Babies 101

Husby and I just got back from our “Babies 101” class.  I found it generally helpful, but not as much in terms of providing us with specific information — although we did learn a lot of specific things — but more in terms of reassuring us that we can handle this whole baby thing.

I felt pretty confident that we are better prepared than most. Husby is VERY much a planner and we’ve had the majority of our nursery all done for the last 4 months at least.  And I also felt like we had a good handle on the basics of baby care, but husby felt like we weren’t and that other expecting parents probably know more than we do.

We got to the class and there are lots of very nice couples there.  And we quickly learned that we were already better informed and prepared than most even though we’re only about a month ahead of most of them.

So, yeah. It was very reassuring and we learned some good things.

A few things we learned/confirmed:

  • Don’t freak out because newborn babies are super gross and do lots of weird, gross things for the first few weeks/months.  Whatever it is that you think is not right, is probably actually fine.
  • You can get pertussis vaccines basically anywhere that you can get a flu shot.
  • You really don’t really need a crib for the first six months or so.
  • You don’t need a good 75% of the things baby places are trying to sell you.

I’ve said since the beginning that I am skeptical of all the doubt and worry out there about caring for babies.  People had babies in caves, covered wagons, and castles.  It’s 2017 now and nothing we have in our house is likely to be as bad as all that.  This class confirmed a lot of that.

Yes, babies do have some special needs.  And there are some more or less optimal ways to try to proceed.  But mostly you just have to pay attention to your baby and be flexible about your plans while they figure out how to survive outside the womb.

The Right Thing to Say

On the latest episode of her Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin asked her readers to come up with things that they’d rather hear than perhaps other things that actually get said.  Since I’ve been complaining about the irrelevant/obvious/condescending/silly things that people say to expecting parents, I figured it would be more productive if I actually came up with some things that would be more supportive and helpful to expecting parents.

ASIDE: This is a GREAT episode. I love her advice about being a good houseguest.  Highly recommended!

So, here are some ideas I had:

DON’T SAY: “Enjoy sleeping in now because that’s going to change when you have a baby!”
DO SAY: “Have you worked out a sleeping strategy with your husband for when the baby gets here? I read a great book…”

DON’T SAY: “It’s so funny that you organized your nursery. And your house is so clean! Baby is going to destroy that when she gets here!”
DO SAY: “Organization will be very important when baby gets here. It will help keep you sane, so good job in getting an early start on that.”

DON’T SAY: “You won’t be able to read so much or listen to podcasts like you do now when baby gets here.”
DO SAY: “Podcasts and books will be a real treat when you get a break from baby. Have you chosen your favorites for when you get those opportunities?”

DON’T SAY: “I hope you don’t enjoy sex, privacy, or peace and quiet. You won’t have that again for a few years. Like 18.”
DO SAY: “Don’t forget self care both for you as an individual and your relationship with your husband.  Baby will be fine with a babysitter for an evening or a weekend when you need it.”

DON’T SAY: “Everything you love will turn to ashes in your mouth and the weeping of your ancestors will fill your ears as you try to sleep at night when baby gets here.  It’s the curse of being a parent.”
DO SAY: “There are so many new and exciting things that you will find, love, and cherish when your baby gets here. I’m so happy for you!”

I think the difference between what I would rather people say and what I’d prefer they stop saying to me is the emphasis on the positive.  Obviously, having a baby is a lot of work.  It’s going to be hard and emotionally trying.  It’s going to challenge my life in ways that I can’t possibly anticipate.  So, why do people want me to dread it? Why not tell me things to look forward to in this journey? Why not give me tips for having my cake and eating it too (…as well as one possibly can anyway)?

Secret Squirrel: My Bad Tendency

I have a terrible tendency: I hide my processes.

I’ve been in a quiet mood for the past few days while I’ve noodled over this story I’ve been working on.  Husby has asked me a couple of times, “What’s wrong?” And I’ve said nothing is wrong, not fully realizing that the reason I was quiet is because I was working on this problem.

