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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Creative Language

Growing up as I did (not a member of the church) I feel my frustration/pain vocabulary was pretty common - your "s" word, your "f" bomb, and variations on those themes. I was pretty good at using them, and in high school and college got in the habit (as many that age do) of sprinkling them liberally into every conversation. And then, I started dating a young man, now my husband. As a member of the church, he wasn't so down with the swearing, and so I did my best to watch my mouth around him. And then, I went and joined the church myself, and had to start watching my mouth ALL the time. So, what's a girl to do when she stubs her toe or drops a piece of china?

Make it up!

Looking back, my vocabulary was quite stunted by the availability of your common swears. Now that I have excised them from my vocabulary (okay, not COMPLETELY, I'm not going to lie, they do come out rarely) I've had to get truly creative with my phrasings. Here are some of the gems that I use often, or that I have heard others use and truly appreciate:

mother puss-bucket red
piss pocket
bun of a sitch
oh mylanta (replacing "oh my ___")

I'm actually quite thankful that I got into the habit of using cleaner language before I became a mom. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd be "slipping" all the time, and my adorable little blondie would be saying things that no 3-year-old should. So far, the worst to come out of his mouth is "crap!" (and boy did I feel like an idiot the first time he said that...) but I'm sure school will fix that soon enough!

So, what (clean and creative things) do you say when you've locked your keys in your car while it was running? Or tripped over the lego tower in the dark hallway? Or dropped the glass pan of lasagna as you pulled it out of the oven?
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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Favorite New Christmas Tradition and a List of Children's Christmas Books

Last year around this time, I read a post somewhere on someone's blog (sorry someone out there, I cannot for the life of me remember where it was). But just know this is not my own creation, just an adoption of what others are already doing out there. Here it is:

You gather, buy, and/or check-out from the library 24 Christmas books, wrap them up and put them under the tree. Every night in December, the children get to unwrap a book and then have it read to the before bed.
Kage and I tried it last year and it was a hit!! Neither of us actually got together 24 books. We started small and hope to build our collections every year until we hit 24. I think last year I started with 6.

You can include a range of books (board books, picture books) depending on the ages of your children. I have decided to only collect "Christ-centered" books or books with a Christmas message instead of more secular/Santa ones. Kage included secular books in her collection but decided to number each book, so the Christ-centered ones would be read closer to Christmas which is also a great idea. Another way to add to the excitement is to make sure the books are packed away for the year and only come out in December.

Here is a list of the favorites in our collection:

One Special Star (infant-preschool) - Simple text used to countdown from the shepherds to baby Jesus.

Lift the Flap Nativity (infant-preschool) - What kids doesn't love a lift-the-flap book? This sturdy board book tells the Nativity story with scripture references.

Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree (3-7) - A simple story told in rhyme about one Christmas tree that brings joy to many.

Christmas Tapestry (4-8) - This book is definitely better for older children. The story and illustrations are more sophisticated but beautiful.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (3-8) - Everyone loves this classic tale of Christmas spirit.

Here are the ones that I am looking to possible add to my collection this year. Most of them were reviewed in the Chinaberry catalog (one of my favorites for their book reviews) and are almost all listed for ages 4-8:

This is the Star - Gorgeous artwork with rhyming verse.

A Certain Small Shepherd - Said to be an unusual version of the traditional Christmas story.

The Last Straw - The story of a heavy laden camel bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.

Emma's Gift - A sweet story of giving with cute illustrations.

Claude the Dog - this one has been around for a while. Many reviewers comment that it always brings them to tears.

We Were There:A Nativity Story - An interesting perspective on the Nativity story from unlikely visitors: a scorpion, cockroach, rat, and snake to name a few.

Danny and the King - this looks like a good story for older children.

The Donkey's Song (boardbook) looks like a cute book for baby.

Please add your suggestions (and hopefully they are not still packed away in your Christmas box!) I need to add to my list so hopefully in a few years, I will actually have 24 books!

**don't worry about adding links, just a title (and maybe the author) as well as an age range for the book would be great.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Andrea Yates

The thought of what Andrea Yates did really horrifies me to no end. I can't bear to think that any mother could be capable of such acts. But in the context of eternal life and the gospel, wasn't she doing a service to those souls by giving them a sure ticket to the Celestial Kingdom? Haven't you ever wished you had died before the age of accountability rather than slog through a life filled with trial and affliction (or on your mission or some time in your life when you were at a spiritual peak)?

Our ultimate goal is the Celestial Kingdom, yet I usually feel just barely worthy of the Telestial. So why couldn't I have died young? And why do we mourn these innocent deaths (and I really do) when they get the ultimate reward?

My intellect and my spirit are in conflict on this issue. Any enlightening thoughts out there?
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kages Favorite Things

Welcom to Kage's favorite things. As an audience member to our Tales Show, you will receive EVERY one of my favorite things today, in a new browser window for your viewing pleasure, but only if you click on the link. If I was Oprah, you would be getting them hand-delivered by my elves.

