How to Tell Gender on Baby Clothes

This past week I have been trying to complete Baby’s wardrobe.  Since my husband and I decided not to find out the gender, I have been searching for gender-neutral clothing.  It’s been a harder search than I expected.   While baby-stuff designers have a wide selection of gender-neutral baby gear like strollers and bedding, they apparently aren’t very interested in designing gender-neutral clothes.  Sometimes the differences between boy and girl are extremely subtle, but they still sneak them in.

First, let’s talk colors.  White, yellow, green, light grey, and sometimes light blue are generally accepted as gender neutral colors.  Pink and purple are considered girl colors.  Black, blue, and dark blue are considered to be boy colors.

However, the color rules can be thrown out with the help of things like ruffles and graphics.

Take this basic onesie:

onesie

The blue would indicate that it’s a boy onesie.  However, if you throw on some ruffles . . .

girl onesie

BAM–Girl onesie.  Ruching has the same effect.

Here’s another example:

neutral onesieThis is a fine, gender-neutral onesie.  However, if you throw on a cutesy saying. . .

boy onesieBAM–Boy onesie!  Aside from the cutesy sayings, other graphics have a surprising effect on basic baby clothes.  Flowers, butterflies, and kittens indicate girl clothes.  Put on things like puppies, space ships, and any sort of machinery, and you have boy clothes.

Pants are by far the funniest article of clothing to have gender associations.  For obvious reasons, pink and purple pants are reserved for girls.  However, basic black and grey pants are still labeled as boy pants–unless you throw some ruffles on them.

pants

Jeans work in a similar way.

Anyway, building a full wardrobe for our unknown-gendered baby has proven to be a challenge.  I’ve been buying quite a few boy clothes that I feel are basic enough to pass as girl clothes.  Don’t worry though, I have a plan to make any boy outfit into a girl outfit–hair bows!

But let’s face it, people don’t really pay attention to what a baby is wearing and give the baby whatever gender they want.

should be a boy


Fact: You Can Still Fall Behind Even When You Aren’t Working

While preparing for this recent move, I started making big plans about how I would use my time, especially before Baby arrives.  Since I only have a small writing gig that takes about a half-day’s work to complete (if I’m on task), I thought that I would never fall behind on my work.

I would keep a tidy house.  I would write on this blog 3 times a week, including a well-researched Introvert Monday post.  I would bake and cook delicious meals.  I would prepare everything for Baby.  I would be . . .

Super Homemaker

Of course, what I plan and what actually happens are generally two different things.  Sometimes I don’t focus on my work and fall into the abyss of the internet.  Sometimes Baby sucks my energy.  Sometimes I give into apathy and wonder what’s the point of maintaining an orderly house.  And apparently, sometimes I catch a horrible cold that makes me feel like I’m moving underwater right before I go visit my parents for the weekend, rendering me incapable of thinking prior to the trip and horribly behind on my projects when I get back.

The last reason is my excuse for the lack of posts these last two weeks.  But I’m almost caught up now. . . except that I need to start cooking dinner.


Finding Baby a Doctor

We’re 6 weeks out from my due date.  Because due dates are more like guidelines, that means we can reasonably expect Baby to arrive a month from now.  Of course, we can also just as reasonably expect Baby to show up two months from now because pregnancy is a fun like that.  Whee!

At any rate, my husband and I are getting to the point where our baby to-do list is rapidly increasing.  Despite the reassurances that all a baby really needs is your love and blah, blah, blah, there are some things that should probably be included in the baby’s life.  Healthcare is one of those things, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to find a doctor for Baby.

Like most things relating to infants, researching doctors is a frustrating combination of endless options and fear-mongering.  Do we go with a pediatrician or family doctor?  M.D. or D.O.?  What about a nurse-practitioner?  How should distance factor into our decision?

Then there’s pressure to find a doctor that fits with your parenting philosophy, adding a new slew of questions to figure out.  How does the doctor feel about breastfeeding?  About sleep training?  Vaccinations?  And this is all the more confusing because I haven’t figured out how we feel about these things.

