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, June 30, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Dandelion Mama Custom Art Winner!

The winner of our June Freebie, a gorgeous, custom piece of art by talented Tracy M aka Dandelion Mama is:

js who commented "I have the perfect place of bare wall above my fireplace that a piece of art art would look great on! It was fun to get to know Tracy a little bit more through this little bio!" Congratulations js!

Please e-mail us at talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com and we will get you connected with Tracy M and give you the details on what you need to do to get your custom piece of art started.

Thanks to everyone who commented and especially to Tracy M for this amazing and generous freebie! We hope you keep finding the time to paint!
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Poopy Strikes Again

Since we are potty-training, it is my great pleasure to recognize the "I am about to poop" face and get Poopy to the toilet.

Almost every day, this is a success, including today.

However, every once in a while there is the more-than-one-poop day. Today was that day.

The girls and I went into the city twice today...once this morning, and then in the late afternoon. Both times, upon arriving home, my little adorable Poopy wanted to stand in the front window of our building between the outside doors and the lobby doors. I let her for a few minutes this morning before we went upstairs.

When she went to go do it this afternoon, I was on my cell, so I just sat in the lobby and let her do whatever she found interesting to do while standing in the window...I like to give my kids their imagination freedom when possible. So, I am sitting there talking to carrie about our local pool and swimming lessons, when Pukey gets her finger caught in the door. I mumble something to carrie about an injury, go to help, bump my hip on the door-OW, I kiss the hurt finger and then I see it.

Poopy has literally you-know-what a BRICK on the window sill. And it is not like a nice compact little thing....it is like Blueberry Stew.

Oh heavens.

By this time, she has stepped in it and walked over to me (about 10 feet) with her blueberry poop stew footprints...and she has blueberry stew juice running down her legs.

Luckily the door man has a few paper towels, some windex stuff and a garbage bag. I clean it up swiftly and I don't even gag...I guess I am pretty experienced at this by now.

Once upstairs, I put her soiled sandals in the sink, close the drain, turn on the water and FORGET ABOUT IT (I have a very shallow sink), until Pukey conversationally states there is a situation....oh no...now we have watered down blueberry stew all over the bathroom. And Poopy strikes again. It is her life's work to poop in as many ways as possible. At least it didn't happen on the subway. Oh my....

What a wonderful end to a wonderful day. Blueberries anyone?
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Dandelion Mama Custom Art

June's freebie comes from a prominent and much loved blogger, Tracy M (aka Dandelion Mama). If you have ever visited her personal blog or MMW where she is a contributor, you might have had a few small tastes of Tracy M's artistic talent which lies far from her computer monitor and keyboard. She is mother of 3 and a self-proclaimed "jack of all creative trades", whose artistic career as a momtrepreneur has taken her from painting to quilt design to diaper bag creator and back again.

Tracy has loved painting and drawing ever since she can remember. Her talent was quickly noticed even at a young age with her work being displayed in a museum when she was in just the fourth grade and a special commendation in achievement in the Arts from the governor of California given when she was just a sophomore in high school. Tracy then went on to attend the California Institute of the Arts on a special tenure in animation. She worked in her chosen field, in one form or another, until she became pregnant with her first child. Since that point, over five years ago, she has been a SAHM but has always found a way (or two) to keep her foot in the creative door.

Tracy first business "Eye of the Needle" was born at the same time as her second child (3 1/2 years ago). She knew she needed to do something creative or she was going to go crazy (I know that feeling!). Knowing that painting and curious little hands might not be the best match, she started tinkering with quilt design. Because of her well made products, clear and easy to follow instructions and unique designs, she was being showcased in local stores and taken to national markets within a few months.

"It was very difficult to walk in that first store and show my stuff. Iwas seriously shaking in my boots, but I did it, and it worked," Tracy admits. Now, her beautiful quilt designs are made into kits and distributed by Benartex Designs to stores across the country. You can find her "Watching the Caterpillar" kit here.

Tracy also dabbles in amazing custom diaper bags (no doubt because of the new inspiration in her life, baby Abby). Each bag is made to order to match the tastes of the new mama whether it be a Laura Ashley floral or rock 'n' roll skull and crossbones. I can only imagine she is a popular guest on the baby shower circuit!

