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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Some people say Halloween is satanic. I see it as another opportunity to do missionary work.

I know. I'm a total dork.

Three years ago, this gourd was a hit at the ward halloween party. Please know I don't carve latter-day prophets into my pumpkins every year.

Have a Happy Halloween!
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Monday, October 30, 2006

My NYC tribute: Church Memories

On this other blog (that discusses things that are usually 90% way over my head) a blogger once wrote about what he called "the sweetness of mormon life". I was touched by his different stories and by other simple snapshots written about everyday mormon life. Not that I think "mormoness" is necessarily "sweeter" than other religions. Rather, I think at times it can be more frustrating, guilt-inducing and frenzied (especially each sunday I have to care for my 14 month old who refuses to sit or stay quiet for more than 5 minutes at a time). Reading these stories reminds there is another, often missed perspective from which to view my Sundays. I need to spend more time recognizing the simple sweetness around me at church instead of mourning the loss of hearing any explicit spiritual message from the speakers.

So, my NYC tribute for the month of October is a record of my most memorable moments from our ward in Queens. I realize the list might not seem to be comprised of the "sweet" moments this other blogger was talking about. I blame my writing skills. Sorry. This list is mostly for me--to help my heart and mind remember the sweetness of my old ward.

For everyone else, I hope it inspires you to recognize the everyday sweetness of the life that surrounds you--mormon or not.

My Most Memorable (Sweet) Moments: (in no particular order)

  • Watching Jen's DH conduct sacrament meeting with newborn son, Asher, strapped to his chest in a Baby Bjorn.

  • Seeing the ward Primary children led like they were the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (by ours truly, Kage).

  • Picking the first green beans out of the YW garden--planted and cared for by girls who had never gardened before.

  • Hearing new convert, Yoshi, bear his sincere testimony for the first time which largely included a story of his resident cockroach.

  • Maria. Her presence in our ward cannot be reduced to just one or two moments.

  • Listening to 4 young women give 4 amazing talks about the YW values in the same sacrament meeting (in our ward, this could be considered a MIRACLE.)

  • Having our "bigger boned" Bishop show up at the ward Halloween party as Spiderman (tights and all!)

  • Having John Heder of Napolean Dynamite fame show up at our Halloween party 2 years later. He might never realize the joy he brought to some star-struck young girls in the ward and to a YW President who had told these girls they would receive blessings if they fulfilled their promise to be at the party playing games with the primary kids. (thanks Happy Nanny!)

  • Seeing ward members bid each other up at the YW dessert auction, much to the surprised delight of the the Young Women. They just couldn't believe Jen's DH would pay $90 for a cake they made.

  • Kage singing "O Holy Night" in Sacrament Meeting. Breathtaking.

  • Hearing our token Greek member, Tony, give a passionate ten minute sacrament meeting talk about how great the lamb kebabs would be at the next ward party (which would be held at his house). Opa!

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Congrats to Krista and Melissa!

We have to give a shout out to Tales girls, Krista and Melissa, who just launched the website of their new company, Snug-a-Bug. Their brillant product which keeps babies warm without the bulk was largely born from their mothering experiences in the bitter cold NYC winters (I don't miss those!) and from their love of being "on-the-go" with their babies even during the winter months. We are so proud of them and this new mom-owned business! We wish you a future of much success!
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An email to Marianne

I recently started listening to Oprah & Friends on XM radio. I really like Dr. Oz and Dr. Robin. I had never heard of Marianne Williamson until the advertisements for her show came over the air. I happened upon her show today while driving home from the doctor's office. I had to turn it off. When I got home, I wrote her this email:

"Dear Marianne, I have been hearing advertisements over the XM radio about you being Oprah & Friends' spiritual leader. I listened to your show today for the first time. In 3 minutes you told your listeners to pray to God and ASK and RECEIVE...and then you said His name in vain "Oh My G--" about 3 times while you were telling the "resting your bones" anecdote.

How do you justify speaking respectfully about God in one breath, and taking His name in vain in the next? Do you think twice about how this might affect your credibility when God-loving people listen to your show? I really want to understand your perspective. I am not just emailing to be critical..."

I consider myself to be very tolerant of behaviors that I choose not to participate in, but two things really get to me: smoking and taking God's name in vain. I mostly hate the smoking when the one who is doing it is being rude: smoke blowing where I am having dinner, not paying attention to the object that you are holding that is ON FIRE resulting in your cigarette burn my child's face (yes this happened), and smoking indoors so that it travels up the stairs and into my apartment.

The Oh My G-- thing also just makes me cringe. I can handle a lot of other swearing and goings-on, but this one I really don't enjoy. It always stands out to me, much more than any other curse words. And it surprises me beyond belief that this woman who really has been advertised as the woman who will bring God back into your life, is saying this. Unless of course I totally misunderstood the advertisement...and this is her way of doing it! Ha!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ding! Dinner is Served

Thanks to an email response from Jen months ago, I have discovered My Girlfriends Kitchen. I have started making home made, gourmet meals, at least 12 times a month. I haven't done a repeat yet. Yep. Amazing. My husband loves me (he always did, but he also loves all the "new" dishes).

