Lessons From My First Year of Parenthood

Love is a battlefield...and in my first year as a parent, I learned that saying doesn't just apply to romantic love. Being a parent is challenge. Sure, it's a lovely challenge, and there are lots of rewards along the way, but just like anything worth doing, it isn't always going to be easy. I've learned a lot.

And now I'm going to share it with you all because that is my way.

You don't "pick" a style
I never decided to be an attachment parent; in fact, it happened quite by accident. In the 365+ days that I have been a parent, I've read articles where women lament trying to be attachment parents. Either you are, or you aren't. Your style is your style, and it's ingrained in who you are. So just be yourself. There is no style that works better than another, it's all about what's right for you.

A baby's gonna do what a baby's gonna do 
Sleep training. Scheduled feedings. HA! Yea, have fun with those. I swear, a person could make themselves totally freaking nuts trying to get a baby to do something it just doesn't want to do. My daughter, for instance, was never going to sleep in a crib no matter how hard I tried. After a month (or two) of trying, I decided to throw the rule book away and just do what feels right.

Same thing goes for those who would say "you gotta keep the baby awake or they won't sleep later," or "don't let the baby nap after 5:00PM." To you all I say, "poppycock!"

Some people REALLY like babies 
It freaks me the f*ck out when a stranger reaches out and touches my baby's face. Who does that?! I'll tell you who, people who love, love, love them some babies. I learned quickly that wearing my baby in public cut down on weirdo strangers touching my kid without asking. That, and resting bitch face.

Some people REALLY don't like babies 
"To everything turn, turn, turn. There is a season..." And this applies to friends who aren't that into babies (or kids) and/or those who (mistakenly) think that "you've changed" and that having kids is contagious. They will abandon your ass, as in, you won't see them. I think maybe someday they will come around...like when my kid goes college maybe.

The worst part about this, is that people are literally terrified to admit that they don't want to have a relationship with your child. I would be totally down if some of my friends who have abandoned me just came out and said, "Hey, you know, I want to be your friend, but I don't want to hang out with your kid." It would incentivize me to hang out with them sans kid...which, let's be honest, I could totally use!

People will treat you differently
This is not entirely a bad thing, except when it is. See, some people will treat you as though you are more special, and I'm not gonna lie, that feels terrific. But then, on the flip side of that, some people will treat you crappier. It's weird, but some people aren't anymore tolerant of parents than they are of kids. Which is insane because we were all kids once...so when people treat me poorly based on that fact that I'm a parent, it's kind of like they are treating their parents badly (at least, that's how I see it.)

All I can say is God bless the people who treat me the same. (And thanks to those who treat me better!)

Compassion, compassion, compassion
This lesson is two-fold. First of all, I have so much more compassion in general; for my mom, who did a fantastic job raising two children on her own, and for moms, overall. This shizz can be hard. There's a lot to consider, and a lot to contend with. This has made me a better, more kind person, and I am super thankful for the experience.

Also, there is the compassion for my daughter that helps me get through rough days (and nights). Like when she wakes up teething and crying and we're up in the middle of the night. I have to dig deep for compassion in some of those moments, but when I do, I find that I am present as a nurturing parent. Compassion goes a long, long way.

Perspective is subject to change 
When my daughter was born, my perspective changed considerably. It continues to evolve, but it's sure a lot different these days than it was before I had a child. Different things are important to me now. Some things just ain't important at all. And due to my current perspective, I know that not everyone is going to get it. They don't have to.

May: A Month for Self-Love

It's May and you know what that means? It's the month in which we celebrate what I consider to be the foundation of good sex: masturbation!! I've written before about May being National Masturbation Month. And really, self-love is such a great thing, why shouldn't it get its very own month? This year, I'm back in the saddle again (hehe), and I've got some great stats to back up just how popular masturbation really is. So, in honor of May and masturbation and all that jazz, I thought I would share it with all of you.

I know some people can be a bit hush-hush about bedroom practices, and if you are, that's fine. That is, I won't tell anyone you're reading this right now. But me? I'm not that way. I'm pretty open about sex in general, which I think is healthy. You what else is healthy? Orgasms.

