Bring us a meal.

"Cranberry Pie Eating Champ"

1948 — Six-year-old Richard Baranski caresses a full belly after being crowned Cranberry Pie Eating Champion, upon eating a 10-inch cranberry pie in 15 seconds flat.. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

It may seem a bit old-fashioned, and in the past I haven’t been great at it, but from this day forward I resolve to be ready. When a friend or acquaintance experiences a major life event or a time of stress, I will take that family a meal.

Having dinners delivered has been muy, mucho helpful to us during the last several weeks. We set up a calendar on ( is a similar option) so that when friends expressed interest in helping out, Israel could easily send the link, where they could claim a date and find our address and other pertinent information.

Meal planning remains one of my . . . areas for improvement, shall we say. When faced with the upcoming week’s menu and shopping list, I inevitably develop mental paralysis. So not thinking about dinner has been a special, sweet gift enhancing the flavor of all the food we’ve received.

Based on our experience in the past month or so, I’ll try to remember a few things when I make dinner for someone in the future:

  • Breakfast items instead of or in addition to dinner are wonderful. One friend brought quiche. Nice touch.
  • Skip the salad greens. After the first couple days, we had several bags languishing in the fridge. I’ll have to think of an easy alternative side dish.
  • YES to disposable plates, napkins, utensils; which are also useful as props and costumes.
  • Related: use disposable pans or tupperware you don’t want back. Unless you’re a pretty close friend and willing to swing by to pick up your dishes. And possibly clean them yourself.
  • Take-out is more than FINE, and likely delicious. I won’t feel guilty if I don’t have time to whip up something homemade. When our friend brought Peruvian chicken with all the sides, it was one of the best meals we got. (Even if it wasn’t, bottom line, I didn’t have to think about dinner!)
  • Tell the recipient: No thank you note. Though I love thank you notes, friends, I’ve made peace with texting a heartfelt thank you that includes a picture of Jack. Note writing somewhat defeats the purpose of taking something off the mama’s plate. (Taking something off her plate by putting something on her plate! Get it? Nice.)
  • Several weeks after the event? Never too late. We are still in receive-every-form-and-offer-of-help mode. (Sarah brought us dinner tonight, which allows me to finish this post. The internet groans a hearty thank you, I’m sure!)
  • Bottle of wine? Absolutely.

What else would you add?

Really, the above are side issues. To state the main problem, I need a go-to dinner I can pull out of my back pocket that’s relatively easy and universally yummy.

And we may have a winner. My friend Katherine brought a crock pot dish using a recipe she got from our friend Megan. I might’ve been especially hungry that night, but it hit the spot, like whoa. Here’s the recipe, direct from Megan’s email:

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Just throw some boneless chx breasts, a jar of salsa, a package of taco seasoning, lime juice and cilantro into a slow cooker for 6 hours. It’s amazing. You can shred and put on tortillas or serve over rice.

Ease McCheese. Katherine served this over a mixture of rice and black beans, along with a yummy salad (that she’d premixed instead of leaving in the bag, which made a difference). Ugh. So good. And so were the chocolate chip cookies that we—literally—devoured.

What’s your best dinner to deliver? I’d love to know.

Mama Camp in Charlottesville (+ packing lists)

 photo 65B5C4AB-786B-4191-B502-3C45BC07FDC3_zpsz7cg0did.jpg photo 673D12FC-9C11-4730-9E96-00629D3357E1_zps6k4j92ca.jpg photo BAA43F63-1F8F-4533-A4D6-360947972A4D_zpsbgerduog.jpg  photo C838B2AB-C302-44C3-AAD6-00702C072B68_zpsajjg9xkb.jpgAt the start of the month, I joined three of my best friends from college in our college town, Charlottesville—AKA the best city in America—because we hadn’t seen one another in way too long. The most effective way that I explained it to Mary Tobin was that it would be camp for mamas.

And I highly recommend Mama Camp! Should you find yourself packing for something similar, here are some ideas for what you might need:

    • Your cutest shirts and dresses to show off for your fashionable friends (i.e. the only two cute tops you like right now, and in my case: muumuus).
    • A selection from the huge basket of beanie babies at your mom’s house, to send home with your friends for their kids. (Side note: the new beanie babies with huge eyes are terrifying.)
    • Comfy jammies for lounging and chatting.
    • The most outrageous rental car you can find, to embarrass your friends.
    • Some ideas about what you’d like to accomplish. Our to-do list included:
      • Coffee
      • Bodo’s (the bagel place)
      • The Lawn
      • Take It Away (the sandwich place)
      • Wine
      • Chatting
      • Basil gimlet from Mas Tapas

As you see, the three essential factors we considered were food, drink, and shady, lovely spots to sit and chat. The weather was glorious. We ate two delectable dinners at Zocalo (on Charlottesville’s downtown mall) and Tavola (in Belmont), and spent a beautiful afternoon at King Family Vineyards.