By now you are probably wondering what the freebie could be. Is it a diaper bag? Is it a quilt kit? Oh no my friends, it's so, so much better. To the winner of this freebie, Tracy M is offering a custom, vintage-style painting of a child (presumably the winner's) similar to the piece she just finished for her own home of her daughter Abby. The piece will be 24" square, acrylic on board which can be framed or hung frameless. She will even include a saying of your choice on the piece. A Tracy M custom painting starts at $300 which makes this freebie the most valuable Tales freebie to date. So make a comment and tell your friends (at least it'll up your chances of knowing the person that wins)!

To commission a piece of art or to place a custom diaper bag order (starting at $60), you can contact Tracy M at dandelionmama at gmail dot com. Thanks Tracy M!

UPDATE: As to not offend any more fans of Tracy M, her talents also extend to refinishing old furniture. She just resurrected and old, abandoned piano and restored it to one of the most beautiful antique pieces (piano or not) I have ever seen. You have to check it out before/during and after.

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Friday (6/29) 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 Saturday (6/30) 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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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Improvining Your Photo Skills: Archiving Photos

Any photo we have of an ancestor is precious. So we should consider those who come after us. Read on as I explain how to preserve film, digital images and prints.

I learnt this information while studying for my BFA in Photography.


I am first going to explain some of the chemical process to help everyone understand the fragility of film.

When film is developed there are two main chemicals that are used. Developer and fixer. Developer brings out the images and fixer "fixes" or stops the images from developing into a completely black piece of film or paper. The down side of fixer is that it is acidic. The acid is what turns photos yellow and brittle.

In a professional lab they wash the film for one to two hours to wash out as much fixer as possible. In any other non-professional photo development place, they don't take the time to wash the film long enough. 1 hour photo is the worst, although convenient.

So if you have old film that you are worried about, I would contact your local professional film developer place (if you don't know of one in your area look in the phone book) and ask them if they would be willing to wash your film for you.

If you are planning on taking some really special photos (i.e. family reunion, wedding, new baby photos) take them to the fancy lab.

When it comes to storing your film:

A cool, dry and dark place is the most ideal. You can buy film sleeves (clear plastic pages that can be put in a three ring binder) which are archival. Any professional photo place should have them, they are very affordable.

Here is a good site that specialize in archival supplies: Light Impressions.


Saving images on your computer or external hard drive should be pretty sound.

Honestly no one knows how archival digital photography is, since it has only been around a few decades.

Many people burn their photos to CDs. I can tell you that a normal CD (CD-R), should last for about 30 years (again this is a guess). I can tell you that there are gold CDs (actually made out of gold), which they say is more archival, they guess (100-300 years).

CD too should be kept in a cool dry place. CDs that you leave in your car (which usually are music ones) will soon become coasters since the sun eventually fries the information right off them.


There are two kinds of prints. There are chemical and ink prints. Prints you buy from a photo lab are chemical (whether they are from digital file or from film). Ink prints usually come from personal printers like an Epson or hp printer. Both should be stored in a cool dry place.

Chemical prints are similar to film, in that they use a developer and fixer. I am sure that most of you have photos from childhood that the colors are a bit whacked out or faded. Current technology used today (in general) make a print that is more archival then 30 years ago . I can't tell you how long your photos will last, because each one is different and how the lab develops the print effects their life. You can definitely ask your lab. Or you could look on the back of the print and do an Internet search on that particular type of print. Or you could call the company (Kodak or Fuji) and ask them.

Regardless of what kind of print you have or when it was made no color print will last for ever.
The only for sure images that will last literally to the end of time are professional black and white film and prints that are double washed.

Improving Your Photo Skills: Archiving Your Photos

Improving you Photo Skills: To Flash or Not to Flash

Improving Your Family Photo Skills

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Connecting With Cousins

The other day, one of my sisters emailed out pictures from my youngest sister's baby shower. I was admiring a picture of a cute 8-month old boy and wondering who he belonged to. It suddenly occurred to me that this little stranger was my nephew....a child I have seen only once months earlier on a short visit home. I was in tears to realize that a year of this little guy's life was almost gone and I only knew him through pictures and conversations with my sister.

In my family, there will soon be six cousins under the age of four. My Asher has a cousin just a couple of weeks younger than him (pictured above....they get along great so far!). We are spread between the East Coast, Utah, and Portland. I also know that I am most probably done having children (a whole other post) and the hardest part about that for me is knowing my two boys won't experience the lessons and joys inherent in growing up surrounded by siblings. I desperately want their cousins to fill this void. I want them to have real and close relationships with them rather than the "holiday relationships" that I had with my own cousins growing up. And I have no idea how to accomplish this with our geographic limitations.
Do any of you share the circumstance of living away from family and struggling to connect with your siblings and their kids? Have you found successful ways for your kids to form long-distance connections with their cousins? So far I have...
....made picture books from cheap photo albums labeling family members in a fun way. I've also made photo albums from our trips home that narrate the trip in a way that my kids can remember specific events spent with my family. Both of my boys love these books. I feel like they know their grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins well from looking at these pictures.