If I have a list of chores to do around the house, I am more likely to get them done if husby isn’t around.

There’s just something about “being seen” that absolutely crushes my motivation to get anything done.

I did recently take Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz and found out that I’m a “Rebel” and this does resonate with that finding.

Rebels Unite! But only if you want to!
Rebels Unite! (But only if you want to)

It’s really a bad habit, because I’ve noticed that my husband is around our house a lot. It’s almost as if he lives here or something.  And the fact is that there is no shame in work or working through a problem.  Learning requires making mistakes, exploring new paths, and trying new things even if they seem absurd.

I think I have a subconscious desire to appear to be “perfect” on my first try at something.  As if I don’t have to do the hard work that mere mortals have to resort to in order to be good at something. Destructively, this plays directly into the path of imposter syndrome.

I’ve been trying to be more open about my processes at home.  When husby asks me what I’m doing, I’ve been trying to be open and honest about the fact that I’m working on a story or whatever.  I’m sure he’s also happy that I’ve also been trying to do more of the housework when he’s around. (I’ve always done what I think is my share, but I’ve hidden it from him a lot, which makes it hard to defend the claim that I do actually do my share.)

The difficulty, of course, is that I have to balance being open about things with avoiding creating expectations for myself that I will resist.

So, anyway, yeah.  Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward fixing it, right?

Speaking Out Against the Man in the Costco Baby Clothes Section

“I am so sick of all this pink and pastel shit. We are going to raise a full-color badass who will look down on the patriarchy with absolute disdain. And what’s up with all this princess garbage? Have royalists seized the machinery of baby clothes production or something? This is garbage. I want to see a pair of fully functional JEANS, maybe with a dinosaur patch on the knee, with REAL pockets. And maybe a leather jacket or a blazer with soft spikes on the shoulders. And her shirt could say, “Bad bitch. Showing my daddies how it’s done.” OK, but this panda on the butt of these pants is also adorable.”

Trying to Write

I’ve been mulling over the writing prompt I posted from the other day. I really want to write a story from it and I have a lot of nice threads, but so far I haven’t been able to get them to come together.

The last time I wrote a story was in college for a creative writing class I took. Everything I wrote then was written off the cuff without any attention to plot or theme or anything.

And when I’m writing non-fiction, I also tend to write without a defined outline.  I’m able to visualize the argument and flow in my head and just write it all out. And when it’s done, that’s when I go back and tweak.  That ability comes, I think, simply from all the practice I’ve had in school and blogging and all that.

Fiction is different, though.  I have less practice and I feel like the control I have as the author has to be less apparent since I’m not necessarily writing in my own, personal voice. I want to make sure all the characters’ motivations align properly and their actions make sense in their context.  And I want to make sure that the story resolves properly.

I sort of feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew. I mean, I CAN do it. It’s hard work. But it’s just work.

So, anyway. This writing update is that I don’t have an update. I’m just noodling and making notes and sketching ideas.  I haven’t written a single word for an actual story yet.

Podcast Subscription Updates


My friends know that I am a voracious podcast listener.  I like to listen while I’m doing housework, driving, or walking around.  And before you say, “OMG. How can yo

u possibly listen to all this content?” I will just say that I listen at 2x – 3x speed.  I can do this when I’m doing other non-verbal tasks rather easily.  It annoys my husband who likes to talk to me any time I’m in the same room with him and I often have to ask him to wait while I pause my listening to take in what he’s saying.

Also, FFS, please don’t tell me that having children is going to cut into my podcast listening.  I am anticipating that. Let me enjoy my childless life for the next four weeks and trust me to make appropriate decisions with my listening when the necessity for changes arises. (Refer back to my post on expecting parents being idiots.)

Anyway, I’ve added and removed a few podcasts from my queue and wanted to provide some commentary.


The Art of Charm – I haven’t listened to an episode of this one yet.  It’s about social science, behavioral economics, and cognitive psychology, though. Sounds fun and interesting to me!

