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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Heaven-sent: Audiobooks for Children

My first experience with audiobooks (apart from the few tape and book combos we've checked out from the library over the last few years) were CD's I just happened to pick up in the $1 bins at Michaels. One had four fairy tales and one had four bible stories. Princess immediately fell in love with them. And the amount of quiet time those two cheap CD's have afforded me over the last year has made it the best $2 I have ever spent.

For Christmas we got her the highly recommended Magic Treehouse Books 1-8. These stories are each about 50 minutes long so listening to two of them makes for a perfect "rest-time" (naptimes for her are starting to dwindle). They could be a little scary for the younger crowd (dinosaurs, pirates, mummies, etc) but I love that each one is a riveting story full of factual information.

A couple other audiobooks that have been recommended to me are A Bear Called Paddington and The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders.

Another great resource for audiobooks is your local library. They are not yours to keep and listen to 100 times in a row, but the price is right. My library even offers a digital library online where you can download audiobooks straight to your computer. But, they don't have any children's books yet and their download process doesn't work for Mac's yet. Bummer for me, but make sure to check with your own local library to see if they have any such program.

My latest and greatest find is Storynory. A site that publishes free audio stories every week. And they are ipod ready. I feel like it is a goldmine. The woman who reads the stories has a velvety british accent that I find very nice to listen too. She has recorded many fairy tales, animal stories and is currently working on Alice in Wonderland. We are so in love with this site.

Any other audiobook suggestions for children? I would love to hear them.

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"Mom, does Laurie have TWO moms?"

My dear son Simon is a precocious sort - we've gotten used to it in his nearly 4 years. Obscure questions, detailed explanations for things beyond his years, that sort of thing. But this morning...well, this one had me momentarily stumped.

We were sitting together, watching a little Noggin before school. A promo for Jacks Big Music show came on featuring Laurie Berkner. This is how our conversation went:

Simon: "Mom, who is that lady"?

Me: "That's Laurie Berkner. You know, she's the one that sings all those songs we listen to in the car. Victor Vito, Laurie's Got a Pig on her Head...you know".

Simon: "Oh, that's right. Laurie. (long pause) Mom, does Laurie have two moms"?

Me: (Gulp) "Ummmmm...excuse me"?

Simon: "Does Laurie have two moms"?

You have GOT to be kidding me. Two moms? Where is he getting this from? Seriously?!

Me: "No, she does not have two moms "(at least as far as I know...)

Simon: "Does she have two dads"?

WHAT????? Where is this coming from? Think quickly...We have never discussed homosexuality with him or alternative parenting lifestyles. Not because I have a problem with it (I don't) but because he's only 4 and it hasn't come up! I'm pretty sure he isn't getting this from his very conservative Methodist affiliated preschool either. Hmmmmm....

Me: "No, she does not have two dads".

Simon: "I have a mom and a dad".

Me: "Yes, you have a mom and a dad. Some kids have two moms and some have two dads. You have both, a mom and a dad". (Please please please don't ask me any more about this because I'm really not able to explain alternative parenting lifestyles at 8:10 AM...please please please....)

Simon: "Oh. OK. Thanks mom".

WHEW...dodged that one for, like, another 6 hours. When he's not asking about how gravity works, what the definition of "deep" is, who invented scissors he wants to know if Laurie Berkner has two moms. Good grief...

But this does have me thinking. I am confident this question will come up again, probably well before he hits grade school. What is the best, most honest, fair way to talk about homosexuality with young children? Any thoughts? Any experiences with this one?
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Monday, January 29, 2007

From the Tales Inbox: Being Infertile Among the Fertile

From our "on and off again" reader, Melissa (and understandably so):

During a talk in the primary program the sunbeam teacher shared she was expecting. Then before Christmas I learned our Primary president was expecting. She, with a brand new one year old, was 6 months along. I tried to suck it up, and instead broke down in a bathroom stall. The next day I found out one of my students was expecting- 15 years old & ecstatic- while I still wait for my turn in the stirrups.

I'd always heard “the one "purpose" of a woman is to have a family. To have babies. To raise a family.” I never intended to repopulate the world, but a couple would be nice. Being LDS, my “lacking-the-multitude-babies” is even more blatant. We’ve recently moved to a new state- therefore joining a ward where no one knows what is going on with me. I’m the only mom who works outside of the home, the only one over the age of 23 who has an only child. One lady I met is 29, my age, and has 6. She also happens to be my VT. Her comment when she walked into my home with 3 kids following behind her was on how clean my house was- and having only one child must be so nice. Over, and over, and over again- rubbing salt in wounds without even knowing it.

I hate that I can't think about anything else but my infertility . I hate that I don't feel like a "normal woman." I hate that it's affected my relationship with my husband (scheduled sex just isn’t all fun & fertility drugs create a person that just is not… pleasant). I hate that it affects relationships with my very fertile friends. I hate that is seems to be a barrier.

So- I give to you, helpful hints on how to treat "infertiles" (or those you suspect to be)..

1. It’s not your business, unless she makes it your business. Stay out of it, unless you are brought into it. It’s no one’s business why someone hasn’t any children. It’s not your business why you saw her pull out a needle before she went into the rest room. If we wanted you to know, you wouldn’t have to even ask. Respect our privacy- so much of our lives are no longer private anyhow, that parts that are- we cherish.

2. Stop with the “pat answers.” We know how old we are, we know life isn't fair, and we know stressing isn’t good. However, we also know our medical issues in great detail. Just because we’re 25 doesn’t mean we have plenty of time for a family. Those quick answers-- they don’t bring comfort, in all honesty, they can bring even more pain. It’s like you belittle the real problem we have. Because it is a real problem.

3. Listen & learn. If we choose to share with you details of this painful journey- listen to us. Let us discuss tests, sperm counts, lap’s, clomid and all the other tidbits. If you see an article about infertility- read it. Learn what IUI’s, FET’s, IVF, ART are. I can’t even explain how nice it is to talk to my friend Jill, knowing she has taken the time to find information on her own- so I'm not always explaining every detail.

