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, September 29, 2006

Little Bums


I have watched The View, probably 3 times this past year. Every time I watch I listen to Elisabeth Hasselback talk about her baby (who is the same age as my baby). She almost always tells tales about her baby and her bodily functions. Recently she spoke about how she is starting to train her baby to go to the bathroom...you know she's potty training.

The baby is 17 months old. Now, zinone claims she was potty-trained at 18 months old...and is quick to say that diapers back then were not as absorbent, and she wanted out of her wet diapers. My husband wasn't even walking until he was 19 months old, so I doubt he was anywhere near being potty trained at that age. Maybe z's mom was just trying to give her a little confidence when she was 4: "you know, you were potty trained at 18 months honey...." ; )

My little poopy likes to poop in the tub, and I have gotten good at seeing the look on her face right when she is going to do it, so a few times, I have grabbed her out and put her on the toilet and she has had a successful poop, but she doesn't like it, and she doesn't indicate to me with word or gesture that she would like to poop on the toilet please. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

I just don't think that potty-training before 2 years old makes much sense. My fear, after putting poopy on the toilet those few times, is that it was a little uncomfortable (cold, wet, grabbed quickly out of the tub), and perhaps traumatic, and she won't ever want to do it for real.

I started training Pukey at 2 years old. About 3 months later, she was officially trained. It was hard to do because I am always running around, and I didn't have day after day to dedicate to the effort. Instead, I would choose an hour a day to put her in panties and talk about it, try it, clean it up (if necessary), and train her. I would add a little time each day so that we could ease into it, and that seemed to work.

I KNOW we all have experience with this...so squeeze it out ya'll.

PS The photo is from my cousin's blog.
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Domestic Randomness


1. Nothing screams "ironing is a woman's job" like this pink iron by Rowenta. Even so, I still really like it. With 100% of the profits being donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation on an iron that will work great (I love Rowenta irons) and looks pretty, what's not to like? But if it means my husband won't touch the thing--it's totally not worth it. I guess we could have His and Her irons? Hmmmm.

2. I just had the opportunity to try a Zucchini "Apple" Pie. What's that you ask? It's a pie that tastes like apple but is made entirely of zucchini. So trippy. If someone hadn't told me it wasn't made of apples, I would have never guessed. Seriously. It' the perfect recipe for a garden overrun with zucchinis and it actually works best with the ones that are a little too big and "seedy" to make anything else.

3. If you happen to crochet or knit and have all this time you don't know what to do with (or you want a little project to keep you awake during General Conference this weekend) check out The Love Scarf Project. It's a new service project I am working on with my ward and the community. If you don't live in my area (LA), you could always consider making scarves or hats to donate to a local hospital or shelter during the holidays.

4. To celebrate the third annual Worlwide Day of Play this Saturday, Nickelodeon is going off the air for three hours to encourage to get out and play. So, go outside and play with your kids!...or do what most other people will do--change the channel to Noggin ;).

Wow---ironing, cooking, needle crafts and parenting skills all in one post. I warned you it would be domestic!
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Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Birth Story

Quincy's Birth was amazing. I was so nervous about it at the begining of the pregnancy, but I decided to really practice hypnobirthing and I was thrilled with the results. My first two births were good but this birth was great. The theory behind hypnobirthing is that fear causes tension which causes pain. If you can keep your body relaxed and work with your contractions then they shouldn't hurt. I didn't go to a hypnobirth class, but I listened to a hypnobirth relaxation tape every day for 5 months and really practiced completely relaxing my body. I knew it was working because after I heard the intro to the tape, I became so relaxed, I could never remember what was on the other 20 minutes of the tape. With practice, I could get into a total relaxed state in a minute or so.

As I neared my due date, I was having frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. On her due date, my husband came home for lunch to watch our two kids and I took a nap. I noticed that the Braxton Hicks were comming more regularly. I slept from 1:00-2:00 and then timed the contractions from 2:00-3:00. They were coming every five minutes for the entire hour. I called my midwife and husband and said we were coming in. I felt just pressure in my low back but no pain. We finally left for the hospital at 4:00 after dropping off the older kids. The whole ride there, I listened to my tape and stayed relaxed and breathed through the contractions. They were coming every couple of minutes but I still only felt pressure. DH kept asking if I was having them, which was a big change from child #1 where I practically ripped off his arm for the whole ride from Queens to Manhattan.

We got to the hospital at 4:40 and my midwife was waiting outside for us. We went to check in and she asked if I thought I was really in labor, since I wasn't sure when I had called her. I told her I had had three contractions from the car to the front door, so we went right upstairs. She checked my progress and I was a contraction away from 8 cm dialated!

I continued to listen to my tape, had the lights dimmed, asked everyone to whisper, and stayed limp. By the time I was in transition with baby #2 I was curled up in a ball gripping DH's hand through the contractions--even though I was trying to stay relaxed. But this time since I had practiced so much and had the tape to cue me, I stayed limp, breathed through them, and they still only felt like pressure and tightness. No pain in my belly.

I got in the tub which helped me stay relaxed and after an hour I was dialated to a 10. When I got out of the water, gravity intensified the contractions and the pressure was quite overwhelming. The only postition that I felt comfortable in was squatting. I made it to the bed and pushed for 15 minutes or so--that did involve yelling and squeezing DH's hand really hard (relaxing can only do so much, I suppose) My water broke with a rush and with the next contraction she was born all at once at 6:18pm--1 1/2 hours after getting to the hospital. As my third natural birth, this was by far the best. Same amount of time but much more comfortable for much longer. I am looking forward to birth #4--but not anytime soon.

She is beautiful.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tooth Fairy, that was CLOSE!

My oldest lost his first tooth (awww) a few weeks ago. To help me remember my "job" I wrote in large letters on our dry erase board, "TOOTH FAIRY TONIGHT." We slipped him two quarters and it was a very exciting moment, come morning. Adorable.

A few days ago, out came tooth #2. This time I forgot to write my BIG reminder note. So, picture this. It's about 6:30 am. I'm in the shower, DH is half naked at the sink shaving. DS comes in to use the toilet and says something like, "I know there are coins under my pillow, but I'm not as excited to look cuz it happened last time." So, to him, I guess the second time just didn't have the same pizazz so he didn't check before coming to the bathroom. Whodda thought? Well, DH peeks into the shower with this panicked face and asks if I did the quarters. Oh crap! I'm thinking. Go! Run! Put money under his pillow! So, in some miraculous fashion shaving cream and all, DH runs to the change jar, runs to DS's room, slips money under, takes the tooth out, all while DS is back and forth from the bathroom and doesn't suspect a thing. It was an amazing display of coordination a LUCK. What a relief.

So, I thought, what would I have said if he HAD checked and nothing was there!? Give me your "line", your "excuse". What? ...Tooth Fairy's wing were getting trimmed? She was out a little late at the Easter Bunny's party?
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Good Babysitter is Hard to Find

When I was a teenager, I was a great babysitter. I had a babysitting bag full of coloring books, crayons, and crafts. When that stuff got old, I had a head full of fun and games to entertain the kids. I took the Red Cross babysitters class where I learned first aid, and infant/child CPR. I made dinner, read books and always made sure the house was cleaner at the end of the night than it was when I arrived. And I did all of this for $2 an hour, and $1 for each additional child. Unless the parents were attending the temple or a church meeting, then I happily did it for free.

And why did I do this? Because my mom taught me that this was what a good babysitter was supposed to do. Sure it has been 15 years since that time, and I know there is this thing called inflation, but it is still hard for me to believe that I pay a teenage girl $8 an hour to sit on my couch while my kids watch movies and then come home to a house that looks like it was hit by a tornado.

Okay, I will admit that it doesn't always happen like this. Not all babysitters are bad. In fact, I have found a girl that is pretty good- we'll call her Kay. My kids still watch some movies while she's around, but she likes to play with them too and I know my kitchen will always be clean when I come home because before she collapses in front of the tv after the chillin's go to bed, she spends some time cleaning. She doesn't just wash the dishes, she scrubs the stove, wipes the counters, empties the dishwasher, cleans the high chair, and last night she even spent a good amount of time scraping the mysterious crayon wax drips off the oven (still a bitter reminder of the scribble crayon disaster that occurred months ago). With her, at least I don't feel bitter about paying the going rate.

But she wasn't always like this. I heard through the grapevine that a young woman in the ward who was going off to college took Kay aside and let her know that cleaning was something a good babysitter did. From then on, Kay incorporated it into her services. God bless that college-bound girl.

Some people might think Kay should get payed even more for going the extra mile, but in my opinion, she is the only one that has actually earned the money. The sad thing is, I feel this girl is about as good as they come anymore. And I feel lucky to even have her. In some places, I have heard it is almost impossible to find a teenage babysitter at all. Schedules are too packed, kids don't need the money and/or the parents don't think it's good use of their teenage children's time.

