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

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Search: Is Top Ramen Ok for Pregnancy?

One of my hobbies besides writing on this blog is checking the stats on this blog. I love seeing the graphs, the pie charts, the maps. It's very addicting. I avoided taking Stats in college but who knows, maybe I would have really liked it.

One of the most enjoyable stats to look at is the google search words that bring new visitors to the site. Search words range from those that make sense and remind me of great old posts to those that are really funny to others that are downright crazy. I hope everyone found what they were looking for!

Oh, if you search for "Is Top Ramen Ok for Pregnancy?" Tales comes up third. We don't provide an answer to this compelling question but you can find lots of other women (including the handful of people who searched for "chopped+olive+sandwiches") who secretly love nasty food.

What's a mommy blog without numerous references to poop? I hope these women found some comfort:





Then there's always the kinky searches:





tales+sexy+women+kage (it might have been a mispelling but if they really wanted to get to know kage, they should've checked out her personal blog.

This person definitely came to the wrong place:


Around here we call it the "pizza dough" stomach:


Here's where I start scratching my head:

crazy+mormon+beliefs+deodorant (maybe i'm just out the loop on this one)




mothering / hairy+mamas (I know I didn't shave today, but I don't remember posting about it!)

Thanks to all you Google searchers out there. You make up a very small percent of our overall hits, but you make the stats a fun place to cruise.

If you want to test your knowledge of our past 6 months of posts, or have a fun tour through our archives, click on these real visitor searches below to see where they were taken:













50 most commonly misprounced words

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From the Tales Inbox: On Being a Daughter

This post takes a slightly different approach to motherhood issues in that I’d like people’s opinions on what role/responsibility we as daughters (and sons) have, if any, in the personal lives of our parents.

For years, my mother has come to me as a confidant and expressed difficulties she has with her relationship with my father. She’s very open and honest about some fairly personal and intimate things, because, as far as I can tell, she has no one else to talk to. And she very obviously needs to talk. Unfortunately, she’s in a lot of emotional pain from years of an unhealthy relationship—I wouldn’t call it abusive in any way, just unhealthy and unhappy (for both of them, I think).

Now she’s starting to ask me to get involved, to help her approach my father about certain issues, to help her talk to him about things that are difficult for her, things that will upset him to hear, which will cause her to back down. Obviously, this need alone is indicative of some of the problems they have—she doesn’t even feel like she can talk to him and needs me to be a mediator.

But my question is: is it appropriate for me to get involved as a daughter? Is it appropriate for my mother to confide these things in me? Is it betraying my father in any way to be my mother’s listening ear? Is it betraying my father if I confront him with my mother in an effort to support her? Is that just a really bad idea? What are the boundaries and limits in our adult relationships with our parents? Or are there none? Can we interact with them as we would with any other adult? Have any of you had experiences like this with your parents?

Thank you,
An Anonymous Daughter
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is this a tribute, or are we breaking up?

(With only days to spare, June's NYC tribute:)

There is something special about NYC in the summer time. The combination of heat and humidity has the power to hold any odor in the air as a cloud that is usually about nostril height. If odors were colored, there would be little clouds of blacks, yellows, pukes and mostly browns floating around your head as you walk to and from your destination.
The first time I was pregnant I was lucky enough to be in my second trimester during the summer so I had no nausea issues. But this time, (yes tales girls, were on round two) THIS time is extra fabulous cause I am just finishing up my first trimester and have wanted to puke each and every time I have set foot out the door. This truly has tested my love affair with NYC and frankly I do think I want to break up for a while.

Some of my favorite thick and musty NYC smells:

1. Urine. And don’t be fooled people, this isn’t some innocent dog or cat, (while there is that) NO! This is the human kind. Mostly found in elevators, dark corners and on most brick walls.

2. Dog feces…. everywhere! Maybe it's my neighbor hood, but our little song goes something like this:
“There is poop everywhere. On your stroller, on your shoe, on the sidewalk there is dog poo.”

3. Cigarette smoke. I usually get the puff right in the face. I'm sure I will die before I'm 50.

4. Wet dog. ICK! My neighbor also has a dog so our hallway constantly smells of wet, musty, dirty dog. (Nothing against the creatures, but they do stink~)

5. Burnt pretzels. I imagine this is close to the smell of burning flesh although I don’t actually know what that smells like. Any of you other NYC girls want to take a stab at a description? It's beyond me.

6. The other day I ran past McDonalds. The entire block smelled of rancid oil

7. Bus exhaust, car exhaust, dump truck exhaust. Taxi’s, backhoe’s, moving vans, SUV’s, Doubledecker’s. You name it, we got it and it spits out dark, black, deadly exhaust. MAN! This city is DIR-TY!.

8. Indian Food, Cuban Food, Chinese Food. Usually yummy but currently retched.

9. Body Odor. Yes, even in this day and age of showers, deodorant and perfume, people (especially NY people) still have it. It comes with big sweaty yellow armpits in your face belonging to a big fat hairy guy that’s holding the handrail next to you on the subway.

10. Garlic. I swear people here BATH in it! It permeates the trains, especially in the morning. Like people went out on the town the night before and had garlic margaritas.

11. And speaking of…Alcohol breath. Man on the Subway, Woman on a city bench, ALWAYS a bum at the playground. The only thing that would be worse is a big hairy man with B.O. AND alcohol breath on the subway. Oh, wait…

12. Have you ever smelled horse manure on a hot, 100% humid day? Gotta love Central Park, although it smells pretty bad in the winter too.

13. The other day I SWEAR my street corner smelled like sweaty metal. You know the scent of your hands after swinging on the swings? I think I'm gonna be sick.

SO far these are the only ones (HA!) that have made my last two months a living hell. Whether it’s a NY smell or one that made you sick in your first trimester, anyone else care to add to the list?

*note to TftCarrie: guess its time to change the number of “in utero”
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Kage Does Utah

Okay so it doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Debbie Does Dallas, nor the same TYPE of adventure, but I did do Utah this past week, and if I do say so myself, I did it well.

In the past, traveling west of the Mississippi River was a frightening situation for me. The farther away from my hometown Chicago (and adopted hometown NYC) I get, the more out-of-sorts I feel. But this time I was determined to remain open-minded, have fun, and give my children experiences that were unique to Utah.

