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.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


So...multi-tasking has reached a whole new level.

The following are activities that I have done whilst pooping:

1. Prayed that no one saw me in the squat...while camping of course.

2. Prayed that no animal would come and attack me while my behind was exposed...while camping

3. Talked on the phone, more specifically, called Tftcarrie to get her to come upstairs and get the kid while I dealt with a little (a lot) of lovely food poisoning...damn you Taco Bell!

4. Read my scriptures.

5. Filed my nails

6. Done my makeup....hey sometimes it's just taking TOO LONG.

7. Blow-dryed my hair....no, it won't fall in the water....no room between the mommy thighs.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On Being Burglarized

Having your home broken into sucks. Big time. Recovering from the shock of the "valuables" that were taken (we really don't have that much of value) has been relatively easy. Recovering from the emotional trauma of our home and privacy being invaded has been another matter altogether.

I have never been overly paranoid or a suspicious person. I have actually worked really hard to have a healthy and positive view of the world that I live in. But now, that is all shattered to pieces. I find myself laying in bed at night scared that someone will come into the house to take all the things they left behind. I don't recognize the girl that is setting up booby traps around the house and hiding my new computer in the hamper before leaving the house. I find myself looking at all the people in my neighborhood as possible suspects. I hate it. I have always loved my neighborhood, but now I am so relieved to be moving in two weeks. I am so angry to be leaving on this sour note. I am so angry at the people who did this to me. And while I know it wasn't a personal attack, it still feels nothing but personal.

How do I pick up the pieces? How do I regain my feeling of safety? I don't want this to affect the way I live, act and view the world. How can I make it happen?

The one thing that I have tried to do so far is count my blessings. It could have been so much worse. You don't have to read through the long list, but any advice you have for me as I work through the emotional trauma would be appreciated. Oh, and any advice to help our once partialy neurotic, but now completely neurotic dog get over her trauma of getting maced in her own backyard would also help.

Note: The person or persons that were in my home will from now on be referred to as punks (doesn't seem quite so scary as burglars). And if the punks are reading this right now because you clicked on the bookmark labeled "Tales" on my computer---YOU SUCK. And don't bother coming back for my new laptop because I will no longer be hiding it in the hamper.

-I am thankful the punks were not still in my house when I returned home.
-I am thankful I did not get the kids out of the car before going into the house so they didn't see how the punks had trashed it.
-I am thankful for my sweet neighbor who called the police and scooped up my children for the entire afternoon so they missed the police car at our house and mom completely losing it.
-i am thankful for my sister and who drove to my house on a moments notice and picked up my girls. And for my brother-in-law and niece who helped my sister give them a safe and fun place to stay for the night while DH and I were able to clean up and I was able to break down a few more times.
-i am thankful that my daughters don't seem to be suffering any ill effects from the event. The oldest knows someone came into the house and took things that did not belong to them but between the sweet talk that I know my sister had with her about why someone would take something that didn't belong to them and the duck feeding, horseback riding and guinea pig adventures she took them on, I think Princess will think of this past weekend as a happy time.
-I am thankful the punks sprayed my dog with mace instead of oven cleaner (I heard that sometime punks will spray dogs with oven cleaner which kills them). Although if they had just bent down and petted her, she would have happily opened the back door for them if she could.
-I am thankful the punks didn't take my video camera which still had the girl's birthday video inside of it because those are the things that are hard to replace.
-I am thankful the punks didn't take my backup hard drive because I was able to replace everything on my computer up until a month and a half ago (including all my photos). It could have been so much worse.
-I am thankful that while the punks trashed the place, they didn't destroy the place. Nothing was broken or vandalized - just dumped, and sifted through.
-I am thankful for our friends who were overly generous in offering us their car for the next two weeks (as our spare keys were also taken) so our cars will be safe until we move.
-I am thankful to all those people in our neighborhood who have stopped by expressing their concern and shock. Their kind words have helped to start building back something that was lost.
-I am thankful that my husband knew that immediately getting a new computer would help ease the pain. He was right - it has taken away some of the initial sting :).
-i am thankful for all the caring phonecalls from my friends offering sympathy, invitations to stay in their homes and offers to fly down to help me clean up (and to give me hugs).
-I am thankful that things are just things and we are so blessed to have all that we have.
-I am thankful we are all safe, healthy, and for the most part, happy.
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Crib Notes: Effects of Sign Language on Hearing Children's Language Development

Recently, we started pushing sign language with our 4-year old who continues to struggle with language. Noe's therapists and I have been doing a lot of research to facilitate this transition into his therapy and at home (we had previously been doing a picture exchange program to teach Noe language). I am AMAZED by some of the research out there. It is fairly common knowledge these days that teaching babies signs will help facilitate their language development. The thing that impressed me was how it continues to positively affect children's language skills throughout childhood.