4. Be a friend. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from it all. This is such a consuming problem for so many- we just can’t escape it. Friends know what you need, what to do to help, when to leave us alone, and when to bombard us with phone calls. Be that friend,

And most importantly--

5. Don’t hide your pregnancy from us. Tell us, please don’t let us figure it out by seeing baby movements under your shirt or having someone else accidentally slip it out. Send us a letter, an email- let us know in private so we can take time to ingest it. Don’t be offended or jump to conclusions when it takes a bit for us to get back to you. While we will be so thrilled for you because we love you and want the best for you. We also need to be sad for ourselves, and to mourn at not being able to share the same joyous news.

I've worked so hard over the years at this crazy thing baby making stuff. Harder than most I know, but also knowing others who've worked harder than us. We've suffered heartache from positive HPT‘s that never grow, from negative betas, and from the ride itself. Some days I think I've moved on- but oh the pain is right there. I smile and offer congratulations- meaning it, but with a "I hate you" look in my eyes. But I don't hate you... I hate what my body isn’t doing for me.
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday...

Poopy strikes again. I can still feel the piece of poo on the bottom of my foot, that I stepped on...oh yes stepped on, and somehow I had a piece on the palm of my hand but because of the trauma of it all, I have forgotten how it got there. I only remember hopping on what foot to the bathroom. How she has managed to poop in every way, shape, form and place is beyond me.

But the real reason for this post has nothing to do with poop (at least I hope not). It has everything to do with the birthday party of a 5 year old. Unfortunately she turns 5 one week after the big move. I would really love to skip the birthday party and start some family rule that goes like this: "friend birthday parties only every OTHER year". BUT, it seems like 5 is one of those landmark birthdays. Plus, "everybody's doing it."

We have been invited to 4 birthday parties since school started, and they are all at a semi-public place with lots of food, decorations, favors, people, and always a live guest (princess, clown, you name it). It is always chaotic, noisy and crazy. In the suburbs I have heard of people renting moon-jumpers and having professionaly-made invitations and cakes. That seems totally overwhelming too.

I have brought up the birthday party to my daughter a few times and she tells me she wants a Power Rangers party. She doesn't even WATCH Power Rangers, doesn't have a single toy that is Power Rangers, never talks about Power Rangers, accept in this context. I just don't know what to do. I was so happy with her birthday party last year...it was a girls-only princess party, with about 6 or 8 girls.

I just need some small and simple ideas as a jumping off point for the big 5 birthday. Got any?
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Weaning 101

I can't believe it's almost been a year. Baby T is 11 months old. It's true what they say, time really does fly. I feel like my first year as a mom has been filled with many accomplishments. One of them is that I breastfed T for a year.

I'm actually really surprised that I made it this long (an ugly battle with thrush almost made me give up). I went into it with no expectations and hoped to make it to 6 months. Well here I am a year later looking toward his 1 yr. birthday in February and starting to ask around and read up on weaning. I'm thinking those daytime feedings won't be so hard to let go of. But I am a little nervous about the middle of the night feeding(s). Baby T occasionally wakes up to feed at night. I'm figuring that nighttime feeding will be the last to go. But still, I'd like to let go of it sooner rather than later (and get T sleeping thru the night more often - ugh!). I also have some anxiety about making sure that T is getting all the nutrition he needs. It's so easy to rely on breastmilk to do that. I guess I need to do some menu planning.

Any advice from moms who have weaned their babies? What worked for you? What didn't? Was it emotionally difficult? If so how did you deal with that? I know every mom and every baby is different, but maybe some of you out there have some killer advice or tricks up your sleeve that might be worth a try. Any advice is welcome!
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Freebies From the Crib: Our "Wild Mormon" Winner

And the winner of our January Freebie provided by Her Bright Light is....

...erin marie whose comment read: That is so cute. And the other cases they offer are just as cute!

Congrats! Please e-mail us your name and shipping address to talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com so we can get your cool new scripture purse off to you!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Remembering the Top Ramen Man

The maker of Top Ramen died this week. An entrepeneur from China, he ate his product everyday and lived into his 90's. My children and I paid tribute to him and remembered him fondly today while we read his obituary in the Economist magazine.

Our favorite is chicken flavored, as was his. Top Ramen is one of the few foods that my children can make by themselves and all like. I am grateful to this humble man who failed at several business before perfecting Top Ramen...He spent a year in a room in his home working on the perfect recipe. Truly this is a product that reaches across nations and has touched the lives of many. When I was growing up I was not allowed to eat Top Ramen at home (it was on my Mom's list of foods that are not healthy enough to eat). So whenever I went to my friends' homes this was always my first choice.

Well, I hope we can all remember Top Ramen man this week and remember with fondness the first time we ate our noodles a little too early and burned our mouths and learned to always add an ice cube.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Her Bright Light

January's Freebie comes to us from Her Bright Light, a company started by mother and daughter team Melinda and Isabelle Missbach. Their company is what you get when you combine an artistically talented mother with a creative teenage daughter who thinks many of the products marketed to LDS teens are "totally lame". Add the financial backing and support of their fellow cool mom, Sissy, and "Her Bright Light" was officially born.

They sell inspirational art, jewelry, and slightly irreverent (yet totally fun) scripture cases. One of my favorite thing about this company is the hope it gives me for the future. My teenage daughters might not hate me. They might even value my creativity. They might even want to start a small business with me because I am that cool. I can only dream.

The winner of this Freebie will receive a "You Wild Mormon!" Scripture Purse --designed to hold a standard quad set of scriptures (about 7.5 inches long by 4.75 inches across by 2.5 inches thick). It is made from a green suede-like fabric and has a really fun lining. Personally, I love this little purse for myself. I think I could pull it off. If you are a '"Wild Mormon" then you could too. If not, it would be a perfect gift for a daughter, niece, sister, or favorite babysitter. Make sure to pass on the good word.

