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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Mommy Wars Mama Says Get Yourself A Job

I recently caught an interview on a local news channel with Mommy Wars author, Leslie Morgan Steiner. In the interview, she claimed to know many SAHMs who are not happy, but feel pressure to be at home with their kids. Steiner advised these women to go back to their career, arguing that their kids are better off with a happy mom who works outside the home than an unhappy one at home. I agree with her…but I don’t think the decision is that simple.

My initial…and very bipolar….reactions to the interview:

-She’s right. Life is too short to stay at home if you’re not happy.

-Why are we so kid-centric? Why are some moms willing to endure depression and lack of fulfillment in the name of “social pressure” to stay home, when it probably won’t matter significantly to our children’s development that we were with them 24/7.

-Just because a mom is home all day with her children does not guarantee that she is going to spend quality time with them. I recently read that, on the whole, working moms actually spend slightly more one-on-one intensive time with their children than SAHMs.

On the other hand:

-Kids are all different. Personally, I think some kids are more suited to daycare situations and thrive in highly social settings. Other kids don’t. If my older son had the personality and adaptation skills of my younger son, I’d probably be working full time right now.

-Not all day care is created equal. Meaning, a really bad day care situation would probably do more harm to a child than being home all day with an unhappy mother.

-No one is happy all of the time at home or at work. At what point of unhappiness do you go back to work and trust it will be better?

What do YOU think about this statement from Steiner, a self-proclaimed working mother of 3?

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Tomato, Tomahto...

I thought when I named my baby Eliza that it was an easy, straight forward name. But almost nobody gets it right.

The pronounciation is EE-liza but everyone says UH-liza. Or just Liza. Or I get the occasional "um...uh-lEEza?" when someone is reading her name.

I suppose I may be picky with the "e" in her name. After all, in high school my sister used to correct me with her friend's name, "E-lissa". I said "Uh-lissa" and I swore there wasn't a difference. But hey, they are very different to me with my daughter and I really like E-liza better! I don't hate uh-liza or Liza (many of you, my friends, have probably said it wrong and I'm not harboring a grudge), so my world is not about to crumble. Liza is, however, a little weirder to me because it's my sister's name. (Didn't intend for the names to be exactly alike.)

Correcting everyone all the time would be awkward for me. So, what do I do? Nothing? Grin and bear it?

I've played around with using a nickname--"Dot" (her middle name is Dorothy)--which I think is adorable. Haven't asked dh or other kids how they like it. I have a feeling dh won't be such a big fan. (But maybe that doesn't matter?) Not many would know the origin either...but perhaps that's also unimportant.

Any thoughts? Have your names been messed up, or your kid's? How did you decide to deal with it? Sigh. So much for blog anonymity--everyone knows baby's name now! : )
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Thursday, March 30, 2006


I was traumatized yesterday. Seriously hysterical crying to my husband on the phone like I haven't for at least 3 years. I might be accused of blog-hogging, but if there are no new posts on a Wednesday, then I say I am free to post the next day...and I am. The following is a letter that I want to send. My husband is telling me that paying the balance is worth further trauma being incurred. Anybody have experience with demanding customer service in the medical world?

March 30, 2006

Dear To Whom It May Concern,

It is my experience that when a medical professional and his patient come together for an appointment that the needs of the patient should be at the forefront of all discussion and activities that occur at said appointment. The doctor should listen to the patient and hear her concerns and needs. Questions should be asked and answered between the two, to get to the bottom of the health crisis and begin the healing process.

Yesterday I had an appointment with Dr. Chiaramonte at the Boro Medical Center in Long Island City, New York. I trusted that he would be a good doctor because he was listed on my insurance’s website. My experience with him was the most negative I have ever had with a medical professional, and left me feeling traumatized by the entire experience. Here is my list of complaints about the appointment with the Doctor:

• The doctor talked about himself most of the visit. I now know that he has an adopted daughter with red hair and blue eyes who is living with her fiancé, they have a 3 ½ year old daughter. Her fiancé used to play in a band that sold over 400,000 copies of their record, but left the band to start a new one. His daughter plays string bass in the new band. The doctor wishes that his future son-in-law would get a more promising job etc. etc. etc.

• He asked me about my symptoms and I think the only one I shared with him was my swollen vocal chords, and that is what prompted the personal story-telling. He did not ask me about my personal or social histories, family background, or previous allergy treatments.

• I told him that I had had my medical records forwarded to him and he said that knowing this office, they were probably lost. I was upset about this because that has my entire, complicated medical history of the past 15 years. He showed no regard for that history or the fact that it was now unaccounted for.

• He prepared 8 needles. I asked him what he was doing, he answered: “Don’t worry this won’t hurt”. I had not asked: “Will this hurt?”. Perhaps he has never had a patient that wants to be educated about procedures and what a doctor might be inserting into their bodies. Of course I recognized it as scratch testing, but I wanted to know what each needle contained. After pressing, I only know 2 out of 8: ragweed and dust.

• I mentioned my shrimp allergy. He went on to tell me about a $40,000 treatment that I was eligible for if my blood levels were elevated to a certain number, but that the treatment was only approved for asthma patients, so “we” would have to lie and say that I had asthma. He then referred me to the book that he wrote, told me to read a certain chapter and think about it.

• He mentioned his book to me at least 3 times, told me to read it and he would sign it (as if he was doing me a big favor).

• Every time I tried to express concerns that I had he told me to “slow down” and started talking about himself again.

• I left with 5 prescriptions. I have experience with only one. I asked for an explanation and I still can’t tell you what they are for or why I need them. One of the “prescriptions” was a website where I could go to read one of his recently published short stories that I showed absolutely no interest in hearing about or reading.

• Every time my baby made a sound he would stop talking, as if it was a great inconvenience to speak over a child.

• Every time I stood up to try and bounce the baby to get her to stop making noise, he ordered me to sit down.

• He asked me my name and I said: “Kage” and he replied… “Oh that’s my daughter’s name” And yet, he wrote my husband’s first initial and last name on all the prescriptions.

Here is my list of complaints about the facility:
• I arrived at the medical center and there was a pool of red blood in front of the check-in counter that I did not notice until my 4-year-old child stepped in it.

• I was forced to wait to see the doctor until my insurance paper work had been approved. After 20 minutes I explained that I would pay the bill no matter if my insurance covered it or not, and could I please see the doctor, ten minutes later I went in.

• After the appointment they tried to force me to wait as they still hadn’t heard from the insurance company. I explained that they had my contact information and they could contact me if I owed them money. I left the building because I had another appointment that I was late for, and they ran after me. I calmly explained that I would come by first thing in the morning the next day if there were still problems, and I left. I followed up with a telephone call and they said everything had come through. Of course it did. That was a lot of unnecessary waiting and drama.

At first I found the situation ridiculous and kept telling myself that the situation would resolve itself. Then as it progressed into more and more stories and the Doctor encouraging me to lie about my health and buy his book, I was almost brought to tears, 3 different times. He said he wanted to see me in two weeks, and it is not clear why he would need to. I left the office and sobbed. I felt that he was condescending, egotistical, incompetent, and inappropriate in every way. I finally understand why people sue for pain and suffering. The 30 minutes of time I spent in that small room with that doctor was truly the most traumatizing I have spent with any medical professional. I don’t intend to sue, but I also don’t intend to pay. If there is a balance left after my insurance pays, I will not be paying for this mockery of a doctor’s “services”.

I will be contacting my insurance company to inquire of any provisions or circumstances in which they can refuse to pay as well. This doctor should have his license revoked, and stop practicing medicine and continue on his path of trying to be a published writer, for that he can do in seclusion, and not hurt innocent victims like myself.

With sincerity,
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Question Re: Jumping on the "Big Love" Protest Bandwagon

Many of you may have already recieved the following e-mail regarding a mormon campaign to cancel the HBO series "Big Love". I got two of them forwarded to me just today. My question is, would you feel right "joining the campain" if you had never seen an episode of Big Love? Would you take "their" word for it that it was offensive enough to the LDS church to be pulled off the air?

I feel like propaganda runs on both sides of the street and the only way I would ever feel good about being so proactive about pulling a show off a non-network channel is if I was actually offended by watching the show. Having someone tell me that I should be offended is not enough. But that's my opinion. I realize that many members will never see the show because of it's explicit rating. That is totally understandable. Actually, the explicit rating seems more of a substantive reason to want a show off the air than what is layed out in the "Cancel Big Love" forwarded e-mail. But if you jump into the campaign for that reason, I hope your fingers are ready for a lot of typing because you got a lot more shows you need to complain about.

Note: If you would like to give a review of Big Love, rant about Big Love, or rave about Big Love, don't do it here. I am sure you can find another outlet for that conversation on another blog. What I want to know again is: Would you feel right "joining the campain" if you had never seen an episode of Big Love? (You could actually substitute "an episode of Big Love" any other thing that others might find offensive and call you to action). It's a real question for those who haven't watched it and a hypothetical for those who have.

