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.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Card Letter

Everybody has an opinion on the Christmas card and letter. We had a decent discussion about it last year. This year I have composed a few letters for you to read. It's all about how you spin it.... Enjoy.


We had an amazing trip to Arizona to see family and friends that we hadn't connected with in so long. The weather was gorgeous and we had SUCH a great time.

Trip to Arizona to see family. We packed our shorts. It was 40 degrees the entire time. It was the first time in my entire church life that I wore pants to church (for warmth) and I grew up in Chicago. I had to come back 1 day into the trip for a job, and Pukey got strep throat.
I set a bunch of goals too, one of which was to gain mental health and rise above my 2006 depression...about 50% of them I reached. DRAT.

I booked my first Beauty Commercial for Oil of Olay. For the job I got golden highlights put in my hair at the salon where Gwyneth Paltrow frequents. I entered a contest for Real Savvy Moms and my video was seen by thousands worldwide. I had my first tap dance audition for Broadway.

I fried my hair for a commercial that never aired. I lost a contest for the new tv host of Real Savvy Moms. I was promised a consolation prize of a spa package, which I never received...not very consoling. I got a callback for Young Frankenstein on Broadway....ALWAYS a callback, NEVER a job!

After moving to NYC with a hope and a prayer in 2002, we finally reached our goal of being homeowners. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and saving, and we did it. I was offered a part in the reading of a new musical, Ripper. The girls got to go to California to see friends for their birthdays!

The day after we moved into our first condo purchase, my purse was stolen right through the broken window in my car. My keys to the new condo along with a letter with my new address were taken. Later that month I was offered a role in the reading of a new musical, and had to turn it down because it conflicted with a trip I had already planned.

OKAY, I'M READY was a highlight of this month. My DH, Pukey and several friends came to see my first one-woman show. Poopy turned 2 and I turned older than 2.

I got strep throat on my Twenty Freakin Eighth birthday. Who get's strep throat at 28? Gosh.

My DH brought us home a brand new 2007 Acadia. It's such a beautiful car and looks so good sitting in our parking spot! Another highlight of May was that I was honored with the Most Distinguished Alumnus Award at my High School. I discovered the beauty of the Neti Pot.

My DH traded in his former company car for a new one. I got the results of my cholesterol labs, and my cholesterol is high. I also got a bill from my allergy tests for $1400-. Did you know it costs $400 to find out if you are allergic to Mussels? I don't even eat Mussels! Earlier in May I gave a speech at my former high school. I was over-dressed. Earlier in the month, I was on set with some crusty kids and moldy carpet and had to resort to irrigating my nose with a teapot to find the oxygen in the air.

Pukey had her ballet recital and was perfectly precious in her tu-tu. We had a wonderful visit from DH's parents and they got to see her perform as well. She also started violin lessons and practices every day. Poopy is the cutest little 2 year old you will ever see. She loves the summer weather and wearing shorts. We took a quick road trip in our NEW CAR to South Bend, IN to see my mom and dad run a marathon.

Pukey had a ballet recital and her hair totally fell from the curls that took me hours to put in. Transitioning into playing the violin has been an absolute nightmare, we now have meltdowns EVERY DAY and Poopy is still not potty trained. We experienced one of the hottest days of the summer chasing a marathon in Indiana for over 6 hours!

After returning from a quick trip to Chicagoland for an authentic and amazing family reunion, we experienced the joys of Harry Potter Book 7 by attending the Scholastic Party in Soho. We dressed up as witches and even DH read Book 6 and Book 7 in honor of the finale. I took a quick trip to Kansas City for a job. I was at the Hallmark Headquarters and worked on some Valentine Signage for the stores.

I took a less than 24 hour trip to Kansas City and did a photoshoot on a MOVING bus with no air conditioning in the middle of Kansas City. We were dressed for February weather. After speeding through Harry Potter too fast, I started having some severe dizziness and vertigo and after ruling out Harry Potter Tosis, started getting worried about my health. I saw my brother in July and cried because I won't see him again for 2 years.

After battling a strange virus that left me dizzy for 2 weeks, I was able to perform in the staged readings of a new opera, Edith Stein. It was an amazing experience with very talented singer/actors. I lowered my cholesterol! The girls and I had many adventures all around the city: Broadway in Bryant Park, Bronx Equestrian Center, Free Concerts in the park, and more.

This was the lowest month of the year for me as I diagnosed myself with a brain tumor, meningitis (again), MS, or any neurological crazy brain disease. After visiting several doctors and taking several tests for dizziness, it just went away. My cholesterol went back to normal, and it only cost $500 to find that out.

My mom made a trip to NYC for her birthday and her first modeling job! It was a beautiful day spent together taking pictures and enjoying the scenery of upstate New York. Pukey started kindergarten at a school in Manhattan that focuses on music and small classrooms. She is thriving with her new education.

We attempted our first family camping trip. We got a flat tire 20 feet out on our trip. We camped on the family room floor instead. Pukey started kindergarten and had a fake bum leg for the first week. We took unnecessary trips to the doctor and almost quit the school and the violin over it.

We celebrated Halloween Glass Family Style. Our theme this year was Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Peter Pan, Wendy and Tinkerbell represented in a big way. We had our first apple picking adventure Upstate New York and made delicious apple pancakes.

Almost missed my planned trip to California over a callback for a job that I didn't get. I cried a lot over this situation. It was another bad moment of 2007. Friends in CA were threatened by fires, it was scary. We went apple picking for a nice, crisp fall activity. It was a brutal 80 degrees.