With our typically developing 2-year old, I considered teaching him sign language but decided against it because DH is teaching him Spanish. I was afraid that two languages plus sign would be too confusing. After reading the study below, I am rethinking my decision. Have any of you taught sign to your hearing children? If so, what has your experience been?

I thought I would share a few notes on this study:

Effect of Sign Language on Hearing Children’s Language Development (Daniels, 1994 and follow-up study 1996)

This study compared the vocabulary of typically developing, hearing, preschool students who received simultaneous instruction in American Sign Language (ASL) and English to students who received instruction only in English. Participants were 60 students, equally divided into four classes who remained in the school program for the entire academic year. Two classes received ASL and English instruction, and two classes were taught only in English. All participants were African American, from the same neighborhood with the same socioeconomic status and parental income. Before treatment, all students received similar scores on kindergarten placement measures.

For the classes that used sign language concurrently with spoken English, there was a dramatic increase in the students’ vocabulary. This increase in vocabulary may be attributed to the additional visual, kinesthetic modality used when signing. Additionally, they had better recognition of letters and sounds. A message received both with the eyes (signing) and the ears (spoken English) uses a combination of visual, kinesic, aural, and physical modes, creating “the probability of a multiple imprint on the learner’s memory…[and providing a] more natural code than English for language acquisition in children” (Daniels, 1994, p. 296). Other teachers who used sign in the program believe that it increases children’s focus, concentration, attention, while encouraging them to become active participants in learning.

Additionally, the gains in receptive English vocabulary that the children achieved in the preschool year continued throughout the following kindergarten year. Results found that the benefits attained from receiving both sign language and verbal English instruction simultaneously were maintained one year later.

The author provides various explanations for this continued vocabulary growth, even though sign language was no longer utilized in the classroom. Sign language indirectly increases eye contact and attending to the speaker. In order to obtain the entire message, the child is conditioned to look and focus on the communicator so he can see the signs while listening to the spoken language.

Teachers involved in the program reported that, since children can feel the language with signs, the additional sensory input allows them to become more active learners of language. This engagement also stimulates the ability to learn from play, since play is correlated with cognition, social growth, and language capability.

Other Research About Sign Language Has Found:

*Teaching signs and speech simultaneously leads to improved communication for children with autism (Konstantantareas, 1984), Down syndrome (Weller & Mahoney, 1983), and other developmental disabilities (Brady & Smouse, 1978; Musselwhite, 1986).
*Learning languages in 2 different modalities (i.e. aural and visual-spatial) enhances semantic development (Prinz & Prinz, 1981).
*When young children learn ASL and spoken English concurrently, the results are earlier language acquisition and accelerated language development, in comparison to children learning only spoken English (Holmes & Holmes, 1980; Griffith, 1985; Goodwyn & Acredolo, 2000).
*Sign language, in combination with drama activities, results in significantly higher expressive and receptive language measures for preschoolers than those taught a standard curriculum (Brown, 1990).

*Sign language consisting of adverbs and adjectives taught to kindergarteners to enhances appropriate use of these descriptive words (DeViveiros & McLaughlin, 1982).
*Sign language instruction to first and second graders provided greater retention of vocabulary words than with only spoken English (Wilson & Hoyer, 1985)

More Helpful Resources for Parents:

Briant, M.Z. (2004). Baby sign language basics. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.
Garcia, J. (1999). Sign with Your Baby: How to Communicate with Infants Before They Can
Speak. Seattle: Northlight Communications.
Ryan, D. (2006). Complete Idiot’s Guide Baby Sign Language. NY: Penguin Group.
Sign language dictionary with animated signs:
Free resource for students, teachers, and parents: www.lifeprint.com

What are Crib Notes?

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Becoming Mom

FMH has a great string of posts up on their blog with this theme: HOW I BECAME A MOTHER. Mine was posted today...what an honor. Check it out.
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Friday, August 24, 2007

No Returns, Refunds or Exchanges

This week we celebrated both of our daughters' birthdays. They were born 3 years and one day apart. As we partied as a family and then looked through baby pictures of each of them, it was nice to reminisce about their lives. And while their time here on earth has only been short so far, their presence has obviously had a big impact on our lives.

I have specifically spent a lot of time thinking about Pumpkin (now age 2). When Princess (age 5) was born, I loved her the moment I held her in my arms. We bonded immediately. I remember sitting in the rocking chair on countless occasions, just staring at that little baby body and feeling overwhelmed at the love I felt. With Pumpkin, this was totally not the case.