The Infamous "Cancel Big Love" Forwarded E-mail:

HBO’s new series, “Big Love”, is about a polygamous family and is set in a Salt Lake City suburb. About the likely impact of this sexually driven show, the New York Times said, “We may never look at Utah and think white bread again.”

Parodies of beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occur- belief in priesthood by a man blessing his hunting rifle, belief in personal revelation from the Holy Ghost by dramatic visions that the polygamous leader discusses casually with a friend. Talk of “celestial kingdom”, “free agency”, and the “Choose the Right” slogan are included. There is a brief disclaimer stating that the polygamists don’t have an active connection with the LDS Church. But if the writers don’t intend for viewers to make the connection, one wonders why they set the show in Salt Lake City, the Church’s world headquarters, and why they included distortions of LDS beliefs.

NBC recently cancelled a show about a dysfunctional Episcopal priest who saw a “Jesus”, after almost 700,000 people emailed and complained.

Couldn’t we do the same for this show? If you agree, will you:
- forward this email to at least 8 people
- email a polite protest to HBO:

Go to www.hbo.com, scroll to bottom of page, click Contact Us, click on The Sopranos (unless Big Love is listed when you do so), scroll to the light blue box near page bottom, on the line just under Submit an Email, click on Contact Us.Then enter your information, specify it’s about Big Love, and leave a message asking them to cancel this offensive show.

One or two sentences is all it takes. Or feel free to copy or edit this message:

I am offended that you would produce the series “Big Love”. It demeans and distorts sacred beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By setting the show in Salt Lake City, it blurs the line between the Church and the long renounced practice of polygamy. Additionally, it is morally reprehensible to showcase an abusive family situation as entertainment. Please cancel “Big Love” immediately.
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Monday, March 27, 2006

Poopasaurus Rex or Feasting on the Word

A few days before our Disneyland Vacation I told my husband that the 10-month-old baby would be so great on the trip because she is so regular. She poops first thing in the morning, and I could only remember two times that she pooped outside of the house, and we are out and about a LOT. I should have done the whole knock on wood thing, because ever since then my sweet little baby has become Poopasaurus Rex.

It all started with the vacation. It was like the pressure from that plane ride from the East to the West Coast squeezed all the poop out of her system. For two days she pooped every few hours. And we are talking full-out poop. I bought some Target brand diapers while there, just to try them out, and because they were inexpensive (in the event I ended up pitching some to lighten our load on the way home). She pooped out of those diapers more than once. One of those times was in the middle of Sacrament Meeting. Oh was that a loud, fragrant and explosive poop. My husband was in charge of changing it and his words to me upon exiting the building: You choose VACATION to try a new, CHEAP brand of diapers? We then drove to the nearest drugstore and he bought our usual brand Huggies, but not only Huggies, Huggies SUPREME. Needless to say there were no more leaks on the trip, but plenty of poop.

Her streak continues. Every morning she has a diaper full of the nastiest poop ever. And usually once or twice a day now...same nasty poop. And it is always changing. Most of the time it really resembles what she has eaten. I even saw what I am certain was a verse of scripture in her poo the other day...I could definitely make out the word BEHOLD. Yes, one of her favorite snacks (if she can get her hands on it) are the pages of the standard Blue Book of Mormon that I keep lying around to read on the subway. I think she has gotten through the first four pages, but until she has eaten a significant part of Nephi, I will hang onto it.

She also enjoys pooping in the tub. I have to watch her face when she is in there and try to catch her before she destroys the serenity of the bathtub. So here is the question...what is going on? I don't think she eats THAT much food. I give her some organic stuff that I never gave baby #1...does it make that much of a difference that I don't get nice, clean little plops, but a diaper that DEFINES the word SOILED...every single day at least twice? This girl has NEVER been constipated in her whole life. Should I be glad that she is her own little metamucil machine? I am totally grossed out. Carrie has Princess and Pumpkin, I have Pukey and Poopy. Yuck.

PS. I think we might have to change the name of our blog to The Poop Chronicles.
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

If I Were Mayor of NYC....

(Author's Note: This post is the latest installment of an ongoing, unofficial "Tribute To New York City" series we having going here at TFtC. Check out the rest of the series here and here.)

New York is an amazing place to live. There is more excitement and culture contained within one city block than in the sum total of many other American cities. But let's face it ladies, it isn't the safest nor easiest place to raise kids. Every mom in New York has at least once uttered the words, "If I were in charge around here..."

My election as the next NYC mayor is not a likely scenario for many reasons: I haven't held a political office since 8th grade student council at Floyd Light Middle School, many of my husband's relatives run around the U.S. picking berries and washing dishes illegally, and, oh yeah... we are officially no longer NYC residents. Nevertheless, these are some changes I would make:

1. All subway stations must have functioning elevators. No more schlepping strollers up and down crowded and often wet concrete stairs. I would call this "Marian's Law."

2. Existing subway elevators (few and far between, located only at major city hubs) would be replaced and subject to daily fumigation (or at least very intensively cleanings). Anyone who has dared to enter a NYC subway elevator understands the high toxicity level of these places.

3. All cabs would contain at least one car seat that could be easily stored in the trunk when not-in-use. How many of us have darted across the city holding a small baby while PRAYING that nothing happens? It's legal in NYC for children to ride in cabs without car seats, but not any less safe, and unfortunately, it's pretty much impossible for a parent to shlep around a car seat in the city.

4. All of those horrid storefront trap doors would be permanently LOCKED! Anyone who has spent time in the city knows what I am talking about. In NYC, every business has a cellar located directly underneath the storefront used for storage. Metal doors ON THE SIDEWALK access the cellar from underneath. I have peered down many o' cellar doors and the fall is LONG and HARD. Workers are loading and unloading goods through these doors all day long, and these doors are often left WIDE OPEN. If you (or heaven forbid, your child) isn't paying close attention, it would not be difficult to fall into one. I often wonder how prolific these accidents are, although I have to admit, I've never heard of an actual incident. Regardless, more than once I woke out of bed in a cold sweat after dreaming that one of my children had fallen into one.

5. All traffic violations that result in putting young children in danger (i.e. failing to stop at stop signs and red lights, turning into the crosswalk with children or strollers crossing) would result in triple fines and a suspended driver's license for the violating driver. And, oh yeah, if I were mayor, traffic violations would actually be enforced.

I have to remind myself now that I'm out of the city that I need to actually follow traffic laws....but it is nice to be able to cross streets with my kids without having my stomach in knots.

6. I would also institute "pee-for-a-fee" bathrooms around the city. For 50 cents (no charge for kids), you would be guaranteed a clean and safe restroom environment for those "in-the-city" bathroom and diapering emergencies. Each restroom would also have an attractive "mother's room" for moms who want to breastfeed with a little privacy....like at church, but without the smelly diaper bin and leftover-from-the-1970's rocking chair. The men's restroom would also have changing tables.

Fifty cents, you say! Well, I would have paid many times that amount...especially when I was pregnant. It would have saved me a lot of logistical planning. Both of my babies camped out on my bladder so I always made sure I was within a 20 block radius of a Barnes & Noble whenever I was in the city.

Any additional laws you can think of that need to be enacted to ensure a new, child-friendly New York?

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Yes to Circumcision, No to Amniocentesis

Why we had our baby boy circumcized:
  1. To look like his daddy.
  2. To not look like an anteater down there.
  3. Much easier to keep clean -- heard too many horror stories of un-snipped boys who got infections there and had to be circumcized as teens.
  4. I don't know any boy or man who was traumatized by, or even remembers, being circumcized as an infant.

Why I did not get an amniocentesis despite being over 35:

  1. I wasn't going to "terminate the pregnancy" and stop a human life just because it wasn't perfect, which is the whole idea behind finding out. Once I told the nurse I would never have an abortion, she stopped bugging me about doing this.
  2. There are very few instances in which they could do surgery to fix the baby inside the womb, anyway.
  3. Decent chance of causing miscarriage.
  4. They stick a big needle through your belly!
  5. We were prepared to love this baby no matter what his imperfections. Knowing of a birth defect three months earlier would not have changed our love for him.

I also refuse to ever get a mammogram. Why get my boobs all smooshed up when I know I'll die of heart disease or diabetes before I ever get breast cancer?

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sorting Out the Modest T-shirt Melee

One of my very first posts here expressed my adoration for the "mormon modest t-shirts and camis". They might be the best thing that has happened for mormon women since the wording change in the temple ceremony :). In the last few years, numerous "modest t-shirt" companies have sprung into existence trying to get in on the action. I have purchased cap sleeved under-shirts from a number of them and thought I would give my unbiased reviews (read: I don't have family or friends with any business stake in any modest t shirt company so I can be completely honest). I would love to hear your honest opinions too!