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Wednesday (1/24), 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 Thursday (1/25) 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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Monday, January 22, 2007


For the first time in my adult life, I am without a calling. Of course there have been a week or two here and there when I have been without one, but right now, officially I am going on about 5 weeks without one. Now the catch is that I am still doing half of my old calling, until they find a replacement, but I have not been called to anything new yet.

This rest period got me thinking about callings in general, and I thought it might be cool if we here at Tales posted on our experiences in specific callings. I would like to keep it positive, maybe post (as opposed to COMMENT ON THIS POST) about your favorite one, or one that you think you grew from, or learned from, or did pretty well. I would also be interested in reading about the challenges of callings and motherhood. I recently was released from being the primary music leader, and so every week I taught my daughter music. This was difficult many times because she would act up, simply because I was in front of her.

I think the catch was that I was entertaining/teaching not only her, but the entire group, and it was hard for her to share me. As a result, she resorted to negative behavior in order to have me focus only on her. I think some of the other teachers questioned whether or not they should step in and help because I was her mother, but I told them YES! Please discipline her, so that I can continue with my lesson.

It wasn't a problem every week, but I rememeber it happening a lot. And of course, we would get home, take naps, and go on with our week and I wouldn't remember it happening until it happened again, so I kept missing my chance to talk with her about it beforehand. My husband would sometimes say in the car on the way to church: "You are going to be good during singing time right?", but that didn't really hold it's weight either.

Katie was the primary prez at the time, and her kids seemed to do really well with her, but I know it was probably hard sometimes because her DH had to visit other wards a lot, so she would have all three kids with her, AND have to be the prez....any thoughts katie?

I have to say that my nursery-baby is doing really well. I go into nursery to do singing time for 15 minutes, and she always wants to leave with me, and I just kiss her goodbye and tell her to be brave, and she is doing really well with the separation anxiety, and she loves singing time, so at least I have a good thing going with her.

Anyway, that will conclude my post for today, on the challenges of having a calling that involves your offspring. I have a few other posts up my sleeve, but if anyone else feels compelled, tales girls or otherwise, feel free to email us....

*ADDED at 9:08 PM EST
hey, I just wanted to apologize for the poor wording of my original post here. My aim was twofold:

1. to start our contributors and readers to thinking of possible posts on callings or callings & motherhood for a future series.

2. to compose the first post in the series with the topic of: callings with your offspring.

My intent was to have this thread focus on similar experiences with callings that involved offspring...instead I feel I am getting more of a response to #1.

So...please if you have great stories like some I have already read here, write them out and email us so that we can devote an entire post to them....and if you have similar experiences with "callings that involve my offspring" please comment below.

Sorry for my mommy-brain and THANK YOU for your patience.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fun Mom or Child Enabler? You Decide.

In the eighteen blissful months of marriage DH and I had together before the arrival of our first child, I often thought about what we would be like as parents. I assumed DH would be soft with the kids and I would be the disciplinarian. This fit our personalities more, I figured. In reality, he plays bad cop to my good cop.

My children get timeouts and I do strive to consistently enforce the rules we have, but it turns out DH is a firm disciplinarian and doesn't let our boys get away with nearly as much as I do.

Lately, I've been wondering if I let them get away with too much. They are pretty easygoing kids right now, but I wonder if this is going to catch up with me in a few years. One of them is going to come home with purple hair and pierced nipples and I am going to be asking myself, what happened? I thought I was doing everything right...

So you get to decide...... Am I Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

1. Jumping on the bed. I'm fine with it, although I was never allowed to do it as a child. It gets their energy out on days when it is too rainy/cold to go outside and we've only had a couple of bruised noggins. I usually turn the music up and we dance and jump and laugh. Sometimes even before bedtime. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

2. No early bedtimes, although their drop dead be-in-bed-or-else time is 9pm. This isn't a problem for my 2-year old. By 7:30 he is waiting by his bed for his bedtime story and already announcing his goodnights to anyone who will listen. My 4-year old will usually wait it out until 9, although I will turn him in earlier if he is especially tired. Although the time is not set, I do have a set bedtime routine for both of them. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

3. Riding tricycles in the house. We have hardwoods and I figure, hey, it's cold out and we're renting. The rules might change shortly when we move into our own home. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

4. Deep water recovery missions for matchbox cars. Just today, we were walking to the neighborhood park. We made our usual stop to ooh and ahh at the overpass with the creek running below it. Two-year-old Asher carries matchbox cars around like rag dolls and had brought along a few for the walk. He managed to drop/throw (this is still a point of dispute) one over the overpass into the water....and yes....I climbed down and fished it out of the icy current for him. My rule is that if it's thrown...it's gone...if it's dropped....I'll try to save it. Since there was some ambiguity surrounding how the car arrived in the creek, I went for save. Fun Mom or Child Enabler?

5. Short order cooking. I will admit, this screams "Child Enabler" although I do have my 4-year-old off gluten and casein (wheat and dairy), which severly limits what I can cook for him and what he can eat. I can't completely get used to child cuisine, however, so lately it is three meals: one for the 2-year old, one for gluten/casein free child and one for DH and I. This has got to stop....you don't get to vote on this one.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Toys to Iraq

Stuffed animals seem to multiply and replenish the kids room in our house. I seriously don't know where they all come from. The bottom line is they cannot stay. That's why stumbling upon this post today at Parent Hacks, I got excited about the opportunity for relocaion of my stuffed animal zoo and I thought I would help spread the word.

When Edmay Mayers, an amazing member of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, heard there were parents (like me) wondering what to do with their gently used stuffed animals and toys, she wrote in and suggested sending them to children in Iraq.