I know the shopping season has officially begun, so here are a few ideas for you. All of these gifts make great stocking stuffers, or just small gifts of friendship and love:

Goplay Magnetic Games are so brilliant, I would have LOVED these on those long trips as a kid.

My favorite body wash on the planet is this from Bath and Body Works, in the scent of orange ginger.

Black and Decker Pest Repeller
. Ever since I got this to get rid of my mouse, I have noticed less uninvited bugs in my apartment.

Caldrea Stainless Steel Spray If you have stainless steel appliances, this spray will not only clean them, but give you a nice aromatherapy experience, again, I am a fan of the citrus scent.

Williams-Sonoma Dish Soap and Brush. I know it might seem weird, but this is a great gift because EVERYONE has dishes to do, and NOBODY treats themselves to a great dish-washing experience, unless they're rich, and then they probably have someone else doing the dishes.

Lazy Spoon I can't wait to get my hands on this spoon, I think it looks like an amazing invention, and Rachel Ray thinks so too, so I must be right.

Kiehls Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion. The only scent I have tried is GRAPEFRUIT and I love it...it is soooooooooo sexy.

Ulta Nail Lacquer is the best nail polish EVER. I can put it on and it will NOT peel for probably 4 solid days, sometimes stretched to 6...and this is a woman with 2 kids, who washes her hands a lot. I LOVE this stuff.

Carrie gave me these for Poopy's birth, and I got SO many compliments on them, and I loved them, and so I gave them to my sister's baby too. Carrie gave me the bright maryjanes, but all of them are super cute.

Spongy Feet. My new fave baby gift for anyone having a baby, are these blankies. My most favorite one that I gave was a vintage baseball print for some die-hard Cubs fans. That print is not on the site, but you can email the administrator and they will give you some limited edition options for that extra-special customization.

Persian Pickle Club. For the reader on your list, this book is a brief 196 pages, and one of the best endings a book has ever had.

Photobooks. I give these to all the grandparents every year because they already have everything, and I want to share a piece of my family with them. I collect my fave photos throughout the year and then narrow it down to the best of the best and put them in a 20 page hardcover album. For every duplicate, you get 20 percent off.

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Freebies from the Crib: Our Snug-A-Bug Winner

And the winner of our November Freebie provided by Snug-a-Bug is....

... emily c whose comment read: Can't hurt to enter, right?

I guess not! Congrats! Please e-mail your name, shipping address, size choice (0-4m through 3T) and trim request (gold or camo) to talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com

And stay tuned for our December freebie coming soon!
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Home Sweet Subway

She was exhausted, uncomfortable, ready to go home. Back across the East River to their tiny one-bedroom Queens apartment. It was afternoon, a cold and rainy early winter day in Manhattan. Her labor the previous day had been quick and exhilerating, an experience she would treasure once the pain subsided and she got some rest.

The woman and her husband gathered their belongings from the cramped hospital room that she had shared with the impatient Jewish woman and her constant barrage of visitors. Was she jealous? A little. Once again, she and her husband had greeted a newborn son alone amid the noise and chaos of a Manhattan hospital. It was intimate, a bond they would always have....but she regretted that no one else had shared those first precious moments of life with them. That it would be months before they could travel West for the rest of their family to meet their baby.

She dressed and swaddled her son, still trying to comprehend this beautiful tiny creature. She accepted that he looked nothing like her: strong Hispanic features, dark thick hair, chubby hands and feet. It didn't upset her. In fact, she loved that both of her boys had arrived into the world as perfect minature images of their father. She held her baby's beautiful brown skin against her own paleness. Even in Queens, the white woman with the brown baby ocasionally threw people off. An Arab man who had moved into the building shortly after her first son's birth had asked her if she was the child's nanny. How often, really, do you see a white woman working for a Hispanic family? her husband had asked. As her older son had grown, he began to look more like her. Probably this guy will too, she thought.

They strapped the baby into his carseat and walked out of the hospital. The city awaited them in jarring reality. An icy December wind, car horns blarring, people walking over each other to get out of the rain. She and the baby waited under the awning to the hospital entrance while the husband hailed a cab. The yellow cabs and towncars did not seem to notice him. They were full of early Christmas shoppers, city workers, tourists all trying to stay dry. She tended to her baby, making sure that he was well-swaddled and dry. The husband grew frustrated.

Let's shlep up one block, we will probably be able to catch a cab there, he said. The couple picked up their belongings and walked. Her insides began to protest the movement. She was cramping and feeling the exhaustion of childbirth. Their tiny, awkward pre-war apartment, the one she had secretly hated since her arrival that hot July day over two years ago, suddenly seemed heavenly.

As they walked, she did her best to shield the baby from the cold and rain. She pictured her obstetrician, Dr. Cho, running down this street in her high heels and white doctor's coat the previous day. She had arrived disheveled and out-of-breath just minutes before the baby's arrival. She had told the couple that she had run the entire three blocks between her office and the hospital. The woman pictured Dr. Cho walking by them once again in her head. This time, her doctor shook her head in disapproval as they towed their newborn through the wet cold New York streets.

