17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


When I was a kid my mom dressed my sister and me alike, a lot. We had matching purple sailor dresses, matching lanz pajamas (several Christmas's in a row), matching Halloween costumes (we were both ballerinas one year), and the list goes on. I don't remember seeming to mind, actually I probably loved it. I always said that I would never dress my kids as "twins" especially if I had twins. I am big on one's own identity.

Of course I have broken my rule a few times. The first was when I wanted a sweatsuit for each girl and old navy had the perfect one on sale, for both sizes in only one color. I had a brand new baby, and honestly I couldn't think beyond one child, so it was easy to just find something I liked and buy two of the same. That purchase felt like when I get a few shirts in different colors because I like the fit. It wasn't an intentional: "Oh--my---gaw---this is so cute----I have to have my kids matching!----EEEEEE!"

However, this Easter, I did LOVE one of the dresses that Children's place did, and I bought one for each girl in two different colors. Again, I didn't buy it for the sake of matching, I just really liked the dress, and since I have two girls, I bought it for both. Now since I am not a hard core matchy matchy mom...what IS the motivation behind the kids being matchy matchy twinners in photos and in life? And when/why does it sometimes span to the parents or the entire family? Ever seen those families at Disneyland all wearing neon orange? Maybe that is for safety purposes...I digress.

Last summer I was going to be in Utah with my husband's family and wanted a family portrait. I was researching photographers and most of their websites had photos with the family all matching. Like this was a good thing. How is it possible that every person in a family looks good in one outfit/color? I realize that in some cases this works (maybe)...but I fear that it is not so in most. I have attached an example of what I think is an awesome family photo, and I love the color scheme. If you have to go to that matchy place, I vote for this example...(ok I will let you take away the martini and the legs, but look it all matches but in a good way right?)

Anyway, can someone please explain the phenomenom/impulse/habit perhaps/ of the matchy matchies....?
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back To School Sale

I heard on NPR the other day that Stephon Marbury, star guard for the NY Knicks, has his name on a new pair of athletic shoes.

Just another day in the life of a pro athlete, you say? Well, there's a twist. His shoe, Starbury One, will retail for $15, a good hundred dollars less than the average pro athlete-endorsed sneaker. He is starting a new campaign to make cool brand name shoes affordable for all kids.

It is amazing to me how this shoe culture developed. I blame Michael Jordan and Nike for starting the phenom in the 1980's. For me, it meant that I had to cough up $100 at least once each season for a decent pair of basketball season. I was pretty much broke all through high school. Other kids have lost their lives over a pair of these shoes...we've all heard the stories.

Of course, materialism-at-all-costs and overindulgence goes beyond footwear. When I served in YW's in Queens, most of the YW were obsessed with having brand-name clothes and expensive jewelry (bling.) Most of these girls also lived in the projects and were the least able to afford these luxuries.

Now I teach SAT prep classes in one of the richest suburbs in the country. The kids drive up in BMWs and have their own college consultants, personal trainers, and masseuse. A different set of kids, a different set of status symbols, but the same powerful message: Having expensive things will make me happy....having more expensive things will make me more happy.

Which is the worst case of materialism and overindulgence, the kid from the projects with diamond stud earrings or the suburban kid in her BMW? I think society judges the kid from the projects more harshly. I know, as a YW leader, I was guilty of judging these girls and their parents for their spending choices. But now I see that the overindulgent parents of these suburban kids are showing equally bad judgement. Basically, I judge and condemn everyone equally now.

Back to the shoes....critics are harsh. They say that Marbury is doing this to improve his public image which was hammered pretty badly last season after he stopped passing the ball and got his well-respected coach fired. They say that it won't make a difference. Kids will add these shoes to their huge collection of overpriced footwear, but continue to buy their Air Jordans.

I say, finally, an athlete willing to put his reputation on the line in order to improve some serious socioeconomic dysfunction in our society. I say, I love the gesture, but even with all of the power Marbury wields as an athlete, nothing is going to change until parents teach their kids self-discipline, restraint, humility. This means that they first must adopt these values into their own lives. A parent's example is infinitely more powerful than any marketing campaign.

What do you say? Would you buy these shoes for your kids? And most importantly, how are you working to keep your kids away from this cycle of overspending and instant gratification that is all around us?
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Monday, August 28, 2006

The grass is always greener...or is it...maybe?

2 bedrooms. 3 closets. And estimated 750 square feet. 3 kids under 5. 2 adults. 1 set of bunkbeds. 2 cribs. 1 queen. 1 glorified patio we call "front yard". It's a small space for a, relatively speaking, not-so-small family. So what do we do? We dream of what we call a house.

Sometimes I think I get caught up in the grass is always greener trap. My kids would be less irritating if we had a yard. The kitchen would be cleaner more often if we had a dishwasher. Saturdays would be less busy if we had a washer and dryer. The baby would sleep through the night if she had her own room.

But let's face it. A house simply can't solve all my woes. (Although just one of the above would be nice, right!?)Other people who have houses also have problems. My sister, living comfortably in a home in AZ called tonight. Her kids were hassling her and she was struggling with them just as she was trying to say her first "hello" to me. She was "laughing," and knowing my state here in NYC said, "Oh Katie, all this and we have a yard." Like, look at me, I've got it all and I'm still going batty!

I do honestly think there are some advantages to living in a little place--

1 bathroom, 1 mirror--come on! When we get around to it...cleaning is a snap!
Kids are never too far--easier to keep an eye and ear on.
Mopping and vacuuming is easy compared to the square footage of a house.
Free maintainance of the larger type problems thanks the the landlord.
4 loads of laundry at a laundromat all at once takes the time of one load in one at-home washer/dryer.
We keep organized--junk is out--no room for it.
Learning to live with less can't be bad for us or our kids--we don't have room for excessive bikes or large toys.
We are forced to go to the park, and thus, don't isolate ourselves in our home/yard.

I do also honestly think there must be advantages to living in a larger house--

Kids can play outside while I make dinner.
Space can reduce stress simply by spreading people (noise) out a little.
It's easier to visit people when you have a quiet street or driveway to park in. Packed street-parking is so uninviting.
Kids can play in the sprinkler all summer long--we don't have to go to the park for access to water.
Decorating the house is easier and more exciting since it's really yours.
A third room could help with issues of kids waking each other up.
A more spacious family or play room would help get energy out when winter keeps us in.

I guess as I've been contemplating all this lately, I'm realizing that I can have it good where ever I am. If I take care of my little plot of land here, my family can be happy. If I take advantage and appreciate all the benefits of living in a small space I can love it more and miss it when I'm gone. If I move into a bigger house I can really appreciate its luxuries but not go expecting 314 Bighouse Drive to solve all my daily struggles.

I would be curious to hear what you all have learned living in a small space or living in a larger space. Who has gone from one to the other, what have you learned? What are your favorites about living in a house--things I can realistically look forward to? What are ways you've found to make apartment living fun and more doable?

Thanks for reading my thoughts, I look forward to reading yours.
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What Are Crib Notes?

We all know there are millions of great and helpful "parenting" books out there. But who has the time to read them all? Crib Notes are like Cliffs Notes--a quick way to learn and discuss the big ideas in a book without having to read the entire thing. And if the ideas appeal to you, who knows, you might even want to find time to read the whole book.

We welcome guest contributions to our Crib Notes. Email your book report to talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com.