When Pumpkin was born and they put her in my arms I didn't feel anything (except for relief that she was out of my body). All I saw was a "cute" newborn baby (which dh describes as looking like a baby alien). Her red hair fuzz was curious and I remember how terrible she looked in the orange striped outfit I had brought to take her home in. I figured once we got settled in at home, the bonding would begin, but her routine of high decibel screaming for a large part of the day and pretty much all night didn't help make that happen. She never seemed happy. Add a case of jaundice which turned her skin orange and the whites of her eyes yellow and there was not much about this little baby to love. I know it sounds pretty shallow to connect love to how a baby looks or acts, but it's honestly how I felt at the time. I was grasping at straws. I remember feeling so desperate to find something, anything to love about this baby.

I remember rocking her screaming little body one night. My responsible parent side of the brain was having a hard time warding off the crazy, desperate, sleep-deprived person side of the brain. I could feel myself losing it. I wanted to give the baby back. I was actually trying to figure out a way to arrange it. And then I heard a little voice say "Mom, this isn't who I really am. I'm just stuck in this little baby body right now and I hate it. Don't worry, someday you're going to love me."

After that, there were still months of sleepless nights, breastfeeding trials, and earplugs to dampen the screams, but I just kept reminding myself of those words, "Mom, this isn't who I really am". We starting bonding in those moments when instead of harboring resentment during her long periods of screaming, I found understanding in the struggle she was going through being a newborn baby. We connected as I searched deep into her dark brown eyes hoping to catch a glimpse of the unique spirit I had brought into the world.

At about 8 months, I remember starting to see the glimmer of a child that I knew she was. She started sleeping, she didn't cry as much and she was actually pleasant to be around.

Now 2 years after her birth, we have finally met the real Pumpkin. And her real self couldn't be further from that inconsolable, orange, little alien baby. Most people who meet Pumpkin now describe her as having a huge personality stuffed into a tiny little body. I would have to agree. She is full of life and brings an unmatchable amount of joy and laughter to our entire home. Sometimes I feel like she's trying to make up for those first terrible months by making me smile 100 times for each time she made me break down into tears. This is who she really is and she was right, I do love her. In fact, I look at her now and am completely overwhelmed at the love that I feel for that little child. I guess we'll keep her.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

I remember when I was a kid, (I gave birth at 22, so before that, believe me, I was a kid), seeing photos of women breastfeeding and feeling extremely uncomfortable.

I can't explain why...just the image of that woman, her breasts and another human attached was a little freaky.

My mom breastfed my younger bro and sis (9 and 11 years younger than me), but I don't remember it so much. I am guessing she didn't do it for very long, what with 4 kids to take care of, and an older daughter (me) who could definitely handle administering a bottle. I remember the bottles for sure.

I had never really thought about it in the context of ME breastfeeding until I was pregnant. A lot of things about the pregnancy experience surprised me, the first of which was my desire to have a midwife and attempt the natural birth. As a child, all I knew or ever imagined was epidural and c-section. As I began researching childbirth, I was fascinated by the prospect of a natural delivery, so I went for it.

Breastfeeding was another surprise...once that little girl popped out, my boobs were all hers. I had no qualms, there was nothing gross, the latching on went beautifully and the rest is history. After she was weaned and the milk was gone, I sort of found breastfeeding to be gross again. I think there must be a hormone that is released in your mind when you produce milk, that and context made breastfeeding totally ok with me. Poopy came along and it was all roses again and breastfeeding was just part of the routine. We even became those women in the book with those boobs and that baby...and those are really meaningful keepsakes for me.

I actually loved breastfeeding the most for it's convenience. There is nothing like the ease of lifting up your shirt in the middle of the night and sleeping through a feeding. I loved not having to microwave my boobs...they were just READY to go. Even pumping (once I had a double electric) was a piece of cake...and oh so science experimeny-interesting.

I never got sick...just a little thrush with Poopy, and by the time it came we were about done, so we just ended our time together right then and there. Thrush be gone!

And btw, it's good for the baby and has a history of preventing all sorts of bad-for-you-stuff and builds immunity and yada yada yada...so....for those of you breastfeeding your babes right now...happy National Breastfeeding Awareness Month...I hope you are doing a lot of breastfeeding in public to spread the word...and those of you done or who chose not to....that's cool...just wanted to open up a discussion as a shout out to breastfeeding here:
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A Summer Swim Party: No Pool Required

Note: I figured it was too late to post this at the end of last summer. Now this summer, time has slipped away again, but I am going to post it anyway. Maybe our friends "down under" will find it useful with their impending summer. And I guess it'll be in the archives in time for next year!

At the end of last summer, Princess had her first ever "friend" party for her 4th birthday. Even though the party wasn't quite the "Little Mermaid Pool Party" she originally requested, I think she was more than thrilled with the co-ed, non-Disney, non-pool, "Under the Sea"party we ended up with. If you have a birthday party still to plan for this summer, this one was easy, super-fun, and did not include a bounce house rental so check it out.