Now it does cost money to ship the toys to her APO address, making it more expensive than donating them to a local organization, but it's a great opportunity to discuss world issues with your children as you sort through toys. A commentor over at the Parent Hacks post suggested children could even write letters - "Here's my toy Stuffy, I hope you like him as much as I did." It's also nice to know the toys will be going straight into the hands of children who will love them instead of collecting dust on a thrift store shelf.

To find out where to send gently used (and new) stuffed animals and toys for Toys to Iraq look HERE.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Don't I know you from somewhere?

Unfortunately this is a line I often utter to my DH since Baby T was born. Ugh, how to find time together post baby? I have no idea how people do it with many, many babies. Maybe it's the onset of Valentine's Day, or perhaps that our anniversary is approaching towards the end of the month, but I am dying for connected DH time.

Now nursing has kept us from getting away for a weekend, and an empty wallet has kept us from getting a babysitter every week. Don't get me wrong, since the baby was born we have made it a priority to spend quality time together - just the two of us. We've had friends watch T and occasionally hired a babysitter for the evening. Unfortunately we don't have family that lives nearby. I think we've done a pretty good job at having date nights. But what I'm getting at aren't the times when you leave the baby and go out for the night. That's easier. I know how to connect with DH when it's just the two of us... when we slip away and seem to be (for at least a few hours) the "old us". But what about the new us? How do you connect to your DH on a daily basis? When babies are around, or when they are sleeping? When money is tight or no babysitters are in sight? What are some sweet things that you do for your DH to keep romance alive when it's hard to ignore the spit-up stain on your sweater, the pile of laundry in the bedroom, not to mention his list of to-dos for work? Give up your secrets and help inspire some wives & mothers out there to find some QT with DH.
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

CD's you AND your children can happily listen to.

Remember, when you used to babysit kids and all they wanted to watch was Barney, and you were like: I am NEVER having kids.

But then time passed and clouded your memory and you decided that you DID want to have kids. And remember when you were anticipating the arrival of your baby, and you started reading about the effect of classical music on your baby, and how listening to it would make her smarter? You would see the mozart/lullaby Cd's at Babies R Us, and you would put the headphones on your belly, hoping the baby would be able to read when it came out?

And you tried the mozart for a while, but you can only take SO MUCH classical music. And someone introduced Barney to your kid and suddenly you had a flashback to those babysitting days and how much Barney drove you bonkers.

And all of a sudden you are stuck, and you don't know how to proceed. You don't know how to stop the insanity of the Mozart/Barney cunundrum.

This is where I step in. I am hear to help you get past this phase into the "I love music AND my kids music" phase.

First of all, I don't think it is a necessity to cater to your children when it comes to music. In fact, when I was growing up I feel there were very few choices that were specific to kids, so I was raised on Olivia Newton-John and Cyndi Lauper, and that was just fine. I still have little objection to exposing your kids to the same music that you like, however I did find it disturbing when my daughter was singing her own version of Fergie's London Bridge (thank you DH) the other day.

If you would like to build a collection of children's music, I have compiled a list that I find is tolerable and inspirational for children. Please add to it in your comments or agree/disagree with the choices I have listed.

Category 1: Catered to Grownups first, now catering to the little ones
Harry Connick Jr. ~ Songs I Heard I love his remakes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Annie songs...

They Might Be Giants ~ I think they have 3 albums. I can take or leave TMBG, but I think Michelle and her family like these albums, so they made the list.

John Lithgow. Remember him from Third Rock from the Sun, and some movie that he filmed in UTAH and every Mormon on the planet has met him? (including me, but NOT in Utah, after his show on Broadway). Well, he has a handful of audio cd's for children. The one we have is Singing in the Bathtub, and I find it creative and fun, accept the TRIPLETS song.

35 Years of Sesame Street. This one makes the list because we were watching SS before our kids, and it is totally nastolgic and fun. I do not own this, but Carrrie did, and I always loved it when it came up on the ipod.

There is a song on a disc that my sis-in-law burned for me called La La Lemon, sung by Barenaked Ladies, and I found it on this album: For the Kids Vol. 1

Lisa Loeb has a children's album. I have heard a few tracks...it looks fun.

Category 2: Strictly Kids, as far as I can tell

The Persuasions I discovered these guys on Jack's Big Music Show, and I fell in love with the song: I'm so Glad (I've got skin). If you haven't discovered noggin or Jack's show, you need to. I found this list on amazon with all the artists that appear on the show.

I disovered Justin Roberts while listening to XM Kids Radio. His song and album of the same title, MELTDOWN really resonated with me at the time. We LOVE this album. Thanks Carrie.

If you don't know who Laurie Berkner is by now, then I am glad you are reading today. All of her albums are great. We particularly love UNDER A SHADY TREE and her new amazing DVD. Laurie is also a mom, so we love that about her.

You know our favorite board books by Sandra Boynton? Well, she has a few cd's herself. I like Philadelphia Chickens, the celebrities singing on it are funny and the songs completely random.

For a compilation of the sounds of the world, check out World Playground. The kids love it, and you feel that you are exposing them to a bit of multiculturalism.

I don't know about you, but I actually enjoy the Disney music from the videos, and since having a daughter means the inevitable indoctrination of everything Disney Princess, try this album. It not only has the songs, but also the instrumental only, providing a nice challenge for your kids to listen and try to sing by themselves.

Jazz for Kids is a fun way to expose your child to some basic jazz. This cd reminds me of one I got from Pottery Barn years ago called First Steps. I am thinking you can't buy it retail anymore, so this is a good follow up.

If you want some lively Sunday music, try the best Mormon Tabernacle Choir Album ever made. It is called An American Heritage of Spirituals, and it is amazing. Moses Hogan worked closely with the Motab on this, and he has since passed away. Don't forget to listen to Elijah Rock, over and over again.

Individual Tracks:
Grandma's Featherbed was my DH's favorite bedtime song growing up. It is by John Denver, and you can buy it on itunes, or the whole album.

Bein' Green, on Audra Macdonald's new album, Build a Bridge. Seriously such a moving rendition.