So I started lamenting about my confusion to my husband over lunch one day.  He came up with a solution:

test

conclusion

While his method may be unorthodox, it does simplify the search process. . .


Meal Planning Booklet

When I was growing up, my mother made sure we had some sort of home cooked meal nearly every night.  She was very diligent about this.  Consequently, she would take the time every week to plan the dinner menu on a little slip of paper while making the grocery list.  I didn’t think much about it then, but now I realize how impressive her commitment to meal planning was because every magazine and every organizational blog recommends doing this as a way to get organized and save money.

Now that I’m back to manning the home front, that means I’m in charge of dinner most nights (admittedly, pregnancy is starting to catch up to me, so “making dinner” sometimes means giving a sad look at my husband when he comes home from work and asking him if he can make the planned dinner).  Since I’ve started to understand the value of meal planning, I try to write the dinner menu on our dry erase board before my weekly shopping trip.

For the most part this method has worked well (I used it on vicarage), but I realized that I was having problems remembering dishes I could make.  My mom saved her menu slips for reference and as a nanny, I wrote down the meal plan in my nanny planner.  But with the dry erase board system, I had no way to reference what recipes I had used in the past.

After spending way too long thinking of a meal plan the other day, I finally had an idea.  First, I cut up index cards into thirds and punched a hole for a ring.  On the front card, I color coded the meal categories I use.

DSCN2730

After that, I brainstormed all the meals I knew my husband and I liked and wrote one meal, color coded, on each card.

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I also didn’t bother to check my spelling.

If I didn’t have the recipe memorized, I made sure to note where to find the recipe.

DSCN2732

I then hooked it onto the refrigerator for easy access.  Ta-da!

??????????The idea behind the little booklet is that I have easy access to the meals I can make for dinner.  When I’m preparing the weekly meal plan, I can say to myself, “We’re not doing anything with chicken yet this week.  What can I make?” and then flip to the section with chicken meals.  Also, because of using a ring, I can easily add new meals to the booklet.  I’m pretty excited to use it!

How do you meal plan?


Introvert Monday: Phone Aversion

Phone adversion

In a fit of severe loneliness a few weeks ago, I asked one of my online communities for advice to cope with being a new person in a small town.  One of the suggestions that people mentioned several times was “phone dates” with close friends.  *Cringe*

I finally had to admit that I suffer from phone aversion.  It’s hard enough for me to get my act together and call people on a good day, it’s an impossible feat for me to do so when I’m feeling down.  After I admitted my aversion, several other people commented that they also had a tenuous relationship with their phones.  I wasn’t alone!

Then I remembered:  Introverts typically don’t like phone calls.  Don’t ask me why I always forget this, but it’s such a relief to know that my phone issues aren’t something unusual.

Why don’t introverts like the phone?

Marti Olsen Laney concisely describes introverts phone phobia in her book, The Introvert Advantage:

“Here’s how most introverts view the phone: It’s an interruption that drains energy and requires losing focus, which you have to gain again; it requires expending energy for “on-the-feet thinking”; it doesn’t provide innies with Hap Hits.*  Introverts can have so many dips of energy during the day that they are not able to expend energy at the drop of a hat.” (Pg. 184)

That jarring ring-tone ruins the focus that introverts like to maintain.  It’s a demand for a conversation that you’ve had no preparation for (when starting an impromptu conversation in person, at least you have a few moments to register that a person is coming towards you with the intention of talking).

Likewise, a huge chunk of non-verbal communication is taken away when on the phone.  One introvert describes it as, “There’s no ‘text and subtext, body language. . .I can’t “place myself” properly (if that makes sense), when it’s not face-to-face'” (The Introvert’s Way, pg. 66).  There’s no way for introverts to convey that their momentary silence may be that they are thinking about their response–there’s just awkward silence.  This can lead to either the other person continuously chatting and not letting the introvert get a word in or lead to the introvert panicking and creating a nonsensical monologue.  I find the latter usually happens to me.