The couple stopped on the corner of 38th and 2nd Avenue, next to a bakery and bodaga. The rain fell harder. She could smell fresh bread from the shop and the flowery scent of shampoo in her wet hair. The shampoo from her first post-baby hospital shower. She had fantisized about that shower during her labor, how it would relax her, cleanse her from the unpleasantries of childbirth. It had lived up to her expectations. Like a baptism, she came out of that shower feeling renewed, whole. The pregnancy was over. She could move on with life and her boys and her plans. This was a rough start to her second life, she thought.

The husband continued soliciting cabs. His urgency grew as time passed. His waving became more frantic, and he crept further out into the street until he was almost in the middle of 2nd Avenue. Finally, a cab pulled over. Relief passed through the woman like a warm fire. She picked up the car seat, and headed toward the yellow cab. The cabbie rolled down his window. He looked at the couple and then down at the baby.

- Where I take you? Thick accented cabbie voice.
- Sunnyside, Queens.
- No...no, I no go to Queens.
- Wait, my wife just had a baby. It's just across the river. It's illegal for you to refuse service once you have stopped.
- No Queens.

The husband grabbed at his window as the cabbie tried to roll it shut. Strong, vengeful words were exchanged. Behind the safety of his fogged window, the cabbie looked dark, evil, distorted. Her husband gave up and the yellow cabbie took off. Together, the couple watched the car spin out into the Manhattan traffic fray as if it was the last boat off a deserted island.

The couple decided they had two choices: Go back to the hospital and start over, or walk the remaining blocks to grab the 6 train which would eventually get them on the 7 train and home to Queens. She felt rising anger at her husband. Why hadn't he anticipated the weather and arranged a ride home? Where was his cell phone? Why had she agreed to move to this city, anyways? This wasn't her dream, it was his. When did she become the pushover wife? He was a convenient, but unfair target. The woman reminded herself that he would do anything for her and this was not his fault.

At least the subway ride home would be warm, she thought. She checked on her baby, buried under his blanket layers. He had been asleep since they had left the hospital, immune to the world outside his baby carrier cacoon.

Rush hour had begun and the trains were packed. She stood against her husband, the baby secured between them. The train rocked and railed its way towards Queens. A man in a dark business suit asked how old the baby was. One day old, the husband weakly replied. He gave the couple a funny look, and turned around. She was suffocated amongst the people, imagined the filth and germs in the train poisoning her perfect, healthy newborn. She felt sick. She put her head against the husband's chest and sobbed, unashamed. How did this happen? How did they end up taking their baby home on the subway? What kind of mother was she, anyways?

The woman said a quick prayer to settle herself down and decided that if this little guy could survive the subway on his very first day of life, he would be ready for just about anything life may throw at him.


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Monday, November 20, 2006

“Should We Go, Mom?”—Talking with our Children

My nephew must have been between two and three years old when he went through this phase: whenever he was in the car, and the car came to a stoplight, he would raise his little voice from the backseat and ask, "Mom! Should we go?" over and over, until the light changed and they went. And then the next time they stopped, sure enough, from the backseat, "Mom, should we go?" My sister—the most angel-like person in the world—would always answer with the utmost patience, "Yes, sweetie, as soon as the light changes."

I thought this was a curious thing to be asking and a curious way to phrase it. So I thought about it and realized that my nephew wasn’t actually asking a question; his tone of voice when he said this sounded more like a statement than a question. And then I realized that he was mimicking his mother. "Should we go?" was the exact phrase she would use every time it was time to go, every time she could have said, "Let’s go." Whenever the car came to a stop he was thinking, "Let’s go!" but phrased it, "Should we go?" because that’s what he had heard.

This got me to thinking about how we talk to our kids, especially now that I have my own and find myself doing the exact same thing. Almost everything I say to my daughter is a question, even if there isn’t really a question in my mind: "Should we change your diaper now?" (of course we should, it smells!) "Should we take a bath?" (absolutely, it’s almost bedtime) "Who’s cute" (when I’m thinking, man! you’re cute!) "Who’s a good girl?" (when she’s just endured something difficult like sacrament meeting without fussing). I know I’m not the only one who does this; obviously my sister does it too. So does my mom. But is this a family thing or do any of you speak to your children like this?

And if so, why do we do it? My daughter is seven months old, so obviously at this point, I’m not getting any responses to my questions—which, in essence, aren’t really questions; at least, I don’t really need an answer to them. So why don’t I just say, "Let’s change your diaper now," or "Time for a bath"? Obviously, we could the ask the question, why do we talk to our children at all when they can’t talk back, but the answers to that seem fairly obvious (if nothing else, so they learn to talk, right?). So why am I phrasing everything as a question?

Probably for the same reason I’m posing my thoughts on this issue as questions in this post: because questions provoke some kind of response; they assume interaction between people. And nothing is more valuable to me than genuine interaction with my daughter. Her first real smiles were life altering, because they were real responses to me—something I was aching for in those first weeks when she only pooped, peed, slept, and cried. Her laughter in response to something I do is sublime, because it means she sees me, knows me, likes me. And now that she’s able to control her body and movements more, her reaching for my face or sucking on my chin or putting her arms on my chest or neck sends me to heaven, because she’s communicating with me in the ways that are available to her now.