Available Crib Notes:
Motherstyles--Personality and Mothering by Janey Penley
Coloring Outside the Lines by Roger Schank
Effects of Sign Language on Hearing Children's Language Development (Daniels, 1994 and follow-up study 1996)
52 Weeks of Fun Family Service by Merilee Boyack
Playstation Nation
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Promoting Relief in Relief Society

My dh thinks that Gospel Doctrine teacher is the best calling to have in the church. To fulfill your calling, you have to study the scriptures. Studying the scriptures is something you should be doing anyway, so you are in effect, able to kill two birds with one stone (plus there are no meetings to attend).

I do NOT think Gospel Doctrine teacher is the best calling in the church. But I do think MY new calling is the best for much the same reason. I am the Relief Society "Service and Humanitarian Aid Specialist". My calling is to help the members of the Relief Society to focus on service in the community and the world. I know I should be performing more service (in and out of the church). And more than that, I really want to be giving more of my time and resources to service (especially outside of the church). This calling has forced/allowed me to make it a priority in my life. I love that! I have to say it's better than being the committee member in charge of dessert for the HFPE Garden Party--so much harder to find meaning there. This calling gives me the opportunity to be anxiously engaged in a purpose that IS Relief Society at it's very core and for that I am truly grateful.

My first act as SHAS (Service and Humanitarian Aid Specialist) was organizing what turned out to be a pretty successful school supply drive for a local charity. My second act as SHAS is to give a lesson on service in Relief Society. Everyone's comments were so helpful as I prepared my Modesty lesson for the Young Women, I am hoping to benefit from your thoughts once again.


Leave every woman feeling energized, uplifted, and inspired to make service beyond their family and church a larger part of their lives.


-leaving the sisters feeling overwhelmed, over-stressed and guilty
-overlooking the large amounts of service that women perform within their family and the ward.
-coming across as a hypocrite: I am totally pumped about service right now but before my calling, service outside the church was admittedly low on my radar.

while talking about:

-the purpose of the Relief Society
-the example we have in Christ
-giving beyond tithing and fast offerings
-balancing ward, community and world service
-finding our motivation for performing service
-premeditated charity
-involving the family
-our ward's service project plans for the coming months

All that in 25 minutes. Good luck, huh?

I also want to leave each woman with a list of ideas to "make the world a better place". Caroline at Exponent II actually has the same calling and started a similar list here. I have used her ideas, added some from my own experience, used other resources, and started my list here.

I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on the subject and how you think I could best accomplish my goal. What would you like to hear in a lesson on service? What would you not want to hear? What would inspire you? Or would you just want to scream after having one more "good" thing added to your "to do" list?
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

My top NY Media

By way of tribute to the old gal, NYC, here are my top choices of books and films with NYC themes.

1. The Escape of Marvin the Ape. Fun illustrations of famous NYC spots, and an ostrich who is tricky to find on each page.

2. My name is Asher Lev. This is a book about a Jewish boy in Brooklyn who is a gifted artist, and how he struggles to fit into his community and his strong belief system. Our own jen named her son after Asher, that's how much SHE loved the book.

3. Next Stop Grand Central. This is a really fun children's book that is all about the amazing train station.

4. The Nanny Diaries. To me this book set the standard for the new influx of chick books, only this one was really good and deep in parts. It gives you a look into that world of the wealthy and their nannies.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. You can read it for DYM's book club. Takes place in Williamsburg, Francie Nolan lives the American Dream.


1. Funny Girl. About a girl from Brooklyn who makes it, and what that costs.

2. In America. A family from Ireland are reeling after the death of their youngest child, move to America and struggle to make their way. There is always a struggle isn't there? This is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen. A highlight is the girls who play sisters are really sisters.

3. Barefoot in the Park. This is a story about my husband and me, in case you wanted to know. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford live in a 5th floor walk up...need I say more?

4. Newsies. I haven't watched this one in a while, but I loved it as a kid. It has a lot of music and a bunch of kids with a crusade.

5. Elf. Will Ferrell crosses the Peppermint Forest to walk through the Lincoln Tunnel and save Christmas for New York and the whole world. I could watch this all year round.

6. New York Doll. A treasure of a documentary that my husband and I discovered. A former member of New York Dolls converts to Mormonism. He serves in the Family History Center and dreams of a New York Dolls reunion. The journey is about him getting his wish, and maintaining his beliefs. A MUST watch for Mormons everywhere.

**You can find all of our past tributes to NYC on the sidebar -->
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Angel in the Checkout Line

This post is just a story, just the telling of a “random act of kindness” that happened to me the other day. Something I just want to share, because it made me happy.

I went to the grocery store the other day with my four-month-old dd only to discover that the power in the store had gone out. But the grocery store employees opened the doors and welcomed me anyway: the lights are out but you can still shop, they assured me. So I gathered what I needed and got in line to checkout. The man in front of me (the angel in this story) noticed my dd sitting on my hip in a sling, smiled at her a few times, waved his hand (like people are prone to do when seeing a baby), and then very kindly emptied my shopping cart for me. I was certainly capable of emptying the cart on my own, despite needing one arm to steady dd in her sling. But, needless to say, I was grateful for the help and thanked him.

Right after he emptied my cart, the backup battery that was apparently running the cash register in our checkout line died. And since this world is run by computers, we obviously couldn’t checkout in that line any more. The man quickly ran to the next closest line still in operation, put down his things, and then came back, returned everything from the checkout conveyor belt to my cart, pushed my cart to his new line, and then emptied it again. I couldn’t believe it. Just saying thank you didn’t seem like enough.

Perhaps he was immediately blessed because the battery in our new line lasted just long enough for him to buy his goods and then died. But I was so touched by his kindness that I couldn’t get upset over the fact that I had to leave everything I needed behind and walk out of the store empty handed. His kind act overrode what would have otherwise been a very aggravating situation (especially considering dd was approaching nap time and this was my last interval between feedings and naps without something scheduled).

Any happy experiences you can share? Any moments you’ve lived through that turned a bad situation good? I’d love to read them.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Ma'm, that's a misdemeanor..."

I have never been pulled over, issued a citation or arrested for anything. For those of you who know me well, this will come as a surprise.

My beautifully lucky streak (truly lucky, trust me) came to an end today. With my kids in the car. Lovely.

I was at an intersection, came up to the light and made a right turn on red as there were no cars coming in the other direction. This is California - you're allowed to do that. I promptly heard sirens and saw the flashing lights of a police motorcycle right behind me. "Hmmm, who is he following?" I thought. "Hmmmmmm...I think he's following...ME. I wonder why? Hmmmm....maybe I should - yes, I should definately pull over".

He pulled in behind me and I started giggling nervously, going through my purse to find my license. "Oh my goodness, I'm being pulled over" I laughed over and over. My kids were silent - they probably thought I had lost my mind.

I rolled down my window and asked the officer with a big beaming smile, "What's wrong, officer?" I actually said officer.

"M'am, do you know what you did wrong?"

Uh oh...I don't think this is a trick question. I just smiled with big question marks in my eyes.

"M'am...you made a right turn on a RED ARROW".

You have GOT to be kidding me. I am truly the biggest moron EVER.

"Uhhhhh...OH!" I started laughing...loudly. "Well that was totally wrong!"

I'm pretty sure it's not a good idea to freely admit guilt in front of a police officer but I had clearly screwed up so what else was there to say? He smiled and asked for license, registration and proof of insurance. I handed all three over...and then my stomach fell.

I don't have a CA drivers license. I have lived here for 2 full years and have REFUSED to get one - I'm still a proud NY card carrier. Maybe he won't notice, I thought...

"M'am...why don't you have a California drivers license?"

"Ummmm....I just moved here?"


Pause. I immediately decided to lie.

"Three months ago. Yes."

"Really? I"m going to have to run this."

