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.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

I do hereby resolve

New year's resolutions. Do you make 'em?

I don't usually, but I think this year I just might give it a try. Here are some of the things I'm thinking about:

1. A plan. I remember a few years ago, Kage taught an enrichment lesson on the Pursuit of Excellence program that the church has. It was an awesome lesson, especially since she herself had followed the program and been very dilligent about setting and recording goals, so she could speak to it personally. I've never been a very good documenter (no journaling or scrapbooking or even *gasp* baby booking for me) but I know that setting goals is pretty worthless if you don't figure out how you're going to meet them. So goal #1? Set a plan for the other goals!

2. Money. Simply put, spend less of it. I do not see myself as an extravagant person, I don't do a lot of shopping or entertaining or eating out. I have empty rooms in my house with no furniture, and we have one car in the family, which is seven years old. Yet when I look at how much money we supposedly made this year, and how much we have in the bank to show for it... GULP. So clearly, there are financial areas that could be improved upon! I've spent the last week reviewing our spending over the past year and a half (since we bought our house - financial life was pretty different before then!) and my next step is to figure out what I can change and set myself a new budget. See goal #1!

3. Exercise. Up until about 2 weeks ago, this goal would have read "Join the gym". But after setting goal #2, I'm not sure if that's the best way to go about things! Sure, the in-house babysitting would be great and would be an incentive to go (an hour off from mommying? that's worth time on the treadmill!), but I think I need to prove to myself that I'm actually going to do something before I go and spend money on it. So I'm going to set my Tivo to work, taping some of those workout shows on the TV, and start with once a week and build from there. I know, once a week is pretty pathetic, but it's one up from zero, right??? I'd like to say this resolution is about being healthy, but let's be honest. It's about losing weight. An extra 5lbs. have found their way to me in the last quarter of 2006, and I'd like them to go bother someone else!

So, what's on your New Year's Resolution list?
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Friday, December 29, 2006


I grew up in Naperville, Illinois (look at number 2 on this list) from third grade on. It was a great place to grow up because of the low crime rate, beautiful downtown area, large number of church-goers, and the education. In fact, I would argue that my educational experience there was probably the most defining of any other experiences that I had while living there.

I spent this past Christmas there, with my family, and my husband and I reflected on how many people we know that choose to live/work/raise their families in the same towns that they grew up in, and why this would happen. We decided there are two reasons for this: 1. Family is close and 2. Growing up their was a positive experience--why fix it when it ain't broke?

The next question then is, why aren't we choosing to do the same?

Okay now stay with me here as I veer a little...

My 4 1/2-year-old daughter just got accepted to a school in Manhattan. No, it's not our local public school, it's a public school that requires a bit of a process to get in. It is the school of my dreams, and I hope it turns out to be the same for her. My DH and I were BEYOND thrilled when we heard the news last week. We then started telling my parents about it.

Upper West Side of Manhattan
15 kids per grade, not class, GRADE
20% of curriculum is specialized

As we were describing this education my Dad said: "What if she wants to be a cheerleader?" My DH of course backfired with: "Since when is there a sports team to cheer for?" And I said: "Obviously, each year we will reevaluate whether or not this school/program is right for her...we want her to thrive, so if it's not working out, then we make a new plan."

Then I started thinking. I started comparing my experience to hers. Things in common:
staying in the same place, same friends, same school, same system

Things different:
specialized programs from a very young age, I started with that in high school.
Her graduating class in what 2019? will be 15. Mine was 750.
Urban environment (as opposed to my suburban environment)
Probably going to be the only Mormon kid.
She will probably get to school by subway.
More of a private school feel, than a public school feel, even though it is public, and there are no uniform requirements.

So then I started thinking back to how I had a positive experience growing up and it seems as if I am drastically changing it for my own kin. I liked having a BUNCH of kids at my school, and different classes coming together at recess to play, and walking home from school, and running in a competitive race for parts in the school play or student council president. And even though I never thought once about being a cheerleader (even though I have a few BFFS that are former CLs), there were definitely those at my school too.

And this is my struggle. I think this opportunity for her is amazing, unique, outstanding, stupendous, totally rad, and completely different from my own.