....decided that as soon as they are old enough to read and type, I will get them their own email addresses so they can become pen pals with their cousins.

....started thinking about swapping weeks with the cousins during the summer. My brothers and sisters are receptive to this idea. I imagine flying the boys out to Portland for a couple weeks of soccer camp or other activities and then flying some cousins out for a couple weeks in DC for historical sightseeing, etc. I am excited about this prospect and think they could be really memorable trips for the kids.

And....that's about as far as I've figured things out.

Once again, I would really appreciate hearing some of your own ideas and experiences on this topic.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

It's not easy being green....

Or is it?

If you follow my other blog, you have read about my recent efforts to go green. I call the posts GRADUALLY GOING GREEN. Here are a few excerpts that I thought worth sharing:

First of all, if you would like to watch a super cute video and get some great tips, just visit here to see my niece informing you!

Here are some ways that I am green right now:
1. I don't use many napkins (call me a slob)
2. I am going to stop taking my receipts at Metrocard Machines and ATMS (thank you lady on Oprah)
3. I re-wear clothes a lot before washing them, especially if I have only worn them a few hours.
4. I am in a good habit of turning off lights.
5. I am in a good habit of running my electronic heater/air conditioner as little as possible.
6. When the weather is agreeable, I exercise outside instead of on an electronic machine.
7. I don't run the tv for background noise.
8. I have appliances that I don't use very often, unplugged.
9. I use public transportation a lot.
10. I recycle everything that is recyclable (and probably some things that are not...oops)
11. I reuse shopping bags and grocery bags as much as possible. My favorite uses for the plastic grocery bags (that soon I won't have around the house) are for airplane trips, I collect my kids garbage in them throughout the flight, and then throw it all away at the end, and to collect my recyclables during the week. And if I had a dog, I am sure the bags would be used for the poop.
12. I pay many bills electronically.

In one week I:
1. took the stairs going down (I live on Floor 5), as much as possible.
2. Did not take my metrocard or ATM receipt.
3. Said NO to a bag whenever I could slip my item in my purse, or otherwise carry it.
4. Bought a new vaccuum that requires no bags.
5. Did not put any of my produce in bags at the supermarket.
6. Reused bags from GAP and Urban Outfitters until they were unusable.
7. Used my cloth towels to do most of the cleaning, as opposed to paper towels.
8. Continued Potty Training. If the babe is potty-trained soon, then I will have spared the landfills a year of diapers. And using 1 or 2 pull-ups a day is less waste than 5 or 6 diapers.

I find that if you lovingly remind those around you to save the earth through your words and example, that it can rub off:
This week my DH came home with paper towels made from recycled paper. This is because he loves me, because he rolls his eyes a lot when I say with energy: "Save the Earth", especially when it involves NOT taking the elevator. He also tried to purchase CFLS at the local drugstore, but they were out.

As of today, we have replaced EVERY light bulb in our home with CFLS. MMW recently posted about CFLs and a side of them that is not all sunny and bright. To read that, click here.

Last night my husband came home from the grocery store and told me the two guys ahead of him in line were using reusable bags and he thought maybe he would like to get some of those so that I would like him more. So tell all your single-guy friends that it is the new way to pick up totally hot chicks.

One last thing, look for the new Discovery Cable Channel: Planet Green coming soon. And in the meantime, you can watch this cute little show about green ideas.

Reusable Bags
Produce Bags
Cool/Nifty Reusable Bags
Green Home Products
Stop Junk Mail-paper waste
Domino Magazine Green Websites List
Clean Green
Pledge to save CO2
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Friday, June 22, 2007

What Does it Take to Make a Friend?

What does it take to make a friend? Not just a friendly type friend, but a real, capital 'F' Friend.

It seems like many of us girls here on Tales haven't quite been able to make friendships like we did back in Queens. We often talk about how the circumstances surrounding our time in NY were just "right" for fostering lasting friendships (which in a very transitional ward is quite unique I think). Maybe looking back we are able to paint it a little prettier than it actually was, but the fact still remains, we have all been having a hard time making Friends in our new cities. And I kind of think we might not be the only ones out there facing this struggle.

