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 28, 2008

Womb Envy

I'm messed up.

I sort of have womb envy.

Yeah, and since the whole wombage thing is not going to happen for me, I go shopping instead, and try to fit into low-number-sized clothing that have a definite WAIST emphasis.

And I buy a little something and I feel better. It's a little problem I have right now. Thankfully, most of the time, I am buying sale items, but still, on sale at Anthropologie = not really on sale. Although, yesterday I got something basically free....a skirt for $9.95, I mean come ON.

So, aside from the new shopping addiction to "fill" my empty womb, I find myself being overly critical of all new mommies around me.

And my latest criticism is the baby's running around (ok, they're not running b/c they are like BRAND new), without onesies on. I sit there in church and watch these brand new babies with their bare legs and their shortish dresses and their diapers all hanging out and no hats on their heads or blankets on their bodies, and I want to know: WHERE IS THE ONESIE?

So. I asked a friend of mine, who has a less-new baby...."Am I like old fashioned that my baby's had a onesie on every day (save hot summer days if they were old enough), and that this daily wearing of the onesie usually happened until they were age 2?" And she informed that indeed, that is not the norm.

BUT! If you put your child in a onesie, they have an extra layer, and if they have some leakage of the diaper, often you only have to change the onesie and not the whole outfit, AND....it's just a cozy baby thing. Our church building is also frigid even in the middle of the hot, hot summer, so when I see the baby's bare backs because of the way someone is holding them, I start arguing in favor of a onesie, in my mind.

My mind. The place where it is all tangling up. I know there are a million different ways to be a successful parent. I know that I have made plenty of mistakes being a parent, and that my way is not the only way. I know these mothers and fathers love their babies. It does not matter who has a onesie on and who doesn't. But the messed up part of me that is not healed by the shopping, gets obsessive and frustrated and stupid. And I try to turn the brain chatter off, but it only works while I am in the dressing room trying on clothes.

Maybe I should call Dr. Robin.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby Shower Advice Needed

I want to throw a baby shower for a good friend in my ward. This is her situation:

*she had twin girls
*they returned home from the ICU just a couple of weeks ago after being born at 30 weeks
*she also has a 3-year old daughter and a husband who works long hours and travels as an attorney
*she is really shy about having a baby shower and feels like the ward and her friends have already helped her. (I disagree....I think she needs to celebrate their arrival, but understand her feelings because I am shy about this kind of stuff as well)

I had previously planned a shower for her before the babies were born. However, it was postponed when she went into the hospital with preterm contractions. Now I am trying to rework the shower keeping in mind her new circumstances. I am specifically looking for fun themes for twins (I've never attended a twin shower) and ways to incorporate her specific needs as a new mom into the new shower.

Any ideas?
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paying Kids for Good Grades

The Capital Gains program has been quite the hot topic in my neck of the woods.

What do you think about paying your kids for good grades? Would you ever consider doing it as a parent? Do you think that it is right for the DC schools to implement this program?

A little background: The DC school district is probably the worst public school district in the entire country. Currently, the DC schools also spend more money per pupil than any other district in the country. There have been many many ill-fated efforts to improve test scores, graduation rates...all the general indicators of healthy schools. Last year, the mayor hired a high powered, somewhat controversial school chancellor named Michelle Rhee and basically gave her unlimited power and resources to get the schools back on track.

Personally, I hope I don't ever have to pay my kids to get good grades, but the pragmatist in me won't allow me to say never. As a student, I never even thought to ask my parents to pay me for good report cards, but then again I was extremely competitive when it came to grades back in the day. I also came from a fairly priveleged background and from college educated parents. The connection between education and success was made in my mind at an early age.

Before you tear down this program too quickly, remember that the majority of kids in the DC schools come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Parent involvement has been a constant problem in the schools, and probably a main contributor to the current state of the schools. The connection between education and life success eludes many of these kids. However, a paycheck for attending, behaving and achieving in school is a concrete incentive.... and one that these kids will understand. Proponents of this plan believe that if cash incentives can help take ownership of their education in the short term, they will eventually be able to understand the lifelong rewards of an education over a lifetime.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty

This beautifully written book about "a greedy king, who with the help of a generous quiltmaker, learns to find happiness by giving his possessions away", is a perfect way to talk to your children about giving and sacrifice on this Blog Action Day. As a family, take the time to devise a plan to help relieve poverty in your own community or the world at large. This list has a lot of good ideas and this book is also a great resource for families.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: A Ward YW Blog?