Is it ok to raise my kids in what seems to be a completely different way then the way I was raised? Does anyone else think about high school graduation day when the first day of Kindergarten is still 9 long months away (the time it takes to grow a human baby for crying out loud!) I keep telling myself to just take it one day at a time, one grade at a time, one year at a time, but I want to be certain this is the right path for her when she starts to have test anxiety, to hate herself and everyone around her, to get zits, to apply for college, and to find her way in the world...

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Trading in my Franklin Planner for a PDA...?

I'm considering giving up my paper planning pages for something more electronic and connected to the internet. Has anyone already been down this road? What are your opinions and ideas?
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Gift For You

I did my Christmas shopping horribly late this year and settled for a number of gift cards, which just seem impersonal and wrong for someone as important to me as my mother but... oh well, too late now. And then there is you, my Tales girls, both those listed to the right and those who make this site what it is with their comments. What to give you?

I was, admittedly, at a loss, and hoped maybe I could get away with not buying you anything. But it just seemed wrong not to honor you, my electronic friends who inspire me and make me think and occasionally infuriate me, but mostly inspire me! And then, as an example of that, two Talesians sent inspiration my way, one in the form of a post, the other as a gift.

So, Merry Christmas. A donation has been made in the name of "The Tales Girls". I love this site and what it brings into my life, so thank you, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Four score and 16 years ago...

I have been a member of the church now as long as I haven't. Weird. I can remember my baptism day like it was yesterday. And I hold on to it as though it was yesterday! I have had a roller coaster time as a member, but through it all I have never once stopped believing.

I know without a doubt that all of the blessings in my life, and they are countless, all stem from my choices that I made many years ago to follow Christs teachings. I was 15 and could have gone a million different ways, but I chose to be friends with the group of girls that were different from the rest. I chose to go to church and seminary and all the stake dances I could! I chose to forge ahead even after graduation when we all separated and I was a working girl, in an industry that could have torn me apart. I chose to go to the singles ward even though there was NO ONE there I wanted to date. I chose to get up, get dressed and be there the fateful Sunday that my man walked into Sunday school. At which time I took one look at him and said, I will marry him! I chose to be married in the temple for time and all eternity, when after 2 years of dating it could have gone a wry. I chose to stay in there after we had ROUGH patches about 3 years into our marriage and all hope seemed to be lost! I chose to start a family with my DH which has so far been the best decision of my entire life! The greatest blessing of all. These blessings and the many more that will come would have never been given to me if I wasn't living the way I should. I know that, and I believe that! I chose to do these things because the Spirit whispered in my ear the way to go. I believe in the church with all my being. I believe that missionary work is the greatest work of all

Any converts out there? Please share with us your story.

P.S. To my missionaries, the foxy five, I am forever grateful to you for your courage to share the gospel with me. Without you, where would I be?
"I'll find you there my friend".
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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Ward Christmas Party

We recently had our Ward Christmas Party. It was kind of planned last minute, so I was nervous about it, but it was SO great, and one of my favorites that I can remember, and I am sure it is because there was service invovled. After wracking my brain, the only other party that reigns significant in my memory is one from my childhood.

I don't remember if it had a name or anything, all I know is that I had to come dressed like a Bethlehemian. My family came in our towels and bathrobes and sashes, not knowing what to expect. What we found was BETHLEHEM in our gym at the church. It was like a little village. Everyone was dressed up, and there were foods to eat and things to look at that were meant to remind us of the night of Jesus' birth. I think I had heard that this party was scripted and had made its rounds among various congregations, so if anyone out there knows about the Bethlehem Party, please provide a link.

My memory of course fails me now, but I remember it as being very special and feeling the spirit very strongly. It was really meaningful to imagine what Bethlehemen might be like on that sacred night.

The only other church activity that has really touched me and remained strong in my memory over the years is that of the live nativity. On the front lawn of the stake center we act out the Nativity about 5 times a night, with real animals (donkey, sheep, goats), great lighting and music, and even the angels suspended high up in the sky. I was an angel...a very cold angel. Chicago in December is not a picnic. However, being a part of that pageant was really meaningful to me, and a very fond memory.

So....to continue our unintentional but inevitable Christmas theme here at Tales...the thread is open for your best service/party/church experiences over the years that helped make the Christmas holiday more meaningful for you.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas in Queens

It's a little strange posting this just as I moved away from NY. Brought back some sentimental feelings--sniff sniff. But, I thought as our tribute to NY for the month of December I'd post a silly poem I wrote for our Christmas card 2 years ago (just a few months after we'd moved to New York City from Boulder, Colorado). Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Here it is,

"'Twas the night before Christmas in Queens."