So I am asking all the readers out there to think about the best Friendships in your life. How were they made? What were the circumstances that made them work and grow? How long did it take? Maybe we can figure out some rudimentary formula for making a good Friend and maybe then we can all recreate it in our new homes. Or maybe we will all realize that Friendships are something that have to happen on their own over a long period of time and we'll be even more grateful for the ones we've already been blessed with.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cello: Part 2.

So, it's not the cello anymore...

It's the accordian.

Just kidding.

My daughter has chosen to play the violin. We have taken her to concerts showcasing violin, cello and piano, expressed that the school would like her to play the cello, and we have a piano in our home, and she says: VIOLIN.

I explained this to the school's music principal and her response was: "Stringplayers will be stringplayers."

What does that mean?

I have been trying to figure it out. I have been looking for blogs, I typed in orchestra.blogspot....don't go there....did you know porn came in word/blog form as well? Random.

I have been communicating with her violin teacher. Why must I rent a violin for 200+ a year or purchase one for 600+ when there are some really great, teacher-approved one's on ebay for 14.99? And PINK to boot...

What are these books going to tell me about being the parent of a string player? I am scared/nervous/excited to read them.

What will my child all of a sudden know so much about, that I never learned? Where will this path take her? How will she survive being the only violinist in our family? How will I keep the violin from my exuberant 2-year-old? Where will I hide it? How will practicing go? Will we still be friends? What will it be like being the mom of a string-player? Will we become violin-groupies? Will we all of a sudden want tickets to see Joshua Bell?

Or will we just be our normal selves? Will life change very little, and just be enriched by our little stringplayer? Will we have mini-concerts for family night now? Where is life going....and what will this violin do to change it?????

At least it won't get caught in the subway doors....like the cello was going to.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Public Discipline Quandry

What do you do when another kid hurts your kid? What do you do when the other kid’s mother is there? What do you do when the other kid’s mother is not there? What do you do when the other kid’s mother makes almost no effort to discipline her child or convey the idea that what he’s just done is not acceptable? I’m in a quandry; I don’t know what to do.

I find it happening a lot recently between my 15-month-old and the other toddlers she plays with regularly. Of course, she rarely gets seriously hurt. But there are kids who push and pull and hit and definitely upset her and are just kind of mean. I find the moment after she’s been hurt (so far, she hasn’t taken to hurting other kids yet, probably only because she’s the youngest and smallest of the group of kids we spend time with) to be very awkward.

There’s always some kind of reaction from the other kid’s mom. It sometimes includes an apology to me, perhaps with an explanation, “He’s tired; he’s hungry; she’s really into pulling hair right now; she gets that from her brother.” And I usually find myself immediately saying, “It’s ok,” just to smooth over the situation socially.

But is it ok? Is it ok for kids to hurt each other? Do we just let it pass? Perhaps it is ok. I mean this is what kids do; this is how they are. I can accept that to some extent playing with other kids is going to involve some aches and pains, some scratches and bruises, and maybe even the occasional blood. But I think what bothers me more than kids hurting other kids is mothers who don’t do anything about it, or mothers who make a weak attempt at disciplining.

But I’m not sure what I expect that “disciplining” to look like. I’m not really sure how I will handle it when my dd starts doing it (I assume she will). My first instinct tells me that there needs to be some kind of mildly but genuinely unpleasant consequence to the action: being removed from the play area and placed some place safe but perhaps isolated (in a playpen in a closed room? in her own room if we’re at home? in her stroller away from the playground if we’re outside?).

But is this too extreme? From what I have observed, just explaining to a kid this age (between one and two years old) that it’s not nice to hit or push doesn’t really seem to accomplish anything. On the contrary if the disciplined kid is looking for attention (so often the case), he or she seems more than likely to do the same thing again—almost immediately—just to remain in the spotlight a little longer.

I definitely don’t think any kind of physical punishment is the answer—perhaps, ever—but definitely not in this case where we’re trying to discourage hurting another person.

What have been your experiences? What do you do—that has worked—when your kids hurt others? Does anything work? Do kids grow out of this? Is it just a matter of waiting for them to mature? What do you do when your kid has been hurt by other kids? How do you respond to your child? To the other child? To the other child’s mother? If disciplining of some kind is in order and the mother makes no or little attempt at it, do you say something to her?