DownEast Basics - My Personal Favorite.
What I like:
-They are cheap! ($9.99! - T or cami)
-They are tagless (nothing annoys my more than a scratchy tag, or one that can stick out of the shirt).
-Merrow edge finish. This means the cut edge (neck and sleeves of the T) are finished with thread looped closely together.
-For the way I like to wear these modest shirts - as underlayers, not by themselves, DownEast creates a nice product in nice colors. The chocolate is great for spring too!
-The girls on their website don't have crazy big Utah hair.
-I also own their gauchos. Super comfy. (Warning: Gauchos are NOT flattering on ANYBODY. The girls that look cute in them, would probably look cute in anything and cute does not equal flattering)

What I don't like:
-They appear to have some manufacturing delays due to the high demand on their product. This means they have limited sizes and colors in stock right now but they say this will change by the end of March.
-Wish they had more colors and carried a lace hem option.

*Update 4/24/06
I just got an email from DownEast Basics saying they have received a new shipment of our original cap sleeve Wonder Tees
They also have just received some new styles of tops for spring/summer including a lace hem cami, some great 80's inspired striped and polka dotted t's and a really cute applique top. The prices are still great. Th`eir new line is worth a look.

**Update 6/26/06
I have received word that DownEast Basics has found a new vendor who can keep up with the demand and quality requirements. Hopefully this means that their inventory will stay better stocked. I hate it when things aren't available! Stay tuned for a new website and a new wrap dress style.

Shade Clothing
What I like:
-They are tagless.
-They have a good color selection (the brown is beautiful).
-Merrow edge finish (but see my bad comment below)
-They have a nice, updated website

What I don't like:
-The care label reads "hand wash cold, wash separately, line dry". You're kidding right?
-The neck elastic (which is held under the merrow edge stitch) pulled out of the neck after the third wash. I do admit that it did get thrown into the dryer once on accident, but let's face it, stuff like that is going to happen and has happened to all of my modest undershirts and this is the only one that was destroyed.
-The price - too expensive especially when I only got to wear it 3 times.
-The music on their website has got to go.

Diviine Modestee
What I like:
-Large color selection
-I like the idea of the lace hem layering shirt.
-They have accidentally been dryed a few times and still seem okay.

What I don't like:
-The name. Pretty cheesy. I honestly could not bring myself to spell divine with all 3 "i's" on my check.
-They are NOT tagless
-The neck and armholes are finished with a shiny, satin, stretch binding. I prefer my undershirts to look a little less "finished" and a lot less shiny. But this is definitely a personal preference (the camis also have the same finish).
-The price. They are the most expensive of all the ones I have personally purchased.

Layers Clothing
What I like:
-They use a thinner, softer fabric (a rayon/spandex blend as opposed to a cotton/spandex blend).
-The are the most innovative with their "other" styles.
-They carry a beautiful selection of colors.
-Their website is very pleasing to the eye.

What I don't like:
-They are NOT tagless.
-The edge finish is a fold-over with a cover-stitch (way better than shiny binding, but I don't like it as much as a merrow edge.
-The fabric starts to pill after a while. But this could be caused by the dryer (and they are not supposed to be dryed).
-The model on their site has big boobs (or maybe I should say "disproprotionate to her body" boobs that are stuffed into tight undershirts) which I find very distracting from the product.

Here are my final words before you look at the incredibly informative table I have compiled below:

Really long shirts are "in fashion" right now so you don't necessarily have to patronize a UT based, modest, clothing manufacturer to cover that tummy (or cover the waistband of your garments that are showing about 3" about the waist of your pants). But (and I know I don't have to tell you this) Fashion is Fickle. So I would urge you to give these companies your business so they can survive until after the fashion trends shift and we REALLY need them.

And once again, please leave your own personal reviews and be as specific as you can as to why you like or do not like the product.

Companyunder-T # of colors"under-t" pricecami # of colorscami priceshipping (1 shirt)additional styles of notesize range
DownEast Basics8$9.9915$9.99$7.05XS-XLnew styles for spring prints, stripes, appliques, lace hem cami, shrugs, long sleeve, skirts, gauchos
Shade Clothing12$17.9511$9.99$4.95 XS-XXLmaternity, youth, thermal, swimwear, striped tank, heathered T
Layers Clothing9$16.954$14.95 $7.95 XS-XXLnew styles for spring, lacy, vintage looking, retro style swimsuits, youth styles
Diviine Modestee12$18.9513$15.95$4.95 XS-XL(select colors in XXL)lace hem shirt
CoverWear6$15.9517$13.95$4.95Youth-2XLace Cami available soon
Modbe Clothing**cannot be purchased online
call to find a consultant in your area 1-877-307-3253
17$18.0013$15.00$3 (when ordered from a boutique) or $8XS-XL2youth styles, swimwear, graphic tees, gathered neck T
The Mod Bod11$19.9511$17.95$4.95XS-3XLyouth styles, lace hem T and cami, lettuce edge cami, sequin trim
undertease*8$29.007$26.00$4.95XS-XL also Plus sizeslong sleeve, maternity
Impel17$17.9917$14.99calculated by zip codeXXS-XXLlong sleeve, henley, V-neck

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

***info may become oudated, the further we get from original posting date. If you notice an error, let me know with a comment and I will be happy to update the chart.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Parties Part 3: Sex Party

Oh come on...you KNOW you want to click on READ MORE.

So this is another great party idea, that unfortunately I did not invent. And it is possible that the idea is advertised somewhere in the world somewhere (snarkie), so I am not trying to plagiarize...just passing along an idea from a friend of mine who just had her first sex party.

She had her 20-week ultrasound on a Friday and had the doctor place the sex of her baby in an envelope. She then invited her family and friends over on Saturday and instructed them to wear either pink or blue, depending on what sex they thought the baby was going to be. In this case, pink represented girl and blue a boy. I suppose that you could arbitrarily choose which colors represent the sexes.

After all were gathered, she organized the groups with pink on one side of the room and blue on the other. This made it more celebratory when announced b/c the blue team could yell YEAH! if it was a boy and vice versa.

I thought it sounded like a good excuse to get together with family and friends. And a blessing to share with those you love.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

They really DO love their dads...

I am mom to a 3 year old boy and an 18 month old girl. I always heard that girls clung to their daddies and boys stuck with their mommies. While DS loves wrestling, tickles and soccer with dad I must admit that when the chips are down I'm the one he's looking for. We are tight, me and my son. Don't get me wrong, he drives me crazy sometimes (see my post re: potty training and you'll know what I mean) but we love each other and I love that he LOVES me so much.

Little girl has always been partial to me...until last week. I don't know what changed. Maybe DH started slipping her chocolate without me knowing but she has FALLEN IN LOVE with her father. I am not kidding you, she talks about him ALL day. Remember, she's only 18 months old so her vocab is pretty limited, but she sure can say "daddy, dada, DA-DA!" all day every day. She LOVES her daddy.

And I'm OK with that. It's magical to see how infatuated she has become with another person, to see her eyes sparkle. She gets so excited when Dad comes through the door that I'm always certain her little soul will explode out of her body.

It's true. Little girls really do love their dads.
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Congrats Krista!

Our description up top has changed once again. There is one less baby "in utero" and one more "crazy kid"! Krista delivered a baby girl last weekend. The little one came 5 weeks early but both mom and baby are home now and doing well. Our contribtor, Krista, has yet to "contribute" to the site with a post of her own, but we are sure this will change now that she has a brand new baby keeping her up all night and a 2 year old son keeping her running all day. LOL
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It never hurts to ask...and ask...and ask...

Especially when it made me $750 richer!
This post is dedicated to Kage who nudged me into "asking".

After DD2 was born I was shocked at the price for the healthy delivery. The cost without insurance was overwhelming, but even with our insurance we were in a bind. I figured it was just the price of delivering out East. I wrote it off to "living in NY." Then I mentioned it to Kage and she convinced me I'd better start poking around because that price was way too high.

First I called my insurance company...I got nowhere. No financial aid--only a way to pay monthly. So we began payments. Then I asked my doc's and the hospital's billing depts. and they could do nothing. Hmmmm.

When it was time for my anual exam, I explained the situation to my doctor in person. She was surprised when I told her that her practice charged me $7000 for a healthy, no complications delivery and was especially surprised that I was left with $900 of it to pay myself. She figured someone may have been taking advantage of the practice's agreement with the insurance company and charging extra. She said people that are much more difficult to care for still pay close to nothing! She told me she'd talk to the lady in billing and take care of it. Whatever that meant--but I was optimistic.

Well, I'd already made our first monthly payment of $150 and I'd just sent a check for the second month. I called the practice a couple days ago to check on the status. My balance had been $750. My doctor, who I LOVE, walked in the very day of my apointment and "adjusted off" the entire $750!!

But wait! There's more. So, they told me that the second check I'd just mailed in would be put toward my anual exam. I told the lady that didn't make much sense since insurance covers that exam and that I'd like a refund. She talked to her manager and called me back and told me they'd put the money toward that $750 payment. (Meaning I'd really only be getting $600 off.) I didn't know what to say, but was glad enough to have the bill eliminated. So, that was that.

Then that night I came to my senses!! Who are they to take that money from me!? My doctor had adjusted $750 off--not $600! That was a "gift" from her to me and they're swiping $150 of it.