Orgasms are a terrific way to release tension, boost your immune system, and let's be honest, it just feels good. And if it feels good, you know what I say: DO IT! Whether it's alone or with a partner--makes no difference to me.

I don't always see self-love as a solo sport. Some people do report, though, that they prefer sex by themselves to sex with a partner. Surprising, but true!!

Personally, I've always found that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. By that I mean if you know what pleases you, it can only enhance your sex life. With a little self-love and some good communication, you are well on your way to lots and lots of pleasure.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there--er, in there?--and give yourself a little love. Because you deserve it. Because it's May. And because it's healthy!

Happy Masturbratory May everyone!


“Self

Crab Cake Recipe

I love where I live. We are just a few miles from the beach, and the living is eeeeeasy. One of our friends owns what is arguably the best crab place here at the beach, and so in the summer, we like to take full advantage.

I pride myself on being an expert crab picker. It's an art. I have little fingers, so I can pick faster than anyone I know. That's why I always win crab eating contests against my friends. It's not that I eat faster, but I pick faster.

Whenever we get a bushel of crabs, we eat what we can and then we pick. And pick. And pick.

And then...we freeze our crabs.

And then we enjoy crabs all year long! *Muahahahahahaha*

Which is how this post is coming to you. I've had all winter to perfect my crab cake recipe, and it's damn-near perfect at this point. This recipe is for two, but you can easily double or triple it, depending on the size of your crowd.

Now, I like to cook my cakes in either a cast iron skillet or a Pampered Chef stone.

The key to these? I make them in the morning and let them sit in the fridge all day. I think it makes a better crab cake. And so does my mother-in-law. So that's two people who think that, for what it's worth. It's nice because then they are done and all you have to do is throw them in the oven.

When it comes to baking them, there is flexibility. For instance, when I have something else baking, I can throw them in and let them heat and then crisp them on a low broil. When I have nothing else, I will put them under the low broil exclusively for about 15 minutes. It's all about how crisp you like them on top.

Suffice it to say that the real art is what goes into the cake, not the way you bake.

Billie's Perfect Crab Cakes 

Time: 5 min prep, 15 mins to bake | Serves 2 | Difficulty: Pretty Easy 

You Will Need: 

1 cup of cooked crab meat (hopefully freshly picked!)
1 small egg
1 tablespoon mayo 
1 tablespoon mustard (your choice)
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning 
1/4 cup bread crumbs 
Fresh ground pepper 

Method

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well. 

Divide into two cakes. 

Place the cakes on a pan or in a small skillet and place them in the fridge. Let them sit a few hours (or all day...I make mine in the morning.) 

When you are ready to bake them, the easiest way to put them under the broiler of your oven, set to low. Keep a good eye on them, but as a general rule, you can expect them to go about 15 minutes (or so) until the top is nice and browned! 

Serve with tartar sauce and lemon! YUM! 

Thanks For Not Having Kids

Dear Childless Friends,

I know you have a lot of pressure on you to procreate, and I'm sorry about that. I can totally relate since my husband and I waited (an astounding) 10 years to have a child together. I understand all too well how obsessed society is with your womb. No, I can't tell you why, but I can apologize just the same.

Allow me to have your back for a moment here.

It's true, there are lots of reasons why having children doesn't make sense. There's the cost, the fact that you'll lose both sleep and autonomy, and then there's all that damned work that goes into raising a little human-- what a time suck! I get it. I don't agree with some who would say you don't know love until you have a child-- there are lots of kinds of love in this world to know. Sure, there is no love like the one you have for your kid, but I hear there is no love like that you have for your cat, that doesn't mean I want one. (Okay, I do have a cat, but he's an outdoor one and I know it's not the same.)

Really when it comes down to it, all arguments considered, there is only ever one reason good enough to push you over the edge when it comes to procreation: because you want to. At least, that's my opinion. All the rest of it is just background noise.

The bottom line is this: I'm glad you don't have kids.

There are lots and lots of kids in this world, and while its a great and beautiful thing to be a parent, there are also lots of other great and beautiful things to be in this world. It's my opinion that society undervalues the non-parents, but I want you to know I don't, and here's why...