We discussed:

  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • How disgusting our dorm rooms were and how we’ve grown in the area of cleanliness.
  • Using regular clothes as maternity clothes and maternity clothes as regular clothes.
  • Birkenstocks
  • Flare jeans
  • Shows on Netflix and Amazon. My pick is Catastrophe. So so funny.
  • Beauty products
  • Schools, work, career paths, health, and many items and details that will remain in the circle of trust.

We always find our friend Anna Kate, though she often doesn’t realize it, to be a source of great recommendations: cute clothes, pajamas, Madewell jeans, dry shampoo, chic diaper bags, something to put in the carseat or stroller to keep it cool in the deathly heat (AK or SB, give us the deets on that, please!).

Our friend Ansley gets the trooper award, since she had some kind of stomach bug and was not feeling 100% all weekend. You could hardly tell since she remained her bright cheerful self, but we gave her a hard time for drinking less wine than the pregnant lady (if you lost track: that’s me).

Our friend Elizabeth is the encouraging one who will always tell you how great and cute and smart you are, and that you should write a book. She’s the one who told me to share on the blog my quick tip for packing up the family, which is simply this: I typed up our master Packing List on Evernote (but it could just be in Word on your computer) that I print out for every trip and modify for the occasion.
 photo C098993B-5792-44F5-A628-BEFD8CC22215_zpsvrdtxgmi.jpg photo 09632844-3B58-479B-A2B1-8711F1714327_zpsy3eo1f80.jpgI’m not yet a professional packer, but this way I don’t have to think through all the randomness every time we go somewhere. Some of our essentials, for example, are the girls’ special pillow cases, the noise phone, and cuddle guys. (What’s on your list?)

I think that’s all. I am a professional mama and this was an excellent professional development trip. Write it off!

Doctor’s Orders, or, Another Note for a New Mom

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Fresh out the kitchen. In her going home outfit. No post birth pics of me.

Talking about Christmas cards— last year I took one of our birth announcement Christmas cards to give the nurse practitioner who was conducting our follow up appointment, three weeks or so after Inez was born. She was delighted to receive it, but chastised me for having done birth announcements already, when I should’ve been resting.

The truth is that I was resting; I had plenty of family around helping, and I was excited about the cards! It’s out of character for me to be that organized and on top of things, but it’s not out of character to ditch housework in favor of a couple hours surfing the web and looking at card designs, then placing an order. Addressing is more work, but I passionately love mail.

Anyway, the result of all this was that Amy, the NP, wrote me a doctor’s note excusing me from household responsibilities for SIX MONTHS!

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Another aside: Amy actually witnessed Inez’ birth and was the one who kept encouraging Mama Rote to take pictures. Mom was kind of like, um, well, I don’t know if she wants pictures. The Pollyanna nurse persisted. (All this out of range of my hearing.) So finally Mom spoke up: “Jos, do you want pictures of this?”


(I’m not anti-birth pictures, but you know, it’s just not me. Also, at that point in labor—probably at its most intense—the pictures from Mom’s vantage point would have been my butt in the air, so. No thanks.

NONETHELESS, this nurse was the sweetest and the best, and made me feel the beauty and gravity of birth just by her enthusiastic presence and communicating that she was honored to be part of it. Come to think of it, that was a consistent phenomenon. Everybody around—the girls at the front desk, nurses, midwives, family—everybody was so pumped and excited, which one should be about a baby being born; while I felt like I would die. Oh dear. Back to the postpartum checkup.

Obviously I put that doctor’s note on the fridge, for Israel’s benefit. Amy’s point was that it’s plenty of work to keep two kids alive, particularly if one of them is depending entirely on me and my body for nourishment (i.e. breastfeeding, i.e. nursing). As with pregnancy, your body is doing hard work with or without your conscious consent.  It’s so easy to forget, so easy to feel guilty, and so difficult to ask for the support you need.

