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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happiness is Working with Brad Pitt

My 2-year old Asher's favorite question these days is, "Baba (aka me), you happy?" Ok, maybe this is more like his third favorite question after, "I silly, Baba?"and "Are we going to play CARS or WHAT?"

The first time Asher asked me if I was happy it really caught me off guard. Such a simple question and such a complicated answer. Asher, if you only knew....

Well, as for the big, important stuff....I couldn't be happier. I love my DH, I love my kids. I couldn't have chosen a better husband for me and father for them. We are eternally sealed together, which also makes me happy. I have great relationships with my mom and all of my siblings. I talk to each of them at least once a week. With a lot of work, I've even developed a good relationship with the in-laws. I am pretty happy with the person I have become, the beliefs I hold dear and most of the decisions I have made along the way.

Most days, I do enjoy staying at home with my kids. I like having control over their earliest influences and just simply having some fun with them everyday. Although I have yet to find the perfect outside work versus home balance, I feel blessed to be able to control how much time away from home I am willing to work during their earliest years.

However, I have little voices in my head going on all day....voices that eat away little by little at this Happiness. Voices that ask me, "Am I doing this whole stay-at-home mom thing well enough? Is having me at home REALLY going to make a difference in the lives of my children...or am I just driving myself insane for no reason?" Or "Why exactly did I spend all of those years pursuing higher education in order to spend half my day scrapping kiddy crud off the kitchen floor?" Or, "Is this (insert playgroup/storytime/playdough/singing "Popcorn Popping" 1,000 consecutive times) supposed to be fun...or am I seriously missing something?" Occasionally, I find myself asking, "Is my life exciting enough?"

One day when the voices were winning, DH called home to tell me what time he would be home and, oh, by the way, Brad Pitt was hanging out at his office and he had just returned from a meeting that he attended. WHAT??? I'm not usually star struck but BRAD PITT!?! What was he doing there? Is he even better looking in person? Was Angelina there too? All of these questions while I was on my hands and knees scrubbing pee from the carpet after another not-so-successful potty training session with Asher. It felt like a low point. Maybe if I hadn't quit my career I would be having lunch with Lisa Lang or Meg Whitman instead of this.

Hardly. That was my conclusion after shutting the door to my room and taking a few deep breaths. If I hadn't quit my career I would probably be working through my lunches, or dining alone at some cheap deli, in order to get home as fast as I could to my kids in order to squeeze a few minutes of quality time before we all self-destructed and drug ourselves to bed. I've seen it over and over, and while some moms can make it work, I know myself well enough to admit my life would be a juggling act where I would be dropping balls right and left.

I also reminded myself that DH's job isn't really all that glamorous unless you dig selfish, overpaid professional athletes or you are fascinated by Watergate. People like Brad Pitt don't walk into his office everyday. In fact, he was there doing research for an upcoming role and my husband's contact with him was very brief. A much different reality than the image I had in my head a few minutes earlier.....my DH shooting the breeze over vodka tonics and cigars Oceans 11 style while a few miles away in a Northern Virginia townhouse I chased around half-naked, snot-nosed boys in my own suburban housewife hell.

Luckily, most days these voices do not win. And, at least according to my apparently very secure husband, Brad Pitt is even hotter in real life.

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Quints and Projectile Vomit

I grew up with a family that moved into my ward when their oldest daughter had already left the nest. I tell you this simply for human connection purposes. She is now the mother of 7 children, 5 of them born just a few months ago.

You HAVE to see this photo that she caught whilst trying to get all five babies to say cheese. They very intelligently copyrighted it...but you can still see it by clicking here.

No wonder Ryder wasn't cooperating...he had a tummy ache after all.
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Monday, October 29, 2007

One Last Halloween Post...

I have seen Wicked on Broadway twice. Most recently was this past summer when I took my in-laws.

(If you are not familiar with Wicked, in a nutshell, it is a musical based on the novel with the same name, about the Wicked Witch of the Wests' side of the Wizard of Oz story.)

I will never forget this lone protester who was standing outside the lobby of the show saying, in a very conversational tone: "Witchcraft is sin." He stood out to me because he seemed so passionless about his apparent conviction. He had no sign, no literature, no booming voice, no entourage...just this one sentence, drifting in the air...

I felt like saying to him: It's a play. It's make-believe. It's not real. There is no witchcraft being practiced here tonight.

It's no secret that I enjoy the Harry Potter Books, and I am also a fan of sci-fi and fantasy literature and programming. I am also a huge fan of Halloween. I do not believe that enjoying these things is a sin or taking a step towards the dark side.

Today my daughter and I were dancing on the sidewalk, shaking a maraca that was painted with a cartoon witch face. A fellow mom approached and kind of inquired at what we were doing and I said: "We are doing a little witchy dance!"

She replied with: "We don't do witches." We then had a short conversation about how her family doesn't "do" Harry Potter or Wicked, and that they like to focus on the lighter side of Halloween. I then made sure it was ok with her that I was dressing up as a witch for a special Halloween Story time for the kindergarten class on Wed., and she was totally fine with it.

So then I was confused because I feel that our family also focuses on the lighter side of Halloween. We do not talk about evil things or try to make REAL magic. We just try to look for the fun in the season. And why would dancing on the sidewalk, shaking a maraca with a witches face painted on it, be considered the dark side?

I totally get her position, but I guess I don't understand where the line is to be drawn in regards to our actions/decorations/costumes, especially when she was ok with my witch costume. I am also a bit on edge now about how I present myself as a witch, because though I wasn't thinking about being evil or spell binding (just totally rocking hot green and purple witch makeup complete with long press-on fingernails), now I feel that if I mention any witchy words: broomstick, brew, cauldron, spells....that she might feel icky about that, and I would never want that. Because, I am just a frustrated actor looking for an outlet, I am not trying to really be a real witch...ya ha ha ha...
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

So Much Candy!

Halloween isn't even here yet, but the partying has already begun. I remembered Katie's post from last year on strategies for dealing with all the candy, and I decided to figure out how to send it in a care package to the troops this year.

