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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How Did You Spend Your General Conference Weekend?

Happy General Conference weekend! For me, it seems whichever way I decide to watch or listen to Conference on Conference weekend, I rarely get much out of it. I blame the children...until they're grown...and then I'll blame something else. Thank goodness for the Conference audio archives on lds.org and the "speed up" button on my Ipod which allows me to listen to the talks one at a time, at an engaging speed, during my own quiet time. Check out this poll to see if I guessed how you might be spending your weekend:

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Easter Bunnies

The Easter Bunny (or in this case it might be Easter Hare) stopped by and left five little babies in a nest at the foot of our neighbor's tree.

Our neighbor was cleaning up around his tree, removing leaves, preparing the ground to add the new bark dust. That's when they were discovered. Slick black hair, closed eyes, only as big as my thumb. He was worried Mom wouldn't come back because he disturbed the nest. But she did!She takes care of them by night and every morning I'm amazed they're still ok despite squirrels, rain, dogs, wind, and lots of nosey kids. Here they are about 1 1/2-2 weeks old and counting. Such a fun way to bring in spring!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

CRIB NOTES: Coloring Outside the Lines by Roger Schank

This book was about:

Raising smarter kids. Schank is a "learning expert" who argues that our school system fails to instill true learning (especially a love of learning) in our children. He offers parents advice on how to teach their children traits he feels lead to a successful life. He says schools do not teach these traits, and often discourage their development. His "Six Traits to a Smarter Kid" include: verbal ability, creativity, ability to analyze, gumption, ambition and inquisitiveness.

I like these things about the book:

*I like how he stresses that a parent is a child's best teacher. This part of the book really made me feel good about my choice of being a SAHM, and that I can really make a difference in my child's development if I put forth the effort.

* I like that he encourages parents to help their children find their true passions from a young age, even if these "passions" may be a little unusual or looked down upon. He gives the example of the kid who is in love with video games who grows up to be a standout computer engineer. His own son was fascinated by subways and transportation, which eventually led to a career in urban planning.

I buy into this approach, although it goes against my own choices and upbringing. I was very "well rounded." I played the piano (pretty well), I played a variety of sports (pretty well), I was equally "above average" in my English and my math classes. In fact there is little that I don't know how to do....but not very much that I am REALLY gifted at. After my well-rounded college experience, I struggled with what to do next....and in many ways I am still trying to figure out what I should do with the rest of my life.

My DH specialized. He has worked on a school newspaper since middle school. That was his focus through high school and college, and his academics always came secondary. And it has paid off well for him in that he enjoys a career where his talents and passions come together.

*I like his advice and suggestions which are simple and specific. For example, to help your child become analytical, he says to put them in complicated (yet age- appropriate)situations and ask them to reason their way out. Schank gave the example of letting his older son loose on the Paris Metro and telling him how to figure out how to get around the city. For a younger child, you might ask them to draw pictures that show how and why dinosaurs became extinct. The idea is to drive kids to ask questions, make assumptions and test theories.

I don't like these things about the book:

*Although I agree with most of his criticisms about schools, I still think the very best teachers do instill creativity, inquisitiveness, etc. in their students. I don't think all teachers expect their students to conform, and they do encourage questions and exploration of ideas. However, some degree of conformity and structure is inheritely necessary in a classroom or else chaos would ensue.

*One of his suggestions to raising a verbal child is to never hire a caregiver if his/her English is poor. I found this borderline racist/classist. I agree that strong verbal skills are important in life, but I don't think a caregiver with an accent is going to set back a child in life.

*He uses his own children as examples through the book. His antecdotes get a little hard to swallow because he is always the "all-knowing parent" and his children (at least in the book) never misstep or fail (unless he deliberately wants them to experience expectation failure).

Recommend or not?

I do recommend this book. Especially if you are looking to fill the "gaps" in your child's formal education. And especially if you fear your child is getting bored in school or losing his/her love of learning. It is a fast read and Schank keeps it interesting.

I am shifting my mindset about what constitutes a successful learning experience for my kids. It no longer involves keeping their schedules packed full of as many activities as the day will allow, but rather giving them "kid time" to think, explore, play. It no longer relies almost entirely on their teacher and the school system for learning, but rather on myself and my husband to provide real-life learning experiences. And I think I will be ok if I never get to put on a "My child is a honor student at...." bumper sticker on the old minivan.....as long as they are learning and loving it.