Details: Held on a Saturday morning/afternoon. Kids were told to wear a swimsuit and bring a towel. We encouraged "drop offs" in the invite. It seems here, parents are expected to stick around at parties (probably because most of the parties I have been to include 20+ kids). We only had 6 and 3 adults, so I figured we could handle it. And I didn't want to have to feed and entertain all those parents too. In lieu of gifts, we requested guests bring new or gently used books that Princess could donate to the local family shelter (which BTW, was a great experience for her--the woman who took the donation was so incredibly nice and even sent her a nice thank you card in the mail a week later). And between the gifts from Grandma, Grandpa, mom, dad, and old NY friends, she didn't miss the extra presents at all.


We provided "highly nutritious" lunch and snacks.

Activities:Goody Bags:
  • beach balls
  • small buckets and shovels (also used in the treasure hunt)
  • sunglasses from the dollar store.
  • visors
  • treasures from the hunt
  • NO CANDY - I figured I was already sending the kids home on a total sugar high, the parents didn't need more sugar to dole out to them.
It was a really fun and easy party. The kids entertained themselves for the majority of the time in the sprinklers and on the slip 'n' slide. They also spent a lot of time re-hiding their treasures in the sandbox after that activity was over.

Good luck with your party!
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From the Tales Inbox: What is Your Opinion on Allowance?

I have a recently turned four year old. We were at the store a couple of weeks ago getting a gift for a friend's birthday and she asked me if she could get a toy. I asked her if she had any money, and she said no, so I told her she couldn't get a toy (this is our usual conversation when we walk down the toy aisle at any store). But then she said something that kind of surprised me.

She asked me if she could "earn money like Daddy does at work". It surprised me--in a good way that is. I was glad that she understood that she needed to do something to get something and that it wasn't just expected that she would get a toy every time we went somewhere.

So my question I would like to ask everyone is--what is your opinion on allowance?

I definitely think children need an allowance. It teaches them to save, pay tithing, and I think it gives them a sense of pride that they were able to buy it on their own. What I'm not so sure about is if I feel allowance should be tied to chores, or if it should be something they are just given. I do believe in chores. Don't get me wrong. But I kind of feel that chores should be done regardless of money given, because our children are a part of our family and should be expected to help out.

And, what do you think is a good amount? I don't want to make it so impossible to earn enough money to buy that $5.00 toy that they bore with the whole idea of saving.

And then there is always the problem of, what do you do if they don't do their chores, or behave properly or such? Should you take their allowance away? Or should you take some other kind of privilege away?

It's always nice to get other peoples opinions, so any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.

-Amber :o)
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Where's my creative self?

Before I had my second baby I think I was a pretty creative girl. I loved leaving secret notes, making cute gifts, creating things on the sewing machine, making crafty cards, and the like. But it hit me (and I think has been sneaking up on me now and then) that I just don't do it like I used to. And it makes me sad. I think of the adorable homemade Christmas gifts my mom had made her many children and I want to do that. I think of the lovey things I used to do for my dh and I want to do those things again.

There are reasons. I haven't been conveniently located near a JoAnn's or Michaels in over 3 years. Even when I do get to a craft/fabric store I stress about buying stuff just because of the dreaded possibility of needing to return it or go back for one forgotten item. (It'd be that lovely hour drive up and hour back all over again.)

Also, it seems like when you're a Mom your brain is spread so thin, your patience ever tested, your creativity spent on thinking of SOMETHING else for dinner besides grilled cheese. And praying the kids will eat it. So, is there just not as much time or energy or space for that creativity to flow.

And little kids. They're always around. And when they're not, once the dishes are done and the house put-together and lessons planned and yadda yadda yadda...I usually feel like sleeping...or something.

And there's always money. I don't think I'm super tight, but I tend to worry about costs to where it can spoil the fun of creating a fun gift or project. I can annoy myself.

I suppose I'm looking for a few things to talk about. First, do any of you feel the same? How do you keep your creative self alive? Do I have to wait for my kids to be in school? (Please don't say yes.) Do I have to do The Artist's Way program...I don't think I'm that much of an artist. Am I just being a wimp and need a good kick in the pants?

And can we talk about gifts? What do you get men? I've never been good at coming up with creative OR generic guy-gifts. You may think this off-topic, but my creative hole was noticed as our anniversary came and went and I hardly had thought about it, when I know years ago I would have given it a lot more attention. It was pathetic and I felt/feel horrible. Something's got to change.

....a few days later....