Here's are the options I found:
-Send it in a care package to someone your directly know.
-Contact your local Reserve station or Recruiting office to obtain a list of soldiers to send it to.
-Send it to an organization whose primary purpose is packing and sending care packages to troops.

I have decided to go with the third option, and send our candy to Operation Gratitude, based here in CA. The candy will be packaged with all sorts of other good and needed stuff and sent over during the holidays. I'm going to tell my girls the plan (instead of stealing away with their candy in the night) and hopefully they will give of their candy willingly (after taking out their choice of "favorites" of course) and maybe they'll even get excited about collecting their candy on Halloween Night to give to the troops instead of indulging in their own overabundance. Yeah, it's probably wishful thinking, so we'll see how it goes.

If you're interested, here's the mailing address:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, California 91406
ATTN: Charlie Othold: 818.437.6201

For more ways to become involved with this organization (from other types of donations to sewing, to letter writing) look here.
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Friday, October 26, 2007

What's your favorite movie of ALL time?

I love asking people this question...

So I'll start - the rest of you chime in and share your favorite movie and why.

Mine is The English Patient. Putting aside my emotional reasons for loving this movie, the acting, cinematography, setting, storyline, music - this movie is the complete package for me. My heart aches watching it; I cry everytime. I play the soundtrack on my ipod when I need to really think or just indulge my melancholy side. I love love love this movie.

But...the real reason I love it? I was visiting NYC (a full year before I moved there) with a school group in March of '97. I had been dating my now husband for about 6 months. Me and some friends went to see English Patient in Times Square. I knew nothing about the story, just heard all of the Oscar buzz. For the next 2 hours I was swept away in this epic love story with a heartbreaking ending and realized, sitting there in the dark theater, that I was in love with my boyfriend. Like, really really in love with him. And I needed to tell him (because I felt if I didn't I was going to perish in the desert somewhere or in a plane crash or fall off a cliff - this movie does introduce some major fatalistic themes). I remember sobbing as I walked through Times Square after the movie and a few days later when I got home pouring my heart out to my now husband and telling him that I loved him. Poor guy, I dragged him to the next showing of The English Patient I could find. And if you ask him, he'll tell you it's one of his favorite movies too.

So this movie...well, I love this movie.

But up until English Patient my favorite movie was The Sound of Music. Can't get much more opposite than that, folks!

So what is your favorite movie? Or if favorite movie of all time is too intimidating, what is ONE of your faves? Spill it...
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Ok, not EVERYone...

but it really really really really seems like it. I am pretty much hearing about someone's pregnancy twice or thrice a week now. There's both of my best friends, a very close relative of mine, a few bloggers I know, some girls in my ward, I think maybe even the dog on our floor is pregnant because she is barking up a STORM lately.

This makes me feel a variety of feelings. I think I am having psychosomatic pregnancy symptoms because the past few days have been all about my cupcake, dr. pepper,and Chipotle burrito cravings. I am tired as all GET out. Last night I went to sleep at 8 PM people. This afternoon, when I took off my bra, I swear I had that crazy let-down feeling you get when your nursing....yikes. Or maybe it's just PMS.

The thing that is getting me now is that most of these pregnancies I am hearing about are for the third baby. Now this makes perfect sense because in general, the majority of my friends are my age and are mothers, and so it shouldn't surprise anyone, including me, that this third baby phenomenon would crop up.

So, the good actor that I am, I put myself in these crazy lady's shoes and I start thinking about what it would be like to be pregnant with my third. And then the thoughts come rolling through in a cyclonic fury:

OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH....wouldn't it be nice to be pregnant, pee on a stick, It's positive!-magic...what is it? Is it a boy is it a girl? What will we name it? Will I be as sick this time as last time...I will probably be even more tired...won't it be fun to get all new baby stuff? Where will we put the baby? What will we name it? Will the kids like it? How much will it cost? How much work will I lose? How much work will I gain? How many POUNDS will I gain? where will we put it? Do I even have anymore maternity clothes? I wonder if my midwives will take our new insurance? maybe I should have a home birth....maybe we should just get a puppy....maybe we should just get a goldfish.

Geez, if we really go through with this we will have to move, we just DID move....my dh is going to have to get a second job because I am pretty sure we can't afford it. We only have 4 chairs around our table and two bedrooms and I have goals and oh...it's sweet and nice and a blessing to be pregnant, but then a baby comes out and it becomes a child and it wants mac n cheese for every meal and I can't laugh or cough or jump on a trampoline without peeing and now I am allergic to every single food but crackers.

And then I calm down and realize that I am not the one pregnant, my FRIENDS are. And I am so happy for them and a little jealous of them, because having a baby and experiencing that whole making-a-baby thing is pretty delightful after you've stopped hurling. And then I am happy for me that I am not pregnant, because I am really not in a place to be the mother of anymore children right now.

And I am ticked because I am impatient. I want to know EXACTLY how many children I am going to have and I want to plan it out and I want them to all be out and here before I am 30 (which is in 18 months). And I am ticked that I have a big "NO, you shouldn't have a child right now" sign floating around in the air, and right after that a giant QUESTION MARK about my family and it's shape and size, looming in the distance. And I am conflicted because baby-making is lovely but my life right now is quite lovely too, and actually making a baby right now would mess that up quite a bit.

Living vicariously through my pregnant peops isn't going so well for me right now. It's making me all twirly and whirly and emotional inside. And people are asking me if I am having another, AS my children are running circles around me and peeing on the floor and purposely pouring a cup of water onto their nice warm bed, and spitting out chewed up carrots all over someone's shoes during the most reverend part of church, and my answer is the crazy eyes that say: "You've GOT to be kidding me that you JUST asked me that question in all earnestness?" And I can't even form a good sentence/question b/c that is how crazy I get when people ask me that.

And I really am happy for my peops, but I am also pretty crazy right now, and my DH would say it's the PMS talking. And I am pretty sure he is right. And I have PMS, because I am not pregnant. And that's ok. Whoosh.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween Party Playlist

My sister recently posted about a need for Halloween Music. It was a few days ago, but all of a sudden, on the subway today, with my children in tow, I had a total brainstorm about a good ipod playlist of Halloween Tunes.

