Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Pregnant Interview: Part Two

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my interview for a real estate attorney position in a post entitled The Pregnant Interview: Part One.  At the time, I was full of hope and thought I had a really good shot at being hired.  That all crumbled slowly when Friday, the day they had told me they would have a decision, came and went.  Then Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday dragged by without a word.  They had specifically told me they would let me know either way, so when I didn't hear anything, I finally called to try to get some information.  Although I left a message, no one responded.

Okay, I get it.  You don't want to hire me.  Is it because I'm pregnant?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps it's because I don't have experience.  Either way, it would have been nice to have a phone call or even an email.  Just something.

But on to the next thing.  In my frustration at still having no permanent work after being out of school for a year and a half, I have switched gears and am starting to focus my energies on starting a business of my own.  I have an idea what I want to do, and I have been working feverishly on a business plan that I can present to my husband.

The best part about my business is that it could be done entirely from home.  It would mean being able to do what I really want to do - stay home with our children.  I know it will not be easy, but I think it is something that I can do and, moreover, that I would really enjoy.  I may have to work for a year or so to raise and save the startup capital.  (I could do it in much less time if I had been fortunate enough to not be accepted to law school and thus did not have huge monthly payments eating up most of my paycheck.)

We shall see how that works out, but I also have a few other prospects on the horizon.  I applied for several positions with the federal government, and I am waiting to hear back on a few of those.  I also applied for a job with a law firm that focuses on internet and technology issues, which includes things like intellectual property disputes, contracts, business, and more.  Although I did not get that job, or even an interview, the founding partner was kind enough to send out an email to everyone who applied and did not receive an interview.  It was a basic form letter that essentially said, "Thanks, but no thanks," but having applied for hundreds of positions and heard very little in response over the last 18 months, I was very grateful that someone took the time to respond to everyone.

So I wrote a short note back thanking him for letting me know and wishing him luck, thinking that would certainly be the end of it.  He responded to my email, however, with an invitation to contact him in a few weeks for a meeting.  He wants to see if there is anything he can do to help me find work, even if it's not with his firm.  Sweet!

We have a busy weekend ahead, with a trip to Pennsylvania planned, and then I have not one, but TWO doctor's appointments next week on two different days.  But it should be exciting to see what's in store.

Finding Out Baby's Gender...Finally!

Ever since I got pregnant, I have been out of my mind waiting to know whether we are having a little boy or a little girl.  I have absolutely driven Jesse crazy with quiz after quiz after quiz, all trying to tell me what I'm having.  For months, every quiz I took said, "It's a girl!"  

On top of that, my family just always has girls.  My grandparents, the matriarch and patriarch of our clan, have 17 grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.  Of all of them, only four are boys.  So, you get an idea of what our family reunions look like.  My brother-in-law likes to tell my sister that the man determines gender, but she always says, "Not in this family."

On Friday, February 22, we finally had our ultrasound appointment.  I was exactly 20 weeks along, and we had had the appointment on the calendar for 5 weeks in order to ensure that Jesse would not be traveling on that day.  Jesse flew home from Luxembourg Thursday evening, and we were up early the next morning, headed for our appointment.

I had read an article about what to expect at the 20-week ultrasound, and I was super excited to finally find out.  Of course, the technician took her time as she gathered all the information, and we waited for what seemed like forever.  Then, finally, she got us a nice view of baby's little butt and said, "See that right there?  Congratulations, it's a boy!"

We were so excited, and after thinking it was a girl for so long, it was incredibly easy to switch gears and think of him as a "he."  When the scan was finished, we left and went to lunch.  My family was all waiting to hear, so I texted my sister and my mom to call me when they got out of their morning Bible study meeting.  My sister called first, and we put her on speaker.  I told her I would let Jesse tell her since he's "the man of the house."  Jesse then made a joke about being the man of the house only for now.  She was expecting a girl so much that he had to say it three times before she realized what he was saying.  She was just as surprised and every bit as excited as we were.

After lunch, we went to Target to pick out some clothes for him.  While we were there, my parents called.  I got on the phone with them and told them, "Jesse is really proud of himself because he was able to break the grip of our family gene pool."  There was a pause, then the realization, and then a lot of excitement and again, surprise.  No one was expecting a boy.

We waited out the rest of the day until my sister arrived from Pennsylvania for a weekend visit.  She had asked us not to tell her until she arrived.  She wanted to just go to the baby's room and open the closet and see the clothing we had bought him.  When she arrived, she started upstairs, saying, "Let's go confirm it.  I already know it's a girl, but let's confirm it."  When she opened the door, she, too, could not believe it.  