So, I wrote this draft and it's been about a week. In the meantime, I cut off my son's jeans to sew them into shorts. While I was in the basement I pulled out the sewing stuff, fabric, and craft boxes. My daughter and I sewed cute jean purses from the bottom of my son's pant legs. We sewed on eyelet trim and sparkly buttons for fun--it was fantastic. I think I have some advice for myself already: Keep sewing machine and fabric out (tricky with kids, but let's find a way!) and look through fabric and supplies now and then. I have plenty of things on hand to get me started.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Memories of the NYC Blackout, 2003

This week is the fourth anniversary of the 2003 Blackout in NYC. Just about everyone living in the city at that time can tell you "Where they were..." when the city went dark.

Here are some of my own memories of that day. I remember:

* ...eating at a deli in Astoria with DH and Noe (then 8 months old). Half-way through our meal the lights went out. Not a big deal in Queens during the summer time when the high use of AC units create frequent power surges. We ate and waited for the lights to come back on so we could pay our tab and leave.

*...we had no cash to pay for our food and, of course, any electronic payment option was out. The cafe owner made us wait for the electricity to come back on. The restaurant was on a corner and its floor to ceiling windows which made it heat up very quickly. DH had to leave for work. He is a journalist and his news instincts told him to get to his newsroom. I finally told the owner we had to leave but would return later with cash for our food. He seemed much more concerned about his rapidly rotting produce than our bill.

*...the initial feeling of panic and chaos on the streets before a terrorist attack was ruled out. I felt like I had a very tiny glimpse of 9/11 during that small space of time.

*...having to cross Northern Blvd. in order to return home. Let's just say it was something akin to playing a game of real-life Frogger with Noe in a stroller. Just when I was ready to give up crossing that street and find a friend's house to seek refuge, a burly dude on a motorcycle came to my aid and gave me a personal escort across six very aggressive and angry lanes of traffic. Safe on the other side, I turned around to thank him....but he was no longer in sight.

*...my super (also a member of our ward) running water hoses from our apartment building out to the sidewalks so that thirsty commuters could get cold water and avoid the sudden run-up of prices on bottled drinks in the neighborhood (gotta love those bodega owners). During the Blackout, the entire subway system was frozen There was a literal flood of people walking across the Queensboro Bridge into Queens from Midtown in order to get home that night.

*...hanging out on the stoop of our apartment building talking with our neighbors late into that night. It was too hot and too dark to go inside.

*...giving Noe a mini flashlight so he wouldn't be scared of the dark. It mostly ended up in his mouth.

*...barely sleeping that night, not sure when DH would be home and if he was safe in the city. Thankfully, the city stayed peaceful, but DH worked in the newsroom all night and walked home the next morning.

*...our elderly, very Irish Catholic next door neighbor knocking on my door early the next morning asking if she could buy Noe more formula.

Mostly, what I remember about the Blackout of 2003 was finally feeling a sense of security and community in my Queens neighborhood, a feeling that I had lacked since moving from Portland the previous year. That day I went from "tolerating" this city to truly embracing it.

What are YOUR memories of the Blackout of 2003?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

To Pierce...or NOT to pierce...that is the question.

I think there is actually only one of us on here who already has children with pierced ears...which begs the question: WHEN?

When I was growing up, I was told that I could get my ears pierced at age 12. This was an excruciating announcement because I was the girliest of girlie girls, and I wanted to wear earrings so very much.

I would look longingly on my friends with their hoops, diamonds, crazy 80's earrings, and just WISH I could have them too. I don't remember exactly how I did it, but I got my mom to shave off 2 years, and I got them done when I was 10. In fact, I think my mom actually surprised me...blindfolded me and took me to Merle Norman. Mom...are you out there? Is that what happened?

This approach was actually really great, because I HAD to just get brave all of a sudden, and I didn't have time to think about it.

Here in Queens, more than once the well-meaning passerby has said with a bit of shock in their voice: "Their ears are not pierced?" about my girls. (Frankly, they might even say it about a boy as well....)

Oh, ummm, well no. Why? Well, this topic is not of huge importance to me as far as really thinking it through and knowing what I am going to do before I am faced with it, unlike say, drug-use, abstaining from sex until marriage or whether or not I will play strip poker....all of those things I had decided, when approached, I will say NO. This whole ear piercing thing I hadn't even considered. So, if I WERE to care a ton, and WERE to answer that question I guess it would be:

1. I don't want to cause my baby unnecessary pain (however brief).
2. Why not let HER decide if she wants holes in her ears for the rest of her life?
3. I don't want to maintain little itty bitty baby earrings.

Before the Prophet announced that we should all take out our double-pierces, my mom and I got them done when we are on a trip, just the two of us. We came home, and my Dad didn't notice for several hours, until we finally showed him. He couldn't even speak. He was so upset. We had to take them out the night we got back. Now of course, I am glad, because I don't have to deal with my emotions and empty holes in my ears, in connection with trying to follow the prophet.