I would love to hear other opinions about this book....or its ideas.....preferrably before I drink the entire pitcher of koolaid and join this "anti-honor roll" cult.

What are Crib Notes?
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Cleaning tips - For Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Homes

A few weeks ago Kage asked me for my favorite cleaning tips . I gave her a few options and she mentioned that many of them were environmentally friendly and suggested that I write a post about it.

I have gathered my information over the years from friends, TV (ie: This Old House), and various websites.

Here is a little list of things that I do (and have done in the past) to make my house/apt use energy more efficiently and keep utilities down:

1. Dusting or wiping down the back of your fridge/freezer.

2. Replacing the filter in your central heating/air conditioning unit 1 or 2 times a year. They are cheep (a few dollars). Not only do they cut costs to run your home it helps lower the amount of dust that is flying around. Wiping down your wall vents also is effective.

3. Don't forget to clean the inside of your stove top (I didn't even know mine opened up until recently) and replace tin foil to ensure the next cleaning to be a snap.

4. You can use newspapers instead of paper towels to clean mirrors and glass. Cuts cleaning cost and garbage levels.

5. If you have a clogged drain (tub or sink), you many not need to use strong chemicals to get it solved- you can use a toilet plunger to clear it out (I did it, it totally works!!)

6. Florescent light bulbs, although expensive to buy initially they will save you money and gas emissions. Money in the long run -obviously because they use less energy and last longer. Gas emissions because it takes truck to move those light bulbs. Not as many bulbs driven around, less emissions.

7. Seal windows, recess lights, fireplaces, gaps around plumbing with caulking, weather strips or expanding foam

8. In the winter, in the day open blinds and curtains to let the sun help warm your home. At night or on cloudy days, close them.

Another way I have cut my cost and number of times I have had to run to the store is to make some of my cleaning supplies. Here are some simple recipes I have used and some I found on line. The supplies are things that most people have in their kitchen.

1. To clean ovens or really burnt pots and pans - just baking soda and water. No scrubbing needed! I try to avoid strong chemicals getting near my food as much as possible. So I love this one. Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom until it is covered completely with about 1/4 of an inch of baking soda. Next get out your water spray bottle and spray it till it is damp, not flooded. Then go attend to other things, thought the day come back and check to make sure that it stays damp. Spray as needed. Do this through out the day , com back ad check to make sure that it stays damp. Spray as needed. do this for a few hours, maybe even over night depending on how dirty the oven is. When it looks done use a sponge to wipe it all out! Tada!.

2. Toilet bowl cleaner - ¼ c. baking soda into bowl and drizzle with vinegar. Let sit for ½ hour. Scrub and flush.

3. Ceramic tile cleaner: ¼ c. vinegar/1 gal. warm water

4. Garbage Disposal Freshener: grind ice and lemon or orange juice in the disposal.

5. Silver polish: rub on toothpaste, let it dry, then rinse it off.

6. Removing Chewing gum: rub with ice. Gum will flake off.

7. Remove Rust: Saturate with lemon juice and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.

8. Removing Grease: pour boiling water on stains and follow with dry baking soda. Also try ammonia and water.

9. Remove Ink: soak in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide.

If your interested in learning about making more complicated environmentally friendly recipes, look here.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007


I moved 2 days ago.
You know how that is.
Today I tried to organize my office space a bit. I put up some of my favorite inspirations on my new bulletin board. I decided that sharing my inspirations would be a good post. And then I was robbed.

Yes, stupid me. I left my purse in the passenger seat of my car, in plain view, while I went to pick up my daughter. I was gone about 20 minutes, and when I got back, the window was shattered and my purse was gone.

So then I went back and forth....do I post about how violated I feel and how mad I am and how I am really upset that my $50 gift certificate to MAC was in there.....or do I keep focused on what inspires me and move ahead.

Here is what won:

Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love. ~ Wally Lamb

Do you have enough risks in your life to stay alive?
(Read it in a book somewhere...)