So, I called back the next day and confronted the manager. All she had to do was have my doctor's permission to give me back the $150. She called her and it was done in less than 5 minutes!! Sheesh!! Couldn't they have told me that yesterday!? I was a little annoyed.

But most of all I was SO HAPPY because we really need that $150 each month. What a relief!!

Never hurts to ask! Now we're going to Burmuda! ....uh, I mean...Now we can pay car insurance! : )
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Monday, March 20, 2006

Is There a Doctor in the House Crib?

Why, as a matter of fact there is! But don't bug her for an Amoxcicillin perscription for jr's latest ear infection--she's not that kind of doctor.

Contributor Michelle successfully defended her dissertation last week. I would tell you what it was about, but even after the numerous times of getting it explained to me, it has continued to whoosh by way over my head. Anyway, this brings her to the end of a long grad school road which began ten years ago when she started for her masters. During that ten years, not only did she finish a masters and a doctorate, she gave birth to and raised (with the help and support of her amazing DH) two very smart, and funny children.

In Michelle's words: "The best moment of the day was when DD ran up to me in my building during the post-defense party and yelled, 'Congratulations Mommy' and then presented me with the cards and drawings she had made for me."

Congratulations Michelle. We wish you all the best as you and your family begin the "post-dissertation" phase of life.
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My Son is a Milk-aholic

DS and I visited Utah at the BEGINNING of January, over two months ago, and ever since then DS has only slept through the night ONCE. Yes, thats right people. One time, and it was last night. the night we took away mr. pacifier. Coincidence? maybe. maybe not. but thats beside the point.

I am not really sure what started the sleep upset, maybe the time change, or maybe he missed grandma. But I am starting to think it directly relates to an addiction he's been harboring. One which has currently hit an all time high: M.I.L.K.
DS LOVES, LOVES, LOVES his milk. Now Ive heard all the horror stories about milk and whats really is in it. And I love everything about organic, but i cant AFFORD organic, so DS fills up on regular ol' grocery store, puss-in-the-glass, Vitamin D fortified Milk. And even this milk is not cheap. But he drinks it like it is. He has gone through a gallon in the last three days. At 4$ a gallon that is one EXPENSIVE kid. you would think he has hit SUV status by how much fills his tank.
So this sleep / milk dance we do every single night goes something like this:

8pm: in bed with full cup of M.I.L.K and blanket (and now currently no pacifier. Yeh!).
Talks, Laughs and sings in bed for about half hour.
8:30p: Starts screaming a little on and off, mixed with babble for another half hour
9pm: Now screams like he is really mad so...

I Break down and go in to comfort him. I find him completely naked! Pillow, blanket, jammies, and diaper all on the floor. The sheet of the bed completely soiled with one or both types of "soiling"! (ok this doesnt happen every night, but enough to keep me frustrated)

9-9:30p Change everything! Put him in something more complicated to remove. (havent had to put diapers on backwards....yet!)
9:30 Back down with ONE full sippy cup of M.I.L.K.
He babbles for another hour. Slows down so much i actually think he is asleep until:

10pm. starts screaming and whining again! Go in to comfort him. He points repeatedly to his sippy cup...just in case i didnt understand that he wants more...

10pm: Down again with another full cup of M.I.L.K.
Hear a few peeps out of him from 10-11p. There are times i actually think he is sleeping. Some of the time he actually IS! But most of the time he isnt. And then its another trip to the fridge. SO at this point usually its midnight and he FINALLY passes out, until...

4AM: DS starts crying! Put him back down with one full cup of milk.
5AM: DS starts crying! Put him BACK down with one full cup of milk.
6am: Yes you guessed it. More crying and more milk. and possibly more lovely diaper issues

by aound 6:30 he finally falls back to sleep, but is so tired he sleeps in late and we miss all early appts. and play dates.

Starts all over again the next day.

So you see. Not only is my son a sleep striker...he is a milk-oholic. And lucky mommy has been loosing even MORE sleep with the fact that his eating habits has his 12 month pants getting bigger NOT smaller. (and YES, he is way too old for 12m pants!)
The pediatrician says not to worry. So hes a picky eater. WHAT?? I would say its more than that! This kid is a freak! No food and all milk. Its almost too much to bear the thought of another night...and yet they keep on comin. thats the fun of it!
So as i sit and type this, when I really thought he was sleeping, he just screamed out. DH has finally come home and they are now in there playing and laughing. (GRRR its 11pm!)

oh, I hear the milk coming out of the fridge....
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Friday, March 17, 2006

Junk food junkeeeeee

I love food. Love it. Chloe and I just spent a week together eating our way through NYC and VT, from garlic nan and prawn vindaloo to steak and perfect crisp green beans. I have my favorite restaurants and my favorite dishes to cook. I love baking bread, and there's nothing like my hubby's chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven.

But then there are my secret loves - we can't meet out in the open, for fear that no one will understand our passion. We must steal our time together. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about junk food. My husband travels quite a bit for work, and there are foods that I will only eat when he is away, because I think it grosses him out that I actually ingest these things. And I won't serve them to Max either, because I don't want these chemicals getting into his body. How sad is that?

So here are my top 3 secret food loves:

3. Mac 'n cheese. Now I appreciate the homemade kind, and I will eat a couple of hearty helpings if you serve it to me. But I don't CRAVE it the way I crave a good gloopy bowl of orange kraft cheese over those little curved bits of pastaliciousness. Mmm mmm mmmmmm. This is one that I admit I tried to introduce Max to, but he'll have nothing to do with the stuff. Huh. Figures.

2. Frozen pizza. I'm not talking fancy stuff either - good old Tony's brand, the flat kind, none of that gourmet rising crust crap. This one is my mom's fault. Whenever my parents went out for an evening and left us with a sitter, they always got us a frozen pizza as a special dinner treat. So now when hubby leaves me at home (okay, I don't need a sitter...) I'll still treat myself.

1. Chef Boyardee Mini Raviolis. I know, I'm kind of grossed out just confessing it, but I can't deny my love.

But I have SOME standards. I had a boyfriend once who had a secret love of E-Z-Cheeze, that cheese in a spray can. I couldn't watch him eat it, even the idea of it disgusted me. Hey, I'm not saying it's logical, I'm just telling the truth.

So what's your secret food? Share your nasty secrets...
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Babies & Broadway

A few weeks ago, my worst nightmare came true, Broadway called me in to DANCE for an audition. Let’s be clear here…I don’t dance. I am a singer who moves well…but I am not a dancer. I was terrified, and so disappointed because this was a big break for me, and I was unprepared. I had 24 hours to get ready, and I should have been getting ready for the past 24 years.

I decided I would WOW ‘em with my outfit. I went to the dance store in Manhattan and pounced on a young man who looked like he knew what he was doing: Ok, he looked gay. Turns out, he was going to the same audition as me, and he gave me lots of good advice about how NOT to look like a clueless singer. I threw up all my nervous energy on him, and he walked me through basic decisions from which shoes, to what tights, to what color leotard. We decided on a blue (for my eyes)low cut one: work that sexy back …maybe that will distract them from the dance moves.

He was kind of surprised at my nervousness and naïveté, but I explained that I had been busy having babies lately and not really in the groove of a dance audition for a Broadway show. I was worried that my inner-thighs might still be a little incapacitated from the pushing that occurred 9 months earlier.

Anyway, we parted ways to do some changing and trying-on and ended up at the checkout counter together. I said something about Good Luck (I never say break a leg), and that I hoped he did really well and got the part and that it was cool that he was called in (he was just starting out), and he said: “It’s really cool that you have a family.” WOW. He helped me not only with my dumb outfit that day, but also with my perspective.

That night I went home and two crazy girls sat at the dinner table/high chair eating their food and watching me model my new dancewear and try some “moves”. To see the excitement in their eyes and how they looked up to me was amazing. Pukey said: “You look good mom; you look good for the audition.” I am so lucky to have two little best friends, and that they can already make me feel good about myself, whether I stumble, I mean dance, I mean MOVE my way onto Broadway or not.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tell me there is an end in sight...

I am in the midst of potty training over here. Knee deep in the glorious poop and pee of it all. And there is no end in sight. I am not exaggerating - I really don't think my darling 3 year old is going to get it.

A brief history:

DS showed interest in the aforementioned potty at 18 months. I was 8 months prego at the time with DD and was not as interested in working with him on the potty, so we didn't push it. Fast forward to age 2 1/2 where he was now showing great interest and even ability. Heck, there were days when I proudly proclaimed to my girlfriends that he was potty training himself. Clearly, I am a moron and got that one ALL wrong. DS is now 3 years and 1 month and we are STILL no closer.

I read my books. I checked in with potty training veterens. I gently guided, never pushing, gave lots of encouragement and enough Hershey treats to warrant stock in the stupid company. We read books on the matter, discussed bodily functions in full detail, watched together with glee as streams of pee made their way into the bowl.