Needless to say, everyone is out of their minds with excitement at the prospect not just of a new baby, but of a little baby boy, the first in our family in over a decade!  

My sister and I did some shopping on Saturday, and I bought him his first brand new diaper, a robot pocket diaper.  He is going to look so handsome!

I am so excited at the thought of raising a little boy.  I hope he likes sports as much as his mommy.  His daddy couldn't care less about football or basketball, and it would really be nice to have someone in the house who was into it with me.  Whatever he likes, I just can hardly wait for him to arrive!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Parental Freak Out, Take One

I am 2 days shy of being halfway through my first pregnancy, and although I have had most of the normal pregnancy symptoms, I have not really experienced the emotional roller coaster I was expecting.  Tonight, however, I had my very first major meltdown.  Naturally, it had to happen while my husband is about 4,000 miles away in Luxembourg...and fast asleep since it's the middle of the night there.

I was doing fine all day, but then I happened to hop on Facebook, where I saw a news article a friend had posted.  I have decided not to say what the article was about, mainly because right now there is nothing I would love more than to be able to un-see it.  Suffice it to say that it was an article about something that happened to a child.

I did not get through more than the headline and the first paragraph before I had to stop reading.  I started sobbing - and I mean really sobbing - so hard that I could hardly breathe.  Because our beagle Stella is useless in such situations, I ran downstairs and called Oliver, our German Shepherd and Chow Chow mix, in from the backyard.  He sat stoically beside me, occasionally licking the tears off my face, occasionally offering up his back to be scratched, while I just cried and cried.  

I think what really got me about the story was that it wasn't some kind of physical harm that came to the child, but something that someone did that scared and upset her.  It just made me realize that no matter how hard I try as a parent, I just can't expect to be able to protect my child.  I am not one of those parents (or soon-to-be parents) who thinks that protecting a child from absolutely EVERYTHING is a good idea.  I know that disappointment and conflict can be learning tools, and they help to build character.  But I just don't know how I can protect my child from the kinds of cruel treatment that this world has to offer.  And I am so scared.

Even as I write this, I still cannot stop crying, and I just wish so badly I could forget about what I read.  I know that in a couple days, my husband and I will be going to the doctor's to find out if we're having a boy or a girl, and then my sister is coming, and I will be busy shopping for clothes and finishing our registry.  But right now, my heart just aches, and I cannot get it out of my head.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crock Pot Cheesy Broccoli Soup

This is a great recipe, super easy to make, and perfect for mommys who are home all day but have to spend some of their time chasing little ones around the house.  I adapted it from another similar soup recipe to be made in the slow cooker.  I typically start it in the morning and keep it going all day.  The most important thing to remember is to stir throughout the day.  Otherwise, the cheese can get a little funky.


2 cups of water
2 bouillon cubes
1 cup of Velveeta cheese, cubed
1-2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 cups of frozen chopped broccoli
1 Tbsp of garlic powder
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Turn slow cooker on low and add water and bouillon cubes.  Allow bouillon cubes to partially dissolve.

2.  While bouillon cubes are dissolving, partially cook chicken over medium-low heat until white on the outside.  Remove from heat.

3.  Add cheese, chicken, and spices to slow cooker.

4.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours, STIRRING once every 45-60 minutes to ensure smooth consistency.

5.  Add broccoli and cook for an additional 1-2 hours.

6.  Serve and enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Know Your Rights: Pregancy and Nursing in the Workplace

Know Your Rights: Pregnancy and Nursing in the Workplace I am currently job hunting while pregnant, which is hardly an ideal situation, especially now that my belly has really taken on that bowling ball shape and size.  As an attorney, I know that one of the biggest problems in the law is a lack of knowledge.  In the United States, we have so many rights that it is impossible for every citizen to know all of them, so I put together this brief overview on pregancy and nursing for working moms.

If you are pregnant and, like me, plan to (sob!) continue working after your little one arrives, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (hereinafter referred to as the FMLA), may entitle you to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of your child and for the care of your child during the first year following birth.  However, only certain employers are required to provide FMLA leave.  If the company you work for has 50 or more employees or is a public agency or elementary or secondary school, then the company is subject to the FMLA.  In order to qualify for FMLA leave, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.  Additionally, your employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your work location.  If all of these requirements are met, then you are eligible for FMLA leave.

