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, January 31, 2006

The 411 on Pregnancy Puke

I know that many of our readers already stop by Mormon Mommy Wars on a regular basis, but I just don't want anyone to miss this one. If you are pregnant, plan on being pregnant someday, or might ever be in the presense of a pregnant woman, you should read this.
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Mothers Can Save the Earth

I have been learning a lot of things recently about the health of our planet. This has caused me (along with my husband) to decide to make some changes in our daily habits. As the wives and mothers in our homes, we make the majority of the household decisions, and these choices can have an effect for good or bad on the earth.

Buy Organic
I will write later about the reasons I buy organic, but as far as the environment goes, traditional agriculture is responsible for 70% of the pollution in our rivers, streams and soil because of chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) and erosion--according to the EPA. Organic farmers grow our food sustainably. For example: rotating crops nourishes the soil and replaces nutrients, and planting cover crops stops weeds, nutrient leaching and erosion.

Buy Durable Instead of Disposable
Americans average 1,900 pounds of waste annually per household. We are the world’s worst wasters, with just 5% of the world population we produce 50% of its solid waste. (The Ecology of Commerce-great book) Buy things that are recyclable or reusable instead of disposable. This will save you money and will cut down on the amount of waste in the landfills. For example, you should look into cloth diapers. Now don’t freak out! The world of cloth diapers is 21st century now, not the square folded cloth with diaper pins you are imagining. Check out www.fuzzibunz.com. These diapers are really awesome. They have a fleece lining that keeps the baby dry and doesn’t stain, an inner removable core that is super absorbent-Anwen didn’t leak all night after 9 or 10 hours, and a waterproof outer layer that doesn’t leak. They also have adjustable snaps so they can grow with the baby. They are a breeze to clean--just toss them in the washer and dryer, no soaking or scrubbing. Plus Anwen gets a lot of diaper rashes and because these are breathable, soft cloth and keep her skin dry, she doesn’t get rashes. Also there are no chemicals and weird absorbent crystal things right next to her sensitive areas.

Buy Local
Buying produce from your local area and other things from your region, eliminates a large amount off pollution from trucking, shipping and packaging. Plus it is fresher and healthier for you and you are supporting your local economy and small businesses.

I have more suggestions, but I’ll stop there. I don’t want to get too long winded, or you won’t read it. Heavenly Father made us stewards of this beautiful planet, which means we must protect and nurture it. Everything you have comes from the earth—your house, food, water, air, furniture, clothes, heat, electricity, anything you can think of. If we want to be able to continue to draw from it’s bounty, we need to do it in a sustainable way.
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Monday, January 30, 2006

Snophia the Snowoman

This morning, Princess (my 3 year old) and I decided to build a snowman in the beautiful, fluffy, new-fallen Utah snow. Being a CA native, I did not realize that beautiful, fluffy, new-fallen Utah snow is not good for building snowmen. It is hard to pack and does not roll. We would not be dissuaded though. We started building a large mound of sorts, hoping that something resembling a snow figure might come out in the end.

With the help of my sister-in-law and her accessories and a few huge shovelfuls of snow from my dh, we created Snophia the Snowoman.

We believe she brings us one step forward on the Snowomen Liberation Front, but her cliché pink dress, painted face and ample bosoms have perhaps taken us two steps back in the Feminist Movement.

(And yes, she is wearing a strapless dress. It just seemed like the most flattering silhouette for her full figure and disproportionate arms.)
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Postpartum Depression

When I had my son I experienced absolutely no postpartum issues. I heard the stories and knew the statistics but I turned out fine. I considered myself lucky to come out of pregnancy and childbirth relatively unscathed. When I became pregnant with my daughter, my firstborn was 10 months old. I remember sitting in my kitchen, about 3 months pregnant and telling my husband to watch out because this pregnancy was different. I felt different – couldn’t put my finger on what it was. But I had the presence of mind to alert him to the changes and moved my concerns quietly to the back of my busy brain.

Due to a job change and housing relocation we moved 3 times while I was pregnant. Our last move took us from NYC to the Bay Area; I was 7 ½ months along. Once in CA we camped out in temporary corporate housing and quickly searched for a house. My husband got up to speed on the new job, we put an offer on a house, the offer was accepted and I gave birth. 2 weeks after our daughter was born (via c-section) we closed on our new house and there I was, painting the ceilings, washing walls, picking out carpets, schlepping my children back and forth between homes. When my daughter was 5 weeks old we moved for the 4th and final time of 2004 into our new house. Furniture came out of storage, more painting, moving furniture, getting set up, nursing infant, getting toddler comfortable, landscaping...

And then we were finished settling in.

And then I started to unravel.

It was little things at first. I couldn’t seem to accomplish small tasks, couldn’t even muster the brain power to make a coherent list. Then I started crying out of the blue, at the drop of a hat. Then it progressed to imagining what would happen if I just died and someone else took care of my kids. The color of the sky made me weep uncontrollably. One night as I tried to hush my 8 week old to sleep while my husband was traveling for work, I could literally feel darkness descending around me. I was terrified – what the hell was happening to me? I looked down at my sleeping daughter and knew something was horribly wrong…but I still couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. Why couldn’t I pull it together?

I can honestly say I’m one of the more together people I know and have never in my life been depressed. I am always on the go, fairly organized, confident – there really isn’t much that I would change about how I tackle mothering and the world. I was completely unprepared for what was happening to my mind, my soul, my life.

One night as I was pulling out of our street on the way to pick up my husbands dry cleaning I came to a screeching halt. Literally. I found that I was unable to move the car – it was like I had forgotten how to drive. I could not pull out of my street and instead dissolved into tears a few feet from the busy intersection. I turned around and went back into my driveway and called my best friend, marian. Between that phone call and a long talk with my husband that night I realized that I was in the throes of postpartum depression and that I needed help.

I didn’t know anyone in my new town – all of my close friends were 3000 miles away. I received a blessing from my husband and found a therapist through my insurance company. I was willing to do anything to get out of this awful dark fog I was in, but all she recommended was exercise, making lists and spending some time away from the kids each day. I was skeptical…but I followed her recommendations.

I came out of my postpartum depression relatively easily but I think that’s because I worked hard at getting better and I was just lucky. I fell in love with my husband all over again as he was completely supportive and wonderful throughout the entire process. And I fell in love with my children again. I wanted to be their mother and I was grateful to have them in my life. The sky looked blue again, voices were clearer, food tasted better. My soul took a breath.

I have been quiet about my experience mainly because there is such a stigma attached to depression and mental illness in general. My family still doesn’t know what I went through. So why am I bringing it up now that I am healthy and happy again? Because I met a woman at a Christmas party a month ago and realized that it’s OK to talk about postpartum depression. We were at a small gathering of couples from our ward, chatting in small circles when “Anna” (as I’ll refer to her) walked over. I knew her from church but didn’t really know anything about her. I complimented her on the sleeping 6 month old in her arms and asked her how this, her 3rd baby, was doing. She smiled and said that only in the last month had her life returned to normal, as she had been in and out of the hospital suffering from postpartum depression. My jaw dropped. Her candor was astonishing. She was completely open to answering questions and talking about her experience. Because of my brief conversation with Anna I realized that we as a community of women and mothers need to be more open about topics as charged as depression. How I would have welcomed that kind of candor when I was going through it myself.

Someday I will have a 3rd baby and there is a good chance that I will again experience postpartum depression, probably more acutely than the first time. When that time comes I will be armed with information, the name of a counselor and the knowledge that it’s OK to talk about.
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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Empowering Moms Through Small Business

I encountered my first microlender program at work when I was passing through a village in the Andes Mountains while spending a semester abroad in Chile.

These woman sold beautiful black clay pottery unique to the region (I’d attach pictures….but my two little monkeys have managed to break my entire collection! I’m trying to put a positive spin on the situation and say it’s a good excuse to return back).

Anyhow, these women were different than other merchants I had encountered during my travels. They knew the value of their work and did not haggle with Westerners. They kept careful accounting records of their sales and inventory. They were true businesswomen.

That very day I threw away my law school applications and started searching for an MBA program with a strong non-profit emphasis.

More than any other tool to break the “cycle of poverty”, a successful small business can empower women throughout the world to be financially independent, be confident and to likewise raise independent, confident and educated children.

With a little cash and a lot of hard work, SAHMs (or anyone for that matter) can reap some of these benefits as well. Oprah magazine recently featured stories of women in business, including a mom who started a mail-order cookie business in order to finance her kid’s college educations. Some of us in the Tales crew have also built successful small businesses while juggling young children and other responsibilities.

If you are a potential momtrepreneur (thanks for that word, Chloe!) here is a mini-guide on how to get started:

1. Find an idea. It doesn’t have to be a new idea….but it does need to have a market (people willing to purchase the good or service).