My Girlfriends Kitchen has saved my cooking life since Jr. came along. Why does it seem harder to get dinner done when I'm home all day than when I was at work all day? What? Anyway, my mom and I go once a month. We assemble 12 dinners that feed 4-6 people. You choose your menu on the internet before you get there and they have everything ready and waiting with an apron right as you walk through the door. It takes 2 hours. They have everything chopped, diced, shredded, cubed, halved, quartered, READY. They clean up. They do the dishes. I leave with 12 great meals to put into my freezer.

There are places like this all over. I have only tried Girlfriends Kitchen, but I like it. The portions are generous. The meals are interesting and diverse. They have choices between chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork, vegetarian, pastas, casseroles, stews, crock-pot dishes, grilled, baked, fried, and sauteed. The instructions, ingredients, nutritional values, and even weight watcher points are all on the packaging.

It's great not to stress about finding new recipes. I still cook our favorites, but its a relief not to have to come up with dinner ideas every night and buy ingredients/spices that I will only use once in my life. I'm glad I gave it a try!

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Only in L.A. - A "Zen" playground...

I recently went to So. Cal to visit Carrie. We decided to spend the day in the Hollywood area and took in the walk of fame stars, Chinese Theater and Kodak Theater. It was at the Kodak Theater mall that we happened upon Cosmikids. From the outside it looked like the perfect place to take our kids to play for an hour or two - lots of excited adults supervising, cool educational toys to play with, colorful crafts to make - perfect. So we paid our money and in we went with our collective four children.


So THIS is what they talk about L.A. being like.

We were greeted at the entrance by a large bin filled with small water bottles. There were blank lables on the bottles that the kids were supposed to write a word on. And I quote from one of the people working there: "Okay...now, take a pen and write a word. And you can write any word you want. Like 'LOVE'! You write, like, 'LOVE' on the bottle and then you drink the water and it's like you're drinking love, okay? Okay!"

Oh my, I was officially in the L.A. haze. I thought this stuff was all fake, but no, these CosmiKids people took their zen and love and peace and bright chakra colors VERY seriously. There was some eastern monk chanting music followed by strong African drumbeats over the loudspeakers, pools of colored lights spotlighting activity areas - chakra lights, mind you. An ACTUAL chakra tent where Carrie and Princess had their chakra's analyzed. I climbed in there too and tried to get DD to come in but instead she cried and moaned "No, mommy. OUT!" That's my girl.

At the Emotions station there is a sign that reads: "Welcome to a judgement-free, intuitive environment where you can examine your negative and positive emotions and learn what to do with them. We all have emotions. It's not that we have them; it's what we choose to do with them". OK...Wow, this is very different from my house where we try to squash personalities and beat children who are crying (I'm exaggerating but you get my drift - my house could stand to be a little more "judgement free"). Anyhoo, the lady looked deeply into my sons eyes, blew up a balloon and said, "I just blew some emotions into this balloon. Maybe I blew frustration, but now it's in the balloon and I'm going to RELEASE it (cut to letting the balloon go and it swizzles in the air and plops on the floor) - now my frustration is all gone! Isn't that just wonderful? Simon, what's in your balloon?" And this is the moment that I fell in love with my son even more. He replied evenly: "Germs". Thata boy.

There were wishing well walks, friendship stones, treasure maps all pointing back to your soul and the zen of it all. Lots of bright colors, lots of SUPER positive interaction and teaching from the workers. I think they liked our kids better than we did...seriously. But maybe that's because they just had 1 1/2 hours with them instead of ALL day every day.

The kids had fun because that's all they were supposed to do. Just have fun. But Carrie and I felt like we were on candid camera or something - this couldn't be real? Did these people really believe in all of this mumbo jumbo? I sure didn't...And yet...

Maybe there is something to be said for just getting back to the basics, the soul, light, music, appreciation for natural surroundings, blowing your frustration and anger into a balloon and letting it go...


I'll just stick with Elmo and time-outs and flashcards and see where that gets me.
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

From Health Central.com

U.S. Breast Cancer Facts
• Over 215,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
• One person is diagnosed with breast cancer every 3 minutes.
• One person dies of breast cancer every 14 minutes.
• People over the age of 50 account for 75% of breast cancer cases.

Unfortunately there is also that 25% of women that are under age 50. Samantha [name changed] married my oldest cousin back when I was in high school. She was superfit, superbeautiful, supertan, superblonde, and had super blue eyes. She was a former BYU cheerleader. She exercised all the time. She was very stylish. She was also one of the most genuinely nice women I have ever met. I was glad that she became part of the family because I didn’t fit in with my family, and I felt I related to her. She liked to talk about clothes, makeup, pop culture….stuff that I was interested in. She also took time to talk to me, and showed interest in me, even though I was almost 10 years younger.

She and her husband ended up living in the same town that I grew up in, so we would see them every once in a while. She even became a 3rd grade teacher at my former elementary school. She had two kids: a boy and a girl; both spitting images of their Dad. I remember that she was debating about having a third baby, after her daughter had reached toddler-hood.

In August of 2002 I heard the news that she was pregnant, and I was happy for her. She found the lump a short time later. 34 weeks pregnant, and there it was. They did the tests. We prayed and held our breath. Positive. Stage 4. She had the mastectomy. They gave her 6 weeks to recover. They induced the little baby girl. She was born, a spitting image of her mother, and then her mom was wheeled to her first chemotherapy treatment.
In May of 2003 I walked for her in the Revlon Run/Walk for women. I raised $2000.00. $1500 dollars more than my goal.

