The English teacher who always talked through her teeth and made you feel as though she were trying to stop herself from losing it and biting someone.

There were, among those crazy personalities, some real people who treated me like a real person. Those are the teachers I admired and emulated. And in honor of the loud echo of rejoicing mothers that will be heard tomorrow morning around 9 am, those are the teachers who I hope will be my guide as I wade through bureaucracy, school politics and gang signs.

Teachers: God be with you.

Mothers: Enjoy the silence while it lasts. Just remember: we get to send them back to you at the end of the day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I hate potty training

You would think that after potty training four children, it would have gotten easier. Sorry to disappoint any of you who are going through it and would like to think that it will get easier. It won't. Why won't it? Because every child, no matter if they come from the same gene pool and are raised in the same household, is completely unique and different. Each comes to Earth with his or her own personality, strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and yes, potty learning time table.

One of my children was ready to go at 18 months. Smart enough, interested in the potty, excited about the grown-up-ness of it all... textbook case of readiness. Which is why I hate books about potty training. No one book could possibly cover all the personality types of all the children and prepare you for every eventuality. The only thing helpful about those books is 1) knowing the signs of readiness and 2)dealing with the inevitable setbacks and accidents. Then take everything they say and use it as a guideline, because there will never be any hard fast rules for getting it right. I know of one book in particular whose title is something along the lines of "Potty Train your Child over the Weekend". It should be burned. It does give some good suggestions, but the only way that method is going to work is if your kid was ready in the first place. If he's not, then you are wasting your time, and annoying the pig. Er, kid. Sorry, I sometimes assume everyone is familiar with the expression "Never try and teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of time and it annoys the pig." The only potty book I know to be 100% accurate is Everybody Poops.

Back to the child to whom I was referring: she was ready, according to all the lists I'd read. She was sleeping in a diaper but waking up dry. She was telling me every time her diaper was the least bit wet or dirty. She would ask to sit on the potty. She was enticed by the bribe of 'big girl underwear' (Don't tell my nieces that, they only refer to girl's undergarments as panties. Underwear is for boys.). I would wake her up every morning at the same time, and sit her on the potty. And wait. I was a corporate drone at the time, so the the mission was to get her bathed, dressed, fed and to the baby sitter's by 7:15. There was not a lot of time for waiting in this scenario. I would usually give up after about 5 minutes and put her in the bath. Where she would promptly poop. Yes, you read that right. Regardless of what happened ON the potty in the 5 minute window, I was inevitably, for about 15 days straight, cleaning poop out of the bathtub. It was so bad for awhile that I had a plastic cup nearby for just such an eventuality. The trick was keeping it hidden form her so she wouldn't think it was for drinking.

She did eventually get through that phase; and so did I, but it felt like the edge of insanity when it was happening. Which is what all kid problems feel like: the edge of insanity. Just keep a little perspective and remember all that garbage none of us want to hear when we are going through something that feels like the edge of insanity. "This too shall pass..." (I think I might step really hard on my Mother In Law's toes if she ever says that to me again). And my other favorite: "Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems." Oh ya, if you think the problems are so little why don't you deal with them! "No, I'm past that stage, I've earned the right to point and snicker and give snarky advice to people who are just starting out."

I often have these little conversations in my head in order to avoid having them out loud.

Then there was the kid that wasn't interested in potty training at all, but would ask to wear underwear just because she knew that I would get suckered in by that; and then I would have to take her to every public restroom in the entire city.

I learned to be patient with my second child. He was not interested, and not ready, but I was tired of going in to check on him at nap time and finding him sitting in a puddle... or worse. It made sense to me that if the kid didn't want to wear a diaper, I shouldn't have to buy them any more. So we struggled back and forth for weeks on end. It was a classic case of my own stubbornness and unwillingness to give up coupled with the fact that if the kid is not ready, there is no power on Earth or in Heaven that will make him ready.

