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, April 29, 2008

Autism FAQ

To celebrate Autism Awareness this April, I thought I would share some of the most common questions I get from others after they learn that I have a child with autism.

1. Do vaccines really cause autism? Should I get my child immunized?

Wow, I get this question A LOT and I am always terrified of giving advice that might have poor consequences for a child, so I try to give as even-handed and informed answer as possible. My response usually goes something like this...the CDC (Center for Disease Control) claims there is no correlation between immunizations and autism. However, there is a large contingency of parents who say otherwise. There was a recent court case that, in at least one case, linked vaccinations to contributing to a child's autism.

Parent groups (and some medical professionals) contend that the mercury-based thermisol, which is used as a preservative in some vaccinations, is causing autism in children, often after the MMR vaccination that a child typically receives after their first birthday. However, thermisol is no longer used as a preservative and autism rates have not gone down.

MY OPINION...as a non-scientist but fairly informed mother of a child with autism is that vaccinations might contribute to the autism of a small subgroup of individuals with autism. I chose to delay vaccinations for my "typical" younger son until after the age of 3. I felt this was an appropriate compromise between the need for him to be vaccinated against disease and possibility of it triggering autism with his increased genetic risk. Even now, he still only gets one vaccination per doctors appointment. And I so look forward to the lecture I receive from my doctor about how vaccinations are perfectly safe, blah blah blah, every time he is due for a shot (NOT!).

I think it is important to remember that when you go to see your pediatrician, they are not only serving the welfare of your child, but also the public as a whole. This means that they often see the immunization issue from a public perspective. Indeed, it is a good public health policy for everyone to be immunized in a timely manner. Whether it is best for an individual child is up to debate. YOU, as a parent, however, serve the welfare of your child alone...so if you are uncomfortable about the timing and/or amount of vaccinations given to your child, don't be afraid to question it, to walk out of the office, find a new pediatrician if necessary....trust your mommy-sense!

You can read a lot more about the issue here and here and here.

2. If immunizations aren't causing any or all of the autism cases, then what is?

Most experts agree that there is a genetic component, combined with an environmental trigger. There is no such thing as a pure genetic epidemic (think natural selection, Darwin), hence the belief that something in the environment is triggering these cases. Some possible "triggers" include mercury (not just in vaccinations, but in the air), and other preservatives toxins and pollutants. Basically, nobody knows for sure.

3. If you have a child with autism, do your chances of having more with autism increase?

Yes. You often see families with multiple children on the autism spectrum. I read about a family in Utah where all six of their children had been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The chances of having a second child on the autism spectrum is about 1:8. Almost always, a second child with autism will have a more severe case. Let's just say it's enough to keep me well supplied on birth control. I wish I had enough faith to have another child and know it would all work out, but I just don't.

4. What are the treatments for autism and how effective are they?

The best-documented treatments center around behavioral theory, changing negative behaviors into positive ones and teaching new skills incrementally. We are an ABA family and I like that it is data-driven and tailored to each child's specific needs. Other popular therapies include Floortime, TEAACH, which is used in many schools, and speech and occupational therapies.

Alternative therapies abound....everything from hyperbolic oxygen chambers to chelation to horse therapy. I don't ever knock a therapy just because it hasn't been well-researched, but as parents with limited time and resources to help our child, we have chosen therapies that fit his needs and have proven results using scientific method.
Efficacy of autism therapies vary greatly between individuals, some kids show great improvement and most of their autistic behaviors disappear. Others don't make much progress at all. There are a lot of kids (like my own son) who fall somewhere in the middle. The general rule is that the sooner you can get your child started, the better outcome for success. Unfortunately, very few health insurance companies will pay for autism therapies (even the well-researched therapies), strapping parents with a huge financial burden.