The Daily – This is a news/politics podcast. For as much media and content I consume, I’ve recently become aware of the fact that I miss a bunch of things.  We’ll see how this one goes for just getting me a quick daily dose of headlines. Chances are it won’t last, but I’m giving it a shot.

Don’t Let It Go Unheard – Actually coming back to this one after a break.  As an early listener, I found Amy Peikoff a bit too meandering and slow.  But I’ve tuned into a couple of recent shows and it sounded to me like she’s found a bit of a stride.  I’ve sometimes found myself on the opposite side of issues and Objectivist in-fighting, but my general opinion of her is positive and s

he can be thought-provoking.  So, I’m giving it another try.

Imaginary Worlds – I’ve heard this one talked about a LOT in SFF circles and only recently subscribed. So far, it’s been really interesting and has exposed me to some new ideas and people and their work.

IRL: Online Life is Real Life – Not sure how long I’ll keep this one.  I like the host, Veronica Belmont from Sword & Laser, but her perspectives in this podcast tend to err on the side of pessimistic and interventionist. So far, I haven’t learned a lot and have spent more time rolling my eyes than exploring perspectives different from my own.  But it’s a new show, so it could mature with additional episodes.

Let’s Know Things – I’ve only listened to one episode of this: Cultural Appropriation. Such a sensitive topic, but I really liked the host’s approach, analysis, and conclusions. I’m very excited to listen to more.

Manage Your Damn Money with Ben & Malcolm – I love listening to Ben & Malcolm riff on various topics.  And I love the music interludes.  But the financial advice is a little basic and overly generalize for my needs.  So, this will probably be one I cut when I have to reduce my listening time… even though I love these guys.

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe – One episode in and I kind of love this one. They cover science news in just the way I like.  It’s a semi-structured, friendly discussion of science topics of the day with some interviews.

Vox’s The Weeds – I probably do not need another Liberal politics podcast in my line-up. But I’m keeping an open mind. I’ll listen for a few weeks and decide if I want to keep it.

Waking Up with Sam Harris – I have no good excuse for not subscribing to this one sooner. It’s soooo good. And I agree with Harris more often than I disagree, which is a very nice change of pace for me.


Side Hustle School – I like the host of this podcast and the idea of getting a side hustle going is appealing.  So, I subscribed to this thinking it was going to be tips and tricks for getting a side hustle going, growing, and thriving.  It’s sort of that, but really it’s just very short episodes featuring stories of side hustles that have worked out.  And it ties in, of course, to the host’s book on side hustles.  After a handful of episodes, it got boring to me.

TWiEVO – If you’re in biosciences, This Week in Evolution  may be of interest to you. If you’re not a deep science person and you find yourself pondering inexplicable decisions in capitalization like me, though, you might not make it through a whole episode, which I did not.  It seems like a good show and the hosts seem cool.  But I quickly realized that this podcast would take much more focus and concentration on my part than I can give it in order to parse the content.  So, unfortunately, I had to unsubscribe.


  • 2 Dope Queens
  • 99% Invisible
  • The Alton Browncast
  • Bay Curious
  • Buzzfeed’s Internet Explorer
  • Can He Do That?
  • Coffee Break Spanish
  • Criminal
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
  • The Dollop with Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds
  • FiveThiryEight Politics
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Futility Closet
  • Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  • Happier in Hollywood
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • HBR IdeaCast
  • Hidden Brain
  • The Longest Shortest Time
  • Motley Fool Money
  • Need to Know
  • NPR Politics Podcast
  • Pod Save America
  • Radiolab
  • Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
  • The Read
  • Reply All
  • Ricochet Podcast
  • Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
  • Science Vs
  • Serial
  • Startup Podcast
  • Stranglers
  • The Sword and Laser
  • This American Life
  • What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law
  • Writing Excuses
  • WSJ Opinion: Foreign Edition
  • WSJ Opinion: Potomac Watch
  • You Are Not So Smart

If you want to just subscribe to everything I have, here’s a link to my latest OPML file for my subscriptions.

Also, I adore the Overcast app for listening to podcasts.