I am writing this partially as an affirmation to myself : I will not try to potty train my child before he is ready. Never mind that he is smart and has enough dexterity to build a 3 foot high pyramid out of paper cups. Never mind that he is plenty old enough, and I have a baby coming in 3 months. Never mind that he loves his "Incredible Underwears" and is perfectly happy (most of the time) to put it on and pee in it. The first day I tried to make it work, he had soaked through about 4 pairs of his 5 pack of underwear I asked him if he wanted to put the last pair on and he said, "No, I will just pee in it." Is it possible for a three year old to be simultaneously lazy and hyperactive?

So the only thing that gets easier is that you learn to expect messes and accidents. And you also learn to expect your kid to deliberately pee on something at some point. And even if you open the bathroom door and find, despite all of your preparedness, that your son has covered the walls and the floor and, yes, somehow, his face in pee, you will be prepared to calmly get a towel, some hand sanitizer, bleach, carpet cleaner, and something for the floor too; all the while reassuring said child that it's ok, and we will try again. Your mothering (or fathering) instincts will take over, if you let them, and someday your kids will actually use the toilet like a grown up. Which hopefully does not mean that they will use the toilet and leave the bathroom without even glancing at the sink. But that's a blog for another time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Waterboarding and other common punishments

I really hate it when I am interrupted during an interrogation.
The other day, for example, I was alone with my suspect. I had confronted him. I had presented irrefutable evidence. Despite his attempts at creating reasonable doubt and offering up other suspects, I had him softened almost to the breaking point, about to confess. I had crushed his alibi. I had presented compelling evidence as to why the other suspects were innocent... and then "good cop" had to come in and ruin everything.
All he did was stick his head in the door and ask what was going on. I described the nature of the crime. The suspect turned to him with a sad, pleading face. Good cop crumbled. He offered the same excuses as the suspect! Offered the same alternative suspects even! What he did, in short, was to destroy my entire case. I glared at him.
"Never mind," I sighed.
I grudgingly dismissed the suspect with a small chore as punishment and good cop came into the room, closing the door behind him.
"I almost had him, you know." I huffed.
"Do you want me to get you your own little room with a table and a bright light?"
Yes, as a matter of fact, I would like that very much. Especially if there was a panel of 2-way glass, and a lock on the door so that 'good cop' couldn't come bursting in and take the side of the suspect!

As a general rule, I tend to be pretty lenient with my kids and their punishments. But there are times when something they do pushes my buttons and I am forced to react with aggressive punishments.

When my oldest daughter was 6, she decided that sleeves were uncomfortable. She took a pair of scissors (not her first incident with that particular weapon... she was forever hacking off part of her hair with unpleasing results) to her closet and proceeded to remove the sleeves from every shirt she owned. When she had finished destroying the shirts, she moved right on to removing the legs from all of the pants. She was on her fourth pair when I found her, sitting on the floor of her room, surrounded by mangled sleeves and pant legs, looking up at me innocently.
Without saying a word (very rare for me in situations of high stress), I removed the surviving clothes from her drawer and closet and put them in protective custody. (Locked in my room)
I returned and confiscated the weapon and proceeded to explain, very calmly, that clothes cost money, and cannot be destroyed on a whim.
She was well acquainted with the value of money, having run a successful embezzlement scheme the previous fall. I would give her lunch money every morning. She would get to school and tell the teacher that she wanted to buy her lunch, but that she had lost her money or left it at home. The teacher would tell the lunch lady, who would then allow my daughter to 'charge' her lunch expenses to an account. At the end of the first week, she had made a nice $10 profit. She simply took the "money owed" notice and threw it in the trash. She repeated the scam the following week, resulting in another $10 profit. This time, she forgot to throw away the notice, however, and when I went through her school papers I discovered that she owed over $15 in the cafeteria. I sent her to school the next Monday with a home made lunch and called her teacher, asking to see a detail of the report so I could find out how she owed so much money. When the report failed to ring any bells about days I may have forgotten to give her money, I called her teacher. We were finally able to put two and two together and realize that we were being scammed by a kindergartner. The money was already gone, of course. She spent it on pencils and stickers and a random folder or two from the school store. But I digress.