People who choose not to become parents pay a lot of taxes and that goes into our schools. You guys work more hours (some of you, anyway) because you can, and sometimes that means holidays so the rest of us can enjoy our families. You guys bring us wary parents presents, booze, and friendship when we are too exhausted to reciprocate. You remind us of our former selves, but also of what we might get back after the trench work of early parenthood is done. You bring your personalities, unscathed by the malaise of children, to the world, and that too is very valuable.

And while a portion of you may eventually change your minds about children, I won't insult you by suggesting you ought to. The choice to be a parent is a deeply personal one, and one that simply isn't all that important to some. You don't have to have a child to live a full life, and that fact isn't lost on me. I don't see your life as any less meaningful than my own. Your time isn't worth any more or less than my own. There are even times when I envy you.

Most of all, I want to tell the non-parents: don't be afraid to walk your path.

I believe your contributions to society are just as valid and important as my own. Please don't feel the need to justify yourself to anyone. In fact, the next time someone asks you about whether or not you're having children and you say no, add in, "and you should thank me!" Because whether society at large wants to acknowledge it or not, we need some people to choose not to be parents.

So here's a "thank you," that you may not get often. Keep on keeping on. (And please, bring me a bottle of wine. I still haven't figured out how to go to the liquor store with my 1 year old.)

With love,

Bossy Italian Wife 

Cannoli Poke Cake Recipe

So I know, I KNOW, that I have been on a poke cake bender. BUT...1) It's my blog and can bake what I want to, and 2) Seriously, there is no such thing as too much cake. So, with that being declared, here's another freaking poke cake. Deal with it.

Now, there are a lot of pins on Pinterest boasting a cannoli poke cake. But, as a cannoli eater, I wasn't impressed. They have issues. Condensed milk issues. The issue being that my husband prefers the poke cakes that have pudding. I couldn't find an alternate recipe on Pinterest, so therefore, it must not have existed. So I made my own.

This is for you people out there who, like my husband, prefer the pudding to the condensed milk in your poke cake.

Also, I feel that my poke cake gives a more well-rounded cannoli cake experience. Although I would also say that I think that I can improve on this cake by adding cherries to the cake mix and actual nuts to the top. If you agree, go for it. Because I'm busy and the likelihood that I am going to remake this recipe AND post it here is pretty slim....

Although I will say that my mom and I made cassata cake cupcakes at Christmastime, and we plan on making them again, and those we will probably post on the blog. They were the bomb. Cassata cake is basically a cannoli cake. This cannoli poke cake is its easier, bastard cousin. Yep, I said it.


So, this may seem obvious, but if you use a white cake mix and you use the "full egg" recipe (which includes egg yolks) you will get a yellow cake, not a white one. Go figure. Dammit. 


With instant pudding, you have to work fast. As in, mix that shizz up and pour it on without time to think in between. Lucky for me, I was also watching an 11 month old while doing this and what do you know, she pulled up a tupperware to the water cooler while I was doing this. I heard water being poured. Need I say more? 


I still managed to get this sucker all pudding-ed up, and into the fridge. Ha. I win! 


I let mine sit overnight generally, or from morning until evening. Top with the entire thing of whipped topping and then sprinkle *liberally* with mini chips. 


Not to be all political or anything, but you never hear people being like, "let's be conservative" about their desserts. And I think that says something, don't you? *wink wink*


Bossy Italian Cannoli Poke Cake 

Time: Active, 30 minutes | Makes: 1 Hellofa cake | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

1 box white cake mix + the ingredients on the box
2 boxes pistachio pudding (instant y'all) 
4 cups milk 
1 tub of whipped topping, extra creamy
15ounce whole milk ricotta
Mini chocolate chips 

Method


Prepare cake according to package directions, keeping in mind that if you want your cake to actually be white, you should use the recipe on the box sans egg yolks. Geez.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for five minutes.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake.

Mix together the milk and pudding mix (quickly, while your kid is secretly preparing to drain all your water resources using the tupperware as a step stool).

Pour onto the cake, ensuring you make it into those nice little holes ya just poked.

Cover and refrigerate overnight or however long you have. It'll be fine.

When ready to serve, mix whipped topping & ricotta cheese. Top your cake with the mixture and mini chips! YUM.