Trolly Song, from the film Meet me in St. Louis, sung by Judy Garland. It's pretty special.

What music do you and your little ones rock out to?
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Monday, January 15, 2007

Receiving the "Priesthoods"

Last night, about ten minutes after we had tucked four year old Princess in bed, I heard the little pitter patter of bare feet in the hallway. I hurried from the kitchen to meet her, making sure she was quickly ushered back to bed where she belonged. As we met in the living room, she had a very serious, yet excited look on her face. All she said was "I need to talk to Daddy".

DH exited the kitchen wondering what all the fuss was about.

Princess to Daddy: T and I held hands today and we got the priesthoods. (T is another little girl in her primary class)

Dad: Really?

Now he's looking at me for an explanation. I have no idea what she is talking about and I am trying really hard not to laugh out loud.

Princess to Mommy: Remember mommy? You were there. Today at church. T and I got the priesthoods. (she is very adamant now).

DH looks back at me. He stayed home from church today with a sick Pumpkin so he really doesn't know what she is talking about. I on the other had, was the substitute teacher for Princess' primary class today. We were together the entire 3 hours. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what she could be referencing. I know I pretty much stuck to the lesson manual in class (except for a few added Heavenly Mother references). And girls receiving the priesthood would be exciting enough to risk getting out of bed to announce the news to dad, but I'm sure that's not it.

Princess sees that I am still confused and adds: When we went into the chapel, we each got our own priesthoods.

And that's when I figured it out. Programs. You each got your own programs. You were holding hands and you each got your own sacrament meeting programs (now I remember they were really excited about it). It was a simple case of church word confusion.

Princess (with a slightly embarrassed grin): Oh yeah, that's the word. Programs.

Hopefully T didn't go home sharing the same story about girls receiving the priesthoods to her own family or else they might not ask me to teach primary again.
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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Surviving Motherhood

I LOVE being a mom! As a relatively new mom (10 months and counting) I can say, "so far so good". Baby T hasn't broken any bones, fallen off any beds, stuck his fingers in any sockets (yet). I've kept my house fairly clean (for my standards at least). I even had a Christmas tree and there were no major accidents. We giggle together, play and read stories. But of course, I have my days (and I'm assuming every mom does) where I realize that I depend on a few crutches to get me thru motherhood. Here are some:

CAFFEINE - Sorry but that's number one! How would I get thru my day sometimes without a 3pm caffeine kick. Thank you Coke Zero and Diet DR. Pepper.

OPRAH - It's true! Well, not just Oprah. I have my shows that I "let" myself watch if I happen to be around during those hours of the day and am feeling, let's say, a little overwhelmed by Baby T. Oprah's a big one since it comes on at the perfect time of day - 3pm. Also The View and maybe a little Rachael Ray.

DOUBLE NAP TIME - Thank goodness for two naps a day! When exactly do babies start giving up that second nap, because I'd like to hold onto it for as long as possible?!

MOMMY FRIENDS - Thank goodness for them. Enough said.

MCDONALD'S ICE-CREAM CONE - Something I can get in the drive thru that isn't SO bad for me and oh so yummy. Perfect for a 2pm sugar kick. They are even less than a dollar. And not having to get me and Baby T out of the car is priceless.

THE STROLLER - Get me out of the house! Let's run errands. Let's go to the park. Let's walk around the block in circles. I don't care, whatever. Sometimes it's what we BOTH need. Thank you Maclaren.

and of course...DH - there's nothing like the sound of the key in the door some nights. Especially when your DH works as long hours as mine does. There's also nothing like the smile on Baby T's face when daddy comes home.

What tricks do you have up your sleeve? During those witching hours or difficult days what are your vices? What helps you survive motherhood?
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

If You Care About Your Child's Education, Don't Send Them to Public School

I was hoping that when we moved out of NYC, I would be able to move into a city with fabulous public schools. But, I quickly learned that the city we moved into in southern CA has many of the same problems with their public schools as NYC. In fact, there has been a long standing, pervasive attitude (since the "White Flight" in the 70's) in my new city (both spoken and unspoken) that if you care at all about your child's education, you don't send them to public school. It's so disappointing.

Right now we are faced with the decision of where to put Princess for Kindergarten next year. As I see it, here are our options:

1. There are 63 private schools to choose from in our city (to me that number is astonishing).

2. Our neighborhood school.

3. The school district, in an effort to gain back trust from parents in the city has started an "open enrollment lottery". This means that while you can automatically attend your neighborhood school, you can now easily apply for admittance to another school(s) in the district.

4. There are three charter schools in the area.

5. Homeschool.

When it comes to sorting through all my options I am torn between doing what is best for my daughter and what I feel is best for the community. I have always held a very strong belief that every child deserves to have a quality education regardless of their family socio-economic circumstances, race or other demographic. I feel like the way I can help make this happen is to support public schools. I think this kind of support comes from being an involved parent of public school student. So this means private school and homeschool are out for us (note to all private schooler and homeschooler parents out there - I am sure you also believe that every child deserves a quality education too, I just haven't found a way to reconcile this belief with any option other than public school and with the added cost (private school) and time (homeschool) involved, I am not sure I want to).

So that narrows the choices down to our neighborhood school, another public school in the area, or a charter school. Now if I am to continue to hold firm to my belief stated in the previous paragraph, the obvious choice would be to send Princess to our neighborhood school. It is one of the worst in the entire district. It's low test scores, no diversity, and little parent involvement make it an ideal place to "make a difference". But when it comes right down to it, I just don't think I can send my little girl there. The campus is bleak, the buildings are worn and suspension numbers are through the roof. Oh how easily my ideals go out the window.