'Twas the night before Christmas in the Smith''s new abode
Not a creature was stirring, not even the roaches they exterminated a few
months ago.
The stockings were laid on the sofa with care
'Cause their fireplace is back in Boulder somewhere.
The children in bed got to play and to laugh
For they now share a room since square footage is 'bout half.
The house it is cute, but creaky floors give us trouble,
If only car insurance didn't triple while rent's nearly double!
You'd think we complain... and we do once in a while,
But living in NY lets us also live in style!
See, Bobby's been to Ground Zero and Central Park, it's groovie.
Sally saw Santa at Macy's and is in a new infant's movie.
("E.B.'s Adventures"...coming to DVD July 2005)
David's job is awesome, the experience can't be beat
And Katie saw her senior year play, "42nd Street."
They can now get around both by subway and car
Visiting New Canaan and DC--they'll keep traveling afar.
Life's an adventure with their new East coast life
And they wish you a Merry Christmas! And to all a good night!

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Don't Come to Me for Holiday Cheer

I have to admit to being in a bit of a funk this holiday season. It started out so well....after Thanksgiving we decorated the house, listened to some great Christmas music and I even finished most of my shopping early. But recent news stories and the general state of our world has really gotten me down this holiday season.

- This story about the Kim family's misfortunes driving home to California after their Thanksgiving holiday really affected me. Oregon is home for me. I am familiar with the area where they were stranded. I am the same age as Katy, the wife and mother, and we also have two small children.

When Katy and the children were found after a week in their car, it seemed to be a miracle in the making. Just a couple of days later, James' (the husband and father) body was found after he walked 16 miles through deep ravines before succombing to hypothermia. Apparently, if he would have walked the opposite direction, he would have run smack into a hunting lodge. It was later discovered that the road where the family was stranded should have been gated and locked for the winter, but a vandal had cut the lock and opened the road. Every time I think about what the family went through, I tear up. Even my mother, who has more faith than anyone I know, told me over the phone, "It's hard to understand why this happened..."

- The daily headlines of deaths in Iraq are just too much.
Yesterday, I awoke to my morning Washington Post with a picture of an Iraqi woman feeding her baby with absolute terror in her eyes. Her home had just been burned to the ground and she was out amidst the anarchy in the streets in Iraq, probably trying to figure out what to do next.

It is especially difficult for me to know that the policies of my own country are at least partially responsible for the current problems in Iraq (not trying to turn this into a political debate, just trying to explain why it is so difficult for me to read these headlines day after day).

- And, of course, there are the autrocities in Darfur. I don't pretend to completely understand the politics behind the violence, but I wish it would end! Unfortunately, the recent media and celebrity attention doesn't seem to be helping much yet.

There are always horrible things going on in the world and the rest of the year I deal with this reality. It seems to be harder during the holiday season. Maybe because we are supposed to be joyous and the dichotomy between my priveleged life and the rest of the world is just too great. Maybe it is my middle class white guilt kicking in, all the more apparent as I look at my Christmas tree overflowing with presents and my kitchen cabinets full of food. Or maybe it is the general stress this time of year tends to bring.

Does anyone else have these I-can't-believe-I-bore-children-into-this-world moments? What do you do when you are feeling this way?

Some suggestions I have already heard:

-Stop reading the newspaper. I don't like this advice. I don't want to be ignorant. Plus, we are a newspaper family (DH is a journalist), so it doesn't work for me. And, no, I don't have CNN on at my house 24/7 like my 75 year old grandmother.

-Pray.I like this advice more. I have definitely been blessed by other's prayers.....but isn't there anything MORE we can do?

-Find ways to act. I ALWAYS love this advice. I would love to hear your great examples of service stemming from tragedy.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Wide World of Christmas Cards

Starting December 1st, I eagerly wait to hear the mail to drop into our mailbox (our house was built in the 30's so the mail gets dropped in a box that we can access from inside the house - not a mailbox out on the street - it's so cool). December is the time of the year when there is an influx of good old fashioned mail. Seeing the handwritten envelopes amid the sea of junk mail and bills brings me so much delight.