2. Write a business plan. Keep it simple, but make sure that key questions can be answered.

3. Obtain proper licensure for your business. This process varies by state. Most state government websites have a “Department of Licensures” or something similar that should explain what your state requires to set up shop.

4. Need financing? Check out Count-Me-In, a by-women, for-women microlender that also offers free consulting and online business education classes. (They’re great - I’ve worked with them on projects).

Other financing options might include a small business loan through the SBA, a traditional bank loan, or an angel investor who will GIVE you money for a portion of ownership in the business. Or you can always hit up your rich Uncle Fred for an early inheritance.

5. Get Started!!!!

Good luck and have fun! And if you have any great business ideas, feel free to send them my way….I’d love to EMPOWER myself a little!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$!$

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That First Mom Friend

Well, she did it. Carrie up and moved on me. This morning they walked out of their empty apartment leaving only a few food items for me to swipe and oh yeah, Carrie’s jacket, scarf and digital camera in the pocket. Thanks, I‘ll take that too.

You know when you anticipate a moment? You picture it in your head and maybe even rehearse it. I could never do that with Carrie leaving. I would get close…I would picture the truck driving away with her stuff, but then the nausea would take over and I would have to stop. So, this morning at 5:26 AM when I said goodbye, it was a true moment. I cried…she cried. I think it was the first time we had both cried at the same time. In true best friend fashion, up until that point we had taken turns being the sad one.

I kept crying. It wasn’t the ugly cry until she was really gone. I went upstairs and claimed my food from their fridge, the pineapple sherbert from this party, the blue cheese salad dressing from THAT party, okay…I’ll try Scooby Doo Gogurt…why not…as long as it will keep Carrie alive in my life! I shut the door of her apartment and it was a symbol of closing a chapter in my life that was oh so significant.

I walked up the one flight of stairs to my apartment and crawled in bed with my 3 (almost 4) year old and ugly cried on her shoulder. She said: “Are you crying why Carrie’s leaving?” (she gets her "because" and "why" mixed up) I said: “Yes” She said: “My Dad made me feel better when I was sad last night, I will sing you a song” She sang me Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and that made me feel a little better.

Carrie will not like this, but I just have to say that Carrie is the best woman I know. She exhibits true compassion and charity. She can do anything she sets her mind to do. This is not a cliché, this is the truth. The other day I said: “We should start a magazine” She said: “OK” and I knew that if I really wanted to start a magazine, that with her on my side, we would do it. When I grow up, I want to be just like Carrie. She taught me how to be a better wife, friend and mother. I hope that everyone can find a friend like her.
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Friday, January 27, 2006

Flowers for Mommy

Ever have one of those experiences that make all the kitchen mess, dirty diapers, and crabby kid moments melt away? Here's one--

On our drive to Boston on Dec. 26th, baby Eliza and I waited in the car while Daniel (dh), Andrew, and Abby went into a nice gas station/market place to buy some snacks. While they were in the checkout line ready to go Daniel got Andrew to hold his hand. Andrew turns sweetly to Abby and said "Ok Abby, hold my hand." The couple of folks in line just thought it was too cute. Then as they exit, Abby sees their display of flowers and says, "Daddy, can we get some flowers for Mommy?" That did it. The onlookers were overcome with cuteness. Daniel kindly acknowledged Abby, but left without flowers. Well, just as we're starting up the car Daniel was telling me about Abby's cute comment and at that very moment a nice gentleman runs up to our window. He's holding 2 dozen yellow roses! He says, "Here are some flowers for 'Mommy' and the little girl. I just couldn't resist!" He wished us a merry Christmas and was off. I couldn't believe it! It was the sweetest thing ever.
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How to get that bottom REALLY CLEAN

We spent a few months this summer living with my parents while we were finishing our house purchase. One lovely Saturday, I took off to run some errands, leaving Max with his dad. They frolicked, adventured, experienced life, all was well. And as expected, at a certain point a dirty diaper occured. So Dad sits down to tackle the situation, but in the midst of it runs out of wipes. He then asks my father to go to Max's room and get the backup wipes. Grandpa returns with said wipes, hubby finishes up diaper change, case closed.

Flash to 4 hours later, when I return home.

"Why are the Lysol disinfectant wipes that I bought to clean Max's potty sitting out here?" I ask.
"Um..... Uh-oh." Hubby replies.
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Thursday, January 26, 2006


My husband served a mission in Austria, arguably one of the the most beautiful countries on the planet. He took me to visit. I hated it.

My brain hurt the entire trip. I kept trying to read and pronounce and understand every German word I saw and heard. My brain didn’t get that we were in a foreign country and that I wasn’t supposed to know what those people were saying or what that sign meant. I was crabby and grumpy and menstruating (maybe this had something to do with it), the entire trip. Did I mention we went in the middle of December? It was cold.

I am experiencing this brain-hurt again, whenever I comment on a post and have to fill in the word verification. Mxcinl, jpjkvy, gvcojisz! My brain is trying to read and comprehend these words. It is a constant frustration to me and my poor little head. And it has nothing to do with being a mother (although I am certain I have lost a considerable amount of brain cells as a result of reproducing, and this may or may not contribute to the brain-hurt, though the Austria brain-hurt was pre-children). I think I may be mental.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mothering utopia?

Chole’s post got me thinking about the places I have been a mother and what I have loved and despised about being a mother in those geographical areas. Our daughter was born in New Jersey and we lived there for the first 8 months of her life. Then we had two years in Queens before we moved on to our current residence in Pittsburgh. Upon reflection, I realized that I really didn’t love love love being a mom in NYC, was so glad to have moved on before our son was born, and that the thing I liked best about NYC was the close friendships that I had there. We will be moving somewhere again this summer—we don’t know where employment opportunities will be located yet. But, I’m thinking about the kind of place I want us to live. My personal utopia. Assuming that jobs are comparable no matter the location (a big assumption, I know), here is my list of requirements and desires in order of their importance.

1. Short commute time. When we lived in New Jersey, dh spent at least 3 (and often 4+) hours per day commuting back and forth to his job in NYC. It wasn’t so bad before we had kids, but after our daughter was born and he left before she got up and got home shortly before she went to bed, we decided this wasn’t how we wanted to operate as a family. That’s when we started looking into housing in NYC. I will give up almost anything so that we can be close to dh's job (and mine if I happen to get one). And it’s not just because I think that my kids need to see their dad as much as possible, which they do. It’s also because I can’t handle being the “preferred” parent who does all the heavy parenting work. It’s selfish, but it’s also emotionally healthy for all of us to have more balanced relationships.

2. Cost of living. This one's a close second. Oh, how I want to buy a house. A real house. I don’t want to pay 400k for a townhouse. I don’t want to rent for the rest of our lives. I want to purchase our very own home. It doesn’t have to be big, or new. I don’t really even want a yard—too much to take care of. But I want a house.

3. OK, so throw this into the mix. I want to live in a city, but not too much city. I learned to love city-life when we lived in NYC. I grew up in small town Montana, lived in Provo for a few years, went on a mission to the sparsely populated southwest, and then lived in suburban New Jersey. New York city was a shock to the system. The noise, the trash on the streets, the lack of trees, the stress of trying to find a place to park and then successfully parking. But it grew on me. I loved the proximity of the grocery store, the post office, the library, and just about everything else I needed, all a short walk from my front door. I liked living close to people and having neighbors I knew. I loved the diversity—walking down Steinway with the melodies of multiple languages washing over me, the smells of gyros, NY style pizza, tikka masala, and masaman curry wafting through the air. But as much appreciation as I gained for city living in NYC, there was too much pavement and not enough green - even with our postage stamp backyard complete with flowers, tomatoes, and a grill. I missed the trees and couldn’t make it to parks often enough to satisfy that longing. I want something between heavy duty city and suburbs (dh swears there's a word for this - anyone?).

Those are probably the three most important things. I want to live in a city where commuting is easy and where we can have a house. I also want good public schools with diverse student bodies. I want easy access to libraries, parks, and museums for regular outings with my kids.

When you combine a short commute with my desire to have a house, a lot of cities are off the list. All the big ones where traffic snarls are as much as part of a day as eating, where the suburbs are far away from the downtowns, and where places to live near work are expensive, small, and not houses.

It turns out Pittsburgh meets about all my requirements. We just need a job to keep us here. But if we can't stay, then maybe Boston. Maybe DC. Although they don't meet the above criteria, we could live and be happy there. Until we know for sure, I’m going to keep on dreaming about my life in that perfect location and hope for the best. How about you? What’s most important to you? For all my co-bloggers who have moved on, how does life as a mother in other places compare to life in NYC? If you could have your druthers, what would the location of your home be like? Oh yeah, and does anyone know anything about Minneapolis?
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Two very different births, naturally.

Boulder, Colorado: Home to hairy armpits, cage-free chicken eggs, organic everything, and natural childbearing.