Some employers may offer full or partial compensation during this time, but they are not required to do so.  However, an employee's decision to take advantage of this leave time cannot have an adverse effect on her employment status or consideration for promotion.  In other words, the employer must treat her as though she never took the leave in the first place.

The FMLA requires that you provide your employer with 30 days notice, so you should plan to speak with your human resources department well in advance of your due date.  This will give you time to familiarize yourself with your employer's policy and make sure that you do everything you need to do in order to comply with their requirements.

Once you do return to work, you also have certain rights as a breastfeeding mother.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (hereinafter referred to as the FLSA) requires that employers provide nursing mothers with breaks in order to express breast milk.  The employers must allow employees to take breaks any time that they need to express breast milk.  Women must be given adequate time to pump, and they must also be given a designated private area, other than a bathroom, that is free from intrusion by other employees.

Be aware that the FLSA does not require employers to pay women for time taken to express breast milk.  In addition, employers with less than 50 employees may be exempted from providing breaks for nursing mothers if they can demonstrate that to due so would constitute an undue hardship for the employer.  For more information on breastfeeding and the workplace, visit the Department of Labor website.

Also, check with your state government to see what state laws may be available to you.  Sometimes, states have greater protection for employees than the federal law.  By doing business in your state, your employer has subjected himself to your state's laws, so you are entitled to reap those benefits as well.

A New Week and Back to the Hunt

Last week, I posted about my job interview for a position as a real estate attorney.  At the conclusion of the interview, I was told that they planned to make a decision by Friday, so I could expect to hear from them one way or the other by then.  So, of course, I rushed home, wrote out my "thank you" cards and delivered them to the post office for expedited mailing the following morning to ensure that they would arrive by Thursday.

Friday came and went, however, with not a word from my prospective employers.  Now, we are already halfway through Monday, and still I wait.  No phone call.  No email.  Surely, some word must come today, but the longer that I wait, the more I think that the most logical conclusion is that they have offered the job to someone else already.  Perhaps they have just forgotten or not had a moment to let me know, or perhaps they are waiting for their first choice to either accept or decline the offer.  Regardless, each passing minute sucks a little bit of the hope that this was FINALLY going to be the job that helps me break into the field right out of me.

Even so, I am strong in my faith that God is leading me to something great, even if it means starting the hunt for that opportunity all over again.  Jeremiah 29:11 says:  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I have taken this to heart, and after listening to Derek Prince teach on the Power of Proclamation, I have put it to use in my own life.  Throughout my day, I proclaim out loud, "The Lord has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future."

Wow!  What an amazing promise, that God has plans to give little old me hope and a future.  It may seem incredible, but I have seen the power of proclamation in my own life, and I continue to see it at work.  Please, if you are struggling in any are of life, look to the Bible for God's promises and declare them out loud, again and again, over your life.  Sometimes, it takes time.  God does not want us to just say it once and walk away.  He wants us to show a commitment to Him, a commitment to holding Him responsible for following through on His Word.  One thing I have learned is that God's promises are not empty.  They are real and meaningful, and if you unlock His power by proclaiming those promises in faith over your life, you WILL see results.

If you are struggling in one particular area and need help finding the right verses that contain God's promises, please email me at or leave a comment below.  I have several books that contain promises from the Bible, and I would love to help you find the right one to proclaim over your life.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lucinda Bassett Truth Be Told Book Review

I was recently given an opportunity to read the prologue and introduction to Truth Be Told, a memoir by the well-known and renowned godmother of self-help and empowerment, Lucinda Bassett.  Although I am familiar with her work generally, I was unaware of the devastating personal loss she suffered just a few years ago when her husband committed suicide.

As I began reading, I was immediately pulled in by the vivid description of the emotional whirlwind that losing a loved one to suicide inevitably produces.  Having seen two very close friends lose loved ones to suicide - one, a husband and another, a father - I know firsthand that there is no loss like it.  The healing process is a completely different kind of road.  In just the few short pages I read, Ms. Bassett evoked that same emotion as she described the freight train of emotion with which she and her family have dealt and will continue to deal for years to come.

The picture she paints is of a family torn asunder, completely shredded by their loss, and unsure of how to even begin putting the pieces back together.  Based only on the first few pages, it is my opinion that this book, which undoubtedly has served to help Ms. Bassett begin to sort through the tumultuous emotions evoked by losing a loved one to suicide, will also help others to process their feelings and, perhaps most importantly, to accept that what they are feeling is okay, even if it doesn't always make sense.