Go City Kids helped me with my planning, along with suggestions from friends. The first task was to convince Carrie to meet me in Utah...I figure California is way closer to Utah then NYC, so it would be a breeze to get her and two kids there. Well, I don't know how the traveling worked out, but she made it there either way. My next step was to plan some activities for my kids, and the following is what we ended up doing. (If you are from Utah, then I apologize if this is "the obvious" for what to do with kids in Utah):

1. Liberty Park. I thought this was such a great way to spend the day. The all-abilities playground was big, spacious and very clean. My favorite moment here was when my 14-month-old wandered over to the water spray. She stayed on the outskirts of the sprays until they stopped spraying, then she moved in to one of the center ones, and of course it turned on spraying her square in the face. She was not happy. I thought it was funny.

Finally we found the Seven Canyons Water Maze that I had read about on line, and this was truly a unique find. The only thing I have experienced that is somewhat close to this, is the Frog Pond in Boston. This one is far more adventurous. There are manmade creeks, bridges, waterfalls and pools that are no more then 1 foot deep and are chlorinated. There are playballs throughout for throwing, collecting, and catching. Both my baby and toddler (can I call a 4-year-old that?) LOVED it. And I enjoyed myself too, despite the fact that there was water involved.

If there had been more time I would have liked to hit the Aviary (even though I hate birds).

2. Wheeler Farm. Believe it or not this was on the top 10 list of kid activities in Utah. It is small and quaint and there are some cute animals. The pigs were frisky and we met 3-week old baby calves. There is a lot of green and a wide selection of farm animals, and you can pretty much just wander around with no set rules or hand-washing stations. It feels like a real farm, maybe it is!?

3. The Gateway. Okay it's kind of a generic outdoor mall, but I SO loved my French dip sandwich at the Do-do restaurant, and my DD and I got VERY wet in the very cool waterspray that is set to music.

4. The Park Library in Taylorsville. It was a nice library on the inside, but we went to attend PIGS ON PARADE outside. It was their (free) celebration of the film Charlotte's Web that apparently is going to be released soon. The girls and I have been reading that book outloud for summer reading (go me), and so when I read about this I was excited. The girls wore pig ears, decorated a pig cookie, made a pig puppet and met 2, 2-week-old pigs brought to the library by the PORK, THE OTHER WHITE MEAT foundation (who were also handing out pork recipes...kind of funny).

5. This is the Place Monument. It was really hot and a pain to drive to, but it was actually kind of cool. We visited the Fairbanks house, (Lavern Fairbanks is my great-grandmother), to get a little taste of family history. While we were there a "trek" of youth from England were just arriving and we were all given white hankies and told to shout: "Hosanna, Welcome to Zion" and as hokey as it felt, I actually got a little teary. It looked like there was a lot to explore including a general store, school and stable, but I headed straight for Mormon Handicraft for some yeasty rolls and a cold bottle of sasparilla.

6. Childrens Museum of SLC gets a quick nod mostly for their great staff and the very cool canyon room upstairs, and under-4 room that is a little "nest". You can find similar museums elsewhere, but this is a nice break from the desert heat, and a good way to spend a morning.

I actually had many more adventures, including one that involved Carrie and me and our kids, two minivans, two mini-mouse swimsuits, only 2 chicken nuggets and walmart (who knew that would ever happen?), but some things are better left unwritten.
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Monday, June 26, 2006

A Sunday Diaper Bag Solution...

Throw in diapers, wipes, snacks. Ointment? There. To the toy basket. Dig dig dig. Throw in a few dinosaurs. Add a handful of cars. Dolly too. Not that talking toy, not the noisy rattle, not the car with the motor, not Power Rangers, no, no, no.

So, digging through gobs of toys to find fresh interesting ones and quiet ones for church every week was getting OLD. My objective, with a baby, 3 year old, and 5 year old is currently to keep the kids quiet. Later it will be to keep the kids listening. So, here's my little solution.

It's easier to keep things for church separated from the rest--separate crayons and paper that I don't have to get out and put away each week. Separate small toys and other things, so they don't see them and become bored with them by Sunday.

So, I bought a box of those great Ziploc Easy Zipper Bags, gallon size. You know, the ones with the handy zipper that I'm too cheap to buy for anything else, but for this they are the best! Worth the extra buck. :) I got myself a plastic bin to hold a bunch of them once I filled them up. Then the gathering began. I nabbed stuff the kids don't use a lot, but would be interesting and quiet for church. I threw them in various bags and began my collection. Each week I go to my bin, grab about 3 bags, toss them in the diaper bag and I'm good to go! The endless digging is over! I just have to refresh paper and rotate books/photos once in a while. Here is what my collection is like:

*Large fabric and vinyl squares with holes for lacing. Cool lacing strings and leather. (A random find from a random craft store.)
*Rainbow Drawing (special paper with rainbow colors underneath a black film. The black film is scratched off with a wooden "pencil". Comes with stencils.)
*Paper and crayons
*Small size coloring book, small blank pad, mini-colored pencils
*Magnet board and magnetic letters
*Stickers, paper, mini stickerbooks
*A couple paperback books
*Family photos with a magnifying glass
*Crayola Color Wonder pens and pad
*Lacing cards (I cut out art from The Friend, glued them on heavy paper, punched holes around the edges, and tied on shoelaces to "sew" with.)
*Wooden animal magnets to go with my magnet board
*Alphabet and counting flashcards
*Small plastic lacing shapes like these.
*Magnetic shapes with patterns (An activity put out by CB Publishing through Scholastic books--scholastic often has great quiet activities in their catalogs we got through pre-k.)

Some ideas from kage's post on traveling with kids would be great too--small plastic animals, colorforms, and if you're meeting in the gym cuz your chapel was lit on fire you could even go for the party playdoh pack. Also, consider old Friend magazines and stencils with pencils and paper. Crayola also has a cute mini-marker called Pip-Squeaks if you trust your kids with markers.