Some of these songs I already have, but now I am trying find some dollars and cents in my budget to fill out the rest of the list. Much like my post on
Christmas Songs, here comes the Halloween Version:

The suggestions on my sister's post:
Monster Mash
Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
Grim Grinning Ghosts (Bare naked ladies version)
Purple People Eater
Witch Doctor
Addams Family
Here Comes the Bride

To see a few more details of this list, click here.

Here is what I came up with:

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (I love the Barbra Streisand Version)
Selections from:
Wizard of Oz
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Harry Connick Jr. has redone a few songs from both of these movies that are really fun. (Jitterbug, Oompa Loompa, Ding Dong, Candy Man, Merry Old Land of Oz, etc.)

Movie Soundtracks:
It would be fun to pull from some of our favorite movies that have darker themes or Halloweeny themes. A few I thought of:
Harry Potter
Pirates of Carribbean
Nightmare Before Christmas: This is Halloween
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Psycho (or any suspense film with suspenseful music)
Young Frankenstein (not sure if the film has music)
Dracula (see above)
Heffalump Song from Pooh's Adventures
Music from the Halloween Heffalump Movie
Any EVIL song/scene from any Disney/other movie.
A few off the top of my head:
Cruella Deville (looks like there is a funny one by The Replacements)
The Urusala song from Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast (Be our Guest, Kill the Beast)

This is a list from an album on Itunes called KIDS HALLOWEEN MOVIE THEMES(a few I didn't think of):
Jaws Theme
Power Puff Girls End Title
ET Theme
Buffy, The Vampire Slayer
Theme from Planet of the Apes
X Men Theme
Spiderman Theme
Pokeman Theme
Star Wars

And another album available on itunes, HALLOWEEN FUN, THEMES & HITS:
The Munsters
Theme from Bewitched
Casper the Friendly Ghost
Jeepers Creepers

TV Themes:
Scooby Doo
Pink Panther
Murder, She Wrote
Great Pumpkin Waltz, Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin TV Special
Twilight Zone

I know Carrie thinks I am silly for the amount of musicals that I listen to and and use to set my home vidoes too, but this is a GREAT resource for fun, Halloweeny songs:

Into the Woods:
Well, this just has a lot of costumes that show up on Halloween, and includes a Witch. I just added THE LAST MIDNIGHT and HELLO, LITTLE GIRL to my Halloween playlist.

March of the Witch Hunters
No one Mourns the Wicked

Dance of the Vampires:
I am not familiar with this musical, but the title is intriguing, as are the titles on itunes....I am intrigued by GARLIC

Sweeney Todd:
The ballad of Sweeney Todd
Worst Pies in London

Mary Poppins:
Temper, Temper (all the toys in the nursery come to life and scold the children)
Brimstone and Treacle (the mean nanny sings this in Act 2)
Spoonful of Sugar

Mystery of Edwin Drood:
A Man Could Go Quite Mad
Garden Path to Hell
No Good Can Come From Bad

Marie Christine: (anyone a fan of the new show, Private Practice? The girl who plays Naomi, Audra MacDonald, sings this soundtrack. AMAZING!)
Prison in a Prison
Bird Inside the House
Before the Morning

The Secret Garden:
I Heard Someone Crying
House Upon the Hill
Storm Scenes


Peter Pan:
Captain Hook's Waltz
Hook's Tango
Ugg a Wugg
Oh My Mysterious Lady
Pirate Song

Rocky Horror/Young Frankenstein/LeStat/Jekyll & Hyde probably all have some potential songs in there.

Magic To do

Halloween (I don't know if this is clean or not)

There is always good murder and stuff in operas....Elektra has a short little scene called Helft! Morder!. Pretty much if it has exclamation points, it might be good for your Halloween Mix. I am thinking there is probably something good in Romeo and Juliet, and I seem to remember studying a symphony that had a lot of witch themes...but my B.M. was earned many years ago now...sigh.

Pirates of Penzance: Pour, O Pour the Pirate Sherry, Rollicking Band of Pirates We, With Cat Like Tread

Black Magic
Do you believe in Magic?
Devil with the Blue Dress on

The Devil went down to georgia.
Evanescence: Haunted, My Immortal
Michael Jackson: Scream
Abba: Super Trouper
Johnny Cash: Wanted Man
Justin Roberts: Maybe the Monster, Thought it was a Monster
Smashing Pumpkins
Barbra Steisand: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

101 Uses for an Old White Sheet

About five months after dh and I were first married, we were asked to serve as a "Ma and Pa" in the East Brunswick, NJ youth conference/pioneer trek—you know, one of those life-altering wilderness experiences for kids, where they dress in pioneer clothes and spend a weekend pulling a 400-pound wooden handcart in families consisting of other youth and two leaders: the Ma and Pa. I remember getting a packet of instructions about our responsibilities, necessary preparations, etc. One of the things we were supposed to do before starting our trek with the kids was to have them make a banner to represent our family. The packet casually suggested, "Bring an old white sheet" to be painted, decorated, and flown on the family handcart.

We didn’t have an old white sheet. We had just gotten married. Everything we owned was bran-spankin’ new and came to us as gifts from receptions and showers. There was no way I was going to use any of our sheets as our family banner.

I can’t remember what I ended up using for our banner, but I do remember feeling an acute sense of not having come of age as a family. Real families have old white sheets. Real families have old sheets that can be used for creative things like youth conference banners. Real families have old things. Real families have things they’ve used so much they can be recycled for new purposes. We had no such possessions, and I felt like it meant we weren’t a real family.

Of course, it didn’t mean that, but owning an old white sheet became a sort of rite of passage to be crossed sometime in the future, and I wondered when it would happen. I quickly felt like we were a married couple, but I wondered when I would feel like we were a family.

Finally, this year I crossed the old-white-sheet rite of passage. Our queen-sized white sheet ripped in the middle and had to be retired as a bed sheet but has been reincarnated as a drop cloth under SJ’s high chair, and now a ghost on our balcony until Halloween. I can’t tell you how grown up I feel! We finally have an old white sheet! And I’ve gotten it dirty and painted it with a happy ghost face. I can’t wait to find another 99 uses for it over the course of a lifetime as a family.