Having seen minimal progress, once DS hit 3 I decided to go a more hard core. Having known my son now for 3 years, I know his personality and what makes him tick, makes him jump to attention. He is a cold turkey kid, a shock-him-into it kid. He's like me in that way - kind of an all or nothing breed. So we threw away the diapers and graduated into pull-ups full time, bought some underwear and talked about becoming a big boy in great detail. I started using an egg timer, every 25 minutes sitting on the potty, blah blah blah. "The poop is sad in your diaper, it wants to live in the potty". Seriously, you name it and I think we've done it. And its not working.

The thing is, he does GET it. Stick that kid on the pot and he's good to go, poops and pees no problem. He just keeps a stockpile of that same stuff in reserves for his pull up. He's an equal opportunity pee-er/pooper.

My 3 year old is a very verbal, articulate little boy. He stood in front of me today during "potty time" and refused to sit on the toilet stating in a clear, steady voice, "Mom, I can't go potty because I'm too little. Too little mom."

Is he right? Am I wrong? Are my methods completely off the wall?

I knelt in front of my little boy and said that he is a big boy now and come Sunday we are throwing away all of the pull ups and he will wear big boy underwear. Which means I'll have to bring out the camping tarps to drape over carpet and furniture because I just don't know if he'll...comply.

He's a smart kid, but I haven't been able to crack his code, so to speak, on the potty training.

So am I wrong, is he right, is it both? Or should I just accept that I will be changing diapers and going through pull ups like water for the rest of my life?
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I Had to Go to Bosnia to Get Pregnant

Well not exactly, but I’m convinced that if I hadn’t spent a year and a half outside of the US, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant.

Upon returning to the US from Eastern Europe, I have been blown away at how fast-paced life is here. I knew it was fast when I lived here before, but I was used to it, handled it well, perhaps even thrived in it. But now that I’ve lived differently—in a world where buying a few vegetables at the market on the way home from work is the extent of our “errands” for the week—I’ve decided I don’t like the break-neck speed at which we Americans conduct our business and our daily lives.

And I have my body’s reaction to the two different lifestyles as evidence of the detrimental effects of this frenzied pace we keep here in the US.

Without going into too much detail, Dh and I tried to get pregnant for a while before actually succeeding. I have always had a very irregular period (went six months during my mission without it—heaven!), and when we felt the time was right to “start a family,” I went through a whole bunch of tests to figure out why my periods were so irregular. Everything looked normal in my blood work, etc. But my periods were still coming at extremely random intervals (between several weeks and several months).

And then we moved to Bosnia, where life slowed down—considerably. I taught a few classes during the afternoons and evenings at Sarajevo University, attended the occasional embassy function, joined the international women’s club, took up yoga, and fulfilled all church responsibilities within a few hours a week (since Church met in our living room for an hour only and consisted of dh, me, and between 2–5 other members). I spent most evenings reading, scrapbooking, playing violin, watching TV with dh, or just relaxing.

At first, this slow pace drove me crazy. I was used going, going, going all the time. In NY, I taught high school full-time (preparing for 5 different classes and 160+ students a day), held extremely time-consuming callings at church, completed my Master’s degree, and attended EVERY church function held. I had become so accustomed to this fast-paced life, that when we got to Bosnia, I felt like I was wasting my time, being lazy, squandering my talents—perhaps even “sinning” a little by not being “anxiously engaged.”

But wouldn’t you know it, my periods regulated themselves. After just a month of this slower life, my period started coming with in a 28–32-day range, every month. I could actually chart them and tell where I was in my cycle, they become so regular. It was obvious that my body was relaxing, even healing, and responding extremely well to this new stress-free life. It still took almost a year to get pregnant, but I am absolutely convinced that it wouldn’t have happened without medical intervention, if I had kept up the crazy life-style I was living in NY.

Now that I’m back in this overly-demanding world, I don’t like it. I can feel my body tensing up, becoming stressed. I can tell that I’m not as healthy and strong because I’m pushing myself more than I should. And yet, everything and everyone around me demands it: work, church, family, society—this blog! =)

So here’ the eternal question: how do we keep up with the worthwhile commitments we make (to work, church, family, etc.), but still maintain our health and sanity?

I have, for the first time in my life, found myself saying “no” to people’s invitations and needs. It’s something I NEVER would have done in my pre-living-outside-the-US life, but I’m finding that it’s absolutely necessary, because I value the well-being of my body—especially now that it has a baby inside it—too much. And I feel so much better when I’m not stressed out all the time!
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Friend Goes Freaky

I know the March issue of The Friend is already out, but I'm a little behind and was reading through the Febuary issue a couple of days ago with 3 year old Princess. She is old enough now to really enjoy the stories even when there is only one picture and a whole page full of text. Even so, she still like the comics the best. In every issue, there is one about a past prophet and then there is another comic called Matt and Mandy. In the January issue, Matt and Mandy talked about reading the scriptures in a funny sort of way and in the March issue they try to get to heaven by jumping on a trampoline but decide the better way to do it is to choose the right. A little cheesy, but cute and it catches some of the innocence of youth.

Now for the February issue where I got a little freaked out. I start reading Princess the Matt and Mandy comic. The topic was tattoos. Huh? I have to admit I was caught off guard a little bit. But I continued on. By the end, I was really disturbed by this little comic. I can't quite put my finger on it.

Maybe is was because these two little girls are discussing tattoos while coloring pictures with crayons. Aren't they like six or seven? And who is the one little girl's mom who's taking her to the Park Street tattoo artist? Whether you think getting tattos is right or wrong, it seems a little young for a child to be getting a tattoo or even talking about tattoos. Do I just not have a clue how "grown-up" kids are these days? Am I totally out of it? I realize readership for The Friend goes up to age 11, but it also starts at age 3.

Maybe the reason is because when Pres. Hinkley made his statement about tattoos and multiple earrings, it was a hard pill for me to swallow for many reasons. Anyway, to have a comic try to explain such a complex (in my mind) thing, using logic that just didn't make sense, left me wriggling in my seat.

Did anyone else read it? What did you think?
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Monday, March 13, 2006

Mommy Wars

I got an email from urbanbaby today about this book. It looks really great. I am wondering if Mormon Mommy Wars got their name from this book...if not, maybe they should sue:

Mommy Wars
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Sunday, March 12, 2006


After 11 years of marriage and 6 kids we finally bought a video camera for family movies. My 3rd and 2nd grader were in their first school play this year. So I excitedly charged the battery and found a blank tape and went to the show (with the rest of my crew). The twins were passed around quite succesfully, but my three year old little boy was not interested in being more than a few inches from my body. Making a family movie and juggling kids is a new experience and a skill that I am still developing. So after 2 hours and 20 minutes of elementary school singing and dancing it is finally time to go.

The next day I put on the masterpiece that I have created. It is bumpy and has the noises from my children talking to me, but they sit spellbound. During the actual performance they are all over the place...on the floor, trading seats, on my lap, looking for food etc. But at home they watch it over and over again. My DH can't stand the bumpiness and shots of the ceiling as I'm managing our children, but in the end it seems to accomplish the purpose for which it was made.
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A New Generation of Women

So I read about a book that I am interested in reading. Isn't that a lame sentence? Anyway, It is called Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women. "What defines your generation of women?" is the question posed by the author, who then compiled the responses in this book. The generation is defined as women age 20-40.

"The world is filled with fierce girls who do not question their power...who have never contemplated their limitations, only their possibilities." This is written in the introduction by Isabel Allende. So one of these days when I find time to read again, I am going to try to pick up this book...in the mean time...answer the question...
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Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Shout Out to Single Sistas in the Church......

Especially those raising kids in the Gospel without the support of an active member husband.

I was almost one of these women.

DH and I met at work. I was saving money fast and furiously for grad school and he had moved to Portland after college for his first sportswriting job. Our desks were ten feet apart but we did not say a single word to one another for over a year. I was weary and distrustful of sportswriters, who have a reputation as being womanizing alcoholics, and DH had a general fear of women. And a long-term girlfriend in the Bay area.

Fate, by way of a shared work project, intervened. We spoke. We fell in love. He was everything I had ever wanted....except for the religion part. By Fall 2000, we had already been dating for a few months. He was covering a college football game in Salt Lake and I decided to come along for the weekend. We had discussed religion now and then. He had a positive view of the church and its members, but did not show any interest in going to Sunday meetings with me. I pinned all of my hopes and dreams of his conversion on this trip. Surely, the peace and serenity of Temple Square, the majesty of the Salt Lake Temple, the wonderful spirit in the Visitor's Center, would capture his heart and mind....and he would immediately ask for the discussions, be baptised, and we would be sealed in the temple and live forever after in eternal bliss....

That weekend, he seemed genuinely impressed with the church sites and I saw tears in his eyes when we watched "The Testament," the movie de jour in Temple Square. On Sunday, after listening to the Choir rehearse in the Tabernacle, we walked around the Temple grounds and I bore my well-rehearsed testimony to him. I ended by telling him how important it was for me to be sealed in the temple and for my children to grow up with a father who righteously upheld the priesthood. Then I asked him if he had any interest in investigating the church...