Collect as you go--gather lots to add variety each Sunday. Keep them in uniform size bags, and don't get them out during the week. The key--each bag has an entire activity--don't make yourself go to the pencil drawer or the crayon box, just get extra for each bag. Makes it simpler come Sunday!
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mentos and a Father's Love

**I didn't get a chance to post this short tribute to my father on Father's Day because I left to drive 12 hours to Utah that morning. So, I am calling a REDO for all Father's Day posts...or at least mine.**

When I was a kid my dad would come home from work, about every other week, with a roll of Mentos in his pocket for me. It was always presented in the same way--half eaten, with the empty part of the tube twisted into a tight little tail.

"Well that's rude" you might say. "Half-eaten?" Yes, that's right, a half-eaten roll of mentos every other week for more than a year.

Sure, he could have bought two rolls--one for him and one for me. He also could have eaten the whole roll himself and brought home nothing. I would never have known (at least not before I noticed the pattern). But, nieither of these options would have meant what the "half-roll" meant to me.

It meant that he thought of me at the gas station when he perused the candy selection at the counter. It meant he knew I wouldn't mind if he shared a few on his drive home (we do, in fact, share the same serious candy addiction). And it meant he loved me enough to stop eating halfway through the roll. I fondly remember the tightly-twisted, empty tail on the roll as a visual representation of the willpower used on my behalf.

People show their love in lots of different ways. Many times, the love "receiver" doesn't understand the "love givers" language which causes all sorts of problems - thus all the self-help books on the subject. But, when it came to my dad and I, there was never any problem at all.

Dad, you may not have ever realized what all those half-eaten rolls of Mentos meant to me. I suspect though, they were always given in the same spirit of love as they were received. Through them and the many other years of "candy sharing" I have always known you loved me.

I love you too.

Wanna share some gummi bears?

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Goodbye, Grandma...

My grandmother died last Monday at about 10 minutes to midnight. She was widowed, her body broken and old. But those things didn't make it any easier. She was my second mom and I never really imagined that she would leave. We grew up 15 minutes from g-ma and g-pa's house; we even had our own rooms over there. It was the kind of idyllic upbringing that many people don't have anymore, with grandparents playing a key role in our development.

I could talk to my g-ma about anything. She always told me to confide in her and that she wouldn't tell mom - she never let me down. She taught me to wear lipstick and perfume, how to sit like a lady when wearing a dress, how to flirt with boys. When I went to kindergarden I had an accent like hers (she was Australian) and pronounced so many words the way she did. I liked that I was different because of her. She gave me my first sip of champagne. She and my granfather attended EVERY piano and ballet recital, play, award ceremony, family dinner and holdiay function. They weren't members of the church but came to our baptisms, to hear our talks in sacrament, to hear me sing. When I think of the times in my life that I laughed the hardest, my grandma was present for at least half.

I wore my granmothers wedding dress from 1940 when I got married in 1998. I felt like a queen...and she was so proud she cried.

If you hold up a picture of my grandma when she was 31 and a picture of me today it's hard to tell the difference between us, we are that similar in appearance. I stand the way she stood. I sing the same lullabies to my children that she sang to me. My hair curls up like hers.

When my grandfather died of a massive stroke nearly 3 years ago, I stood at his hospital bed as he lay dying and watched my grandma. She kept looking at the heart monitor, the line growing every flatter and every once in a while she would ask tearfully "Is it over? Is he gone?" I wasn't sad for myself as much as I was heartbroken for her. To lose her beloved husband after nearly 60 years of marriage - what must that feel like?

After he passed, she suffered increasing dementia, strokes, falls, a heart attack that required triple bypass surgery, broken hips. She desparately wanted to die, to join her husband. In the end, we wanted her to go because life had become too much to bear for her. And last Monday night it was finally time. She told my mom a few days before that my grandfather was standing in the room, in his dress blues Marine uniform and was asking her to come with him. He had an angel with him and it was time.

I guess most of us are unprepared for the rawness of death. As this layer of my family is now gone my thoughts turn to the day when my parents will pass away, and what my role will be in their death and affairs. I imagine the heartache of outliving a child, or losing a spouse - these things became more real to me this week as I attended my granmothers funeral and cleaned out her house. Her comb on the bathroom sink, cigarettes on the kitchen table, the Hermes powder she always wore. They are just things now, scents - she isn't there anymore.

I am so grateful for my knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and for the faith that I have in it. I am grateful for my husband who has helped me through this sad time. I am especially grateful to have loved and been loved by the remarkable woman that was my grandmother. She left an indelible mark on my personality and I know that she is watching me and my family from her perch somewhere "above".

So goodbye, G-ma. Toodaloo...and love you.
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Friday, June 23, 2006

Hook, line, and sinker

Yesterday, Max and I went on a walk around the lake behind our house. Right at the start of our walk, we came upon one of the girls who live next door (there are 4 of them) - Cassie is 12, and she and 3 of her friends were fishing in the lake. Max "helped" them fish for quite a while, sharing a pole with Cassie. All was going so well. And then the inevitable happened - one of the girls caught a fish.

The girls brought the fish above the water and used a net to scoop it up. So far so good. They spent some time examining the fish and showing it to Max. Okay, great. Then, one of them turned to me and say "Can you take the hook out?"

My first thought was "What on earth would make you think I know how to do that or would even want to?" But before I opened my mouth, I realized that I knew the answer to the question already - I'm a Mom and therefore, I must know how to do such things. Um... when did I become the all-knowing adult? I certainly don't feel that way. What part of growing and then raising a child to the age of three makes me so knowledgeable in the eyes of these girls, not even my own children? I suppose it is a testament to their own mothers that they have such faith in the power of mother-figures to figure it out, take care of it, know how. Will there ever come a point where I feel worthy of that kind of trust? And is it a natural part of a healthy mother-child relationship, or do I now have to add that to my list of worries of things I'll screw up with Max? Gulp.

So in order to preserve their (soon to be buried in teenage attitude) trust, and in order to build it in my son....

I took out the hook. And I managed to do it without squealing, or even making faces. And I waited until I got home and washed my hands to say "ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ewwwwwwww". But I did it.