Other things have emerged in life as rites of passage to becoming a family: repeating a tradition created by just us; holding regular family home evenings where gospel instruction actually takes place; eating dinner together.

What are the rites of passage you feel you have crossed to become a family? When did you first feel you were a family? At marriage? After the first baby? Are there any rites of passage you still feel you haven’t crossed? What are they?

And do you have an old white sheet? If so, to what wonderful, creative uses have you put it? I’d love to know, because mine still has a lot of life left in it.
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Prayers needed in CA

Many of you have probably seen the news coverage of the fires raging through southern California. This news hits close to home as one of the Tales girls, Zinone, had to be evacuated from her home this evening because one of the fires is coming dangerously close to her home. Please keep her and all the families that are being evacuated tonight (as well as the tireless firefighters) in your prayers tonight.
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Vintage Hem Winner

And the winner of the awesomely adorable and perfectly practical October freebie from VintageHem, is....

Braden and Sadie who said "cute, cute. Brittany does really neeeeeeed it" It sounds like Brittany has already been chosen as your winning friend too! Email us your choice of slip, size and your mailing address as well as your friends choice of slip, size and her mailing address at talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com and we'll pass the info onto Jenn at VintageHem!

And to everyone whose pleas to the random integer gods went unheard, get on over to VintageHem and pick one up for yourself because unlike many of the "modest clothing" stores out there, they have every style, of every slip, in every size, in stock RIGHT NOW. No dissapointing backorders. Jenn promises.

Thanks Jenn!!
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Friday, October 19, 2007

How Much is that Puppy in the Window?

No, we couldn't just stop at a new house, a new city, a new job, and a new baby. Last weekend we decided to add a new puppy into the mix. Rosie (named by my daughter and okay'd by me because I bought her at the Rose Bowl Flea Market) is the first puppy I have ever owned.

Don't get me wrong, I have owned and loved dogs my entire life. But none of them ever came to me as puppies. I've always been more of a "save a dog from the pound" sort of girl. So this whole puppy thing is completely new and I admit I was a little scared at first. But I went for it fully knowing I would bear most of the responsibility. And I have to say, having her around has been so amazing. She is the sweetest little thing ever. I honestly can't believe I waited until now to experience the joy of having a puppy.

The kids love her (of course) and Princess has taken over the jobs of taking her out, cleaning up after her and generally watch over her so in return Rosie can be known as "her dog". I was skeptical at first, but it looks like Princess is to the age where she really understands what it means to be responsible for an animal. Our first dog, Sugar, loves her too and can't wait until she is big enough to be an equal playmate.

Even though this past week has been pure puppy bliss around this house, I know it will soon change. She's going to grow up and her cute puppy nibbles will turn into frustrating doggy chews on my new shoes or Princesses' favorite doll. And Rosie's easy-to-clean tiny puppy piddles will turn into annoying large pee puddles. I know the puppy training needs to start now. But where exactly do I start? We're really good at praising her for going potty outside, but beyond that, we really have nothing.

Anyone have any good puppy advice? Book recommendations? Websites? Anything? I need to get armed before the overwhelming and blinding cuteness starts wearing off.
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Costumes and Cajoling

Here at Tales we love Halloween. In October, when you walk the streets of the neighborhood where we all met and established our friendships (before the great exodus)...you will see a grand enthusiasm for the holiday of Halloween. There are ginormous blow-up ghosts, pumpkins, bats...spider webs, skulls, cut-outs, grave stones and jack-o-lanterns everywhere. Halloween Decorations are more popular than Christmas...well maybe that's because I used to live in the Muslim Block of a neighborhood in Queens.

The point is, it's contagious.

Our Ward Halloween Party is pretty amazing. Everyone gets into it. There are so many fun, creative and amazing costumes every year; and the range from very little effort to a LOT OF EFFORT is totally acceptable and encouraging.

We put out so much amazing Halloween Karma, that we even had THE Napolean Dynamite, yes Jon Heder, in the flesh: Not his twin, not somebody dressed up to look like him, not someone's cousin from Idaho, the real, authentic ND/Jon Heder attend our party in 2005. He was happy nanny's guest at our party, and of course we rewarded him greatly for just being there, with our presence of course.

I know some of you in the blogosphere poo poo Halloween, and that's ok...but here are some Costume Ideas to make your Halloween really great:

Face it, it's fun to dress up. Costumes can be as intricate or as simple as you want...just get one together. I think it is particularly fun when you dress up with your family or friends as a theme. It was quite a hit when four Dads in our ward each dressed up as one of The Wiggles. Carrie used her crafty skeelz to dye four shirts and iron on a wiggles patch, add to it a pair of black pants and you have a wiggle. AWESOME.

Costume Categories:

The Wig:
Pick a wig. Any wig. Put it on. Leave it there. It might inspire you to put something else on, and something else until you have created your own original masterpiece.

One year I saw a neon red wig and it was the same that Jennifer Garner seemed to be sporting in a LOT Of Alias ads. I threw it on, and wore all black, and voila!

I found a site with a LOT of inexpensive wigs...click here.

The sky is the limit when it comes to makeup. You can learn to do all sorts of special effects: gashes, bruises, cuts, scrapes with a few easy makeup wheels and instructions...
I LOVE these ideas from Martha Stewart....grass? come ON!

For this type of costume you need to pull from your own closet, or maybe buy a piece or two from the Salvation Army, or as some of our readers call it, The D. I., and keep it cheap. Then you must make a trip to your local craft store for a few add-ons to make your costume complete. Once I did this as an old beauty queen. I bought an old Bridesmaid dress from the S.A. and made a sash from some felt and craft glue, topped my head with a blond wig I already owned and borrowed my daughters dress up tiara. I think I also spray painted some old shoes silver, but that is definitely going the extra mile. Here are a few more examples of this approach that I just love:

This family of three always has great ideas. I particularly love this one of the 3 Primary Colors. Look how simple it is to wear a solid color and add a Crayola sign.