I look forward to reading the rest of Truth Be Told in the near future.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pregnant Interview - Part One

Weeks of worrying about the first real interview for a full-time attorney position that I have had since graduating from law school came to a head this afternoon. At precisely 3 p.m., I jumped in the car and made the short 25-minute drive to Tyson's Corner. (For those of you who are wise enough not to live in a place like the greater D.C. Metro area, a 25-minute commute is like a fairy tale. My current commute is about three times as long.)

I have been both worried and excited about this day since I first got the invitation to come interview. Of course, any interview is bound to make a person nervous. That is just the nature of the beast. But for me, in my situation, it's even more terrifying because so much is riding on it.

First of all, I want my sister to move to Virginia and be our nanny, but if I don't have a job that pays enough, it doesn't make sense to have her do that. Since I am already almost five months pregnant, something needs to happen soon or we are going to run out of time and have to find another solution.

Second, the job market for lawyers is so tight right now, and I have very little experience. It is hard enough to compete in this market, but factor in that you are new to everything, and you are really at a major disadvantage.

Third, and most obvious, is my very conspicuous and now unmistakable baby bump. Just in the last few days, people have started to comment on it, which makes me realize that gone are the days of people thinking I'm just packing a little extra chunk.

At the end of the day, however, interviewing when pregnant really shouldn't make that big of a difference.  I mean, let's face it, any company that hires a woman in her child-bearing years is taking on the risk that she will be needing maternity leave at some point in the future.  Yes, it's a long time for an employee to be out, but at the same time, if the woman is good enough at what she does, a good employer will recognize that.

So, I went to my interview, which was conducted by a man and a woman, co-owners of the title company.  They were fantastic about everything.  They did not seem at all put off by the fact that I am pregnant, and I know they knew because I saw the woman look at my belly and because we discussed it later in the interview.  (They really shouldn't have mentioned it, but I'm okay with long as I get the job!)  But it really didn't seem to be a big deal, and towards the end of the interview, the man interviewing me told me that they were very impressed with me and with my attitude.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether they actually offer me the job.  They did promise to let me know by Friday either way, so until then, I am planning to enjoy my week off in anticipation that I will soon be working full-time at a non-temp job.  Tune in on Friday for "The Pregnant Interview - Part Two," when I will reveal the outcome!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

Knowing which cloth diapering method to use for a newborn can be tricky.  There are so many different ways to diaper and so many different kinds of diapers that finding just the right one for any occasion can be tricky.  Having scoured the web for opinions and advice on just this subject, I am now bringing together what I have learned from the many wonderful resources out there, to help you decide how to diaper your newborn.

Cloth diapering a newborn can be more challenging than diapering slightly older babies because (1) they do A LOT of peeing and pooping in those early days; (2) everything that comes out tends to be pretty runny; and (3) newborns are so itty bitty.  Therefore, it is necessary to have a diapering method that takes all of this into account.

There are several different cloth diapering methods available, so it is best to really explore your options first.  The basics are prefolds, fitteds, pocket diapers, and all-in-one diapers.  Prefolds are the old school - but still popular - diapers that are divided into thirds with an extra-absorbent layer in the middle.

If you use prefolds for your newborn, you will also need to use Snappis or some other kind of diaper fastener to keep them nice and snug on your teeny baby.  You can also use fitteds, which are similar in shape and design to disposable diapers.

Whether you use prefolds or fitted diapers, you will need a waterproof cover for them.  For newborns, one of the most recommended covers is the Thirsties Diaper Cover, which has double gussets around the legs which provide extra protection against leaks.  Alternatively, the Thirsties Duo Wrap has similar features but is  available in just two sizes that you can use from birth to potty-training.  There are also a ton of other brands out there to try, but Thirsties seem to be the most popular for newborns.  The inside of the cover can be wiped out, which means you don't need as many as you would with other types.

In addition to prefolds and fitteds, you can also use pocket diapers or all-in-one diapers.  Pocket diapers are diapers that have a pocket that you can stuff with a liner of some sort or with a prefold diaper.  All-in-one diapers are diapers that come with the liners inside and are, as the name suggests, a one-piece diaper.  The all-in-ones, while convenient, are also the most expensive.

For some reason, I fell in love with the prefolds, and I plan to use them with covers and with pocket diapers.  I will probably try some all-in-ones at some point in the future.  If you are looking for more diapers to try, check out my Giveaways page for the most recent giveaways around the web.  You can enter to win cloth diapers, baby gear, and more, and you can also find a ton of honest reviews on all different brands and kinds of diapers.