So perhaps my questions antcipate later communication. Perhaps they are my subconscious desire to be talking with, not just to my daughter, my looking forward to a future of conversations. Granted, the questions I’m posing now will only elicit one-word responses when she starts talking. But it’s a start and it is communication.

So how do you talk to your children?

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I refer to almost everyone in the third person, including myself and her: "Here’s Mommy," "Where’s Story?" Any thoughts on why I might do this?
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Freebies from the Crib: Snug-a-Bug

Our first Freebie comes from Snug-a-Bug, a company recently started by our very own contributors, Krista and Melissa. The company started from just a small idea born from a mother's battle to make sure her baby was warm enough (but not sweating under all the layers) during their outdoor adventures through the cold NYC winter. A few years (and a couple of new babies) later, these two moms have turned that small idea into a company with an innovative product that solves this very problem by providing warmth without the bulk. The hi-tech fabric (with wicking capabilities) used to make their "Warmsie" sets makes them so very practical for cold winters everywhere and the styling makes them so cute it would be a shame to consider them just "underwear".

The winner of this Freebie will receive a "Warmsie" set in black (with either gold or camo trim) in the size of your choice (0-4months through 3T).

If you don't live in a place that has what my husband calls a "real winter" (he's not bitter at all about living in So CA now), check out the "Warmsie" made in a lighterweight fabric which is great for cool (not just cold) weather and pass this along to friends and family who enjoy the wintery outdoors!

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Tuesday (11/20), midnight EST to enter.
-Make a comment (any comment) on the post
-Please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "other" category.
-Winner will be randomly picked and announced Wednesday (11/22) morning.
-Please only enter (comment) once.
-Tales contributors are excluded from winning the freebies--sorry :(
-Freebies can only be shipped to US addresses.

What's with the Freebie?

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: psych

Ok...this post feels a little like the From the Tales Inbox Series when people ask for our advice.

Here it goes:
Dear Tales Girls & Commenters, I am a working mother who runs around like a turkey with her head cut off. I have barely planned for Thanksgiving, except for going to the parade of course, and now I have arrived at the Thanksgiving week and I wish I had planned an awesome Family Home Evening on Gratitude.

Right now the only idea I have is to cut out a turkey body, and write down what we are thankful for on cut-out feathers and glue them to the turkey to display for the week. I have a 4 1/2 year old and 19 month old (Pukey and Poopy, or their new names, Mary Katherine Gallagher and Kramer)

Can you help me with your ideas?
Thanks, loyal reader and friend
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

First Words

I have heard many people talk about the differnce in the language development of their first and second children ie: second children usually start talking later than the first. For me, the most interesting difference has been in their first words:

Child #1: Seemed to want to please her parents.
"Peez" (Please)
"Tain Too" (Thank You)

Child #2: Just wants to survive.

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Announcing: Freebies from the Crib!

At Tales, we know a good idea when we see it. So, each month for the next several months, we will working with a different "mom-owned" business to give away a free stuff to you, our readers!

Here's what we hope to accomplish--in no particular order:

- Highlight and promote mom-owned businesses (including a few we are personally involved in) cause we love momtrepreneurs!

- Encourage our newbie blog readers to figure out how to make a comment. It's not that scary!

- Give you a reason (besides our fabulous writing skills, interesting conversations and likeable personalities) to tell your friends and family about the blog.

- Give away free stuff so you'll like us more (it worked for Oprah didn't it?)

Here is how it will work:

-When the Freebie post goes up, just make a comment (any comment) on the post before the date and time stated in the post **please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "other" category**

-Your comment will be enter you in the random drawing to win the freebie at the end of the time period.

-Please only enter (comment) once.

-Tales contributors are excluded from winning the freebies--sorry :(

-Freebies can only be shipped to US addresses.

Keep your eyes peeled for our first Freebie next week!

***if you are a momtrepreneur and would like more info on how you can be involved in our Freebies from the Crib, e-mail us at talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com.

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November Tribute to NYC

The cover of Timeout New York says this:

You can too:
Click here.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: Calling on the Experts!

Most of you Tales Girls have made multiple moves, so I thought I would call on the ranks for a little moving advice. My husband and I are moving ourselves with the help of family and a huge trailer from Utah to California. So, what are the best ways to pack appliances, books, a whole house? What are the things you have experienced and learned in your moves?

First-Time Mover

P.S. Sharing of moving tips is definitely not limited to the site contributors. Come one, come all and share your tricks!
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Monday, November 13, 2006

Curse that Halloween candy!

Even though my kids are young, we end up with GOBS of Halloween candy! What on earth do you all do with the stuff? It drives me nuts. FIRST the kids are always begging for it. Constantly. Really gets on my nerves. SECOND it is sweet yummy stuff just begging to be eaten...by me! And I will!