I am already planning on teaching my kids how to be good babysitters. While I realize not all kids are interested in babysitting, I think the lessons that can be taught here-starting at a young age (most kids start babysitting at 12?) are very important. It goes beyond just the knowledge of how to care for children, it also encompasses becoming a hard worker and someone who takes pride in a job well done. It should also teach responsibility and how to earn an honest days pay - something I feel too many teenagers know nothing about. Are parents completely failing to teach their children how to work these days? Or do teenagers just not care?

For now, I will take the babysitters I can get and try to turn them into the good babysitters I want them to be...until they decide that it's too much work to be a babysitter and start screening my calls and I am never able to leave my house without the children again.


A few more questions to think about: What makes a good babysitter in your eyes? What do you expect for your money's worth? Is babysitting something you will encourage your own children to do even if they don't need the money (this would be at an age before they can take on a "real" job)?
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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stand By Your Man


I first had the idea for this post back in July, but Oprah (I know, can I please get my inspiration from somewhere else?), brought it back to my attention on her Tuesday show. [The following should be read in your head with a Nancy Grace-like voice and inflection.]

I know that we try to be covenant-keeping people, and keep our marriages and families together, and hopefully never think long about the "what if's" in life...but these two women and their REactions to their husbands ACTIONS, have my head reeling and my heart rate pumping.

Let's talk first about our Senator Hillary Clinton. I know it takes a city...I mean a village...I read the book, I even lik some of your politics...but come ON. Your husband is the PRESIDENT of the United States, and he has an affair with an intern. I can't decide if staying by his side was helping or hurting the feminist movement. In some ways I think: He totally DISSED (putting it nicely) you in front of the entire Global Population...and you remain by his side. What gives? You don't need him. He obviously does not respect your marriage...

On the other hand, I see that perhaps staying married to the president of the free world is a good strategy to gain political power. Maybe she is a power-monger (is that a real word?) Of course there is speculation about their marriage being a "real" marriage, and I am sure that some marriages are a political/business/whatever arrangement, but since my marriage isn't like that (well 99% of the time it isn't), I just don't get it.

Now let's move on to Dina McGreevey. How in tarnation did you stand there in a baby blue suit, nodding, smiling, and holding the Governor's hand? Not only did he COMPLETELY deceive you by pretending to be heterosexual, having sex with you, and fathering your child. BUT....he also had an affair in YOUR BED while you were recovering from a botched C-section in the HOSPITAL. Just TYPING this gets my heart pumping.

I am sorry, but there is no WAY I would have been at that press conference. I would have had my own, down the street in my favorite Betsey Johnson dress (appropriate cover-up as needed), blurting out "When you______, I felt ________, because _________"...and that would be the extent of my politcal correctness.

I realize that some of the motivation behind their actions was political, and for that I hate politics even more. Are there any happily-ever-afters to these affairs? Is it better to forgive, forget (heaven help me), and move forward? Is it better to try to work it out then have a broken family and grow old with someone else or alone? I do not believe it would be possible for me to have stood by either of these men... Does that make me immature? unforgiving? hateful?

I JUST couldn't do it.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

CRIB NOTES: Motherstyles--Personality and Mothering


I often feel like my personality and my natural abilities do not correspond to those of a good mother. I can feel claustrophobic with the normal physical closeness of taking care of small children, in addition to their regular use of me as a jungle gym, their loud voices are often jarring, and I don't like the unexpected and the chaos that regularly accompany motherhood. I don't have much, if any, "mother's intuition." To me, it feels like my personality is not really suited to being a good mother, and I have mostly seen my mothering self from a deficit perspective. So when a brief description of a book called Motherstyles , which claimed that every personality type had its own parenting strengths, was passed out in my ward, I decided to investigate.

The author, Janey Penley, bases her book on the Myers Briggs personality types. Myers and Briggs detailed 4 dimensions of personality, which are described below. For those familiar with this typology and who know their personality type, skip ahead.

1. Extravert/Introvert: This dimension differs from its common usage, and does not just center on one’s predispositions to interact with others, but how social interaction shapes personal energy. Do you feel exhilarated by large group gatherings? Does the world of people and external experiences energize you? Or are you more likely to turn inward to reflection and ideas? And favor interactions with just a few people, better able to relate one-on-one?

Here are Penley's descriptors for the two ends of this dimension
  • Extrovert:Outward, go and do, many, people, breadth

  • Introvert: Inward, stop and think, few, solitude, depth

2. Sensing/Intuition: This dimension focuses on what kind of information you favor. Do you attend to information that you obtain through your five senses? Do you favor a down to earth, step-by-step problem solving approach? Or do you place your trust more in gut instincts? And do you proceed by bursts of energy, and by bounding about to accomplish a task, rather than in a more linear fashion?

Again, here are her descriptors:
  • Sensing: Common sense, details, present, realism/facts, practicalities

  • Intuition: Imaginative, patterns, future, theory/innovation, possibilities

3. Thinking/Feeling: This dimension focuses on how you come to decisions. Do you use logical and objective analysis, relying on your intellect? Or do you favor your emotions and feelings when you are faced with choices?

As Penley describes:
  • Thinking: Decide with the head, concerned with justice, fairness, and truth, skeptical, value and trust logic

  • Feeling: Decide with the heart, concerned with relationships and harmony, affirming and accepting, value and trust feelings

4. Judging/Perceiving: Here, the concern is on lifestyle management. Do you favor schedules, plans, organization, and limits?Or do you prefer more flexibility, going with the flow, and making decisions more spontaneously?

Here is how Penley describes the extremes in this personality dimension.
  • Judging: Plans provide comfort and security, aim to structure life, like to do things one at a time, want to be prepared

  • Perceiving: Plans cut off unexpected opportunities, aim to let life happen, most productive doing several things at one, like to take things as they come


Each person is likely to favor one aspect of each personality dimension. Of course, there is a range between each extreme, and while in one dimension, you may fall closer to the end, on another, you may be more squarely in the middle. In all, the Myers and Briggs taxonomy creates 16 unique personality types (such as extrovert-sensing-feeling-judging).

This is all old news—Myers and Briggs, a mother-daughter team, created this schema during World War II. Penley’s contribution is to apply personality type analysis to parenting. What does each unique personality type bring to the mother-child relationship?

She spends the first part of the book helping the reader to determine the characteristics of their personality, with a chapter devoted to each of the four dimensions. Strengths, struggles, and tips for each specific personality category (i.e., introvert, feeler, etc.) relevant to parenting are included. I particularly appreciated the tips—those things that can help me, with my specific personality, to feel calm, comfortable, and happy in my mothering identity. For example, one of my most defining and unchanging personality traits is my introversion. One of her tips for introverted mothers is “‘Taking care of me’ means getting quiet time for reflection. Take at least half an hour to an hour everyday for solitude.” I already knew the alone time was important for my healthy functioning, but this helped me see why (I thought I just couldn’t handle my kids and didn’t enjoy being with them enough) and it provided a justification for my quiet times.

She then spends two chapters discussing the strengths of each one of the total 16 unique personality types, created from the melding of the four distinct dimensions within one individual. She gives each a short-hand title—for example, responsibility, independence, and heart-to-heart mothers, and again discusses strengths, struggles, and tips.

For the most part, I enjoyed the first half of the book. It had a workbook feel, and I didn’t spend time reading through all the sections, but jumped to those with relevance for me. I felt like I learned some interesting things about myself that resonated with who I am and provided some good ideas for how to manage the demands of motherhood. Furthermore, the material was clear and succinct and organized in tidy categories, which provided me with some order in how I think about these things.

The last 5 or so chapters of the book are her ways to put all this new knowledge into practice. For example, she talks about how children’s personality types go with parents’, and how all members in the family contribute to the overall family personality. She spends a chapter discussing father personalities. And she spent some time focusing on what kind of jobs/volunteer activities suited each personality type. I connected less with this material and felt like it was not as relevant for me now. Part of that is because my children are too young to really identify their personality types (although I do see some emerging traits in them of course). And I did think about how my husband, a feeler, interacts with our 5 year old daughter, a drama queen, and how much more effective he seems to be at it than I am, a stubborn thinker.

All in all, it helped provide some insight into who I am as a mother and helped me think about the best way to use my time. I also felt a certain measure of relief in thinking more about my personality in terms of strengths, rather than seeing myself as a "not a mothering type" trying to be a mother. I found affirmation for all the varying parenting styles, none of which are best, but which can all contribute to the healthy development of children. At one point while reading, I gasped when I read that my specific personality type has the hardest time, on average, with mothering. Rather than seeing this as a foreboding omen, dooming me to a motherhood of anxiousness and unhappiness, I actually felt validation. Yes, mothering is hard, and it just might be particularly hard for me. But, I AM NOT A FREAK OF NATURE! There are others like me--and given my personality type, my reaction to motherhood could have been predicted. It’s a quick read—put it on reserve at your library and check it out.