So, what have you done to preserve the "rep" of The Mom?
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chocolate Chips

I have been married for almost 8 years, and much of my kitchen is still stocked with the wedding gifts that we were given back in 1998. Every time I use my small blue pot I think of Donna Evans. Every time I pull out my New Cook Book I think of Mark and Michelle Motley. Every time I use my cutco knife I think of my mom. Everytime I pull out my hand mixer I think of Brittnye Dougherty and that she said: "I can't believe I am giving you a hand mixer at your bridal shower right now" when she gave it to me. I don't remember who gave me my blender, toaster, skillet, pot, rolling pin etc. For some reason some gifts stick out in my mind more than others. I am so grateful that I am reminded of these people every time I use the items. So, what does this have to do with chocolate chips?

One of our tales girls who does NOT contribute (yes there are more than 18 of us), moved (big surprise) about a year ago. She came over and gave me everything in her freezer. Among the items was a costco-size bag of chocolate chips. I never thought I would get through the entire bag, but put them in my freezer anyway. It turns out, chocolate chips are pretty handy to have around. I put them in my pancakes, mixed them with some salty cashews for a late night snack, and gave them to my daughter for bribes. Never once did I put them in a cookie. Every time I went to the freezer to pull out a chocolate chip or two (or thirty), I was reminded of my friend, we'll give her the alias Mother Theresa.

Mother Theresa was a total Utah girl through-and-through. She even requested carpet, washer and dryer, dishwasher and two bedroom apartment in New York for under $1000-...oh Mother Theresa. I was proud of her because she learned about city life so quickly and adapted so well. It was always fun hanging out with her. I really miss her. Those chocolate chips kept her spirit alive for me, and every time I went to the freezer and even laid eyes on the bag of chocolate chips, I thought of her. A few days ago, I ran out of chocolate chips. I was so sad, that I went to Costco to buy another bag in Mother Theresa's honor. Now she will stay alive in my freezer for at least another year.

The point of the post is to promote costco-size bags of chocolate chips as the perfect gift for any occasion: wedding, birthday, going-away, having a baby. It will last a long time (I hope), and with every sweet bite the receiver will think of you, just as I think of my Mother Theresa.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

"So....Are you headed to BYU next Fall?"

Through most of my senior year of high school, I heard this question from family, friends, and members of my ward.

Turns out, I was much more worried about pleasing those around me and living up to some subjective ideal of a young mormon woman than doing what was right for myself. I tried to make the best out of my four years at BYU and I certainly received a quality education. But if I speak honestly from my gut, I can only say I hated the place.

When my own kids are preparing for college and get this question, I would be very proud to hear them say: “No, it's not really the right college for me.”

Here are some reasons why:

1. Lack of Diversity Among Students and Faculty. Here is a current look at diversity at BYU. The numbers really haven't changed much since I was a student, or even since my parents attended the school in the mid 1970's.

I was especially disappointed with the lack of female professors on campus. I do admit I missed some opportunities to have some highly accomplished women professors, such as Valerie Hudson in the political science department. No matter what discipline my children pursue, it is important to me that they learn from both females and males and have classmates of all races and social classes.

2. Lack of academic freedom. Here is the most recent example of BYU professors gunned down for voicing their opinions. I have no idea why any self-respecting academic would want to teach at BYU.

3. Strong LDS culture clouds spirituality. When I attended BYU in the mid-1990's, EVERYONE wore a CTR ring, toted Franklin Planners to class and owned a mini-triple combination scripture set with their name engraved on the cover. Women checked potential dates for "g-lines" (the line cut across their legs that confirmed they were wearing their garments, thus had served a mission and therefore qualified as marriage material). Most all of the women wanted to date the executive secretary in their ward...what they perceived was the highest priesthood calling given to a student. This student was thought to be the most spiritual and trusted...a man who was definitely going somewhere in life. Maybe this was just the case in the wards I attended, but probably not. You can see where the lines between culture and spirituality get fuzzy in such a homogenous place.

I had to laugh when I spotted a former executive secretary from an old BYU student ward in a Georgetown bar after we had graduated (we had both ended up working in Washington, D.C.). He was drinking and groping a woman sitting at his table. After an initial laugh at the irony of it all, I was sad as I thought about the pressure he probably felt at BYU to uphold his "title" and also sad to think how unhappy he must have been to put himself in such a situation.

4. BYU Guilt. BYU Guilt is administered during Tuesday devotionals by church leaders and professors giving heartfelt and teary talks, as well as in class, at firesides, even in church meetings, and goes something like this: There is a poor farmer in Guatamala paying for your education with his tithing money. You are extremely blessed, and really not good enough to be here. So DON'T EVEN THINK about skipping a church meeting, or arguing with a professor, or walking on the sacred BYU campus lawn, because when you do any of those things...you dishonor that humble farmer.

And you know what? It worked...at least the guilt part. I didn't want that farmer to put my middle-class white a** through college. I wanted his tithing money to go to the church for CHURCH THINGS and for him to be able to support his family sufficiently.

I have never really figured out how much of the BYU admin's tale is true or exactly how much tithing money is used to support BYU. That is better left for another time, another blog, written by people more knowledgable than myself.

5. Lack of independence and privacy. My parents gave me more freedom in high school than I was ever afforded at BYU. DH still doesn’t believe me when I tell him how small my dorm was in Deseret Towers or how I had to live with other women, even when I lived off-campus. Or that men couldn’t have facial hair. Or that my shorts and skirts had to be to my knees. Or that…I could go on and on.

I hope (am I being over-idealistic here?) that I will be able to trust my kids to make righteous choices without making them sign a contract or putting up roadblocks to their free agency. And if they are anything like me, their “rebellious” gene will kick in the minute they walk onto that campus, so it’s probably better if they avoid the scene altogether.

6. The BYU Social Scene....which is limited to a single activity: Dating To Marry. Actually, I have this social scene to thank for my high collegiate GPA. I was seventeen years old when I entered BYU and in no hurry to grow up. Quickly disillusioned by the dating scene, I spent a lot of time at the library studying and up in the mountains skiing, often by myself. Really, though, I’d trade in some of my GPA points for some better college memories.

7. Religion for grades. Religion classes at BYU are graded and count towards your overall GPA. I hated the extra grade stress (some religion classes were a breeze, others notoriously difficult). I learned more and had a much better spiritual experience taking Institute classes during my years in grad school.