Last year I ate so so so much. When a friend would comfort me and say it's because I was pregnant I would sincerely deny it because I really do have a sweet tooth. But, this year I haven't had NEARLY the desire to eat the stuff. So, I guess I can happily say it was pregnancy. Though I do admit to recently swiping a few almond joys and butterfingers.

This year, I came up with a new plan out of desperation. I did not want to have candy-begging kids for the next month. I decided each day both kids would get 3 tickets no matter what. (A couple times I have used tickets as a reward for helping around the house.) We had fun sorting the candy together and I decided on 1, 2, 3, and 4 ticket prices for the piles. The kids think it's fun to "buy" something each day. Sometimes they even actually save a ticket for later. I try not to be picky about when they buy their candy--though I don't give it right before breakfast or right before dinner (unless it's a penny-size tootsie roll). I must say that it's gone very well. Though our "store" is going to have to go soon because I'm getting tired of the shoe boxes taking up so much table space.

My husband's mom used to get rid of the candy by buying it from the boys with real money. They saved a few, then got cash for the rest. She then chucked it. I think I'll do that when they're older. Though I'd try to give it away somehow--I just can't throw away good candy!

What do you do with that devilish candy that I love and hate all at the same time?
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art, Art, ART!

I recently read a little gem of an editorial in Time Out New York KIDS. I SO wish it had been me to write it. I will quote my fave parts below:

Out take
By Christopher Healy:

"Dear teacher: Destroy my child's artwork. This is an open letter to all New York City preschool and kindergarten teachers. On behalf of crayon-weary parents in all five boroughs, I impore you: Stop sending our children's art home. Not all of it, of course--when my four-year-old daughter, Bryn, draws a portrait of our family as giant-eared, skinny-legged Muppet people, that sketch is earmakred for posterity. But do I really need to receive every scrap of paper on which she's placed a haphazard marker scribble or a random splotch of paint?"

He goes on to describe some hilarious examples of his daughter's "art"work including a giraffe riding a unicorn and a piece of yellow cardboard with EEDEAEO written on it with yellow crayon.

"You are our only hope. Please do some editing back in the classroom--perhaps while the unsuspecting artists are napping--and spare us the guilt and turmoil that comes with having to dispose of our own child's artwork. If you don't, we'll be sure to send you a nice homemade greeting card for every holiday on the school calender. And we won't be stingy with the glitter..."

THANK YOU Christopher for this hilarious letter and telling the world how I feel. I am anxious to read your book.

Seriously though, what do you do with the art? I have shared one solution that was recently taken away from us because of a nice new paint job in the stairwell of my apartment building, but I have some new ideas to share.

Kid's art poster. I LOVE this idea, especially if your child is really into art, and identifies with being an artist. I especially like the posters that have multiple works of art on them.

Flipbook. Everytime a piece of my child's art really spoke to me, I took a photo of it with my digital camera. Then at the end of the year, I collected them all into an online photo sharing site...my favorite is snapfish, but there are a lot out there, and then made a flipbook. Now she has a little book that she can flip through and see all of her creations in a clean, organized 4 x 6 size.

This also makes a great gift for grandparents, and is a nice little book you can throw in the Keepsake Box for when she gets older.

You could also save all the smaller art projects up throughout the year, and use them to make customized Christmas cards, by cutting them up. This might be hard to explain to some children, but others might really get a kick out of it.

I am sure there are many other fabulous ideas, but these are the favorite of a mom with a refrigerator that is not magnetic (stainless steel), walls that were recently painted, and no room for storage of ALL those art projects.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

This Ain't Your Mother's House

I love spending time at my mom's house. In fact, I was there last week on a weeklong furlough from my husband and kids. It is quiet, cozy and full of fun childhood memories. And while I appreciate her aesthetic...probably best described as LDS rustic...lots of cross stitch in frames, oak, baskets, tasteful flower fabric prints, LDS art, puffy furniture...it is not my own.

Ever a work in progress, my own home would probably be considered modern, minimalist, warm, Latino. Picture Ikea meets Diego Rivera. It reflects both my neurosis for clean lines and organization, and my husband's Hispanic heritage. A snapshot of our home: Warm paint and furniture tones, clay pottery, simple lines on the furniture and glassware, framed prints from Latin American artists, black and white family photos. I don't know if it completely works from a designer's point of view, but it is comfortable to us.

If a home is supposed to reflect the family that occupies it, my home is missing something pretty important: an LDS identity. Suppose an archeologist were to dig up the remains of our home hundreds of years from now. Aside from our scriptures and a few church books, a scientist would probably conclude my family was without a faith.

That makes me sad. I would like our home to reflect our faith and its walls to provoke lively religious discussion. As the presence of books in a home inspires an atmosphere of learning, I want to remind our children that our religious beliefs follow us home on Sundays.

THE PROBLEM: To me, LDS art and decor is at best unoriginal, and usually kitschy enough to make me cringe. I KNOW there must be good stuff out there. TftCarrie led me to one treasure, although it may not have a lot of meaning if you don't have a NYC connection. Times and Seasons also explored this issue in previous posts here and here, but it theoretical and I am looking for more practical advice, an LDS blog version of a home design show if you will.