How do you think your personalities have influenced your mothering? Have you felt limited or empowered by your personalities in your roles as mothers? I did wonder a bit while reading if and how personalities change over time. Or if I should try to change parts of my personality that I don't love. Because I still think that some aspects of my personality might need moderating to help me be a better mother...What do you think?

What are Crib Notes?
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Do's and Don'ts of Pregnancy

No, I'm not pregnant. I just have to start with that, or I'll be getting emails all night from the Tales girls. I have a friend who is though, for the first time, and she's asking me questions about pregnancy that I think it's good to get lots of opinions on. Like hair dye. Or fingernail polish. Or caffeine (in the cola way). Or painting a room. I didn't do any of those things (yes, no nail polish or coke!) while I was pregnant with my son. I was pretty hard-core that first time around, but I'm thinking that if/when I do it again, I may not be quite as uptight about the hair and nails thing. It could be that I'm older and lazier, or maybe I'll change my mind if pregnancy comes my way again. But I'd like to hear what you think - so what are your thoughts on the following during pregnancy?
  • Dying your hair

  • Painting your nails

  • Painting your house

  • Eating hot dogs

  • Eating food from carts on the street (ie NYC or carnival food)

  • Anything else chemically related that I'm not thinking of...

Please, chime in!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Very Own Mama Solis

A friend recently suggested that I blog about life in a multiracial marriage. "Don't you guys have lots of cultural issues to deal with?" she asked.

DH grew up in Boyle Heights, the heart of gang-infested East LA. His parents came to the United States as undocumented workers in the 1970's. His father worked the fields as a day laborer before landing a job as a garbage collector. His mother worked in a hot, grimy sweatshop in the garment district of Los Angeles. My DH didn't learn English until he went to public school and still speaks only Spanish with his family. Eight kids in his middle school were killed in gang related violence during his 8th grade year.

I grew up in a tree-infested Portland neighborhood. My dad worked in finance and my mom was trained as an elementary school teacher and made sure all of her kids were reading before they entered kindergarten. The only Spanish I ever heard as a young child was when I tuned into Sesame Street with my bowl of Cheerios on lazy, preschool mornings. When I was twelve, my rabbit died while we were vacationing in Hawaii.

We practically had identical childhoods.

Really, we have little cultural (but occasional other forms of) conflict in our marriage. This is probably because DH left East LA at the age of 14 to accept a scholarship at an elite East Coast boarding school. He quickly lost his Spanish accent, began watching Seinfeld episodes and shopping at LL Bean, all in an effort to survive the snobbery of the masses of wealthy white kids at his school. He pretty much "gets" white people.

The greatest source of cultural-related conflict in my life does, however, stem from my marriage. That would be my mother-in-law. A woman, according to Mexican culture, I should revere, but in reality, I just don't.

Here are some of the issues I've faced with my very own Mama Solis*:

*For those unfamiliar with the show Desperate Housewives, Mama Solis is the overbearing and often sinister mother-in-law of Gabrielle, one of the show's main characters.

-Lack of acceptance. I was not who she had in mind for a daughter-in-law and she let me know it. She had some strong preconceived ideas of white women. She considered them to be lazy, poor housekeepers and cooks, money-hungry, selfish and sloppy dressers. I only fit some of those categories.

-Lack of boundaries. A daily struggle for both DH and I are her multiple daily "que haces?" calls (aka I want to know what you're doing but I have no particular purpose to call, I'm just bored...). Mama Solis' lack of boundaries can be entertaining. For example, on her last visit to our DC area home, I came home from work to find her oversized granny undies and bras hanging from the branches of my trees in our fairly public backyard.

And then there was the honeymoon incident. Mama Solis and one of DH's aunties showed up to the B&B where DH and I were staying, early in the morning after our wedding night. Mortified, we quickly changed clothes and let them in. Then Mama Solis and the auntie proceeded to take pictures of each other resting on our still unmade bed. The same bed that we had just, you know, for the very first time a few hours earlier. It was one of those, "Is this really happening?" moments. Our worst fears were confirmed when we saw those pictures displayed in a photo album the next Christmas.

-Unsolicited advice. I realize that this is a universal source of conflict between daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law. However, Mama Solis has an especially tactless in-your-face how-could-you-be-so-stupid approach for dispensing this advice. An approach that makes me wonder every day why my DH isn't in therapy and then wonder if maybe he should be.

-Unclear expectations. With the language barrier and my general cluelessness of hispanic cultural nuances, I never know what exactly I am supposed to be doing to stay in her good graces. When she tells me to go rest after a meal does she really want me to do that or does she really want me to do the dishes? I tend to error on the side of working (to avoid being labeled "lazy") in these cases.

Now before you start to wonder why I married into this family, I have to say that things have improved drastically from our first visit, when she would barely speak or look at me. In fact, during our last recent visit to Los Angeles, I kept teasing DH that his mom and I were "best friends."

"My worst nightmare," he replied.

Here are some of the things I have learned to appreciate about Mama Solis and my crazy Mexican in-laws in our five years together:

-Unlimited babysitting. When we are visiting, Mama Solis and DH's aunties are really great about taking the kids off our hands. They even get up with them in the middle of the night....Heaven!

-Being skinny is bad. If I have dropped any amount of weight since our last visit, I am declared "too skinny." Trust me, I've never been too skinny. My feminist self hates the rest of me for enjoying this.

-Unlimited quantities of mexican food. To combat my "skin and bones", I am fed large vats of fresh, homemade Mexican food every day. Food I don't have to make myself, but I do have to eat.....Also Heaven, until I have to return home and work it all off at the gym.

-Loads of affection. Mama Solis likes to hold my hand when we are talking or walking somewhere. At first this weirded me out, but I like the closeness and the physical affection DH's family shows. I barely ever remember hugging my own parents when I was growing up.

In the words of the real Mama Solis, "Families should always hug, no matter how they really feel about each other."

-Visiting their home in East LA. Mama Solis' neighborhood is really unique, full of color and character, and safer than it used to be (unless it is New Years Eve or Oscar de la Hoya is fighting on TV or the Mexican national soccer team is playing an important game, and then there will be lots of people shooting guns out on the streets.) I have to say that, even after living in Queens, it feels really strange to be the only white person....ever....out in the neighborhood. I am never as aware of race as I am during these visits.

Recently, I was asked for advice on how to deal with a mother-in-law similar to my own. My friend was marrying into a fierce and proud Italian family. Here was my advice to her, although I admitted that my relationship with Mama Solis is very much a work in progress.

-Have children. Ok, this is a really horrible reason to have kids, but my babies deflected attention away from me and improved Mama Solis' mood considerably.

-Learn her language. I already knew Spanish, but it was pretty rough and ugly from lack of use. I have been working to improve my skills...not just for her...but for myself. And I speak to her, even if I know I am going to mangle a sentence. I've learned its better to just try and communicate.

-Find common ground. For Mama Solis and I, it's in the kitchen. Each visit, I try and learn a new dish even though I usually don't remember how to cook it once I'm home. I think she feels like I value her talents, and I genuinely do enjoy working with her and DH's aunties in the kitchen.

-Don't take it personally. I've gotten to the point where unless I am over-tired and stressed, I just let her words bounce off me. I can usually attribute Mama Solis' criticism to the following: her own tiredness, lack of self-esteem, and boredom in her life.

-Be strong. Mama Solis has backed down considerably since she realizes I no longer care to please her. When DH and I were first married, I would do whatever she wanted to avoid conflict. I soon realized that she enjoyed the control she had over me and it wasn't going to stop unless I stood up to her. There wasn't any particularly ugly incident, but rather I gradually and consistently (and hopefully respectfully) let her know that she was not always going to get her way.

As you can see, I've figured out all the sanity-saving tricks in dealing with a crazy mother-in-law....NOT!!! Any further advice from YOU on how to get along with mothers-in-law is appreciated, both for my friend as well as myself.





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Monday, September 18, 2006

Who is Your Favorite Developmental Theorist?

I just started taking a parent/child development class given through the local community college with Pumpkin (now 13 months old). I think it will be a fun thing for her and I to do together once a week while Princess is at school. She can actually participate in age appropriate activities instead of just having to play with her 4 year old sister and tag along with mom on errands. And with the pricetage of FREE, it doesn't have to be that great for me to be satisfied.

Our first week went great. I got to meet lots of other moms in my community who also have children Pumpkin's age. The kids all played together--inside and outside. We sang and played musical instruments. We ate halved grapes and cheerios with an apple juice chaser. Then the teacher led a short discussion on how and why to observe and record our child's behaviors which was semi-interesting. At the end, I was happy to find myself looking forward to next week's class and thinking "I might have even payed money for a class like this".

But yesterday, the class received an e-mail from the teacher detailing this week's activities and discussion. We will be discussing characteristics of one-year olds. Fine. But then she continued with this line:

"I would like everyone to share who their favorite developmental theorist is and why."

Seriously? And then this:

"Share with the group what you have taken from that particular theorist and how you have applied it in your child's life."

You have got to be kidding me.