His reply, "No... I'm sorry Jen...not really."

I came home from that trip feeling discouraged. I prayerfully made some hard choices. Choices that many viewed as compromises to my faith and eternal goals. I decided that I wanted to continue to date him, and eventually marry him. Even if it meant a civil, rather than an eternal marriage. Even if it meant taking our children to church by myself every Sunday. Sometimes images would pop into my head: Of me sitting in church alone, surrounded by happily sealed couples. Or struggling with young children during Sacrament Meeting by myself. But mostly, I felt divinely inspired that, with some time and careful study, he would be baptised and stay faithful. I just had no idea of the timetable that these events would occur.

God is merciful. DH was baptised a few weeks before our wedding, almost one year after our trip to Salt Lake. We were sealed in the Boston Temple a year-and-a-half later, with our six-week-old son. He was called to the bishopric a year following our sealing.

I don't know why I was spared this trial of faith. I know that many people wait their entire lives for their spouse to join the church. I feel incredibly blessed, yet my lack of faith and wavering testimony over the last couple of years tells me that I also take this blessing extremely for granted.

Flash forward to January 2006: In anticipation of our move out of New York, I lived as a single mom for a couple of months while my husband worked in Washington, DC. Two words sum up these two months: Survival and Exhaustion.

I'm not very comfortable in survival mode and I try to stay on top of my life so that I don't feel that I am "just trying to make it to the end of the day." Ladies, I had one goal for those two months....Survive until March. My responsibilities during this time were limited to taking care of my two toddler-aged monkeys and keeping the house in order. Big responsibilities, I understand, but I did not have to worry about a job outside the home, child care, and the hundreds of other concerns that single moms deal with every day.

Sundays were hard. I have to admit that I missed a few church meetings over those two months. Things that could usually be overcome with some help from my DH (ie) child tantrums and transportation issues ... seemed unmanagable to me alone, so we stayed home. When I did make it to church with the monkeys, I spent the majority of the meeting block in the hallway chasing after one or both of them. I know that everyone with small kids has this experience, but doing it by myself was lonely and isolating.

My heart ached for all women raising children alone in the Gospel FOR REAL as I struggled with my own temporary situation. So many are doing such truly amazing jobs, raising great kids who will grow up to be strong members of the church, and overall wonderful people.

We have since moved out of New York. I was looking through our new ward directory the other day and I couldn't help to notice two things: (1) How BIG our new ward was compared to our quaint little Astoria group. (2) How many single member moms lived within our ward boundaries. They are just names to me right now, but I promised myself that I would make an effort to get to know some of them and find ways to lighten their burden.
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Friday, March 10, 2006

My Day

(This is something I wrote to my girlfriends a few months ago on our myfamily.com site).To you first time pregnant moms, I hope this story doesn't turn you off to parenting.

To those with one child, you may want to consider keeping it that way. To those with two or more, you are welcome to laugh while you weep.

I decided to take my kids to the Children's Museum of Stockton this morning. After a 1 1/2 hour drive we arrived at the very colorful place of play and discovery. And then they took off, two kids going in completely opposite directions. I found a toddler area with a gate and corraled them for a few minutes - fresh toys and a chance for me to sit down. DS (3 years old) threw a fit when he realized he was gated in and screamed over and over "Open gate! OPEN THE GATE!". Suddenly, the other mother in there (with two perfectly behaved little girls, I might add) opened the gate and said to DS, "Look! Its open!". Clearly, this woman was a moron and shouldn't have been allowed to reproduce. Out he fled. And I dragged him back because DD (17 months) was still having fun, the museum was huge and busy and I didn't want him off somewhere by himself. As I dragged him back kicking and screaming I glared at the woman and said firmly "I need this gate CLOSED. THANK YOU."

After 2 fun filled hours at the museum I piled everyone back in the car and off we went. But then I missed my exit. So I turned around...but then couldn't find the right exit. I was lost...in Stockton. Then I smelled poop. And heard DS say "Oh...its OK, baby. It come off, but we'll fix it. Uh oh". And turned around to see that DD had removed half of her diaper and smeared the diareah contents on her arm, leg and carseat. WHAT?!? Was this really happening? I pulled over and tackled the mess...and good grief, what a mess. I used half a bottle of that hand sanitizer stuff on her and myself, scooped out the situtation in the car seat, padded it with burp cloths and got her back in. Once back on the road, DS screamed for 20 minutes because the sun was in his eyes and he couldn't get comfortable in his car seat. Eventually they both passed out.

2 1/2 hours later the journey ended and I plopped DD in her crib for a much needed second nap. DS followed me around the house crying, whining, yelling about Dora and Diego on TV. "No, a diff-ent Dora. A diff-ent Diego. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!". Then the internet connection on both of our computers died, meaning I couldn't submit the 15 minutes of work I needed to get in. 10 minutes later our home phone died. It had been on the fritz for weeks and evidently, today was the day for death. In the background I could hear DD jumping and screeching in her crib, overlayed with DS yelling about a "diff-ent Dora". I was finally reduced to tears, standing over my kitchen sink, crying quietly. DS came over and said "Mom, are you OK? You crying? Do you wanna tissue? OK, I go get". And my dear little tyrant got me a tissue and held onto my leg while I cried. Once he was satisfied that I was OK he went back to yelling and throwing toys.

With all hope of a second nap lost, I retrieved DD. She had removed her shirt and was hard at work on the button for her jeans - the room wreaked of poop. SO...I got THAT situation under control, threw up my hands and retreated to my husbands office down the hall. I had spent 15 minutes making a list of stuff to do for work when I noticed there was no fighting, crying, yelling. Instead only happy babbling. I walked out of the office to find the wipe dispenser tub in the hall, emptied of all its wipes. DS was sitting in the middle of DD room, arms, legs, face and hair positively glistening. He had overturned the laundry basket, climbed up to DD's dresser and gotten the Johnsons Lavender Baby Gel...and applied liberally. I glanced at DD, who was also glistening but with an unidentifiable substance on her eyelids and lashes.

Then I noticed my bedroom door was open....

I marched down the hall to find my tub of vanilla shea butter lotion in the middle of the room and generously used. "Where's the lid?" I asked incredulously. Did it even matter at this point? "In the bathroom. On the counter" DS replied matter-of-factly. Nothing else had been disturbed too badly, and they both stood there looking at me, glistening. I marched them back out, but they were hard to hold onto with all that lotion - slippery little people. I felt ready to kill them both, but instead turned my attention to dinner- I didn't want to deal with the glistening yet. DD threw 75% of hers on the floor; DS flat out refused to eat. I might also mention that from the time of my initial breakdown at the kitchen sink until splattered tortillas hit the floor for dinner (about 1 1/2 hours), my darling husband had been napping. Now, he did get up at 5:30 AM to drive nearly 2 hours to San Jose for meetings and then back again...but he didn't scoop diarreah out of a carseat while lost on I-5 South. So as you can probably imagine, his napping didn't put him on my list of favorites.

After the dinner disaster, the next natural step was baths. DD had a strange scent of lavender, poop and shea butter about her so it was time. While DH forced DS to eat I cleaned up DD. She fought me tooth and nail (literally, I might add. Who knew she could fight so dirty?) putting on her diaper and jammies. As soon as I released her, she found DS play drill from his tool kit, tripped and landed on the drill in such a way that the entire 4 inch bit went down her throat. TRAUMA. Once I calmed her down I deposited her in bed. While DH supervised DS's bath, I announced "I'm leaving. Bye" and walked out.

I drove to my sanctuary, my place of peace and serentity - Target. Target always makes me feel better. But as I picked up more wipes in the baby aisle I heard the shrill, tired voice of a mother yelling "Harvey, NO. No, come back here! No, you...don't...do not...HARVEY! Are you being bad? YES! You're being bad". I never actually saw little Harvey, but I heard his manical toddler laughter within the racks of clothes. As I passed this tired mother in the aisle, our eyes met and I opened my mouth to share some words of comfort. But instead, I walked on. I was tired myself and didn't really care what happened to Harvey or his poor mother. I just cared about replenishing the baby wipes and lavender lotion...and wandering aimlessly around Target.One box of wipes, a pair of cowboy boots for me and an In & Out Burger later and I finally came back home.

And that was my day.
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One of THOSE days

Note: This post was originally published on Mormon Mommy Wars back in January, but it's just too good not to have in our own archives. So if it's a repeat for you, enjoy again!

First, let me introduce myself. I’m a mom of one incredibly active and very very strong-willed 2 year old son, Max, and we (Max, myself, and hubby) have just moved from a small apartment in NYC to a rather large and old house in the country. One thing to note is that our house, being very old, has what are called “registers” in the floor on the upstairs – these are basically holes in the floor with iron grates in them, which allows the heat to come up from the downstairs. On the downstairs side, there is an additional vent cover.

Max and I have had a challenging last week or so (dad away on a business trip, Max waking up for the day at 4:30 am, etc.) and I'm very very tired and have had a bit too much of him. Which still doesn't totally excuse this, but whatever...