Oh my gosh, I am going to be hauled off to jail for lying to the police. But somehow it seemed so much better to admit to 3 months of ineptitude instead of 2 years. I know what you're all thinking but in the moment it really seemed better than admitting the FULL truth.

As the officer walked away from my car this is the exchange I had with my 3 1/2 year old son:

DS: "Mom, what did the motorcycle man want?

Me: "Well, mommy made a mistake and so the policeman is going to decide what to do with mommy".

DS: "Why did you make a mistake, mom?"

Me: "Well, sometimes - OK, no more talking. We'll talk about this later"

DS: "Mom, what was the mistake?"

Me: "Mommy went go on a red light instead of a green light."

DS: "Why did you do that? You go on green mom".

Good grief. This is just what I need.

The officer returned, handed my cards/papers over and said, "M'am, you are currently driving with an invalid license. By law, I should tow your car. This is a misdemeanor offense."

And here were my thoughts: "@!&$#&*!"

"However...you have little babies in the car and it would be tough to tow your car with them. SO you are going to the DMV and getting a license this week, got it?"


I still got a citation for the worlds stupidest traffic violation (who makes right turn on a RED arrow, I ask) but was spared the humiliation of a tow truck.

I have a babysitter coming on Friday so that I can go to the DMV and officially become a card carrying member of the California driving community.
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I Was A Teenage Bride

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingToday marks the 10th anniversary of my marriage to an amazing man. When I tell people how long I have been married I am often met with looks of surprise and then the comment "You look so young!". Well the truth is, I am young to have been married ten years because I was a teenage bride.

I met my dh during the second semester of my freshman year of college. He was six months off his mission and caught my attention with his American flag Converse shoes in Country Dance 101. Three months later we were engaged and three months after that we were married. I was eighteen.

We have had a few other celebrations in our home this week. Our oldest daughter, Princess, turned four and our youngest, Pumpkin, turned one. I can't believe how time flies. The next thing I know, they are going to be eighteen, I am going to be sending them off to college, and they could getting married. I get a little nervous thinking about the advice I will give them about dating and marriage as they go off to start lives of their own. Most people in the world (and in the church) would say "Don't get married young", "Find yourself", "Stay single so you can travel and have adventures", "When/If you find someone, date for a long time-that's the only way to really get to know each other". While in my head this advice sounds reasonable and logical I just don't think I can pass it on. Why? Because not following this kind of advice is what worked for me. Not following this kind of advice has brought me to a life I really love and have never once regretted. Some would just shrug off the success of my "young marriage" as pure luck, but I know the spirit never leads you to path only to leave you there to depend on luck.

On the other hand, thinking about either of my girls coming home at age eighteen with a fiance in tow totally freaks me out. Either my parents hid their true feelings well, or I was totally oblivious to their apprehension because I don't remember them freaking out too much. Now that I am a parent, I can be sure they must have overflowing with concern.

I think I would like to take the focus off the actual timeline of marriage and concentrate on teaching them to be independent, strong, spiritual and intelligent women, who will be ready and able to make their own good choices about dating and eventually marriage whenever (or if ever) those decisions come along.

So what do you think a "Once-a-teenage-bride, happily-married, now-a-mother-of-two-girls" should pass on as marriage advice?

I assure you I won't advise them that marrying young is the only road to happiness-because it's obviously not, but I also think advising them only the opposite would be a mistake as well.

The real truth is I may not have to worry about it at all. I think my husband's plan is to lock the girls up in the house until they are at least 25 while denying them access to not just make-up but also deodorant, razors, face wash, and contact lenses in hopes to keep the boys at bay.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My most creative gifts

There are ladies in the crib who are WAY creative. I do not profess to be the creativity queen. Lately, I have been trying to put my mind to being more creative with gifts, and I have come up with a few ideas that I am rather pleased with.

Letter Box
Pukey was invited to b-day party for a friend of hers who was turning 3. A few weeks before the party she sent Pukey a letter in the mail. It inspired me to make her a letter box. Pukey and I painted and decoupaged an old shoe box. We included the invitation to the party on the inside and bottom. We then filled it with sparkly pens, stickers, stationary, envelopes, a few stamps and some post-it notes. The most special touches were an ink stamp with Princess Jill and her return address on it, and some photo stickers with her picture and the text: A Note from Princess Jill (found at any photo website, I used snapfish). The only glitch in the plan was when the stickers came a little late...if you decide to do the personalized stuff, plan ahead. We had so much fun making this gift, and shortly after the party, we received a thank you letter from Princess Jill.

Father's Day Tee
Okay, so this isn't the most creative, but it was really easy and our Dad loved it. Just purchase some photo transfer paper and a t-shirt (the website where I got the paper had cheap tees too). Choose a photo, crop, enhance and enlarge it, reverse it, and then print it. After that, you just iron it on to your pre-washed tee. Carrie gave this tip: it is less about how long you heat it, and more about the pressure you use while heating it. Another tip from her: ebay has some cool vintage iron-ons, if you don't want to go the photo route. She made me an awesome vintage Babs tee once...I love it...and I made an apron for Zinone from a digital file of an old babs cover...so awesome...whoops, I didn't make that, I sent the image to Snapfish, and THEY made it, but it is the same concept.

50 Days 'til 50
As my mother approached her 50th birthday, I wanted to do something special for her, so I decided that I would give her a gift called 50 days 'til 50. On the 50th day before her 50th birthday, she received a letter explaining the concept: That she would be receiving a gift every day leading up to her birthday. I decided to send her a package each week that contained a weeks worth of envelopes. Each had a number from 50 down to 1. The envelopes contained a variety of items/letters and were not organized really beyond their numerical order.

Ideas ranged from simple cardstock with a photo of the car she drove in high school, photo of her kids, photo of the barbies she used to play with, to listing important historical events that happened on her birthday over the past 50 years, to nice quotes. Once a week I tried to do something a little bigger. I gave her a gift certificate to Coldstone and instructed her to drop everything and grab a friend for an afternoon sundae, same idea with a Chipotle gift card. I arranged for a local bookstore to have a book waiting (and paid for) behind the counter on one of the days, and the card said, Drive to ___________ bookstore and tell the lady behind the counter your name...and then she got a brand new hard cover book. I made her a home video dvd for one of the days, and the list goes on. This was really fun for me to make, and to think about her each day for a few months. I think she really liked it too. The sky is the limit to how you could present this, and it allows for the inexpensive to the more extravagant.

Wedding Anniversary Time Capsule
As my parents approached their 20th wedding anniversary, I thought it might be fun to do a sort of reverse time capsule. I bought a file box thingy from The Container Store and did about 5 minutes of research on the world wide web, to find out about the year 1986. I filled the box with the best-selling novel, a popular film, and the billboard top hits all from that year. I also went on Ebay and got a few mags from the year and month they were married. As a tribute to politics, I bought love letters from Ronnie to Nancy (the love twist was nice since it is a wedding anniversary). I also got a vintage Chicago Bears Yearbook b/c they won the superbowl that year and they were married in Chicagoland. I then compiled as many photos as I could and put together a little slideshow and burned it onto a dvd. My hope is that the images and music of the time will bring back fond memories of their courtship and wedding. I am thinking about putting one together for the year I was married....I actually read 4 of 10 bestsellers that year...huh.

Books, Books, Books
This idea is a little more on the pricey side, but I still love it. A family we knew was moving away from New York City, so I bought them a basket and I filled it up with hard-cover picture books and dvds that had a new york theme, so that they would always remember it. I tried to have everything from board books to novels so that the entire family could find one or two things in there that they were excited about. Similarly, you could try to find books that have characters with the same name as the recipient, or that are about any subject matter, place or interest. Carrie knew my DD was totally obsessed with princess, so for her fourth birthday she tried to find princess books with a twist. Meaning, she didn't send us the abridged collection of all the Disney Princesses, but rather Paper Bag Princess, Princess Knight and the Princess and the Pizza.