Queens, NY: Not.

My first child was born in Utah. I was induced early because my doctor was leaving town and I'd save $500 on insurance if he was born before February. Nothing natural about it. After the birth (of which I felt nothing after reaching 4 cm.), sure I was happy, but I felt robbed of the elation, adrenalin, and immediate bond that I thought accompanied childbirth. So I decided the next baby would be without the precious epidural.

My second child was born in Boulder, Colorado, the mecca of natural everything. It was the ideal place for Bradley classes and, although I didn't have one that is where I learned what in the heck a doula was. Our natural childbirth instructor informed us of our hospital's accommodations for laboring--yoga balls, full shower and bath, and lots of mobility. She also educated us on all of the great positions to squeeze that baby out--back, side, knees, even a squatting bar was available so you could hang on and squat over the bed! Boy were we set!

Well, at 39 weeks I was dilated to a 5-6. No labor. No joke. Next week I was a six. Next week, I was STILL a freakin' six! And no labor. My doc, as though defeated, decided she'd sneak me into the already full hospital and break my water. So, I came to the hospital after a light lunch (which anywhere else is a big no no) and got into my room. Comfy, plenty of space. I had a hep-lock put in (the start to an IV, but no fluids, just the needle in case of emergency) with no problem. My man and I were prepared for hours and hours of labor (thanks to our class) but figured it'd be pretty short! Well, they broke my water and I got off the monitors, off the bed, and labored kneeling on a pillow with my arms on a chair. One and a half hours later I got back in that bed ready to push. I couldn't bear to be on my back so I pushed lying on my side. The nurse had never delivered that way and she wasn't so sure the doctor would be there on time. There's a first for everything honey, cuz I wasn't movin'!! Well, the doctor made it and so did my baby. And boy did I get that adrenaline rush, that excitement, and that bond I had so wanted. The joy after the pain. I was later escorted to my large private recovery room. I decided to stay only one day--just because that's what all these "natural" ladies did. And so it was. I had my baby girl in my room nearly the entire time and loved it. A great experience.

My third baby joined our family 10 1/2 weeks ago in the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. I thought since I couldn't make it to the cool birthing centers in Manhattan, being closer to Long Island was better than some of these scary "inner city" hospitals. And it'd be a lot like my Boulder experience, right?

So, again I'm dilated to a five and not in labor. I'm up with crampy contractions all night and decide to go to the hospital even though I'm not really in pain. Heck, if I'm going to lose a night of sleep, I might as well get a baby out of it! Dh and I go in and I measured six. Still no pain, but ain't that a great way to go to the hospital to deliver a baby? I now had to wait until someone would please break my water and get things moving. I'd already surrendered to the medical world and gotten the IV. My doctor informed me that everyone that's admitted gets an IV. Ok. Fine. I give. As I waited in the labor room I asked the nurse for a chair so I could kneel on it while I labor. The nurse was SO VERY concerned about this. She kept on asking why I needed a chair and assured me I would not be getting out of bed. We kept pressing her but got nowhere. (Why there wasn't one for my dh in the first place, I'll never know.) I told my dh that if they really weren't going to let me get up, than I might as well just forget it and get the epidural. MY way or NO way! I was very blessed that my own doctor was contacted because she was the one that gave the orders that I could "ambulate". The doctor on call even came in to ask why I wanted a chair and what I was thinking. "SHEESH YOU CRAZY PEOPLE!" THAT's what I was thinking! He consented as well saying (and I quote), "Whatever floats your boat." I wanted to PUNCH him! My water was broken and I could finally kneel by a chair. 45 minutes later it was pushing time. I got in bed and again, needed to push while on my side. A luxury that my doctor said I would not have gotten if she were not there. After the birth I got that exhilarating feeling again. Totally worth it. Well, the recovery room was far from private--it had 4 beds. The curtains separating us when closed were like overheated tents in the summertime. My husband was welcome from 7am -11pm and anyone else only from 1-8pm. And, only 4 at a time (not that there was room for more!). My TV was in between me and the mesh top of the curtain--nice. And, it came with a fee. So did the phone. The PHONE!! When I requested to leave after 24 hours I was, once again, looked at as if crazy. I was told I was "breaking protocol" and would need special permission. Oh brother. I didn't even get the permission.

So, besides the IV issue, the laboring issue, the pushing issue, the privacy issue, the TV/phone issue, the going home issue, and the fact that I had to go out into the "soup kitchen" line in the hall for breakfast, hike to the other side of the hospital floor for a shower and share an ill maintained bathroom with 2 other ladies the experiences were pretty much the same. Hey, at least I got healthy baby girls out of each!

Lesson learned: Share with your doctor EVERY DETAIL of your laboring and delivering wishes. Assume nothing. (And always be grateful for 4, 2, and 1 hour labors!)

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Why I miss mothering in NYC

I lived in NYC for 6 1/2 years, had my first baby there and left while 7 months pregnant with my second. We were child free for the first 5 years of our time in NY, but the last year and a half was truly the fun time. We now reside in the Bay Area, and while I am grateful to have my suburban "dream" (garage, laundry, yard, SPACE), I miss my NY. Here are ten reasons why I miss mothering in NYC.

10) Constant Eye Candy. NYC is the most vibrant & stimulating city on the planet and the kids just drink it up. Simon was always content to roll around the city in his stroller watching the people, cars, subways, going in and out of stores, lights, noises. It's an overwhelmingly creative place to live and I loved learning more about my beloved city through my son’s eyes.

9) Strollers. I am a stroller whore. There, I said it. I simply must know about, see, touch and experience every stroller known to man. If it's the latest and greatest, I'm on it. I have owned 12 strollers in 3 years for 2 kids and frankly, I'm disappointed that number isn't higher. NYC is THE place to see all the newest, tricked out and plush-up models. Oh how I miss my daily fix of Bugaboo, xplory and Bumbleride.

8) Central Park. From age 5 months until 17 months (when we moved to CA) Simon was in Central Park at least once a week. Lush grass, endless paths, dogs, playgrounds, lots of strollers (there I go again) and the children's zoo. It was a great place for him to grow up and have many "firsts".

7) "God Bless You". Maybe it's just NY, maybe it's everywhere, but whenever I walked around with my son people always said "God Bless". In the midst of city cacophony it was always pleasant to hear these words directed towards my son.

6) Laundry. In our 6 1/2 years in the city we never had a washer/dryer. We also didn't want to spend our time at a Laundromat. So for a little extra money we always sent our laundry out. Yes, garments too. No, I never had a problem with it. Stomach flu the night before with a 15 month old? No problem. I'd call up Joe, tell him I had a pick-up and he'd be at my door 20 minutes later asking what time that afternoon I'd like everything back. And that afternoon at my door would be a warm bag of clean clothes, neatly folded and ready for my drawers. I now own a washer/dryer (attached to a house), but what I wouldn't give for Joe in my life again. I think I still have his card in my wallet...

5)Fresh Direct. Oh, what a revelation. Pick out your food online, point, click and they bring it to you within a day or two. Up how ever many flights of stairs your apartment is, right into your tiny kitchen. This fabulous service revolutionized my life. I got so addicted that I have carried my online grocery shopping activities to Safeway out here in CA. Mmmmmm, much easier way to grocery shop, especially when you have little kids.

4) Daffy's. Fantastic designer clothes for me and Simon. When I was organizing old baby clothes this past fall, I realized that most of my favorite pieces for the kids were purchased at Daffy’s.

3) Green markets, street fairs and flea markets. One of my favorite things to do with or without kids was to visit the markets and street fairs in the city. They were up nearly every Saturday most of the year all over the place. So much fun.

2) The skyline. When we would take the elevated N train into Manhattan from Astoria, the East side skyline would be spread out before us. I never tired of the view and as Simon got older we would point out buildings and lights. I don’t care how long you live in NY, you are always inspired by the skyline.

1) My village of moms. It takes a village, a city, a group of people to raise a child. I was part of a fantastic group of smart, creative, uncompromising urban women. I couldn’t have been a first time mom in NY without them.

So thanks NYC…and thanks moms. It was a great ride.
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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Belly or no belly...that is the question.

When I was pregnant I did a photoshoot. It was a celebration of my fertility. I basically wore fabric wrapped all around my body, covering those parts that should be covered, and leaving the belly exposed. Carrie, being the fashion maven that she is, basically dressed me as if I was one of those dress-forms that we all see on Project Runway. (If you are not watching this show yet, you are TOTALLY missing out).

Anyway, most everyone I showed these photos to, mormon and non-mormon alike, had only positive things to say. A few from the baby boomer generation made comments like: “I guess that is the new thing, to have your belly showing”. Even my Dad who is SO conservative and a Bishop and all that jazz, thought the photos were “fun.”