There seems to be a pervasive belief throughout the church that if parents don't send their kids to a church-sponsored school, they will "find the ways of the world" and fall into inactivity. It also seems to be a status symbol among LDS parents to send their kids off to the "Y".

I find this very unfortunate. My graduate school experience showed me that studying away from BYU can lead to a much more balanced "real world vs. church world" life. That Institute programs are strong and not inferior to a BYU religious education. That college singles wards can be a positive spiritual and social experience for students.

Can we be the LDS generation of parents to change this perception? Can we send our kids off to good colleges throughout the country and watch them thrive... spiritually, socially and academically? Or am I simply being shortsighted and unfair to BYU, its mission and the lives of many that it has shaped?

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Would You Take The Calling?

I've been asked in my new ward to work in the Cub Scouts as leader of about 10 nine-year old boys (Bears). I'd need to lead a weekly activity and attend one or two meetings a month. Usually I'd be happy to accept any and every church calling, but my concern is:

How can I do it and keep my 16-month old happy?

Joseph is a sweet little angel, but very active and strong-willed lately. We never make it past the opening song of Sacrament Meeting. If we stay for all three hours of church, we are in the halls trying to keep him from crying. I try stickers, books, crayons, snacks... each new item/game amuses him for a moment, then he wants to run around and look for danger. He also cries hysterically if away from his mother, so I don't do anything he can't come along for.

Many of you have multiple little ones and busy toddlers or youngsters. How do you lead a group of Cub Scouts in an activity when your own son is likely to need your full attention? How can I promise to take good care of the Bears when some days I can hardly figure out what to do with my own son?

Do I have the faith to ask for a miracle or do I just say I can't handle it right now?
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Going on an Adventure

I am making the trek to Utah everybody. Yes, let's face it, when you are born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and you marry someone like you, there is a GInormous chance you have family in Utah. I have my parents-in-law, my paternal Grandparents (both sets of them...don't ask), and LOTS of friends.

I am taking a "vacation" that lasts 1 full week. This is virtually unheard of for me, at the most I am gone 6 days. It is a LONG trip from NYC to SLC, not to mention a time zone change and for me a pretty jarring geographic and culture shock.

It seems this time of year there are a lot of articles in all the parenting magazines about traveling with your kids. I have paid more attention this year as traveling alone with 2 kids becomes increasingly more difficult. There are a few websites that I have taken note of that look inspirational when planning that long plane or car ride.

I have no experience with this site, but it looks like a great idea, and I have taken note of it for the next time I find myself on an exotic resort with my family (hey, you never know). It is Jet Set Babies, and they claim to ship all your baby essentials right to your travel destination. I probably would have used this for my recent Disneyland Vacation, if I had known about it.

I just found this website that I find a little pricey, but inspirational enough for me to come up with my own travel toys. Madallie has a collection of busy crafts, randomness, books and backpacks. I swear, I don't work for this company...it's just a fun website.

As for my past successes on a plane ride...2 really cheap things that have always worked for Pukey (Poopy is a hopeless, lost soul on a plane....the last trip I ended up handing her off to a very nice woman who actually got her to sleep for me). Playdoh Partypack has the perfect size playdoh for traveling, and who cares if it gets messed up? And Animal Planet has a line of animals in a tube. They are inexpensive and smallish, and perfect for playing with on a tray table. Again, if you lose one, it's not a tragedy.

I am also a fan of packing post-it notes, think of how many you can dissasemble and stick to whatever you want...and a new snack or a new pen. The last trip I got Pukey this pen and it was just about the coolest thing she had ever seen.

Growing up, on long car trips, my mom packed surprises for my sister, and every hour or so we would ask to open a new one. It was usually a pad that used that special invisible ink marker...I can't remember what it was....or madlibs, or a new small toy. We loved the anticipation and then getting the small gift.

Any other great ideas? Cough em up.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Getting Even with Hubby on Father's Day

As far as I'm concerned, my husband did the very worst thing he possibly could have on Mother's Day:That's right. He knocked it out of the park his first time up at bat (notice the baseball analogy just in time for Father's Day). My mother's day was GREAT! Thoughtful, appropriate gift I would never buy myself; delicious homemade meal; taking more than his share of the child care, blah, blah, blah. I confess, even then I knew I was in trouble. I started worrying as night fell and he made brownies (my favorite) for me, that I'd never be able to come close, but I put it out of my mind thinking I had plenty of time to get it together. Mmmm. It's the Wed. night before Father's Day. So you must help! Please ladies, you were all so great with what a good mother's day gift is, but I'm totally stuck about what to get JD for his first Father's Day. What are your tried and true? your best? your worst? etc. Ideas about what to get your own father, I wouldn't mind either, but what I'm really looking for is help matching what my beloved did for me. (Also, stories about how you screwed up on your DH's day would not be amiss here, since I think that's where I'm headed, and misery loves company:)

Many thanks in advance.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Review of My First "Scribble Art" Project. I Mean Disaster.

Katie's recent post on how to keep your kids busy inspired me to pull out a book I purchased last year called "Scribble Art". I bought it because it was described as being full of open-ended art projects. If you read through the comments on Busy=Happy, you will see that Kage took a look at the book and said it was "a little too open-ended (messy)". I think she totally jinxed me.

I thumbed through the book looking for a good first project. Not too far in, I found this great idea for making "Scribble Cookies". Basically you take old, nasty, broken crayons, peel off what's left of the wrapper and put them into an old mini muffin tin (or one that you bought from Big Lots for $3.00 because it can never be used to make muffins again). You can sort the colors by hue or you can mix colors for crazy rainbow "cookies". Then the muffin tin full of old, nasty crayons goes into a warm oven, the wax melts, the colors swirl, and the old nasty crayons turn into this lovely smooth liquid, which, when cooled, become these super-fun, multi-colored crayon nuggets. They are great for rubbings as well as general coloring fun.