I also think giving a favorite book of yours to a friend is always a good gift. Once I gave Carrie Persian Pickle Club and she thought I was nuts... until she read it!

For photos of some of the ideas, click here.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: Cheering Her On

Yesterday at the pool, my six year old daughter, Madilyn, came running up to me, her eyes brimming with tears. "The lifeguard won't let me go down the big slide anymore. She says I'm not tall enough." It turns out that Madilyn, indeed, was one inch too short to go down the big slide. However, yesterday was the first time any of the lifeguards had actually measured her. So although she'd been going down the slide for the last week, if she wanted to go down the big slide again, she either had to grow an inch or pass the infamous "SWIM TEST."

Madilyn and I walked down to the lap pool with the lifeguard (who ominously grabbed a life preserver on the way). As we approached the pool the lifeguard explained, "She needs to swim the length of the pool without touching the sides. She can tread water for a while if she needs a break. But she cannot touch the sides." I have to confess the pool length has never looked longer, and I was worried that Madilyn would not be able to do it. But I gathered as much positive energy as I could, said a silent prayer, and knelt down in front of Madilyn. Her brown eyes widened as she stared at the length of the pool. "Mommy?" She pleaded, her voice revealing her fear. "You can do this!" I encouraged. "Don't forget to come up for air. You can do this!"

Madilyn jumped in the water and started swimming. She has definitely progressed beyond the doggy-paddle. She kicked hard and her arms did baby free strokes. I walked along the pool's edge cheering her on. Behind me, my friend from church, Shannon, and her daughter appeared (they were at the pool and realized Madilyn was doing a swim test). They started cheering Madilyn on with me. About 2/3 of the way, as Madilyn came up for a breath, I saw the fear in her eyes. Madilyn looked to her left and saw a ladder. I could tell she was considering it as an option. I jumped into the pool at the far end, and reached my arm out to her. "You're doing it! You're doing it! Don't stop now!" I yelled. She took a deep breath and kept swimming She swam the last fifteen feet and grabbed my outstretched hand. She climbed out of the pool and everyone cheered, even the lifeguard. I hugged her and hugged her. She whispered, "I didn't think I could do it. That was a REALLY long way." She watched proudly as the lifeguard wrote her name with a permanent marker in the offical swim test book. The lifeguard then wrote her initials on Madilyn's hand, and Madilyn was free to go down the big slide again.

So much of my parenting life, I've done most everything for my children. I've fed them, clothed them, bathed them, read to them, and cared for them. But I realized as I watched Madilyn swim that as a parent, my real job isn't doing things for my children - it's helping my children do things for themselves. I couldn't swim the length of the pool for Madilyn - eventhough I wanted to. All I could do was believe in her, cheer her on, and celebrate with her. So while Madilyn's best part of the day was getting to go on the big slide again, the best part of my day was cheering her on.

By Tales Reader Holly

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tips and Tricks: Camping with Kids

I realize camping season is winding down, but after attending my family camping trip this year (where I believe there were about 12 kids under the age of 5), I thought I would pass on some of the tips and tricks my family has come up with during our many years of camping experience. Camping with children (babies included!) is never easy, but you can do it! It'll be great fun!

Camping Clothes - Do not bring any clothing for your child that you don't mind seeing COVERED in DIRT. Their clothing should allow them (or allow you to allow them) to "be at one" with nature (ie: roll around in dirt for a few days). I would suggest starting a "Camping clothes" box during the year. Throw in all the clothes that are too stained, ripped, or ugly to wear in public. These kinds of things make perfect camping attire. You can even throw them away at the end of the trip if need be.

Another good source for camping clothes are children's consignment stores like this one. This year I picked up some warm pajamas ($2) and sweats ($3) for the kids--things that are very hard to find in the off-season.

For Crawlers - At the same consignment store, I picked up a baby backpack ($20) this year. This backpack, didn't just come in handy, it was a LIFESAVER. Pumpkin is 11 months old and not walking yet. It freed up my hands to cook, clean, play games and she was happy as a clam (where did that saying come from anyway?) perched up there overseeing all the fun. If you are going to invest in a backpack, make sure it has a "kickstand". It makes it a ton easier to load and unload I was also able to use the backpack as a high chair for mealtimes because it could stand up by itself.

Another thing that helped with the crawler is bringing the Pack'n'Play. I set it up as soon as we got there and she played in it while I put up the tent. Then I moved it into the tent and it served as her bed for naps and nighttime.

Little Girls Hair - I learned a new trick this year: Spend the first afternoon giving them multi-elastic ponytails. Let me see if I can explain it. It is sort of like french braids but you secure each section of hair with an elastic. I think I remember these kinds of "do's" being popluar in the early 90's, but they are also great for camping. It keeps hair out the face, it keeps the hair relatively clean, and it stays in for the entire trip. It was so great to not have to worry about brushing dirty rat nests out of a screaming little princess' hair every morning.

Playing - This year I brought an old play tent I picked up at Ikea a few years back sort of like this one. In past years, people have brought other play tents and even teepees. They are always a hit with the kids and it also helps keep them out of the family tent (where they usually track in a ton of dirt and pop air mattresses -- did I mention we are not the "roughing it" kinds of campers?)

Nature Activities - There are a ton of fun nature activites you can do while camping. I think scavenger hunts are the easiest and most fun. You can find more ideas here.

Eating - For smaller children these hook chairs work great if your camping site has a picnic table.

Sleeping - Small blowup rafts make great beds for small babies. We use the Pack and Play for our older baby (but you'll need a larger tent). And Princess (age 3) sleeps in a ready bed. This bed is also great for sleepovers.

Tap lights are perfect for camping. They give off a quick and easy not-too-bright light-- perfect to change a late night poopy diaper in the tent.

Keeping Children Clean - When you're camping, I believe kids should be able to get as dirty as the want during the day. But, I do like to give them a good wipe down before they go to bed. You can tear through a ton of baby wipes this way, so pack accordingly.

If you want to give them a bath midway through your trip, pack some of your stuff in a large plastic bin then use it as a bathtub.

Camp Clean Up - The year we left the campsite the cleanesst was the year my mom made Garbage Grabbers. They were simple sock puppets with a story attached to them about loving to eat garbage. On the last day of camp, every kid put on their Garbage Grabber and had great fun finding every little piece of trash to "eat".

Now please add your own tips and tricks if you have 'em. I am always looking for more--especially if you are an experienced beach camper. I really want to get into that.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To Maria

I remember last summer Grandma Maria invited me over to dinner. It seemed very important to her that I was there with my entire family. I am a busy lady, and I wasn't totally excited about going, but I committed to go. The day arrived and I had a voice inside tell me to dress up, and to bring flowers. I am allergic to flowers, I never give them as a gift, but I knew that this event was very important to Maria, and so I dressed up, did my hair and makeup after a long day, and stopped by the florist on my way over.

Her humble and clean apartment was filled with friends. She had made a dinner that was like that of Thanksgiving. Food galore. We sat, talked and feasted together as Grandma Maria's circle of friends. She beamed the entire time as she served us. It was the last supper.

Around a year ago this month Grandma Maria left us. Her dear friend and our RS president had been staying very close to her because her health was declining from the return of her cancer. She was checking up on her every day. One night she called me a bit frantic because she hadn't heard from Maria. My husband was sure she had gone to see friends in NJ, so she let it go. The next night we got the same phone call, only this time our RS Prez had insisted to be let into Maria's apt, by the landlord, and she discovered Maria, laying on her couch, stricken by her disease.