Visiting the Brick and Mortar Cloth Diaper Stores

My husband Jesse travels A LOT for work, something that has become more difficult for me to deal with since I became pregnant.  I mean, I always miss him when he is away, but being with child makes me want him here for every little thing, even if it's just me telling him that the baby is moving.  (We're still at least several weeks from him being able to feel the movements, so there really is no legitimate reason for me to want him physically here instead of on Face Time.)

One of the benefits of him traveling, however, is that at some point, he starts to feel bad for trotting the globe while I pine for him at home.  So, last week, on a call from Finland, he promised to take me shopping to Abby's Lane, a cloth diapering store in Manassas, Virginia.  It was my first time in a cloth diaper store, and it was so much fun!  Seeing all those diapers in one place, with about a hundred different colors and designs, just made me so excited to start using them.  Jesse, of course, was not quite as excited as I was, but he did pick out a couple of diapers that he would like to see in the stash once we figure out if we're buying for a guy or a gal.

Sadly, Abby's Lane is closing their store location and going online only in April, and there are no other cloth diaper stores nearby.  Of course, there are plenty of online retailers, but there is something so amazing about being in the store, surrounded by all those adorable diapers!

If you are trying to locate a cloth diaper retailer, you can find a full listing, along with store type, features, brands, and more, offered by Padded Tush Stats.  If you do have a brick and mortar store nearby and are considering cloth diapers, I strongly recommend that you go check them out in person.  They are absolutely adorable, and you will fall in love!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Professional Maternity Clothes that Won't Break the Bank

Inexpensive Professional Maternity Clothes This past weekend, I headed to the outlet center in nearby Leesburg to try to locate appropriate interview maternity clothes. I am interviewing for an attorney position next week, so my attire must be very professional.

I dug through rack after rack at the Motherhood Maternity outlet, searching for a nice blazer or suit, but all I found was a nice pair of pants. None of the tops were formal enough, so I headed home with my pants and jumped online.

Well, it turns out that Motherhood Maternity does sell some very nice blazers. Unfortunately, the cheapest I could find was ON SALE for $100. I don't even pay that much for clothes I can wear during the majority of my life when I'm not pregnant.

So I kept up the search, and the more I looked, the more I realized that if a woman wants to maintain her professional experience throughout her pregnancy, she has to really be ready to shell out some serious cash. I suppose if you are a pregnant professional, this might not be too much of a hardship. But when you're still pursuing the opportunity to be one, like me at this point, that is a ridiculous amount of money to spend. What's worse is that other sites were selling blazers for 2-3 times as much. Who would buy that? But I guess people do.

Anyway, I was not about to admit defeat. I kept scouring the Web, and I found a few stores and/or websites where you can purchase professional maternity clothes for a reasonable price.  Also, I found that sometimes the best way to complete the outfit is to go for a nice shirt or blouse and just top it off with a basic, non-maternity blazer.  I am 4 months along, and I plan to wear one of my pre-prego blazers - unbuttoned, of course - over a nice red top.  If you are further along, you might need to buy a size or two bigger, but you don't necessarily have to purchase a maternity blazer.  Selecting a jacket with higher buttons allows you the option of just buttoning one and leaving the rest open.  Or, just leave them all unbuttoned.

There are a lot more options for affordable maternity shirts, including Kohl'sGap, and even Motherhood Maternity.

There were only two stores where I found nice blazers for under the $50 price point: Target and Matriarch Maternity.  Although they do not offer a ton of options, they do have the basic black that you can pair with pretty much anything.  If none of these work for you, my advice is to stock up on the cheaper, professional tops and pants and move out of the maternity department for your jackets.  Kohl's, JCPenney, and a lot of other stores have great suit separates for a fraction of what the maternity stores charge.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Commercial Blues

Inappropriate Super Bowl commercials force parental screening It is Super Bowl Sunday, and this mama is excited for the big game!  I am an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which my husband, not a sports fan at all, tolerates well.  Our living room is filled with Steelers gear - a blanket commemorating their sixth Super Bowl win, a clock, several framed paintings, and even a gnome dressed in Steelers overalls and balancing on a steel beam.  To say that I am obsessed would be an understatement.

This year, I will be watching the Super Bowl at home with just Oliver and Stella, our two dogs.  Jesse got called away on a business trip and is currently running around Europe trying to keep several different parties happy, which means he is going to miss the Super Bowl, a circumstance that I found devastating and he found irrelevant.