5. What is this autism diet I keep hearing about?

There is a theory that people with autism have trouble metabolizing gluten and casein. It stays in their system, creates a toxic environment, and autistic behaviors result. The autism diet eliminates foods with casein (dairy) and gluten (wheat) from the diet in an effort to cleanse the system of these toxins. Read a better explanation here.
There are a wide variety of outcomes from this diet. There are parents who swear they have "cured" their child of autism through the diet alone (I admit I am a bit skeptical). Others see great improvements in their children's behaviors and cognition. For us, it was an expensive and frustrating year full of cooking, shopping at Whole Foods and trying to make sure Noe was getting enough calories, while seeing no improvement in his autism. That said, I'm still glad we gave it a try. And if you come across a child on the diet, please respect the guidelines of the diet and check all labels before giving food to that child to give the diet its best possible chance of success.
6. Why do a lot of kids with autism have strange, repetitive behaviors such as flapping their arms?

These behaviors are called "stims" or self-stimulatory behaviors. Like many things related to autism, no one knows exactly why they occur. Autism is a sensory disorder, so these stims undoubtedly are linked to the different ways that people with autism experience their senses. I notice in my own child, that if he is not receiving enough sensory input, or if he is bored or tired or overwhelmed, he will start to stim. I also have noticed that if I get him some hard exercise during the day, his stims will decrease.

When my son was first diagnosed, I was obsessed about controlling his stim. I didn't want anyone to publicly see him stimming. I'm not sure if it was because I was self-conscious of my child's differences or if it made his autism more "real" to see it outside our home. Now, my attitude has changed....I don't want him to stim because when he is stimming, he is not plugged into our world and not learning. We do allow him to stim for small periods of time in his room and before bed so he has an outlet for his stress, but we try very hard and keep him plugged in during his daytime activities.

One way to look at stimming is that we all have strange, repetitive habits that make no sense but feel good on some level. Some examples - nail biting, twirling hair....I remember my dad as a "leg shaker"...he always had one leg shaking when he was sitting down. While these activities are socially acceptable, they are just as senseless as the stimming of a person with autism.

7. What causes the frequent meltdowns associated with autism?

Autism is essentially a sensory disorder, meaning that people with autism don't always feel/hear/see things in a typical way. New places, especially places with a lot of stimuli, can be overwhelming and sometimes even a physically painful experience for a person with autism. Some people with autism act out in these situations while others simply shut down. Whenever I took Noe into Times Square when we were living in New York, he would instantly fall asleep. His mind couldn't process all of the input, so he shut down. This made him a really well-behaved baby and toddler....but now I know better.

Some people with autism prefer routines and have difficulties adapting to change. When their routines are interrupted, that can sometimes send them into a meltdown as well.

8. How can I help a friend with a child with autism?
I previously made some suggestions here. I know one difficulty I have is finding sitters who are comfortable with Noe. He isn't very difficult, but it is hard to have to explain all of his quirky behaviors and exactly how we are handling them over and over.

If you have a child with autism in your primary class, ask the child's parents how to best include that child in your class and enlist other children in the class as "helpers." Don't be afraid to explain autism in an age-appropriate manner (or have his parents come in and do it), but don't forget to highlight the child's strengths and special qualities.

My son's primary teacher this year has been such a blessing to us. She goes out of her way to include Noe in each lesson and often includes games he enjoys and things he is good at (matching activities, etc). She also assigns another child in the class as his helper for the day....which has gone a long way in helping the other kids develop a relationship with him.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Understanding Yearning for Zion

I only saw the last 15 minutes of a Dateline story on the recent FLDS news.

I am not well-read in the news of late, but I think I understand that a whole lot of kids have been taken away from their moms and dads and spread around to foster homes in the area.

There was one family in particular that really stood out to me. A mom, a dad, 6 kids. 1 wife. There home clean, organized and empty. Her son's 3rd birthday passed while he and his 5 other siblings were scattered about in foster care.

I am sure that there are many generous people out there trying to do their best to care for these children. I can't help but think about how potentially terrified these children are, not only to be away from their mothers and their homes, but also to be thrown into a culture that is so unfamiliar to them.