We had family in town for the Thanksgiving Festivities. We had such a great time going to the parade in 70 degree weather. The food and the company was divine and we made beautiful memories together. We have so many blessings to be grateful for.

We go the stomach flu. Imagine a cacophony of wretches from DH and I at 4 AM the Saturday after the delicious leftovers we devoured. The taste of stuffing will never be the same. It was a low moment in our marriage.

It is at this time of year that we pause to reflect on the glorious gift of God's Son for our Salvation. Our family is so grateful to know the truth of this Gospel in December and all the year through.

How did my Christmas Shopping list get so long? How did I accumulate this many addresses? Boy, I hope you appreciate this letter.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

1st person Mary...

I was asked to speak in sacrament this Sunday as part of our Christmas program. I am very excited because they asked me to speak in first person as Mary and how I would feel at receiving the news that I was chosen to give birth to the Savior. I will essentially act it out. I would LOVE any feelings on the subject that perhaps I can interject in my talk. I have already written it and I may share it here after Sunday, but please give me any ideas you may have so I can make it even better. How would you feel if you were Mary????
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Shopping List

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." -Ghandi

The sole purpose of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value. That was the first thing I learned on my very first day of business school. Corporations are amoral, without emotion, without conscience. But that doesn't mean that a corporation's management can't adopt practices that help its employees, help the environment, and help the wider community while still driving profit. There are some really great companies that, in my opinion, have adopted practices with benefits that reach further than their own bottom line. These companies have won my respect, and my hard-earned dollars.
Here's where I'll be concentrating my shopping this holiday season:

Starbucks - offers health insurance to half-time employees and pays fair prices to its coffee suppliers. I don't love where they choose to place some of their stores (such as Beijing's Forbidden City), but they do strive for sustainability and fair trade. Peppermint Hot Chocolate anyone? Yummy.

Powell's Books -amazing used book selection (they carry new books, as well), very progressive labor practices. And if you are ever in Portland, you have to check out the brick and mortar store in the Pearl District. It is a beacon of books. My favorite customer quote is, "The first time I went in there I had a mental orgasm." Seriously. I get so excited when I'm there I forget to breathe.

HP - Hewlett Packard is a model for sustainability in the electronics business. In July 2007, the company announced that it had met its target, set in 2004, to recycle 1 billion pounds of computer hardware. Annually, it recycles 70% more than its closest competitor and even houses its own recycling facilities. When I bought my last ink cartridge, I got a postage-paid envelope to send my old cartridge to be recycled. Excellent. In addition, HP is often ranked in the top 100 companies for Working Moms each year.

GAP- love their RED campaign.

Trader Joes - I will never understand how TJ's can sell such quality food at such low prices. I love their "green" incentive programs such as their monthly giveaway contests available to customers who shop with reusable bags.

Body Shop - Cosmetics with a conscience. The company supports a whole array of good causes, from community trade to the fight against domestic violence. None of their products are tested on animals. As someone who thinks putting makeup on her face is akin to rubbing it with mud (crazy sensory issues I can't really explain), I can say I love just about every product I have tried from Body Shop.

Burley Bikes - is a "business" in the loosest sense of the word. Based in Eugene, Oregon, it is actually structured as a co-op, which means that everyone, from the CEO to the janitor, makes the exact same salary. Every business decision is made by a democratic vote of all employees. Even though when I consulted for Burley as a business school student I recommended that they deconstruct their co-op or face catastrophic infighting, I still love this little company and its value system. Burley is also one of those companies that was green when green was definitely not cool and has watched the rest of the world catch up to its sustainable practices. And you can't beat their products, especially their bike trailers (we bought ours used on craigslist and it rides like a dream).

And although this isn't the focus of the post, you really can't go wrong with small online retailers.

I just realized that the majority of companies listed have roots in the Northwest, so you can see where my biases are hidden. I also can't guarantee that I haven't been fooled by corporate spin and that some of these companies aren't living up to their PR hype...I'll just have to hope they are being good corporate citizens.

I'd love to hear what companies you support and why...
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Navigating the Classroom Mom

I recently volunteered and followed through with hosting Pukey's kindergarten HOLIDAY party in my home.

When the request was on the table, I figured everyone had an undersized apartment for such an event, and I like hosting parties, so I immediately signed up. I figured it would run like any other party that I frequently (compared to most people I know), have...everyone comes, brings something to share, party hearty people!

A few weeks leading up to the party I started getting hurried suggestions for a craft from one of the room moms. I wasn't down with a craft because 45 people (and furniture, kitchen appliances and 45 sets of winterwear) in 700square feet doesn't allow for much crafting. And also: who wants to craft at a party? But, I looked online and found one I thought would work and emailed it to her. She blew off my email and kept talking in circles about some craft book she had somewhere that might have something. Unspoken words in my head: "Well, I found something..." She just doesn't listen quite so well. AND if you are mid-conversation with her and one of her kids shows up, forget it....you have just become invisible.

A few days before the party she called to discuss the party. Well, what I thought of as MY party, but what she thought of as HER party. PROBLEM.

I listened respectfully to her talking around in circles bit. (I am trying to be very careful in how I navigate this woman because we will be having a long relationship. The kindergarten class that my daughter is in is composed of the same kids that will be in her 1st-8th grade class, so there is no crossing fingers for something different next year. uh-uh.)