Here’s another quandry: I find myself feeling angry when the mother of a kid who has hurt my kid doesn’t do anything about it. But when mothers do discipline their children, it feels really awkward to stand by and “witness” it, especially if it involves yelling or something harsh.

Please, any ideas? Share them!
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thanks to you, Dad

Beth started a gratitude and fathers post, but I already had a list started about my own father that was too long to fit in a comment. So here it is in it's own post.

Dad, thanks to you:
  • I have to dedicate time each morning to keeping my bushy eyebrows under control.
  • I have a nose that my friends call "defining" and "exotic" and I am still learning to love.
  • I have beautiful dark brown eyes.
  • I had the most interesting science fair projects.
  • My class had the best Homecoming floats every year I was in high school.
  • I only know how to draw horse heads--no bodies.
  • I have to make "candy runs" to satisfy my sweet tooth.
  • I have always known I can do or be anything.
  • I have a softball mitt with handwritten instructions on it to remind me which finger goes in which hole.
  • I have a problem keeping my mouth shut.
  • I am stubborn.
  • I don't like to admit when I'm wrong.
  • I will always fight for what I believe in and stand up for the underdog.
  • I can easily offend people.
  • I am not easily offended.
  • I know food brings people together.
  • I have my own toolbox.
  • I like to learn how to do things for myself.
  • I know how to drive a stick shift and idle on a hill without using the brake.
  • I know what a good bear hug feels like.
  • I love Mentos.
  • I always use the skycap at the airport.
  • I love cop shows.
  • I am very familiar with the layout of the Home Depot.
  • I think suspenders are cool.
  • I'm good at math (or was).
  • I love a buffet--even the Chuck-A-Rama.
  • I love to BBQ.
  • I thought that every dad wore a shirt and tie everyday (even on Saturdays!) unless they were fixing the car. That's when the coveralls came out.
  • It's hard for me to pay for a car repairman, an electrician, a plumber, or a handyman.
  • I dislike chocolate.
  • I am not a sports fan.
  • Boys in HS were to afraid to treat me with anything other than respect.
  • I am terrible at budgeting.
  • I know what it means to give generously and love unconditionally.

  • Dad, you have helped make me who I am. And I like who I am, so thanks.
    I love you. Happy Father's Day.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

A Father's Day Gratitude List

So Father's Day is here. Last year my son was about 5 months old at this time, and as time has passed I find myself being even more grateful for the wonderful qualities that my DH has in helping to raise our son. Here are a few (in random order) and believe me, there are many, many more.

1. Almost every single morning when our son T wakes up, DH is up with him. I am NOT a morning person. He is not a morning person either, but he is MORE of a morning person than I am. For that extra half hour of sleep I am eternally grateful.

2. No one rough houses with T like his dad does. I may think that I'm good at throwing T around or playing "airplane", but no one is as good at it as dad is. And NO ONE makes T laugh harder than his dad does. That is awesome.

3. DH is hands on with the household chores. Just last weekend we BOTH took two hours out of our Saturday and cleaned the apartment top to bottom. If he sees something needs to be done in the house he does it. I'm so grateful for a DH who realizes how helpful it is to me as mom when he jumps in and helps maintain our home.

4. He honors his priesthood and has spiritual goals for our family. He is dilligent in his callings. He is an amazing spiritual example for our son.

5. He is by far the more flexible parent in our partnership. I get thrown off when plans change at the last minute or when I walk into a surprise toddler mess. He goes with the flow.

6. When I'm feeling insecure about motherhood he always reassures me that I am "the best mom". And he can always tell when I need a girls night out or a pedicure. Thank goodness for a husband who believes in me and knows when I need a little pick-me-up.

7. He's not afraid to act like a kid. He loves to introduce T to new things.... dancing to music, playing "basketball", watching cartoons, happymeals. I can just see the future daddy/son outings to Lakers games and Taco Bell.

8. He is nuturing, patient, even-tempered and not afraid to show a more sensitive side to his son. He is a great example of a loving father & husband to our little boy, and as Dr. Phil says the biggest influence in a child's life is their same sex parent. I can't imagine choosing a better father for T (and I'm grateful to have had the smarts to do so!).

So that's a start. How about you? When you think about your husband (or father) what are you grateful for? What is on your gratitude list this Father's Day?
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Doing NYC with a Six Year Old

A while back, I got an e-mail from our reader, Corinne, who asked for some tips on what to do in NYC with her six year old daughter. There wasn't time to make it into a post, so I e-mailed her back with a few of my own ideas. I hope they had a good time.