My husband rushed over and made the arrangements for her funeral and stayed with her. All I could do was make phone calls. I called everyone I could think of to tell them that we had lost our beloved Grandma Maria. I called her next of kin, because that is what we were. She had no children, no grandchildren, we were them. I couldn't cry that night. In fact, I turned on the tv very loudly, and did not watch it. I didn't even get to go to the funeral because I had made previous travel arrangements that could not be changed.

But this is what I remember: I remember her smile, with the one tooth that had the gold backing on it. I remember her small frame. I remember how she always dressed, and often had a scarf. I remember her warm voice and latina accent. I remember her firm hugs and kisses. I remember her love of everyone around her. I remember her loving my children. I remember my children loving her. I remember her open heart. I remember her cane and her glasses. I remember the picture of herself on her coffee table, standing so tall and beautiful. But most of all I remember how soft her hands were, and the warmth and the grasp and the touch and the feel of them.

To Grandma Maria...we love you.

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From the Tales Inbox: Here Comes the Circus

"Here comes the circus." I actually heard one of my neighbors say this to another neighbor as I walked by with five children under the age of six in tow. He didn't say it in a nice way. Granted, two of the five children come to my home three afternoons a week and don't belong to me. But still that comment has rolled around in my head for months now.

On the one hand, I know its true. We are a boisterous gaggle of free spirits. My six-year-old daughter is a ringleader of no small consequence and the others run after her with great relish. They scream, laugh, chase and bicker with abandon. To try to get them to walk quietly in two straight lines (in rain or shine...) would be a fruitless effort.

So, why did I feel guilt, and even shame when I heard that? Why can't I let that particular comment slide off me like so much water off a duck's back?

I think what it boils down to is a latent embarrassment that I felt during my own adolescence as the third of eight children. Seven girls followed by one boy at the end. I remember one time when I was in high school we were all eating breakfast together at McDonalds on the first day of school. A bus of tourists from China came to the same restaurant and went wild when they saw us. They took pictures of us, with us, and videotaped the entire scene. It was like that (maybe not to that extreme) wherever we went - volume and mayhem followed us.

Now, though, I do revel in the gang of family that surrounds my children and me. Our gatherings are such a pleasure because there are so many to love and play with. But it took time to get to this point and I feel like I have started regressing ever since I heard that stupid comment. Oh, and since I heard this other one a month or so later. A lady on my block told a friend of mine (the lady didn't know we were friends) "and in the end town home is a lady whose got, like, ten kids running around." As if having children running around is derogatory.

I know in my heart that I don't have to care about what my neighbors think - and I do have many wonderful neighbors, some with children and without, who are loving and tolerant of my family. I am raising my spirited children the best way that I know and that involves lots of being outside - walking to the park, racing down the sidewalk, searching for nature treasures and disciplining as necessary. I guess that is just the price you pay when you have us in the neighborhood. But, if you want friends who love to have a great time, who will help you whenever they can and who can provide a good kid anecdote for any occasion, we're there for you. As much as my kids drive me crazy, they are a joy, a riot and my favorite companions. My job is not for the faint of heart, I can attest - and we're actually quite sure that three children is as large as our family will grow. But those three are the best things I've ever been in charge of. So, to all you neighbors, who aren't thrilled with my chaos, either join my circus - we'd love to have you - or please be patient as we pass by.

From Tales reader Corinne.
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Monday, August 14, 2006

And you thought YOUR birthing was hard...

Check out this article on the CNN site today:

And you thought that YOU had it rough when giving birth...wow!
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tackling the mommy guilt

The other day I was playing with my little guy as usual. We read some stories, played with toys and he kicked around and turned over a few times (his new favorite pastime!). Then I took him in my bedroom to change his diaper. While in my room I was changing my shirt (from an earlier spit-up catastrophe) and I suddenly felt inspired to clean. I started digging through my drawers and organizing clothes into piles --- things to keep and things to donate. My little man was just kicking away on the floor, intrigued by his mom and the huge pile of clothes being flung about. About 45 minutes later (time flies when you’re cleaning!) I felt this huge surge of guilt come about me. For the past 45 minutes I had been doing what I wanted to do. I looked down at my DS and he was starting to get fussy (ready for a nap) and I just felt guilty, guilty, guilty! I was thinking that if DS were able to express himself he would say “Hey mom, what about me?” I know that’s my own speculation (and guilt talking), but I felt this pull inside me that I should’ve been playing with him instead of cleaning.

My question to you is, when you’re a SAHM how do you balance your time to do things that you need (or want) to do for yourself, and spending time with your kids? Do you only do things for yourself when your kids are napping? I mean, it’s hard enough to just get a shower and maybe exercise during my son’s naps. What about cleaning, emailing, phone calls, scripture study, planning lessons & activities for church callings, making dinner, etc.?! And I have a DH who works CRAZY hours so unfortunately I don't always have access to an extra pair of helping hands to get stuff done. How do you deal with feelings of guilt when you do something for yourself while your kids are awake? Now maybe this is the kind of issue that changes as your kids get older and become more independent. And I'm sure there are no perfect answers to this question and of course spending time with my son is my priority. But whatever the situation, help this new mom deal with SAHM time management and the first signs of mommy guilt. What are your secrets to dealing with this stuff? Any tips for this newbie mommy?
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Makeup Part 3: Au Naturale

Recently I was asked to do an email makeup consultation for the girl who wears no makeup and is getting her engagement photos done. Ay ya ya. I wish I could have just done her makeup for her, but the time, expense and logistics just wouldn't have worked out. As I was writing the email, I remembered the last makeup post I did, and the slight freak-out that some of you had over wearing COLOR, at all, anywhere on your face. If you are just NOT that (color) girl, this post is for you.

For the BARELY there, au natural look:
Curl your lashes and apply clear or brown mascara. If you choose the brown route, do a light coating. There IS such a thing as this. Practice using a light touch. And as always, do not pump your mascara wand, this keeps bacteria and air from getting in and doing a number on your mascara.

For your eyes, just choose a shadow for your lids that is as close to your skin color as possible, and a light brown to go in your crease. You want your natural look to still look natural, but this will help the eye pop.

Try this.
Make sure you use a brush to apply, this will blend it WAY better, making it look even more natural....don't just use the pads they provide, your fingers would be better then the pads.

There is a great brush set on sale at Costco right now, that z told me about. I have included a photo here. It is 17.99 for 14 pieces. Ladies, this is a STEAL....it's time to buy brushes for your kits!

For your face, you want to even-out your skin tone. Wherever there is red, blotchy, yellow or dark spots, apply concealer. Get a color match at the makeup counter, and go outside in the natural sunlight to check the match before you buy. Always test makeup on your face (for color match, not allergies), NOT on your hand. I recently heard, the jaw line is best.

For the lightest of light coverage, use either:

Tinted moisturizer (with SPF please you sunworshippers.) The only thing I don't like about the one I linked to, is I can smell the sunscreen....but that's better then wrinkles. ; )


Powder foundation applied with a brush for light coverage, and the provided pad for heavier coverage.

Bronzer (don't be afraid) is lighter than blush (in most cases)....and gives your face a more natural glow than a deliberate cheek. But make sure you spot check this and any cosmetic you buy before you apply to your face. I broke out into a rash on the job the other day because of bronzer. Yikes. It was tarte brand.

This bronzer looks good too.

I personally love Bobbi Brown's shimmer brick (another zinone find). It is pricey at 35 dollars, but I wear mine almost every day and it is not even close to wearing out and I have had it for 7 months.

Lips, Go for a gloss but not too much.