When I made a suggestion for the party, 3 out of 4 times, she countered it with the opposite sugary-sweet DEMAND.

Her: What were you thinking as a structure for the party?
Me: I don't really structure parties, but perhaps we could throw a Christmas movie on in Pukey's room if the kids start getting restless.
Her: Well, I don't know if a Christmas movie is appropriate since 2 of the kids do not celebrate Christmas.
Me: Well, it wouldn't be one about Jesus, but fine, I will just put out the Disney movies. (moving on...)

Her:95 second monologue on how since Christmas is so the majority out there that it is not appropriate to show at a Holiday party, but a Hannakah movie would be ok to show since that is the minority blah blah blah blah.

Me: Fine. I will just put out the Disney movies. (moving on...)

Luckily I got her to agree that the craft would just have to be a back-burner item and only pulled out for dire circumstances....and it was never pulled out btw.

Next issue: Music.
Me: Well, now that I know your ideas on the Christmas movie, I will alter my music plans and just pick the secularist of secular Christmas tunes to mix in with just plain old pop and childrens music.

Her: Well, maybe this sounds hypocritical, but I don't think there is anything wrong with playing Christmas music at a Holiday part.

Me: voice in head: Yes you are sounding hypocritical. What I really said: Well, whatever, that's what I am going to stick with.

I hope that this woman's intentions are good and she was just trying to be SUPER sensitive to the needs of all the children, but I felt that as a result she was not sensitive in the least to my role as host, and opening my home to 45 people! One of her arguments/points was that we are in a public school so we have to make sure we are super sensitive to the needs of all involved, and thus repress who we are and what we celebrate in such a setting. I told her I was not taking down my Christmas trees, sorry. She certainly didn't expect me too, but I was trying to jokingly express my disdain for her position.

The ironic thing is that I feel that because we are part of a public school, I expect to be exposed to all sorts of lifestyles and cultures, and I am thrilled for my child to learn about the families in her class. I opened my home so that these people could walk in and smell it, and look at what I have hung on the walls, and see my Christmas decorations and hear my music and get to know our family and what we believe and what we celebrate. Exposing each other to that is a huge part of being publicly educated...and that's why I felt so smothered by this super-sensitivity. And it also left me confused. If she named it a Holiday Party, just what Holiday was she referring to? Hmmmmmmmmm.....

I didn't quite stand up for myself to this woman. The reason is because I am trying to be careful because we will have to work together for a long time. And also, I don't feel that she hears me. When we talk, it's just her ideas, and never mine. I feel I would be wasting my breath. I know someday we may have to have a conversation, but a little confrontation never scared me.

The party ended up being a huge success. Everyone had a great time. I chatted with one of the Jewish moms and she didn't seemed phased in the least that our party was more Christmas than Holiday. She explained that Hannakah is such a non-holiday and it's the Christiam American's that puff it up, so that they feel less guilty for going all-out for Christmas! Ha! She is my favorite mom so far, and after that party, even more so.

PS. The grab bag was the room mom's idea and she brought hers wrapped in non-holiday doggy paper.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why I Am INSANE: Part 3, me

I can't pick on the boys and not pick on myself!

This is not only the conclusion of my three-part insanity series, it is also a companion to Zinone's post from earlier this week, encouraging us to try something new. So here goes. The number one reason I am insane?

On Monday morning, I registered to run a half marathon this coming June.

For those of you who know me, I apologize for knocking you out of your chairs, I should have warned you. For those of you who don't know me, let me just say that this is VERY VERY UNLIKE ME. I like to sit, eat, watch tv, and sleep. I do not like to sweat, go to the gym, or be in pain. I did, however, begin running in August (for the first time in over 10 years I might add) and managed to keep it up for two months, before travel got in the way. Since returning from India, I've had a great deal of trouble getting back on the exercise bandwagon, not only because I'm a procrastinator, but also because it is now snowy, cold, and dark here, which means no more running outside. So when the opportunity came my way to do this half marathon, I decided it was just the threat I needed to keep me going to the gym through the long, cold winter months. Cue humiliating story...

I greatly dislike situations where I don't know the routine or the "rules" - I'm not good in new settings. That's part of why I don't like the gym, because I don't ever go, and therefore I don't know how it all works. But this past Friday, tackling my fear of the unknown was priority #1 as I set off to try out a new gym near my house. I like to stay under the radar in these situations - blend in as much as possible, don't let anyone know I have no idea what's going on. Not necessarily the best plan when you need to learn something, but it's my default mode, so it's tough to get out of. So I got to the gym, took a brief tour, and then changed into my workout gear and headed for the treadmill.

Now, treadmills are not THAT complicated. Sure, there's all kinds of programs you can set, inclines, speeds, etc., but after some fiddling around and brief moments of flailing like an idiot, I managed to get the thing going at my pace, tucked my water bottle and red ipod nano into their appointed shelves on the "dashboard", and started my run. I planned to run for 20 minutes, and I was doing quite well until about minute 17. That's when my hand caught on the cord of my headphones, sending my ipod flying. It detached from the headphones, knocked into me, and ricocheted straight forward. I laughed a nervous little "ha ha" laugh, shared an "oh, geez!" glance with the teenage girls running beside me, and decided to finish my last three minutes sans music and grab my ipod off the floor when I was done. After my cool down, I hopped off the treadmill and went around to the front to pick up my ipod. Not there. I went around behind it. Not there. I look under it. Not there. I look under the machine beside it. Not there. At this point, the two girls next to me finish their workouts and start looking with me. No luck. We're looking in all kinds of places, places that physics would not allow the ipod to go, but still, not there.