How to cope with the phone

Fortunately for me, I actually don’t have many people that I feel I need to talk on the phone with–just immediate family and close friends (and even with the close friends, I’m pretty terrible at maintaining phone contact).  Because I have such a limited number of people who call me, I’ll generally answer if I can (actually making a phone call is another beast to deal with).

However, for those who aren’t so fortunate to have limited phone contact, here are some common tips:

  1. Let your voicemail pick up the message and call back during a set time.
  2. Schedule phone calls with friends and family so you have the proper amount of energy.
  3. Don’t be afraid to end the conversation when there’s nothing left to be said.
  4. Try to keep yourself free to move around when on the phone.  Hands-free sets can help.
  5. Encourage and utilize use of other forms of communication like e-mail or texting (realizing that sometimes it really is necessary to have a conversation over the phone!).

That being said, some tips don’t work for me personally, especially since I also have issues with technology.  Many introverts don’t mind using video chat like Skype because it allows them to see the other person.  I personally don’t like video chat, mostly because I find technology glitches incredibly frustrating and more distracting then dealing with awkward pauses on the phone.  Likewise, texting isn’t a great way of communication for me.  I still have a flip phone, so repeatedly pressing buttons to find the right letter gets tedious.  If a texting conversation gets too long, I’d rather save time and talk on the phone.  But I do love e-mail!

However, technology might be converting more people towards the introvert’s view on communication.  Sophia Dembling explains in The Introvert’s Way:

“Interestingly, society may actually be taking a turn toward our way of thinking.  According to Nielsen, we’re making fewer phone calls than we used to (we peaked in 2007), and in 2008 it reported that people were sending and receiving more texts with their mobile phones than they were making or receiving phone calls” (pg. 69).

Perhaps less phone chatting is in all of our futures!

How do you feel about phones?  Are you an introvert who doesn’t mind phone calls?  Are you an extrovert who abhors them?

*Hap Hits can be described as “hits of happiness”.


What We Can Remember and Learn from Our Persecuted Brothers and Sisters

Truth be told, I haven’t been closely following the story of ISIS’ actions in Iraq.  I can’t bring myself to read about the horrors unfolding there, but I know it’s bad.  It’s hard not to feel like pulling an ostrich move and hide when there’s nothing you can do to help.

However, there was a clear, concise blog post from the LCMS’ website tells us what we can do when hearing of horrible persecution across the world. 

So what does the post tell us that we can do?

Repent for our lack of faith, because there may very well be a day in which we are faced with similar persecution.  Learn from and pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Remember that as Christians, the world is not our home.  While Americans are blessed to live in a country to not face such deadly persecution, our real home is in heaven.

Ready ourselves for the time when our faith is put to the test.  Read the scriptures, study the catechism, and memorize hymns so we can have God’s comfort and strength on our lips on our days of suffering.

Rejoice in the work God has given us, even when it brings suffering and death.

Also, there is a link for a newly set up fund to help persecuted Christians.

And we continue to pray for those suffering in Iraq.  Kyrie Eleison.


Introvert Monday: Introverted Mothering

At nearly 32 weeks pregnant, the excitement and worry about the upcoming arrival of Baby is heightening.  One of my bigger concerns is the fact that motherhood is a 24/7 job.  I’ve worked with babies and toddlers through my daycare and nanny jobs.  I know how demanding and exhausting they can be.  On especially hard days, knowing that I could leave got me through quitting time.

But motherhood has no punch-out card.  Motherhood has no guaranteed breaks.  This is unsettling for my introverted self.  What if I can’t find the quiet time that I need?  How do I find that balance between caring for my child and having alone time?

Thankfully, I won’t be the only introverted parent on the planet.  Many introverted mothers have and currently are lovingly raising their children.

Obviously I can’t speak from experience about balancing motherhood and introversion.  However, I have been looking for advice on introverts surviving (and even enjoying) child-rearing.  Here are some of the top tips I’ve found so far:

1. Carve out alone time into every day.  Since introverts need alone time to recharge, it is vital that they get this time every day.  According to Marti Olsen Laney in The Introvert Advantage, “Focusing twenty-four hours a day on the needs of another being can be extraordinarily taxing.  Introverted moms need to find ways to take breaks and be completely alone or shift into a relaxing adult activity,” (pg. 135).   Making children’s nap time/quiet time a priority is a good way to make this happen.