This looks super sheer:

A little lip liner would be nice....do NOT just line the outside, fill in the entire lip.

the BEST lipliner is by MAC and the color is SPICE....it is the color of natural lips, but again, if you are going for drugstore brand, try this.
That liner (see link) in the color spices looks good too, but hard to tell online.

Since I don't know any one readers' specific coloring, here is a good test. Hold up silver and gold to your hand/skin. If gold looks better, you have more yellow in your skin, so stay more brown, less pink, but if silver looks better, you can do the "hint of pink" stuff....you will be able to tell the difference in the browns...some will have more pink in them, same with the natural lip glosses. Remember, lip gloss looks pink in the bottle, but it is sheer, do not be afraid.

Take a little time to experiment...buy some eyemakeup remover (my favorite right now is Sonia Kashuk's, at Target) so that you don't start your day with dark around the eyes, and if you are new to makeup, always start with a light touch and then add where necessary. And practice, practice, practice. When you first try makeup, look at yourself in the mirror every hour or so, to get used to it. And hopefully your future husband will not call you a hooker when you simply put mascara on for the first time. If that happens, you might want to save red lipstick for 2011.

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What the CRUD is in Luvs Diapers?!

I recently switched to Luvs diapers for my 18-month old so I could save a buck or two. Luvs boasts guaranteed leak protection, so it seemed a good buy. Yeah, no liquid leaks out, but yesterday his diaper started hemorrhaging little balls of gel all over the floor!

Of course the liquid in these gel-balls is urine. This gel is supposed to stay inside the diaper, holding the moisture away from baby's bum. But it doesn't.

So guess which is easier to clean up, a urine-soaked pair of shorts that you can toss into the wash or tiny pee-capsules all over the carpet that explode deep into the floor as soon as you try to wipe them up?!

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

1 Mediocre Campground + 35 Years of Family Tradition = Priceless

We just got back from our Annual Family Camping Trip. Words cannot express how much I love this camping trip with my family. I look forward to it every year. It's seriously awesome!

The first year my dh came to the Annual Family Camping Trip (right after we were married), I remember him being a little disappointed in the whole experience. Not that he had a bad time, it just did not live up to the expectations I had set by my inability to stop raving about it for months beforehand. I just couldn't understand why he couldn't see it's awesomeness!

That's when I realized something. If you look at each years camping trip by itself, there is really nothing that special, awesome, or "super fun" about it. Some people might even call it dull. The scenery is not that pretty, the fishing is not that good, we don't have a boat, there are yellowjackets galore. The list of un-ideal circumstances goes on and on.

But here's the thing: my family has gone camping at the same spot, each summer, for 35 years. That's right, 35 years. This family tradition began before I was even born! What started with a large family of 9 has now turned into an event for a huge family of 70. Each year's camping experience is a compilation of memories from past years. That's why it's so awesome. And that is why nobody really "gets" it their first year--or even their second, third, or fourth.

Every year we tell the story of when "B"(now 28 yrs old) almost rode her big wheel of the cliff and her uncle "J" grabbed her just in the nick of time or when all the kids got lost on the Turkey Trail (actually this has happened numerous times). Or when "A" got a tick in his head or when "E" locked himself in the portapotty, or when "K" ran all the way from town into the campground (now, long-distance running at camp has become a tradition itself), or when we held a proper burial for our family's old canvas tent after a night of pouring rain. There are 35 years of memories at that old, not-so-ideal campground. Every once in a while, we talk about changing the venue for our family camping trip to somwhere "nicer" but that discussion never lasts very long. We go camping at the same spot because we have always gone to the same spot and no other place would ever be the same.

I want so much for my kids to have the same memories of camping with the family that I have. I don't want to just pass on the memories in writing or words. I want them to experience it and be part of it. I want them to know it for themselves.

I think this is the essence of tradition. There is something comforting(?), beautiful(?), amazing(?) about seeing my daughter play in the same dirt, walk on the same trails, and interact with her cousins the same way I did when I was her age (except I didn't play with my cousins, I played with my nieces and nephews who were my same age. What can I say--that's what can happen in some big mormon families!).

I appreciate so much the hard work my parents put into keeping this family tradition alive (especially now that I realize how hard it is camping with a baby) and the continued efforts of my brothers and sisters who have now taken over the coordination of the event. And when they completely peeter out, I am confident that the next generation will be ready to carry it on because we all know that it's totally worth the effort.

Moral: 35 year old family traditions don't happen without hard work and sacrafice by all family members. I think it's really hard to see the true value of a tradition when it's still in it's early years, but all the effort pays off a hundred fold down the road. So, support your extended family traditions today! Or, start a family tradition of your own!

P.S. To any of my family who might read this: please limit your comments to the value of family traditions and not focus on the greatness of our recent camping trip (although I do think it was the best year ever!).

Update: Reading around the blogs today, I stumbled across a few people speaking about their own family gatherings (and how they are miserable) and I realized I have one more thing to appreciative of: My family actually gets along (for the most part). We really do like being together. I think I can sometimes take this for granted but now I have been reminded that I am really lucky.

So, if you can't relate to a long-weekend of camping with your extended family because you would rather get a root canal than deal with said family, sharing bathrooms, food and chores in the dirt, focus on beginning some special family traditions with your immediate family. Because who knoes, maybe 35 years down the road, you actually might still like to hang out together. It could happen!
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"911: What's your emergency?"

I had my first "emergency" yesterday. Luckily, it wasn't anything major - but I still called 911.
My son's binky somehow made it under his crib so far during the night that I had to get a broom to retrieve it. I had just bought two more for him so I decided to boil all three together to sanitize them. Carefully reading the instructions that said "boil 3-5 minutes" I did just that. There was so much I could get done in 3-5 minutes! I decided on changing my sons diaper.

Next thing I know we are in my bedroom playing. He was laughing so hard (his newest trick) then we read a few books, did some tummy time, then layed down for a nap. As soon as he was asleep I decided to check my email, read the blog, etc. I then started to get hungry for breakfast. I made my way to my kitchen and WHOA! My entire house (except my bedroom) was filled with smoke and the most potent, horrible smell that has ever hit my nose. I FORGOT about the pacifiers! I immediately turned off the stove, ran the smoking, stinky pan outside to the street, opened ALL of my windows and doors and closed the bedroom door to where my son was sleeping. My throat started to burn and it was getting hard for me to breathe. I checked on my son and he seemed to be doing fine, but I wanted someone to tell me it was going to be ok. I said a quick prayer and decided to call the fire dept. Oops - don't have their number handy (something I now have on the side of my fridge) so I dialed 911. At first I was embarrassed when the operator asked what my emergency was. I told her I didn't think it was a real emergency, but asked if she could get in touch with the fire department to ask if I should get my son out of the house.
She put me on hold for 5 seconds, came back on the line and said to get my baby and myself out of the house and that the fire truck was on its way up. So I scooped up my sleeping angel, ran outside and waited for the firemen.
They came driving up so soon - great response time;) They checked the house, checked my sons oxygen levels and the doc listened to his lungs. He was fine, I was fine and our house was fine. Here's what I learned (other than how scatterbrained and forgetful I am):

-Have all the emergency numbers posted somewhere (fire department, police department, poison control, etc)

-Stay calm - it's much easier to do what needs to be done if you aren't freaking out running all over the place (I know, easy to do with a burning binky, not so easy with a more serious situation)

-Learn what steps need to be taken in different kinds of emergencies. The firemen told me I did exactly what I should have done. Really? I felt so proud.