One call has lead to these 6 little kids to be taken away from their mom? There is no evidence that the Dad is sexually abusing them...no child and family services involved...just 6 little innocent kids taken from their parents. And that's just one family's story.

So, can anyone help me understand what is going on and whether or not it's ok? It just isn't jiving right now.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Freebies from the Crib: Tassi Winners

And the winners of the ingenious Tassi hairwraps are:

1. Laurel who said "Amazing how little things can simplify life!"
2. Carrie Carnley who said "this first time mom would love to get her hands on a free hair holder!"

UPDATE May 3 - We had to pick a new winner after a week has passed and we have yet to hear from one of our winners. Sorry Carrie! The new winner is Stephanie!

Please e-mail us your shipping info and the shipping info for your lucky friend along with your Tassi color choices to talesfromthecrib(at)gmail(dot)com.

(If your lucky friend happens to live next door or you see them almost everyday, we can have both Tassi's shipped to you for personal delivery.)

Finally, for a limited time, if you buy two Tassi's you will receive FREE SHIPPING. And I know you will love your Tassi as much as I LOVE mine.

Thanks Shawna!
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Freebies from the Crib: The Tassi

This weeks freebie is brought to you by Shawna Ellsworth, the woman behind the Tassi.
What's a Tassi? Well, I'm glad you asked. It's the simple, yet ingenious solution to the “hair problem”. What "hair problem" you ask? You know, the one where you have to pin your hair back with 3 clips, a headband and one ponytail holder and still your hair manages to get soapy and wet while you wash your face. This great little hairwrap gently holds back the front of your hair (bangs and all) and neatly packages up the back (no matter how long) while you wash your face, put on make-up or take a shower. And just like the website claims, it allows you to "do what you do without messing up your Doo". I have had one for a while now, and I am telling you, it's brilliant.

The story behind the Tassi is great as well. My favorite part is that even though Shawna had a nice word-of-mouth business making and selling the patented Tassies out of her home for many years, it is only now, after raising her five children, that she felt ready and able to take the Tassi from small home business to the next level of a thriving company complete with awesome website, perfect packaging, a cool "how-to" video. Cue Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

On to the freebie: Each of our TWO winners will receive a Tassi in the color of their choice. And to show you what a great gift a Tassi can make, each winner will also receive one for a friend! So make your comment below to be entered to win!

And FYI, for a limited time, you can get free shipping if you order two or more Tassies through their website.

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Friday (4/25), midnight EST to enter.
-Make a comment (any comment) on this post
-Please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "nickname" category.
-Winner will be randomly picked and announced Saturday(4/26) 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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Green Baby Shower

My turn for an Earth Day Post.

I wouldn't say I am a super-duper Tree Hugger, because after all, I am not a huge fan of nature in THAT way...but I am concerned about our Mother Earth and I try to do my part to save the earth.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to do a reading of a new musical with some actors. One actor in particular stood out initially because she is budding with child, but also because she is an environmental activist. Yes, she appeared to have some organic clothing, the sigg water bottle and an array of reusable bags, but her activism is on a level that I frankly, never imagined. She and her husband and their friend are currently conducting Your Environmental Road Trip.

For 52 weeks they are traveling to all 50 states to spread awareness about the environment. You can see their first video about the commencement of their adventure here.

As part of their NYC stop, Julie had a Clean Baby Shower. She posted about it on the YERT blog as well.

I spoke to her about it and she expressed that all attending were asked to bring only reusable packaging, natural and second hand items. No plastic please. She received mix cds, a toychest made out of wood that was being discarded in the name of home renovations, personal books from a friend's childhood, and even a live performance. After I heard about this, I joined in the fun and took one of our blankies that my now 3-year-old no longer uses, and wrapped it around some board books that were also not being picked up much anymore, and gave it to her. She was the PERFECT recipient for loved hand-me-downs.

I pointed her in the direction of our own Tftcarrie's flickr album as inspiration for her plight, after I heard she was making onesies for her baby out of her husband's well-used underwear that had lost it's elastic. Maybe next time she can make a bonnet out of a hankie or a skirt out of some neckties.