For future NYC visitors with children, I thought I would post my reply and hopefully everyone will add you own ideas because in no way is this list complete:

Central park - Don't miss the carousel, the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Central Park Zoo (make sure to stop by the petting zoo part of it too).

The Museum of Natural History has a great Discovery Room for kids. Really fun and interactive. Their special exhibits are always facinating as well.

You can't miss FAO Schwartz (5th Ave) - Really cool hands on stuff. Making a custom Madame Alexander doll is really cool though pricey (about $40).

Oh and she will probably enjoy the huge Toys R Us in Times Square. The ferris wheel, the animatronic dinosaur, the barbie house and the interactive projection screen on the floor are all really fun.

Dylans Candy Bar is a heavenly place for kids as well. Lots of candy (and eye candy) and yummy ice cream. (eastside across from Bloomingdales)

She'll love Chinatown. All the cheap trinkets and strange fruits. Try some fresh lychees from a corner stand and go to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for some yummy ice cream . You have to at least taste the strange flavors even if you end up with strawberry in the end.

Going to the top of the Empire State Building is always exciting and taking the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty is another tourist must. There are always entertaining street performers down there too so make sure you leave yourself enough time to stop and enjoy (it would be good to keep some $1 in your pocket as well).

Take her to see the temple on 65th Street and Columbus. It will always hold a special place in my heart as I attenedd church there for 3 years and was in NYC for the temple dedication and Jubilee.

I hope you can make it to a Broadway show. Any of the Disney ones are really enjoyable for kids.

Another fun place to hang out is the South Street Seaport--all the way at the southern tip of Manhattan. There is shopping, a decent food court, street performers, boats and a nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

One thing I like to do when people visit is to make sure they experience all the forms of transportation in the city. We take buses, the subway, at least one taxi ride, a ferry, and sometimes a horse drawn carriage ride in the park (this last one can be expensive during peak seasons).

Hmmmm, what else. Search the web for "free NYC activites". There are a lot of sites that keep calendars of fun free events around the city.

And don't pass up The Met. You can read newmom's post "A guide to the Met" to get some pointers. A six year old might not last long there, but I think there is plenty to keep her interested for at least an hour or two.

Make time to play in one of the many playgrounds that spot the city and if you're there in the summer, bring a bathing suit (or a change of clothes) and cool off in the water sprays.

I hope this helps and have FUN!!!
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hitting the Road

For all of our married life, we have lived a little too far from family to seriously consider driving to see them. Last summer, though, we moved to Minnesota and found that most people here do drive west for vacations. We decided that we would try it this summer to see how the kids do. So, on Friday and Saturday we will be driving from here to Denver. Then, we will go on to Montana, and finally after about three weeks total, we will head back home. 2 small kids, 7 states, 3,000 miles. What should we do with all that time in the car?

I have been gathering ideas and laying plans for a while now to prevent all of us from deteriorating into family vacation beasties. We have the portable DVD player, but I want to limit the time my kids are watching movies. Instead of a non-stop movie fest, we have specific times they can watch (after lunch, for example), with a time-boxed length; also, I think we might use the movies as incentives for good behavior.

I ordered in about 10 audio books from the library, so we'll try a lot of new ones out. By the way, I just found out that Stockard Channing (of Grease and West Wing fame) has narrated all the Beverly Clearly Ramona books.

A friend suggest collecting items from the dollar store--things that we can throw out at the end of the trip. We can wrap them and dole them out every 100 miles or so. I think that the glow sticks will be a big hit as it starts to get dark. Garage sales have also proved to be good sources of cheap trinkets.

In order to preempt sibling squabbles, I am going to pack two backpacks with identical goods. The backpacks will be strapped to the front seats in our mini-vans, just in front of the kids for easy access. I haven't decided exactly what to put in them, aside from crayons, coloring supplies, and their travel notebooks.

The travel notebooks was another idea from a mom with lots of road miles under the family belt. I found some great websites with state information. Each kid gets coloring pages with the flag, bird, and flower for each state we will be driving through. (It turns out that the western meadowlark is a common state bird--4 of 7 of the states we are driving through chose it to represent their state. Who knew?) My older child gets a state map for each state, where she can write and draw about what she sees. They will also get to collect postcards from each state to put in their binders. We'll have a way of keeping track of license plates that we see, put some travel stickers in there, and also include a map of the full US to draw out our route as we go. Finally, we'll bring along Our 50 States by Lynne Cheney, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (who also illustrated some of our favorites--Fancy Nancy and You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Musuem) that will give us some interesting state specific information and pictures.