It is interesting to me the wide variety of Christmas cards that get sent to us each year. Our friends with children send cards with pictures, or cards that are pictures. Very few of them include pictures with the parents included. Our single friends, "married with no kids" friends, and empty-nest family tend to send more traditional cards with a nice holiday message and most often include a hand written note. Some people send out a copied "Christmas Letter" highlighting the events of the year. We get this one letter every year that fills an 8 1/2"x 11" page, both sides, single spaced. I admit to skimming that one. Eye yie yie. Some are hand addressed, some use labels. Some are hand-signed, some are completely printed top to bottom. Some cards integrate beautiful holiday art and good graphic design, some are simple photo postcards.

All the variety makes me think about what kinds of Christmas cards I enjoy receiving the most.

My favorites are the hand addressed, hand signed, beautifully designed Christmas cards with a nice, personalized Christmas message that somehow also includes a picture and a short update on the family (if we are not in constant communication). That is a great Christmas card. The amount of time it takes to send out such a card makes these few and far between.

My Christmas card is usually a postcard that I design and get printed. I try to incorporate pictures of the family in a fun way. They usually get hand addressed and hand signed, but rarely more. Some years I have included a separate family update letter. This year I have composed one that reads more like bullet points, going month by month and I tried to add just a little humor so it's worth the read *crossing fingers that people won't roll their eyes and have to skim*.

I recently got a Christmas card from Kage and all that was handwritten was "Come Home!". It wasn't much, but it was just perfect. It meant a lot to see her writing and know that message was just for our family. I have made it a goal this year to add at least a short personal note to each one of the cards I send out. Because isn't that what Christmas cards are for? To personally connect with friends in family? It seems to me, sending out completely impersonal cards doesn't seem much better than sending out no cards at all.

What kinds of cards do you like to get and how does that compare to the kind of card you send out? Or do you think sending out cards is a pointless, time and money wasting tradition all together?

Oh, and as a side note, I thought I didn't have a problem with women who don't change their last name, but after spending last night addressing my Christmas cards, you are really causing me problems. Especially when you have kids. How am I supposed to address your card? Huh? For the love of Christmas card addressers everywhere, does someone know the etiquette?

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Okay, I know this is totally not about Christmas

It's about real estate.

My husband and I are financial crazies. We actually live below our means and we actually have less than 2 credit cards....we listen to all of those financial whiz-kids and do what they say. Stay out of debt, blah blah blah. One thing we are hearing a lot right now:
It's a buyers market....buy buy buy! It is smart to own a house...stop renting blah blah blah.

But we hesitate. We ALMOST bought this spring, and we have been looking ever since. And now we have found a great place and we are just beside ourselves. I want it for the simple fact that it has a washer and dryer in it. I am easy to please. He is just so tied up in knots I think because of the pricetag. It's not a starter home, and it doesn't have a starter-home pricetag. It's NYC...that doesn't exist. We have never owned our entire marriage. He is in his mid-thirties, and we have worked hard to save our money, so I think it is ok to buy a home right about now, but he is just freaking out a little bit.

I don't know what to do, or what to tell him. I think we could really make it work and be really happy in this condo...The location is not the MOST convenient, but I am willing to sacrifice that if it is a smart financial decision. So, how do I know that it's a smart financial decision?

Any homeowners out there, and specifically urban-living condo-owners out there have any advice to share? We're just totally clueless.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Mommy, Why Doesn't Santa Visit All the Children?

We spent Thanksgiving in Utah this year. I drove home with my girls a couple of days after the big, bad winter storm blew through. At one of the many gas stations we stopped at during the long 12 hour drive, my four-year old Princess, noticed a large "number 10" can on the counter for collecting money. The image of santa and a large stack of gifts wrapped around the outside of the can immediately caught her eye.

Princess: What's that can for mommy?

Me: To collect money.

Princess: For what?

Me: To help buy presents for families who don't have a lot for Christmas this year.

Princess: Oh. (pause) Can I have some money?

Now I think she mostly just likes the act of dropping money through a slot and the sound of the clinck as it hits the bottom, but I guess it's a start to a charitable habit. I reminded her of the dollar Grandpa had given her for jumping into the hotel pool all by herself. She wasn't so sure she wanted to part with her own money so we decided that she could give half of her dollar and I would match it. The money went into the can and we got on our way.