There are a lot of fun videos on the Yert Website. A few that I enjoyed:

Fastest Shower Techniques

National Parking Day in SLC

Earth Day in NYC

Happy Earth Day (Week)!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Honor of Earth Day...

...I thought I would share some photos showing the progress of my square-foot garden.

I am pretty sure it's better than Heather O's garden. In fact, it may just be the best garden in the world ;).

On a more serious "Happy Earth Day" note, here are some links to some of the Crib's "greener" posts:

And a few more earth day linkies:
And because I have to mention fashion:Happy Earth Day!
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Out and About

Since it's inception, there has been an exodus of some of our Queens Girls here. As much as I miss my girls, it has been exciting to see a whole new crop of sweet, young, impressionables move into our area and enrich us by living their lives. Hmmm....perhaps a Tales from the Crib, The Second?

Anyway, one such girl I've got my eye on, and though she is not a contributor here, she is making quite a contribution elsewhere. I am so proud of my friend for being out about her mormonism at such an establishment as Vanity Fair.

If you would like to read her witty Q and A about the LDS peops, click here.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Freebies from the Crib: Kelly Couture Winner

And the winner of highly sought after Kelly Couture Freebie is:

Vada who said, "Great timing, since the third one just got here..."

Please e-mail us at talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com and we will get you in touch with Kelly so you can pick out your fabulous piece of one-of-a-kind, hand-stamped jewelry.

To everyone else out there in blogland who didn't win a piece of Kelly Couture, place your orders now to get them in time for Mother's Day (remember, it's only 3 WEEKS away!).

P.S. You can keep up with the multi-talented Kelly at her blog, according to kelly.... It's chock full of crafting wonderfulness, delicious recipes, uplifting quotes, and her cute kids.

Thanks Kelly!
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Tales of an Unimaginative Mom

Scene: music class, local community center. The class is singing the last part of Frere Jacques.

Greta: (teacher of 3-year-old Asher's class swaying in her tie dye and unshaven legs) "BE THE BELL! YOU'VE GOT TO TRUST YOURSELVES....JUST BE THE BELL! COME ON GROWNUPS, YOU NEED TO BE THE EXAMPLE TO YOUR KIDS...." Greta is looking directly at Asher's mom.

Asher: "Mama, I'm a bell!" as he sways back and forth so hard he falls over in delight.

Mom: Rolls eyes at Greta and then looks up at the clock for the hundredth time that hour.


Scene: downstairs playroom

Mom: Walks downstairs to discover Asher has taken the mushy remains of his Life cereal and spread them all over his train tracks. "What did you do?" she asks in a horrified voice.

Asher: "Mudslide!"

Mom: "You are soooo cleaning that up, buddy!"


Scene: local playground, lovely April afternoon

Mom: "Asher, it's time to go home."

Asher: "Ok. Come on Guys....let's go!" Asher motions with his hand and then heads in the direction of home.

Mom: Looks puzzled as she thought they were alone on the playground. She examines the play equipment up and down for hiding children until it occurs to her that her child has a pack of imaginary playmates.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Freebies from the Crib: Kelly Couture

I am happy to say we have a handful of cool freebies lined up to giveaway these next few weeks! And before I share with you the gory details of the long-awaited birth of my son, I have to share this next freebie with you all. It comes to us from super cool, crazy-talented, MBA momma, Kelly of the esty shop Kelly Couture.

You never really know what uber-crafty project Kelly is working on at any one moment. She describes herself as craft ADD (which I thank her for, because I finally know how to describe myself as well). Right now, her shop is full gorgeous one-of-a-kind, hand-stamped, customized metal jewelry inspired by the birth of her second son.Kelly found herself wanting a piece of jewelry representing how important & precious her little kiddos were to her. Having a really specific idea set in her mind, she set out to look for it. She scoured the internet & came up with nothing. None of the jewelry she came across had the personality & uniqueness she was searching for or a price tag she could afford.
So, like any creative person, Kelly decided if she couldn't buy it, she would just have to make it herself. Immediately, Kelly got compliments on her hand stamped jewelry. And finally, after prodding from lots of friends & quite a few strangers, she decided to set up shop... and she's been busy ever since.