But mostly I am interested in how you reflect your faith in your own home, especially if you do it in a way that avoids a shopping trip to Deseret Book or Mormon Handicraft.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Waiting for the M60

It's not everyday you see a guy dressed like this with a baby girl strapped to his chest and carrying her diaper bag. I found it out of place and endearing.

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A Conglomeration of Fashion Posts

If you haven't seen it already (cause you're like the only mom in the world not reading Daring Young Mom) check my guest post on Mom-style over there. And if you have an hour to kill - like most moms do - go ahead and knock yourself out checking out all the links I put in the text. You might have some fun with it. To help you waste some more time gain further practical fashion knowledge here is a compilation of some interesting past fashion posts from Tales and all over:

-What am I supposed to wear to a cocktail party? Part 1 & Part II

-How do I get rid of fashion frump? (read through the comments to find the tips)

-How can I do my makeup in five minutes?

-Makeup tips : Au Naturale

-Sound shopping advice.

-When can I find the best bargains?

-Should I really hand wash my delicate bras?

-How do I figure out my correct bra size?

-Dressing for Sacrament Meeting: for women & for men comments get controversial but it's a fun read.

-How do I pick the best modest T? Part 1 & Part 2
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Day-in-the-Life of an Internet User

Yesterday, we got a new phonebook delivered to our front door. As I was going through the mail and paper, I put it, along with all the other junk, in my pile of recycling. I have, for quite a while, routinely thrown out my phonebooks. Who needs one taking up space and collecting dust when the internet contains all the information I need from a phonebook, plus easy access to maps and directions to boot?

I was reflecting on the way the internet has changed what I do each day. All our bills and financial records are accessed online. Our phone goes through an internet connection. I can work from my home office with access to data sets and library research tools. And I can renew my kids' library books with a few clicks of the mouse.

But, most of all, there are so many fun things to read and do online. I can spend a great deal of time at the computer each day (evidenced by my sore wrist), and often do. I have loved reading the FMH Day in the Life Series where readers chronicle a typical day. But, I wish the contributors would be more detailed in how they spend their online time. A snapshot of online usage, I think, provides an interesting view on what people are like, what they are interested in, and best of all gives me ideas about other sites that I can squander my time looking at. I'll go first:

Usually one of the first things I do after I stumble out of bed is to head to the office to check my email. This consists mostly of deleting a lot of spam--maybe it's time to have all my mail forwarded to my gmail account. It catches almost 100% of spam.

Then, I check into MyFamily. Both me and DH's extended families (parents and siblings) have a MyFamily site dating back 7 years. It has been such a great way to keep in touch with multiple family members spread across the world by being able to easily post news and pictures for everyone to see in a way that would simply not be possible otherwise.

During the mornings, I often spend a few minutes here and there checking into my favorite blogs using my new favorite internet tool, BlogLines. By setting up an account, I have been able to develop a personalized page that lists all the new posts on blogs, news sites, and anything else that I want to read on a regular basis. Anything that generates an RSS feed can easily be added with the click of a button. Right now, I am subscribing to 21 different feeds, and so this allows me to easily check what's going on with these websites without spending the time clicking around the internet to each one. My feeds include:

  • A few sources of space and astronomy news that I wouldn't read at all if they weren't compiled for me by BlogLines
  • Several bloggernacle blogs, including some big ones--Times and Seasons and By Common Consent-- and others that are focused on the intersection of Mormonism and women: Feminist Mormon Housewives, Exponent, Zelophehad's Daughters, and Mormon Mommy Wars. Additionally, there are a few individually authored blogs that I read, mostly associated with bloggernacle personalities, but I recently added a new friend's blog to my feeds.
  • Book reviews from the New York Times and NPR, as well as Julie Smith's book blog. I have added several books to my must-read list from these reviews. (If anyone has any other good sources for book reviews, please spill it!)
  • Current education news
  • And also upcoming local events

My two favorite sources of news are the New York Times and the Washington Post, which I check into a few times a day. My favorite semi-regular indulgence is to spend 20 minutes doing the Washington Post online crossword after MJ has gone to kindergarten and T is down for his nap while sipping a diet coke.

I use MyCheckFree to pay all my bills electronically, and download info from my bank and credit card company. I also regularly use the yellow pages, google maps, and get all my ward phone numbers from the ward website. And I get all my church lesson materials online too. I often log into the local library website to see what we have checked out and to request books that I can pick up a few days later from the branch close to my house. Whatever did I do before the internet?

So, tell me, how you do spend your time online?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get out there and VOTE!

"The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Just a reminder to go cast your ballot if you haven't already. It's an important duty and hard-earned right, so get out there and participate!
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How To: A Baby Book Shower

I threw my first "Baby Book Shower" for Zinone a few years ago with the help of some of the other Tales girls. I threw my second "Baby Book Shower" a few weeks ago for my old college roomate who just happened to move to our same town just weeks after adopting a sweet baby boy. In both cases, the mothers had already been thrown more traditional baby showers by family and old friends so another one of the same just didn't seem right. But, I am never one to pass up on an opportunity to have a party so a Baby Book shower was perfect.