Life beats you down and crushes the soul and ART reminds you that you have one. ~Stella Adler

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.

gift from the gods (accompanied by a scoop of chocolate Haagen Dazs ice cream)

I love raising my kids in the city because... (followed by the reasons) ~ Katie Couric

There are no long lines or tickets required to see the art in the everyday.
~Banana Republic Ad

Give me a young woman who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me a young woman who faithfully attends her church meetings, who is a seminary graduate, who has earned her Young Womanhood Recognition Award and wears it with pride! Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity. ~ President Ezra Taft Benson

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Freakin' Food Storage

The past year since we moved from NYC has found us concentrating on some things that just didn't/couldn't happen there. Like bike riding, visiting family, hanging out in the backyard, and (key ominous music) food storage and emergency preparedness. It was much easier back there to just ignore most of the Mormon preparedness stuff because there just wasn't the space to store...um...anything. My kitchen cupboards could barely fit a weeks worth of food. Thinking about storing a year's worth of food was just downright funny.

In California, we have a garage (whoo-hoo!) so our "no space" excuse is completely gone. And the budget is not quite so tight either. I figured it was time for us to delve into the wide world of Emergency Preparedness. I actually got excited at the prospects of finally getting "prepared". I did online research and I collected all sorts of info from the ward "preparedness" specialist (definitely didn't have one of those in Queens). But in the end, all the info had me feeling very overwhelmed and frozen with fear. Which way is the "right" way to store water? Do I use a food rotating method or just fill my garage with stacks of new #10 cans every 10 years? Do I really need a wheat grinder? And don't even get me started on all the emergency "gear" questions.

I decided to stick the whole subject on the back burnder for a while. Sewing projects have proven to be much more fun than the gloom and doom of emergency preparedness. But then Heather O had to go bring up her great Mormoness which is now proven by the wheat storage in her garage and the shiny new wheat grinder on her kitchen counter.

The anxiety is back and it's fierce. I want to be prepared. It seems like my biggest roadblock is not being able to figure out exactly what I need to be prepared for. Armageddon? The loss of a job? A California earthquake? A terrorist attack? Will we need to flee on foot? Will we have electricity? Will our home be a pile of rubble? Will there be chaos in the streets? Will I need a gun? Will I need to help my family survive for a few days? weeks? months? years? If the world is falling apart around me, will I really feel like grinding wheat or making homemade bread?

There seems like no possible way to adequately prepare for such a vast array of catastrophes. So what do you do? Just stockpile the wheat and pray that
obedience will make up for the rest?
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Monday, March 19, 2007

Worst Pregnancy Symptoms

This is probably gross, to warn you, although if you don't mind talking about baby poop, maybe this isn't so bad.

Just wondering who else out there has had bizarre things happen to your body and mind when pregnant. Have any of you responded to the hormonal changes with murderous rage you almost can't control? Ever get the persistent itch condition that cannot be relieved to the point where you wake up bloody from scratching furiously all night?

Anyway, here's my list of the worst pregnancy symptoms that I am aware of:

-- Yeah, the nausea and vomiting can be horrible and you feel like you want to die, it's so bad. Once you start retching, the violent spasms just won't stop, and you spew up green bile and think, wait, did I accidentally drink antifreeze?

-- Growing skin tags down there -- a woman I heard about had one the size of a thumb on her butt, that the OB finally removed when she was almost 50. Who wants a creepy little flesh ball growing on your privates like a wild mushroom?

-- Getting so edgy and irritable that you can hardly keep yourself from telling your visiting teacher to go to Hell.

-- Developing a dark stripe on your areola that marks 3 o'clock on one breast, 9 o'clock on the other. (Okay, that's not so bad.)

-- Trying to rid your body of waste matter is as painful as vaginal birth, no pain meds either.

Now what about you?

And I have to end this by saying, yes, pregnancy can do crazy, painful things to your body, but I have to say it is all worth it to have the blessing of bearing children. I can't complain long when I think of all those couples out there who try everything, spend money on painful or expensive fertility methods, and maybe end up never having a baby. It's tough to even adopt a baby. So yes, I am very mindful of the incredible blessing it is to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and bear a healthy child. I do not take this for granted.
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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Big Bad Bissel

So my two little guys, the same boys that approach rabidly barking dogs with giggles and hang precariously from the highest bars at the playground, fear our vacuum cleaner.

This is a more recent problem. We had always lived in spaces with hard wood floors so I had never really used a vaccum cleaner. Our new house has three levels of carpet.

I have tried various approaches: Having the boys make friends with the vacuum, warning them when I would be turning it on, making them play in the opposite corner of the house while I quickly vacuumed a room. It's always the same reaction, loud wailing followed by hysterical and aimless running with their arms raised up in the air like little cartoon creatures. This reaction continues until I turn off the vacuum. Then they both help me shove it into the closet and slam the door shut....like they are locking up a bad guy and throwing away the key.