It was a few miles down the road when Princess piped up again (even though she had a nice DVD to keep her quiet).

Princess: Mommy, why doesn't santa visit all the children?

Me: Umm..... (silence)

She had obviously been thinking about this for a while. All different scenarios played through my head of how I might explain this unfair phenomenon without crushing her belief in santa. Some people would say this might be one of the many reasons why children shouldn never be taught to believe in santa in the first place. But I am not yet ready for her to lose this small part of childhood innocence.

I can't help but think of her question as a precursor to a much more philosophical question about God that has puzzled humanity forever. If there is really an all powerful, all knowing, all loving God out there, why doesn't he take care of all his children. Many view the pain, poverty and suffering in the world as proof that He must not exist. I wonder if this is another reason why I can't seem to let Princess's question become any amount of proof that there may not be a santa claus even if in the near future I choose to let her belief slide for other reasons.

I finally said: There are a lot of children out there. Santa counts on us to help get all the work done.

It may not have been the right thing to say. I made a concious decision to perpetuate the santa lie just a little longer. We're not a "hard-core" santa believing family, but this didn't seem like the right time to break the truth to her.

Hopefully she doesn't turn out having major trust issues when she gets older. But, I guess that's what a therapy fund is for anyway -- :)
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Jeopardy

I created this Christmas Jeopardy game a few years ago when I had to teach Youth Sunday School in NYC on the Sunday before church. I knew they would be getting a more spiritual Christmas message in Sacrament meeting and in their Young Men and Young Women classes, so I decided to use my class to review the basics of the Christmas story (which most of them did not know in any sort of detail). And who doesn't like learning in game format with a candy prize?

Most of the "answers" and "questions" came from adaptations of lesson manual material. To expand the lesson from facts into some application, I added **BONUS questions on a few of the answers for double points which also came from a lesson manual somewhere.


100 - I made no room for him. (Innkeeper; Luke 2:7.)

**In what ways do people today refuse to make room for the Savior in their lives? What can we do to make room for him in our lives?

200 - I traveled a great distance to find him, gave him gifts, and worshiped him. (A wise man from the east; Matthew 2:1-2, Matthew 2:9-11.)

300 - I said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (An angel; Luke 2:13-14.)

**How has Jesus glorified the Father? How has he brought peace and goodwill to all people and to you personally? How can we show our gratitude to God for the gift of his Son?

400 - I was troubled and tried to kill him. (Herod; Matthew 2:3-4, Matthew 2:16).

**Why did Jesus Christ’s birth trouble the king? (See Matthew 2:2, Matthew 2:6. According to prophecy, Jesus would rule Israel.)

500 - Having received a witness from the Holy Ghost, I took the child up in my arms and knew that I could die in peace. (Simeon; Luke 2:25-32.)

600 - After seeing him in the temple, I expressed gratitude and spread the news of his birth. (Anna; Luke 2:36-38.)

**How had Simeon and Anna been prepared to see the child Jesus? (See Luke 2:25-26, Luke 2:37.) How did they respond when they saw him? (See Luke 2:27-35, Luke 2:38.) What can we learn about the Savior from their prophecies?


100 - A heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long, long, ages ago. -- The shining hope of mankind. (star)

200 - The first color of Christmas symbolizing the Savior's sacrifice for all. (red)

300 - The second color of Christmas shows everlasting life. the needles point heavenward. (Fir Tree: Evergreen)

400 - Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold -- signifying that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. (The Bell):

500 - The shepherd's crook used to bring lambs back into the fold. -- A reminder that we are all our brother's keeper. (CandyCane)

600 - A symbol of the never ending eternal nature of love- having no beginning and no end. (The Wreath)


100 - These were the gifts that the wise men presented to Christ. (gold frankincense and Myrrh) Matt 2:11

**Why did the “wise men from the east” seek Jesus? (See Matthew 2:1-2.) What did they do when they found him? (See Matthew 2:11. Note that when they finally reached Jesus, he was a “young child,” not a newborn baby.) What gifts can we offer to the Lord?

200 - This angel told Mary of her upcoming birth (Gabriel: Noah) Luke 1: 26-27

300 - This is what the shepherds did after they saw the newborn child. (They told everyone what they had seen). Luke 2:17

**What can we do to follow their example? Invite class members to think of someone with whom they can share their testimony of the Savior.