All of a sudden I am feeling stupid for having missed that part of the parents manual where I was supposed to pick out my favorite developmental theorist. I can picture the page now - set up kind of like a yearbook. Rows of smiling faces eager to have me agree with their research and findings. Or maybe it was in a completely separate book without any pictures at all and required much more reading and study. Yep, that's probably it. In that form, I most likely skipped right over it.

Seriously though, please tell me that I am not the only one out there who has no idea what she is talking about (or at least the only one who didn't study Family Sciences in college) because the only answers I have come up with so far are Tracy Hogg (the Baby Whisperer), Mr Rogers, and my Mom.

I have a feeling those answers are not quite what the teacher is looking for. Apparently her favorite child development theorist is Erik Erikson(that's him in the picture on the left). Fabulous.

Maybe I will just hide out in the little plastic jungle gym during discussion time.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mini Me

Shortly after becoming a mother I realized that my child was imitating me. Believe it or not this was a real moment for me: "Oh no, she's imitating ME". Duh right? I realized that whatever behaviors I modeled, would become the behaviors of my daughter. She is a walking reflection of myself. I purposely only have one mirror in my house because I don't want to be distracted by my reflection. Sometimes this gets me in to trouble because I will have articles of clothing on that I don't necessary realize or remember putting there, and am slightly embarrassed to find that I might have gone out in public like that. The other day it was reindeer antlers (Thanks Pukey)...luckily I discovered them before exiting the premises.

The little mirror following me around has taught me about my strengths and weaknesse. Here is a list of what I am proud of and what I'm not.

Behaviors that Pukey does that I am ok with:
1.Two hands on the keyboard, "typing" in a rhythm with all fingers moving. To me this shows that I am educated in typing.

2.Treating strangers with respect: Especially when she buys a hotdog at the stand, she always says thank you.

3.Singing. It is like an improvisational musical in my home from dawn to dusk. She has heard and seen me sing and she is a talented little bug.

4.Hugging. I am not a big hugger, but I do love my friends, and Pukey always shows excitement when she sees her friends in a social setting, and usually this involves a lot of hand holding and hugging.

5.She is a really great big sister. She is always trying to protect her sister from harm and take care of her.

6. Jokes. She tells a lot of them...she thinks they're funny and apparently so do many other 4-year-olds. I think she has picked up on my sense of humor. The only one that she invented: What does art start with? person responds: A? she responds: No, a pirate, ARGH!

7. Saying "I'm sorry". I think I have to credit this to my husband, he taught me how to say "I'm sorry" too. I don't think I had ever uttered it before I met him. (Dysfunctional family issues....)

And now for the behaviors that I want to change for both of us:
1.Tone. Yes I speak with a tone sometimes, and she has been quick to pick up on that, especially when she is frustrated or upset.

2.Hitting. This was more of a problem when she was around 2. I don't hit THAT much anymore, but I would say well into my teens I HIT. This unfortunately might be a genetic inheritance for her.

3.Short prayers. I think I set a bad example of praying, especially when I am hungry and about to have the chance to eat.

4.Chocolate Consumption. We are both addicts. Again, the line is blurred here between nature vs. nurture. I don't remember the moment I introduced her to chocolate milk, but I certainly regret it.

5.Saying: "STOP!" Happy Nanny was babysitting once and told me how Pukey would say: "STOP" a lot. She seemed to really disapprove of this and wondered where it came from. I said: "Well, she says it because I say it to her!"

6.Moody. I have been told by several of my friends that Pukey is moody. I don't really notice it, but maybe that's because I am moody too. Am I moody guys?

7.Potty humor. We both love making fart sounds. But hers translates to the real thing. Sometimes in the middle of primary she will let one fly and laugh at herself. I guess that is better than being embarrassed about it or blaming someone else. And we both recently taught the baby how to make a fake burp sound, and all three of us think it's hilarious every time.
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Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering September 11th

Being that we are a group of women who are bound by our shared NYC experience, a few contributors decided to take some time to sit down and write about our experience on September 11th, 2001. While some of us actually lived in NYC at the time, others were still part of their pre-NYC lives. But, I think all would agree that it didn't matter where you lived on September 11th, 2001, no one has forgotten that day. I know for me, the act of writing down these memories was emotionally draining, but emotionally healing as well. Thanks for letting us share.

**We have closed the comments on these posts and would ask that any 9/11 related comments/memories be posted on this thread instead.

“May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten" - Old Irish Blessing
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How I Experienced 9/11

There’s a line in the Bruce Springsteen song Nothing Man that gets me every time. “The sky is still the same unbelievable blue”. For me, that’s September 11th. It was one of those absolutely perfect fall days, sunny and beautiful clear blue sky that went on for miles. It was that slightly crisp air, where it’s still plenty warm out, but you can feel fall coming. It’s always been my favorite weather.

This is going to be scattered, but that’s how my memory of the day feels – scattered. Just raw and scattered.

On September 11, 2001, I kissed my husband goodbye at about 8:00am as he climbed into the car and headed on a business trip to Vermont. At 8:45am I turned off NPR and walked out of my apartment to catch the subway to work in Manhattan. As we turned the corner at Queensboro plaza (the train line is elevated in Queens), you could see smoke streaming from one of the World Trade Center towers. Someone on the train said "Oh yeah, my roommate said something about a plane hitting one of the towers as I was heading out the door." We all exchanged little "oh gee, that’s awful" kinds of remarks, thinking of a small prop plane or commuter plane, like that old picture you see of the plane embedded in the Empire State Building. The girl sitting next to me had a stricken look on her face, and said "My friend works on the top floor of the tower." I reassured her that they were probably evacuating everyone right then, that they would be able to take care of it.

It was a long commute, the train was moving really slowly and I was nervous about being late to work. Announcements kept coming over the speaker system, but anyone who’s ever tried to listen to an announcement over the subway intercom would know that they are useless, especially when there are train AND station announcements going on at the same time. When I finally got to my stop at Prince Street (SoHo) I came above ground to find people walking north up the sidewalks. I figured they were being extra cautious about evacuating the buildings around the damaged tower, and glanced down the street at the WTC (about 15 blocks away) as I headed in to my office, noticing that both towers seemed to be on fire at that point, and thinking that was strange.

And then I walked into my office, and life got very very different. People were all sitting around a TV in our conference room, alternately watching CNN and the huge view of the WTC out our floor-to-ceiling windows. My boss said to me, "I can’t believe you came into work. Planes hit the Twin Towers." "I know," I said, not really catching the plural "planes". And then she followed that with, "And one hit the Pentagon." And that’s the first time I realized that something very different was going on. I don’t think I even said anything to her, I just turned around, walked to the first desk I could find, and picked up the phone. I always consider it a miracle that my call went through, since that didn’t happen again consistently for a couple of days. I called my dad, and reassured him that I was okay, said that I was at my office, watching it happen out my window, and that I was okay, and asked him to call my mom and my husband on his cell. And then I hung up the phone, because we were being called into a staff meeting. About 15 minutes later, while we were gathered in the meeting to discuss safety procedures and what we were to do, someone screamed "The Tower is going down" and we all ran to the windows to see a huge cloud of dust go up over southern Manhattan. I was totally numb at this point. I can’t really remember parts of the morning, just snippets. I got my mom and sister on IM and was messaging with them while I watched the second tower collapse – I think I even said something like "I just watched the tower go down out my window" - I was so numb I was beyond being able to process what I was seeing. My mom finally got a hold of my husband on his cell phone (another miracle, as the circuits were totally overloaded at that point) as he was desperately trying to get back into the (totally locked-down) city to find me, and told him I was okay and to head north. I remember the wife of one of my collegues showing up at our office – she was out of her mind with worry, her husband had been scheduled to be at a meeting at the WTC that morning, and she had just walked 20 blocks, having had abdominal surgery just 2 days before, hoping to find him at his office. And he wasn’t there. He finally showed up about 2 hours later, bloody, dusty, and in complete shock from what he had seen – he hadn’t been in the building, luckily, but he had been forced to run from the dust and had seen people jumping. Another of my co-worker’s husbands was at the State Department in DC on a business trip, and there were all kinds of false reports coming through about bombings or car bombings there, so there were some frantic hours of trying to find out what was happening before we found him safe and sound. At one point someone yelled "Does anyone know CPR?" and I had that pause where you say, "Can I do this?" before yelling "I do" and going running. Turns out they didn’t need me, but for me the adrenaline of that moment, sprinting through the hallway of my office, wondering what I was going to see when I rounded the corner is a part of the fog of that day.