On the other side of the scale, there are 2 exceptional elementary schools in the district that I can try to lottery into (along with 1000 other families). But I am uninclined to put them on my list because not only would they be a long commute for us every day (with no bus or carpool option) ideally, I would hope that spot in a great school could go to another child whose parents might not have the same amount of time to invest in their child's education as I do (there are my ideals again - funny how they come and go). But if either of these schools were my neighborhood school, I doubt I would hesitate for a moment to send her there. So maybe I am just being selfish about the driving time. In the end though, I feel like maybe the right place for us is a school somewhere in the middle of it all- I don't think it has to be the very best school but not scary and safe would be a good thing.

And finally there are the charter schools. According to my ideals, I probably shouldn't support these, as they pull families away from neighborhood schools, but I wonder if the majority of public schools here are too far in the toilet to be saved. Starting from scratch (which is what the charter schools are essentially doing) might be the only to once again build a system where all children can receive a quality education.

Oh, I don't know. The entire process is completely maddening. If anyone has anything to offer to help me sort out my theoretical issues so I can maybe, just maybe concentrate on some of the more practical issues, that might help.
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

From the Tales Inbox: He Knows Me

A guest post from loyal reader, Rachel H:

I have always paid tithing. My parents taught us how to do it, the idea stuck with me, and I have paid it on everything from birthday money as a child(because I wanted to) to every dollar I have ever made. I also have loved paying fast offering. Call me crazy, but when I used to pay my tithing and fast offering I would get a little tingle as I wrote it out and sent it in. Even after I was married, it was always “my thing”. I really got an inner enjoyment out of the whole experience.

Sadly, after 10 years of marriage the little tingle went away. I don’t know if it was the business of having children mixed with unprecedented financial stresses, but my zest for tithing was gone. This year, after a few difficult months, we decided to postpone paying it to the end of the year, and pay it in a larger chunk instead of right at the beginning of every month. As the 2 last weeks of December came about, I wrote out the hugest tithing check of my life. And I was not feeling faithful about it at all. With an impending new business startup, and months of NO income in our near future, I called my mother and complained about how much more we could use this money this spring than the church could. “The church HAS money!” I wailed inside. I did not want to send it out.
Back track to 1 year ago-

We have some cool lively neighbors in their late 50’s who own a couple of day spa/salons in the area and they hired me to decorate their windows for the holidays. In the process, we became fairly good friends.

This year because of other commitments I wasn’t available to do the same for them, but we have stayed friendly neighbors, and as such, we dropped by at Christmas time with my traditional (frosted with their initial) homemade gingerbread cookies and to visit. She was embarrassed that her house was messy because we surprised them and I assured her it was no big deal. I remembered from the year earlier that she had some pretty inherited French styled antiques that I really enjoyed seeing, and I asked if I could show Mark her gorgeous piano. It was so unique I could not have forgotten it from the year before. It was a baby grand, lightly painted with beautiful French scenes, commissioned by her grandmother to be done by a talented painter who had worked for the Tiffany Company. Mark and I ooohed and aahhed over it and then we visited for a while, and then left.
Soo.. Back to the tithing-

I wrote the check out, and after staring at it on my kitchen counter for too many days, I begrudgingly and guiltily took it to my mailbox for its final goodbye.

Not more than half an hour later, my neighbor called me. I assumed it was to set something up to redecorate her home or one of the salons as we had previously discussed. She chatted with me about our lives for a while, and then said “Rachel, there was another thing I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Really?” I waited.

“My husband and I felt like your visit to us was more than coincidence. You see, when we saw your excitement and interest in our piano, we looked at each other in shock. You know I only have one son, and he has no interest in it. My two sisters live in Arizona and it’s just not their style. We have the same style, you and I.”

I was anticipating her making us some sort of offer, but I couldn’t imagine the price she might want for this precious heirloom…whatever it was I was preparing myself to say, “Thank you so much for offering it to us first, but we surely can’t afford it right now…maybe someday!”

I waited as she continued, “I have spoken to an antiques consigner and he has said he would sell it for us.”
She continued, “But that is not what we want to do. We would like to do a barter. In exchange for your design services, we would like you and Mark to have it.”


Were my ears hearing correctly? “Have you thought this through?” I asked in complete shock. “Yes! We felt like it was divine intervention when you came over that day. We looked at eachother and knew you two would love it and care for it.”

“OHHHH, We would!!!!” I said near tears, “And, if you miss it, you can come by any time and sit on the bench just for fun!” I cried. When I put down the phone I poured tears like the rain. I couldn’t believe that Heavenly Father could touch my heart in such a way. No one could have known that I had been longing to get a piano for months. I had been slowly looking, dreaming about relearning a talent I had long forgotten. And even that day earlier as we drove home my husband and I talked about what it might cost to buy such a beautiful piano. I was only dreaming about it because I knew it would be quite a while before we could ever afford to get the one I really wanted.
My heart has been taught. I will never doubt my tithing again. I know that Heavenly Father knows me, my feelings and my fears and my dreams.

And the piano,
It is scheduled for delivery on Wednesday.
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Monday, January 08, 2007

Every Community Should Have A Place Like This

Clemyjontri Park is the Disneyland of all playgrounds. We are fortunate to be just a few miles down the road, and it is always the highlight of my children's day when we make the trip.

Designed for both able and disabled children, it has features that make it a fun experience for every kid. Some of my favorite discoveries so far:

1. Swings that allow a child with weak or paralyzed legs to "pump" with her arms.

2. Braille and sign language pictures accompanying written signs.

3. A mini track for kids to have races.

4. A carousel in the middle of the playground.

5. A huge map of the US with all the state capitals.

6. Designated quiet houses for kids to calm down if they are overwhelmed and on the verge of a meltdown.

7. Multi-leveled fire engine, bus and train structures for kids to have pretend time.

8. Fun paths designated for kids on trikes, and designated parking spots for their trikes as well.

9. A fun and safe climbing structure. When the kids reach the top, they have an array of slides to choose for their ride down.