I was so excited for this project! I hate all those yucky crayons in the crayon box. I love brand new crayons with their wrappers intact and their colorname still bright and legible. But thanks in part to Kage's DD, Pukey, who has an obsessive, compulsive habit of picking off crayon wrappers, our box of crayons was a sad collection of "fat crayon" stubs from the early years, a high concentration of the primary colored variety from all the restaurants who give them out with the children's menu and those once beautiful Crayola's that fell at the hand of a 3 year old with OCD :). This project gave the old crayon box a chance to be reborn!

Princess spent about a half an hour peeling off the last of the crayon papers (it gets really hard when the crayons are old!) and she decided which colors would go together in the tin. We anxiously watched them melt in the warm oven and at last it was time to pull them out and cool them down. I carefully (I thought) pulled the tray full of hot, melted wax out of the oven when the very edge of the muffin tin hut the very edge of the top rack of the oven.

The rest happened in slow motion.

I yelled "NOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!" while I watched the tray completely flip upside down sending a spray of wax all over me, Princess, my kitchen and then finally come to rest upside down at the bottom of the oven spilling the remainder of the wax there. "AAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!"

Just to east your mind, wax cools really quickly, so the hot wax that spattered across Princess and I was no longer hot when it reached our skin.

Princess stood motionless, paralyzed by her mother's screams, frozen by the scene (which looked curiously like the scene of a horrible crayon massacre) and I think hoping that this disaster wasn't somehow her fault. I fought the urge to yell at myself for always being so clumsy (which apparently was the right move according to Heather's last post at MMW). I took a deep breath and right then and there decided I would quickly clean up the mess and we would start the project again. I was not going to be defeated (and I would not let Kage be right that open-ended art projects are too messy!). It's like getting back on a horse right after you've been bucked off. You just have to face the fear right then or else you will never gather up enough courage to attempt it again.

The wax came off our bodies rather easily and since most of the crayons were of the washable variety, our clothing came out of the wash looking quite good as well. Mr Clean and his Eraser really did work magic on the tiny splatters all over the floor and cabinets. But, I think the worst thing in the world to clean up has to be melted crayon wax...out of an oven. I scraped, wiped, scraped and wiped. I tore through two whole rolls of paper towels.

Once things were pretty much cleaned up, we started back at the beginning. The saddest part was, we had already used all of the old, nasty crayons. But, so mommy could get back on the horse, we sacraficed a box of brand new Crayola crayons. The wrappers came off so much easier (I actually got a small glimpse of what Pukey enjoys about picking the paper off of new crayons). And they quickly became broken little stubs arranged in the muffin tin again. Back in the warm oven, we gleefully watched the crayons melt one more time. This time, as I pulled them out, I was REALLY careful and Princess stood far back away from me. I guess she learns quickly. I placed them on the counter successfully, avoiding another kitchen crayon massacre. Huge sigh of relief. I felt good. Project Accomplished. (I think Princess was happy too, but this project became entirely about me back at "NOOOOOOOOOooooooooo!").

So here is my final review of Scribble Art Cookies: It is a great activity to do with your child. It is fun to make something new out of something old. Just be REALLY careful when you pull the mini muffin tin out of the oven. I don't think my oven will ever be the same. I still have mysterious dripping wax that appears everytime I turn it on and I think my baked goods carry a faint Crayola flavor.
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Push him back!

I was at the park with my family and some neighbors. My friend (Mother of 5 year old boy) and I are chatting and somehow the conversation leads to what our kids do when in conflict with another kid. I'm going along, assuming (not verbalizing this to her yet) that her philosophy is as mine--use words, leave them alone, and come get me if they keep bothering you. So, the point comes that I ask her--what do you teach your kid? Walk away or push him back? She thinks a second: "Push him back!" She explained how she didn't want her kid to be labled the tattle tale. Then she nudges her hubby and asks him, what would you tell our son? Without hesitation, "Push him back!" (His wife smiling and nodding like, I knew he'd say that!) Then their friend (father of a 5 year old girl) comes by and they ask him the same question. His sure reply: "Push him back!" He insisted that the bully would leave his little girl alone if they realized she'd shove him back.

So, I think to myself, what's with the "walk away" I learned growing up? "Get help from an adult...etc." Are the differences because of religion (I don't think these two families practice any), is it that we're in New York City where things are tougher? Is it purely just their parenting? I suddenly started thinking, What if my sweet little guy is in a situation where he has to stick up for himself when he goes off to Kindergarten? Is he going to be defenseless? Should I have taught him to push back!? (Not that he never "pushes back" anyway! Goodness! If only.)

But, I suppose I would stick to my original stance, which of course could vary somewhat with age and situations. Tell them to stop (or however you feel), leave the situation, then get help from an adult if needed. Maybe the "toughness" he needs could come in the telling them to stop--like teaching him to be really bold if necessary. (Of course, I'm not addressing real physical self-defense in a very serious situation--he's only 5.)

Are you "walk awayers" or "push 'em backers"? Why?
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

I got an email from The Gap a few weeks ago, with this image. My immediate reaction was: EW. I really hated seeing this sweet baby tummy with cha-cha boobies. The feelings I had as I reflected on this photo surprised me, and it is causing me to reevaluate my modesty standards.

One side of me thinks: Well, it's a baby, it's a baby's belly...if I was in a situation where my baby was asked to be photographed in that suit for THE GAP, I probably wouldn't say no. Babies are innocent, they haven't "signed on" to the whole modesty thing yet. Other "immodest" clothing doesn't seem as suggestive as these cha-chas...eg. sundresses, tanks and shorts...

The other side of me thinks:I would NEVER buy this for my child at ANY age. I have noticed that my daughter's attitude and mood can change depending on how she feels in what she is wearing. She has a matching undershirt and underwear set that are leopard print, and if she is found in only that, she is just off the wall and so pleased with her leopard self, in a concerning way. I remember when I was little my Dad would always tell me to "take those sunglasses off"...because they made me change (in his opinion, for the worse). The whole point of costumes for an actor are to make them feel more in character, and how we dress, can similarly encourage us to take on certain CHARACTERistics.

So putting this little innocent baby in cha-cha boobies? Will she feel exploited? Cold? Naked? Sexy? Probably not. Will a 3-year-old feel objectified? How about 4? I KNOW if I put my 4 year old in the cha-cha boobie bikini, she would change. She would strut, talk about boobies and probably utter the word sexy (yes, she knows that word much to my dismay).