Another year this family was the 3 Blind Mice: all it takes is some ears and sunglasses people...a little eye liner for whiskers and a prop cane for the little blind mouse and you are all set:

One of my fave crafty costumes of all time: PB & J: Check it out!

And here is Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Grab a safari shirt from the DI/SA or ebay or wherever, and just add the name....STEVE.

This photo is a good segue to our next category:

Sewn/Homemade Costumes:
Pictured above is the little Crocodile Bunting that goes with Mr. Irwin. Obviously, you should only sew your costume from scratch if it brings you great joy! Here we have Madeline and Miss Clavel, all made from scratch:

And below, the three princesses all hand-sewn...Grumpy (non)Dwarf was bought off of ebay:

There are also some easy-sew options like this flower costume idea, or these cape ideas.

Store Bought:
Which brings me to the most popular category of STORE BOUGHT. I know it gets expensive to buy costumes for the kids every year, let alone the whole family and the dog. Here are a few ideas to make your bought costumes easier on the budget:
Ebay, Craigs List etc.
Buy off season...they will ALL go on sale on Nov. 1st, so buy for the next year then.
Costume Swap. Perhaps you could organize one like this? Or, you could eye someone's costume from this year and make dibs on it for next year?
Rent something FABulous (you don't have room in your apt. to store anyway)
Salvation Army/D.I.
Look for deals. I researched my DH's costume QUITE a bit, at a LOT of different websites, and I feel that my comparison shopping ACTUALLY got me a good deal.

Above you will see the Mrs. Incredible Costume. I was extremely dissatisfied with the Disney offering of the Mrs. Incredible Costume (they did not pay attention to detail, such as the height of Mrs. Incredible's boots etc.), so I decided to compile my own. Red unitard, felt/craft-made insignia, boots off ebay, black makeup for my mask on the face etc.

Here you will see our very special guest pictured with a gal who just compiled some medical wardrobe from around her house:

Which brings us to our final category:

Scrubs are good
Our red crayon up top was also in the family way. The nun costume would have been good for pregnancy, unless of course you felt that was disrespecting the office of the nun....is the nun an office?

There is the ever-popular pumpkin as a maternity costume...and you could go plenty of places with the sphere: a globe, beach ball, watermelon, basketball, the list goes on...just a white tee and some felt/markers/fabric pens....and the sky is the limit boy howdy!

There are also some quite clever ideas here. Thanks for the link Carrie.

If anyone would like to submit photos for a followup post, just email us at our email...which is somewhere on here....maybe on the sidebar? And if you would like to take a guess at what my Posse is going to be this year, click here.

Happy Costuming!
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Vintage Hem

Do you all remember my Random Fashion Notes post from a few weeks ago? Well in note # 5 I talked about a company called VintageHem.com and how totally awesome their product looks. Lucky for all of us, I had the pleasure of talking to the owner, Jennifer Jensen, a few days later and she was more than willing to be our October Freebie!

The idea for a women's slip that's meant to be seen came to Jennifer a few years ago, but as Jennifer puts it, "with demanding family and other responsibilities, I knew it was not the right time to pursue the idea". When she found herself a single mom at the beginning of 2007, she got the overwhelming inspiration that now was the time to pull out that great idea she had been keeping safe in the corner of her brain and turn it into a business to support her family while also being readily available to her three daughters (who also love the product and are some of the company's best salespeople).

Jennifer's Mariott School undergraduate education as well as support from partner Janine Hansen Ottley has allowed the company to quickly grow and become a great resource for women who want to be feminine and modest. The slips can truly make fashion more wearable (especially for us garment-wearing girls) and more interesting (especially those older pieces we might have hanging in our closet).

Jennifer was awesome enough to hook me up with a couple of samples so I could give you a personal review, and I cannot say enough good things about their product (and I can't wait to see what products they will add in the future!). The Damsel in Distress slip in Moss is the most beautiful color green that will go with all sorts of fall outfits . And the raw edge detail makes the silk ruffle slip wearable in more casual contexts as well. She also threw in the Eyeful of Lace slip in Ivory which goes perfectly under the little brown sweater dress I picked up at TJ Maxx last week. I like that the ruffles are attached to an a-line taffeta fabric which helps the slip keep it's shape under a-line or full skirts (but note, these slips might not work as well under a super fitted skirt or dress). And the stretchy tricot fabric and elastic at the waist allow you to wear the slip at, below or above your waist (and will be perfect to for my ever expanding stomach).

Are you chomping at the bit now, wondering what the freebie is? Oh, it's good. Not only is Jennifer at VintageHem.com offering the winner of this month's freebie your choice of any slip, in any size, you can also pick a friend to receive the very same offer! One VintageHem slip for you, one VintageHem slip for your friend. So generous. Which slip will you choose? Which friend?

Thanks Jennifer and Janine!

Make your comment now!

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Friday (10/19) 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 (10/20) 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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Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Internet Wanderings

Looking for some new resources / places to waste a few hours?

Sk*rt - http://www.sk-rt.com/
Sk*rt allows readers to add links to sites of interest, and then if another reader likes the link as well, to "vote" for the link. The front page has the most popular links of the moment, but there's lots of fun ways to stroll around Sk*rt and discover some interesting resources, stories, and sites. A great way to waste some time!

Google 411 - http://www.google.com/goog411/
Free 411? Count me in. You don't need a computer or an internet connection, just a phone (cell or land line). Just call 1-800-GOOG-411 and tell them what you're looking for, and the listing is provided for FREE. You can have the information sent to your phone as a text message if you'd like, or even get it mapped. Try it!

Zafu - http://www.zafu.com
Fill out the profile info on Zafu, and you'll get recommendations for jeans, pants, and bras that will fit YOUR body. The recommendations are based on the study of how the products fit on thousands of women with all kinds of different body type. You'll get a good range of prices, from cheapie cheap to splurge. I've tried two different pairs of jeans recommended by Zafu, and been happy with both.