At first, we were being told to stay in the building, that we were safer there than on the streets. But at around midday they started saying we could go home, advising us to travel in groups and take people home with us who lived further out and couldn't walk home. I realized at a certain point that I was going to have to walk home, and I had no cash (which I figured I was going to need in the coming days of what I was sure would be complete anarchy and confusion) and no food/water for the journey. And so I grabbed a friend and headed outside to find a store and some money. I expected looting, or price gouging, or anything but the completely normal ATM and deli transactions that occurred as I stocked up on bottles of water and peanut-butter crackers. I was scared that at any moment another plane was going to fall from the sky, or bridges were about to be blown up, or anything could happen. I didn’t know whether to stay at my office, where I knew I could reach my family via IM and had access to a TV, or whether I should try to get home and away from Manhattan, southern Manhattan at that, even though I didn’t know what kind of communication options I would have once I got there. Finally, at about 3 maybe? Or 4? I have no idea what time, a few of us who lived in Astoria decided to head home together. We walked up towards Union Square to meet up with another friend of mine. As we walked north along the streets, there were hardly any cars, just an occasional pickup truck flying southward filled with men in various degrees of official fire/police wear or a fire truck or police car, sirens blaring. The sound of fighter jets flying overhead was startling, not at all reassuring. At one point, a man in khakis and a tie – your basic everyman in NYC – passed us walking the other direction. Just after he passed, I heard him say, "Sir, I don’t know where to report, where should I go?" and I turned around to find him talking to an official-looking man in camouflage, an officer of some sort I suspect – I guess he was a reservist. I was really overwhelmed by this man, someone who could have worked in the next cubicle from me, trying to find out where to go to help, when I was struggling with the enormity of coping, of putting one foot in front of the other and getting home alive.

I had good friends, a couple with two school-aged children, and both of them worked in the WTC. I was worried about them, worried about the kids, wondering if I should go try to pick them up at school, not knowing if the parents were okay, if they could get to them. I debated with myself over what to do, eventually convincing myself (as a survival mechanism more than anything else) that the parents were fine, that I didn't need to go get the kids. In the end, they were fine thank goodness - he had been on a flight than landed at Newark just after the towers were hit, and she had been laid off from her job just a couple of weeks before.

Once we met up with my friend and were ready to head back to Astoria, we started hearing reports from people on the street and watching tv in bars that one of the subways lines was running out to Queens. We walked over to the station to find out, and it indeed was running. We then spent about 10 minutes standing on the sidewalk, debating between ourselves if it was okay to get on the subway – what was the safest and smartest thing to do. We eventually convinced ourselves that they wouldn’t have started the line back up if they were worried about things going wrong, and took a deep breath and got on. It was incredibly packed, and silent. The strangest subway ride I’ve ever had. And when I got out at Queensboro plaza and came above ground (this was an underground line) I just remember emerging into crowds and crowds of people. When I looked west, over the bridge, it conjured up all the images I’ve ever seen of the NYC marathon, thousands of people filling up the entire road and surging across the bridge.

When I finally got home, I turned on CNN, curled up on my couch, and just lay there for hours. Not moving, not crying, not doing anything, just laying there. I must have gotten up occasionally to field emails and phone calls from concerned relatives and friends, but I was so numb that they were very short conversations. I didn’t want to miss anything, I didn’t want to not know what was happening. Finally Chloe called me and convinced me to come out to dinner with her, her DH and their two friends who were staying with them. We ate a very surreal meal at a diner nearby, watching TV over each other’s shoulders and attempting to talk about and process what was happening.

When I went to bed that night, I set my alarm for 5:45am so that I could get up and buy the newspapers. When my alarm went off, I rolled out of bed, threw on my sneakers, and walked to the corner newsstand. I bought a New York Times and a NY Post, carried them home, and immediately put them at the back of my closet. I knew that someday I would want that paper, that tangible reminder of what had happened. But I also knew I didn’t want to read it. I still haven’t read them to this day.

I spent the majority of Wednesday in the fetal position on my couch, watching CNN and and sobbing. But I have two other memories of the day after. One was standing on the roof of my small two-story house in Astoria, talking to my father on the phone and watching the billowing cloud of black smoke. It smelled like burning chemicals, and I could see the wind shifting the smoke. I remember being worried that it was going to come our way. The second memory was of my walk with Chloe. We had been very good, taking long and vigorous walks together at least 2 times a week, and we decided that since we weren’t going to work that day (I think most people’s offices were closed, and mine was in the “lockdown zone” where police had blocked off the roads and weren’t even letting people in) we would take one of our walks. We got about halfway through our usual routine, and then found ourselves standing at the East River, looking over the water at Manhattan, totally at a loss as to what to do. So we went to a diner, got milkshakes and french fries, and watched the names of the dead scroll by at the bottom of the tv screen. At that point it was just the passenger lists from the airplanes, they didn’t have names of people on the ground yet. We never took one of our walks again.

That night I spent a long time on the phone with my parents and my husband, debating what to do, and finally decided to get on a train and head up to VT so that I could be with them. It was an agonizing decision, I was very very scared that I would be stuck on a train and something would happen, and I wouldn’t know what was going on and wouldn’t be able to get away. But I really wanted to be with my family, so I decided to take the risk. When I got to the train station on Thursday morning, I immediately bough a battery-operated radio and batteries, and found a station where I could get the news. The train station was packed with people who were stranded by the shutdown of air travel, and I was amazed that I was able to get a ticket, as most trains were sold out. At one point in the journey, our train was stopped for a long time. I remember I had the headphones to the radio in one ear, trying to find out if something was going on, and my mom on the phone in the other ear, making her watch CNN and tell me what was happening. In reality, Amtrak trains sit still for a long time, when you’re waiting to switch tracks, let another train pass, etc. But at that point, I was convinced that any pause or irregularity meant that Penn Station had just been blown up. At one point, the train stopped at a station and I could see a middle-aged woman holding an adorable puppy, clearly waiting for someone to get off the train. I was watching the puppy, momentarily distracted from life, when a woman about my age headed over towards the woman, clearly her mom, and collapsed into her arms, both of them sobbing. I was no longer distracted.

When I eventually headed back to the city (at the last possible moment on Sunday night the 16th so that I could be at work on Monday) my drive was very emotional. I can remember driving a stretch of the NY Thruway, approaching the city, when suddenly a helicopter appeared in the sky above me, searchlight scanning over my car and others on the highway. I’m not sure how I kept the car on the road I was sobbing so hard, that nasty gulping sob that you’re glad no one can hear. Work was useless for about a week, most of us sat around staring at each other, our computer screens, and doing anything we could not to look out the windows we had spent most of 9/11 glued to. I think someone even pulled the shades.

I'm not sure how to end this story, since my 9/11 story continues to this day. I went to a therapist recently and we talked about my post-traumatic stress related to September 11th. And she asked me what my goal was in talking to her – was I concerned that my feelings were affecting my daily life, hindering me in some way – did I want to stop feeling the way that I did? And I thought about it. Yes, I’m different than I was on September 10, 2001. I didn’t used to cry when I saw fire trucks in parades. Or when people spoke about preparedness and 72 hour kits. And as much as I think that’s kind of crazy, I wouldn’t change it. That is a part of me now, a part of what I experienced, a part of who I am. I’m weaker but stronger. I’m so fiercely proud to have been a New Yorker, to have shared in the collective experience of those days, weeks, months. To have gone on in my daily life, to have lived and loved and birthed and all of it. I’m intensely sentimental regarding NYC, significantly more patriotic than I ever thought I would be, and I wouldn’t change a darn thing about it.



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How can I forget...

...and I wasn't in NY at the time. I was living in California. The night of September 10th I took my DH to the airport. He was flying on a red eye to Miami. He was to connect there in the morning to his flight to San Juan.

September 11th 2001. I recieved a phone call at what must have been about 5:45 in the morning. It was my grandma. She sounded terrified leading me to think that a family member had passed. She told me to turn on the news, something terrible had happened. I stumbled half awake to the couch and like the rest of America, I watched the terror unfold. I began calling all the people that I knew to wake them up and have them watch. It was about the third phone call when it hit me. My heart stopped for a minute and I instantly became sick. My DH was in the air. All I knew was he had left Miami at about 7:30 that morning... I was so scared! They had mentioned American Airlines as one of the airlines targeted. My DH was on American. He was on the East coast... and surely would be over the projected target areas during the same time that the towers were hit... I was now a wreck. My girlfriend that I was talking to when this all registered tried to calm my fears, but it was no use. I am pessimist by nature, but this time I had a real reason to be afraid. I remember sobbing and hitting my knees. I prayed that my DH would make it to safety and not be on a plane with terrorists. That was the longest morning of my life as I waited for something... anything. A phone call from someone to let me know what was going on. I tried calling the airlines but they weren't taking calls due to the magnitude of what was happening.

About 4 hours passed and the phone rang. It was DH. I just remember crying so hard and asking him where he was... he was in San Juan. He said that the pilot came on and told them there was an attack in NY and Washington D.C., they think it was terrorists and they had been instructed to land at the nearest airport, but because they were closer to San Juan, they continued en route there. They ushered them off the plane and into a room. This is where they all saw the news on televisions in the airport and called home to check in with loved ones. I was so thankful that he was alright and he had thought to call me as soon as he could. I knelt again and thanked Heavenly Father that he was safe. My heart then turned to the families of those who's loved ones were not safe. I thought about how they would probably give anything to recieve the same call that I did. I was glued to the t.v. set the rest of that day, that week and that whole month. I was in denial and shock that this could happen to our great nation.