And then, as I kneel on the floor looking under the machine for the umpteenth time (remember, this is a BRIGHT RED ipod, it's not exactly inconspicuous) I notice it. The space between the treadmill conveyor belt and the plastic casing is very small, but not so small that a niiiiiice thin nano wouldn't fit through it. CRAP. I make my way to the front desk, where I get the attendant's attention. This is the same girl who gave me a tour not 30 minutes before, who is allowing me to workout for free that day so that I can check things out. And I tell this nice girl that I need her help disassembling the treadmill, because my ipod is inside it.

20 minutes later, screws and plastic, flashlights and pliers strewn across the floor, we find my ipod, which had indeed shot straight into the workings of the treadmill - a feat that was quite impressive considering the space it had to fit through. Miraculously, both treadmill and ipod were fine. I, however, was absolutely mortified. There's no possible way I could have been any higher ABOVE the radar. "Oh sure, I'm cool, I'll just check the place out, nice quiet workout - oh yes, and could you help me take apart the machines while I'm here? Thanks!" Needless to say, after I helped put the machine back together, I got a gym membership. How could I not at that point?

Please, please tell me you've all done something equally as ridiculous at the gym? Or anywhere? I'll take anything at this point! Oh, and if you want to keep up with all the pain and suffering my training will be bringing, I've started a blog to document it all. I promise I'll do more humiliating and painful things just to keep the blog interesting!
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why I Am INSANE: Part 2, my husband

I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to describing my husband. When people ask me what he does for a living, I kind of laugh and then sigh, and then attempt to explain. My husband is an idea generating machine, with the added bonus that he ACTS on his ideas. He's started 4 companies - just in the last year. And I'm talking full-on, registered with the secretary of state, have a tax-ID, companies. When he decided to raise money to renovate our local recreation fields, he got in touch with the president of Converse to ask for support. When he was looking into opening a digital movie theater, he called up the VP of distribution for New Line Cinemas to ask him some questions. Seriously, if he thinks it's a good idea, he'll go with it. This is one of the things that I love most about him - he doesn't just sit around and dream, he dreams and then DOES. It's a very admirable quality, but it can get a little crazy sometimes...

So, this is the latest "idea":

It's a 1948 fire truck.

And it's parked in my driveway.

My husband bought it on ebay earlier this week.


It's fully functional. There's some reason as to why he has it, but I don't really know what it is, so I can't even begin to explain it. He said to me earlier this week, "I bought Max a fire truck", and I thought "Great! We are totally behind on the Christmas shopping! This is excellent!" And then, he showed me the ebay listing. And I thought he was kidding. Okay, so he WAS kidding about the buying it for Max part, but at midnight last night, two nice gentlemen delivered this huge truck to my house. Sigh. At least Max and his cousins will have something to ride on in all the parades...
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why I Am INSANE: Part 1, my son

There are countless stories of my son Max and his antics. To give just one example, there's the classic "my son came through my ceiling" episode that has reached urban legend status at this point. He's gotten older and the challenges have changed, but he's still a handful. How can you tell?

THIS is my son's school photo. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then I think I can just leave it at that! The grin, the shiner (from hitting his head on a rock while hiking), the not looking at the camera... never has one picture summed it all up so perfectly.

Do you have any "snapshots" (mental or actual) that perfectly encapsulate your child(ren)?

Oh, tune in for the next two installments of "Why I Am INSANE" - it only gets better!
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Monday, December 10, 2007


I love Christmas. I love Christmas in the CITY! I do not get stressed about cards, gift-giving, post office lines, scheduling, attending or throwing parties, performing. I truly love it all. This year I am especially excited because my kids are at an age where they are TOTALLY into it. I love love love this time of year.
However,there is one thing that I hate, despise, get the shivers about....and that is GRAB BAG GIFTS.

My first memory of the grab bag gift was when I was in about 3rd grade. My gifted program class (project arrow it was called where I lived) assigned a grab bag to us. I only mention the gifted part because I associate my hatred for that damned gifted program with the damned grab bag. Because we were smart we didn't do the traditional grab bag....we did that annoying one where you grab a gift, unwrap it, and you can keep it or pick someone else's or whatever those stupid rules were. At the time it seemed much trickier than that, but anyway....I ended up with my own present! I almost cried. Maybe if it had been a good present I wouldn't have...but it was a BOOK! It was, A Little Princess! Boring! Book! Lots of Words! (I didn't read than like I do now.) I don't know why my Mom sent it with me...probably because it was just lying around...or maybe she thought the gifted kids would enjoy a reading challenge....who knows?!

Ever since then I have hated it, but hopefully my reasons are a bit more justified then being bitter about taking home my own stupid dumb lame book gift.

I recently hosted Pukey's kindergarten class for our Holiday Party, and without being consulted, the room moms ordered us to participate in a grab bag gift for the children, with a money limit of $10- I was pretty upset that they assigned this to MY party, but I did not say anything because they had already told everyone, and I didn't want to mess up what the room moms had been planning.

When the blessed grab bag gift event finally happened at MY party, the results were typical and stupid grab bag results:

1. We were short like 4 or 5 presents! Seriously, who doesn't fess up in this situation? Or, quietly take their child aside and explain that mommy forgot the grab bag gift and make some promise to avoid a meltdown or whatever. And how ridiculous is it that a mom actually brought 4 extra with her (because she KNEW this would happen! ha!)?