I was particularly looking forward to our yearly tradition of plunking ourselves in front of the television, me with eyes and ears focused and him with a book or laptop or something to entertain him through the game.  Because this is our last childless Super Bowl, I mentioned a few weeks ago how sad it is that we will soon have to begin leaving the room when the commercials come on during the game.  Jesse initially dismissed this idea on the grounds that Super Bowl commercials really "aren't that bad."  So, like any good wife, instead of insisting on my position, I directed him to a few choice specimens of debauchery, told him to take a few minutes to watch them, and if he still thought it was appropriate for a child's eyes (or mine for that matter), I would defer to his decision.

Needless to say, it didn't take long for him to come around to my way of thinking.

The whole situation just makes me so angry.  My whole life I have looked forward to introducing my children to football and spending hours together over the years, teaching them and watching with them, just like my dad did with me.  It irritates me no end to think that I will have to turn the channel or move my child away from the television every time a commercial comes on during what is probably the biggest sports event of the year.

Families all across the country sit down on Super Bowl Sunday and watch the game together.  It comes on early enough that most kids are up for at least the first half, maybe a little longer.  I am a firm believer in sticking to a routine, but even I plan to allow my children to stay up for the whole game if the Steelers are in there.  There are so many reasons that the commercials should be held to a higher standard during the game.

Now, believe me, I am a firm supporter of freedom of speech and expression, and I do not think it - or anything else, for that matter - should be over-regulated by the government.  As a Christian woman, I believe that it is my duty to help others see what I see in being a Christian and help them come to know Jesus.  In time, people will make the right decisions for the right reasons.  Forcing their hands is never a long-term solution.

However, something really needs to be done about the blatant sexual nature of so many of the Super Bowl commercials.  Every year, it gets worse.  Ironically, the biggest outcry over a Super Bowl commercial came from the Tim Tebow/Focus on the Family commercial a few years ago.  Where is the outcry over Danica Patrick doing a striptease?

Sure, it is my responsibility as a parent to see that my child is protected from such things.  This, however, should be a reason to keep my little ones from watching HBO or Showtime, not the Super Bowl on network television.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pregnant Shopping Day Ups and Downs

Pregnant Shopping Ups and Downs I ventured out in search of an interview outfit today.  I have a job interview coming up in less than two weeks, the first legitimate interview I have had since graduating from law school a year and  a half ago.  I am wondering how to approach the pregnancy issue with them.  I am far enough along, and big enough, that they should notice, and I don't plan to go to any great lengths to hide my belly because that feels dishonest.

I know that employers are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, but as a lawyer, I also know that there is a huge difference between what the law prohibits and what you can prove actually happened.  Much like certain types of racial discrimination, it is nearly impossible to prove what someone's motives were in a pregnancy discrimination situation.  How can anyone say definitively what was going on in someone else's head?

My search for clothes is only half over.  I did find some super-cute pants that fit me really nicely at the Motherhood Maternity outlet.  They were about half what I would expect to pay in a regular store, and they are petites, which means that unlike most of my pants, I can just wear them without pinning or hemming...or tripping.  The search continues for a top, but I am hoping Target will have what I need.  That is a search for another day.  I do have some nice blazers that I could wear with the pants, but buttoning them is just not an option anymore.

After my clothing strikeout, however, I had time to do some more fun things.  I went to Michael's and picked out two skeins of yarn.  I bought yarn for making baby wipes, which I have never done before but plan to try.  I picked Lion Brand Baby's First yarn in Beanstalk for my first batch of wipes.  The yarn is super-soft, thick, and absorbent, and of course machine-washable and dryable.  If they turn out well, I plan to buy more colors, just to keep it interesting.  

I also bought a skein of yarn for making burp cloths.  For the burp cloths, I plan to use Bernat Baby Blanket yarn.  I bought one skein of white, and I plan to buy one or two more in other colors once we know whether we are having a little boy or a little girl.  (20 days!)  The yarn is also very soft, perfect for wiping little mouths and chins, and it is thick enough to make a very absorbent cloth.  It also has the ultimate necessary feature of being machine washable and dryable.

Finally, I picked up four Snappis from another Craigslist user.  (In case you haven't read my other blog posts, I am a big fan of shopping via Craigslist.)  The Snappis, though used, are in perfect condition, and they only set me back $3.00.  All in all, it turned out to be a great shopping day.

Incidentally, my husband thinks I am a little nuts because I have decided to try cloth diapering and resusable wipes.  He is always supportive of saving money, but he also would not mind spending the extra dough for disposable diapers and wipes.  I keep telling him that I want a Ford Flex after the baby comes, and this is just one more way of saving towards a more family-friendly vehicle.  (We have two dogs, both of whom accompany us on most of our trips, so we are going to need to find some way to split up the dogs and the baby anyway.)  