I think this is a real fear and not an attention-seeking behavior. I mostly think this because I reacted the same way to noises as a young child. I would hide under the bed when the vacuum or blender was on. And I hated SM for years for fear of the "hot mic" (I actually still can't stand the sound of a screeching microphone).

Right now, I vacuum when the boys are out of the house (not exactly my ideal way to spend my child-free time), or I'll make a frantic attempt at a room or two when they are out in the car waiting with DH to go on an outing.

Has anyone else dealt with this fear at their house? Is there any hope that my carpets will ever be clean on a regular basis again? The easy solution would be to install hardwoods...which we may be doing anyways...but it really doesn't get at the heart of the problem. I am torn between letting them "outgrow this", like I did, or coming up with some intervention plan. All suggestions welcome.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Magic of an Early Bedtime

How you “sleep” your child is as controversial in the world of mothering as breastfeeding and drug use during labor and delivery. So I write this blog with a little trepidation. But I’m not claiming to hold up one kind of mothering approach over another here. All babies and children are different; what works for one is not necessarily going to work for another. But in case you have a baby like my SJ, I thought I’d share the magic I’ve discovered in putting her to bed early.

The consequences of putting my almost-one-year-old daughter to bed at an early hour go so completely against what my (and I think other’s) intuition would tell me that I’m shocked every time I rediscover them—and I just have to share, in case the trick might work for you as well. If you’ve read any of them, you know that “sleep books” will lead you to believe that once you’re “sleeping” your child the “right” way, everything will be easy; there will be no variation in schedule; he/she will sleep well and sleep well always. Once you get past that initial hard part of “letting them crying it out” or “teaching them to self soothe” or fixing whatever it is you’re doing that’s “wrong”, it will be easy. In my experience, this hasn’t been the case. Just like my days vary (sometimes I fall asleep immediately and sleep all the way through the night; sometimes it takes me forever to fall asleep; sometimes I have hours of sleeplessness in the middle of the night; sometimes, even though I’ve gotten enough sleep at night, I’m tired and cranky all day long), I believe my daughter’s days and nights vary, and no amount of “control” I attempt to wield over her schedule will eliminate the individual human factor.

But the one thing that has—so far (I keep dreading the day it stops working)—always seemed to hold true is that if I put her to bed early (6:00 or 6:30pm at the latest), she sleeps better (not always perfectly, but better) than if I put her to bed even a little bit later. Whenever I feel like she’s not sleeping well (she wakes up multiple times at night and won’t go back to sleep without help, doesn’t nap well during the day, protests a lot going to sleep for naps or bedtime), I look at the time I’m putting her to bed at night and realize that I’ve let her bedtime slip to a later hour (even 6:45pm seems to make a difference to SJ’s biological clock; after 7:00pm is disastrous). It’s really hard to get her to bed so early. Often dh isn’t even home yet; having church until 4:30 makes it almost impossible. Or sometimes I rationalize: she’s getting older, she can handle staying up a little later, and I just keep her up later. So I often find myself “adjusting” her bedtime back to where she needs it. And every time I do, the following things magically start happening over several days to several weeks (if I can sustain it that long). She

1) sleeps through the night
2) wakes up later the next morning
3) goes to bed with little to no protesting
4) goes down for naps with little to no protesting
5) sleeps longer during her naps
6) takes two rather than one nap
7) wakes up happy
8) is generally happier through out the day

Obviously, these things don’t all happen at once. But usually within a couple of days, at least one of them has happened. And they happen magically. I say magically because it feels like I’ve done nothing to make them happen. I haven’t let her “cry it out” when she goes to bed or when she wakes up in the middle of the night; she just stops crying at night and stops waking up at night. Or I haven’t “helped” her sleep longer during the day by ignoring her unhappy wakings; she just sleeps longer. It’s really magic.

But let me say again that just because this works for SJ doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for your child(ren). In fact, I’d love to hear alternate experiences. Have any of you had the exact opposite experience? Does putting your child to bed early mean she/he wakes up unacceptably early? Is there another trick that seems to have magical powers for you? Does it feel like nothing works?