I went to NY that next month for work and was able to go by ground zero. Part of me wishes I hadn't. It was the cruelest sight I have ever seen. One that haunts me today. I STILL can't believe that this happened. I will never forget that day!



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Journal Entry a Week after September 11th

Saturday September 18, 2001 (18 weeks pregnant):

. . . . [DH] works downtown about two buildings away from the Trade Center. When I got off the train Tuesday morning on the way to work, the second plane had just hit and I could see smoke pouring form the buildings. Someone said a plane had crashed into them, so I thought it was a small prop plane or something and that it was an accident.

I ran up to my office to call [DH] and make sure he was ok. [DH’s] stop is right at the World Trade Center and they bypassed the stop because the first plane had already hit. As he came up to ground level he heard the second plane hit and looking up, he saw the buildings on fire. He ran up into his office to tell his co-workers what had happened, but the place was empty. That is when I called. He said that his building had been evacuated and that he was going to head home. I knew that all the trains had been shut down so I asked him how he was getting here. He said he would walk.

I didn’t hear from him for about 45 minutes. During which time I learned, from the radio and friends and family from around the country instant messaging me, that it was terrorists and about the pentagon. My co-worker’s finance´ was supposed to be in one of the buildings that morning for a meeting and she was completely hysterical until we found out that he was ok. My friend from Texas instant messaged me that the buildings had fallen down. I was only 20 blocks away and people from outside the state knew more then I did. I didn’t believe it at first, but as I looked out the window there was a huge dust cloud covering the sky. I was starting to panic about [DH] and being a widow with a baby on the way when he walked in to my office. —That is when I started crying with relief. We talked to our parents and told them we were fine.

He had stayed to watch and had been about two blocks away when the first building fell. He saw people jumping out of top floor windows. He ran up Broadway just ahead of the dust cloud. The city had completely shut down and there was no way in or out. We stayed in my office (on 14th and Union Square) for a couple of hours listening to the news. Then we decided to walk home. We met [the branch president] as his office and [another member]. Everyone in the Branch was accounted for except for a couple of the youth who attend High School near the Trade Center. Now we know they are ok though.We walked up to the 59th street Bridge. Hundreds of other people were walking uptown too. Some were covered with dirt. It looked like we were refugees. It was very surreal because the rest of the city looked normal, except for all of the people walking and it was so quiet. As we crossed over the east river into Queens, I looked to where the World Trade Center had been. There was nothing there but tons and tons of smoke.

Fighter pilots were flying overhead. We finally got home around 3:00 and watched the news till midnight. It all started to sink in as we saw the complete destruction. It looked like a war zone. [DH] couldn’t go to work this week. Everything from 14th street down is closed. Wednesday we just stayed glued to the news, which was going 24 hours with no commercials, and cried and talked to family and friends who were worried. Last night the wind shifted, and the smoke from the buildings was blowing into Queens. It smelled so bad that I awoke from a sound sleep—the window was even closed. I will never forget that acrid burning smell.

Friday, President Bush came to the city and yesterday was a national day of Prayer and Remembrance. At noon today we attended a special broadcast from Salt Lake, at the Stake Center in Manhattan. It was conducted by President Hinckley. It is nice to see the nation unified, patriotic, and returning to prayer and religion. I hope it continues as the nation rebuilds. I really think that the second coming has begun and that these events are just the beginning. Even though I am sad, I also feel strangely calm. I am so grateful that I have the gospel and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.



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Expecting a Baby on 9/11/01

I have a terrible memory, but I will never forget that day, and weirdly enough, the day before. The day before I had been called for jury duty, my first time. I was about 16 weeks pregnant and suffering greatly from severe morning sickness. I had just closed a show on September 9th after a summer-long run. If you click here, you can see the theatre on the left hand side, and the Capitol Building in the upper right hand corner, that's how close I was to the Capitol Building everyday. I was tired, fatigued and feeling very unpatriotic and unwilling to serve my country. The entire time I was in the court room I was thinking about what I would say to get out of it. I am sure I ended up saying something lame about being sick and pregnant. For whatever reason, I was excused from serving.

I lived in College Park, Maryland on September 11th, 2001. We were located 10 miles from the Capitol Building, and 13 miles from the Pentagon. I went back and read my journal entry from that day, and it has a lot of facts and not a lot of feelings. I usually write rather emotionally, and with a point of view, and this entry had a lot of stats and events and facts and figures. I think I was in shock, weren't we all.

I was just leaving my apartment at around 8:45, which makes sense because I was temping at the University of Maryland where my husband was attending business school, and I am sure my day started at 9. I was watching Good Morning America as I was getting ready for work and I heard Diane Sawyer report about the first plane crash. Both my DH and I thought it was a tragic and unfortunate accident, and were of course interested in hearing the details, but we had to get to work.

I arrived at work and just went about my business and soon realized that everyone was gravitating towards the television screens. I don't think anyone grasped that this was a terrorist attack. At first I thought it was unprofessional that everyone was stopping their work to watch CNN, and even when I heard about the second crash, I didn't leave my desk. It was only when the towers began to fall that we all realized we wouldn't be getting any work done that day, and we all watched together in total and utter shock. Then when news of the Pentagon and a fourth plane came through, we started to get concerned for our own safety. We were dismissed for the day. A few days later when I returned to work, my job was to keep a list of those alumni we knew had survived. Every name that I wrote and page that I turned on that board brought me a little glimmer of hope.

My DH and I and a few friends spent the entire day sitting on our futon watching CNN and trying to get in touch with loved ones. My main thoughts were: “How can we move to this city next summer?”, “How many times have I driven by the Pentagon, the Capitol Building, other places I would have been in danger?” “What would I have done if DH's Sept. 7th interview in NYC had been today?” “How can we bring a baby into the world during World War III?”

The two most memorable images in my mind on that day, besides the obvious, were Ron Insana from CNBC on the air, shaken and covered in dust. He had run for his life and into the studio and reported without cleaning up or anything. And the second most memorable image was the look in President Bush's eye and the word coward.

Later, what resonated the most for me were the mothers who were expecting and had lost their husbands. I watched the Diane Sawyer special on the Babies of 9/11, and I looked at my baby and my husband and realized how blessed I was to still have my husband. I have been inspired by all of those women who stayed strong for themselves and their children through the indescribable tragedy they had just lived through. My most recent hero from the 9/11 attacks is Lachanze. She was 8 months pregnant when she lost her husband in the attack. Years later she went on to star on Broadway in The Color Purple. You can watch her story here. Click on press > 20/20 interview.





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Forever Changed by 9/11

I remember climbing the stairs coming out of the subway at the 40th Street Broadway stop in Times Square and looking up at the sky. It was an unusually beautiful day – every New Yorker will tell you that about September 11th. I remember looking at my watch which said 8:45 AM. And I walked into my building.

I had just set my things down on my desk when I heard some commotion down the hall. I walked over to a coworker and asked what was up. She told me that there were reports of a small commuter airplane hitting the World Trade Center. I remember thinking, “Well, the pilot probably died”. Then I heard someone in the office yell, “There’s another plane! Another plane hit!” What??? I stood in the doorway to the conference room with everyone else and saw the coverage on CNN – smoke billowing from the WTC, orange flames. And this was the first time we heard the words “planned” and “terrorist”. It just wasn’t sinking in – what was going on? I heard the sirens for the first time, screeching past on 8th Avenue. Trucks were already headed downtown. I ran back to my desk – I can’t remember if I called DH or if he called me, but I could tell from his voice that this was serious. He was watching TV monitors on his floor and was filling me in on what I couldn’t see. By this time people were running through the hallways of our office, racing around on cell phones, between the conference room and private offices – I remember there was quite a bit of yelling. More and more office chatter had the words “terrorist attack”. And then things got worse. I heard someone in the office yell “They’ve hit the Pentagon!” My parents live 20 minutes outside of DC.

I called my parents house and got my mom on the phone. She was worried because my brother (who worked in Northern Virginia) was downtown DC that day on a job and she wasn’t sure exactly where he was and had no way of getting a hold of him. I remember looking out a huge window in the corridor of our offices down to 7th Avenue and seeing fire engine after fire engine after fire engine screaming past. And I remember thinking “Something big has happened. This isn’t going to be OK”.

I tried to call my dad and couldn’t get through. I tried to call DH’s mom and couldn’t get through. The phone lines in the city were already jamming. It was about this time that our building security came over the loudspeakers and announced that we needed to evacuate the building. Ours was one of the taller office buildings in that district. The tenants (all fashion house firms) were predominantly Jewish, and there was concern that if this was indeed a terrorist attack we probably should all disperse out of the building. By this time I was fighting not to cry. It was pandemonium in the office – people were crying, calling whoever they could get on cell phones, landlines, standing in front of the one TV in the conference room. One man I worked with had a daughter that worked in the WTC. I remember thinking his face looked grey. And then, it got worse…again. I was standing in the doorway of the conference room when to all of our complete and utter surprise one of the towers fell. It… just…disintegrated into plumes of smoke. The TV announcers were of no comfort – they were as shocked as we were.