Insurance inventory - http://knowyourstuff.org/
This one isn't as much fun as the others, but boy is it important. It is recommended for insurance purposes that we take an inventory of our belongings in case of loss. If you're like me, this is one of those to-do's that NEVER gets done. But this FREE program (for Windows XP, 2000, or MAC OS 10.3 or higher) definitely helps - fill out the information for each room, add pictures of items, and then keep a copy of the file somewhere OTHER than on your home computer (since as we know that can disappear) and you'll have the information you need should a loss occur. I've decided this is a good winter time (read: lots of time indoors) project, and is a goal for me for the year.

Anyone else found something good lately?
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Make Stuff: Pumpkin Carving with Kids

I love carving pumpkins. Probably because it's just one more outlet for my creativity. I think kids like it because it's messy and knives are involved. But for little ones (and I still consider my 5 year old to be a little one on this project) using a knife is not only a tad dangerous, it is really hard to do. To keep my kids involved in the process I have tried a number of things in the past few years.

I always let them help clean out the pumpkins. My kids like to dig right in with their hands. Some kids might want to use a large spoon. And we always love to roast the seeds .

Last year I had my daughter, then four, draw a picture of a scary face on a piece of paper for me. I then carved that face onto her pumpkin. She was so pleased to see her flat drawing come to life on the pumpkin.

The little one was too little to draw anything last year, so I carved her pumpkin with vampire fangs to commemorate the way her bicuspids came in first that year.

This year, we're going to draw scary pumpkin faces on paper again. They might need some creative interpretation from mom (especially the 2 year old's drawing) when it comes time to carve it onto the pumpkin, but it is surely a fun way to get kids involved the pumpkin carving tradition!

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From the Tales Inbox: Planning a Famiy Reunion

Ladies, I am looking for some help. This time, it's with family reunions. My mom and I are trying to figure out where/how to do a family reunion for my Dad's side of the family. We haven't been all together since right before we moved to Maryland in 1996 :) I'm guessing it will probably have to be in Utah, since most every besides us is there.

Where have you done family reunions? If you have names of specific places in Utah, that'd be awesome. Did it work? Even if you weren't in Utah, how did you figure it out? Were you in hotel rooms somewhere? If so, how did you do food? How did you do "group" time if you weren't all staying in the same place? Who has tips for me? We will have people that range in age from 90something to infant - mostly a bunch of grandparents, adults, and younger grandchildren (the oldest grandchild will be 9) :) Maybe 50-70 people.

Can you tell I've never planned a multi-family gathering before? Any help would be appreciated!
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Toys and Television of Yore...

I wonder if I had started having kids at age 43, instead of 23, if I would be as excited about reliving parts of my childhood.

Often this reliving comes in the form of toys and television. Every once in a while thoughts of Rainbow Brite, Punky Brewster, Care Bears, My Little Ponies and Pound Puppies creep into mind. And then the toy companies decide to resurrect some of the old-school 80's toys, and I am a bit of a sucker.

I have recently gotten my fix of the olden days by watching Smurfs with my Pukey on Boomerang. And I also recently purchased the DVD of the Chipmunk Adventure, having remembered watching it over and over again with my sister. And the other day I tivoed Grease on tv, because I remember fond memories of watching it with my sister.

After watching some of these old gems, I realized they are not so gemmy. Smurfs is always about good vs. evil, and many of the other cartoons on Boomerang have a lot of violence in them. And not just hurting each other, like trying to kill each other. Grease, (I guess we all know this already, but it was a wakeup call to watch it as an adult) is about teenagers, in HIGH SCHOOL, shacking up, smoking, cheating on each other, getting pregnant (or not), drinking, and just being all around lewd. The Chipmunk Adventure has the villains as lying, deceiving and smoking cigarettes. One of our favorite movies, Annie, has an alcoholic Orphanage "director" and uses the swear G-D more than once. When Disney re-made it with Kathy Bates taking over for Carol Burnett, she was NOT drunk, and I am sure there were no swears in the production.

So now that I am watching these as an adult, my mommy radar goes off and I think..."I don't want my children watching this." But then I think, well, I didn't necessarily get what was going on when I watched as a kid, and even if I did, I turned out ok.

So where does this leave me? Basically, I don't want my daughters to watch Grease. And I don't mind the Smurfs, but if there is a lot of violence happening say on Droopy or some other random cartoon that surfaces, then I turn it off. And I just can't give up my Annie and Chipmunk Adventure...but I guess I can start the movies a few scenes in (to avoid the cartoon villains smoking scene), or cut them a little short (to avoid the G-D words at the end of Annie). When we were little and watched Grease, my sis and I had to fast forward the drive-in makeout scene. We were very vigilant about this, so I guess I can try to edit as well.


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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On a Lighter Note

If you haven't noticed yet, our header has changed. There is one baby in utero and that uterus happens to be mine.

It been a crazy last three months in our family with the buying of our first home, a burglary and a move to a new city. The good thing about all the craziness is that it made the first trimester and all it's yuckiness blow by rather quickly. Would I choose to be pregnant again during a move? Oh no, that was really poor timing, but now that I am standing on the other side, I am ecstatic that another little person is coming to join our family. Well, except for the fact that I have a terrible cough right now and a bladder that is not as strong as it used to be and I am getting tired of having to change my pants.

Anyway, I'm also a little nervous. I thought having a second child was a big leap but the thought of having three brings a whole new set of logistical concerns, including but not limited to:
-Our children will now outnumber us - the parents.
-My kids will now outnumber their mother's hands.
-There will now be a "middle child".
-We are quite likely going to lose our extra-come-visit-us-because-we-live-close-to-Disneyland-room to a nursery/bedroom especially if the little one turns out to be a boy (so come visit us quick everyone!).

Anyone else out there have any thoughts on three? I'd love to hear them.
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Monday, October 08, 2007

FYI - Month of Giveaways

Mom4Life - an uber cool company, is currently rocking October with a month of gotta-have-it giveaways. Mom4Life is mommy owned and features products invented and created by MOMS. Click here to enter, read the rules, and check out their prized prizes. Each week is filled with loot no mom should live without. The contest does require more than a comment (boy we make it easy on you here at Tales) but the winnings are well worth the effort. Check it out and good luck!
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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Who's the Best and Does it Matter?