I rememered Zinone's party was a huge success, so I called all the girls involved to help me remember the details (so I could just recreate it withough much extra thought) but no one remembered anything. I swear it was really fun though (the details are just a little fuzzy). So I had to start from scratch and without the help of my party-partner-in-crime.

Invites - I created these in the shape of a long skinny bookmark with a pretty ribbon tied at the top.

Food - Little appetizers, fruit and dessert. And because no one was pregnant at this shower, I got to make my favorite Baked Brie. Gooey, sweet and delicious!

Drink - I got this idea of making customized water bottles here. Sticking with the book theme, I used quotes about babies and made my own labels with Photoshop.

Games - I love games but the traditional baby shower ones can get really old. I prepared two games for this shower (but only used one in the end--you know how women love to gab):

First Line Trivia - Each person had to guess the name of the children's book from hearing only the first line. You can find the questions and answers here.

Baby Name Boggle - Each person had to make up as many words possible using only the letters from the baby's whole name. Points are awarded for length and uniqueness of words.

Gifts - Guests were invited to bring books as their gift to the mother and baby. It was nice to see a range of books given from board books, to picture books, to Aesops fables and other bedtime stories. Even a baby who has everything can always use more books!

Decorations - I'm not very good at decorations so all I did was buy a few "Little Golden Book" classics. I propped up on the table and then gave them to the mother at the end of the night.

It was a fun, easy, unique and useful baby shower to give!
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Monday, November 06, 2006

Miracle Girl at the Tire Store...

This afternoon I had to go to the tire repair store because I drove over a large screw yesterday in San Francisco. I was not looking forward to this errand because I would have to sit in an auto repair shop waiting room with my two BUSY children. We got in there, they said it would be about 30 minutes (thank you, car gods), I put my children in chairs and turned on my portable DVD player with a fresh movie.

That's when I noticed another family in the waiting area; father, teenage girl, girl Simon's age and another girl who looked about 10 - she was blind. Lately my son Simon has been asking lots of questions about blind people (his nighttime lullaby has always been "Amazing Grace" by his request and there is a line about being blind).

My kids lost interest in the movie as soon as they saw the family and began intereacting with the girls. The girl that was blind made her way over to me and asked my name. I told her and asked hers. "Dominque. How old is your son? And your daughter? What are their names?" I told her and we began a little conversation. I found out that she was 9. I pulled my son over to talk to her and eventually she told him that she was blind and that's why she used her stick. He was briefly interested in this but more interested in discussing roller coasters with her.

With my kids playing with the other kids, Dominque began to ask me A MILLION questions. Here's a smattering: "What does affiliated mean? When will I be a teenager? Do you think I'll be allowed to have a cell phone? Do you have a screen door at your house? Who is Jesus? What are saints? What is the difference between waffles and pancakes? Would you like to hear a math story problem? Did you know that I ran a race in the Special Olympics? What do you do in a cafeteria besides eat food?"

Now, I'm pretty good at the barrage of questions since I get them from my almost 4 year old daily, but some of these had me thrown. I forgot that she was blind and instead was bowled over by how SMART she was. I'm leaving out about 200 questions, but they were all sincere and well thought out and detailed. This 9 year old was a smart old soul.

My car was now finished and Dominques father came over to guide her away from me and back to her chair. He apologized for how talkative she had been (please, I have a Simon) but I assured him that it had been a pleasure to chat with her. Then I told him that I couldn't believe how bright she was. And this is what he told me:

"You know, when she was born my wife was only 4 months along. She was 1 pound when she was born. The doctors just waited and waited for her to die. She was life support for 17 1/2 months. In the hospital until she was 2 1/2. The doctors constantly offered to let us take her off life support but we refused. From the day she was born we read a book to her every single day. She is blind because of how long she was on life support and how premature she was. But her mind...she is so bright. She is a miracle".

I wanted to cry right there in Big O Tires. I felt like I was in the presense of an angel, a miracle child. That's what she is - an absolute miracle. I wanted to hug the father for being such a good man and reading to his tiny baby every night for 2 1/2 years when by all accounts he should have just given up. I thanked him for his story and his courage and his amazing daughter, said goodbye to Dominque, gathered up my children and left.

I can't get this little girl out of my mind. She is an inspiration to me, a reminder to be GRATEFUL for everything I have been blessed with. When we said our blessing over dinner tonight with the kids, I said that I was thankful for Dominque. After the prayer, Simon said "Mom, I liked Dominque. I liked that little girl".

Me too.
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Honey Do's

At my house there are certain things my husband is required to do, I would prefer he do, and things he is not allowed to do.