I am a newly called YW secretary and one of my jobs is sending out an electronic newsletter each month. The past secretaries have done either a plain text email or, the most recent secretary, sent a full-on PowerPoint presentation. She felt this might help the girls actually read it since so often they were not.

I was thinking about starting a ward YW's BLOG. This would be a place for the monthly newsletter. News items. Upcoming events. A place to post pictures from activities. A place for spiritual thoughts. I would send a reminder link each time there was something new for the girls to see.

My questions about this are many. Is anyone else out there doing this? Did you have to go through an approval process? If so, what kinds of things were worrisome to the leadership?

If approved, do i leave comments on or off? Do i make it a blog that is "for invited readers only" or can i just leave it open? (i feel like if there's one more step of actually registering and logging on, i may lose some girls and their parents). Is there a safer blog site to use?(i'm only familiar with Blogger and know my mother-in-law once--and only once!--hit the "next blog" button and got an eye-full). It would be for the girls, but i was thinking I would only allow the YW leaders the option to post on it. What other potential issues do i need to consider?

Thoughts on this idea?

Thank you,

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: What Kind of High Chair?

Hello ladies,

I am wondering what you would recommend about high chairs. I talked with mothers who love their portable-hook-it-up-to-the-table high chair and those who like a traditional high chair just fine. I like the idea of a portable one taking up less space, but my husband thinks it would dent/scratch/ruin our table...even with the padded ends. Anyone have an opinion?


Carrie C.
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Lessons from Tia Nanny

We don't really call her Tia Nanny. She is "Abuela" to the boys and "Tia" to DH and I. She is DH's aunt, a woman who lived in his house in East LA growing up and is very much a mother to him. She is an immigrant, the first in her family to arrive in the US. She is a US citizen. She is a fervent Christian, no longer Catholic. She is the best cook you could ever imagine....her kitchen is a studio and she is the artist. And for the summer, she was our nanny.

Before I get too far, I want to say that we were very appreciative of Tia Nanny's help this summer. She took extremely good care of the boys, allowing Ed and I to work in good conscience. I directed a summer enrichment academy for high school aged kids and could not have managed without her. We really needed to make a chunk of extra income this year, between our oldest son's autism therapy expenses and a car that will need to be replaced sooner than later. My job and her service provided this for our family.

A lot went down this summer, a lot I am still processing here in October. There were some funny moments. The fresh mint that kept appearing in Tia Nanny's morning tea and the eventual realization that she was pilfering from the neighbor's garden. The day I left for work admiring my blooming hydrangea and then came home to see it pruned back to a nub. The short haircuts that she insisted the boys wear so they could resemble Barack Obama.

There were some less funny moments. The petty fights she had with our neighbors, relationships that we are still working to mend. The expensive tickets we purchased for her and DH to spend an evening at a flaminco performance, only for her to change her mind about going at the very last second, putting us in a lurch. And the various cultural barriers that often felt like mountains that I just didn't have the energy to climb.

While our goals for the summer were to get ahead financially and for our boys to know their abuela, Tia Nanny seemed determined to turn me into a traditional Mexican housewife.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a mediocre housewife and I am fine with that fact. I have no Martha Stewart or President Beck aspirations. My house is generally clean and organized, at least at the end of the day. I usually fix quick meals for dinner, but once a week or so I'll spend a couple of hours preparing a nice dinner. I don't bake bread, but I would like to give it a try someday. Same with sewing something besides curtains. I could always do better, but I don't exactly need a housekeeping intervention.

Each day after I returned from work, Tia Nanny was waiting for me at the top of our staircase...motioning for me to come see her. She always had a criticism to share, complete with visual aides and a teaching lesson on how to do it the right way. You folded the laundry wrong (but it's folded). This ironing is NO GOOD (why do I need to iron the boys play clothes?). This food is NO GOOD for the boys to eat (well, it's somewhat nutritious and they'll eat it). Why you only buy the tiny bags of rice? (cause that's all they had at the store).

My reaction to her lessons depended greatly on my mood. Some days I was amused and made furious mental notes so I wouldn't forget to share the high comedy of her daily rant with DH. Some days I just endured....waiting out the lecture until I could be free to spend some time with my boys, both of whom I had missed so much during the day. Some days I wanted to yell at her and tell her to leave and that we didn't need her help after all. But I never did. Out of respect for my DH, and also because we really did need her help.

One day after work I returned to the aroma of flautas and rice on the stove. We never expected Tia Nanny to cook our meals, but it was always a treat when she did. She showed me how to fry up the flautas (something I had done a million times, but I indulged her). She told me that she was going to her room to rest, but to be sure to heat up the rice on the stove (NOT the microwave, the microwave NO GOOD!) and to serve DH freshly fried flautas when he returned home from work. And not to eat my own food until he was served.