Even with these plans, I wonder what other tricks we can have up our sleeves. So, with only a couple of days left before we depart, I am wondering what you have done to make it through long road trips. Ideas, anyone??

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Grumpiest Baby on the Block

T is a very sweet 15 month old boy. I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom and obviously biased. He is just a very laid back baby, shy and cautious sometimes, but also friendly and just all-around pleasant. I am lucky. He's a very good boy. BUT (why does there always have to be a but!), there is one time of day where my sweet boy turns into some child I don't know.....

Waking up from naptime. UGH! This time of the day he is the grumpiest grouch I know. There is no end to the crying. At it's worst it takes him up to an hour to get over his moodiness. He denies all help. No he doesn't want milk. No he doesn't want his favorite stuffed dog. No he doesn't want to be held. Yes, he does want to be held.... wait, no he doesn't. He can't seem to make up his mind about anything. Most days I just make up his mind for him and put him back to bed. But does he fall back asleep? Occasionally yes, but usually no. I let him cry it out for 10-15 minutes (maybe that's not long enough??). I feel like I have tried everything. Comforting him. Ignoring him. Feeding him. Putting him back down. Cuddling him. Letting him watch Sesame Street (this oftentimes works). But it is driving me a little nuts. I'm starting to dread this time of day, and I don't want to. It makes me a very impatient mama and I don't like feeling like that.

Once I read that babies should generally wake up happy. If a baby wakes up crying it is because he didn't get enough sleep (according to this expert). Perhaps that is the case with T, but he usually doesn't fall back asleep when I put him back in bed. Maybe I've tried so many different things to try to un-grump him that he is totally thrown off? Maybe there is no way to un-grump him? I mean, I know how he feels... I wish I could cry and flail myself about when T wakes up at 6:30am! So I'm wondering if any of you moms out there have any tricks up your sleeve for dealing with a grumpy toddler? Maybe something I haven't thought of yet? I don't know, maybe there is no answer besides he's just a grouchy waker-upper. I don't expect T to be all cheery when he wakes up from his nap, but the grumpiness is getting a little out of hand (and a little dramatic). What would you do if you were always meeting up with a grouch after naptime?
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Monday, June 11, 2007

Yoga with Olive

It has been YEARS since I did yoga regularly. Since I have recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and I personally blame it on stress, I decided to try to do some yoga again. (I am also trying to eat LESS ice cream and full-fat dairy products, more orange juice, and multi-grain delicacies...)

I pulled out my 22-minute Rodney Yee Power Yoga tape, and put it in my daughter's VCR, b/c it is the only one in the house, and proceeded to do yoga in her bedroom.

She stood next to me in Mountain Pose, hands in Namaste pose, wearing her tinkerbell dress up. She did pretty well following, hands up, down, forward bend, plank, cobra, dog pose.

As I continued to do variations of the Salute to the Sun Series, Olive ran back and forth underneath me while in dog pose, ran around me in circles during lunges, tried to OPEN my legs so that she could go through, during mountain pose, and then tried some poses herself.

I could hear her exhaling every once in awhile, when she heard me do it. During the pigeon lunge, she popped a squat on my back leg, making it most difficult for me to return to downward dog. I didn't mind all of this, I actually found it to be funny. The problem is that it is difficult to do yoga while giggling.

About halfway through she started demanding PEACHES in her soft and delicate (sarcasm) way: PEACHES! PEACHES! PEACHES!

I told her I would get her some when my yoga was over.

Next came: NO DANCE. STOP IT. NO DANCE, as she tried to get me to stop yoga-ing. While I did my sitting forward bends, she climbed on my back, which actually was ok too, because it deepened the stretch.

I just found the whole thing to be quite hilarious as I tried to connect with the earth, find a calm and happy place, and Olive was running around as the anti-yoga-tinkerbell-ite. NO DANCE!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Introducing Children to Poetry

It seems most children's first taste of poetry comes in the form of a Dr. Seuss book. There is certainly something about the rhythm, rhyme and silly made up words that make his stories/poetry wildly entertaining for children and adults alike. I, for one, can't get enough of Green Eggs and Ham.