10. Pianos and other sound-producing devices for kids to tinker around on, all attached to play structures.

It has been a great learning experience. Children, and especially my boys, seem to learn best when they are active and participating. I have been working on naming colors with 2yr old Asher. He wasn't really interested until we found a huge rainbow pole structure that he could climb while he learned. He also learned all of his ABCs by "jumping" on the alphabet floor design.

For almost 4-year old Noe, the park is a great equalizer. He can play just as hard physically as the other kids his age, although his language is far behind their own. He can also beat any other kid through the maze with his great sense of direction. The other day, I saw him watch some kids on the bars very intently. After they had left, he tried to copy what they were doing. For Noe, this was huge...he has always struggled with imitation and this has made some parts of his learning go slowly. It was a great feeling...a reconfirmation that he would be ok.

To us, this park has become a mecca of hope. Despite being located next to CIA headquarters, which is a little creepy, it alone has almost made our move from New York worth it.

I worried that the able-bodied kids would overrun the place and make it difficult for disabled kids to enjoy. I haven't seen that happen. The park's design helps accentuate every kid's strengths. I have also seen plenty of examples of parents explaining about "why the swing is different" or "why that little boy doesn't walk very well." I really think it is going to help the "typical" kids who patronize the park grow up to be more understanding and aware of people with differences.

Blessings to the wonderful woman, Mrs. Lebowitz, who donated the land for this park. The land is located close to the District, surrounded by McMansions, and pure gold from a real estate point of view. She could have sold it to a housing developer and been a millionaire over and over again. Instead, she donated the land and asked only that it be named after her children (their nicknames put together) and that the park be accessible to EVERY child.

Her quaint little white picket fenced house sits next to the park. Every time we pass it on the way to the park, I look to see if she is out. I HAVE to someday personally thank this woman for her amazing gift!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cleaning House

When we first started this blog...the bloggers listed to the right all exchanged emails to each other about what we would like each other to post about. One request that I got over and over again was how to keep a clean house.

Here is why I have not written about it yet: because my house is not AS clean as it used to be.

You see, I have two children now. 'Nuf said.

Seriously though, I do keep a clean house when I am at my best, and here is why:
1. I have allergies. I like to have things clean because I am allergic to everything, especially dust and stuff.

2. I live in NYC. We are pest-prone. I have discovered our pet mouse WAY sooner than I might have, because I actually clean every week...and in this case, I was doing the weekly vaccuuming under the couch cushions when I found the little presents Charlie, the mouse left behind. Now, if I had been in the habit of cleaning behind or underneath my stove weekly, I would have found his hideout MUCH sooner. I have also had an infestion of the confused flour beetle in my kitchen cupboards, during a hiatus from cleaning, when I was hospitalized for viral meningitis--that's another story for another time.

3. I live in NYC. We are cramped. Things need to be put away...if something doesn't have a home then it goes in the trash can.

4. I live in NYC. It's dirty. Our 800 square feet in the sky is the only thing in this giant city that is OURS...I like to keep the dirt out. As a result, we don't wear shoes in the house. This also keeps my area rugs a lot cleaner.

5. Chaos = Crazy mom. I happen to be one of those people that cannot do a task in a mess, unless the task is inherently messy. I cannot relax in a mess, I cannot do much of anything in a mess. So, cleaning allows me to function, pure and simple.

Now that you know WHY I need to be clean, I will tell you HOW I do it. And let me just reiterate, that I haven't been cleaning as well as this as consistently as I used to when I had only 1 child, and I have a difficult time imagining the ease of this routine with any place larger than mine. This is one of the reasons I do not envision myself in a large house one day, unless there is plenty of disposable income for a maid.

1. Straighten up often. If you put away the stuff that needs to be put away, then when you are in the mood to clean, you won't first have to clean UP. Or, when you HAVE to clean, you can just get right to the dirty work, and skip the putting away work. When I had just one child who napped once or twice a day, I would do a quick 5-minute PUT AWAY job right when she went down, before I started ME time.

Now-a-days if the STUFF that needs to be put away has accumulated over a few days, then the night before I am going to CLEAN CLEAN, I put away all the stuff, so that I can start right into the cleaning bright and early.

2. Schedule. Pick a day to do your cleaning...for me it has been Saturday in the past, lately Wednesday has been working.

The first of the month (whatever is your preferred cleaning day) is DEEP CLEAN day. I would take 2-4 hours to do what I call DEEP CLEAN the house. Here are the rules of deep cleaning:
yup, you must stop for that handprint on the wall, that mysterious streak down your kitchen cabinet, the entire grimy stovetop, the WHOLE toilet apparatus--from top to insides, to outside on the bottom, thoroughly dust, lift up the rug and dust under that, clean all the wall hangings, windows,....the list goes on. This also involves the scrubbing (on hands and knees) of the floors, vacuuming, scrubbrushing the bathroom...just everything.

If you can't do this once a month, at least do it twice a year...especially if you don't move very often...the crap will definitely accumulate and your house will scream: "DEEP CLEAN ME! DEEP CLEAN ME!"

2nd Week: Your house is still looking pretty spiffy from the deep clean and the putting away that you have been doing, so you probably just have to make sure you are sweeping/swiffering/lightly dusting, and maybe even just lysol spraying the kitchen and bathroom (instead of the softscrub, latex glove, scrubbrush cleaning).

3rd Week: This is Deep Clean without the rule. Get the soaps and the sponges and the scrubbers out. This week you only have to mop the floor, not hands & knees scrub it. You need to thoroughly clean all sinks and bathrooms-anything with wetness, and depending on the amount of cooking you have done, you need to clean the kitchen pretty well.

4th Week: Same as 2nd week.

3. Occasional Items. Choose one thing a month to clean out that you don't include in deep cleaning: refrigerator, oven, dishwasher (just heard that if you run it with lemon koolaid, it gets rid of stains), garbage cans, closets (mine get really dusty with wood floors), computer (can also get dusty with the chords and crap), bookshelves, cds (they get really dusty), under the bed, under furniture etc. I have NOT been great at this, but this idea just came to me, and it seems like a good one. If I write things in my calender, I do them, so if I were to just take a few minutes and write down one of these items at the beginning of each month, then I would probably do it.