Somewhere in between all of this we heard that Mayor Giuliani had closed all transportation in and out of New York City. Subways were stopped on the tracks, traffic was no longer allowed into Manhattan. And I thought “How will I get home? What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?” DH told me to come to his office building on 6th Avenue and 47th Street, to come fast, that he would be downstairs and we would plan what to do.

I tried to call Marian and couldn’t get through. I tried our families - no luck.
I remember grabbing my purse and running into the bathroom. Building security was on the loudspeakers again telling us the building needed to be completely evacuated in the next several minutes, to take what we needed and to leave. Sirens started going off in the building. I used the restroom and scrounged in my purse to see what I had by way of essentials. I had a good amount of cash and was grateful. We had lost an IVF pregnancy 3 weeks earlier, and I remember thinking as I left the bathroom “I’m so glad I don’t have children. What would I do if I had children today?” The attacks were almost a welcome distraction from losing a pregnancy.

I left my building and headed up Broadway towards 47th Street. Lots of people were running – I started running too. I wanted to get to DH so badly, just wanted to be held. As I turned over to 43rd or 44th Street going towards 6th Avenue, I remember two people in front of me, turned towards downtown. One screamed and the other covered his mouth. I turned to see what they were looking at just in time to see the second tower fall. I remember starting to cry. I couldn’t believe my eyes – I had just witnessed the second tower falling with my own eyes, not on TV. The smoke was unbelievable. And then it hit me – how many people just died? How many people were in there? Did they all get out? It briefly dawned on me that I had just witnessed something historic, ugly.

I got to DH and I told him I saw the 2nd tower fall. He said, “No, the 1st tower fell”. I said “NO – the 2nd tower just fell. I SAW it fall. It’s GONE”. Then we heard what we later found out to be fighter jets overhead. At the time no one knew that there were fighter jets over the city – they were so high and fast that we couldn’t see them, could only hear that roar. And I remember thinking that we were in another target area – Times Square. Rockefeller Center. Wasn’t the whole city a giant target? That was the first time I actually thought we might die, that there was a chance we might not make it out of the city and get home, that we would die there. I thought the planes I was hearing were more terrorist planes, coming for buildings right around us. As long as I live, I’ll never forget that moment. My face was buried in DH’s shirt and I thought, “If we die, at least we are together”. I had spoken to mom, emailed dad and DH had gotten in touch with his mom – our parents knew we loved them, and at that moment, everything was very simple and raw and clear. And death didn’t seem so very far away.

We started to plan. There were friends in midtown we could stay with, but DH wanted to get out of Manhattan. We figured our neighborhood of Astoria, Queens wouldn’t be as much of a target as anywhere in Manhattan. We headed towards Lexington and 55th Street with a friend of ours and DH’s boss. We were going to walk the Queensborough Bridge. We stopped at a bar and I ran in to use the restroom – I was afraid I’d have to pee somewhere on the bridge. Then we ran into a Duane Read and I bought some yellow furry slippers. I didn’t care how I looked at this point. I knew we had a long walk and I needed something comfortable.

There were trucks going by with people jumping into them. I don’t know where the trucks were going but I guess people figured it was better than walking – trucks could get them out of there faster than their feet. There were a lot of police at the base of the bridge, directing us where to go. At a certain point on the bridge, I remember looking to my right and seeing a gash of black smoke billowing from downtown. I felt like a refugee. There we were, with thousands of shell-shocked New Yorkers, walking away from a disaster over a huge bridge into Queens. At the midway point on the bridge, I looked out over the water and thought “Wow, if something happened on this bridge, we’d die – there would be no way to save ourselves. I wonder if the terrorists will target the bridges next.”

After walking nearly 4 miles we made it back to our house in Astoria. I still wonder how long that journey took. We watched some coverage and then DH left to take his boss to his mother’s house in Queens. Again, I was scared to be split up from him but this time I was in my house and our friends were there. We ordered a pizza – we were beyond starved. I remember all of us saying a blessing over the food and getting choked up; we didn’t know what to pray for at that point. There were so many phone calls from loved ones that it became a blur. I eventually got a hold of Marian. We agreed that we would all go to a favorite neighborhood diner and get some dinner and just all be together. I remember the sound on the TV at the diner was so loud. We ordered lots of food and ate hardly any of it. I don’t remember sleeping that night – I don’t think we really did. The sound of fighter jets alone was enough to keep us up.

The next morning, I actually thought the day before had been a bad dream. I was afraid to go to my window and see smoke. But I did… and I saw smoke. I left and got a stack of papers from the delis. I remember people just standing in the streets of our neighborhood. I think we all wanted to be connected to each other and not miss any news, so if that meant that you stood on a street corner that’s what you did.

Mayor Giuliani told everyone to stay home that day so me and Marian walked up to the track in Astoria Park. We figured a big walk would clear our heads and help us heal. It didn’t. Marian and I had been walking all summer at that track, trying to get into better shape. After our walk on September 12th we never walked there again.

On the news there was still so much talk about survivors, about rescuing people. I was so hopeful that truckloads of people would be coming out, flooding the hospitals, people would be found. We signed up at the hospital to donate blood – surely people would need a lot of blood for the survivors. Signs were going up all over the city for missing people, heartbreaking signs on poster board, restaurant menus, and scraps of paper. Signs were up in our neighborhood – they were everywhere.

The first time I really cried was that night, watching coverage of people jumping to their death from the WTC. DH turned off the TV and I flipped out, a sobbing mess. I wanted it back on – it was like a lifeline in a way. I was afraid for the TV to be off – what if we missed something? The phone calls continued to pour in. The conversations were brief; people just wanted to know that we were safe, the details weren’t important.

Thursday we came into work but just briefly. That afternoon I set off to volunteer. First I headed downtown towards St. Vincent’s to give blood but was turned away by police there because I didn’t have ID showing I lived in that area. The smell was unbelievable and the smoky dust was everywhere. I bought a mask like everyone else and made my way uptown to the Javitts Center. I skipped the line of hundreds at Javitts, ducked under some rope, grabbed a nametag and started serving food to fire fighters on break from Ground Zero. All of these expensive restaurants had donated entire menus of food. There were huge cakes, platters of sandwiches. I remember the firefighters were covered in soot and weren’t talkative, just hungry. Then more buses would pull up and guys would get out with big white buckets. I stayed until it was dark and then walked back to the subway at 34th Street Herald Square. Along the way I bought an American flag and stuck it to my purse. There were impromptu stands and tables set up all over the city selling flags and pins and signs. I was so proud to be an American and so proud to be a New Yorker. We hung the flag outside of our living room window that night and left it there until we moved nearly 3 years later. We still have it, grungy and tattered from the weather – we’ll never part with it.

On Friday, President Bush declared it a national day of prayer, and I went to a service at the Manhattan Stake Center where President Hinckley spoke by satellite. We had tickets to fly to Utah that night and were waiting all day to see if our flight would even leave. All air traffic had been suspended since Tuesday. People in my office thought I was crazy to even consider getting on a plane, but I just wanted to leave. I wanted to get out of NY. Our little Jet Blue flight took off behind Air Force 1, and was one of the first flights out of New York after 9/11. We all cheered as we took off and again as we landed in SLC.

For weeks and months after 9/11 I was a mess. I think I cried nearly every day. It didn’t hit me until days after the attacks and then it came gushing. By October I was in full depression mode. We were surrounded by the effects of 9/11. Our lives changed overnight – the attacks affected everything for us. National Guard and police everywhere, even in our little neighborhood of Astoria. A store 2 blocks from our house was raided one week after 9/11 because the owners had suspected ties to the terrorists. The police activity the night of the raid was frightening. Our feeling of safety was never the same. DH and I had both interviewed for jobs in the WTC within 6 months of the attacks – I couldn’t stop thinking what if one of us had taken those jobs. There were hundreds of young women like me who lost their husbands, young men like my husband who lost their wives. I couldn’t stop thinking “It could have been us. It could have been me”.

Over the next 6 months, posters popped up all over the city advising New Yorkers to get counseling. I should have gone. The city was fragile…and yet we were strong. I’m so proud of New Yorkers. I was so proud of our Mayor. He was our leader. I believed him when he said we would be OK. He was a clear voice for all of us and we depended on him with our whole hearts. After 9/11 I became a New Yorker. I am proud to have been a witness to history, as painful as that was. I am so proud of New York City, so proud of how we handled ourselves in the face of an ugly, life altering event. It doesn’t matter where I live, for the rest of my life I will always consider myself a New Yorker. I am grateful that our family was spared, that we made it through and that someday when our children are old enough we have the opportunity and responsibility to teach them about what happened on September 11, 2001.