I believe this topic has been beaten to a pulp on other sites. I don't mean to beat the dead horse. Honestly I don't really take time to judge other people's choices for themselves or their kids, because I am not THE JUDGE and it is a waste of time. I guess I am more disturbed by this image as advertisement for childrens fashion. If you could choose one image to send to millions of people to lure them into buying clothes on your site, and this is the one the GAP chose, what does that say about us consumers? You can't even see her precious face...it's just a body with cha-chas.
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Friday, June 09, 2006

Has it been six weeks already?

When I was pregnant I was really looking forward to that post-natal doctor’s visit where I would get the go-ahead to resume my sex life as normal. I was not one of those women (unfortunately) that experienced a high sex-drive during pregnancy. I figured once I “had my body back” (at least parts of it) I would naturally ease my way into feeling like a sexual being again. Sure there would be obstacles (leaky boobs, flabby skin, and perhaps episiotomy issues), but I was sure DH and I would face the challenge. I thought of it like this: Sex after giving birth is something you just have to do, like jumping in the pool, or pulling off a band-aid.

Well, fast-forward to post-partum and that six week check-up. Man, was I dreading the “go ahead” from my doctor. What a surprise! For me post-partum sex is filled with mental anguish, body detachment issues, UN-sexiness, and fear. After a bad tear AND episiotomy my body still doesn’t feel “in-tact” so to speak. My body has become very useful to a three month old little boy. Is it me or does it seem like a cruel joke that I finally have great boobs and I don’t really want anyone near them? Part of me knows this is normal and part of me can’t make sense of the head trips I have concerning post-partum sex. The good news is that I have a great DH who I can open up to and is sensitive about all of my concerns. But I ask you this:

1) Have any of you out there dealt with these (or similar) issues?
2) How did you go about getting over these issues?
3) How could your DH have helped you work through these issues?

Please help a new mom know she’s not alone! How do I get to know this body again? (Feel free to use the “anonymous” option for your response if you’re afraid of revealing too much information).

***If you’re one of these ladies who jumps right back in the sack with no problem at all even BEFORE your six week appointment I don’t wanna hear about it. We can save that for another post.
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Participating in My Baby’s Blessing

I don’t have priesthood envy. I’m not feeling resentful that I can’t stand in the circle and participate in my daughter’s first earthly ordinance. I figure getting to bless her is part of dh’s inadequate compensation for not getting the privilege of carrying and delivering her. But I do have things that I want her to be blessed with. I know that I can pray on my own and express directly to Heavenly Father the things I wish for my daughter. But this is her first priesthood blessing—something I highly value as the recipient of many powerful and significant priesthood blessings throughout my life. Do I, as her mother, have the right to say "I’d like her to be blessed with . . . "? Have any of you talked with your husbands about your childrens’ blessings before hand? Would that be inappropriate?

Obviously blessings are supposed to be revelatory, directed by the Spirit. In which case, perhaps the least amount of forethought the better, allowing direction from the Spirit to be as unhampered with preconceived inspiration as possible. But the format and protocol for baby blessings seems a little ambiguous to me. Apparently, it’s supposed to be a "prayer"—which means, does it not, that it should be addressed to Heavenly Father and contain the desires and wishes of the one praying? But most baby blessings are addressed to the baby itself, as is done in regular blessings of comfort or healing. The instructions dh recently received upon request from our bishopric say that the priesthood holder should offer a "prayer followed by a blessing as the Spirit directs."

So if it’s a prayer, as well as a blessing, can I share with my husband beforehand a few things I’d like her to be blessed with? Things I hope she will be "blessed" with throughout her life? Virtues and gifts I hope will grace her life? Can he "pray" for me—her mother—as well as for himself? Or is this wrong, given that this is also a blessing and should come from the Spirit? Any thoughts? Any thoughts from husbands, who, obviously, have more experience with the mental/spiritual process of giving blessings?
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Sunday, June 04, 2006


Why must bananas get bruises ("Mom, cut the brown part out")
Why must I drop things? (CURSE YOU GRAVITY!)
Why must the pom-poms on my daughters coat get caught together in an annoyingly tangly mess?

Why must there be winter?: Winter means on the subway, I have to not only keep track of my two children, diaper bag and stroller, but also 3 pairs of hats, gloves and scarves that are shed on the subway because of the stark contrast in temperature between the platform and the car of the train. Knock on wood, I think I have only lost one hat so far this season.

Who invented morning?: This particular morning I gave my daughter her bottle in her crib hoping I could snooze for at least the amount of time it took her to drink the bottle, and when she just kept crying I went in to check on her, only to find that someone (yes, me) hadn’t screwed the top on the bottle, b/c I found it was empty and the top was off and the poor baby was drenched in what I thought was warm formula, but turns out it was still pretty cold. Sorry baby.

Why must we Recycle? —yeah, yeah save the environment and everything, but the bottles and boxes are constantly taking up space in my not-big-enough apartment.

Why when I suspect (am sure) it is a poopy diaper, do I inhale so deeply?

Where are my keys?

Why must there be Dust, and why do I have to be allergic to it to an extreme?

Why must we take shoes off and put them on again? What a pain shoes are, especially if you forgot to put yours or your childs on BEFORE you put the baby in the bjorn on you. My babies shoes…she cannot keep them on…her feet just don’t gel with shoes.

Why must we have Carseats?: putting the kids in and out and latching them…How many times must I do that?

Why Periods?: the only positive thing about being pregnant is the absence of periods, ok and MAYBE the baby at the end.

Why tantrums from my baby?: She arches her back and screams EVERY time I put her in the carseat or stroller, change her diaper, get her dressed, take her out of the tub, take a toy away from her, or when she wants something.

Why must my Eye Twitch?: Wow...this has been going on since 2006. It moves around different places of my right eye. It TOTALLY went away on my Disney vacation. It got back after 1 day home. If I take a deep breath it usually calms down. It is my new stress meter...and I hate it.

Where are my keys?