2.  Don’t be afraid to tell your children “No”.  Sometimes keeping up with kids’ schedules, especially when you have several children or an extroverted child, can be exhausting.  That means to keep your sanity, you have to say “no” to some activities.  It could be a long term activity–like joining another sports team, or a one time thing–like playing tea party when all you want is 10 minutes of peace and quiet.

Sometimes this also means that you have to create rules that may seem strict to others.  I liked this author’s rules about no unnecessary noise.

3. Find social outings with your children that you are comfortable with.  Not to say that introverted mothers should never try something out of their comfort zone.  However, if a specific activity or social situation makes you perpetually uncomfortable, don’t force it.

One introverted mother stated in this Today Parents post, “It is somewhat selfish of me, but for the most part, my daughter only has play dates with kids whose moms I also connect with.”  Since the new norm in the world of  playdates is for the mothers to socialize while their children play, this can be draining if you don’t connect with the other mother.  She also advises bringing something like a book to activities to signal that she doesn’t want to make small talk.

4.  Don’t feel guilty about needing time away from your children.  Parenting requires sacrifice.  Your children need you, and that means giving up or cutting back on some things you enjoyed before children.  However, as an introvert, having time to quietly recharge will make you a happier, healthier mom.  That alone time may need to look different than before you had kids (i.e.–it’s at a different time of day, the location changes), but it still needs to be there. 

And as your children age, “It’s important to explain to your children that you feel drained by too many activities, that you need breaks to recharge your energy in a way they may not,” (The Introvert Advantage, pg. 149).  Even if they don’t understand immediately, you’ll introduce to them the fact that people have different temperaments.

Introversion and motherhood can coincide

Being an introverted mother can have it’s challenges (as does extroverted parenting).  However, introversion can also help with parenting.  Introverts may be able to better listen to their children when interacting with them one-on-one.  Likewise, they may overall take better to the enclosed world that parenting small children create.

Hopefully I can take my own advice come October.  🙂

DSCN1065

And remember, at least you’re not like a cat who can birth 7 kittens at once!

Are you an introverted parent?  How do you find a balance between your children and your introversion?  

 


Kitchen Adventures

Now that I have more free time than I often know what to do with and I’m not exhausted from chasing a toddler around half the week, I’ve been able to return to one of my preferred pastimes:  Trashing the Kitchen Cooking.

So what have I been cooking up the last few weeks?  A variety of things.  Some may call this “nesting”, but it’s hard to argue that some of the foods I’ve been working will really be useful after the baby comes.

I’ve been figuring out how to save and freeze fruits and veggies.  I wouldn’t recommend the technique I used for strawberries (they defrost with a very mushy texture), but the blueberries generally turn out well.

Our congregation members have already proven to be generous with their gardens’ bounties, so I’ve been freezing corn like crazy.  Likewise, we received a pile of cucumbers one day, so I made freezer pickles.  My husband and I opened the first container yesterday.  They don’t have quite the same crunch as pickles, but they have a pickley taste.  I can’t vouch for whether or not they taste good since I’m not a huge fan of pickles.  Also, onions were on sale at Aldi this past week, so now I have 3 pounds of onions to freeze.  I think the onions really throw out the whole nesting theory.

onions

Additionally, I’ve started baking bread again after taking an entire year off.  Since the Kitchen-aid mixer recipe I use makes two loaves, one goes in the freezer while the other goes in our tummies.  And this morning I finally started making freezer meals for when Baby comes.  Well, I made a freezer meal.  Now we’ll be set for one whole day after we get home from the hospital!

If this sounds like a lot of cooking , don’t be too amazed–I have a lot of free time.  That, and I have a tendency to ignore things like the fact that the toilet downstairs really needs to be cleaned. . .

Have you tried anything new in your kitchen recently?