Knowing that my daughter understood the value of money, I was able to exact an appropriate punishment for the mutillation of her wardrobe. I gave her one outfit that had been unharmed by the violent cutting rampage. I gave her a list of extra jobs that she could perform at the pay rate of 50 cents per job, and told her that additional outfits could be purchased for $1 each.

Initially, she rebelled. She didn't like that the punishment fit the crime, and she refused to do any additional jobs. That was fine with me. She went to school in the same clothes for three days straight before she finally crumbled (probably due to peer pressure), and started slowly earning back her unharmed clothes. There wasn't much left, but she eventually earned back the rest of her clothes. The replacement clothes were a little more expensive, $2 per outfit (which was still a steal for her), but she did eventually earn enough to look respectable at school again.

I also believe in dual punishment. When the oldest two kids butted heads a little too often and pushed me to the edge of my patience, I tied their legs together (3-legged-race style) and sent them into the back yard to do some chores. I told them they could come in when the work was done. If they had immediately gotten to it, the job would have taken them about 30 minutes. Which, admittedly, is a long time to have your leg tied to someone else's. As it was, however, they fought and bickered and refused to get along, and an hour later were begging to be released. I came out and explained to them that they had to work together and get along and that if they didn't, I was going to leave them tied together overnight and they would have to sleep outside on the trampoline. Thirty minutes later the job was done.

I have endless stories of forcing a child to complete a sibling's chores, or mine, when they have damaged property or made unkind comments. And, much to the chagrin of children everywhere, I have instituted the practice of assigning them a job (without extra pay) whenever they complain of being bored. Other mothers I know have picked up the same practice, thus the chagrin.

I don't really do water boarding, but I do believe in the practice of putting screaming kids in a cold shower, fully clothed, to quell their tantrums (special thanks to my sister).

What? It works! Trust me, try it. The next time your toddler is throwing a temper tantrum and refuses to calm down, put them in the shower and offer one last chance before you turn the water on. If they insist on continuing their detestable boo-hooing, turn on the cold water until they stop making noise. After that, all it will take is a threat. Just be prepared to follow through. They will test the fences on this one.
It's a good punishment for three reasons. One: it doesn't hurt the child. Two: it's unpleasant for them, therefore, they will not want to repeat the behavior. Three: It's unexpected the first time you do it, so it's likely to leave an impression on them. If only the grocery store had a shower. Actually, at that age, you can tell them the grocery store has a shower and they won't know the difference. Just kidding, you should never mislead your kids that way. Eventually they will call you on it.

Childhood is really just a series of boundary testing. It goes like this: They test the boundary, you set a limit. As long as you stick to your guns, they will eventually stop trying to test that particular fence. They will get comfortable for awhile, and then they will test something else. The real melt downs only happen when you give in "just this once" or are inconsistent with your punishments.

And that's about all I have learned in my 15 years of being a parent. Now if I could just figure out an appropriate punishment for a three-year-old who threw a rock through my sister's van window...

But that's a blog for another time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Phone technology

Today I am grateful for the hold button. And the mute button, equally. Both enable me to conduct the business of running my household while the customer service agent on the other end is oblivious to what is really going on in my house.

And believe me, they are better off.

Today, for example, I talked with a CS rep about my phone while helping the toddler on the potty. I will spare you the details, just suffice it to say that if he knew what was really going on while I held the phone with my shoulder, he would hang up and pretend there was a malfunction of some kind.

I also sent the same toddler to his room a few minutes later for dumping half a container of yogurt on the carpet, cleaned up the yogurt, and rinsed the towel with which I cleaned up the yogurt, all while he was checking the model number on my phone to be sure he had the right customer file.

Then, while he changed the file so that the customer information actually matched my personal information, I helped my middle daughter sort through her drawers and get rid of some clothes that didn't fit. I was glad that he couldn't hear our conversation about why it's unacceptable to wear pajama bottoms with a giant hole in the butt, even though they're just pajamas and nobody but your sisters is ever going to see them.