She fought. Family and friends helped in droves. One day the neighbors showed up at their doorstep with news that they were coming to finish their basement so that her sister (who was living with them to help out) could have a room of her own. She shaved her head. She exercised and tanned and mothered in between chemo treatments.
August 16, 2003…A little less than one year after the baby was born, Samantha went upstairs to take a nap, and never woke up. The family had a birthday party and a funeral all in the same week. As I was dealing with the grief of this event, I imagined the beginning of her story as a novel:
“Three days after my funeral, my daughter celebrated her first birthday. The pregnancy was her beginning and my end.”

The good news is that it isn’t really the end. She will live on, and she will be reunited with her family again one day. And that is the one and only bright side of breast cancer. Please get your mammogram today.
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puma shoe

Friday was the first crisp and cool day of autumn that we have had. It was also the day that my 2-days shy of being 18 months old baby had her second favorite thing taken away from her. (first is her ratty pink elephant, “ellie”). Being without the bottle has brought about some pretty hefty withdrawals. The first morning she cried for an hour straight, rejecting the sippy cup with milk, showing lukewarm attention to the sippy cup with apple juice. Since her day had been so grief-stricken, I decided to be a good mom and let her walk to pick up big sis, instead of ride in the stroller.

We had a little extra time, so I put on her shoes, grabbed her beloved ellie and her toy stroller, and we were off. My baby happens to be an excellent walker/runner and is really great at keeping up, and loves walking. She loves the toy stroller as well. We set off to walk the 2 short blocks and 2 long blocks to the school, and the entire time she was little miss slow poke. I of course got so frustrated that I put myself in this situation, that I had to keep counting so that I didn’t get riled up. I finally put her toy stroller on top of my stroller and carried the baby on my shoulders, holding her feet with one hand, and pushing the stroller with the other.

After we picked up big sis, I decided lil sis would ride in the stroller on the way home, because of her slow-poked-ness. As I strapped her in I saw that she had lost a shoe. I looked all over the parking lot (where the pick up place is) and retraced my entire route, even though big sis had a playdate very close by. I went out of my way, and even retraced the jaywalking that I did, all in the name of finding the missing PUMA. Yup, that’s right, I wanted to find the missing puma shoe…because it’s a puma!

Only then did it strike me that maybe she had lost the puma shoe in her room before we even left! Maybe that is why she was walking so slowly, because the pavement was about 30 degrees and she only had a thin sock on one foot to protect her from the cold, not to mention the fact that it must have been terribly uneven walking with one socked foot and one puma foot for 2 short blocks and 2 long blocks.

We dropped big sis off at her playdate and by the time we got home, lil sis was out like a light in her stroller. I deposited her in her room, and as I left I saw the missing puma on the floor of her room. My suspicions had been confirmed, not a good mom after all. Thank goodness there wasn’t snow on the sidewalk.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Birth Order

When I was pregnant with my first baby I had a dream...it went something like this:

I was in a store and I had two kids. One was 3ish with curly red hair, the other was about 18 months old, walking with very blond hair. The two girls were my daughters, but the younger of the two was the one I was carrying in my belly. The message I got from the dream was that I would have two daughters, and their personalities would be such that they exhibited opposite birth order characteristics...meaning the second child would be more like a first-born, and the first child, more like a second-born child.

I have not formally studied birth order, merely observed it in my own family and others...and I have to say that that dream was the only one I have had that was similar to, if not definitely a revelation.

I have two daughters, and their personalities are just like the dream told me they would be. The only wrong thing about the dream was the red curly hair...but I mean HEY it, was a dream...and I am a big ANNIE fan.

My DH and I are both first borns. This combination is both dangerous and comforting. We get each other, and we also clash at times. I was the only first born in my family growing up...Dad (#2), Mom (#3)...so with 6 of us in the house (4 kids, 2 parents), I made decisions all the time....which ride should we go on next, what should we eat, where should we go, what movie should we see...etc....I was quick to decide, so everybody went along with it. I became the boss in certain situations.

I am still bossy. I am an independent thinker, I am, as my DH calls me: THE IDEA GUY. Daughter #1 has a great imagination, but most of her ideas are morphed from someone else's original ideas. Daughter #2, though only 18 months old, is FAR different from big sis at that age. She is very independent, self-assured and strong willed. She likes to imitate big sis, but overall has a lot of originality when it comes to her playtime and expressiveness. Often I see her older sister just staring at her, in awe of what she is doing or what she has come up with in that moment.

Many times, lil sis is leading big sis into all sorts of mischief: Hey, let's dance on the coffee table! Hey, let's stand on top of Daddy's guitar and jump off! Hey, let's stuff bananas in our mouth! Come on, let's color on the floor! Hey, let's climb up on your bed and then fling ourselves over the headboard onto the wooden floor below...don't forget pillows to cushion our fall! And big sis just goes right along with it. Except for this one: Hey! Let's put our favorite stuffed animal in the toilet!

Even though my little one is exhausting...(she is physically and mentally unable to sit for more than 12.5 seconds), I like that their stereotypical birth order traits are reversed. It makes for a more even playing ground for the two girls, and there is more give and take between them then I think I allowed between my siblings and me.

Thoughts anyone?