Ever since I attended the R.S. Broadcast last week, I haven't been able to get Pres. Beck's talk from that broadcast to the women out of my head. (You can read the text from the talk I am speaking of here

There were many parts of her talk I enjoyed. She spoke with a strong, confident voice aimed at a strong and confident adult audience rather than a sing-song voice that seems better suited for a Sunbeam class. I also enjoyed her emphasis on relief - especially the idea that planning relief activities will breed sociality, but not necessarily the other way around.

However, Pres. Beck’s repeated use of the word "BEST" (as in we should be the "best at families", the "best at relief" and *"the best at homemaking"*) left me feeling troubled.

It immediately reminded me of the times my five year old daughter has approached me with a friend in tow wanting to know "who is the best at jump-roping, mom?", "who is the best at drawing princesses?", or "who is the best at singing 'Spoonful of Sugar?’" I really drives me crazy. I repeatedly have to remind her that it doesn't matter who is “the best,” it just matters that we try our best with the gifts we are given.

The gospel, as I understand it, does not teach that life is a competition or that we have to be “the best” at anything. It's about personal growth. All we can do is try to be a better person than we were yesterday and the day before (which in itself is a hard thing to do).

Didn’t Christ bring the gospel directly to the sinners and the imperfect? All sorts of imperfect people are drawn to Christ with all different life experiences and gifts. To say how far along the path towards perfection all Mormon women should be at any one moment in time is to overlook each person's path to Christ as truly her own.

Also, the “best” rhetoric can be harmful to women of the church. Comparing ourselves with others can bring guilt, sadness, frustration and not a lot of lasting growth. And more mom guilt is the last thing most of us need.

Not to mention how our view of "being the best" can affect how we view others around us. Making it our goal to be better than all the other non-Mormon women of the world at raising families and providing relief divides us from the good they are doing as well.

This type of rhetoric can also promote the unnecessary judging of other Mormon women; women who might not be as good at "families" or "relief" or whatever the chosen gospel principle may be. "Come on! You're dragging us down!" a competitive voice might yell. But once again, the gospel is for the imperfect not the best.

It seems to me that the question we ought to be asking ourselves is not "how can we, a group of Mormon women, be better than a group of non-Mormon women," but rather "how can I more effectively let my Mormonism make me better than I otherwise would be?” It seems far more effective on this personal, non-competitive level.

Maybe this is what Pres. Beck meant to communicate. I am interested in listening to her talk again when it becomes available. But whether she meant it or not, I think her repeated use of “we can and should be the best” language not only carries with it flawed logic but is a poor motivator and can lead to a dangerous, un-Christ-like way of thinking.

What do you think? All comments will be accepted except for those that insinuate Carrie is going to hell for her prideful and "finding fault" thoughts.

*this phrase was from her talk given at the sunday morning session of conference. I would rather not talk about the troubling points of that talk here. That can of worms has already been opened over here or here. For some more uplifting/generous commentary on Pres. Beck's Sunday morning talk you can go here or here.
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Your L&D Nurse: Your Best Friend

I interviewed my sister, Katie, recently on a family vacation. Katie is a labor and delivery nurse for a large hospital in Portland, Oregon and has a lot of good advice for expecting moms to make the most of their birthing experience.

Q: What should you bring (and not bring) to the hospital in terms of helping with the delivery?
A: This depends on the hospital. Check beforehand to see if your hospital has CD players and DVD players available in their birthing rooms. Especially if you are having an induction and it might be a long labor, you might want some distractions along the lines of movies and music. Don't bring anything valuable (you shouldn't even need your wallet). Bring something to eat for after the delivery. You will probably be hungry and not all hospitals have a great selection of foods between meals.

Q: What should your expectations of your L&D nurse be? (What is realistic and what isn't?)

A: Availability of your nurse will depend a lot on how busy the day is for the nurse. Don't hesitate to call a nurse if you have questions, need to use the restroom, are hungry or have another important need. At the same time, try and be organized about your requests and fill multiple needs/ask questions in the same visit. Your guests should never make demands of your nurse (meaning they are not waitresses or gophers there to serve your family and friends. Oh... the stories Katie has told me about obnoxious guests!)

A good nurse should be on top of your pain management, and support you physically and emotionally during the last stages of labor. Nurses should never tell you what to do, but help you make an informed decision concerning the birth of your baby by presenting options and potential scenarios. Finally, they should respect your decisions.

Q: How can making a birthplan be helpful?

A: Birthplans are helpful in communicating your desired birthing experience to your doctor beforehand. However, many women get too set in their birthplan and resist alterations to it that will ultimately be better for her and the baby. It is not uncommon for women with stringent birthplans to end up having emergency c-sections when they won't adjust their plan and suddenly the baby is distressed. One common example is when women refuse petocin when they have been ruptured for a long time, which can cause infection and results in the doctor performing an emergency c-section to protect the baby. Katie suggests that if you have a birthplan and the doctor suggests straying from the birthplan, to talk out each decision and assess if it will ultimately help you achieve a better birth.

Katie's opinion on....

episiotomies... sometimes they are necessary to get the baby out quickly (such as the instance when the baby's heart rate drops) in order to avoid an emergency c-section. However, episiotomies performed to prevent tears are not very effective. The episiotomy usually takes longer to heal than the tear would have. Episiotomies are essentially SURGERIES...so your doctor should ask for consent beforehand, but in Katie's experience, that doesn't usually happen. Katie suggests discussing your preferences beforehand with your doctor, but that doesn't guarantee you won't end up with one....especially if your baby goes into distress

going to the bathroom (or passing gas) during labor...Katie says it's nothing to worry about for many reasons. First of all, there is a good chance you will and you won't have any physical awareness of it. Second, if you are consciously trying not to poop or pee, you probably won't be able to push the baby out very effectively. Finally, doctors and nurses see it every day and think NOTHING of it. So basically, you should never worry that the hospital staff will be snickering behind your back if it happens.

having a doula....Katie thinks there are a lot of advantages to having a doula during labor, especially if you want to have a natural birth. A doula will be well-trained in coping techniques and will be able to help you with effective pushing and positioning. A doula will be by your side the entire labor, whereas your nurse will likely be responsible for multiple patients. Studies have shown that doulas decrease rate of c-sections and increase the overall satisfaction of the birth experience. If you don't want to pay for a doula's services, you can always check with your hospital for a list of volunteer doulas. Often, there are doulas-in-training who need to fill clinical hours.