After getting positive feedback all around, I posted some on my website for ALL to see. Let’s face it, I don’t get an extraordinary amount of hits, and those who do check in are probably all related to me or a professional contact. This brings me to the drama. An extended family member saw the photos on my site and condemned me through an email. “I find it sad that you would remove your garments for the sake of 'art.' I find how you justify what you are doing sad. I find what you have done to our family sad. I find you sad.”

Whoa. I was pretty surprised that she thought A) we had a relationship where she could write an email like that. And B) that she thought it was so dang sad. Good thing I never showed her the naked ones from my first pregnancy. Thoughts anyone?
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Friday, January 20, 2006

Shop 'Til You Drop

Now is the time to go shopping for formal wear, fancy shoes and sparkly accessories for next year’s cocktail parties. Go this weekend. Leave the kids with dad, take the credit card (not that I am an advocate for consumer debt, I just like to get the miles and pay off the card at the end of every month) a friend (if you have one) and hit the stores. Everyone is having sales from Target to Saks Fifth Avenue. Whatever your budget is, you are bound to find a great deal on items for your next cocktail party.

Here are a few tips for a successful shopping trip:

1. Take an inventory of things you already have in your wardrobe.

2. Don’t get distracted – make a list of what you will be looking for and do not break from it. Your list could include : sparkly earrings, fancy black shoes, black dress, embellished shrug or shawl, evening bag (think completely opposite of the enormous, milk stained mommy bag you usually carry).

3. Promise yourself that you will NOT buy anything for the children or anything that would find its place in your kitchen. This will just waste precious personal shopping time. We need to FOCUS here people.

3. If you hate shopping for clothes, just focus on accessories and shoes.

4. If you think/hope you will be a different size come the next cocktail party, again, focus on accessories and shoes.

5. Do not buy something just because it is CHEAP. You need to be able to see yourself wearing it and liking it. “Cheap” items that never get worn, aren’t very cheap if you figure out cost per wear.

6. Be prepared to dig through piles of randomness and racks of miscellaneous. The holiday sale product will not be nicely merchandised and easy to look through.

7. Stick a granola bar and a bottle of water in your bag. Shopping hungry causes crankiness and usually results in bad purchasing decisions. It will also give you the added stretgth you will need to do the digging.

8. Have fun and don’t stress. If you come home with nothing, just count it as a little “me” time and think about the money you just saved for your next shopping trip!

P.S. If you already have a plethora of cocktail attire and accessories in your closet, now is also a great time to pick up outerwear for the whole family (coats, hats, mittens, scarfs) at rock bottom prices.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Just call me Birth Control

I spent this past weekend visiting an old friend from college, and of course brought my crazy little guy with me. My friend has just recently gotten engaged, and will get married this summer, and she and her soon-to-be-hubby are planning on starting a family quite soon.

The reason I post? I'm not sure they should be exposed to children like mine. Seriously. My parents always say that I would be 5 years older were it not for my particularly insane cousin, who they affectionately nicknamed "birth control". How can two dewy-eyed, dreamy (soon-to-be) newlyweds possibly benefit from exposure to the kind of insanity I have (re)produced in Max?

Example of why people like me should be kept away from those thinking of having children:

Friend: "I know I'll have my own share of troubles with mine soon enough!"
Me: "No, yours will be beautiful and perfect little angels. You'll never call me saying 'Marian, he keeps smearing his poop all over the walls, what do I do?'"
Friend, with horrified look on face: "They do that?"
Me: "Ohhhhh, honey, why did you think I put Max to sleep with his jammies on backward every night?"

Maybe I should just forward her the link to fMhLisa's poop chronicles and get it over with...
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The Reasons

I am the mother of a crazy 16 month old boy Ronin, and have lived in NYC a little over 2 yrs now. In that time, I have visited my family in Utah about 6 times. Yes I know…it’s a bit extreme, but opportunities arise and I take advantage. Well after so many trips you start to notice a pattern of life with your family and I thought I would share a few with you. SO without further ado my top 10 reasons why I love visiting my family in Utah:

1. My 6 yr old niece informing me that Ronin is WAY too old for a pacifier. (as if I need more guilt in my life)

2. Having to listen to FM100 because my mom wont let me touch the dials of her car radio.

3. Singing along to the songs on FM100 and realizing I know ALL the words to most soft rocks songs of the 80s and 90s. AAAAHHHH!

4. Feeling like a polygamist wife when I go out with my 4 sisters and their 13 children.

5. Eating so horribly I grow a NEW fat roll and have to spend the rest of the visit with my top button undone.

6. Getting sick with diarrhea AND vomiting and using the one toilet in the house that has “flushing” issues.

7. Staying in my old room and realizing how lame I actually was in high school.

8. Witnessing Ronin’s very first tantrum and being so confused, that for a moment I actually think he has been possessed by the devil.

9. Being absolutely sure Ronin is possessed by the devil as he scratches the face of a newborn, pulls the hair of the 11 month old, throws a 2yr old to the ground and pokes out the eye of a 4yr old all in a 10 minute period.

10.Wanting so desperately to come home, but crying in the airport when I finally have to leave.

Needless to say there is nothing quite like visiting your family. As always this last trip has been memorable and I cant wait to do it all again soon!
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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How DO You Deal With Mom-Guilt, Dammit?!

(Sorry about the mild swearing, but at least I didn't use the other words that came to mind!)

Today I began spiraling into depression when criticized for holding my baby "too much." I've been told by concerned in-laws that my 11-month old son doesn't crawl yet because I've "held him too much." My mother remarked that, well, you can't do anything without holding him because he's "trained to be held."
Well dammit, this pisses me off because since he was a newborn I've tried to put him down as much as possible! I'd LOVE to put him down more!! My dream since February 2005 has been to take a daily shower like a normal person, for Heaven's sake. I try to do as much housework as I can, do something for myself once in a while. (Although I've given up on ever getting a decent bit of sleep.)

He often does play on the floor alone, but I pick him up if his cries escalate into more than just fussing. What am I supposed to do, leave him on the floor and let the poor helpless baby cry until he pukes? Am I supposed to force him to have "tummy time" when he's wailing desperately and turning purple?!

Some people make it sound so easy: "Oh, I just put him down, he cries/fusses a bit, then sleeps all night," or, "I let each of my kids have time on the floor and they all crawled by 5 or 6 months."

Well, I've tended to pick him up when he cries so I wouldn't feel guilty for being a cruel, neglectful mother. Now I'm told I've done him a disservice by responding to his cries. How can I not feel like it's my fault that he needs physical therapy now to catch up on some gross motor skills, like crawling?

At least he can breakdance, which not all 11-month babies can do!
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It stands for MOTHERS FOR TV. I don’t need a nanny. I have the television. Dr. Phil says toddlers should be limited to 90 minutes a day. I found this to be somewhat liberal compared to what some “experts” say about toddlers and the amount of tv they should view. According to one website, children under 2 should watch no television at all.

My first daughter, on her first Christmas received the Jay Jay the Jetplane action-figure set (even though they were for age 3 and up, I HAVE improved on giving toys that are AGE appropriate). This is because she loved the program, Jay Jay the Jetplane. Starting at 6 months, I would plop her on her blanket in front of that or other equally educational programs so that I could have some alone time. I also thought this time promoted independence for her. She would tune in and out of her show and play with her toys alone. This half hour or hour of entertainment would allow me to cook or clean or relax without her.

Then it got a little more intense. I worked in an off-broadway show for about 7 weeks or so. It meant late nights every night but Monday, and my baby liked to wake up early. I would “wake up” enough to change her diaper and give her breakfast, and then I would let her watch the Wiggles, twice (this was a DVD). This would allow me about 1 hour and 45 minutes of sleeping on the couch. She was 12 months old.

After that, when she was about 16 months old I contracted viral meningitis. After a week of quarantine in the hospital-not sure exactly WHO was taking care of her….I was home, couch/bed-ridden for another 4 weeks. During those 4 weeks I think my daughter was invited on about 3 playdates, the rest of the time, it was the two of us, and guess who watched her? Yup…Noggin. It is a commercial-free cable station that plays non-stop favorites from 6 am to 6 pm. The TV stayed on ALL DAY. This is the ONLY way I would have gotten through this very difficult time.

Now I have become more aware of tv-viewing as I have learned how impressionable she is. I try to avoid stations with commercials, so that I can avoid the “I wants”. Daughter #2 is almost 9 months old and shows little to no interest in the television.