Anyway, my daughter, Pukey, who is 5, brought up to me yesterday that she is READY to get her ears pierced. We spoke about it for a while, and then I decided today that I would do a little research. I found some great videos to show her, even one that stars one of her Disney Channel idols, Ashley Tisdale, getting her ears pierced.

After watching these three videos, she said to me: "Well, maybe when I'm 8."

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why I love Julia Child

There is much more to her than cooking and a funny voice.

I knew nothing of Julia Child while I was growing up. In fact I only learned about her about a year ago. I grew up in a tiny town in Alberta (less then 3,000), my family did not have cable and our parents were not interested in social ions let alone French cuisine. When I was 26 years old I watched a PBS documentary about Julia Child's life. I found her story so amazing an inspiring.

She was born in 1912 and was raised by a wealthy family in New England. She was a grand 6'2" tall and became a writer after she finished school.

She was still single at age 29 when Pearl Harbor was hit. This event inspired her to leave her family and the comfortable life, to join the Navy. Surprisingly she was rejected by the navy for being too tall, so she joined the OSS (Officers of Strategy Services)which she stayed with for years. Ultimately the OSS took her to Sri Lanka, where she met her husband. They didn't get along at first since they were both strong minded, but this similarity/obstacle was no match to their intense connection.

They were married when Julia was 34 years old. They honeymooned and lived the first few years in France. Here her life really took a turn. She fell deeply in love with French cooking.

She started at home trying to learn. She failed and failed over and over (burnt things, things exploded!). She joined a cooking school where her teachers didn't have much hope for her. Through her curiosity and determination she finally started succeeding.

While at her school she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, two French women who were writing a french cook book for Americans. She joined their team. They perfected their recipes so that any American person would be able to cook French cuisine. Their book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, ended up being 734 pages long, and rejected twice by the first publisher they went to.

The second publisher took the gamble on the new idea, and came out on top. Mastering the Art of French Cooking became a best seller, and received critical acclaim. The book is still in print today.

Julia went on to create her TV show, where she was the first to utilize a new idea: she had each recipe prepared in advance at the different stages, so there was no need to wait for things to rise or bake, or fry. Also this was a wise choice because Julia still made mistakes. Which is what I LOVE. After over coming so many obstacles and achieving so many dreams she was still Julia. A life loving, honest, approachable person who has a passion that she wants to share with any one!!! I am not a fancy cook, or a fan of French cuisine, but I am a fan of people (especially women) who dare to keep going against obstacles and set backs. Don't get discouraged when things get difficult or seem impossible!!! You can do it!!

watch a portion of the documentary.
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

On being Mormony

For the first time I did a job called Showroom Modeling. In NYC all of the labels have rooms with racks of their clothes, and buyers come in and put in their orders for whatever store they represent. Part of the selling from brand to vendor involves seeing, touching, proven percentage increase in sales, and having the product modeled live.

Being a model for this type of work has a lot of down time, and can sometimes be tedious, because of putting clothes on and taking them off, over and over and over again. Right about now Carrie is thinking about emailing me and telling me to go write on my own blog already...but if she keeps reading she will know why I am posting here.

This ONE particular day I was in a meeting where this brand (who will remain nameless) was meeting with a division for a department store in the Northwest. I think they were in Seattle, but also had doors in Utah. From what I could figure out in the minimal time I was in the room, Door is a term used in the industry to represent a store unit or something...

Let me back up for a second. Of ALL the gajillion outfits that I modeled, there was only one that I was slightly interested in, or could see myself in. It was a navy blue cargo dress with 3/4 length sleeves, and a tie bow sash. It seemed to be landing just slightly above the knee. It was really cute...a nice transition piece for Spring and Fall months. I could picture it with thick tights and boots or a cute platform sandal.

Anyway, for this meeting, and this particular model coupling, I was wearing some shorts and a white blouse, and the model with me was wearing the cargo dress. The vendor said to the buyer, something like: "Isn't this a marvelous cargo dress?" And the buyer immediately dismissed it and said: "Not Mormony enough." I, of course was not expecting that Mormony was going to be any vendor's criteria for whether or not to purchase, but apparently it is, which is nice to know right? Someone out there in the fashion merchandising world has got our backs? Or at least all of ya'll in Utah...

I also, would never have ruled that particular dress out, being a mormon myself and all. Of course my impulse was to say, "Hmmmm, mmmm...as the only mormon in the room, this dress is the only thing on your entire floor that I have ACTUALLY considered buying for the past 4 days working here....", but models are meant to be seen and not heard.
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Too cute

Gals, a friend just asked me for my baby gift ideas, and so I just cut and pasted my email back to her here. I know I have written about this in the past, but the list is a bit longer, more comprehensive, and features some of our bloggers here...so if you need ideas for a fun and unique baby gift...check it out.