4. Get the kids involved. My kids are still on the young side for REALLY helping to clean up. I need to be more disciplined about getting them involved, but sometimes I would rather have a clean house then teach my kids the principle of cleaning. In fact, I like to do my cleaning when the kids are at school or asleep.

Confession: I have had a cleaning lady here and there, especially when I am really busy with work. My work ebbs and flows so much though, that it is never consistent. The other day, however, my 4-yr.-old came home frmo school and said: Mom, was helper-Maria here? And I said NO, I CLEANED IT MYSELF!!!

I hope this HOW-TO-GUIDE has helped some of you in your plight to have a clean house. This is just one woman's perspective on the whole chore. I do likes me a clean house, and if you don't, then you just read for a long time for nothing...

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Surgery to stunt disabled girl's - ethical questions?

I came across this story today on CNN:

Surgery to stunt disabled girl's growth raises ethical questions

When I read the first few lines I initially thought: "Well of COURSE this is ridiculous - I am not in favor of this at all".

But then I read some more...and thought...

I don't know what it's like to have a disabled child, so it's not my place to say how I would or wouldn't care for them. The girls parents even write: ""Unless you are living the experience ... you have no clue what it is like to be the bedridden child or their caregivers."

What do you think?
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We Heart Target

I polled the Talesies on this so long ago, that I honestly do not remember which points are uniquely mine, although I am sure it is not the Isaac Mizrahi bathing suit. Anyway, we LOVE Target here at Tales, and would love to know what you love about Target too. And we do not called it Tarjghee' to make it sound more upper class....we think Target is high class just as it is.

1. One-stop, CHEAP, convenient shopping. (Even if Wal-Mart is cheaper,
Target is better organized and cleaner and I just enjoy shopping there more.
The Wal-Mart by my house is always a mess). From cereal to a screwdriver.

2. Inexpensive, trendy styles (I still LOVE my Isaac Mizrahi bathing suit
from two seasons ago, clothes, shoes, bags, sunglasses - you name it -
although I never found any great maternity clothes there). Paul & Joe...and We can FINALLY afford Shabby Chic-Thank you Rachel Ashwell!

3. Sonia Kashuk make-up brushes & EYE MAKEUP REMOVER-the BEST.

4. Method cleaning products--it's like that WIlliam Sonoma stuff, but affordable.

5. I buy most of my drug store items there - best prices I think

6. Target brand products measure up (I like their body wash - compare to

7. Baby everything - especially diapers, nursing pads, sometimes clothes.

8. I think they have the best priced cereal. We always buy dry cereal

9. Holiday stuff is the best and SO CUTE - christmas cards, ornaments,
beach stuff for the summer, etc.

10. Furniture and home stuff is also trendy and fun. The pieces of
furniture that I bought from Target in NYC have survived 3 moves (1 cross
country) and are still in really good condition. They aren't the best
quality ever, but you get what you pay for.

11. The smile it puts on my face. I go to Target and I can look at magazines, books, music, DVD's, pick out a few scrapbooking supplies, check out the shoes, the choxie candy, and grab a fountain drink on my way out. I love Target so much that I am even willing to go up an down the toy aisles with my kids and say No, no, No, no, we're not getting a toy today, no.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sick as a Dog

We were supposed to drive home from Utah on New Years Day. My stomach did not seem to agree with the plan when it decided to keep me up all New Years Night. I'm still not quite sure if it was food poisoning or a 24 hour stomach flu, but when dh woke up to the alarm at 5am, he found me not in bed next to him, but in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet and throwing up into a trash can. It became quickly apparent that I was in no condition to be any more than 2 feet away from the nearest bathroom, let alone ready to be loaded into a car for a 12 hour drive. I don't think (and dh agrees) I have ever been that sick before.

DH asked if I wanted some of the "pink medicine". He asked if I wanted to lay on the couch. He asked if I would like a blessing. I weakly said yes to it all even though I didn't really want anything he was suggesting. None of it seemed to bring any peace to my wretching body. Call it a lack of faith if you want. I was too sick to care. But then I realized the secret truth. The only thing I really wanted was my Mom.

Growing up, she always knew what to do to ease the pain and comfort her sick children. She didn't have to ask. She just knew. When I was a sick child, her warm touch, her soft lullabys and my head resting in her lap could always calm me to sleep when nothing else would.

And when it came to feeding a sickness, she knew all the tricks. She never asked what I felt like eating, she just brought what was just right to calm a stomach, clear a nose, or soothe a throat. And everytime, it was perfect.

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that I'm the mom now (especially when my insides feel like they want to become my outsides). I am afraid the days of my mom taking care of her sick baby have long passed. It's now my turn to step up to the plate and learn how to take care of my own babies when they are sick.

I wonder if my children have been able to find the same solace in me that I found in my own mother. I wonder how many of my mother's skills have been given to me already and how much I still have to learn. And for the future, what do you feed someone who has had diarrhea and has been throwing up for four hours?
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let's Hear it for the Underdog

I am a college football junkie. I grew up with all brothers so there was never really an option. My husband also loves college sports, so it works out well. I have my teams (Go Cougars!!) but ever since I was a little girl, I have always cheered for the underdog. I like tight games, crazy plays, and upsets. The Fiesta Bowl provided all of that last night. The Boise State Broncos were on the field playing for all the underdogs and they pulled off an amazing victory. It was a roller coaster of a game packed with excitement, similar to the recent BYUvUtah game, one that I think even a non-football fan would enjoy.

What is it about the "underdog" that attracts people? I always root for them, but not just in football...in life. These stories are inspiring, uplifting, it's nice to see someone beat the odds and gives me courage to succeed as well. It's nice to hear and see these examples - I know they happen more than we think. What is your favorite Cindarella story?
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