By the time DH returned from work, it was much later. The boys were fed and I was playing with them out front, trying to squeeze out just a little more fun from the summer evening. DH went into the house and heated up his own meal. We thought nothing of it. Like most couples of our generation, DH and I operate under rules of pragmatics rather than tradition. We do what needs to be done and we don't pay much attention to traditional gender roles.

Returning from work that next day, Tia Nanny met me at the top of the stairs unusually agitated. Que paso? I asked. You didn't serve his dinner last night did you? No, I replied and tried to explain that I was watching the boys out front when he returned home. Apparently, last night had been my Good Housewife 101 final exam and I got a big fat F.

It makes me very sad that you do not take care of my son, Tia Nanny whimpered, dangerously close to tears. That he returns home from work each day and has to heat up his own food...it hurts my heart.

I was upset, but not because I had disappointed her with my lack of good housewifery. It is just not in me to be that wife. I was deeply saddened that she felt my DH was not cared for in our marriage. That she had lived with us for the entire summer, but had failed see the ways that we take care of each other. The affectionate hugs, the long walks and late night talks, the general positivity that runs through our marriage, even when things are hard. That she couldn't see how we cared for each other so deeply, now that was hard to take.

It's a cultural thing. That's a sentence I mutter often to myself when I am with DH's family. Love at DH's house is expressed in a clean house, a fridge crammed with food, a dinner feast served every evening and fresh clothes in your drawers. It is a lovely and important way to show that you care for your family, but it will never be my own chosen signature of love.

I wanted to tell Tia Nanny all of this, everything in my heart. But my spanish just wasn't going to make it there. So I looked straight into her eyes and said, "Lo siento, Tia." And I meant it, I was sorry.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Did you see Oprah today?

Well, if you aren't an Oprah fan, you have to read about the episode anyway. My heart broke for this mother and her family. There were tears in my eyes for the poor little girl who lost her life. What a tragic story. I did feel grateful that this mother chose to share her story.  It reminded me to slow down and take inventory of my life. To try to live in the moment with my children. That every moment with them is a gift.  It was also comforting to hear the stories of other women who oftentimes feel overwhelmed with motherhood, trying to "have it all" - whatever that means. It reminded me of the importance of being whole for myself and my family, and that "me time" needs to be a priority, so that I can be present for myself, my husband, and children. I thought it was an interesting point that there is no such thing as multi-tasking.  That as women we think that we are trying to get all these things done at the same time, when in reality that is impossible. I think the overall message of the episode was to just slow down.

I am in by no means a "perfect" mother and I have had my share of close calls.  Living in an apartment building with an infant and two-year-old has its challenges. Just the other day a girlfriend and I were discussing the how-tos of getting your kids, groceries, laundry, diaper bag, and library books (or what have you) from the car into the apartment.  It seems like a recipe for disaster, but somehow we get it done and have done so safely thus far.  But I can't take for granted the safety of my children.  I don't think any mother does necessarily, but it is easy to forget how quickly life can change and turn a normal day into tragedy. This woman's story is a reminder of that.  

One reason I love this blog is that it is an opportunity for women to support each other in our journey through motherhood.  No matter your circumstance there always seems to be someone out there who relates to your story.  Did anyone else see this episode or read the article?  Any thoughts?  Did it make you reevaluate your priorities or how you spend your day?  I know it made me hug my kids a little tighter today.

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From the Tales Inbox: Facebook Etiquette

I am in need of some facebook help. I just recently signed on because I had so many family members and friends inviting me to be their friend. At first it was fun but now I'm starting to feel kind of weird about it. I guess I'm just not familiar with the etiquitte. Can anyone fill me in on it?

For example, what do I do about the individuals from High School who add me as their friend but I don't want to confirm them. Is that totally rude? I've got several old YW from past wards who are checking in on me plus my kids are always looking over my shoulder. What would they think if they saw under my "friends" a shirtless man covered in tattoos, a girl bearing way too much skin with her tongue out, or another girl with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and two guys around her neck. I'm not judging these individuals but I hope to keep it very clean on my profile page.

Also, do I have to respond to everyone who writes on my wall? It really could consume way too much time. I feel like blogging is different because it is actual meaningful conversation but facebook is a bit too cluttered, and quite random.

I know we should be a "friend" to everyone but really where do you draw the line?


New Facebooker
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