-Learn infant/child CPR. My husband and I just took a class last month. I learned a lot and am so glad I have that knowledge. (If I was Carrie I would have links to where you can take these classes, etc - but I'm just not that advanced...sorry)

-Rely on your Heavenly Father. There is nothing like prayer to calm you down and clear your head so that you can focus on what needs to be done.

-Finally, get some confidence. Before this happened, I would have put myself in the "freak out, start crying because I'm so stupid to leave the binkies on the stove, what kind of mother am I, meltdown" category. But I gained a lot of confidence in myself, after I handled this minor situation so well (pat on the back). And I think that in the future if something major does happen, I can deal with it with confidence. Hope I never have to find out...

Have any of you ever dealt well with any emergencies? What tips do you have? I would like to be as informed as possible.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: Blessing Dress for a Baby Boy?

On the wall at my parents house there is the sweetest picture of my dad as a 3-4 month old baby in a precious simple blessing dress. My aunt uncovered the dress (now 65 years old) at my grandparents house and gave it to my dad. As I am pretty much the only child left having children, he gave it to me.

I am expecting number 4 next week (hopefully a boy) and would really like the baby to wear the dress for his blessing. I personally think it is fine, but Paul (my husband) is a little against the idea. Maybe it is because we have 3 daughters already, and if this next baby actually comes out a boy, I think he really wants him to be “all boy” all the time, and can’t believe I would want to put him in a dress.

So, what does everyone think about blessing a baby BOY in a blessing dress and not a little "boy" outfit? It used to be common practice but you don’t see it much anymore.

(Of course this baby might come out a girl and we won’t even need to argue about it.)

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Monday, August 07, 2006

New answer to an old question: YES, my life is hard.

Last week, I was working in LA...something I have never done before. I spent 4 luxurious days and nights staying at the Four Seasons, shopping, working, seeing friends, bathing, reading, eating, taking photographs and riding in ridiculous cars. All of this I did A-L-O-N-E. At first I was advocating that all women should take a break from their job as mother to be pampered and relax for a half a week. And now that I am back, I am not so sure.

Being at the Four Seasons meant Ignorance was Bliss. I was able to almost completely forget my past life. I called home to talk to my daughters so that in the event they are in therapy in the future, they won't refer to "that time" when their mother totally abandoned them. I didn't really have a hard and fast need to connect with them, I did it out of obligation.

I felt rejuvinated and refreshed after my time spent A-L-O-N-E, and then when I got home it was a little too much reality. I have always been pretty good at getting my shower in, and sometimes wondered how women didn't shower sometimes...as if it was the kids fault. Well, for the first two days home, I think I had one 3-minute shower right before bed one night. My legs were hairy, hair was greasy. I was a wreck. And I hadn't sat down that day. I cooked, I cleaned, I did some grocery shopping, chapter-reading, emailing...just the normal stuff I do, but I just couldn't believe how hectic it was. Same with day two.

People always ask me this question: "Isn't it hard doing what you do and living in the city and raising kids?" I say, "If it was THAT hard, I wouldn't do it this way right?" I now know that my life is hard. I feel like I am on wife swap. I have come into this family where some lunatic mother has set up this household a certain way, and loves it, and I am forced to conform to it and live by her rules. The crazy thing is, I am THAT woman, and I made this life and these kids and this set-up, and guess what? It IS hard.

Now, maybe this is the jetlag, lack of food (the day I am writing this), exhausted woman who is getting a root canal tomorrow talking. Maybe I am just in a bad mood because I had to manually extract about 2 pounds of hard nasty big poop from Poopy's bum my first day back. Maybe with every high there must be a low. And I know that when I have been on top of the mountain, there will be a little valley following close behind, but this is much more intense then I thought it would be. I am TOTALLY out of my rhythm.

So, does this state that I have found myself in totally cancel out the relaxing time I had A-L-O-N-E last week? I think it might have. The jury is still out, but it's looking good that if I had the chance to do it again (without the work part), just pure relaxing time away from the family, I might pass...insane right?

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Beware of Flying Objects During Sacrament Meeting and Other Sunday Notables

There was a minor incident, resulting in one casualty, in our Sacrament Meeting today. DH and I were using our usual negotating tactics (fruit snacks and matchbox cars) to keep our boys busy and quiet for the meeting. There was peace for the first 30 minutes or so....and then in less than 1.2 seconds war was suddenly upon us. Asher (19 months), grabbed an elastic hair band that I had absentmindedly put around my wrist in the morning and had forgotten to take off for church. He flicked it back with his little fingers like a sling shot and BAM....that thing was airborne. A teeny tiny red elastic SCUD missile headed for an unsuspecting target. Four pews in back of us, it nailed a man square in the chest. I whisper back a pathetic apology while Asher laughed, obviously delighted with his shot. Thank goodness my little rocket launcher hit a chest and not an eyeball and thank goodness our ward is the size of a small European country and I won't likely run into the people who happened to be sitting around us anytime soon.

Today's incident barely overshadowed our other Sacrament Meeting mishap a couple weeks earlier. Noe lost one of his beloved matchbox cars under the long, full skirt of an older lady seated next to him. The lady was dozing off and hadn't noticed that the car had slipped under her skirt. I knew exactly what was going to happen...but unfortunately I couldn't grab Noe before he had pulled that poor woman's skirt up and dived down underneath it to retrieve his car. I'm pretty sure it was more leg (and garment) than she planned to expose that day! Bless that lady for her understanding and sense of humor.

Tonight, I was hopping down our stairs on my good leg with Asher(I reinjured my knee last week before I had a chance to have surgery which was lucky, I guess???), worn out from the day and trying to figure out where this motherhood thing and I had gone wrong. After we arrived safely at the bottom of the staircase, Asher smiles at me, claps his little hands together and exclaims, "Good job, Mama!" His first intelligible sentence of the day...or maybe even the week.

Thanks kid, I need to hear that once in a while...even if you are a little terrorist in training.
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Friday, August 04, 2006

Bloggin' Around

I am back from CA, and just browsing some blogs, and wanted to spread the word on a few items.

1. Daring Young Mom is reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. As a result, I started it yesterday. I am about 100 pages in and it is good so far. I think you will like it if you liked Peace Like a River, My Name is Asher Lev, That Bee one that everybody read, Poisonwood Bible, and Girl with a Pearl Earing (two r's?).

2. I really like this post on Superhero Journal, about Word Allergies.

3. My cuz has an interesting, stream-of-thought blog that she recently posted photos on with some great girl's bedroom ideas...not that I will see these come to fruition while I am living in an NYC apt., but I thought it was cute.

4. This blog has a lot of cool and creative ideas for the sewers out there. You might even see a few Tales girls stopping by.

5. This is not a blog, but an interesting "protest" on the A Train in Manhattan...sort of goes along with a few breastfeeding posts from last month on THIS blog. Here it is.

And that's it.
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

What price did you pay for silence?

I apparently paid roughly $10 for silence today.

Let me explain.

I was on a business call this afternoon and escaped to my office away from two crying, screaming, irritable toddlers (3 1/2 and 2). After I finished my phone call I noticed the house was silent. I peeked out the back door and there were my two ruffians, sitting close together on the deck, heads bent over something very important. But they were silent and not hurting each other so I happily went along my way.

5 minutes later my 3 1/2 year old DS opened the back door and HELD it for his sister (that's when I knew something was amiss) so that she could walk in. She was holding an antique red piggy bank that normally sits on my kitchen counter. That's when I noticed the chair propped up next to the counter...and began to put a few things together. The bank had a large chunk missing...and no money inside.