The latest thing that is driving me nuts is that he is once again refusing to nap, which results in a complete mess of a child from when I finally give up on the nap until bedtime. The other afternoon, I was stretching him as long as possible (hoping that would result in a nap, but having a pretty good feeling that it wouldn’t) and I was doing that tired mommy "I'll just lie here on the couch and close my eyes while you play with that puzzle" when I was rudely awakened by Max coloring on my face with a marker. Luckily it was a washable one, but I was NOT happy. So I decided it was bedtime. I put him to bed, knowing full well that it wasn't going to work, and then headed back to the couch, threw a pillow over my head, and promptly fell asleep for 45 minutes.

So I wake up and Max is yelling, and I know he hasn't gone to sleep. He starts to yell louder and harder, and I figure I'll get up and go check on him, that he probably has a dirty diaper. I step from my tv room into my kitchen, at which point I see Max hanging through the ceiling from the armpits down He had removed the register from his floor, kicked out the vent cover in the kitchen ceiling, and had then decided to climb through it, resulting in him being suspended over my kitchen table, screaming his lungs out. I was momentarily lost over what to do, but then decided it was better to stay below him than to take the time to run upstairs and pull him back up through the floor (I didn't know how long he'd been there and how long he'd last). So I grabbed his feet and talked him into dropping through the hole, at which point I caught him.

Ohhhhh I'm such a horrible mother.

And yes, he did have a dirty diaper. And yes, the floor vents are now screwed AND nailed into the floor. And yes, I don't think he'll live to see 3.
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Parties Part 2: 4-year-old girl

Yes. I actually attempted the PARTY for Pukasaur's 4th birthday. For her 1st b-day there were two guests, 2nd b-day was at playgroup, 3rd b-day, 1 guest. This year it was a total of 7 little girls in my tiny apt. I got great ideas from the web and from brainstorming with Pukey (herein referred to as D1). Here they are:

I had two goals:
1. I wanted every girl to feel comfortable, included, a winner and of course a princess. For many of the girls it was their first "drop-off" party. To make them feel at ease I had happy nanny and her friend be grown up princesses. My mom sent me a few of my old prom dresses, so they were in dress-up too. The princesses welcomed them in and got them started on creating their own foam crown. D1 also greeted each girl at the door and gave them a necklace (mardi gras beads from Claires) upon arrival.

2. To teach D1 that parties were about friendship and fun. I asked for no gifts please (half of the girls did not comply), and I tried to come up with ways that we could prepare for the party together. I had her decorate the outside of our front door with photos pertaining to our princess theme. We also decorated the goodie "bags" (purple plastic chinese food containers from Michaels) with stickers and filled them with goodies. I would run ideas by her ahead of time: What do you think of this game? How about this for lunch? etc. This way she was looking forward to socializing and not: PRESENTS! PRESENTS! PRESENTS!

1. Crowns: We made these first so that the glue would dry, turns out we never LET them dry, the girls wore them right away.

2. Nails: When the girls were done with their crowns I painted their nails with Loreal JET SET. That was fun. All this we did around a round table in D1's room, and watched a little Disney Sing-Alongs while the nails were drying.

3. Schedule: I posted two Schedule of Events on the walls so that my husband and adult princess helpers could anticipate what was coming up next.

4. Lunch: We sat around the coffee table on the floor in the front room and ate D1's fave foods: Macaroni and Cheese and Strawberries. And yes I made HOMEMADE yummy Mac n Cheese...not Kraft and not even the usual Easy mac.

5. Games: We played buried treasure game. Each girl was blind folded and plunged their hands into a bowl of rice that was filled with jewels. Once they found two, the next girl got a turn. We strung the jewels on a string for a necklace.

We played the Princess and the Pea. I told the story and then each girl took a turn hiding the pea (a green super ball) under one of three pillows, and each girl got a chance to guess which had the pea. Everyone got a prize of a ribbon wand which came in handy for...

Freeze Dance. We played Abba and then paused and had to freeze. This was very simple, fun and a good way to work off lunch.

We ended with sitting on the couch (this was a great photo op) and playing Guess the Princess. I just printed small photos of each Disney princess and held them in my hand. I gave clues and they guessed. Everyone had fun guessing and winning a feather boa to finish their princessy look. The girls enjoyed keeping the little pictures too. Who knew?

6. Cake was of the ice cream variety and so very easy for me. That was the last event of the party, followed by some more photo ops.

7. Decor: I had Cinderella playing on the tv on mute as part of the decor. A few times we turned up the volume...slicing the cake, waiting for lunch to be served, waiting for moms.

I also had ironed a few pieces of dress up in case any girl showed up with no dress up clothes, and ended up hanging them on my book shelf and curtain rods as part of the decor. I also lined up the goodie bags in the window for decoration. I used a pink tablecloth for lunch on the coffeetable and then spread it on the floor for the Buried Treasure game.

It was a success. For photos click here.
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why? Because I Said So--or The Beating Down of My Child's Curiousity

If you have ever had a three year old, then I think you know what I am talking about. We are so deep into the "Why?" phase I can't see the beginning and I definitely don't see the end.

Before I had kids (famous last words), I told myself I would be a parent who encouraged my child's curiosity. I would respond to every question with a mind expanding, complete answer. Every experience would be a learning experience! That was all before I knew how the never-ending "Whys?" would literally drive me CRAZY!

Princess will ask "Why?" to pretty much anything. Even if I include a full explanation before the "Why?" comes, she will still ask "Why?". I can't even do something nice for her without being attacked with the "Whys?".

Mom: Here, have a cookie.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because you ate all your lunch.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because that is what you get when you eat all your lunch.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because I am a nice mom.
Princess: Why?
Mom: (here is where I give up and there is noticeable annoyance in my voice and a slight crazed look in my eye)
Just because! Now take the cookie and run before I change my mind!

So, my answers pretty much have come down to these:
1. "I don't know" (I do try to save this one for times when I really don't know).
2. "Because"
3. "Just because"
4. "Because I said so"
5. "No more questions for today" (this is the last resort but I find myself saying it more and more frequently and earlier and earlier in the day).

I really hate all of my options and I hate feeling like I am squashing my child's curiosity. I want her to ask questions. Just not so many! What can I do? (I would also appreciate any ideas for variations on the above 5 answers so if all the advice doesn't work, I could at least change my routine answers up a bit)

**Now, if your child never went through this phase, I seriously don't want to hear about it. Nor do I want to hear any advice from you. I don't need speculation or the inference that some parenting technique allowed you to never enter this phase. I don't believe it. You just get to read this and thank your lucky stars for your angel child who never drives you crazy (at least not with the "whys".
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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Kids Say Funny Things

We all know that some of the funniest sentiments uttered come out of the mouths of children. Whether repeating what they've heard elsewhere, dredging up the things we tell them and packaging them in a unique way, or coming up with something completely out of their own imaginations, it's often amusing, and sometimes embarrassing, to listen to what comes out of children’s mouths. Especially when they're your own kids.

We wanted to create a space where you can come to post the funny things your kids say. There will be a link on the sidebar for your convenience, so anytime something worth publishing pops out of your child's mouth, feel free to share with all of us. We can all use an extra laugh or smile!

So, with that, I'll start. I have two children. DD is 4 1/2. She has always been verbal, and has a penchant for dramatic and exaggerated language. (She inherited that from her dad.) Statements such “I love you so very dearly” are typical. DS is 1 1/2 and is in that glorious stage of fast mapping, where he tries to repeat everything he hears, and every day, he adds several new words to his working vocabulary. It is so satisfying at a visceral level to hear him ask for hummus.

In the last few weeks, here are some funny things they have said:

I was upstairs and DD was watching the end of "Rescuers Down Under." All of a sudden, I hear her laughing uproariously, and yelling, "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!" She later explained that the villain had gone over a waterfall.

On a recent Saturday, she was in my room with me, and she said, "Mom, what's wrong? The house is clean." I asked her what made her think I was upset. She said, "Well, you were growling." I continue to believe that at that moment I was in a fine mood and that I didn't even so much as sigh. But, maybe I do occasionally growl about the clutter in the house!

Then there was the time when I was belting out "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow" and she said, "Easy, Mom, EASY!"

Today, we were headed out the door to church and DS scurried out onto the porch saying "Hurry! Hurry!" Not to hard to tell where that one comes from since it seems like I am perpetually telling them both to hurry when we are on our way to church. By the way, the hardest part about DH's meetings before church is getting my kids out the door by myself and making it into the chapel in a non-frenzied, semi-pleasant mood. I failed miserably today.

And when DH asked DS to do something the other day, forgetting to use the magic word, DS went over and rubbed his clenched fist on DH's chest, while at the same time saying "pease." (You rub your fist on your chest to say please in sign language, and we always require DS to do it when he wants something.)
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oh My Oh My Oh Pukasaurs!