400 - This is why the baby was named Jesus. (angel named Him before His birth). Luke 2:21

500 - This is how Mary and Joseph knew that they could return to Nazareth from Egypt.
(An angel told them)Matt 2:19-20

**Why do you think Joseph was able to receive this guidance from God? What can today’s fathers and mothers do to be able to receive revelation concerning their families? How has God helped you as you have sought his guidance for your family?

600 - This is what Joseph wanted to do when he found out that Mary was pregnant. ("put her away privily" – divorce) Matt 1:19

Category: CHRISTMAS PICTURES (each question also had an accompanying picture from the church library.)

100 - This was Joseph’s profession (carpenter) Matt 13:55

200 - This is the sign the angels told the shepherds about how they would know that they had found the Christ child. (wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger). LUKE 2:12

300 - This is why the wisemen did not return to Herod. (An angel told them not to go back). Matt 2:12

400 - These joined the angels after they announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds
(multitude of heavenly hosts) Luke 2:13

500 - It was to this country that Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled shortly after His birth? (Egypt) Luke 2:13

600 - This great prophet of the Old Testament prophesied of Christ’s Birth. (Isaiah)

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

How Do Traditions Become Traditions?

Over the years, my youngest brother has become the Tradition Police in our family, the one who makes sure that we don’t forget any of our established traditions at Christmas time: the usuals like putting out cookies and milk for Santa, and the family-specific ones like reading The Polar Express, lighting the candles on our small Venetian-glass Christmas tree as we listen to Handel’s Messiah, and opening our gifts in the right order, one by one, on Christmas morning. Traditions at Christmas time mean a lot to my family, which is why I find myself not looking forward to Christmas this year.

Because this year I won’t be with my family. It’s the first year that dh and I are spending Christmas without any extended family. And while dh is ecstatic, I find myself getting more and more depressed as Christmas gets closer. Yes, I have my new, small family to be with this year. The family that is my own, that I have chosen, created, and am working to build and nurture—and thank goodness we finally have a child with us to brighten everything. But since we’ve never spent Christmas alone, just the three of us, I don’t know what it’s going to be like. Will it feel like Christmas without all the things that have made up Christmas for me in the past? Although I love my own family’s traditions, and I’m sure we’ll adopt of few of those, I don’t want to just import their traditions. I want dh, dd, and I to start creating our own traditions.

So how does a tradition become a tradition? How does something you’ve never done before become something you do every year for the rest of your life? Obviously, you can just choose what will become a tradition. But how does that act you choose mean anything the first time you do it? How does it take on meaning for the people who create it? Traditions, after all, gain their significance from having been done before.

When I think about the traditions my family cultivated over the years—the ones that caught on and meant the most—they all seem to have an almost ritual-like quality to them. Something we do with the lights dimmed, with music playing, by the light of candles, as we sit together quietly listening to a story or a poem or singing together. Or they’re really fun. Which is why I think that a tradition can’t just be anything. It seems to me that it has to have the quality of a tradition; it has to be something worth repeating year after year, something beautiful, comforting, or fun that people will look forward to. Otherwise, it will just become something awkward and annoying, something that all the kids moan at when the yearly moment arrives. I suppose even the annoying moments can take on their meaning. But I hope that our new traditions can be moments that everyone looks forward to, moments that inspire one of my children to take on the role of Tradition Police, to become the keeper of the family traditions like my younger brother did.

What ideas do you have? I’m not necessarily interested in what traditions you’ve started in your families, I’m interested in how you came up with those traditions, how they got started, how you made them feel special the first time you performed them, and how they took on meaning over the years. Did it happen spontaneously? Were some of them planned? And any thoughts on starting truly Christ-centered traditions?
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Freebies from the Crib: Our Album Winner

And the winner of our Decemeber Freebie provided by Kristy Glass is....

...ellyn whose comment read: How exciting, we have all heard so much about this album

Congrats! Please e-mail us your name and shipping address to talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com so we can get the album off to you.

And watch for more freebies in the new year!
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Picketing Christmas

Three years ago, over the Thanksgiving Holiday, our family visited Salt Lake City for a reunion. One of our nights there, we made a trip downtown to see the lights and to absorb the festive mood. On the street between the Crossroads mall and the ZCMI Center we were met by a group of angry picketers. They were yelling out unintelligible phrases and marching around with signs which seemed have a general "say no to Christmas" message.