However, I am in general not opposed to television; after all, my daughter has learned a lot from tv:

• Sign language for the word Turtle
• Armadillos like to dig
• The melody from the 3rd movement of Dvorak’s “Symphony for the new world”
• Spanish words: Rojo, Verde, Azul, Hola, Adios, etc.
• About Soccer
• Chinchillas
• Animals in general (I am NOT an animal person….and would not think of introducing animals to my daughter, unless they are on her dinner plate)
• Hanukkah
• Elephants eat peanuts (though I am not sure if this is true)
• Greek Gods
• Bert’s favorite food is oatmeal
• Running is a form of exercise

And the list goes on. Nowadays I am requiring that my daughter “earn” her tv time by first reading a large stack of books. The first time I tried this I said she had to get through as many as she could by the time the timer dinged (I set it for 22 minutes—nothing scientific behind that). When the timer went off she was actually disappointed and proceeded to finish her entire pile, making her total reading time over an hour. I don’t think that television-viewing has had a negative impact on my child. It has opened her mind to subjects that might not have entered yet, challenged her brain, sculpted her imagination, and still she loves to read, pretend, sing, and socialize. I am the new president of MFTV.

My fave TV shows/DVDS:

Max and Ruby: Some people can’t stand Ruby’s voice…I LOVE IT.
Boobah: Ladies, it will hypnotize your child
Elmo’s Happy Holidays: It is Elmo’s world, Super-sized!
Wiggles, Wiggly Safari: The crocodile hunter and his family are featured, so cute.
Disney Princess Sing-alongs: The best of the Disney princess movies, let’s face it, if you have a toddler girl, you know about the Disney princesses.
Eebee’s Adventures: The newest in infant videos….made for babies, toddlers love it too, and it encourages interactive play between them.
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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Do you sit on the floor?

I'm having an "am I a good mother?" day. In my three years as a mom I have noticed there are two kinds of moms (this is a gross generalization): Moms who sit on the floor and play and moms who do not.

I've seen these two kinds of moms and their children in action. Moms who do not sit on the floor are coming and going, involved in several different activities at a time and "checking in" with their kids. They are getting things done but may sometimes out of touch with how their children are playing and what they're up to. Sometimes their kids may become clingy because they're just not getting enough one-on-one time with mom. On the flip side, these kids sometimes learn to play well on their own and don't need constant attention and interaction from a parent/caregiver - they're fairly confident on their own. Kids play, mom gets stuff done.

The other kind of mom spends a large chunk of her day doing whatever their child is doing - playing on the floor with blocks, coloring, taking walks, reading stories. These moms are right there in the thick of it, for good or bad. On the positive side, these kids are getting lots of mom time, interaction and teaching opportunities. On the negative side, sometimes these kids can't operate on their own. They need that constant attention and when they don't get it they freak out or get clingy. Kids play, mom gets almost nothing done.

I fall somewhere in the middle but closer to mom number one. When my son was about 3 months old I made a conscious decision to help him entertain himself so that I would not be his constant source of ALL. Maybe its personality, maybe its "training" but it worked great - he is happy and confident and does best when he's figuring things out for himself. He and his sister play well on their own and understand that mom is not at their constant beck and call for everything. I take 15 minutes here to read books, 20 minutes there to play with trains, 10 minutes to watch "Little Einsteins" together, but then I'm off folding laundry, making phone calls, doing stuff for work, making dinner.

What is the right balance? Am I shortcoming's my children by working part time (out of the home), by not being a "sit on the floor" kind of mom? Do they need more than I am giving them?Or would I be doing them a greater disservice by constantly being there, participating in every activity with them? I want them to thrive...but I want to thrive as well. So what is the right balance? What do you do with your child/children?
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Saturday, January 14, 2006

My AVG Child

Asher Victoriano Guzman. It was only AFTER we named our second son that friends poked fun of his initials. I was a little annoyed that I had unwittingly condemned my son to a life of being 5’8/ a C student/ in middle management. Let’s be honest here, everyone thinks their kids are destined for greatness and way too much of our self-worth as parents is tied into how our kids turn out.

Six months after Asher’s birth, my older son, Noe (then 2 ½), was diagnosed with mild autism. Average suddenly sounded really wonderful.

Noe doesn’t do anything within the mean. His language skills are severely delayed. He just turned three and is barely starting to say words and understand simple directions. His social skills and some of his fine motor skills are also delayed.

On the other hand, Noe possesses an amazing aptitude for visual and spatial relationships. He puts together 100 piece jigsaw puzzles in minutes and can find his way home from just about anywhere (it’s like having my own little GPS with legs!). Noe continues to bring me a tremendous amount of joy, but his jagged development is maddening and often stressful. Despite the progress he has made through various therapies since his diagnosis, I stay up many a late night worrying about his future.

As much as I love Noe, I have come to appreciate my AVG son and every developmental milestone he passes not early, not late, but right on time.
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rediscovering Me

I'm figuring out how to contribute to the world outside of my immediate sphere of influence. At the end of 6 kids ( age 9-6 months, the last a set of twins). If you ask me what my interests are, I have to think to give you an answer. The first thing that comes to mind is... how to make the structure of my home and family work and work better. But then I think a little deeper and breathe deeply once or twice and, well, what are my interests, outside of what I must know and do in order to preserve my own sanity. I don't know. I love having red walls in my kitchen area. I love to hear my 5 and 3 year old talking while looking through a magazine and saying "lets order this online and then it will come in a box". Victory feels sweet when my son goes to the bathroom in the toilet. At the end of the day when the house is quiet and I think this is now my time--what do I want to do? During the day I can give you answers-- my brain still works. But by evening the desire must be strong or I can't remember.

What I used to want is not what I really want. I want peace. I want patience. I want laughter. I want interaction that is meaningful to me. I want a bit more energy when I am at my end....
I believe the energy is inside of me and need only be found when I figure out what inspires me...what are my interests. I'm excited to find out!
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The Omniscience of Motherhood

As a small child, I remember wondering how my mom always knew everything—even when I was trying to be sneaky. Now as the mother of a three year old, I too am a member of the mom knows everything club, and it isn’t even that hard, as seen from the following conversation:

Nephi “Mom, I wouldn’t ever put a raisin in my nose”
Me: “Why are you saying that? Did Anwen (his 1 year old sister) put a raisin in her nose?”
Nephi: “No”
Me: Did you think about putting a raisin in your nose or her nose?”
Nephi: “No”
Me: “Nephi, do you have a raisin in your nose?”
Nephi: “It was by accident”

He had a raisin so far up there I could barely see it, but after some tense moments of blowing, out it came. I am sure he left wondering how I knew about the raisin since he had gone out of his way to tell me he wouldn’t do something like that. What can I say, mom is omniscient.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Man on the Bus

The crazy old man on the bus was sitting a few rows away from me, it was a relatively empty bus. An older woman right across from me was calling my baby "Miss America" and a "Real Live Doll". The crazy old man said I was still in fantasy land because the baby didn’t talk back yet.

Yup, I was right…crazy.

Then I said "I have a four year old so I know what I'm in for." He said boys were worse than girls. I said, (in that "I'm annoyed", "my child is so spoiled" tone) "My daughter thinks she’s a princess." He said "She is a princess. I wish more girls knew they were princesses."

Hmmm. My snap-judgment was wrong. Wise Old Man.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Sports Obsessions, Emergency Rooms and Single-Motherhood

As much as I love watching figure skating and cheerleading competitions (and yes, those are sports) nothing can compare to the sports obsessions of the male variety. I also know this is absolutely not unique to my home. For my dh, the sport of Supercross trumps all. I really do try hard to be a "good wife" and be supportive. I listen to his recaps of the races. I can list the top racers by name. I have dressed my daughters in tiny little racing jerseys. I have gone with him to a few races. On occasion, I even wear the jersey that was given to me by dh’s best man as a wedding present (which was cleverly wrapped in a Victoria’s Secret box). It is actually not a bad sport to be obsessed with. It’s far more exciting to watch than any game involving a ball and both the girls and I look pretty cute in our jerseys.

Here is the problem.

My dh’s obsession with Supercross does not end at watching the sport. He lives for riding dirtbikes. I have even tried to be supportive of this. I have gone out to the track, I have cheered him on when he makes a good jump, I have even learned how to jump a 4-wheeler and ride a dirtbike myself. But (and here is where the emergency rooms come in), Supercross is a dangerous sport. It involves launching a heavy, fast moving machine into the air, hoping to have a smooth landing when you hit the ground. I have been to the emergency room with my dh 3 times because of dirtbike related accidents. Two of the three times have resulted in surgery, extended hospital stays and lengthy recoveries which have undoubtedly been hard on me and the rest of the family (this is when I start thinking those “ball sports” don’t sound so boring). Some of you out there might be saying – that’s it, just say "No more motorcycles. It's what is best for the family." Dh has even said those very words to me soon after each accident (though he has since recanted the statement claiming it was the pain meds talking). I wish the problem ended there, but it doesn’t.