Dispose of all rodents and pests
Check on scary noises
Plunge the toilet
Take care of the car
Balance the checkbook
Deal with most of the finances
Clean up the poop and puke part of any poop and puke explosions, if he is present. When he is not....well read all about it here.

emptying the dishes
do the dishes when I have cooked the meal
fish the poop out of the tub when poopy deposits it there
iron his clothes, but HE PREFERS the non-ironed look

blow dry Pukey's hair
fold the towels
pour me a drink (he only fills it 2/3 full...grrrr)
be in charge of the hamburger helper...he forgets to "stir occasionally"

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Harlan, Iowa: Population 6000


...you'll only find 2 stop lights
...your realtor is married to the president of the bank
...you can get a house for $39,000 that in New Haven County, Conneticut would cost $250,000
...if locals have to wait behind 3 whole cars at a stop sign, befuddled, they wonder, "Is the county fair today!?"
...the drivers at the stop signs wave--"you first" "no you" " no, really, you"
...a house above $120,000 is considered an"upper end home"
...from anywhere to anywhere in town shouldn't take more than 5 minutes driving
...you're 30 minutes from the nearest church Branch
...you're 60 minutes from the nearest "big city", Omaha
...you're 40 minutes from the nearest mall
...the vp of the bank comes in on Saturday just for you
...you are surrounded by trees, fresh air, and farmland
...you'll find at least 4 churches of various denominations
...it was estimated that about 70% of the community regard religion as important in their lives
...the ENTIRE town shows up for the Homecoming football game--the town's greatest event each year
...the "Pork Queen" (as some pork industry is out there) makes the cover of their local paper
...on the second page in the local paper you can read everyone who has been issued a speeding ticket
...diners show up in jeans and flannel shirts to eat at The Country Club (and yes, it's a paid membership)
...you learn what permafrost really is

...you really don't lock your house up unless you're going out of town
...it has been noted more than once during the bitter winter--a driver leaving the car running in the store parking lot while they shopped so the car would be warm upon their return
...we just might have to own a "sit down" mower

...my husband can work 4 minutes from where he lives
...because of some of these things, and despite some of these things, I am very excited to be living the next chapter of my life!
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A little ditty from this past year:

Tonight I was telling my daughter about how my great grandma used to call me (and I think everyone…as far as I could tell), “Cookie” I told her it was because she couldn’t remember my name, so she just patted my hand and called me Cookie. My husband said: “She called you a porn name?” I am wondering how he knows ANYTHING about porn names….hmmmmm…. My daughter took it of course as a food.

Then I said, someday it might be fun if we all gave ourselves different names and had to call each other that name all day. And apparently that sounded so fun that it became right that second. Dad got Banana, Pukey got Peach, Poopy got Toast and I of course, got Cookie. Pukey did not give up all afternoon/evening long. It was really so sweet to see her little brain try to remember whose name was who. It made me smile all day long.
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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Congrats to Kage on the birth...

... of her first album, "Picture a Christmas". She has accomplished a goal that has been a long time in the making. And while it quite possibly ranks up there with pain and hardwork of childbirth, I am sure, just like a hard labor, it all payed off in the end. We are so proud of you!

P.S. This CD is going to make me break my rule of not listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but who cares! I can't wait.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Child Development 101

Have we gone too far in monitoring our children's development?

My mom recently told me that my younger brother didn't talk until he was almost 4 years old. "Weren't you worried?" I asked. "Not really," she said. "He seemed pretty bright." She was right on. Although still not a very chatty guy, he is a crazy smart computer software engineer who graduated at the top of his high school and college classes.

Today, my brother would have received speech evaluations, hearing tests, maybe even an IQ test. Overall, it's a good thing. There are a lot of positives that can come from early intervention. I know better than most as I help my son conquer his autism. But sometimes I think we are too preoccupied with how our kids are developing and how their development compares to that of their peers.

I am really guilty of such comparisons and using developmental jargon in my speech, especially since Noe's diagnosis.

I was recently on the phone with my mom. She asked what Noe had done that morning. I answered that we had colored pictures and that he has a really great tripod grasp for his age. "Oh," she answered, "That's nice. Did he ENJOY himself?"

Maybe we don't know the names of all of the important child development theorists, but how many of us read and reread our copy of What to Expect The Toddler Years. Agonize that our little Suzy wasn't as social as the other little girl at the playground that day. Constantly compare a younger child's development to that of his older brother. Sign a child up for every class and sport imaginable for fear that she will be left behind?

Even if we don't verbalize our concerns, little people have an uncanny ability to tune into our emotions. My Noe, with a diagnosis that allegedly limits his ability to understand other's emotions, senses when I am worried or stressed.

Around Noe's first birthday, I started feeling very concerned about his development. But it was nothing I could put into words for another year and a half. According to my books, his development was normal. But I worried constantly. It was right around this time that Noe's sleeping patterns became extremely erratic. He could not settle down to sleep and no longer slept through the night. He was more anxious and unhappy than he had ever been before. Coincidence? Maybe. It was only after his diagnosis and after I had a solid therapy program in place for him that my stress level went down and Noe's sleeping habits and mood dramatically improved.

My Child Development 101 Advice: If you have real concerns about your child's development, find appropriate help and leave the diagnostics to the professionals. Treat your child development book like a dictionary, a useful reference book, rather than a Bible to swear and live by. And finally, make it your work to love, nurture and enjoy every minute of your child's fleeting childhood.
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