Why must people smoke?: My landlady downstairs smokes and it travels up so that when I open my door it reeks. Sometimes when I get home the house if full and I have to run up to my apt. Sometimes I feel like screaming very loudly about this. Carrie thankfully got me a thingy to squeeze under my door to prevent the smoky draft.

Why does it hurt SO much when I bump my hips, elbows, ankle bones, and stub my toes?

Where are bed bugs in the food chain? Are they really necessary for our ecosystem?

Why do I have so many bruises on my shins? I don't remember getting those...

Why does Pukey open the door right after I finish my shower, letting gallons of cold air into my nicely orchestrated tropical cocoon?

Why does the light switch that powers the garage door get turned off? Who does that? It is so annoying to have to get out of my car, go inside, turn it on, get back in the car and press the garage-door opener to drive in.

Where are my keys?

Why do we have to eat? I can't think of what to eat...accept chocolate (and lately, tastykakes).

Why does the toilet only stop running when I turn the cold water faucet on and off quickly?

Why do I touch things that I know are hot?

Why must I wear 17 layers of clothes in order to keep my covenants, hide my covenants, be modest and stylish?

Why must Bob the Builder's cell phone sound JUST like mine?

Has anybody seen my keys?

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Friday, June 02, 2006

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Okay, not really, but I did take Princess, Pumpkin on a short trip up to the Bay Area this week. The only thing that came close to leaving my heart there was seeing Marian and Chloefor the first time in a long while and then having to say goodbye a few hours later.

The few days were jam packed full of fun, family and friends. I had one half-day that I wanted to spend in San Francisco with my kids, so I emailed an old high school friend who works in the city for some ideas of what we could do. She sent me this awesome list with links which I found very helpful. Thought I would pass it on for the next time you are in SF with kids.

1. Stroll along Fisherman's Wharf
Good sourdough bread/soup/sandwiches at Boudin Bakery. TONS of touristy shops.

2. Walk on the very short path to Fort Point for a good picture. People don't really realize this is the place to get the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

3. Ride a cable car.

4. Get an ice cream sundae at Ghiradelli Square.

5. Check out the Exploratorium (very near fort point and great for kids)

6. Take a Ferry ride (don't think free like Staten Island, you have to pay) and walk through the Restored Ferry Building. There are a few options for rides from long expedition to short trip. It's a fun way to see the bay...dress warm!

7. Wander Chinatown (weird trinkets galore).

For a map of san francisco, click here.

We decided to head out to Fort Point because I wanted to get the Golden Gate Bridge photo op. It was a great view (except for the fog). I highly recommend it. The surroundings were beautiful. You would never think you were in a big city. Then we headed over to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. I had the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and Princess had popcorn shrimp and fries from one of the crab shacks. YUMMY! We listened to a great street performer performing some orginal blues numbers while we ate our food. It was a wonderful afternoon in the city.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

His name was Ginger...

Just call me the mother of all living. To preface this story I will say, I have a BIG heart for animals. It's just who I am. Always have been and always will be an animal freak!

One day DH, DD and I were walking to get a rental car and on the way we passed a place that sold live chickens for consumption. I was horrified! An animal activist of sorts and at the time a vegetarian I felt just sick inside. Where was I? I felt like I was in a third world country, not in NY city. You could actually see them all tightly packed in their cages, and I swear I even watched a man walk out with chicken feet sticking out of a bag.

My DH urged that we move on so we did. It took a bit to get our car and DD was bored, so I told DH I would meet him on the corner. I didn't want to pass this place again, for fear I would NEVER recover. As I started to cross to the other side of the street I look up and see about 100 feet in front of me a chicken running towards me yelling "HELP ME, HELP ME"! Without hesitation I sprang into action. I pushed my daughter in her stroller over to the side and corralled this chicken to a nearby porch of a house. I did what any good wife is supposed to do, I called my DH and told him what happened, and he knowing me so well and confirming yet again why I married him in the first place said, "grab her we will take her home". That is all I needed to hear and I continued on with what I had started.

I threw my daughters blanket over the chicken and ran to the corner, my DH drove up and we all jumped in! It was quite a rush. Now, I am going to stop here and squash any notion that I stole this chicken. That was the reaction of some when telling this story. I did not steal the chicken. I had no intention of eating it. I didn't take it from the establishment. For all I know, it was just a random chicken on the street. In need of my help. I like to view it as I rescued the chicken.

Anyways, we got home and luckily where we lived the basement was unfinished, so my DH and I made a home for her down there. We named her Ginger from the movie Chicken Run. I had no idea what to feed her or how to tend to her, I have never had chickens before. So I just guessed she would like corn and oats and made her a yummy dinner which she ate right up. She was so cute and soooo sweet. She followed us around the basement and would sit on my lap. She was like a dog. I could tell she was so thankful to have been rescued.

On nice days we put her in the back yard which she loved. She became part of the family. About 8 months passed, she had grown up nice and big. So big in fact that I was beginning to get suspicious. She ate a ton and was doing strange things with her food and kicking it around her pen. She also took on a bit of a different appearance. One morning it became clear why the changes. She woke us up with a COCK A DOODLE DO!!

Ginger was a rooster.

So funny! I took, I mean rescued one of their roosters! It was over the next couple months that I realized it was time to find a home for Ginger. (I couldn't change his name, we had been calling him/her that for months.) I began calling different rescues and shelters and people laughed at my story and felt bad, but no one was willing or able to help me. I learned that they are hard to have on a farm. Evidently you can't have more than one. They fight. And they are loud. Which we had discovered when he cock a doodle dood all day and night!

I finally found a lady that said "bring him out". To me this lady was a saint. She had about 200 rescued animals at her house. The smell was out of this world, but wow, she was so awesome for doing all that she did for animals. She had a handful of chickens and a couple other roosters, but she thought it would work. We spent a few hours out there with her and all her animals. Time came for us to say our tearful goodbyes.

When we got home, I missed him. I still day dream that we can get him in another year and take him to California with us. I am certain he is happy and in a very good place. I got to be his foster mother for 10 months. The best part of this story I had to save for the end is the lady with the big heart... lives in the Hamptons. Yep, from the streets of Queens to the luxury of the Hamptons!! Enjoy the good life Ginger. You are now living better than most of us ever will!
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