The next poetry book my daughter picked up was my old copy of Shel Silverstein's book, Where the Sidewalk Ends, I was more than happy to read aloud from this favorite book of my own childhood. It soon became Princess' absolute favorite book on the shelf as well(closely followed by A <Light in the Attic and Falling Up). It was almost like she had found a new treasure. Now I don't claim to be a poetry connoisseur and I have no idea what the smart english professor types think about Shel and his poetry, but again the rhyme and mostly the silliness drew my daughter in. I remember feeling the same way as a child. I loved those poems. I spent many hours memorizing and loved to recite one at any moment.

The Flower Show
If I had wheels instead of feet
And roses 'stead of eyes,
Then I would drive to the flower show
And maybe win a prize.

-Shel Silverstein

(yeah, I was pretty much a nerd and I guess I still am).

I was introduced to my next favorite children's poet by a good friend of mine at my first baby shower. She gave me three Douglas Florian books. He writes fun poetry for kids and his accompanying illustrations (like Silverstein) are great as well. The poetry and illustration combination are great for keeping the attention of a younger crowd.

Now, every trip to the library, we try to pick up a new poetry book. We've done some Jack Prelutsky, more Douglas Florian, a few unmemorable compilations, and now we have The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh.

I am always looking for new recommendations. Anyone out there have any for the pre-k crowd? Preferably something that will catch her attention, fill her imagination, and help her learn to love poetry? And preferably something that will not make me want to slit my wrists if I have to read it like 300 times in one week.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Naughty Naughty

Ever heard of The Secret?

I have only read a little bit of the book, since I am completely focused on the Harry Potter Challenge...which by the way I will probably never blog about again, b/c it's too hard to blog and re-read ALL the books before the new one comes out.

Anyway, I will probably finish reading The Secret when it's all over. I have watched a lot of Oprah about it though.

So briefly, The Secret is the law of attraction...what you put out in the universe will come back to you tenfold etc. So if you put negativity out....that's what you get back...positivity out...that's what you get back etc.

I feel like I have actually lived by this secret for much of my life, just never called it THE SECRET or the LAW OF ATTRACTION. It is nice to revisit it though and really focus on positivity. I am especially doing this with my career.

Ok, so here's my issue.

I have a two year old.
She is naughty. As my mom put it the other day: SHE IS ALWAYS IN TROUBLE.

This is all true....and I find myself saying in my mind: what a naughty naughty little girl...she is always in trouble.

The laws of attraction would say that I am perpetuating the naughty cycle...but I am having a very difficult time changing my thoughts about her.

Another phrase comes to mind: TERRIBLE TWOS. She is one of them.

She is also hilarious and smart and curious, which is why she is naughty....and I try to flip my thoughts and focus on that, but it is really difficult when she is throwing apples at Panera Bread, Teddy Grahams in Sacrament Meetings, ripping chunks of pages out of my beautiful coffee table book about Composers (which is NOT on a coffee table, but put away on a bookshelf so that little hands don't rip it), tantrumming about anything, but in particular being strapped in the grocery cart, which causes a woman in the produce aisle to pantomime a hugging motion and telling me she needs "JUST A LITTLE HUG" (are you kidding me?), runs AWAY from me on busy city streets, and poops all over the shower, after pooping a lot in the toilet right before...there was more? what?

She disobeys all the time, and I have recently resorted to giving her a little pinch on the arm after counting down from 5, to let her know that not coming when she is told, and after the count down, will result in some discomfort. It STILL does not stop her.

I am starting to believe that no amount of positive THOUGHT/ACTION about her will help. Dr. Phil's book FAMILY FIRST is the only one on discipline I have read...anyone have a suggestion? PLEASE.
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Monday, June 04, 2007

Today I Gave Myself A Break

Today I baked four loaves of banana bread, retired my oven until fall and officially declared this summer the 'Summer O' Trader Joes' prepared meals.

Today I put down my lesson plans and declared that I've been teaching long enough to wing the rest. Instead, the boys and I went swimming.

Today I threw my tools and paint brushes into a closet and decided that my kitchen cabinets could wait to be painted until next fall when Noe is back in preschool and there is less fun to be had. And if our summer guests think our new home sucks rocks, well, then they can stay somewhere else the next time they are in DC!

Today I took my bike instead of my hot, fumey car to run morning errands. Errands Done + Exercise Done = No Guilt!

Tonight (after the boys are in bed and I finish this post) I am going to turn off my email, turn off my phone, turn off the television, and read a good book in my round chair next to an open window before the summer evening breeze is a distant June memory.
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