**all 9/11 related comments can be left at this thread
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I Remember...

I remember noticing what a beautiful blue sky it was that morning right before I headed down to catch the train.

I remember thinking "how tragic" when I first saw the towers burning, looking down from Sixth Ave, while not really knowing yet how truly tragic it would turn out to be.

I remember feeling weak in my knees when someone on the street told me 2 suicide aircraft were involved.

I remember seeing a woman crumbling onto the sidewalk in tears as she held the receiver of the corner pay phone.

I remember feeling panicked.

I remember being grateful that I knew exactly where my dh was and that he was safe.
I remember feeling frustrated that I couldn't reach him on his cell phone.

I remember being relieved when I got through to my parents to tell them I was okay.

I remember crying on the phone with my parents as we witnessed the towers falling, me through my office window in NY and they from their tv in CA.

I remember trying to remain composed even though my mind reeled on the brink of hysteria.

I remember worrying about my bishop, other members of the ward, and my co-workers roomate who all worked at or near the towers.

I remember praying.

I remember the compassion in my bosses voice as she invited me to her home when I was too shaken to walk the 100 blocks to mine alone.

I remember the sounds of airplanes overhead and hoping they were the "good guys."

I remember feeling terrified.
I remember thinking "Now I really know why these people are called terrorists."

I remember being thankful for brave NYC firefighters and police officers.

I remember watching the never-ending news coverage.
I remember wanting to turn the tv off.
I remember that I just couldn't do it.

I remember I couldn't stop crying.
I remember that I didn't want to.

I remember feeling unsafe.

I remember feeling trapped.

I remember fanticizing about moving to Nebraska

I remember feeling sadder than I had ever felt before.

I remember wondering if life could ever be "normal" again.

I remember feeling like the only place I could breathe was when I was being held in dh's arms.

I remember my sweet dog, sugar, getting a bad case of the shakes in response to my horrible anxiety.

I remember pouring over hundreds of "Have you seen me?" signs hoping that I would have seen someone.
I remember pouring over the same signs a few days later mourning those that were gone.

I remember wanting to give blood.
I remember hearing that they didn't need anymore blood because there weren't many survivors.

I remember feeling helpless.

I remember standing in the Manhattan church building a few days after, holding hands with a stranger, and listening to the calming words of the prophet, Gordon B. Hinkley.

I remember the horrible smell in the air as the wind shifted north.

I remember crying on the subway my first day back to work because I was sure someone was going to bomb the subway station and I would surely die.

I remember sitting at my desk on sept 14th trying to pick new colors for a plaid fabric and realizing how, in the grand scheme of things, my job was so meaningless.

I remember the overwhelming feeling of wanting to start a family.

I remember feeling proud of all the humanity shown that day but that feeling just couldn't make up for the dispair I felt over the inhumanity that occurred that day.

Today I will choose to remember but tomorrow I will go back to wishing I could forget.



**all 9/11 related comments can be left at this thread
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Protecting our Children

I have always had this internal struggle with wanting to do everything I can to protect my children from all the bad in the world versus the costs of being overly cautious in certain situations.

I can't stop thinking about today's post over at Daring Young Mom. She recounts a story of being concerned about leaving her kids at the gym child care because the caregiver was male and she has a "family policy against leaving our children alone with men.” Now if you go and read her situation, there were far more reasons than just the caregiver being male to warrant concern for anyone (including me), but it is her general policy and her commentors support of this policy that has kept my mind running all day because our family doesn't have a policy. At least not yet.

Implementing this kind of rule is something that most of the commentors seem to have done (at least to a degree). And based on child molestation statistics, it's not hard to see why. This is serious business here. Some rules say no male babysitters outside of the family, some say no male babysitters except for immediate family and really close friends. Some say no male babysitters at all. A few women commentors at DYM even took it so far as to say their sons would never be allowed to babysit other children or even their own siblings--something I had never even thought of before.

I am having a hard time figuring out where to draw the line. Based on the statistics, leaving my children with strangers would actually be safer than leaving them with a family member. What do I do with that? It looks like the only truly "safe" option is to never leave my children alone with any male--friend or relative. Do I really want that? I don't want my children to live a life where they are taught to be suspicious of all men. I don’t want to live my life that way either-viewing all men first as a potential child molesters. I think it is hard to make a blanket statement like no men/boys are allowed to care for my children without that being the implied reasoning. It also seems a side effect could be effectively pushing out all males from taking a more active part in child rearing because we fear a few "bad guys".

I just can't seem to pin down my thoughts on the matter very well. I want to be a "smart parent". I want to protect my children. I am on board with discussions about appropriate touching, no secrets, etc, but on the subject of male babysitters and what kind of child care I will allow my own son to do, I am not sure at where it truly becomes "better safe than sorry".

What is (or will be) your policy?
Is there a line between "smart parenting" and being overly cautious in this situation?
Will you let your boys babysit other children and/or their own siblings?
What can we do to make sure boys and men remain actively involved in caring for and nurturing children even when our rules might imply, we can't really trust you to do so?
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First Day of Pre-K

Darling Daughter, today is your first day of school for the next 20 or so years. Wow. I am glad that today you began with a little smiley face nametag around your neck and a strawberry shortcake backpack and two matching french braids. I am glad that you left the room with a teeny tiny stuffed bunny and a lollipop, instead of a 100 page syllabus and a heavy textbook. I am sorry that your class had a lot of babies in it that were 2 and 3. In truth, they are 4 just like you, and it won't be the first time that you feel like you are surrounded by babies. Sometimes that is just how the world works.

Everyone grows and matures at their own rate, and you are the oldest kid in your family and you have done a lot of stuff already in your 4 years of life, so starting a new thing is no big deal to you, but it is kind of scary for some of the other kids for a while. Just be their friend, and make them feel good about coming to Pre-K and being in a class with you.

Remember that being a girl is a very special treat. You can do anything you set your mind to doing. You are smart, caring, a good friend, and a great listener. Your teacher will help you to learn and grow and develop, and you will be able to soar in school.

Remember to be kind to others. If another kid is feeling left out, try to include them and make friends with them, because you wouldn't want to feel left out right? And try not to toot or burp out loud in front of everyone, because even though it is funny at home, sometimes you might get made fun of for being smelly. If something accidentally slips out, just say EXCUSE ME.

Don't forget to bring home your yellow folder with your name on it, every day. And wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, and say Oh My Goodness, instead of other G words, and remember everything I ever taught you and most importantly have fun. I love you.
Love, Mom

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Who Can You Take Criticism From?

I recently had an experience interacting with a spoiled child (related to me). I watched in frustration as this child got away with ridiculous behavior right in front of his parents. I so badly wanted to say something to the parents but realized 1) they would be highly offended because 2) they’d CREATED these behaviors in their child. With a little more distance and a cooler head, I also realized that while both child and parents might ultimately benefit from being made aware of what was happening, it was ridiculous to expect anyone to listen to criticism about their child rearing. I mean, I don’t know if I could do it. Good golly, I didn’t like it when the social worker (since we adopted, she must visit us 4 times the 1st year), whose job it is to observe and give advice to parents, acted like she knew more about my six-month-old baby than I did, a brand-new mother. Pride rears its ugly head again.

And it’s not just me. You watch more than one hour of “Nanny 911” or “SuperNanny,” and you’ll know, if you didn’t before, that the problem with misbehaving children is always, not just sometimes, but ALWAYS the parent(s). If that’s true, and I believe it is (okay, I have evidence BESIDES popular TV—articles, a documentary, my own experience), then we NEED to be told, as parents, when there is a behavior problem if we’re not seeing it. This is certainly the case with the parents on the nanny shows; they’re always stunned to learn that their child’s horrible behavior is because of something they do or don’t do. And often the parents resist making any changes in their own behavior, though it always makes things better. I think how we raise our children is too connected to who we are for criticism not to deeply affect us. It wounds us to have people criticize us and, worse, our beloved children. But not taking criticism and correcting our child’s behavior will only make things worse for them in the end.

A few months ago I saw this in action. I saw one mother correct another. I was surprised because I knew I couldn't do that. I guess my main hesitation in not "correcting" another mother is that I'm not the perfect mother. I know I make mistakes, and I'm afraid anyone I said anything to would just laugh in my face or be deeply offended. I mean, the longer I "mother," the less I know. My own AF just passed 10 months and is wonderfully spoiled! She has humbled me tremendously.

I used to think I could say things to my siblings, but found out (only) later that what I said didn't go over very well, maybe because I'd said it when I had no children, and knew everything about child rearing.

Have you ever had someone criticize your child’s behavior and tell you to fix it and maybe even how? Were you able to listen with a rational head and quiet lips? I know we all get looks that we interpret, but what do you do about actual comments? Are there people you are more able to listen to? Why? Have you ever said anything to another mother? How did she react? Is there a good way to point out flaws? And is it ever our “place” to do it?
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