This month we are going to be moving from NYC to LA. In NYC we own zero cars. In LA we are going to need two modes of transportation- one for each of us. We are buying a nice mini-van for me (I love minivans!) but dh wants to get – I think you can guess-- a motorcycle. Just thinking about him riding a motorcycle to work every day makes my heart sink. All I can think about is all the horrible things that could happen to him. All doctors call the things "donor mobiles" for heaven's sake! And based on my experience, I don't find the nickname too much of an over-exaggeration. But for some reason, I just can’t stand up and say “Absolutely no more motorcycles!” It has a little bit to do with the money we would save by buying a motorcycle instead of a car and also the fact that his commute downtown would probably be cut in half which means more time at home with me and the girls but that's not really it. Honestly, here is the biggest reason I can't say no: there is this twinkle in his eye and a certain special grin that comes only when he is riding a motorcycle. These uber-dangerous, killing machines bring my dh pure joy. How can I ever take that away?

I know what it is like to be really passionate about something. I would hate to separated from my passion especially by someone I love. But I really don’t want to live every day with the fear of becoming a single-mom.

Even if dh decides himself against a motorcycle for his choice of transportation in LA, they will always be in our lives. Our children will probably ride dirtbikes. They will probably crash and have to go to the hospital themselves. How will I ever overcome the fear?
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Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy Holidays...I think...

Our ragtag family of 4 traveled from the Bay Area to SLC for Christmas with dh extended family. We were full of anticipation for the holidays. Our kids were now old enough to "get" the whole Santa/presents/Jesus's birthday a little bit (almost 3 and 15 months) so we were eager to view the season through their eyes. Presents were wrapped, Santa was visited, tales were told of sleighs and reindeer - Christmas 2005 held great promise.

Until everyone got sick.

Like, gross, yucky, neverending sick.

On Christmas Eve dh Sam finally gave up and went to a doctor after 3 days of a "cold" - he ended up with bronchitis and lots of drugs. About 36 hours later we noticed both of our kids were running a little "slow" (for those of you who know my kids they are NOT mellow people, so its odd to see them sitting quietly - running slow). Then Simon (almost 3) began throwing up. Not once or 6 times or 10 times. 17 times in 6 hours. He would scream in pain, contort, cry, vomit, scream some more and then collapse in our arms. It began at midnight and died down around 6 AM. His lips were white and he couldn't keep down anything we gave him, including ice chips (that's pretty pitiful, if you ask me). He referred to his sickness as a water fountain, as in "NO, I no want to do water fountain again!". His fever would spike and sweat off, then repeat. It was like being in a strange nightmare. We ended up doing 20 loads of laundry (comforters, towels, sheets - good grief, vomit was flung everywhere), went through 2 containers of disinfectant wipes and a large bottle of antibacterial hand lotion.

Then we received phone calls from other family members that our extended family was sick as well - there was a flu outbreak in Utah and we happened to catch it. Lovely.

While Sam was recovering from bronchitis he too was felled by this stomach flu and was thowing up, dealing with fevers. I got a touch of regular flu but I just kept eating Vitamin C and praying -I couldn't get sick now. We gave our 15 month old to Grandma and asked her to please keep her away from the 3 of us.

Over the next 10 days Sam recovered from the flu and bronchitis only to catch a bad cold - right back in bed again. I recovered from the flu and got a bad cold. Simon recovered from the flu and got a slight cold. And Sophie sailed through it all only to fall ill to the croup - poor hacking baby. Into the steam, out in the cold, medicate, bottle, sleep - repeat.

The day after all 4 of us were decently healthy, we cut our trip short and returned to CA.

Our disastrous vacation taught me a few things. I realized how strong my little boy is. He was such a trooper and genuinely grateful to me and my husband for taking care of him. I was laying in bed holding him (before he threw up on me, I might add) and whispered "I love you Simon". He opened his eyes and said "I love you too, mommy. Thank you so much for help water fountain". Kids have remarkable fortitude and such a capacity for love and gratitude, even in the face of illness.

I realized in the middle of the vomit and crying and croup coughing that there was nowhere else on earth I'd rather be than caring for my sick child. Nothing could have dragged me away. I was surprised by that...and grateful to discover my heart in the correct place.

I realized how heartwrenching it must be to have a child who is truly sick. Not just the flu, which goes away, but hospital sick. What strong women these mothers are. I don't know how they do it and hope I never learn.

Finally, I decided in 2006 we will ALL receive flu shots. And maybe we won't go to Utah for awhile. Just kidding...I think...
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Um... Will you be my friend?

Don’t you just wish you could say that sometimes? Like you were still 6 years old and on the playground? Of course there’s always the chance that the answer would be no, but at least then things would be clear.

So if you’ve read my other post or my profile, you know I just moved. And with that comes the lovely ordeal of finding new people to spend my time with. Can you tell how much I love this process? It’s happening, slowly but surely, but I’ve forgotten how much it’s like junior high crushes - “I like her. I think she likes me, but I don’t know. I could ask her if she wants to get together, but what if she says no - that would be horrible. Or even worse, what if she wants to say no but feels weird about it and I’m a pity friend? Or what if she thinks I’m really weird for asking? Maybe I won’t say anything then.”

I know I went thought this when I moved to NYC, but it’s been so long, I don’t remember it now. And this is the first time I’ve had to do it from scratch as a mom. So I’ve been to a few ward playgroups, I’ve taken Max to some activities (gymnastics, music class, library storytime), and I’ve seen potential mom friends out there, but he’s so wild that I barely get a chance to say hi to another mom, much less get to know her enough to suggest we see each other again. Now I'm not looking for soul-mate friends - my co-bloggers here already fit that bill - I'm just looking for some people willing to bring their kids over to trash my house and willing to let my son do the same to theirs. Some meet-at-the-park buddies. So how do you do it? How do you make new friends? Any ideas?
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Friday, January 06, 2006

Ever Been REALLY Bitten?

Okay, someone already brought up breasts, and I've wanted to get some feedback on a personal motherhood issue I'm currently dealing with. This involves my breasts (well, the left one), so stop reading now if you don't want too much information!

I assume some of you have or are now breastfeeding. Well, my little darling bit me twice in the same spot so I now have a slit in the side of my nipple that is about 1/4 inch long. My question is -- do you continue to breastfeed on that injured breast? I clench my teeth in pain, but it still seems easier than weaning him while we are in a transitional living situation and he's so clingy. He's 11 months old.

Also, any good weaning tips for a baby who hates bottles or pacifiers?

By the way, all you A-cuppers, you're not missing out on a thing by being less ample there, in my opinion!
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Quick, before I starve!

One of my new years goals is to get better at planning and executing meals. I actually think I am a pretty good cook when I set my mind to it. I watch the Food Network and I have good instincts about the cooking process-(except for that time I soaked chicken in soy sauce for about 12 hours…but that is how you learn right?) I enjoy making dishes that require a lot of chopping…it helps me get some of my anxiety out. In case you haven’t noticed, I carry a lot of anxiety.

I have been sort of “take it or leave it” about food since about 2001, so that is another reason why cooking is a low priority. The conflict there is that I would rather eat healthy food and chocolate over fast food or pizza or pretty much anything else bad for me, any day, and chocolate aside, that healthy food usual requires some preparation.

Then there are the children. Let’s face it, they should be eating healthy food. So, week 1 of PLANNING went really well. I sat down for about 30 minutes and decided what I would make, and as I decided I filled out my Fresh Direct (online grocery shopping) with exactly what ingredients I would need. The first meal was easy b/c it was just something I had to warm (I ordered one of Fresh Direct’s dinners for 4), the second one I made the night BEFORE we ate it, after the kids went to bed, then I just had to warm and serve the next night. Also successful.

Tonight however was trickier. I decided to make a meal at the dinner hour. So around 5:30 I started cooking and my baby sat in her high chair near where I was cooking and cried/whined the whole time. As I was cooking the sink was filling with dishes b/c I didn’t empty my dishwasher (and yes I know how lucky I am to HAVE a dishwasher) first, and thus couldn’t load it as I cooked. This along with the crying caused my chest to tighten. Then when I finally cleaned up (halfway) and sat down to eat, my baby was still fussing and I had to eat my meal in about 5 minutes while wrangling my wiggly baby, and trying to prevent her from getting botulism (b/c there was honey in the recipe and she kept grabbing at the food).