Final note from me: Yeah for L&D nurses!!! I was lucky to have amazing nurses for the births of my boys and it made such a difference in my overall birthing experience. Much more than my doctors, my L&D nurses were great advisors and cheerleaders along the way. I still remember after Asher's birth when my nurse showed me my delivered placenta and complimented me on how healthy it looked. "Gee, thanks!" I think I said, not exactly sure what the appropriate response should be when you are complimented on your placenta...

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I remember when my first child was around 18 months old, I couldn't sleep at night.

I was not worried, stressed, anxiety-ridden. Oh no, on the contrary, I was well rested. For the first time since she had been born I was NOT feeling tired. It's not like she was still up at night. She had been sleeping through the night for an entire year. It just took a solid 18 months for me to recover and feel a large portion of normal again.

It was then that I began to exercise more regularly (which perpetuated that well-rested feeling), seek out more opportunities for work, and to feel balanced. My body was getting tighter, my hair was growing back in, and the bags in my eyes were receding (along with my boobs of course).

It was then that I started thinking that having another baby was a bad idea. See, I had been "ready" to get pregnant again when she was about 8 months old. Her infant days had been pretty easy, my husband and I had been taking care of her together for about 7 full months before he returned to work, and it was all smooth sailing. I started thinking about it and talking about it, but did not act on it, because the thought of two babies scared me. When I hit that 18-month mark with still only 1, I knew I had made the right decision.

For another year I enjoyed my life...feeling full, balanced, back to the new normal, and immensely enjoying my baby. When my DH sat me down for the talk about a sibling I resisted. That's another story...

We did finally have our second, and she was born 3 years and 5 weeks after our first. Year 1 was a breeze. Truly, she was such a great little thing...so portable...so quiet. She started sleeping straight through the night (after a week of Ferber) at 4 months, and in general the transition from 1 to 2 has been great.

However, I did not get that same feeling that I got with big sis when she was 18 months, until Monday.

Yes, on Monday, nearly 2.5 years after her birth, I declared myself RECOVERED from her birth. I feel very balanced in my life with work, mothering, exercise, and there is even some scripturizing thrown in there...woo----hoo. I have no bottles, no sippy cups, no diapers, no desitin, no breast pads, no cribs, not even a piece of baby clothing under the size of 2T in my apartment. I am officially recovered from my second baby.

Which made me think....does it take this long for everyone? Or am I just slow to heal....I see so many girls with children much closer in age then mine (some of them with a few special surprises), and they just want to as some people say, "pop them out". I can't imagine it. I get asked ALL the time...."are you having anymore?"...and I just don't know right now. If I JUST got to balanced and back to normal from the second, I simply MUST enjoy this feeling, and get back in touch with myself, my friends, my husband, my life, my body, and my nutrition. Thank you, I am NOT drinking a coke every day anymore, and I have cut back a lot on all the JUNK I consumed in the name of keeping my nausea quiet (3 YEARS ago....). I just can't throw this feeling away to another 40 weeks of ...human-growing.
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Monday, October 01, 2007

Like We All Need Another Way to Waste Time on the Computer

This program, Spell with Flickr, is just way too cool. What will you spell?!

via Apartment Therapy - Nursery
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Moving is not "Green"

At least not when you're lucky enough to have a moving company pack and move you.

The movers wrapped EVERYTHING in paper. Every single shoe, piece of tupperware, stapler, EVERYTHING. I can't tell you how much longer it took to unpack all those neatly wrapped packages. Luckily the girls really enjoyed helping me unwrap. Their excited squeals would make you think it was Christmas morning even though the plain wrapping paper held things like kitchen bowls, my tennis shoes and extension cords.

With their help, I finally got my last box unpacked on Friday. And what I was left with was 75 flattened cardboard boxes and 22 large trash bags stuffed with packing paper. Add to that stack of no longer needed items: a couple of ceiling fans we replaced, a bunch of stuff the old owners left behind, some furniture that didn't fit in the new house, and a whole lot of stuff that would have been donated/sold before the move if we had packed ourselves and you have an extra large stack of "trash".

Here are the avenues I used to keep the majority of it out of the landfills in an effort to make the move a little more "green" (and I even made a little pocket cash along the way).

1. Craigslist - I decided to try to resell our boxes. They were really nice and heavy and had only been through a 38 mile move. I listed them on craigslist and got a call the very next morning. They were all gone an hour after that to a family that was in a bind and had to move quick. I also used craigslist to advertise some other "big stuff" we had to sell.

2. Uhaul's Box Exchange Another resource for buying and selling (and finding free) boxes is Uhaul's Box Exchange. If you are moving or have just moved, you should definitely consider using either of these two services to find boxes or get rid of your boxes.

3. A Good Old Fashioned Garage Sale - I only advertised with a few signs in the neighborhood and a free ad on Craigslist and I made $250 off my unwanted stuff and "trash".

4. Local Used Book Store - $22 in store credit for a handful of my unwanted books. Sweet.

5. City Recycling Center - I was hoping to get rid of all my bags of packing paper on Freecycle but it rained and most of the bags of paper got wet - no longer making it ideal reusable packing paper. Our city recycling center will take the remaining bags of paper and if I take them directly to the center, i won't have to get rid of one per week in our recycling can for the next 20 weeks.

6. Freecycle - I have been a member of Freecycle ever since I moved to CA. I even got a free piano a while back (remind me to ask Tracy M about restoring old pianos). It's a really amazing organization. During my membership I don't think I have ever seen something offered that wasn't taken -- doesn't matter how random or useless the item seems to be. On Freecycle I got rid of an old microwave, an old copy machine (both left by the previous owners) and 8 bags of packing paper (the ones that didn't get wet in the rain).

7. Goodwill - All the stuff that wasn't sold in the garage sale, on craigslist or given away on Freecycle (which was only 1 box and 1 bag of stuff) was loaded up in the car and taken to the Goodwill trailer in town.
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