Please, do not misunderstand this blog: I am not an expert. I have only a year of mothering experience. And I'm not telling you how to raise your child. I fully expect my next child to be completely different. As it is now, even with my magical early bedtime, I feel like I’m constantly juggling, adjusting, and analyzing SJ’s needs. I never really know what they are or how to meet them. I feel like almost every minute of the day presents a choice, and if I choose wrong, the results could be horrible: like an hour of crying before she finally falls asleep (still happens more often than I’d like—anyone have any other advice?). But I often find myself saying things like, “Wow! She just slept a half hour longer this morning than usual!” or “Wow! That was easy! She closed her eyes and went to sleep when I put her down in her crib.” And I usually find myself saying these things after I’ve put her to bed early. So if you’re struggling with any sleep issues, you just might want to try an early bedtime. The magic might work for you too.
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Friday, March 16, 2007

Potty Training Prep

I am still taking that parent ed class I first mentioned months ago. Now the kids are older (ranging from 18 months to 2 years). During our last class we had a potty training discussion.

At 18 months, I feel like Pumpkin is still a little young to start training. After looking through a potty training readiness "checklist" it seems like she is "trending towards independence" but I'm still think waiting to train until she's older is a good idea. With her sister, it seemed to go so smoothly once I waited until she was TRULY ready.

Anyway, our discussion in class quickly turned to potty training prep (the things you do to prepare your child for potty training) as most of the other parents felt the same way--their kids weren't ready for full on training yet. And potty training prep is something I believe in and feel Pumpkin is ready for. Here are some of the things we talked about that I've tried before: WARNING: this post uses the word potty, pee and poop a whole lot. You are welcome to sub in your own words wherever you like.

Books about going potty - Reading books together about going potty can reinforce language skills and contribute to the understanding of what it means to grow up and shed the diaper. We liked this one.

Dolls that go potty> - I think Dr. Phil suggests using a doll in his "potty training in a day" method. Frankly, I tried this method with my first when she was 2 and it we failed miserably. But I do think the doll was another good tool to help her little brain grasp the basic concept of what was happening in her body pre-toliet training. Fluid goes in, fluid comes out.

Watching others go potty - Pumpkin is fascinated by watching her old sister use the toliet. She doesn't show the same fear of the toliet that Princess had at the same age. For Princess, it was watching her best friend, Pukey use the toliet that really moved her in the right direction.

Having a small potty or potty seat in plain sight - For Princess we purchased a small potty chair and set it in the bathroom when she was 18 months old. We didn't try to make her use it, we just wanted to start talking about it and get her comfortable with the idea of having it around (the chair worked well for her, but people also use just a smaller seat or nothing at all).

Here are some ideas brought up in class that were new ideas to me:

Start changing diapers standing up in the bathroom - The teacher had toliet trained many a child while working at numerous day care facilities. She swore that prepping them for toliet training by changing their diapers in the bathroom while they are standing up is one of the best things you can do. This involves helping them learn how to pull their pants up and down and strap and unstrap their diaper (this new found skill, in my head, leads directly to coming into their bedroom only to find a lovely poop masterpiece smeared all over their bedroom wall). But that fear aside, I started doing it with Pumpkin and it is working out fabulously. Kage did mention that moms who have children with larger bums and thighs could find changing a diaper standing up completely unworkable. So this tip (as much as all the other ones) is not for everyone.

When the child is pooping, sit them on the toliet-- but try leaving their diaper on. This gets them used to the act of pooping on the toilet without allowing the poop to splash into the toliet which can scare many children.

Put poop from their diaper into the toliet--which is we should all be doing anyway if we are following the instructions on the diaper package (I had no clue) and care about the state of our landfills...but don't care enough to use cloth diapers. This statement could be a whole different post but back to my point. Let the child see the poop going into the toliet and let them flush it. Once again, this paves the way in their little heads for success in future potty training.

What other things have you done (or heard of) to create "positive toliet experiences" during the pre-potty training time? (We'll save the actual potty training tips for another day).

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Financially Ready for Baby?

On my OTHER BLOG, I had a commenter ask me how I knew it was time to start having children, and she expressed concerns about fearing her financial state after baby came. I responded on my blog, but thought it was a great topic...so I will expand here.

Obviously you want to have your finances in good order ALL the time, but waiting to have a baby until you have reached large financial goals that often do not reach achievement until later in life, is not a good reason to not have kids. If you have a reasonable amount of debt (preferrably no debt), from school loans and a mortgage (not credit cards), you are happy in your present job, and you see your financial goals (owning a home, buying a car), being achieved in the near future, then you are probably ready to have a baby.