Also: take that dang whipped topping out of the freezer and let it thaw. Otherwise, you won't be able to spread it. Sheesh.

Things To Do While Waiting For a Baby....

It's really hard to believe that this time last year I was counting down the days until I would meet my new baby. Sometimes it seems like it happened to someone else, I swear. But anyway, in honor of my daughter's first birthday, I thought it would be fun to share some stuff I wrote last year this time, but never published! This is one of those things.

So, to my still pregnant, or newly pregnant, or pregnant yet again friends, here's a list of things you can do while waiting to give birth!

1. Pretend like you don't care when the baby comes.
2. Watch all mine seasons of 19 Kids and Counting on Netflix.
3. Decide you no longer care about the weight gain, and purchase gelato.
4. Engage in Pinterest projects. Lots of them.
5. Meditate.
6. Try to decipher your baby's position in the womb.
7. Freak out because you swear something is wrong.
8. Decide it's probably okay... Feign casual indifference.
9. Watch everything on the DVR.
10. Clean the floor.
11. Clean the bathroom.
12. Clean the EVERYTHING.
13. Freak out and have a good cry because no matter how much you clean, you can still see the dirt that no one else can see.
14. Go on lots of walks.
15. Do pregnancy exercises (bounce on the ball, squats, lotus pose, cat/cow).
16. Google random symptoms to see if labor is imminent.
17. Drink tea and read a non pregnancy related book.
18. Make a house manual for after the baby is born (yes, I did this).
19. Stock up on toilet paper.
20. Turn off everything in the house and bask in the silence knowing that your life will never be this quiet again.


What would you add to this list? Share it with me in the comments section below! 

I've Been Gifted A Climber

Every parent looks forward to their child becoming mobile. Or perhaps I should say, every first time parent look forward to their child becoming mobile…because once it actually happened, I found the parenting workload went from manageable to, “Oh my god, get her! Get her! What’s she doing?!

It used to be that I could lay her on a blanket while I cooked or worked on a project. Now she’s licking the glowing apple on my computer while I pry her little fingers from around the screen. It’s lovely to watch her making her way around the little play table we got her—and boy is she quick—but it was a whole new ball game the day we nonchalantly put up a baby gate only to watch her scale it like a well-trained spider monkey.

Yes, it’s true, we’ve been gifted a climber. She climbs things I didn't even know could be climbed. She reaches heights that are really something to marvel at as well as to be scared of. Um, hello, earth to my little offspring, you could really hurt yourself!

While I try to keep it in perspective that having a baby who walks early and climbs is really awesome in many ways (for instance, she impresses the pants off people), I’m also left scratching my head about what to do with this kid. It’s not as though I can reason with her at this stage and explain that climbing that high could result in an injury. I can’t pad the whole house in wrestling mat material to avoid injury (can I?) And despite myself, I can’t seem to stop worrying.

All of this, and my mother, as she observed my daughter trying to climb the chest of drawers in my bedroom, says, “You should really get Ipecac. Kids who climb sometimes get into things they shouldn’t.” Literally, my jaw dropped because I didn’t need a new fear, and I didn’t want to buy Ipecac. Of course, I will be buying the Ipecac because it’s one those situations where you have to “reverse black cat.” This is a technique where you act pessimistically so that you get lucky, thereby “reversing the black cat.” It’s not a guarantee, but hey, it’s worked before.

In the name of practicality, I suggested that perhaps when she’s a little older we get her an indoor climbing wall. From a more psychological standpoint, I love that my child is fearless and daring. It’s a trait that I know will continue to haunt my nerves, but it also excites me. My husband is not as afraid as I am, so at least there will be some ying and yang in our approach to parenting; he was born with a bit of the fearless gene himself.

Moments like these, when I realize that my child is her very own person with her own quirks and traits, I am in awe. It’s what makes being a parent great and also scary. She’s this little human, all her own, and she’s only beginning to discover it. Who knows, maybe some day she’ll scale mountains! Until then, I guess I’ll continue to chase her around the house, pulling her down off tables, chairs, dishwashers, and….oh what’s that? Great. She’s using the oven as a chin-up bar.