Additional Reading

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Monday, October 16, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: Keeping My Maiden Name

An Anonymous reader writes:

Here is my question for all you. I have been married for 4 years to a wonderful man. Marriage has been so good to us even at 4 years I have very few complaints. However I am struggling with one thing. I still have not legally changed my name. I always knew that it would be really difficult to let go of my maiden name. I have not only a very independant personality, but I also am so proud of where I came from and my family members who have carried the name.(might I add it is a very small family with only one brother to carry on the family name.) I am sure it is not nessasary to go into all the details, but it is something that has been important to me to keep.

My husband has been understanding of this, as we discussed it before we were married, but I think he thought it would eventually wear off.

Being married in the temple and active members of the church, I find this to be something that is not very acceptable according to other members.

I also realize that for church purposes and family history it makes it difficult to have different names.

I am never offended if someone calls me by my married name, in fact most do at church. I see no need to correct them, and I also try to be sensitive to my husband in those situations. But legally, and in my daily living I still go by, and introduce myself by my maiden name.

Am I being immature, or do I hold any validation to wanting to keep my maiden name? Just curious what other women in the church thought. I love this blog because I know I will get honest answers. Any imput would be great and I would sincerely like to hear others thoughts.

PS We do not have children yet!
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Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Family that Plays Together

We didn't really have a family hobby in NYC. Maybe it was eating out? We did like to do that together. But, we always craved something more. Something outdoorsy. After living in Southern CA for the last nine months, we have noticed that the favorite pastime of . . . well basically everyone in our city, is biking. Street biking, mountain biking, there are biking paths everywhere! On Saturdays those bike paths are full of people riding everywhere (and sometimes in large, scary packs).

So, we figured, when in Rome, do as the Romans, right?

It's taken us about a month to purchase all the "necessities"-- two adult mountain bikes, 1 bike trailer, 4 bike helmets, a bike pump, bike tools, a bike lock, bike shorts with butt padding, CO2 air cartridges, gloves, water bottles, tire tubes, car rack, bike storage system, etc, etc (seriously, I had no idea what we were getting into).

Finally, this past Saturday was our first stab at what we hope will become our new family hobby--Bicycle Riding.

We found a trailhead only a mile from our house, The path was wide and relatively smooth - perfect for our maiden voyage. DH had the task of pulling the trailer with the kids behind his bike, but didn't feel bad. I carted those two around by myself for 9 months each, I think it's about time he takes his turn.

It was a gorgeous ride that included 3 stream crossings each way (which were hard but really fun) and we ended up eating our picnic lunch together next to a stream. Princess got a chance to take her shoes off, wade in the water and throw rocks and Pumpkin sat and happily played in the dirt. There was nature, there was physical activity and we were all together as a family. I was tearing up at how perfect it all was--and so completely accessible to us now.

Some days I really miss NYC. This was not one of those days.

I hope our bikes can avoid the fate of our past "couple hobbies" and not end up collecting dust in the garage with the tennis rackets and roller blades (cause it's going to be one very expensive "almost hobby"). But I realize it's won't be easy. We are really going to have to work at carving out the time to make it stick. It's weird that you have to work so hard sometimes to have fun together as a family. It seems Life enjoys pulling everyone in different directions.

Has anyone else been successful in starting family hobbies? Maybe some less expensive ones? And ones that can be done while pregnant (the bike riding thing can only be done between pregnancies)? What do you like to do together as a family?

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Makeup for $1.00

If you want to stock up, maybe you should try this new line call elf...Eyes Lips Face. I think this is legitimate...if not marian and carrie will find out in a 2.5 second search and delete this post!


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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Face

See the happy face that is etched in the side of the car? Pukey picked up a few rocks at the pumpkin patch the other day and very proudly drew a smily face along with some squiggles and wiggles on the side of the car.

Pukey: Look Mom!
My response: Your father is going to flip his lid.

Luckily he didn't. In fact, he found it to be pretty funny and circulated this photo all over his workplace. Oh, he works for General Motors, and yes, it is a company car.

PS This is cross-posted here.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

When I Said I Love You, I REALLY Didn't Mean It

Yesterday I left a voice mail for my boss that has left me red in the face ever since.

I work part-time teaching SAT and GMAT test prep classes for a large, well-known educational services company. Yesterday my boss, 30-something, good looking but most certainly gay, called and left me a message early in the morning. I was still laying in bed trying to get motivated for another day of Sesame Street, mushed bananas and potty training. The call needed an urgent answer, so I called him back, still half-asleep in my warm, cozy bed. I groggily ended the message, "Love ya, Bye" and clicked off my cell phone. And then I sat straight up in bed, suddenly wide awake with the horrible realization of what I had just said.

I fumbled for my phone and left him a second message that went something like this:

"Umm...what I said at the end of my last message, please just ignore it. I was still half asleep and I end a lot of phone conversations with that phrase, to my HUSBAND (trying to emphasize the word in the most loving way possible), to my brothers and sisters, to my mom and grandparents, and I say it a lot to my kids, so I'm really sorry about that but it just slipped out from habit and I was also really sleepy and I hope you have a good day, BYE!"

How's that for professional?