"It's such a great feeling knowing that someone, out there in the world, is anxiously awaiting something i've created. & i love making jewelry that is special & memorable to the wearer".

Kelly Couture tags filled with your kids names (or inspirational words) hung on a bracelet or a necklace couldn't make a more perfect Mother's Day gift (listen-up all you DH lurkers, May is just around the corner!). I can tell you right now, I have my necklace order already placed with my husband (and I have made sure Kelly knows exactly what I want too). And that is the great thing about kelly couture, if you don't see exactly what you want in her etsy store, just let her know and she will figure out how to give you exactly what you had in mind.
To the winner of this freebie, Kelly is offering any jewelry item from her shop up to $50. And since nothing in her shop is listed for over $45, you have so many choices!

Seriously, don't forget to pass the word along about Kelly Couture jewelry to everyone looking for that perfect, personalized gift for Mom or Grandma this Mother's Day.

You can also keep up with Kelly and her crafting ADD at her blog, according to kelly...

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Friday (4/18), midnight EST to enter.
-Make a comment (any comment) on this post
-Please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "nickname" category.
-Winner will be randomly picked and announced Friday(4/19) 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?
Read more!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Just me.

I am not terminally ill. I do not have a disability. I have nothing chronic. I embrace life and I try to eat healthy and exercise and though I always think I could be doing more, when I look around, I realize that compared to the average American, I am doing pretty good with my health and lifestyle. In fact, I might be the BEST at this (just kidding...that was sarcasm for Carrie).

I have noticed however that I have had a couple of setbacks to overcome in my short life. In junior high school I had pneumonia twice. I was diagnosed with a long list of allergies, which continue to afflict me and my list continues to grow. In college I got mono with a twist of hepatitis, and then I did pretty good until about 4 years later when I had me some viral meningitis. I have also battled depression a few times, the most recent bout being in 2006. The latest health setback was a grand mal seizure which resulted in a head concussion. I sometimes wonder why every handful of years I have to do this again, like what am I missing here?...but it turns out I have learned a thing or two.

To be a bit general about it, past lessons have included:

pneumonia/allergies: I am a singer and I need this health challenge to keep me humble and grounded and dependent on the Lord for my best health and best voice.

mono: a challenge to teach me how to set goals and achieve them. My to-do list after taking 2 weeks off of an already over-extended schedule, was so long. I learned how to take baby steps to a goal and the academic and organizational lessons I learned in those two weeks benefitted me throughout the next 2 years of college, and inevitably enabled me to finish a 4-year degree in 3 years.

meningitis: this experience taught me about family and friendship. My friends helped me so much and supported my family and me. I realized how close to death I could have been. I felt so blessed that I didn’t go deaf, lose my eye sight, that my heart didn’t stop. I think this energized me and gave me unlimited motivation to go, go and go some more...once I was healthy that is. I also gained a strong testimony of the power of prayer and fasting. I was unable to do that for myself, but countless people were including me in their prayers and their fasts and I felt the healing power of that.

And now I am here writing after a month of soul-searching after this life-stopping event. I have had to go to that place of everything being stripped away. What if I no longer have control over what my body could do at any given moment? This will limit my abilities to go places, raise my children, do my job, my calling, live my life. I know that with the right medicine everything that I felt was taken away by the one event, will be returned to me. And in the end, after I have had all the tests and gotten all the answers, I may realize that I am just the same as the day before I had the seizure. I will not have a seizure disorder, I will never have a seizure again, I will be back in control of everything in my life, won’t be on medication and it will be like it never happened.