I am so excited to prove him and the other naysayers wrong!  I am practicing now on stuffed animals to get my technique down, and I am working on a laundry system to make sure that I have enough time to do diapers without letting it get ahead of me.  By the end of the first couple months, I think I may even have some converts to the cloth diapering way of life!

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Book Review of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinIndependently+Obtained

Garth Stein weaves a heartbreaking tale as seen through the eyes of a dog named Enzo.  The story itself is somewhat devastating and was, at times, frustrating to read because of its stark injustice.  Sometimes, I almost wanted to put it down because it was too sad, but Enzo's narration always provided some kind of relief just in time.  I am so glad that I stuck with it to the end.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is so much more than a story told from a dog's perspective.  It challenges us to look at the roles that dogs play in our lives and how their perceptions are sometimes as great as or better than our own, though their means of communication may be limited.

This is a must-read for dog lovers everywhere...and for those who have not yet been fortunate enough to understand what makes dog lovers love their dogs so much.

Book Review: College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom

Book Review of College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom by Emily TomkoPress+Sample  May+Contain+Affiliate+Links

This book takes a hard look at what kids really face, not just when they leave home for college, but anywhere outside the home. Without sugar-coating in the name of tolerance, College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom calls for an examination of where Christians draw the lines and reminds readers that they must always guard themselves against the chipping away of their faith. 

Although geared towards college students, the lessons of this book apply to Christians of all ages and are a valuable reminder of how easy it is to fall away from God.  The struggles of protagonist Molly are the same struggles that Christians of all ages face every day, and her battle to separate herself from the world is one that must be fought not just once or twice in a lifetime, but continuously and daily.

Even non-Christian readers, especially parents, would do well to take a lesson from this book and learn to look for warning signs in their own children.  Today's young generation faces so much temptation to engage in risky behaviors like sex, drugs, alcohol, and more.  This book helps prepare parents so that they, in turn, can help to prepare their children to make good decisions.

Inexpensive Cures for Cabin Fever

Cures for Cabin Fever: Cheap or free ways to entertain your kids I have two nieces who live in Pennsylvania, and when they come to visit, I always make it a point to have a lot of activities planned.  That way, by the time that last hour before bedtime rolls around, everyone is good and tired, and everyone is set up to sleep through the night.  When it is cold outside, many of the traditional free activities, like walks or trips to the playground, are no longer viable options.  Playing inside can be nice for a time, but nothing wears a little one out and ensures a good night's sleep for all better than some mini-field trips.

Unfortunately, many activities these days can cost a bundle.  A trip to the movies - even if you forego the popcorn, which I refuse to accept as possible - can set you back $7.00 or more a person.  Zoos and aquariums, depending on size and location, can be as much or even more.  Indoor playgrounds often come at a steep price, as well, not to mention a nerve-wracking place for a parent trying to teach kindness.  I have taken my oldest niece to two different indoor playgrounds.  Both times, I had to remove her from situations where other children were downright nasty to her, and the parents were nowhere to be found.

In an effort to save money and my own peace of mind, I came up with a handful of free places to take the girls when they visit (and eventually my own little one when he or she arrives in July).  One of my favorite standbys is Chick-fil-A, where you can usually count on finding a decent-sized play area, complete with twisty slide, ball pit, and more.  You can sit and enjoy some chicken strips while the little ones have a blast   Most of the time, managers will not complain if you want to hang out for a little while, even if you don't order anything.  Personally, I can't go to Chick-fil-A and NOT order something.

Along these same lines, check out your local malls.  Often the bigger ones will have a nice play area with all kinds of toys and equipment.  Any time you can find a place that is free and allows you to sit and still have your child in sight at all times, take advantage of it.

Another great place to take the kiddos is the local pet store.  The best pet stores are the ones that sell all types of animals - birds, mice, ferrets, lizards, fish, etc.  The kids will constantly have some new and exciting kind of animal to check out, and this can mean a good hour or two of entertainment, depending on the ages of the children and their interest in animals.  My youngest niece loves animals and could probably spend a whole day in a pet store just watching the animals.  Instead of paying $15 - $20.00 at the zoo, we just hang out at the pet store for free.

I also will sometimes take the girls to the local dollar store and let them mill around the toy department.  Dollar General is my favorite of all the dollar or discount stores because it usually has a large toy selection, and the toys are actually of decent quality.  For slightly older children, maybe around age 3 or 4, it can be fun to take them to the dollar store and tell them to pick one toy.  There is enough of a selection to keep them looking for a while, and it gives you an opportunity to teach them a nice little life lesson about not having EVERYTHING that they want.