Okay so it was only one Pukasaur, but she puked enough to be made plural.My day started with a weird smell. It was a smell of puke. You know when you smell dog crap and you keep smelling it and wonder where that is coming from and finally realize the reason it is NOT going away is because you STEPPED in it. I sort of had that feeling...like "Did I Step in puke and not notice it?" Eventually the smell went away. Turns out it was a foreshadowing of events to come.

Picture this: I am sitting in the two seater (Thank Heavens) of the subway next to daughter #1 (almost 4) with daughter #2 (10 mos.) on my lap. We are on our way to a casting call that involves all three of us-this is a rarity and D1 is excited. She has recently shown an interest in following in my footsteps. D1 gets sleepy as the casting is SMACK dab in the middle of naptime (of course), and lays down on my lap. Some noisy kids talking with too many obscenities enter the car and she sits up complaining of their talking. I start singing a hymn to counter the obscenities and then it happens.

All this in slow motion: My tummy hurts. BLAGH. All over my coat. BLAGH. All over her coat. BLAGH. All over the seat. By this time I have her standing up. BLAGH. All over the floor. I have her step out of the way and while I am trying to figure out what just happened and then how I am going to deal with it, there is one more BLAGH. So now it is all over the two of us, the seat and the floor. HOLY MOTHER OF PUKE.

I see that the entire car full of riders is looking at me with that look. I say: Who's going to hold the baby? A nice lady volunteers. Then I survey what is in my diaper bag: a pocket pack of kleenex, a burp cloth, a few small bibs and one diaper...all of which I was willing to sacrifice, but where to put the soiled items? Yes ladies, there are no wipes. Who knows why. My next question to the crowd: Does anyone have a plastic bag? I ask this twice. I end up with a grocery sak and an umbrella cover.

Cleaning commences. D2 is content with whoever has her, D1 is still standing exactly where I left her...COVERED. I first clean up myself (thank you nylon coat) it comes right off. Then I start on the seat. At this point people from the car are depositing their various packets of travel kleenex and random fast food napkins. BLESS THEM. I seriously would have run off the train. Maybe NOT if it was a mother. Then the gagging begins. I start an outloud mantra: I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I breathe..but not too deep b/c I don't want to smell it. Then I clean up D1. Again the fabric was forgiving but not the fluffy cuffs and hood...yuk. D1 finally says: "Mom, I throwed up because I ate too much." I have no recollection of my response...I think it was: "I can do this." Lady who grabbed D2 has now handed her off and bless her soul is gathering the chunks with me.

We finish the task in probably only 3 or 4 stops. She then bestows us both with some anti-bac gel which I slather on my hands and on the seat. I sit D1 back down, retrieve D2 and second holder of D2 takes the bag full of puke and throws it out for me on her way to wherever she was going. I am surprised I did not cry. I guess gagging is worse. I kissed that sweet D1 and said: Do you want to go home or go to the audition (we were almost there after all). She said in her sweet little just-thrown-up voice: Audition. Ahhh...a girl after my own heart. What a trooper. And I mean the BOTH of us.
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"Mommy's crying because she can't find the Turnpike"

I am currently nearing the end of an East Coast adventure with my two toddlers (3 years and 17 months). I grew up in DC and my husband and I lived in NYC for nearly 7 years, so now that we live in the Bay Area I need my fix of "home". I decided to take my two kids (alone, I might add) on a trip from DC up to NYC up to Vermont/New Hampshire (to be with Marian) and then back down to NYC...and then back down to DC over the course of 3 weeks. Whew.

The trip has been incredibly smooth, owing to my confidence, anal over-planning and super adaptable kids - they're great travlers. It really has been fantastic.

However, yesterday on the drive from NYC to DC...things didn't go so well.

I was driving over the Verannzano bridge out of Staten Island (as I have done many times before), the kids were happily snacking and watching DVD's when I saw my exit for the New Jersey Turnpike. I could pick North or South. Clearly I wanted to go south because I was headed for DC. And yet for some reason, I picked North. NORTH. Why on earth would I go north? As soon as I made the fatal turn I started screaming and banging my steering wheel yelling "No...NOOOOOOOO!!!!!" But it was too late and I was stuck on the Jersey Turnpike headed north...towards Newark. Oh no. Have any of you ever driven around, through, into Newark? Its a huge airport and industrial area- not a good place to be if you have no reason to be there.

I kept going thinking there would be a place to get off, turn around, beam me up Scotty. No such luck. I finally found an exit that didn't dump me off in the airport and took it. Now I was on some other highway, 78? 278? Can't remember, but there were no signs for the Turnpike or 95. I started crying because I was really and truly lost. I didn't know my way around NJ at all. I was yelling at Heavenly Father that He needed to help me or else - not exactly the right spirit to be asking for inspiration but I was feeling desparate.

The more I drove the more unglued I became. The stress of 2 weeks traveling alone with my little children combined with the fact that I was LOST made me cry harder and harder. In the backseat my son (age 3) kept saying "Don't worry mom. We find the Turnpike". There was a little voice in my head that told me I needed to pull it together because my kids were going to get worried. But I kept crying - it was an awful feeling being lost.

I pulled off at some random exit and arrived at Crack Den Hell Slum Land, USA. I am not exaggerating, this was truly the bleakest and sketchiest place I have ever seen (and I've spent time in parts of the Bronx and Harlem - they've got nothin' on this place). CDHSL didn't even have a name - everywhere I looked were big signs that read "Now Entering Redevelopment District". WHAT???? Not even a name for the town, just that things are being redeveloped.

I cried harder.

I pulled up alongside a true gangsta, prayed that we wouldn't be mugged or killed, rolled down my window and said in a weary, teary voice, "New Jersey Turnpike. South". He gave me some basic directions and send me on my way. I was just grateful to be exiting CDHSL alive.

One and a half hours after making my initial mistake, there it was - NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE SOUTH. I crossed 4 lanes of traffic and made the exit. And then started to cry again. I was a complete jelly-like mess. My 3 year old asked "Mommy, why you crying? It's OK. We find the Turnpike!".

Last night when I was on the phone with my husband I passed him along to my 3 year old for a chat. And this is the first thing my son said to dh when he got on the phone:

"Hi. It's me. Ummmm....Mommy cry...in the car...'cause she no find the Turnpike".

I fear that my son will not remember the great restaurants and playgrounds we visited in NYC, the foot of gorgeous snow we played with in Vermont, shopping all up and down the East Coast, grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, long walks through the city. He will ONLY remember that mommy lost her @!$%&%@ somewhere in New Jersey looking for the Turnpike.

But hey, how many three year olds know what a Turnpike is? Right?
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sounds like you're doing all the right things

I finally gave up last week and took Max to the pediatrician to get some advice on his sleeping problem. Her answer? Sounds like you're doing all the right things. And I think that's all I needed to hear.

Up until about 3 months ago, my little man (he'll be 3 in June) was a champion sleeper, especially at night. Put him down at 7, he'd hang out in his crib/bed, reading and singing and entertaining himself for about an hour, until he fell asleep. No screaming, no night waking-ups, just sleep until about 7 the next morning. He continued this even after we transferred him to a bed this past summer, which I was surprised and overjoyed at. I prided myself on his nighttime sleep, on the fact that we had "trained" him at 7 mos. (those nights of horrid pain as you just let them cry it out...) and clearly, what I had done had worked. Sure, he was crazy and so strange in so many ways, but at least I had the nighttime sleep thing under control.

Turns out, it had VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH ME. Sure, the choices I made influenced the outcome, but at a certain point, it became all up to Max. And just after Thanksgiving, he decided he was no longer going to go to sleep.

I won't waste your time detailing out each individual phase he has taken me through in this adventure of not sleeping, nor will I list all the techniques I've used in battling it. In the end, none of them have worked anyway, so I just keep going back to the same things we've been doing since the beginning - the things that all the books tell you to do. I kept waiting to find a "fix your child's sleep" book that would have the answer, but they all told me to do the things I was already doing, the things that weren't making a difference. And finally, after breaking down and crying about it yet another evening, my DH suggested I make an appointment with the pediatrician, call in the experts so to speak.

So first I FOUND a pediatrician (yeah, I'm an awful mom who hadn't done that even after 7 months in her new town...) then I made an appointment, which was of course about 6 weeks out. And I figured that by the time the appointment arrived, we'd have moved on to the next problem - isn't that the way it always works? But not in this case. Anyway, last week I went, I met my (awesome) pediatrician, and detailed out for her all the ups and downs and techniques and traumas. And she listened, she asked some questions, and in the end said it sounded like I was doing what I was supposed to do. Gave me her phone number and email address to get in touch with her if it was more than I could take, and sent me on my way. If you told me ahead of time that this was what was going to happen, I probably would have been upset. But actually, it was very reassuring. I think all I needed to hear (if "oh here's the magic pill / trick that will make it all better" wasn't available...) was that I wasn't missing something truly obvious, that I wasn't doing anything to make the behavior worse, and that I just needed to push ahead. And thank goodness, that's what I got. I think we all need a pat on the back sometimes, that reassurance that we're doing all we can do.
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