2. I arbitrarily decided that the children would choose from the grab basket (in our case) in reverse alphabetical order. No one seemed to care about this. And that's just a stupid way to receive a gift.

3. At least half of the kids were dissappointed in their gift, if not more. The only person who was truly ecstatic about their gift was Pukey, and guess why? The smarty pants picked her OWN present!!!!! I was secretly proud of her because I hate the grab bag, and she figured out how to win at grab bag.

I stared at that pile of kids and those pile of (to-be-honset) ho-hum gifts and all I saw was dollar signs: $200- was just wasted on a stupid dumb lame grab bag. $200- that could have:

~Sent 8 Care Packages to troops in Iraq

~Send 20 girls to school in Afghanistan

~Donate to the Humane Society and get the class a subscription to All Animals magazine to share!

~Buy 20 or 30 books to send to flood victims in Washington or New Orleans.

~Sponsor a team running in the Avon Breast Cancer Run.

~Take a field trip to the NYC Post Office and pick some letters for Santa and fulfill some wishes.

The list goes on. SO, I plan on expressing these sentiments, in slightly more mature, hopefully less harmful and more hopeful language, on our parent group site....for next year!

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The following post is not suited for:

-Anyone under the age of 25. (You will only make fun of me)
-Individuals with a weak bladder. (The visuals may make you tinkle)
-Those who take life too seriously. (You only live once)

Picture it, I am almost 33 and I am the mother of two children. As a Christmas present to myself, I decided to start... wait for it... a gymnastics class. It is important to note that I have never done gymnastics before, well anything outside of playing at recess, or the year that I was a cheer leader. So this was an out of the blue, hair brained idea that I got. And I LOVE IT!!! I am off to my 3rd class tonight and I can hardly wait! I seriously look forward to Mondays and the hour and a half that I get to bounce around a gym acting like I am 12. It is pure joy!

Just as a bit of encouragement for any of you thinking this could be a fun idea, but may be too afraid to actually do it. I am one of about 8 of us women who are in the class. All of us are over the age of I'd say 28. None of us have gymnastic backgrounds. One week there were a couple girls who had done it 15 years ago, but they were not Nadia! We all just thought that it would be fun to see what our bodies are capable of and was looking for a bit of exercise. Low and behold, I can still do a cartwheel, round off, bridge, handstand on the beam, back hip circle on the bars, and I am working on a front limber (handstand to a bridge). I get to bounce around on the trampoline. I am one of the only ones in class who didn't pee in my pants or run to the bathroom. I feel good about that. And as for the workout, I am so sore on Tuesday, Wednesday and part of Thursday so I am certain I got a good workout. And in areas I don't normally work out! I was really concerned about my weak wrists, but a little pink athletic tape will do the trick!

I honestly can say this was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I am having a blast. I really hope that I can encourage you all to go and do something you would not ordinarily do. And for those who beat me to it, I would love to hear about the activities you are doing that perhaps society says you shouldn't be doing...

By the way my goal from class is to do an arial or back handspring. I really think I can do it!
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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Another Holiday Giving Opportunity

If you haven't already, go over to Daring Young Mom and check out her latest efforts to help the flood victims in Washington state. The photos are startling to say the least. I can't imagine losing everything...and right before Christmas. If you have the resources to help, Daring Young Mom will make sure it gets right to the people who need it most.
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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Rowdy Diaper Bag Winner

And the winner of our December freebie, a dreamy diaper bag from Rowdy, is...

arin who said "This freebie has to go to me--totally-I mean it." (Just for the record, threats don't win you freebies, but I guess the random integer generator doesn't care). So arin, please e-mail your shipping information as well as your choice of diaper bag (the Scoop News or the Boardwalk Bowler) to talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com.

It looks like the bag is going to a good home at a great time. Based on her last blog post dated 12-5-07, arin is super pregnant and set to be induced sometime today. Good luck with the delivery! If anyone out there knows arin in real life, you might want to mention this to her because we (meaning the draw of the blogs) might not be able to tear her away from her sleep deprived induced baby delirium for a while.

And if you happen to be one of the 110 non-winners of this fabulous freebie, remember that Rowdy is offering a 15% discount to all Tales readers (and the people that love giving them gifts). Just tell Santa to enter the code: TALES at checkout.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

Pumpkin Studs and Practicing

This past year I have shared some concerns I have had both with choosing an instrument for Pukey to study, and whether or not to get her ears pierced.

I never would have predicted that these two things would collide in our universe.

Shortly after I posted about piercing her ears at the tender age of 5 years old (or not), she decided that she was ready. We went to Claire's as a family and got her ears pierced the weekend before kindergarten started.

Though she had been practicing her instrument, the violin, all summer, the commencement of school meant getting really serious about practicing. We are now committing to practicing every day. YUP. Every single day. The school has a (probably cheesy) incentive program to complete 100 days of practicing before the 1st semester is up, which we are participating in, but more importantly is our own personal practice calender, filled with incentives.

Since Pukey is only 5, I can make things incentives that we are probably going to do anyway. For example, we were going to participate in our ward Camping Trip regardless, but I made that a prize after 3 solid weeks of practicing. She is young enough that I knew it would work, that we wouldn't NOT go. Actually, we ended up not going because of a flat tire, but that's beside the point.