So now, despite my second message, I am still completely mortified and absolutely positively dreading work tomorrow. I figure my options include, in multiple choice format (I am teaching standardized testing after all):

A) Pretending nothing happened
B) Apologizing in person once again and then letting it go
C) Making a joke out of it and trying to laugh it off with him
D) Quitting my job
E) None of the above

So far the correct choice for me is E. I don't like choice A because pretending it never happened doesn't mean that either one of us has forgotten. And if I never address it again, I feel like I will be presumed guilty of having some kind of crush on him, kind of like criminals and politicians that give the "non-denial denial" of guilt. Choice B might work, but it would force me to relive the embarassment in front of the embarasee. I wish Option C would work, but I don't think I know him well enough. He is annoyingly professional and impersonal at work. I don't really want to quit my job right now (Choice D), so now I am back where I started... dreading work tomorrow. I don't suppose any of you have ever accidently told your boss you love him and have some advice for me? And please don't go all Freudian on me. I can honestly say that I've never had an indecent thought about that man. He annoys me way too much.

I haven't told DH what I did....honey...are you reading this? But he would probably laugh his head off, and tell me I am blowing the incident way out of proportion.

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Monday, October 09, 2006


It's been a few weeks now since Pukey started Pre-k. She seems to be loving it. I love it because we have a routine every morning, and I get 4-6 glorious hours away from her (we have a half day on Wed, the other days, it's 6 hours). This is best for both of us. We value our limited time together more, and we get along much better. I have even had a playdate for her once a week (being the neat freak that I am...this is a big step for me to let not one, but two children come over and completely destroy my house).

Already at the age of 4 we have this conversation everyday:
Kage: How was your day?
P: fine
Kage: What did you do at school today?
P: nothing
Kage: Did you learn about anything?
P: no
Kage: Did you make any new friends?
P: no

Sometimes I will get yes answers to the following questions: Did you play outside? Did you eat lunch? Did you have a snack? Do you have homework?

I got a pretty good conversation going when she said to me one day: "Mom, I'll be right back," and walked over to her friend Joe. She was acting pretty flirty with Joe, so I said, "Is Joe your boyfriend?" She replied, "Yes, but he doesn't know I am his girlfriend." So, I am pretty sure it is a one-sided crush. And apparently they sit next to each other, but that won't last long, as my little Pukey can get pretty silly around boys she likes.

Last night after we prayed over our dinner, DH asked Pukey, "Do you pray at school?" She immediately put down her fork and demonstrated: As she made the sign of the cross with her pointer finger pointing to her forehead and shoulders and such, she said it perfectly: In the name of the Father, the Son.....etc. Then she clasped her hands together under her chin and said another little pray something like: God is good, God is great.....etc. and then ended again with the sign of the cross and smiled.

My husband and I just sat there in awe. We had been asking her about what she had been learning for weeks, and apparently now we know. We were not surprised because after all, it is a Catholic School. We were concerned at first, but then realized that she had never tried to pray like that for any of our family, FHE, food or primary prayers. Something in her brain isolates the one from the other. In fact, over the past few months her "mormon" prayers have gotten a lot better. For probably one whole year she included this as the bulk of her prayer: "Bless everyone to eat strong and healthy foods." I don't know where that came from, but it was her signature prayer, no matter what the occasion.

The good thing about this is that she is learning to pray over snacks and lunch. She is learning about what she has in common with other Christians, and she is showing gratitude on a daily basis. I don't remember much if anything about my schooling until about 1st grade, so I don't think she will be wanting to convert to Catholicism any time soon. This is just another example of our child going out into the world and bringing a little something home with her. It's only the beginning...

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sorting Out the Modest T-shirt Melee: Part II

Since my first post on this subject back in the spring, there have been new companies popping up, new styles arriving, and new opinions forming. Sorry, but this is going to be long (but informative)!

Here's the rundown of the companies I have tried out since my last post (and remember I am not personally affiliated or have any financial interest in any of these companies):


What I like:
-They are tagless.
-The edge finish on the cap sleeve and tank makes them nice to wear with dressier clothing (as opposed to a more raw merrow edge finish like DownEast Basics). They have used a small, not-bulky self-fabric binding finished with a semi-shiny coversitch. It also seems to stand up better to many wears and washings (compared to DownEast).
-Their website has nice, fun graphics and is well put together.
-They are very supportive of their "fashion consultants" (mostly SAHM's) who sell the product, making sure every sale gets credited to a consultant.
-The are trying to branch out this season with some young,fun vests hoodies,and a pair of cargo pants. The pant looks the most interesting to me. Even though the style is pretty basic, the linen/cotton blend fabric makes me think they could become the most cozy, comfortable pants in my new fall wardrobe. I wish I could try them on.

What I don't like:
-The printed tag actually show through on the lighter color shirts which looks a little cheap.
-The sleeves of the basic cap sleeve are longer and the neck is higher (when compared to DownEast Basics). I realize some women might be looking for this, but it's not a selling point for me. But if you are looking for a little more arm coverage--this is where to look.
-I have their Clarissa Shirt. I wasn't too impressed with the quality of sewing. Maybe I just got a bad one.
-Their well-put together website takes too long to load even on my fast DSL connection. I don't have time for that.
-The main way the company is supportive of their "fashion consultants" is by not selling through their website. The only way you can purchase Modbe product is through a "boutique" or home party. Not so good for immediate satisfaction (or needs).


What I like:
-They are tagless.
-The company has updated their website since my last post. It is much more appealing to the eye.
-The "under T" has the purl edge finish that I like (similar to DownEast).
-The "perfect T" is offered in many colors.
-The cami is a nice basic cami comparable to all the other companies and doesn't sit too high in the neck.