Even if I wasn’t nursing, birth is a heck of a thing for one’s body to recover from. Read this article about postpartum care and practices in other cultures and how the American version, or lack thereof, sucks. We no longer have the “lying in” period that many other countries maintain. What would help? I’m not sure if the policy prescriptions the author recommends at the end would be as helpful as a cultural shift—but how do you achieve that? Maybe policy changes, maybe business owners giving more generous parental leave to both parents, maybe a dramatic restructuring of our healthcare system (I find healthcare so confusing, blergh.). For a start, and something that feels more achievable, we can try to help each other out, try to build community even when it feels daunting.

If you know any new moms, you can tell them about this article, and feel free to pass along my doctor’s note from Amy. She did not succeed with the birthing photography, but her admonition to rest was right on.

A note for a new mom.

 photo 3D577B5C-1378-47FE-9537-19DC5B299857_zpspptzfghu.jpg You know it by now: the days are long, the years are short.

Sometimes I’ll write about parenting tips and things that I find helpful. I love reading about that stuff, and I figure a lot of you do, too. At the same time, probably nothing in my life has evoked feelings of insecurity as much as becoming a mother. (It’s also brought a new sense of empowerment and unparalleled joy—I guess they’re all mixed in.) So. It’s obvious, we’ll all make different decisions as parents and in life, but the truth is, that can make me nervous. I’m faced with the reality of how highly I value what other people think, when I realize that I’m doing things differently than other mothers.

I have enjoyed reading the baby books, the child development material, parenting articles, websites, blogs. (Again, following Uncle Steve’s advice: get a lot of advice, then do what you want!) It’s an important task—raising kids—so it’s important to make considered decisions about how to go about it. I want to do my best . . . but ultimately it becomes a big lesson in trust and giving up control.

This morning I wrote a quick note on a slip of paper to send my friend Ashley who’ll be bringing home a newborn in a couple days. (Eeeeps!!) Ash and I have discussed parenting styles and decisions (in theory), and as with other friends, I’ve said, hey, don’t worry if we do things differently. Before our family moved, I passed along to her a stack of baby books with the disclaimer that several of them contradict one another, so she’ll just have to decide what she wants to do.

But the note I wrote this morning contained my most practical, best advice. So I decided to copy it here:

“He . . . set my feet upon a rock making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
Psalm 40:2-3

Ash, I’d written this verse out for myself as a reminder that God makes my steps secure in motherhood—of course we won’t be perfect, but we know God’s taking care of us. I pray that you will feel utterly confident (in yourself, but more in God’s provision) as you get to know Towns!

And, my fave parenting strategy: ask God for wisdom every day. He promises to give it (James 1:5).

I love you!

If you want to know what I think, that’s it. Thanks for letting me keep it real, dear reader. Maybe next time I’ll be back with some snarky judgmental thoughts on kids’ television habits. [wink.] Love y’all.

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‘Round Here

Remember when I talked about posting more often? Haha. Ha.

Not that you care.

Today, I’ll tell you, the infant stage is not my favorite, though it’s precious. I feel tired. Shocker. Even when my mom visited us for a week and did all the work and the cooking, I still felt tired. While she was here, I was working on a post about sleep routines and tricks . . . not for babies, but for me! I had written a lot of disjointed sentences, and stared at them thinking I’d now be able to reorder and weave them together logically like I’d do when writing a paper in college, but—no good. Lesson: Obviously I wasn’t sleeping as well as I thought and should’ve been napping at that moment.

Anyway, it was nice to look at this picture of Mama Rote and me back in the day:

Christmas mom and baby Josie

which called to mind this picture of Mary Tobin and me from the fall:

View this post on Instagram

#sundayfinest 10.6.13

A post shared by Josie Ortega (@josieortega) on

which reminded me that this is merely a stage and everyone’s going to grow up.

I had my six week postpartum check up (actually at eight weeks because I failed to make the appointment on time) where the midwife and I talked for awhile about postpartum depression. I was surprised that she said 80% of mothers get it (at some point and to some degree)— it’s wildly undiagnosed and untreated. (From a quick google search, maybe it’s that 80% of moms have baby blues, which goes away two weeks or so after birth. Whatever the case, her point remains.) My assignment on that score was to walk outside in the sunshine for at least half an hour each day to help my Vitamin D levels.