That being said, I had my first while my husband was a student, I was the primary bread winner, and we had no job prospects when our baby turned 4 months, so we moved to NYC (the highest cost of living on the planet) with a wink and a prayer...but we did have a financial plan, and a back-up plan, and confirmation (through prayer) that our move was a good decision, and it all worked out. RISKY!

Here are a few thoughts on your finances/baby question:
1. Try living below your means. Take a few months and save one (I am assuming both you and DH work) entire income, and only live on the income of the person who will stay in the workforce after the baby comes. See if you can manage...b/c it would be great if you could stay home (if you want to), or take some significant time off, say a year or two.

2. Also, remember that you don't have to have ALL THE STUFF that every baby mag/company tells you you need. I never owned a changing table, had just a very plain rocker for my first, no rocker for my second, and bought a lot of items second hand or on ebay (snuggle nest, boppy, bumbo, stroller etc.), also got my high chair on a super sale at Target for $9.80...

3. Breastfeeding saves TONS, b/c formula is expensive.

4. It is worth the sacrifice to have a baby. You aren't going to be going out to eat every weekend like you used to, so that money can pay for the diapers!

5. Borrow. I think the Tales girls have swapped maternity clothes many many times. In fact, I don't even know where any of mine are or who has them, and I don't care either. Also, borrow baby clothes from friends or relatives, or trade or shop at second hand stores...especially for play clothes. Buy clothes at GAP or Old Navy b/c they let you return stuff, Motherhood/Pea in a Pod/Mimi Maternity do not let you return for your money back, store credit only. Keep in mind that there are so many REGULAR clothes out right now that are perfect for pregnancy (ie. tunics and low rise jeans)

6. Don't skimp on breast pads (lansinoh hold GALLONS), or the cooling and soothing TUCKS (for your Va-JJ), or on a good nursing bra.

My last piece of advice is to remain Queen of your house. Little baby does not move in and rule the roost, they are just your new accessory, and keep doing everything you used to, starting as soon as you can (3-4 weeks), and that baby will adapt and love life. And DO pay big $$ on your baby carrier, I love my bjorn.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Participating in the Madness

March Madness is here! OK - admitedly there are varying levels of excitement over this basketball tournament. Your team didn't make it, basketball isn't your favorite sport, you're mad your TV shows are being cancelled for the next few weeks or bitter that your husband is watching lots and lots of basketball played by teams you have never even heard of. Solution: Fill out your own bracket!
There are several places online to find an empty bracket and fill it out! It's simple. It's fun. It gets you involved. You don't have to know a thing about the teams.
Here are my tips for filling out a NCAA tournament bracket:

1. Go with your gut - last year I wanted to write in one of the lowest seeded teams but didn't. They ended up going through the first two rounds and being the Cindarella team that year - would have been fun to have them on my list!

2. If there is any school you are attached to, pick them! Even if they are seeded low. If they win and you didn't pick them you will feel doubly disloyal.

3. Set up rivalry's - if you don't care who wins, and don't have any "gut" feelings - a rivalry will make things more fun. Look at what your husband, child, grandchild, friend, parent, etc chose and choose all the opposites. Nobody has EVER filled in a perfect bracket so you are bound to win at least a few!

There are always upsets, exciting plays, and fun stories that come out of this month of madness. Have fun!
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Our first date

Dear Diary,

Saturday night Daniel and I went out on our first date...since we moved to Iowa. It was kind of a frustrating beginning because of the 18 inches of snow that we got. The weather interfered with our plans of a fireside in Omaha and being taken out to dinner beforehand. The other couple had to cancel because of work conflicts, also due to weather. So there we were--with a babysitter and nothing to do. And what on earth were we to do from 4-11pm in our little town!? (Couldn't drive to Omaha--or anywhere out of town--because of snow.) I racked my brain--there's just not much. Finally Tabby came to watch the kids and we decided to go to the local furniture store before dinner. This was actually brilliance on our part because window shopping and trying to come up with decor ideas with the kids has been horrible in the past. My patience goes and I just can't think fun or creative at all. Pure frustration. We reveled in the peace--we got there 30 minutes before closing and had the complete attention of the two employees until 30 minutes after closing. They were so nice and helpful. We now have several borrowed swatches of couch fabric we're playing around with at home. Couldn't a done it any other way!