Aside from those types of incentives (you get to go trick or treating, you get to celebrate Thanksgiving with your cousins, you get to open Chrismas presents ON Christmas), the next best thing has been earning EARRINGS.

The promise of a pair of pumpkin studs after 6 weeks of practicing was MORE than enough motivation to practice her violin every morning at 7 am. If she ever whined, I just reminded her of the earrings and it was like magic. She reached her goal today and I ended up getting her a 3-pack of Halloween earrings, and today she chose to wear the ghosts. While at Claires I picked up 2 multi-packs with about 9 or 12 pairs of little earrings on each one. My plan is to cut them up into individual pairs and stick them to her practice chart, maybe every 3 weeks. This is motivating her to no end. I actually think this may be sustainable for the entire school year.

So, the moral of my post is that bribery works! If I had waited to get her ears pierced at 10 or 12, I don't think one solitary pair of little stud earrings would be nearly as exciting to practice for, as it is at this age. Now, I just need to figure out what WILL be exciting then, for the upcoming practice charts... Ay ya ya.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Parties, Gifts and Big Families

I often get asked about the content, logistics and craziness of my family gatherings when people find out my immediate family has now hit 80 people (2 parents, 8 kids, 39 grandkids, 15 great-grandkids and all the spouses). In fact just the other day, my neighbor asked my specifically about what we do about gift-giving during the holidays. Personally, I love my big family's gift giving tradition so I thought I would share it with everyone.

First of all, our Christmas Party usually happens on the Saturday after Christmas. It is just one day of festivities and you make it if you can. No guilt, no pressure (but honestly, no one really likes to miss it). We have lots of good food, the cousins all play together (this year the hosts are organizing some double elimination tournaments of Pounce, Dance Dance Revolution and Boggle because we have found from past experience that my family is highly competitive - with brackets and everything!). We have a short talent show, family updates and the kids act out the nativity in full costume (I loved the year we had a white tiger at manger scene).

Then the gifts begin.

-My mom always gets a gift for every single person and many of them are homemade. I still don't know how she does it. It's completely crazy. But she loves it (and so do we).
-The children under the age of 12 all pick names. These gifts are supposed to be homemade or a "hand-me-down" toy.
-Kids age 12-18 have a white elephant gift exchange. These white elephant gifts are supposed to be things they already have or something under $10.
-All the adults have their own white elephant gift exchange. Again, thee gifts are supposed to be things we already have around, or something fairly cheap.

The adult white elephant gift exchange has always been quite the scene. With gifts ranging from live guinea pigs, to a real sword, to precious family heirlooms, it is always an exciting game. And I will never forget the year someone brought a "teddy" (and not of the bear variety) and we all watched in horror as my dad stole it from my brother. Double yuck.

In dh's family, we all pick names (kids and adults) which I think is pretty standard with a medium sized family. But my favorite tradition is that we fill each other's stockings. It's really fun as an adult to get a full stocking of goodies and then try to guess who was responsible for what.

I also love hearing about the families who forgo gift giving all together and instead adopt a family in need for the holidays, or donate to a favorite charity. Such a great idea.

What are your family's gift giving traditions?
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Freebies from the Crib: Rowdy

I am so excited about this December freebie.
1. The product is awesome
2. The freebie is generous
3. We get to feature our first dadtrepreneurs here on Tales.

Rowdy was started by two husband and wife teams (Sara & Mike and Kat & Justin) who set out to design, produce and sell the "perfect diaper bag".

With four kids, Sara employed her parenting experience to design all the perfect practical details while Kat (who is pregnant with her first) brought her eye for fashion to the style of the bags. The two husbands, who have always dreamed of starting their own company, happily handle the business end of things and even built their own sales booth in an Idaho barn before driving cross country to show their bags for the first time last year in Orlando, FL. With the convergence of talents from these four "parentrepreneur's they" have created Rowdy, a company with an amazing line of diaper bags and changing pads.

I have been lucky enough to get my hands on their product so I can give you a real idea of what these bags are like. And while the overall appearance of the bags range from fashionable to sophisticated to fun (I was immediately drawn to the Rocker Convertible in green - which also can be used as a backpack) their real selling points are all in the perfectly practical details. They have the usual multitude of inner pockets, a changing pad and insulated bottle holder, but that is just the beginning. All of their bags are designed with a detachable purse. It's a great place to keep your wallet and other personal items so when you can ditch the diapers, you can detach the purse and go with out having to constantly "change bags".

By far the best detail of every Rowdy bag is the removable, washable lining. All moms who have ever had a bottle leak or a sippy cup spill in your diaper bag please raise your hand. You know it is next to impossible to get it cleaned out. Then the milk residue hiding in all the cracks starts smelling bad. Ugh, it's disgusting. Not with a Rowdy bag. After a spill, just pull out the waterproof lining and throw it in the washing machine and your bag is as good as new. Love that!
Now for what all you moms have been waiting for, the peeps at Rowdy are offering a choice of the Boardwalk Bowler or the Scoop News Bag to the winner of this December freebie (a retail value of $70-$85)! Just enter a comment below! If you don't happen to need a new diaper bag in your life right now please tell someone who does. These bags promise to make any new mom (or returning mom like me) giddy with delight.

And if you don't happen to win the freebie, all the parents at Rowdy are offering a 15% discount to all Tales readers. Just enter the code: TALES at checkout.