I admit to being a little scared. No one likes to cross a picket line right? But we had to make it across the street which meant we had to pass right through the middle of their craziness. I huddled close to dh and tried not to make any eye contact with them (something I had become pretty good at after living in NYC for a few years). I'm one of those people who enjoys Christmas and I feared they may see that on my face, making me a clear target for their rage.

As we barreled through the crowd, a small, half-sheet of paper was shoved into my face. I took it not wanting to make the crowd more angry and hurried on my way. A block down the street, I finally decided it was safe to take a glance at their propaganda before tossing it into the corner trash can. What I found on that poorly copied, already rumpled piece of paper completely surprised me.

It had the heading of "Simplify Your Holidays".

Now that didn't seem too crazy. Most people want to simplify the holidays, right?

The flyer started with a stat that said 3 out of 4 families in the US would like to make the holiday season less materialistic this year and focus more on the things money can't buy.

Sure, I'm down with that.

The flyer then went on to list numerous ideas on how to have a more meaningful Holiday. The group's purpose was to encourage people not just to simplify, but to be more conscious of their Christmas gift giving practices to ensure a meaningful, memorable and fun holiday with your family (with an end goal of creating a lifestyle that will ensure a healthy planet for future generations instead of completely buying into the commercialism that surrounds us).

It all sounded good to me. Their list of practical ideas were really inspiring. I was a little surprised to find myself agreeing with a crowd that I had so recently tried so hard to avoid.

Thank you angry picketer for shoving this piece of paper in my face. And thank you to my curiousity for making me take a second to read what it said.

Every year since my run in with the Christmas Picketers, I stop by the group's website and take a look at their ideas. While they don't take a "Christ-centered" approach to the season (which is hopefully my ultimate goal), it's still another reminder for me to my focus my energy on the things that really matter and the site is filled with practical tips on how to make it happen in a more universal, social and globally minded way.

Some years I do better than others implementing the ideas that help me and my family have a the kind of holiday celebration we want. I wholly appreciate the time, thought and passion this group has put into helping people focus on a less materialistic holiday and find more quality time connecting with their family (they also have lots of other non-holiday related ideas that are great too - like lessening your junk mail).

Though I still wonder if an angry picket line was the most effective way they could have chosen to share their good message. I also wonder how many other good messages never make it to a large audience because they come from what might be perceived as "angry activists".
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Monday, December 04, 2006

Speaking of Music

Kagey Kage treated herself to a little early Christmas present, and so I have spent the afternoon loading my new ipod shuffle full of Christmas Music....so here is what's playing in my ears this season:

Handel's Messiah

John Denver and the Muppets. If you are a muppets fan, it is worth all $3.88 and much more.

Ella Fitzgerald Swinging Christmas

Osmond Family Christmas. Whenever I hear this, I think of my childhood Christmas Memories.

Manhattan Transfer Christmas

A Ceremony of Carols. THIS LITTLE BABE is one I sang as a child in children's chorus, and it is amazing...if you can get just the one track on itunes, that would be enough...but the whole thing is cool.

Mo-Tab. Silent Night. Not their cleanest recording, but it's the good ole boys and girls of the Mo-tab...can't go wrong.

King's Singers. These guys are awesome, and this cd has a great variety. Really fun.

Il Divo Christmas CD. I stole a few ideas from their cd. I wanted to steal REJOICE, but I could not find the rights. It is a great track. I find Somewhere Over the Rainbow to be pretty random, but the rest of the selections are really inspirational.

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Once Upon a Christmas. Do any children of the 80's remember their Christmas special on tv? I have managed to find a few selections on youtube:
Christmas Without You.
Winter Wonderland.
The Greatest Gift of All.

Harry Connick Jr., When My Heart Finds Christmas

Then there are a few random songs:
Baby, It's Cold Outside with Ann Margret is HOT, and hard to find I think...
The Clooney Sisters singing SISTERS, NOT the White Christmas version with Vera Ellen.
Clang, Clang, Clang went the Trolley by Judy Garland, from Meet Me In St. Louis
Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong.
Christmas Time is Here (vocal). From Charlie Brown.

Albums I am interested in looking into:
James Taylor's new Christmas CD
Sarah Maclachlan's Wintersong.