Well, I always give this crib blanket from spongy feet...it's my fave baby gift right now.

I also love the gift of books. And if the baby is from a certain city, say Chicago, I would put together these books for a gift:

Dragon of Navy Pier


night before christmas in chicago

you get the idea....

or you could just get all the sandra boynton board books because they are a hit.

The peanut shell is a fun gift, but you have to make sure it is sized correctly...you can always just provide her with the receipt, they have really great return policies.

The warmsie is another gift that friends of mine do for very cold climates....good long johns...

for something TRULY unique, you need to shop etsy.com. Just search baby and you will have TONS to choose from.

This dine n doodle is more for a toddler, but such a great idea, and a cute gift-topper.

crochet hats for the newborn and the new mom gift to match

random onesies


Baby leg warmers would be such a fun gift, something mom might not buy on her own. These are especially good for baby's born with hip displasia who have to wear a brace (getting pretty common these days, 2 of my friends baby's had it last year), then you can put these on to warm their little leggies...

My FAVE baby socks are trumpette...the site is just crazy cute. The new maryjane rainboots? STOP.

I love these hats. And for that one friend who will get it, I love THIS hat for babies.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Improving Your Photoskills: Shooting Candids.

Melissa asked me for few suggestions.

1) Before you leave your house

Go over your equipment.

Is your battery charged? Should you bring an extra?
Do you have enough film?
Is your memory chip empty and ready for new images? Should you bring an extra chip?
Does your lens need a little cleaning?

2) Getting Set Up
When ever I show up to photograph something, it is really important to figure out your camera settings and environment, so that you don't have to think much or worry when it comes to catching a moment. So give yourself a few minutes before you get into action to sort it all out.

Be in the environment that you will be shooting in, and do a few tests (if you are shooting digital). Are you going to use the flash, or can you have the option of no flash?

Here are some other posts I have done about dealing with light:
Outdoors and Indoors.

Walk around the room and get a sense of some of your options (IE is there a stage, children's area, a beautiful arch, etc)

3) How to NOT be noticed
When it comes to shooting candids, i find it difficult. Because when people realize you are there they sometimes stop behaving naturally. If you had access to equipment - use a long lens (a higher number mm like 80mm or above, the higher the better) you can be a distance way, but still get a great close up shot.

You could also have an accomplice who could stand in front and a little to the side of you, to help make you less suspicious.

4) Kids
Sometimes when I photograph kids, they really don't want me to take their picture. So my trick is to stand normally but hold the camera at my waist or knees to get a kids eye view and they won't suspect that I am taking their picture. The draw back is that you can't see what you are doing till after the picture is taken.

Another option is to have a partner who can distract the kids or get reactions out of them. On a professional shoot this is exactly what a baby ranger does, and they are VERY valuable people.

This last sentence can be adapted to adults. Especially if you know the people. Ask someone who doesn't mind, to go hug or talk to the person you wish to photograph. This can help people feel like they "know what to do". I really love this idea to photograph a Grandparent.

One last note
If you are at a big event, like a wedding, remember to be mindful of those people who are highered to record the event (IE. professional photographer, videographer). Introduce yourself and tell them your intent. Let them know that you don't want to be in their way.

Have fun photographing!!

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Disciplining your child: When did you begin?

I have yet to really discipline my child. He is almost 18 months old. By saying that I mean I haven't spanked or used time-out or any other sort of method. I know I have taught him types of discipline since birth (crying himself to sleep sometimes, not having a sippy cup in bed, etc.) but what I'm talking about here is discipline in terms of misbehavior. In the past if he had "misbehaved" I would simply remove him from the situation and say something like, "No T. No biting. Ouch that hurts". I haven't felt the need to discipline T until this morning. Here's what happened.

He was sitting in his high chair and I'm assuming was pretty much done eating his lunch when he began chucking pieces of pasta and peaches across the room. I looked at him and said "No T, we don't throw food. That makes a big mess". He just looked at me straight in the eye and threw even more pasta across the room. I again said no and immediately removed his tray of food. Then he picked up more pasta that had fallen down into the sides of his booster seat and (again looking me straight in the eye) chucked them across the room. He kind of smiled after this, and I suppose he thought maybe this is a fun game. I kept a straight face and again told him no, repeated the reasons why he can't throw food, and took him out of his booster and into the living room. My thought was removing him from the situation. Anyway, he ended up coming back into the kitchen, picked up the food he ALREADY threw on the floor and threw it AGAIN. All the while looking me straight in the eye. A part of me (inside) was giggling, but I knew that I obviously could not laugh at him. I picked up the pasta and we went outside to play.