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Friday(12/07), midnight EST to enter.
-Make a comment (any comment) on the post
-Please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "nickname" category.
-Winner will be randomly picked and announced Saturday(12/08) morning.
-Please only enter (comment) once.
-Tales contributors are excluded from winning the freebies--sorry :(
-Freebies can only be shipped to US addresses.

What's with the Freebie?
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Things I learned in India

My husband and I recently spent 3 weeks traveling in India, sans child. I expected the unexpected, but here are a few things that surprised me on my trip:
1. I gained 5 pounds from all the good food.
2. There was toilet paper in (almost) every bathroom I went in.
3. I cried like a baby when leaving my baby behind.

I expected to miss him after a week or so - the longest I'd ever been away was five days. But I didn't expect to have such a hard time leaving. Here's what I wrote in my journal while we were at the airport:
"I was surprised at my reaction to leaving Max - I didn't expect it to hit me as hard as it did. I've been away from him before, and the reality is that we will be in contact and could come home quickly if needed. But I just don't want something to happen to him and me not be there. I'm always there whenever he needs me. It was one of the first times I had the full knowledge of the power of staying at home with him, what that means - being there with him through everything. It's an awesome experience, and I'm so lucky that I'm able to do it. Not that I feel that way every day!"

I didn't expect the act of leaving my child for three weeks to so completely confirm for me that being a stay-at-home mom is the right thing for me. And I especially didn't expect it to be confirmed in the first hour of my trip! But that's what happened. NOW, I'm clinging on to that knowledge with all my might as we go through "readjustment", which has included some of the worst behavior I've seen in a year. Sigh.
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Monday, December 03, 2007

Give a Water Buffalo for Christmas

I know a lot of great opportunities for selfless giving pop up around the holidays, but I wanted to let all the Tales readers in on another such deserving opportunity.

Join with your fellow Mormon bloggers (from now on known as "Team Bloggernacle") in a holiday fundraising drive for one of my favorite charities, Heifer International. If you haven't crossed paths with Heifer Int. before, here is info straight from Janet's FMH write-up:

Rated by Forbes as one of the world’s top 10 charities, Heifer International allows charitable folks to buy shares in animals which are then allocated to families and communities in need. In addition to the pig, goat, sheep or whatnot, recipients also receive training on how to use their gifts to establish family and community self-sustenance. Basically, HI fulfills both sides of the old “give a guy a fish” proverb by providing immediate food and a means of obtaining more. Inasmuch as my baby has refused to sleep for two days and I cannot write my way out of a paper sack, I pilfer the following from ever-trusty Wikipedia:

Animals such as goats, water buffalo and camels are “seven M” animals: they provide meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials and motivation. Once its immediate needs have been met, a family is free to sell any excess at market. Heifer International provides a breeding animal along with the gift animal so that it can produce offspring. Participating families are required to “pass on the gift”, that is: they must give at least one of the female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer’s training. In time, that neighbor will pass along one of the offspring of its animal, and so on.
So if you are feeling a little like this (helpless in a world with so many problems), do something like this (make a donation in honor of a friend or family member), and help Team Bloggernacle purchase a "Milk Menagerie" or even a "Gift Ark" for some of God's children who are "less monetarily blessed" this Christmas season. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Here's how:
1. Click on the Team Bloggernacle link.
2. Click on the "General Team Donation" link.
3. Choose from one of the "animal gift" options or enter another monetary donation amount (as little as $10).

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Man (mom and dad) in the Suit

If you don't lie about the big fat man dressed in red that comes down your chimney (or through the garbage shoot in my case), then this post is not for you. We will not be debating whether or not lying about this is right or wrong, good or bad, or a threat on the trust developing between you and your child. That can be in another post...

When I was a child, I woke up on Christmas morning to my stocking spilling over and thensome. Every Christmas Eve, after we opened up our one Christmas Eve present (usually pajamas, specifically Lanz pajamas), and dressed in that present, we laid the cookies out for Santa, the carrot for the reindeer, and chose a spot on one of two sofas in our living room to place our stocking. This is where Santa would come, fill it, set up some other gifts, eat his cookies and take the carrot to go.

Nothing was wrapped, except, as we got older (for some reason) the occasional tiny box in our stocking...usually jewelry or makeup. The elves make some GREAT Clinique Cosmetics...did you know?

Every year I always got big gifts from Santa: THAT doll I wanted, the stereo system, even a miniature tv one year...the list goes on. Then from my parents, wrapped under the tree usually an outfit and then a miscellaneous gift. As I got older and had to pretend Santa was real for my brother and sister nearly a decade younger than me, I would always sit down in front of my Christmas morning Santa loot and make eye contact with my Mom and tell her thank you.

When I took my first turn at being Santa about 6 years ago, I didn't even think twice about how I would do Santa...no...it would be EXACTLY the same as when I grew up. I carefully chose the stocking stuffers for my little baby and stuffed them into her stocking...then set up her Jay Jay the Jetplanes and Chicken Dance Elmo next to a few books, on the couch next to the stocking and on the floor. Of course, being only 9 months old, she didn't understand what was going on...but I didn't care...it was like I hadn't even done any of it...like Santa had really come!

This year, as I have been hemming and hawing over what to get my girls from Santa vs. from their parents, I realized that Santa really does get ALL the glory in this scenario that my parents have set up and I have continued. Santa brought the kitchen last year, and the DVDs and books and barbies. This year Santa is bringing the dollhouse and games and DVDS and books. We are giving them a small gift under the tree, because our trip to California is the present...