I am also glad that people on the other end of the phone can't see or smell anything on my end. Again, details are not necessary. But I'm sure you can imagine that a mother of 5 has occasion to conduct all sorts of phone calls while tending to other business. Whether it involves my role as a waste management expert, or clothing police, or overseeing various unappealing chores, I am sure that no one to whom I am speaking would be better off for knowing what is happening while the conversation is going on.

My only complaint is that in this age of vast technology, (and since I have the most technologically advanced phone on the planet... which is definitely another blog entirely) I actually have to remove the phone from the side of my head and press a button in order to mute it. This annoyance, however, could be considered a blessing in disguise; as it means that I have to inhale for a moment before I unleash my verbal wrath on whichever child happens to be sitting on his or her sibling.

Another modern phone feature without which I could not possibly live is caller ID. I used to pay extra for this feature. I would probably still pay extra for it (but don't tell AT$T that... and the dollar sign is not a typo... they charge me enough as it is). But it enables me to make intelligent decisions about whether it is worth it to press the button and answer the call, or whether my valuable time would be better spent doing something important, like finishing my ice cream sandwich.

Voicemail is my best friend. It has saved me from so many unpleasant conversations. I enjoy having conversations entirely through voicemail. Lest you think me unsocial, it's simply more efficient than carrying on an entire conversation.

Which bring me to my favorite modern medium of all: Text. Genius! Amazing! Superlative! Even better than voicemail, because it requires even less time and effort! (Unless you are technology deficient and can't figure out the predictive text feature on your phone. If you are, I certainly don't fault you. Some people just aren't wired that way. Besides, it IS a tad confusing when you're trying to type potluck and the suggestion that pops up is pork. I had the worst time convincing my phone that I really did mean to type Cassie and not cassis. But I digress.)

What I love about text is that it eliminates all of the time-wasting conversational mush and gets right to the point. No "hi, how are you? I'm fine! Obligatory heath and/or family inquiry, sometimes leading to comments about the weather, or drivers, if your conversation partner happens to be driving..." Just straight to the point.

Pick up milk

out of bread

free at 7?

movie starting

which theater?

car trouble

can't talk, call later

i'm hungry

And, if you're terribly hip and modern... there's always crackberry. The new version of cavespeak. We have officially regressed the English language back to grunts and woefully incomplete sentences.


r u going?

lol no

y not?

last time i found a bug in my soup

As a medium of communication, text is suited to tween speak and grammar-philes alike. One could be as brief or as grammarian as one pleases. Crackberry can be pretty annoying, but I have to say I am awed by the efficiency behind it (to quote Cary Grant). In fact, to sway those of you who are against any brevity of speech, I have decided to show you just how much easier it can be. Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite writers. I am endlessly in awe of the way he could construct a sentence. Here is a favorite exchange, in both languages.


John: You don't suppose Gwendolyn will become like her mother in about 150 years?

Algernon: My dear fellow, all women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.

John: Is that meant to be clever?

Algernon: It is perfectly phrased! and quite as true as any observation in civilized life should be.


JW: spose GB'll b like her mom smday?

AM: bud, all girls r like that. guys r not tho


AM: lol Well s'true

Now, see how much more efficient that was? All that hard work speaking replaced by a few well chosen letters.

What I love best about texting is that when you aren't in a position to have a verbal conversation, you can still communicate. I'm all about efficiency. If I can be sitting in a meeting and still find out the time and location of my next child pickup before I even leave, so much the better for me. Texting is all about convenience and saving time.

I do know people, however, who refuse to text. My brother is one of them. This is endlessly annoying when trying to schedule play dates and meeting times with the cousins. It would be SO much easier if we could text, but he insists on having actual conversations every 3 minutes instead as plans change and are adjusted.