Only it did happen. My plan for 2008 was to have a baby. I was going to get in as much work as I could before my physicality limited me. I was even planning on having a newborn during that time of the year where I have the fewest jobs and auditions. I was a little planner and I was going to continue with the fast pace that I have been on for quite a while. Then everything came to a stop and I realized that though I do pray and give the man upstairs a lot of credit for the blessings in my life, He is the one in control. He has given me the experiences and comforts and safeguards that allow me to learn these lessons and move on. He has prompted me to do the soul searching that is necessary for me to recover from this.

If I hadn’t taken quite some time to think about what it means to have another baby (prior to making the decision to try for one), I never would have been ok with possibly/probably giving up a portion of my career, sacrificing time with my other kids and spouse, and time for myself. The loss that the seizure potentially meant for me, would have been much more devastating if I hadn’t already decided to give much of it up for a third child.

But I have been given comfort that I am not my career. I am not my list of jobs. I am not my children’s mother, I am not my husband’s wife, I am not a role that I play and I am also not a seizure. I am just me. Even if it is all stripped away....I am still worth something and I am me. So, with or without a seizure disorder, with or without children or more children, with or without another job to my name or another exciting story or another blog to write, I can go on with joy in my heart because I am not my stuff...I am just me. And I am so grateful to have learned that.
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Adventures in Shopping Maternity

So since our resident fashion maven is now adjusting to life with her new little boy, I will attempt a fashion post of sorts. Just a few new things I've found, and learned about, in the crazy world of maternity shopping after (almost) completing two pregnancies.

This is my new favorite maternity tee. The side ruching is so flattering on the growing belly. I've worn this tee throughout my entire pregnancy. I can't say enough about it. Go try one on! You may end up buying a few in different colors. I have also seen this ruched style available in shirts and dresses at The Gap and Babystyle.

Speaking of Babystyle, I really love this store. (Maybe it's because my sister is a manager and I can cash in on her discount sometimes). I know it's not possible to go to an actual Babystyle store anywhere in the country, but check them out on-line. Their outlet is great (for maternity as well as baby/kids clothes). I've gotten super comfy designer tees and layering tanks for as little as $6.99. I also bought a Storksak diaper bag for $24.99, marked down from $150! Just be careful because I've noticed a lot of their outlet is "final sale".

Have you tried Mama Spanx ? I wish I had them during my last pregnancy. I was a little unsure buying them, wondering if they would be comfortable to wear with my Gs, and yes... there is a lot of tugging and tucking involved, but I love these things! They have helped me feel a little less "bumpy" and smoothed out my curves on a number of occasions without me feeling squeezed or sucked in. I will be wearing the Power Mama's to the wedding I have to go to in two weeks when I'm 37 weeks along.

I love finding interesting clothing websites that I didn't know of before and that may have something new and unusual I don't see in all the stores. I found Childish Clothing from Design Mom a while back. I particularly love some of their dresses, and they seem to have some really great sales. Please pass along any sites like this that you might know of. Isn't it nice find some pieces that aren't the "same old" things all the staple stores are selling?

Have you heard of the secret fit belly? I never thought I would be comfortable in a pair of pants with a waistband practically up to my chest, but never say never. Motherhood, Mimi, and A Pea in the Pod all sell this "revolutionary" new style available for both pants and skirts. While shopping at Mimi's I was a little intrigued and the sales woman told me that they are so popular they have a hard time keeping them in stock. The waistband is seamless and SO comfortable, and adds a bit of support around your growing belly. The pants are designed to wear throughout your entire pregnancy. I invested in these and they are by far the BEST maternity pants I have ever worn. Go try on a pair... you may just love them, too.

Lastly, borrow and lend! During my last pregnant Zinone sent me a HUGE box full of her maternity clothes. I did the same for my sister last year, and in turn this pregnancy my sister lent me a bunch of great stuff. That wedding I have to go to? I'm borrowing a dress from a girl in my ward. I think borrowing and lending clothes is the BEST way to get through your pregnancy. Who wants to overspend on clothes you're only going to wear for nine months?!