Of course when I had finished scarfing my meal (which was actually pretty good), I cleaned up the rest of my mess and the baby decided she was done crying then, and just hung out on the floor with her toys. I appreciated her being quiet during the cleaning, but would have rather enjoyed the experience of cooking and eating, then cleaning. I am so frustrated after all of this that I really need some ideas of how to feed my family, and ME!
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Thursday, January 05, 2006

"This Year My Breasts Will Not Sag"

Here is a great idea on how to take better care of your bras. I DO agree that all women should have a bra fitting done by a professional. I DON'T think all women should purchase their bras at Victoria's Secret. I think they discriminate against smaller breasted women. 80% of their styles don't even come in an A cup! How rude!
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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Being a Doctor's Wife

I’ve heard it said, “Glamorous is the life, being a doctor’s wife”. I actually used think that would be the case… (I also thought doctors made too much money HA!) My point is what is so glamorous about being a single mom? I have a husband, but the sick and dying keep him away from home more often than not. The week of Christmas he was there over 96 hours. I have always had respect for mothers that do it all by themselves. That respect now reaches deeper as I feel that I have an idea of what they go through. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t rely on Heavenly Father gently talking me through situations. For example, not leaving the kids home alone while I run to the grocery store to get some bread… keep in mind my babies are 20 months and 8 weeks. When the "doctor" is home, it’s not like he’s HOME! He has to sleep or catch up on some required reading or compose a presentation blah, blah, blah. And when he is here, he's not MINE… he is at the beckon call of our daughter who adores him and won’t share. I always knew that this time would be tough, and I would be tested, but my question is when does the glamour kick in? I know there are many of you who can relate. What can I do to not be resentful in this situation? I am so proud of him it hurts. And there is nothing else I would want him to do… but will I survive another day of two crying children, one of which is crying for daddy?
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Who are you and what are you doing here?

I'm new to motherhood and blogging. This site is the perfect combination!

I’ve been a mom for two months, one week, and three days—a very new mom. And my newness is compounded by the fact that I didn’t have 7 or so months to wrap my brain around the idea that I would be a mom. I found out the day after my daughter was born that she had been born and that we needed to get on a plane to go and get her. We did, and three days later as she left the hospital, she was ours (OK, technically, she still isn’t “ours.” That won’t happen for another 10 months when the adoption is finalized. Still, she’s definitely in our care). But even as I held her those first few days (after that I flew back to work pretty quickly, leaving my husband to care for a newborn by himself while Louisiana and New York decided whether we could do some inter-state trafficking with this baby), none of it felt real.

And maybe, given the reasons I’ve just mentioned in parentheses—adopted, not legally ours, back to work really quickly—this isn’t so strange ☺. But given that it’s two months and one week later, I would’ve hoped the whole “mom” thing would’ve sunk in by now. It hasn’t. I still look at this really cute baby with these completely irrational, or at least unforgiving, behaviors, and wonder who she is and what’s she’s doing here.

Mostly, I’m too darn tired to even think about it at all. I just jump when she cries and try to “get something done” when she doesn’t. Besides, the alien nature of our relationship is not completely foreign to me. My husband and I recently celebrated four years of marriage, and just last Sunday I turned to him in our bed and wondered aloud, “So you and I are married, huh?”
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Saying No To The Abuelos

Our family is finishing up our “West Coast Holiday Tour.” With my husband Ed’s family living in LA and mine in Portland, we try to divide our vacation time as evenly as possible.

On Christmas Day, we traded balmy LA for a little Portland rain, but not before a silent showdown with Ed’s parents, aka The Abuelos.

The Abuelos immigrated from Mexico to East LA in the early 1970’s. Ed’s father works as a garbage man in the vast suburbs of LA and Ed’s mom spends most of her day cooking as well as nagging Ed on the telephone. They have achieved the American Dream, which in their minds includes owning a modest home and oversized American automobiles, and keeping their grandsons outfitted in overpriced designer clothing, typically at least two sizes too large for their little bodies.

My relationship with the Abuelos has been difficult at times. Cultural differences abound with my husband always caught in the middle. To keep peace, I have tried extra hard lately to please them.

Christmas Eve had been a day of complete overindulgence and excess. It began soon after the roosters in East LA started cock-a-doodling, when a truck pulled into the Abuelos driveway and a group of men proceeded to blow up a giant balloon castle. Our boys just turned 3 and 1 years old. They seemed pretty young to have their own castle, but I tried to be excited. These kids also received constant presents throughout that day as well. I was gracious, and saved my worries about how much money the Abuelos had spent on my kids, what spoiled brats they might become, and how we were going to haul the gifts back to New York, for later.

And the boys really did have a wonderful day. They jumped on that stupid castle for most of the day, stopping only for food and juice breaks.

Christmas morning, everyone seemed a little hung over from the previous day’s holiday food and castle hopping. The Abuelos insisted, however, that I put the boys in their new Ralph Lauren suits for the plane trip. They also acted offended when we suggested that we ship the Christmas toys out to New York at a later date. They insisted we take food with us for our trip. Because, after all, how will we survive a three hour plane ride without tamales and chorizo (smelly Mexican sausage)? After some discussion, Ed and I decided to honor our Christmas peace agreement. We silently packed up the food and toys in shopping bags and were off to the airport with our seriously overdressed toddlers.

I knew it would all end badly.

On our crowded Southwest flight, we quickly regretted our silence. Ed and I were exhausted and grouchy from trying to carry two toddlers and multiple bags of toys and food through security and onto the plane. One-year old Asher threw up twice on his new RL suit before we had even reached Oakland. We couldn’t contain the smell of our Mexican food storage and any plane turbulence would send off a hundred cheap plastic toys singing ‘Old McDonald’ and every other annoying nursery rhyme known to man. Passengers began to comment on the smell drifting down from the overhead compartment. Poor 3-year old Noe was walking off the plane behind me, when I looked back to discover that his too-large RL suit pants were around his ankles. The poor child had a full audience of Southwest passengers laughing as he tried frantically to keep up with his exhausted grumpy parents sans drawers.

I am already preparing my “No Suits, No Toys, No Food” speech (in espanol) for next year’s visit. And if I lose my nerve, next time I’ll at least have the good sense to chuck the food and toys into the nearest airport garbage can and bring a change of clothes for my kids!
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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What this blog is all about

Well, the subtitle at the top of the page describes it in a nutshell, but if you want to know a few more details, here they are:

I moved to Queens about 3 1/2 years ago. I was 5 months pregnant with our first child, almost 3,000 miles away from my family, and my husband was just starting his career as a NYC attorney. While no one could have prepared me for trials, tears and treasures I would experience as I entered this new phase of life called motherhood, I found my greatest strength and support in the diverse group of women I met in the Ward (then Branch). Whenever two or more of us gathered together, we would inevitably share stories of our children’s antics, advice on the latest parenting problem or give a review of the latest baby product. We would talk about everything: ear infections, autism, maternity clothes and make-up. But most of all, we always knew we would find an empathetic ear for our thoughts and troubles. While some might brush these conversations off as just “girly talk”, I have found every shared word a vital part of not just surviving motherhood, but embracing it in all its poopy glory.

Many of these women have since moved away from Queens (I will be the next one to go). And as we scatter about, we have come to the sad realization that we had something really great—something that is not always easy to find. Mormon or not, every mom needs a community of mothers to lean on, laugh with and share ideas. Welcome to ours. We hope you enjoy these Tales From The Crib.

P.S. Please don't feel like you need to justify your relationship with us in order to make a comment. We don't care who you are or how you found us. Everyone is invited to come read and share. Make as many comments as you wish!
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Division of Labor

I’ve recently moved from a small city apartment to a 3,000 square foot house, which has meant a lot of changes. Certainly a significant one is the amount of time it takes in any given day or week to keep the house at a reasonable level of clean. Now I’m not a neat freak by any sense of the phrase, and I don’t like cleaning, but I accept it as a reality of home ownership and a necessity of sanity and sanitarity (okay, not a word, but work with me here).

My question is this – how do you divide household labor in your home? My son is only 2, so I’m not really including him in the cleaning equation. (In the messing-things-up equation, he figures quite prominently) I’m specifically talkin’ husbands here. When I used to work out of the house full-time, we both did a moderate amount of cooking, cleaning, and general household tending. BUT, we weren’t home all that much. Now I’m a SAHWM (yes, that W stands for working – I do freelance work during naptimes and after-bed-times) and my husband works out of an office here in our home, so we are both here all day, which means all the dishes and general messiness that entails, not to mention an additional (truly messy) family member.

So now that I’m not a “working girl”, the vast majority of the cooking, cleaning, and general household duties are falling to me. Yes, my hubby is “bringing home the bacon” and allowing me to feed, clothe, and house our family. And so I do expect that a greater amount of house wrangling would be mine than was previously the case. But what I’m really wondering is, when I’m feeling truly overwhelmed and swearing up and down that he doesn’t do anything, how much am I in the right, or in the wrong as the case may be? What is a reasonable division of labor? How do things work (or not work!) in your house?
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Monday, January 02, 2006

You know you are too busy blogging when...

Yup, I had always wondered how babies fell asleep in their high chairs...I guess all those moms are blogging too. "What kind of a mother leaves their baby unattended in a high chair long enough that they fall asleep?" was the kind of person I USED to be, until I had this baby #2. I swear, she has nine lives. In one week the child had I think a half a dozen near death experiences if not more. Just today she ate peanut butter (at 8 months...thank you baby #1) and appeared to be choking on a toy but turns out it was invisible or I will find it in her poo in a few days. Thankfully Dad was in charge for those two.