So...what I am trying to get to here is how does Santa visit your house? With wrapped presents? An unwrapped extravaganza? Stockings only? Do the big gifts come from Santa or the parents or the grandparents(...now THAT'S a way to save money!)? Do you make things and pretend that Santa and his elves really made them? Does it matter who gets the glory? Do you spoil your kids? Do you have a big Christmas or a small Christmas or does it depends on how well you did financially that year? Do you make your child choose their favorite gift to give away? Do you focus on Christ on Christmas Day or Santa or both?

I don't mind at all that Santa gets all the credit for the Christmas morning Surprise. I think that's just part of the magic of Christmas. And even when I found out it was my parents nearly 20 years ago, it never ruined me, in fact I think it made my love and trust for my parents stronger because I realized all they did for me to provide that amazing moment every year. I knew how hard they worked, thought, planned out, spent, shopped, and organized, and that they did it all for me.
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Holiday Decorating 101

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And I love decorating for Christmas. If you do to, here are some tips for bringing that Holiday look and feel into your home this season on a budget.

1. Start saving your empty boxes of all shapes and sizes. Keep your eye out for some great wrapping paper. You can use colorful, fancy or fun. Wrap your boxes and stack them around the house (on the floor or atop the piano or mantle) like little Christmas trees-largest boxes on the bottom, smaller as you stack higher. This is an easy, pretty way to take up space and add a lot of color. If you have a covered porch, you can throw some heavy rocks in the bottom and stack them outside with a strand of lights.

2. Stock up on inexpensive Christmas balls. You can find cheap Christmas tree balls everywhere in pretty much every color. I love to take glass vases and pour in some cheap glass balls. Group several different size and shaped vases together (always group in odd numbers) to make it look like a completed decoration. Tie a ribbon around a few of them and you have an inexpensive and easy way to make your home look like Christmas. You can also throw a strand of white lights in with the balls to add a little shimmer.

3. Invest in a nice tree. If you dont' mind a fake tree, keep your eye out for something you absolutley love. I have two trees. A very unique spiral tree and a 12 foot tree. I put them both up each year. The best time to purchase a tree is after Christmas, when they are on clearance.

4. Get yourself some garland. Real or fake, garland can add so much to a mantle, an entertainment center, a piano, a shelf, above a doorway...Around the holidays most Costco locations carry real pine garlands that smell fabulous, are inexpensive and gigantic. I usually hang one around the front door with lights, cut one in half and drape it over the piano and on a shelf and use a third for the mantle. For the mantle, I attempt to copy something from an old Martha Stewart Magazine (see below-mine is not done yet this year). I bought a 2X6 board from Home Depot and had them cut it the same length as my mantle. Then I use a staple gun to staple on some branches and lay it on top of the mantle. You can use left over branches from a tree lot (which are usually free), or take apart a Costco garland attach the individual branches to your board.

5. Try to keep your decorations organized. If you have many decorations, try to keep them grouped together by color or style. If you have just a few, choose a great focal location to put all of your stuff. Holiday decorations seem much more impressive when they appear to be in larger numbers. If you put a couple of things in many different places, your guests will miss most of them. But if you keep them all in one place with some lights and some garland it looks much more impressive.

6. Get creative with your tree. Decorating a Christmas tree has never been so fun and easy. Nowadays, anything goes. Find inspiration in magazines, stores, on-line, from your neighbors, the outdoors, your favorite colors, pictures...it's everywhere! Start with a color or a theme and go from there. Last year I started using fabrics on my tree. I decided on a color and bought about 15 yards of 60" wide fabric at a discount store and cut it into 6 10" strips. I bundled them all at the top in sort of a bow and then bunched and tucked them into the branches all the way down the tree. It added a TON of color and texture and took up a lot of space that I didn't need to fill in with expensive bulbs. I also add sprigs of flowers and leaves that I pick up throughout the year on clearance. If you collect Christmas items like dolls or nut-crackers, try putting them on your tree this year instead of your traditional stuff. I like to have 2 trees because one can be the pretty tree and one can be the kid-friendly tree. My kids love to have their own tree so I bought them a little 4 foot tree that they can decorate with their paper ornaments and popcorn garlands. My son even loves to keep it in his room.

7. If all else fails-fill your home with Christmas smells. Of our five sense, smell has the strongest memory and people will remember the smell of your home during the holidays if nothing else. Use wallflowers, potpourri, candles, oils, or make cookies and cider!
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Freebies from the Crib: Tender Cargo Winner

And the winner of our final November Freebie from Tender Cargo is...

tws who said "Cute stuff! Love the idea."

Now for the hard part. You must pick and friend and decide how to spend your free money. Please e-mail us at talesfromthecrib(at)gmail(dot)com with your name and e-mail address as well as your friend's name and e-mail address and cchrissyy will get your e-gift certificates out in time for Christmas shopping!

And remember Tender Cargo is also offering all Tales readers free shipping on the following product categories (but only until 12/2-that's tomorrow!):
-Zolowear Slings
-Under the Nile organic clothing
-Pediped shoes and the Pedoodles boots

Just enter the coupon code "talescrib" at checkout.
(free shipping is USPS 1st class domestic or international, or UPS ground)

Thanks cchrissyy!

P.S. I'll let all you in on a little secret, we're going to be having another totally amazing freebie next week, so stay tuned!
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