A few things I've never found are great church clothes, and a nursing bra that I love. I'd especially be grateful for nursing bra tips since I'm about to embark on that in about 5 short weeks. So what are your best maternity shopping tips? What are your favorite finds? I know there are a lot of pregnant, soon-to-be pregnant, or used-to-be pregnant mamas out there so spill your shopping secrets and pass along your best advice!
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh Baby...

We are excited to announce that our fellow Tales girl and fashion maven, Tftcarrie gave birth to a beautiful baby boy this past weekend. She has a new found appreciation for the beauty of epidurals and was able to have a great birth experience.

Congratulations, Carrie - we are so happy for you and your family!
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Friday, April 11, 2008

An inconvenient truth...

To say I am nutso about animals is sort of an understatement! I am not afraid to admit that I have twisted emotions at times where I would rather see a human suffer than an animal. I know, extremist. But it is the way it is for me. I have come to accept it and those who know and love me have to. I LOVE animals!

I am an activist too. I don't 100% agree with PETA and their tactics, but I can empathize with their plight. I, like most people would much rather live in the naive state of life where I know nothing about animal abuse or cruelty. Where I just assume we have come so far in science that they can't possibly need animals anymore to see if make-up works or not. But lets face it you can only be naive for so long especially when your love for animals runs so deep.

I have made many commitments in the name of stopping animal cruelty and my most recent choice has my stomach all in knots and not sure where to start. I have decided to boycott all products that do animal testing. Last night I just googled exactly that and was astounded and horrified to see how many products are still associated with animal testing! And I own 90 percent of those products. So here begins my newest sacrifice. Re evaluating the products I buy before I just go buy them. No more huggies, even though I have only used them since my kids were born. No more Oil of Olay moisturizer. No more Lancome mascara. No more visine. No more crest toothpaste. No more tide??? Are you following me? As I was using the last of my spray and wash tonight on a load of laundry, I felt sick thinking about what it stood for and how many innocent animals died so I could use it and then the reality of it set in... how hard it will be to not use it cuz I make a special trip to buy it in bulk at costco. I use ALOT of spray and wash!

I need help. I need support. I need to know I am not the only crazed animal lover out there willing to do this. And please, what advice can you give me on products to use? After determining which companies still test, I thought now I need to print the list of products that don't. A good place to start I suppose. It is just going to be tough when so much of it is a daily part of my life. It will require discipline and knowledge and study before I go shopping. UGH~

I just can't live in the naive state of mind anymore... but that state is so easy!!! Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who don't care about animals or believe they don't have a soul!
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The Things They Say; The Lessons We Teach

"Look Mom, that man's little!" exclaimed my three year old as he pointed his sharp finger over my shoulder.

I turned to find a small man standing behind me. Not a midget exactly, but obviously smaller than the others around him. Small enough for my DS to notice. I fumbled for words to say as this gentleman reassures me it's fine, that he was used to it. My heart broke. Yet another kid making fun of this man, and not only was I witness to it, but I gave birth to the person doing it! So I tried to explain that all people don't look the same. We are all different sizes and after all DS you are little too. I really hoped it sunk in and that we were done with that discussion (oh yes, i am naive). A few days later DS points at someone else (I don't remember why) and says "look mom. We don't point at people. It hurts their feelings." Ok. Maybe something sunk in.

Fast forward one week. DS is saying "Oh my G**" over and over and over and over. We have had this discussion already, twice. It keeps coming back. I wonder if I'm explaining it correctly and if he understands (I'm pretty sure he doesn't). I explain anything and everything to help it stick.

"Do you know who Heavenly Father is?" I ask.
"Nope" he replied.
"Do you say your prayers to talk to him?"
"Nope" he replied again.
Sensing I'm really losing him, I say, "He's our Father in Heaven. We don't say His name like that because it..." I draw a blank. What should I really say? It hurts his feelings? It's rude? It's against the commandments? What is he really going to understand? So I say all of it. I ask him if he understands.
"Nope." He says.
Discussion over.