Me: "WHAT are you doing with that bank?"
DS: "We were putting the money away!"
Me: "Where is the money?"
DS" (pointing to the deck)"It's in there"

I walked over to where he was pointing - no money to be found. Of course not. They had deposited all of my scrounged quarters and dimes through the cracks in our deck. And NO, there is no way to get to the change under the deck - it just covers a shallow crawl space.

SO...I paid about $10 for 15 minutes of silence.

What have your lovely little ones been up to when you've been on the phone or otherwise occupied?
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Hairy Situation

So I'm just going to come right out and ask - and this is really and truly important stuff here, so prepare yourself for a deep and soul-searching discussion: Was there a secret class in middle school on how to shave your legs? Because I must have been absent that day. I'm an intelligent, (almost) 30-year-old woman, accomplished in many areas of her life, who is entirely deficient when it comes to hair removal.

Okay, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration. I've got about 90% of the legs down pat. My problem? My knees. I don't think I have EVER properly shaved my knees, and I'm really not exaggerating here. I end up either with cuts or, quite possibly worse and much more often, thinking I have done it well only to find completely hairy patellas when I emerge from the shower. And when you're a mommy like me who doesn't get a nice long (shaving time) shower very often, doing it well the first time is pretty darn important!

I really don't think I have horribly misshapen knees, but I'm not going to rule anything out here. Seriously, this isn't brain surgery, you'd think with closing in on 2 decades of regular practice I would have worked it out by now. But it's time for me to humble myself before you, fellow women with smooth and glorious legs, and beg for your assistance. So, what's my problem? Thoughts? Tricks? Advice? Tutorial video clips? And yes, I'm serious here. My knees deserve better than they're getting in my care.
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At playgroup we were talking about "how many kids are you gonna have?" It seems like a lot of my girlfriends have (or at least had) very specific "goals" as far as the number of children they are/were going to have. I use the past tense because a variety of circumstances has changed that number for many of them. In most cases I believe the number has gotten smaller, due to infertility, uncontrollable circumstances, and the fact that motherhood is "not a picnic" (as I uttered over and over again while birthing my first...where that phrase came from, I have no idea).

I have never been one of those women who had a plan. If someone would have asked me point blank: How many kids are you going to have, I would have probably said: "I don't know". If pressed, I would say "at least 2?" with a questioning lilt in my voice. Ever since I heard my friends proclaim: "I am having _ kids" I started to question why I had never made such a plan.

When I had one kid, and my friends with one kid got pregnant, I questioned whether or not I should be pregnant too. Brandolyn, Carrie and Michelle are the ones I am watching now because they have kids close in age to mine. Brandolyn's are a little older so I don't feel total pressure to be pregnant, but when I found out she was expecting, I had to take a moment and think. I have found myself observing other peoples' plans to see if I want to go down that road.

I am in agony many times trying to answer the question: When is my family complete? (much like Katie's post). For about a year I was convinced that one was it. Now I have two, and I love my second child, and I feel like I should probably have a third. The scary thing is that I don't know whether or not I am going to want a fourth...and then what about a fifth? I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that I have to allow or deny a soul to come to the earth. I have been given the gift of a young, strong, healthy body and the ability to give life, so is it selfish if I only want 2 kids? When the last child comes, will I always wonder....if I had just had one more...?

And then today I looked back at my baby girl and I started thinking about my childhood, and Dr. Robin and Oprah and I realized that I never made a plan because although beautifully mended, the beginning of my family life and childhood was broken. And family and security became a fleeting thing. And it was just my mom and her two girls. And my sister and I do not look alike, and though I do not regard them as half, my half bro and sis look a lot like our Dad, and I felt so much a part of the family and sometimes so alone.

And I looked into my baby's eyes and saw my 4-year-old daughters eyes. And I observed the gap in her teeth and then pictured my 4-year-old daughters gap in her teeth that they both got from their Dad. And I realized that both of my girls have my eyes and my husband's teeth and they have the same toes and feet which are a combination of my husband and mine. And I realized that our family is NOT broken, and it will NOT break. And I am free to create whatever I want, however I want, and whatever that is, it is going to be amazing and beautiful, and we are all going to be a part of each other. And it took the obvious genetic connection for me to see that, though it isn't really about a genes at all.

So now when the crazy pontifications, and questions, and confusions come creeping in about "how many kids should I have"...I am just going to look at those eyes, those teeth, that dimple and those earlobes and realize that I have created something. I will nurture that, and perhaps add, but never take away.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Traveling with Baby in Arms

I'm about to embark on my first airplane trip with a baby! Please help! I need all and any advice I can get on how to handle a four-month-old child in the enclosed space of an airplane surrounded by hundreds of unapproving eyes.

DD has learned to sleep on her own and in her crib so well that she has a hard time falling asleep in my arms and doesn't sleep through a lot of noise very well. And when she's tired, she cries, and she cries loud (none of this quiet whimpering I hear coming from so many other babies at church). A recipe for disaster. So if anyone can give me some tips and tricks from their experiences, I would be greatly appreciative!
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From the Tales Inbox: There's No Place like...College?

As my first semester of college away from home neared its end and I began to pack my things for the long trek back home, I remembered the words of my parents before I left: "Oh, you will be so excited and so ready to come home for the summer." As I evaluated my feelings, I realized I felt just the opposite. I was so UNexcited and so UNready to come home for an over four month summer break. Being the oldest child, along with waiting an extra six months after I graduated from high school to go to college, I was fully ready to embrace life away from home when the time came. When I moved out, I emotionally closed that childhood chapter of my life up, FOR GOOD.

So when I came home with the "this summer is going to suck and I don't want to be here" attitude, it startled everyone. I don't think anyone really knew what to expect or how to act when I came home to begin with, but I don't think anyone expected me to feel that way, especially since I did have a challenging first semester. Quickly, my parents had had enough and told me I needed to pull my act together and reminded me I was still a member of the family. So I really tried. I tried to spend one on one time with each member of my family, I got a really good job and I tried not to fuss. Everything was working out okay until last week....

I gound myself sitting in my room just thinking about my situation and despite my efforts, I was feeling that I had failed my family. I didn't understand why I didn't want to be home. My life was good here and even easier than my life at college. I was also feeling unappreciated. Even though I had tried to reach out to my family members, no one had really stopped to say thank you or even comment that I was missed. My sister noted to me that her
relationship with our brother was a lot better when I was gone. Was that supposed to make me feel good? Plus, after being away from home for four months, my family seemed to have their own jokes and stories
that I was no longer apart of. On top of already feeling like an outsider, everyone forgot my birthday in June.

As I sat there with tears dripping down my face, I realized what a pathetic and selfish sob case I was creating for myself. I looked in my calendar for hope, but only found that I still had six more weeks of summer left. I decided
right then and there that I couldn't live like this anymore and that I needed some outside help, hence why I'm writing this blog. (I know I'm not a mom, but I am a constant lurker here).

At this age I realize that I am very self-centered, confused, and pretty much in limbo between being dependant on my parents and independent. It's a hard stage in life and I realize that it's not going to be easy no matter how hard I try. I realize that I am not a perfect child but I also realize that my parents are not perfect either. With that said, I'm ready to hear from the Tales from the Crib women. You always seems to have good advice and I could use some of your perspective here.

What can I do to strengthen my family relationships while I'm at home and also while I'm away at school? I don't want my relationship with my family to crumble just because I moved away and am no longer a part of their daily lives. Is it okay for me to voice my needs to my family? How do I do that without being disrespectful to my parents? What did you do with your summers? Sometimes I feel like I have no options because of my and my families financial contraints.

I know many of you are probably chuckling as you recall your own life experiences, but for me this all seems so real and so consuming. I ask that you please be honest and frank. I will not take offense to anything. Take it away!

Home from School College Girl
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