My friend Anna Kate wrote about postpartum depression awhile ago, and I thought I’d chime in too, to help battle the stigma. (Tell the stories!) For me, pregnancy through now—Inez is almost three months old—has felt like one big extended PMS: I cry easily, am extra irritable, have more “down days” than usual, have moments when I really feel like I can’t do it. But I’m never to the point of wanting to harm myself or my family, which is why I think this subject is so tricky, so often undiagnosed and untreated. I know that I’m not feeling 100%, but I don’t know where the line is between normal tiredness and true depression.

Wherever you might be on that spectrum, for anyone feeling down (winter blues! hello!), I thought the acrostic NURSE on the postpartum depression info sheet was helpful:

  • Nutrition (Stop eating garbage. Have a glass of water.)
  • Understanding (Acknowledge how you’re feeling; have supportive people around you.)
  • Rest (Easier said than did.)
  • Spirituality (Take deep breaths; connect to God/your higher power.)
  • Exercise (Ummm, sure.)

So, to sum up, I don’t have answers. The above list won’t solve everything; excellent medications are also available. Talk with someone and try to figure it out. But right now, at least, this gray area is my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you’re blue these days, I’m wishing tons of laughter and endorphins your way! Take care of yourself. xo

Reading List: Operating Instructions

anne lamott operating instructions

He is so full of energy and muscle, teething, ranting, crazed, but he’s the best baby you could ever hope for. Still a baby, though, which is to say, still periodically a pain in the neck. Donna was saying the other day that she knows this two-year-old who’s really very together and wonderful a lot of the time, really the world’s best two-year-old, but then she added, “Of course, that’s like saying Albert Speer was the nicest Nazi. He was still a Nazi.”

A few bloggers I love have read and recommended Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year. (Their reviews here: idaclare, tulips & flightsuits, A Cup of Jo.)

Ann Lamott’s characteristic irreverent reverence is so fun to read, and she captures the full spectrum of parenting. As a new mother, there are times when your heart swells with love; you scale heights you didn’t think possible. You are proud of each of your baby’s tiny developments: “He’s very brilliant, this much is clear.”

It’s also National Sam Lamott Neck Control Day. We’re talking major, hard-core neck control. I changed our answering machine to say, “We’re apparently out celebrating National Sam Lamott Improved Neck Control Week, but operators are standing by to take your call . . . ” People left the most supportive messages, as if Sam had triumphed over muscular dystrophy, like “All right, babe—go for it.” Larry’s message said, “Oh, it’s all too much for me. Please give the little savant a huge hug from all of us.”

But then again, sometimes you feel very matter of fact, and realize, impartially, that truly, the baby is just a bore and/or a pest, viciously cramping your style: “Yesterday Sam was horrible, whiny and wired and just in general the most worthless and irritating little person.”

Lamott records sweet daily observations about her son, and the joy and gratitude that explodes in her chest when she realizes how well her tribe is taking care of her. But then, there’s also the despair: she’s a single mom, people and things are missing. In so many ways, the world is awful, and now you have a baby, and all you want is for him to outlive you. I identify with her desperation. Many times, since Mary Tobin arrived, a fear invades my mind, or I hear someone else’s tragic news, or my lack of control confronts me dead on. I think: Dear God, have mercy on us.

Lamott raises questions about life that she can’t pretend to answer. I appreciate her honesty about the insanity of motherhood, her own limitations, her striving to treat herself with love and gentleness. After reading Operating Instructions, I simultaneously dread and yearn for the arrival of Bebe Dos.

But above all, I laughed. Here’s the first passage that made me laugh aloud, when baby Sam is two weeks old:

I’m crazy tired. I feel as stressed out by exhaustion as someone who spent time in Vietnam. Maybe mothers who have husbands or boyfriends do not get so savagely exhausted, but I doubt it. They probably end up with these eccentric babies plus Big Foot skulking around the house pissed off because the mom is too tired to balance his checkbook or give him a nice blow job.

Hey oh.

It’s beautiful that Lamott’s openness about her loneliness and screwed-up-ness can meet her readers in theirs, and in the process we all realize we’re not alone. (So, our challenge for today: open up!)

Though some of her thoughts are heavy, it’s a breezy read. And though Operating Instructions is a lot about motherhood, it’s also about friendship, family, recovery, faith and doubt. So I’d recommend to anyone. You’ll feel inspired to go take care of your people, whoever they are.