What I don't like:
-Their "tagless" tag is an iron on label which can be seen through the shirt. Again, looks a little cheap.
-The "Under T" doesn't come in very many colors (in fact they might be discontinuing that style because they have cut the price to $10).
-Because the "perfect T" is meant more to be worn on it's own (not just as an undershirt), it has a higher neck, longer sleeve and looser fit. The edges are more finished (with self-binding). This means I don't end up wearing the one I have very much because I prefer wear these types of shirts under other things.

Now for some updates on my favorite companies:

DownEast Basics

- Still My Personal Favorite (what can I say, I'm a sucker for good prices and my clothes generally get stained with some unidentifiable child schmutz before they wear out--so I don't usually need the very best quality).

-They just finished their new website. It's not particularly "stylish" but it is a lot easier to navigate than their old one.

-It looks like their going to be having different "specials" each month where a few styles will be reduced in price $3-4. Not bad at all.

-They introduced gift cards and it looks like they will be carrying maternity soon.

-Their new dress is so comfortable, easy and perfect for traveling. I admit to feeling a little like a lyrical dancer when I wear mine, but I know it's going to become one of my favorite pieces for the fall just because it is such a no brainer. It would be fun to find a little-longer- skirt to layer under it. Something with more texture (lace, net, uneven hem) to give the outfit more depth and to give it a different look.

-I have also tried the gathered V-neck top, the wrap top and the lace camisole . Love the V-neck, even though I have to wear something under it because it is too low in the front (meaning showing garments low -for me at least). This was unclear in the picture. It's a flattering style for a small-breasted woman. The wrap top is nice too. I am not too sure I am in love with the style, but it is made very well and layers well over many camisoles. I really love the lace camisole mostly because the fabric is thinner than most of my other camis. It doesn't make me feel quite so "layered".

-Other than the dress, they aren't showing very many new styles for fall. Maybe they are still coming. Who knows.

Layers Clothing

-The have introduced an exspansive new fall line. They have the best selection of non-basics out of anyone and in beautiful colors.

-They are by far the most "stylish" company in the "modest t-shirt business". I love they way they have merchandised the clothing on the front page. The photos are well styled and inspiring.

-I am not too happy with the way the site it set up making it hard (impossible even?) to link to a specific style description page. How am I supposed to let my friends know which shirt I just love? Huh? I would be happy to spread word the word if you made it a little easier for me. And each style takes a little too long to load.

-Lastly, carrying a wide selection of items and having a well designed/styled/photographed line does not come without an accompanying higher price. This is still the reason I haven't become their number one customer.

-P.S. Tales girl, Krista, just pointed out to me that Layers has a great summer clearance going on right now.

Once again I will say that finding modest shirts is not particularly hard right now. I know you can find stuff in Target and Old Navy for less money or better quality in Nordstroms or Saks. But Fashion is Fickle. So I would urge you to give these companies at least a little of your business so they can survive until after the fashion trends shift and we REALLY need them.

Please feel free to scroll down to view the updated table and leave your own personal reviews of "modest T's" and be as specific as you can as to why you like or do not like the product.

Companyunder-T # of colors"under-t" pricecami # of colorscami priceshipping (1 shirt)additional styles of notesize range
DownEast Basics10$9.9914$9.99$5.05XS-XL12 different shirt styles, skirts, dress, gift cards, maternity soon?
Shade Clothing9$17.9911$14.99$4.95 XS-XXLnew colors, turtleneck, maternity, youth, thermal, swimwear, gift certificates
Layers Clothing9$17.003$20.00 $4.95 XS-XXLtons of new styles for fall, swimsuits, youth styles, gift certificates
Diviine Modestee9$18.959$15.95$4.95 XS-XXLarray of lace styles, youth sizes
CoverWear6$15.95 (on sale now for $10)17$13.95$4.95Youth-2Xlace cami, long sleeve
Modbe Clothing**cannot be purchased online
call to find a consultant in your area 1-877-307-3253
14$18.0011$15.00$3 (when ordered from a boutique) or $8XS-XL2youth styles, swimwear, graphic tees, vests, pants
The Mod Bod14$19.9513$17.95$4.95XS-3XLshorts, youth styles, lace cami and T
undertease*13$29.006$26.00$4.95XS-XL also Plus sizesfull lace top, long sleeve, maternity
Impel17$17.9917$14.99calculated by zip codeXXS-XXLlong sleeve, henley, V-neck, gift certificates

**I know I have not included all the companies out there. If you see one I have missed, let me know and I will add it to the table for comparison.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: Prostituting Friendship in the Name of Home-Sales

From Tales reader "LouLou M."

Another post-card sized invitation arrives in the mail. Details of the exciting “party” are disclosed along with a promise of a free gift if you bring a friend. The set-up is usually the same: three to five other suckers, like myself, sitting in the living room of the hostess wishing they were anywhere else. The hostess makes her sales pitch for _____ (insert “candles,” “cookware,” “stamps,” etc.), claiming she makes enough money to pay her mortgage pedaling these products and peppering her spiel with the word “family”—as in family-friendly job, family products, family-oriented business.

A very limited line of products is displayed and in some cases sampled. These include items such as $15 spatulas—similar ones found at Target for $2; a spice blend that promises to make this scrumptious spinach dip that is passed around and sampled. The bottle is $10 but only makes two bowls of dip and doesn’t include the mayonnaise and sour cream you must add.