My question to you is not "what would you have done in this EXACT situation", but more so when did you begin disciplining your children and how? How did you begin disciplining your kids when they were toddlers? Have you read any good books or articles on the subject? Do you go by any "method" (people seem to like SUPERNANNY a lot). I just want to start getting a game plan together, because I know with discipline it is best to be prepared. Any and all input is extremely helpful.
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Friday, August 03, 2007

From the Tales Inbox: Parenting Styles and Friendship

Ladies, I have a friend. We get along fairly well, enjoy the same things and usually laugh together. Generally it's okay. However, I cannot stand her parenting style.

I know that everyone parents their children a little bit differently, but I don't know if I can handle this particular style. Some of the things I've observed:

Her children are constantly yelled at, berated, and punished over trivial things (there are no signs of physical abuse, though). Punishments are a little out of control. Her son sat against my wall for 2 hours because of something he had done 4 hours earlier at home. It is implied that the older children must watch the younger children while she's "talking" with friends. If they don't, they get in trouble. Instead of saying "Son, you shouldn't do that, could you please do this?" it's usually "What the heck were you thinking? You weren't, were you? Go sit on the bench and stay there until I say it's okay to get up." and stuff like that. She talks badly about her children as in "they drive me crazy" but her youngest child is constantly showered with affection.

I know I probably yell at my kids and can be harsh sometimes, but seeing this mother is almost shocking. I'm sure having children really young and a lack of education adds to this behavior, but I can't condone it. Neither do I feel I know her well enough to approach or accuse her. But she is starting to want to hang out with me and my children all the time and I don't know if I can stand to see her children treated this way, or to have my children see them treated that way.

So, here are the questions: Do I cut off the relationship? Do I stay and try to help her out? Help her kids out? Can I limit the friendship in a way that won't offend her? What do I do? Any advice would be appreciated...

Anonymous Mom
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Improving Your Photo Skills: Photographing Outdoors

Dealing with the sun.

It is bright, large and can burn you!

So you are out with your kids and you want to take a photo of your precious ones. It is wise to look at the the sky to know what kind of light the sun is making.

The worst light is when there are no clouds and it is around noon (11am-2pm) . This is when the sun is at it's brightest, which makes us squint and creates dark shadows.

Here are two options:


If it is possible take the kids into any shaded area (ie: under a tree, under a picnic table, in a tent or shaded picnic area). Shade makes light more even- less squinting and the shadows aren't too dark.

Also consider the background. If the background is in direct sunlight it could blow out (which could be cool) or maybe you want to see the environment clearly. It is your call. Keep a look out for little spots of light that may be cutting through the leaves. They may add interest or create distraction. You can create shade by having your subject just turn so their back is to the sun.

Angelic Backlighing
If you dare to experiment, put your child between you and the sun. This may mean you lay or sit on the ground, (since sometimes they aren't tall). Arrange your composition so that your child's head is completely blocking the sun. It will make a angelic halo effect. Usually, early in the morning or later in the evening, is best for this type of picture.

(if your camera has automatic settings it may not allow you to do this one properly.)

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I ride all around NYC with my kids. I think everybody knows that by now.

Yesterday my daughters led me to the very back of the M34 bus where it was less populated. They were sitting on the very back row of the back wall of the bus, and I was sitting on their right side, facing the left window. My girls have a hard time sitting still, especially the little one, so at one point she was sitting in the empty seat to my left.

A few blocks into our ride a woman came and sat in the seat on my left, that my daughter had since vacated to sit by her sister on the back row, just perpendicular to that seat. My 2 year old daughter said: "Hey, that's my chair!" in a quiet voice, and more of a whining to my big sister voice, than a bratty, yelling, disrespectful voice. I mean, she is 27 months old. The woman stopped rummaging in her purse and very deliberately turned her head, glared at her and said, quite loudly and with TONE: "Excuse me?"

Wow. That was so out of left field as far as reactions to my toddler go, that I almost started laughing. I thought maybe it was a joke. So, I said: "She's two." She then turned her glaring evil eyes on me and just STARED me down. I don't know what power she thought she could wield over me, but I took that stare as a clear, nonverbal bit of communication and continued: "Do you know any two year olds?" And keep in mind, my tone was non combative, and quite calm and nice.

Her response (still in the TONE of disgust): "Unfortunately, I live with one." Well, I stifled this word: "TOXIC" and just kept that in my head while I said: "Come on girls," and escorted them to the front of the bus. Wow, that was some heavy, pointed toxic energy pointed RIGHT at my little one. Mama Cougar wasn't going to stand for that...well, let me rephrase that, wasn't going to sit for that...I stood up and got OUT of there....whoa.
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