A Conversation with Ms. Linda

Thanks for the nice comments and well wishes after our exciting announcement! Today I have a quick link/shameless plug for your Friday reading pleasure.

choir director in action

I’ve mentioned Ms. Linda before. She’s like my honorary DC mom, and she has a great story. If you were ever to walk into Little Lights, chances are you’d get into a conversation with Ms. Linda, and chances are you’d stay a lot longer than you planned—she can talk! It’s her personality, but it’s also that she has a lot of wisdom and experience, and she’s willing to share.

Ms. Linda was one of the oldest of ten siblings growing up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in DC. (This was way before it had any sushi or cupcake places!) She was always surrounded by kids, telling stories and making up games. So as an adult when she found herself working in the same building where Little Lights rented space years ago, she couldn’t ignore the voice telling her to walk downstairs and get involved. She reprimanded two girls who were giving Ms. Mary a difficult time, and they straightened up for the rest of choir rehearsal—you better believe it.

Soon after, she became the director of the Gospel Choir, the Girls’ Night leader, the all around disciplinarian . . . she wears many hats, and has been at Little Lights ever since. She loves to sing and hates sprinkles. She loves jewelry, a great bargain, and her husband Mr. Thomas, who is my celebrity crush (don’t ask, because I don’t even remember).

Mr. Thomas and Ms. Linda

So, I had the privilege of writing up an interview with Ms. Linda for the latest Little Lights newsletter.

[The first part of our conversation was posted here for Mother’s Day. She gives advice and insight into the challenges faced by Little Lights parents, many of whom are single moms.]

I loved reading it again because it’s just like talking to her (except that you’ll actually move on to your next activity in a timely fashion. Haha, j/k j/k). A couple of my favorite nuggets:

On joy:

I don’t let things get to me. Like things that people normally worry about, I just give it to God.

By the time you get to 53, you’re supposed to learn a few things. Not just cry and freak out over things. You’re supposed to give it to God, and just say, OK there’s nothing I can do about it. Let me just pray and give it to Him.

On being grounded:

I think because I get to see the nitty gritty of families who don’t have, it keeps me grounded, and I think about that a lot in my personal life, the choices I make, even ways I spend money. I think about that there’s always somebody who doesn’t have. I’m thinking about the situation somebody has been through. I think about that.

And, Ms. Linda tells us how her marriage stays healthy. (“It keeps harmony and peace in a marriage.”) What’s her secret? I’ll end the same way I liked to finish my third grade book reports: you’ll have to read it to find out. 

She’s Still Got It.

Mama Rote burlington sock ad

Happy Mother’s Day to Mama Rote and the rest of you lovely ladies!

Last week I talked about parenting with one of my favorite honorary mamas, Linda Rice, of Little Lights. If you know Ms. Linda, you’ll be able to hear her voice in this short interview. If you don’t, you’ll feel like you know her.

And some other thoughts on motherhood I’ve enjoyed:

P.S. A bonus link, if you’re not a mama and all this gushy-ness is getting to you: Meg, my friend from high school, wrote this piece on why being single through your twenties is great. Yes to the hour long bath.

P.P.S. Mama Rote staying in the picture.

Advice for new parents: Use baby’s name.

MT Neely

Babies are more important than dogs. Sorry, Neely!

A couple of my gals have had sweet new babies recently. So exciting! Like just about everybody, I love finding out the names parents have chosen for their children. What a profound privilege.

welcome hudson

Celebrating the arrival of our newest neighbor Hudson.

Lots of tips for baby’s first year, I realized, are just as much about helping the parent adjust as they are about the baby’s wellbeing, and this is one:

Use the baby’s name. I read that simple piece of advice somewhere, and it became quite profound for me. Don’t call her The Baby. It’s too easy then, to think of her the same way you’d think about your dog, or some other obligation or chore. “We’ve got to get home so the baby can nap.” (Sounds like: “We’ve got to get home to walk the dog.”) Instead of I’ve got to feed the baby, try I’m going to feed Mary Tobin.

Surely the child learns his own name and develops a sense of security as he hears it lovingly spoken. But I’d argue it’s more for Mom and Dad. New parents are going to be significantly inconvenienced by this new baby. (I hope you knew that already. You did sign up for it.) I knew it, of course, but it’s one thing to know, and another to adjust and to bring your heart, and body, alongside your mind to accept and embrace the responsibility. Calling Mary Tobin Mary Tobin, the name we chose with so much love, was a subtle reminder that she is a person! Just like me and you! She has needs and she’s real. She’s not a doll, a pet, or a project, but a life and a dear girl.