Come over to the quick side people, it's not all that hard to learn! If you need further persuading, or even a little crackberry vocabulary lesson, lmk... i'd be happy to help. Anything I can to do convert the hopelessly conversation-bound to a life of ease and thumb exercising.

idk if u no r not, but u can't escape progress :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Something everyone who has ever known a pregnant person should read

When you are pregnant, you are the target of advice, commentary, stares and occasionally unwanted physical contact from almost every person in the general populace. This has often been a source of annoyance for me. I don't know if I am just particularly more sensitive when I am pregnant, or whether the overload of extra attention sends me over the edge of the precipice I am already on: lack of patience for the less educated and socially uncouth of my fellowmen.

I'm sure my husband would say that I am just too sensitive, and that I just need to give people the benefit of the doubt and concede that they are well-meaning and just trying to be friendly. I, however, continue to simmer when people try my patience with their prying and inappropriately familiar questions.

I'm not talking about harmless, polite inquiries like asking when I'm due or if it's my first baby (yes, I still get this question even though I'm almost 35 and I have 5 children, but how are they to know that after all?), or even asking the sex of the baby. There are, however, some questions that should just not be asked from one stranger to another. I really don't care if they're well meaning or just trying to be nice. Some questions and comments are just plain rude and intrusive. I will give you my favorite examples. If you see a pregnant woman on the street and simply can't stop yourself from commenting or asking a question, please refrain from anything resembling the following:

Are you going to have any more?
Now, this question is pretty harmless on the surface; and it's one of those that my husband would probably say I am being too sensitive about answering. But frankly, if you are not a friend of mine and we have not discussed family sizes or anything related to it in the past, it's probably none of your business and your mother should have taught you not to ask rude questions. I just get the feeling that people ask this question to make themselves feel better about whatever their family size choices are. If they have fewer children than you, they want to be shocked and aghast that anyone could consider having that many children. If they have more children than you they want to console themselves that some people just cant handle a large family. Besides, no one should ever ask a pregnant person, or a person who has just given birth, if they are planning to repeat this ordeal any time soon. Except maybe her doctor.

Have you had a lot of morning sickness?
Again, here, the argument could be made that people are just trying to be polite and ask about your health. Which, if history has taught us anything, it's that people's health is a safe and polite topic of conversation. However, it is my firm belief that when Mrs. Higgins advised her son Henry to "Stick to two topics: the weather, and every body's health," she did not mean for him to ask specific medical questions, but general inquiries. Why? Because nobody wants the real answer to that question! Does anyone really want to know about the size, color, and frequency of my bouts with nausea? That's a question I don't even want the answer to! If I answered that question honestly I would probably give myself and the person asking a stomachache. "Yes, in fact I couldn't keep my breakfast down for weeks! Didn't matter what I ate; eggs, cereal, toast, it would all just come right back up again!"

Was this pregnancy planned?
Now come on. Really? Do you really want to know the answer to that question or can you just not think of anything else to say? I can understand people being curious about this particular topic, but there are some things about which we are curious, and about which we should keep our curiosity to ourselves! Examples: How did you lose your hand? Why do you wear a helmet? What is that rash, where did it come from, and is it contagious?
When people ask me if my pregnancy was planned, I am tempted to answer thus: "Well, I knew that sex caused pregnancy, and I thought I was using adequate protection. But I've never wanted children AT ALL. So you can imagine how horrified I was when I started puking every morning, gaining weight and missing my period. By now I guess there's not much I can do about it. Maybe I'll put an ad in the paper and see if anyone wants a baby. Or Ebay..."
At least if I answered that way the person asking would think very seriously about ever asking that question again.

This is just a small sampling of the ridiculous things I have been asked in my 51 months of pregnancy. Following are some of my favorites of the comments people have made.

"Wow, you sure are going to have your hands full." (my sister and I often lament that this is the most creative thing people can think to say when confronted with the sight of a mother of 3 or more young children who is also pregnant. We could write a whole book about it. Maybe we will.)

"This is your 5th!? Haven't you ever heard of birth control?" (At which point I turned to the man with a confused look and asked: "What's that?")