Next we headed on to dinner. We decided on a mexican place. Not the one that sells overpriced frozen food, but the authentic one.

Oh! But first we decided to grab movie tickets--the little theatre is of course just across the street. It was empty and the show was to start in an hour. We gave them our money ($10.50 for two tickets) and they paused, waiting for us to go in. Ummm, no, we're going to dinner first. "Oh," the guy says, "We don't have actual tickets to hand out." Huh!? Ok...so they gave us our money and assured us we'd get in to our movie when we returned.

Back to dinner. Delicious. Someone from Daniel's work was our server. Another guy from work (and his family) was eating across from our booth. We really do run into everyone here. And it's not like we know a whole lot of people yet.

We got done just in time to run across the street and get our virtual tickets. 5 minutes until showtime. But--big ol' line. I decided it was worth it to at least ask if we could skip the line since we were there an hour before trying to avoid this whole last minute thing. So, I "excuse me-pardon-me" my way up to the front, getting the evil eye all the way up. I asked the favor of the ticket guy and he said sure. I got the tickets and was on my way back outside to get Daniel. Then I got it. "Line cutter!" "We've been in line all night!" "Get back there!" "Cutter!" O my gosh. Are we in 5th grade? I was surprised, insulted, and upset. I tried to handle the hackling well and said things politely like, "I'm sorry, we were here an hour ago..." "I'm sorry you don't understand the situation." They just continued to bark at me as I passed them. All women. I was getting mad. I remarked to myself, quietly but aloud, as I walked, that I lived in NYC two and half years and was never treated like this. I thought people here were nice. I'm getting all worked up thinking about it. Luckily I had a movie to take my mind off it. I don't know if I really was in the wrong--if I was it was my ignorance of their "we really don't give out tickets" situation. But since he agreed to let us in, I figured I wasn't being as awful as they were treating me.

About 10 minutes into the show--and our theatre was pretty empty (everyone else was in line to see "wild hogs")--a couple comes in and sits right behind us. We turn around and it's Daniel's boss and his wife! Luckily, they are very fun social people. It was hilarious. So small town.

The movie was ok. Had a couple funny parts, but was so sexual in nature it was kind of annoying. As Mom and Daughter are discussing and describing, orgasm I just couldn't help but think about ol' boss behind us. So funny. Although we wouldn't give the show 5 stars, it was definitely fun to be out with my hubby!

As we get up we're chatting with the boss man. And he says, "Well, I know you guys don't drink, but can we take you out for a soda or something?" Sure--why not! Let's make this a cultural experience. I said to him, half joking, that we could go to Wild Willie's and we would get something not so wild. "No, that crowd's a little rough," he says. But we did end up going to a bar--first time in my life. The West Side. It was a really nice place, actually. If I could have removed the smoke it'd have been darn near perfect. I could see the popularity of bars (the not-rough kind)--relaxed atmosphere, just order a little something, but you're really there to socialize. And socialize we did. Daniel's boss knew everyone and everyone knew him. The city council guy, the bar owner, and lots of friends there. It's like these people have a high school reunion every weekend. So, we were busy chatting together as well as meeting other people.

We had a fun time--always enjoying the little details that make this place unique.

Well, that's basically it. Came home--paid the babysitter, smashed a huge black spider, showered the smoke smell away, and promised to get another date in real soon.
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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Growing up, I used to abstractly envision my future. It was usually a wedding with a man, and it stopped there. I have said before that because my imaginings were not very specific, this is why I struggle with the "AM I DONE?" question (in regards to number of children).

My daughter is turning 5 this week, and we are making preparations for her schooling. We had a meeting with her teachers last week and we departed with a question...what instrument will she play? They pushed the cello.

Cello! Cello?

It feels so weird to think about a cello. I thought that my imaginings had been quite abstract, but evidentally they are turning out to be more specific. I pictured the piano, not a cello.

So, now I am trying to open myself up to what life would be like with a cello...and here are my thoughts:
Julliard-$40,000 Cello

Dixie Chicks

And I am having these thoughts: What about drama? What about student council? What about dance class? What about Singing? What about..........

Uh oh....I am trying to fill in her life with mine. And so I have to fight against that and realize that even if I never pictured having a daughter play the cello, that it's ok and in fact it's pretty freaking awesome.