Names. So much could be written about their significance. For me using Mary Tobin’s name was a weapon against bitterness and discouragement in the early days of motherhood. You’ll still feel bitter and discouraged at times, but you’ll have an advantage from daily reminding yourself that your baby is a person who should not be dehumanized or objectified.

baby Bear

Elizabeth’s son John Bernard IV, AKA Bear. Bernard means “brave as a bear.” How awesome is that name?

My friend Elizabeth built up my ego during her pregnancy by asking my advice on various matters. We agreed that in some ways it’s easier to learn from the experiences of our peers than from the advice of seasoned mamas and grandmothers (not to mention mothers-in-law!). Perhaps because of the distance of years, the veteran moms can make it sound so easy. There’s less pressure with advice from friends your own age: you can take it or leave it, since we’re just rookies trying stuff out. (Example: Elizabeth took my suggestion to rub one’s belly with olive oil to avoid stretch marks, but one-upped me by buying something actually made for the purpose.) Above all I think you can feel the sympathy factor in a very real way with other new moms; it feels like we’re in it together. And by sympathy, perhaps I mean a palpable sense of shared desperation!

All that to say! While helpful for her, I hope, Elizabeth’s openness to my thoughts about what I did during pregnancy and Mary Tobin’s first year was really encouraging to me. I got to think about what helped me most and what I’d like to hold on to for the future. Once I began brainstorming, she was so patient and kind as I called and emailed with all sorts of tips, and did not cut me off when I sent random text messages that began “unsolicited advice #8 million” and ended “sorry I’m so annoying!!!”

Besides using the name, my other favorite tip (from Mama Rote, of course) was to put up my feet whenever I could when pregnant. Also, drink lots of water. And stock the fridge with cut pineapple, watermelon, or something else that will make you feel good. What baby advice has been helpful to you—profound or otherwise?

Tina Fey: Icon of Motherhood

You like panels? Click for video.

I’m taking in a lot of advice and information on motherhood.  So far the best is from Uncle Steve: Ask a lot of people for advice, then do what you want.

Tina Fey’s mother’s prayer from Bossypants is another real winner.

Anna Kate (among many others) recommended Fey’s hilarious autobiography and loaned it to me. I ate it up in about two days, staying up late the first night, laughing out loud and poking Israel in the ribs so he could appreciate the part about Fey at UVa. He didn’t appreciate it like I did, since he didn’t go there, and he was asleep just a moment earlier. I finished the book the next night, while Izzy was being a productive human being spending some QT with his mentee Felix.

Sidebar: Felix is the best. He’s so curious about things, like why do we have seasons?, and he loves lizards and science. Also, whenever he’s eaten dinner that I made, he says it’s the best chicken (or, insert specific food name here) he’s ever had. I love hanging out with him when they let me tag along, and it gives me a nice preview of Israel as a dad. Felix is 12, though, and truth be told, Izzy would rather have a kid fully formed and given to him, so they can talk and throw the baseball . . . so we’ll see how the newborn situation goes.

Though I don’t identify with a whole lot of her life story, I adore Tina Fey and her fearless honesty. As when she discusses being a working mom dealing with the babysitter, then confesses that though she refers to this person as a babysitter, she’s a full-time child care provider and the more apt word is nanny. But nanny gives Tina race anxiety and class anxiety.

The book was an excellent break from What to Expect and The pregnancy reading can be rawwwther dry. I actually prefer the book for expectant dads Aunt Kace sent Israel, which admirably tries to engage the men and put things in a way they’ll understand.

On the second month of pregnancy: “It probably won’t be obvious that your partner is pregnant at this time, but if she was a celebrity in People or US Weekly, there might be a photo pointing to a possible baby bump.”

That’s not a direct quote, but it’s the gist, and it really made me laugh.

On that note, here are some pics from the past few months when I was too miserable to share (or “miz” as my friend Kacks–not her full name–likes to say!):

Easter morning breakfast–I was so proud I took a picture.

Easter 2011. Izzy passes along many life lessons to Felix, including his mantra:

“When in doubt, prep out.”

June 2011. Dudes kicking back at UVa Reunions weekend in Cville.

Please just ask if you ever want me to do some photoshop work for you.

This last one is from Mom’s visit, close to the nadir of my misery, and I’ll share a little more about that next time.

Mom, in many ways you’re far superior to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.