The unique aspect of these Home Party Sales is the psychology of women, on which they depend. The reason for the success of these parties is that women can’t say no to their friends. They are afraid the party hosting friend will take it personally and it will affect their friendship. Executives are exploiting the notion that women cannot separate business from friendship and will continue to overpay for items based solely on a duty to support their friends, fit into the social norm and make everyone happy.

Women, eager to make some “fun money” prostitute their friendships and family relationships all to make a small sale or book another party. Unfortunately, these parties create a vicious cycle. Consultants from different companies rely on other consultants to swap parties. I’ll put on a Children’s Toy show for you if you have a Spa Party for me. The consultants, themselves, probably spend a lot of their own earnings supporting other companies in a quid pro quo manner. This explains the mass mailings of the invitations I receive since everyone is trying to support everyone else as the circle of friends gets more expansive.

The majority of women I have met who pedal these items are doing it for “fun money” not because they can’t feed their children. They are essentially hitting us up to spend our “fun money” on overpriced items so we can fill their pockets with “fun money.” The “family friendly” speech on why they are doing this job doesn’t hold up when the reasons for sales and sources of sales are examined. Instead you see selfishness.

I’m sorry ladies, but the extra $200 you are making a month is not worth it in loss of respect among your friends. Do not invite me to another home party. Do not ask me to host one. If I really “need” any of these products, I will load up my kids and go to the nearest Wal-Mart, Target or if I’m feeling extravagant, a department store and I will find them for less. Do not advertise the parties as a chance to “get away from the kids” and “stock up on things you need”. If I want to get away I will go to the spa or go shopping to a place where the base price isn’t figuring in a 30% commission. We can stop the annoying perpetual At-Home-Sales parties by saying “NO!” No, I would not like to order. No, I would not like to host. I will not bring a friend to the party, even though the three page paper-backed recipe book “free prize” is appealing. These companies will go out of business if regular women like you and me quit attending and worse, buying the low-quality, highly commissioned products. If stay-at-home Moms really want to make extra money and get some time away from the kids, spend the same amount of time from the parties at a real job. Don’t have the degree? Invest in night-school classes and get some “time away from the kids” furthering your education and preparing yourself for a career that won’t make your friends squirm whenever they see you coming towards them with the newest catalog featuring a $20 ice cream scoop.

-About the Guest Contributor: "LouLou M." has chosen to remain anonymous for fear of offending her array of Pampered Chef, Stampin’ Up and Layerz consultant friends. She lives in the midwest, is an active mother of five, and holds an MBA and CPA.
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sounds in the City

Sept. NYC tribute, a few days late (but who's really keeping track anyway?)

When we first moved to our recent apt. DS was around 9m old. He has always had sleeping issues and when we moved, we finally thought our troubles would be over. "This is the time" I reasoned with myself. He has his own room, his own crib. A new start for a new baby. Well, that was before we actually had slept there.

I remember the first night waking in a panic more than once from a noise I heard out my window. We moved from a very quite street in the "ghetto" (as some friends have lovingly referred to it), to a ground floor apt. next to the busy Queens Boulevard of Death and a window that shares the alley way. Now before you think that I have moved my family into an even more dangerous neck of the NY woods, you should know that this neighborhood is so "family" you can't even enjoy the park on a nice afternoon. I really don't consider my life in any danger although my MIL would disagree.

So as our first weeks in our new place started to drag on, and my baby wouldn't sleep and couldn't stay asleep I really started thinking crazy thoughts. Maybe there was a ghost in his room keeping him up at night. Or he really hated the decor of his new room and was trying to tell me so. It shouldn't take a brain surgeon to realize that it was our crazy neighborhood keeping the young lad from his zzzz's.

I have realized that it took us a long time to get here, but my son can now sleep through anything. we were on the street the other day and he slept right through a fire truck that drove by with his sirens BLARING.... completely deafening to me, but like a lullaby to him.

I still can't sleep through all of these, but so far these are the ones he doesn't seem to mind:

teenagers in all their teenaged glory. they usually doorbell ditch me at least once a day
trash man picking up the glass for recycling at 4am
building maintenance workers. they are usually grinding metal at some point in the week. (their door entrance is next to mine)
brick layers from the building next door. summer project
rap music from car windows
fire engines
buses; passing traffic
car horns; yelling cabbies
drunk bum in the alley way (this one WAS scary!)
gunshot (I think. but how can I know for sure?)
baby screaming and screaming and screaming
pitter patter of toddler feet upstairs
hammering on my bedroom wall; building construction
neighbors fighting
Dog barking next door
subway late at night
sometimes I can hear a radio coming from out of my kitchen cupboards. still haven't figured that one out.
Mr. Softies IceCream truck Jingle. My son still thinks that this is a dancing truck (he loves the music), not a place to get icecream.
and most recently a drunken brawl all in loud spanish. again 4am.

I'm hoping to get him some exposure to quiter enviornments, or else he might never be able to sleep unless he's in a city, and we wouldn't want to ruin him for life, now would we?
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A Post on Playgroup

Since the majority of the Tales girls have abandoned me here in Queens... ok, only 13 out of 18...but since they have left, I have tried to make it my mission to keep our playgroup alive, because after all, this blog would never have been, without it. This past summer in our ward, we have had a LOT of move-ins, and these new singles, families and couples are starting to fill up the void that the 15 move-OUTS left. Even though I am crazy busy, I want the new moms to have the same experience that I had, so I recently wrote them all an email:

"Dear Sisters,

Here is what I have to say:

When I moved to Astoria four years ago, I had a 4-month-old baby and no friends. I gradually got to know a few girls in the ward, and we would trade watching each others kids for little playdates. However, this became NOT ENOUGH, b/c it was a mom and two kids, and no adult interaction.