And of course now I am starting to think about my toddler, and is she going to play an instrument? And what instrument would it be? And what if she doesn't want to do music and is gifted in something that I know nothing about? How am I going to know what to do? Where will I turn? HOW WILL IT ALL TURN OUT?

And now I am getting hysterical.

And I shouldn't even have a 5 year old and a toddler because I am only 27...I should be out at the bars or something right? And how did I get here and how did I get a cello in my life?

It's exhaus-ilerating!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Things to do with a one-year-old

This is a tricky age. Baby T (maybe I should start calling him Toddler T) just turned one and I'm wondering if there is anyone out there who has some creative ideas for things to do with one year olds.

I mean, we do plenty. Going to the park, storytime, playdates, hang out at home and stack blocks, play ball, listen to music & dance, get into stuff, explore. I love this age (he's so stinkin' cute - learning new stuff everyday). It's just that these pre-toddlers have such a short attention span, obviously their language skills are just beginning to develop, and sometimes when you're a SAHM of only one child you run out of tricks, or ideas, or imagination. I'm sure if he had a brother or sister there would be plenty more to do (this is not an announcement). And if he were just a little bit older and I got into a slump I could just run to a craft store for some ideas. Like I said, it's a tricky age. So I was just wondering... what do you love to do with a one year old? Do you have any favorite websites or blogs that you go to when you're in a creative mommy slump?
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Friday, March 02, 2007

Tactics of a Disgruntled Organist

A few days ago I was having lunch at the home of one of Princess' preschool classmates. We chit-chatted over the chinese chicken salad and soon got on the topic of families. She briefly mentioned a number of her brothers and sisters. When I added them all up, it came to eight--just like my family. I was a little surprised at this similarity (especially with a non-mormon). She immediately asked if my family was religious. I smiled and said yes. Hers too--Catholic. "Mormon." I responded-- yes the two religions usually blamed for overpopulating did not fail their stereotypes in this instance.

"Are you still practicing?" she asked.


"Not me. I like to call myself a recovering Catholic."

Not knowing exactly how to respond I said "Oh."

She continued on to tell the story of her last days in the church. She played the church organ for many years. She finally got so sick of it that she asked the "powers that be" (not sure who) if she could quit. She was told that God had given her the calling to play the organ and she needed to keep doing it. Bitter, she went back to playing the organ. Soon after, she got the "great idea" of playing "inappropriate" music during communion.

I was a little puzzled. What did she mean by "inappropriate"?

She must have seen the question on my face because she continued with details. The Beatles, Queen. The soundtrack to The Godfather.

It didn't take them long to free her from her "God-given" organ playing calling after that.

This is probably blasphemous, but I couldn't stop laughing. The thought of the sweet woman who is the organist in my ward playing "Bohemian Rhapsody" as the sacrament meeting prelude music was just too much. Then I thought about the people in our church who really dislike their callings - it does happen on occasion I think :). It made me wonder to what lengths one might go to get released from said calling. I mean, in this case, the woman was obviously not just ready to leave her calling--she was also ready to leave the Catholic church. But you have to give her some creativity points for her exit.

If anyone else has heard of (or fantasized about) creative ways to get released from your calling please share. I promise I won't judge. Although the blasphemous laughter might take me down to hell anyway.
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Miracle of Forgiveness

I had a defining moment when I was about 21 years old.

I read the Poisonwood Bible. I closed the book upon reading the last few words, and I knew I could forgive.

I forgave someone who I couldn't forgive for the past 15-or-so years. I forgave him for cancelling every trip he said he would take to come visit me, for drinking beer in front of me when that "wasn't allowed", for giving me a kitten as a gift, even though he should have known how allergic to cats I was, for lying to me, for putting me in danger, for swearing in front of me, for infedility, drug abuse, and abandonment.

The weight of 500 elephants times 500 lifted off of my shoulders, and I was free.

I learned how to cry. I learned how to laugh. I learned how to find joy. I learned to regain my childhood. I learned that holding that in for so long was damaging. I learned to love. I learned to say "I'm sorry." I learned how to reach out. I learned how to be a friend. I learned how to be a wife. I learned how to follow my dreams. I learned to forgive myself. I learned how to ask for forgiveness. I learned how to forgive others. I learned that sometimes there's nothing to forgive.

I had to learn so much, because I had been suffocating from the elephant weight for so long. I learned it all so quickly and so energetically that it was all a blur.

Forgiving him was my miracle.

"To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."
~David Bednar

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