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Freebies from the Crib: Picture a Christmas Album

I know our Freebie for December comes right on the heels of our November freebie, but seeing as this one is a tad time sensitive, we had to get it up for grabs quick! This of course comes from another one of our own, Kage (aka Kristy Glass). Most of you have probably heard us talk about her new Christmas album before (we are pretty proud of her) but here are a few more little facts about it (and now that I actually have had a copy in my hands for a few weeks now, I can say that it is a beautifully done album that my family and I love to listen to).

This album, Picture a Christmas, is a colIection of sacred music set to piano. Her pure soprano voice is highlighted in classic songs like "O Holy Night", "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", and "Silent Night". Your kids will recognize primary favorites such as "Stars Were Gleaming", "Picture a Christmas", and "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem" and will love the songs sung with a children's chorus. My favorite songs are the lesser known ones: "Children Go Where I Send Thee", "When a Child is Born", and "Mary Did You Know." Another highlight of the album is a sweet little duet between Kristy and her four year old daughter which I know was also a highlight for Kristy when recording the album. This cd is a collection of songs the whole family will enjoy and is a great addition to any Christmas music collection.

The winner of this Freebie will receive one copy of Kristy's "Picture a Christmas " Album. Keep it for your own collection or give it as a gift! You can check out a sampler of the album over at her website (let the sampler buffer completely to avoid choppy audio).

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Tuesday (12/5), midnight EST to enter.
-Make a comment (any comment) on the post
-Please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "other" category.
-Winner will be randomly picked and announced Wednesday (12/6) morning.
-Please only enter (comment) once.
-Tales contributors are excluded from winning the freebies--sorry :(
-Freebies can only be shipped to US addresses.

What's with the Freebie?

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Cure for the Common Depression

My first bout with depression was during my senior year of high school. I was in a zone/funk/episode of life that was really all-encompassing. I was trying to figure out my next step in life; where to go to college, what to study, who to be. I was so low and so down, I knew I was officially depressed. I was busy and I didn't have time to do anything about it, but just wait it out.

I eventually broke out of it and got back on a better path. Since then I have graduated from college, started my career, gotten married, had two kids and moved 5 times. I have suffered major illness, deaths in the family, and the challenges of motherhood and career. And though I switched to waterproof mascara during my first pregnancy (and never switched back by the way), I can say that I was happy for most of it.

I considered myself quite fortunate for loving motherhood and having next-to-nothing baby blues. I was worried about having a second child, but once I had been her mother for a year, I thought: I made it, I can do this, I am OUT of the woods.

Then my second bout with depression hit this past summer. I got home from California and I never recovered. I blamed it on jet lag for a few weeks, but my sleeping became increasingly off, I never felt rested, I was agitated and anxious all the time. I blamed everything on my kids. I could barely function. My worst point was around the beginning of September and I just stood and sobbed for no lucid reason. My husband was patient but did not quite know what to do with me. I didn't know what to do with me. I was numb. I could not talk to anyone. I did not call my friends, I did not call my mom, I just walked around like a zombie.

I was desperately trying to figure out what was wrong. In theory there was nothing for me to be sad/agitated/upset/tired about...I could see quite clearly that I had a blessed life, beautiful family, amazing opportunities, but the reality was just not paralleling that.

After exhausting every possible explanation,(it's natural to feel low after a high like my trip to CA, maybe you are still harboring bad feelings from "the past", maybe you are having issues with a particular person or situation....)I finally reached out to a friend. The email went like this: I think I'm depressed, how can I know for sure? She sent me a link to a test on the web. The scoring went somethingn like this: 0-10 sad, 11-25 sorta sad......54-over SEVERELY DEPRESSED. I scored a 62.

When she heard that, we made a phone appt. (b/c she lives out of state). She talked me through it and made things a lot clearer for me. After that phone call, my good days started outnumbering my bad ones. I started to find genuine joy in my life again.

For a while there I was blaming a lot on my two challenging children. I was only seeing them 1-dimensionally: Kids with Needs that I cannot fulfill. Now the light is shining again, the merkiness is clearing, and I can see them in all their dimensional glory: 32 flavors, and then some. The other day I found myself saying their names over and over again in my head, and quipping about what great names those are, and what great girls they are to go with those names. I am so glad to be back and fully present with them again, and I am so grateful that they loved me all the while.
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