When my daughter became more of a toddler, Shaleen (who no longer lives here), started playgroup. What a blessing. We gathered together at the church every Friday morning and had a minimally structered group: free play, singing time, snack time, clean up (usually this involved putting away table and chairs and vacuuming), and go home.

This is where our friendships with each other as sisters deepened, and our kids got their energy out. Unfortunately there were a few powers-that-be that tried to end our playgroup, but thankfully Carrie fought nail and tooth for it to stay meeting at the church, and even sited the Relief Society Handbook in our plight. Since that fight, the enrichment program has changed and it is a lot freer and the sky is the limit to what kind of groups and activities can use the building for their purposes...and playgroup definitely fits into the program.

The reason I tell you that is because fighting to have a playgroup was worth it. When you are a first-time mother you need a support group to vent to, learn from, and bond with. I have made LASTING friendships with some of the women that were in that first playgroup, and I am sure that I will never have such a unique group of friends for as long as I live.

Now that I have two kids and more demands, and more craziness, I can't always attend playgroup, and I don't need it in the same way as I did back then....but some of you do need it and WILL need it in the future, so I want to encourage you to take an active role in planning activities. A weekly playgroup is a great idea, but there should be more socializing beyond that.

In the past if I am going to the mall, zoo, aquarium, central park, costco, target, pumpkin farm, wherever....I have emailed a few or all of you to invite you along. It is always more fun with more people! So, I have included the playgroup master list (we can add to it) below, and I expect you to take an active role in organizing playgroup and other activities...because we need each other and we can strengthen each other.

Lecture over. "
And I signed my name.

Last week we met at the church because of the rain. Whenever we meet at the church, it is easier to have adult conversation b/c the park is big, outside, and kids are constantly getting themselves into pickles that require our attention, and at the church we can corral them into one room. I had such a nice time talking to the moms.

I was really excited when two of our brand new moms (4 week old babies) met for the first time and realized their babies had the exact same left hip displasia (sp) and had the same cute little harnesses on their legs. The one mom was new to the area, so she was able to get a recommendation for an orthopedic pediatric doctor from the other mom...

As we were leaving, one of our moms (actually 1 of 2 regular attendees who is not a member), proclaimed: This is the most non-judgmental group of mothers I have ever known, and that is why I come here. It made me feel so happy, because I knew the Tales girls current and past have always tried to be open and accepting of everyone, and use our friendships to come together and learn from each other. That is what I think the gospel is really about, and I was so happy that that was coming through at playgroup.

Even in our own ward the phrase: "there are cliques" is thrown around, and I just don't get it, because our relief society sisters just want everyone to come and bring who they are to the table and find joy in each other, and I found joy in every one of those women who attended that day.
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Monday, October 02, 2006

Stories from my life with Simon

I am the mother of a precocious 3 1/2 year old boy named Simon (also a 2 year old girl, but luckily she doesn't talk quite as much right now). At the urging of my good Tales friend, Carrie, here are a few of our latest stories:

We were watching Conference on Sunday as a family and Motab came on. Simon pointed at the screen of sisters singing and said, "Hey! That lady looks like my grandma!" She sort of looked like my husbands mom so we said, "Yes, she does". He then stood up and pointed at the screen again and said, "Look, the whole choir is grandmas! The grandmas are all singing!".
Simon wanted to know why his toothpaste spit goes down the drain after it leaves his mouth. I explained that the force of gravity pulls things down - what is up will fall down. I figured he wouldn't pursue it any further but instead he walked around all day talking about "the FORCE of gravity PULLS things DOWN" - he would say this to anyone that would listen. We got a little sick of hearing about gravity so we told him to talk to his preschool teacher about it the next morning.

As SOON as he walked in the door to preschool, he threw his backpack in his cubby, raced over to his teacher and exclaimed, "Miss Sandy, I need to talk about gravity. And the TRUTH." The truth? She looked at me and I just said, "Good luck. See you at noon".
My husband told Simon that all boys have pee-pees and that boys are lucky because they get to pee in the grass.

Today while we were sitting and talking quietly, this is how my conversation with Simon went.

Simon: Mom, do girls have pee-pees?

Me: No, just boys (I didn't even want to get into what girls have - the kid is too much of a sponge)

Simon: How come only boys have pee-pees?

Me: Because that's how Heavenly Father made them. Boys have pee-pees...and girls have something else.

Simon: (LONG PAUSE) Mom...maybe if Sophie (his sister) is a good girl she can have a pee-pee too. And a belly button.
And finally:

How to give a teddy bear a haircut, according to Simon and Sophie:

1. Make sure mom isn't around. You don't have much time - hurry.

2. Put the bear on a chair, dig around in all of moms kitchen drawers to find scissors, hand lotion, brown markers and tape.

3. Cut as MUCH of the brown fuzz off the bear as you can.

4. Smear hand lotion all over the parts of the bear you cut. Heck, smear it all over the kitchen - don't leave any space uncovered.

5. Draw all over the white kitchen cabinets with brown markers while smearing some more hand lotion on the cabinets

6. Look like small deer in headlights when confronted by mom...who is NOT happy.
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