I would love to hear from other people with their ideas and tips for keeping the kiddos entertained through the long winter months.

Book Review: Shymers by Jennifer Naumann

Book Review of Shymers by Jennifer NaumannPress+Sample 

I won a free copy of Shymers in a book giveaway on, which was awesome.  I have to say that it sucked me in right from the very beginning.  The characters were believable, and I could identify with their emotions.  I also loved the suspense of the book and all the buildup to the resolution.

What I did not like was that there was no resolution.  Unless I somehow ended up with a copy that was missing the final pages, this book left me with the same disappointed and searching feeling that I experienced when I discovered there was no Season Two of Dirty Sexy Money.  (Don't judge me.)  So many questions were left unanswered.  Maybe if this were a different kind of book that would be okay.  But in a futuristic, science-fiction novel, the reader should not be expected to try to figure out the ending.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and the author's writing. I just think that she owes us a sequel and some answers. (Hint, hint.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Planning Ahead for Cloth Diapering

How to get cheap or free cloth diapers before baby is born Today, I am celebrating 17 weeks as a mama-to-be.  I have a long way to go, but in many ways, my pregnancy is flying by!  I can certainly see why God gave us 9 months to prepare because there is so very much to do.

I got turned on to cloth diapering - something I never even thought I would consider - when I stumbled onto a post entitled How to Use Cloth Diapers.  It all just seemed so easy, so I continued to do research and soon decided to give it a try.  Because I have lots of time to plan ahead, I have been able to really minimize my costs and to think through how best to make cloth diapers fit into our lives.

My husband and I both work full-time - usually more than full-time, in fact - so I know if we are going to make cloth diapering work, I have to have enough diapers to get me through about 2 days so I am not constantly doing laundry.  I am hoping we will have a nanny who can assist with the wash, but it will depend on whether or not I am able to get into a better-paying job.  I wish I could stay home and take care of all of these things myself, but I also want the security of knowing that if something were to happen to my husband, I would be able to provide for our child(ren).  Maybe someday...sigh.

When I first started pricing diapers, I was blown away by the cost.  Of course, I didn't know yet where I should be looking, or how many different options there were, so I was kind of flying blind.  More research helped me decide that I wanted to use prefolds and covers, much like the ones pictured on the blog referenced above.  For some reason, I just love the way they look, and I felt I could be comfortable using them.

I got on Craigslist and found some great deals.  One woman sold me 50 diapers - 35 that will last me from newborn to about 18 pounds and 15 that will last me the rest of the time.  Remember, you do not need diapers in every single size there is.  You can fold down the diaper to the correct size before folding into the middle.  (Again, see very helpful cloth diapering guide.)  She also threw in 4 covers and 2 rolls of flushable liners, which are really great for rolling up that poop and flushing it away.  All of this cost me $100.  I wanted to be extra prepared, so I also bought 12 8-18 pound prefolds from another Craigslist user for $15.  I now have all the prefolds I will ever need - and far more than a stay-at-home mom would need.

The first seller had never used her diapers.  They were a gift, but she never got into the cloth diapering.  The diapers had already been treated and could not be returned, so she was happy to unload these brand new diapers, and I am thrilled to have them.  The second seller was a huge fan of cloth diapering and had used the diapers on both of her children.  (I couldn't believe how new and white the diapers looked after two babies!)  She was so nice and sent me a long list of resources and places to buy, as well as tips on cleaning.

One of the best tips she gave me was to look for online giveaways, something I had not yet thought to explore for cloth diapers.  A quick search led me to a site with links to tons of baby gear giveaways, not to mention a ton of other great information.  I have spent the last few days entering giveaways like crazy and waiting to hear all the great things I have won.  I will post updates as I win, which I am sure will be happening soon!

Because I am starting now, I have a lot of time to spend entering giveaways and, hopefully, winning!  By the time I really need to start purchasing the rest of the diaper covers I want/need, or at least putting them on the registry, I may already have received enough to get me through.

I also have taken some time to locate the right diaper pail.  The one I plan to use is the Bambino Mio diaper pail, which has a locking lid.  I plan to take it along with me on weekend trips, which we do a lot of since our families are out-of-state, so I don't have to use disposables every time we go away.  It is small enough to fit into the trunk, and the locking lid will keep the odors - and the diapers, of course - in on the ride home.