"WOW!" (looking at my 7-months-pregnant belly) "I just talked to my sister who's pregnant and she's only a couple of months along and then I look at you and... talk about PREGNANT!"

"Oh my goodness, are you having TWINS!?"

"Gee, you sure are getting big!"

"So, when does this one hatch?" (trying to be clever, but really just coming off obnoxious)

And my hands-down, all-time favorite:
Walking into a restaurant, the 20-something host takes one look at my belly and asks: "Would you like a table, or can you fit in to a booth?"

I also need to add the following anecdote, provided by a dear friend. I will paraphrase.
This friend of mine had trouble conceiving and had adopted a baby boy. Shortly after, she had the opportunity to adopt a set of twins who were in a bad situation and needed a home immediately. As sometimes happens after an adoption, soon after she adopted the twins, she became pregnant on her own. Near the end of the pregnancy, she was walking through the park, her very young toddler son holding on to the double stroller which held the infant twins and very near delivery; and she passed a man sitting on a bench. This man was either homeless, or had decided of his own free will never to use the shower in his house. He was very overweight, probably around 300 pounds, and the shirt and shorts he was wearing were meant for a much smaller person; so his dirty, hairy belly was exposed. His hair was dirty and unkempt and his mouth was hanging open. As my friend walked past with her small children the man exclaimed, "That is the most disgusting thing I have EVER seen!" Likewise.

My sister, who had twins last year contributed these favorites:

"Wow, you're actually waddling now."

"My sister had twins, and she got really huge. It was even kind of un-natural looking. You're going to be soooo biiiiig."

I would like to take this opportunity to counsel that no one, under any circumstances, should ever comment on a woman's size. Even if you think she looks smaller than usual, and you tell her that, she will just think you thought she was big before. It can't possibly be taken as a compliment. Pregnant women are painfully aware that they are big. Even the ones who claim that they love their pregnant body and enjoy being pregnant, have, at some point, gone into their closet to find clothes and ended up crying. Pregnant women are also prone to emotional highs and lows, which are unpredictable, meaning that, YES, pregnant women are emotionally unstable. There I said it. So why, in the name of all that is holy, would you EVER consider commenting on the size of an emotionally unstable person?!!?

Now, having ranted endlessly for several paragraphs, I must offer some qualification. If you are immediately related to someone who is pregnant, or if you are CLOSE friends with someone who is pregnant, or if you have previously had detailed and personal conversations with someone who is pregnant, it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask questions about health, well being, family planning, etc... but ONLY if your previous relationship would indicate such familiarity. Just because someone is pregnant does not mean that she is an open book and that anyone anywhere is entitled to ask her any question or make any comment that pops into their pea-sized head!

AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER SHOULD ANY PERSON ON THE PLANET TOUCH ANOTHER PERSON'S STOMACH, or any other part of their body for that matter, UNINVITED! If you are prone to impulses of touching a pregnant belly, please STOP, consider what you are doing, and ask permission! IF you are too embarrassed to ask, THAT SHOULD BE A CLUE THAT IT'S NOT OK!!!

See, I told you pregnant women were unstable. When they get passionate about a cause they tend to get a little rowdy.

If you happen to be a friend of mine, and you are reading this, please don't worry that you have asked me a rude question and that I have been offended by it. People at church, friends on Facebook, and people with whom I regularly communicate do not fall into the category of the general public. I am not as easily offended as my husband seems to think, and I very rarely over-react. But let this be a lesson to you, a guide if you will. And "If you have been warned, warn your neighbor" that when you see a pregnant woman on the street who you don't know... act appropriately. If you are one of those people who can't stop themselves from saying something, let it be congratulations of some kind; or encouragement. If you see a pregnant woman who is also struggling with small children, say: "What a beautiful family," instead of commenting on how tired and frustrated she may be by saying that her hands are full. And above all, keep your hands and your opinions to yourself.

Opinions on child rearing... now that's another blog entirely.