As for my mom flubs...read on:
1. Putting her on the mat in my bathroom while showering...hearing a large thud and then cry. Discvoring her sitting face down on the floor. Picking her up while still in the shower. Finishing the shower with her sitting on the FLOOR of the shower in full diaper, onesie and footsie pajamas. At least the warm water startled her out of the pain.

2. Getting halfway to Santaland and looking down at my baby who has the WORST case of double pink-eye I have ever seen. Why I didn't realize this before we left the house...I don't know...only to take her to the doctor and realize she has a fever, and an ear infection as well...and yes still has thrush....going on 6 weeks now. Your welcome every other kid who sits on THAT Santa's lap and develops all of the above.

3. Seeing her chewing when I have not given her anything to eat, and promptly removing a teeny tiny miniature strawberry shortcake brush that I am certain could have caused some serious damage if attempted to be swallowed....guess it's time to babyproof.

4. Let me think...did she fall of the bed onto the hard wood floor THIS week or was it last week?

And finally, I can barely write this, she fell out of that same high chair just a few weeks ago. No, she was not strapped in b/c I thought the bar in between her legs was sufficient. She kicked the latch open and the tray fell and it (thankfully) broke her fall. Either she has the soul of a feline or there are angels, and since I hate cats, I believe in the latter.
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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Meet More Moms

Our Regulars: (we don't always agree with what you say, but we sure are glad you're around adding your 2 cents to the conversation!)

Meet Other Cool Women Who Stop by Tales:

Are we missing you?  Tell us in the comments and we’ll add you in!
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HTML for bloggers

So, you have something important to say, the best comment ever for the latest post here at Tales (or some other blog... we forgive you...)  But you have some links you want to put in, or need to add emphasis to something you’re saying. Well, it's been suggested that I pass on some of my HTML wisdom to those not 'in the know' when it comes to these things. So here are a few basic HTML tips to help you out. It isn’t as hard as you think it is, I promise. :-)

An introduction to HTML:
  • HTML is made up of bits of code, called “tags”, which tell your computer what to do.  For example, there is a tag which tells your computer to make text bold or italics or to create a link.

  • Tags come in pairs, with a start tag and an end tag, so that your computer knows when to stop making text bold, etc.  So you always want to use them in pairs! (otherwise you will turn your entire paragraph bold, etc..)

  • Tags are separated from your regular text by using brackets, < and > (these are found above the , and . keys on your keyboard).  Just like with parenthesis in a sentence, they always appear in pairs, framing your tag.  For example, the bold tag would look like this: <b>

So let's get down to it! Here are the tags.

General formatting tags:
These are pretty easy, they are represented by the first letter of the style they control:
<b> = bold
<i> = italics

These are the START tags for each of these styles.  The END tags look exactly the same, but with a backslash before the letter:   </b>  -- think of it as staying “stop!”  So the following code:

     Hi, my name is <b>marian</b>, and I am <i>awesome</i>.  

Would result in the following displayed on your computer:

     Hi, my name is marian and I am awesome.

The code to create links follows the same general guidelines (uses pairs and brackets) but looks a little scarier.  When in doubt, you can always copy and paste out of this post!  The code for a link looks like this:

<a href="ENTER URL HERE"> This is the text that is linked.</a>

where ENTER URL HERE would be the URL of the site you want to link to (ie http://talesfromthecrib.blogspot.com) and This is the text that is linked   is what will show up as clickable on your computer.  You can put any URL in there (meaning even long ugly Amazon.com URLs, for example).  Just be sure you put quotation marks around it, and you’ll be set.

A few last notes:
  • Just like in email, CAPITAL LETTERS ARE LIKE YELLING.  So use them to your advantage, but don’t abuse them!

  • Many blogs, such as Tales, allow you to preview your comments before you post them. This is a good way to make sure you've done all your coding correctly - take advantage of it and learn!

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Make the World a Better Place: An Idea List

  • Invite the youth to pick the fruit off your half-harvested fruit trees to donate to a local food bank.

  • Instead of throwing your cans away for a homeless person to dig out, take them to a homeless shelter to give to those who collect cans for recycling.

  • Participate in a local Walk-a-thon.

  • Use birthday parties and family Christmas as a chance to request donations of toys or books (in lieu of gifts) to be donated to a local women's shelter or a family in need.

  • Participate in a community clean-up (at a park or at the school, etc.)

  • Help your kids make colored placemats and seasonal cards for the local Meals-on-Wheels.

  • Organize a lemonade stand or yard sale and give the profits to a local charity, or use the money to buy something needed by the local shelter.

  • Visit a nursing home. Adopt a grandma, offer to perform a talent, or teach a skill.

  • Keep extra snacks and water in the car to give away to those who might need it.

  • Program the phone number to the local animal rescue group into your cell phone to call when you come across and animal in trouble.

  • Consider giving a gift in the name of a family member or friend through Heifer International (or another charity) instead of a traditional gift.

  • Call a shelter in advance and ask what food items they most need. Take your children grocery shopping to obtain those items and then to deliver them to the shelter.

  • Go to the hunger site daily and click on the link to help feed starving people around the world.

  • Consider finding and using a your local freecycle organization as an alternative to throwing out perfectly good items that others might want. Also you can get neat stuff for free!

  • When you go to the post office, buy the breast cancer stamps for just a few cents more in order to help fund research.

  • Read aloud to your child books about homelessness that are at their level of understanding and talk with them of the hardships that losing a home would bring.

  • Consider buying free range eggs for a dollar or two more to help promote better conditions for chickens.

  • If you're an athlete, consider entering your local AIDS walk or breast cancer 5K .

  • When in the market for a pet, consider adopting from your local shelter or rescue group in order to save a wonderful animal's life.

  • Learn how to crochet/knit leper bandages, scarfs and hats for the church Humanitarian Services or for a local organization.

  • From the Church's
    Humanitarian Service's Website:

  • Give generously to the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund. All money donated to this fund goes to help the poor and needy of the world without regard to race, religion or nationality.

  • Donate usable items, including clean clothing, to Deseret Industries. Not only will this benefit the needy within your community, but surplus items are sent to the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center for future relief efforts.

  • Volunteer to work at bishops’ storehouses, canneries and welfare farms. Some of the commodities produced at these facilities are used to provide humanitarian aid.

  • Volunteer at an agency that assists people in your community. Established community organizations offer many opportunities to serve, including providing meals to the homeless, teaching adults to read and mentoring at-risk youth. Such service not only blesses those in need, but also fosters unity between Church members and the community. Go to www.volunteermatch.org to find such opportunities in your area./li>

  • Contact your bishop about serving a mission. Opportunities are listed in a bulletin sent to him each month.

  • Please let me know if you have any more great ideas!


    "The Difference a Day Makes" by Karen M. Jones
    Everyday Things To Do To Make the World a Better Place Exponent II Blog
    Do You Have Any Spare Change? Roxcy Blog
    LDS Humanitarian Services
    Union Station Foundation
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Comments policy

Be respectful. That pretty much sums it all up. But if you need more specifics...

1. You don't have to agree - heck, there are 18 of us perma-blogging here, we don't come CLOSE to agreeing on most things. But if you want to voice your disagreement, please stick to critiquing the argument, not the person. Personal attacks, name calling, and questioning each other's righteousness are unacceptable.

2. Keep it clean.

3. Stick to the topic at hand. Yes, there's bound to be some drift, but comments are expected to pertain to the conversation, not be coming out of left field.

These are all as determined by our blog administrators. If you'd like to discuss something specific, please email us at:

talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com
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Bargain Shopping Calendar

I put together this little calendar for an enrichment night. It is a compilation of my experience and info I found online. I thought it might be of interest.

Bargain Shopping Calendar

January -Almost everything goes on sale in January. It’s a good time to pick up formal clothing, dressy shoes, and fancy accessories at no-nonsense prices.

February - Stores are in a hurry to clear floor space for spring lines, so look for rock-bottom prices on remaining winter-clothing stock. Snap up a winter coat and boots, and search the bargain bins for steals on hats, scarves, and gloves.

April - Shop "After Easter" sales for children's clothes, dresses, spring coats (slickers and trench coats) .

July - Buy summer clothing, swimsuits, shoes & sandals during sales in July. Many stores have concurrent lingerie and underwear sales.

August - Gear up for next summer now while all summer clothes, bathing suits, sandals, and hats are at a rock bottom prices.

October - Those new school shoes are probably reduced by now, as are sneakers and book bags. Outerwear, from leather jackets to wool coats, is also priced to sell fast. The best coat sales take place in the first half of October, around Columbus Day.

November-December - In the fierce competition for pre-holiday business, stores have begun offering the traditional post-Christmas sales earlier.
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