Fast forward yet another week, or two. (Who's keeping count anyway?) DS is pretending he is smoking his straw. I ask him what he's doing. "I'm mokin'" (he's really cute when he tries to say it). And what I like to call the "smoking discussion" starts AGAIN. (this has been going since age 2) We talk about how it burns our lungs, turns our teeth yellow, and makes us sick. It still hasn't stopped him from smoking anything he finds, crayons, sticks, forks etc. However, now every person we pass on the street that is smoking gets a lecture; "Hey you, We don't moke! It make you sick!"
Do you think this is going to be enough to keep him from trying it himself? I'm optimistic, yet still doubtful.

Fast forward to today, (my personal favorite). Walking to the store DS tells me that the man in the truck is staring at me. I'm thinking he's just glancing as we walk by, but considering this is a city with dirty old men, it is possible I am being checked out. Regardless, I keep walking when DS yells "Hey you, don't stare at us like that. Its rude!" I laugh and then think, "That's my boy, standing up for your mom!" This has been the only time to date that I have been proud of him for yelling at someone. Maybe this is wrong of me, but I do hope that while he is learning all of these manners, he is also learning to stand up for himself. Especially in this crazy city. I'm glad to see that today he is.

Which has lead me to "today's ponderings." It's hard teaching kids because they see in black and white while we actually live in a world shaded with grays. I would love to teach them all these nuances now, but realize the realizations about life come slowly and not until you are a lot older. So we watch them grow and learn to function in society while we tell them "Do this. Don't do this." For many reasons that are left undefined.

I hope I get better at handling these teaching situations. I try to think of how to prepare for all of these moments, but realize even if I could prepare, it would be a crazy thing to do. I hope I live my life the right way, enough that my kids will notice and hopefully a little will rub off. Again I'm optimistic, yet doubtful.

I remember the philosophy of one of my acting professors. He always said, "If the play is good, it's all because of the actors. If the play is bad, its all because of the director." This has always made sense to me and I think it's the same with kids and parents. I hope my kids end up good (as we all do). They will have had to work hard to navigate all these shades of gray to come out right in the end. And on that I'm pretty optimistic.
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Freebies from the Crib: UBrand Winners

And the winners of our UBrand Luggage Tag Freebie are:

1. Joshua who said, "The frog is cool, my son will love it."
2. Richelle who said, "Those look really cute!"
3. Erin Marie who said, "I love the frog one... and the 4-leaf clover."
4. Linz who said, "Congrats on a fab product! I hope I win!"
5. Koobear who said "Cute tags!"

Please e-mail us your shipping information and your choice of two tags to talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com and Michelle Warford at UBrand will get them shipped out ASAP!

And if you aren't one of the lucky five winners, all Tales readers will receive FREE SHIPPING on orders from UBrand through 4/15. Just select first-class mail shipping and then enter the code: CRIB08 on the following payment page.

Thanks Michelle!

P.S. What? What Baby? I don't know what you are talking about.
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Student of the Week

My daughter’s kindergarten class assigns each child a week to be Student of the Week.Through popping into the classroom I have observed some posters that represent the student of the week. It is commonly a white flimsy poster board with some snapshots glued onto it. I heard that last year a kid whose mom was Dominican brought in some cuisine and taught a dance. My daughter came home the other day with a cd of Columbian Music and a fact sheet about the country, and she has also brought home a Brazilian soda from another student.

Pukey’s week is approaching and I find myself getting caught in the international flavor that many of these parent’s have taken. My daughter is 4th to 6th generation American. We have done our family tree and know the list of countries that we come from, but we don’t eat the food, speak the language or visit family back there. I don’t think that attending the kindergarten class and speaking about Slovakia or Denmark or Wales will mean much to my daughter or to the kids.

When I take a second to think about this upcoming week and the freedom and flexibility given to me by the teacher (“come in any time, any day, every day, just one day, a few minutes, an hour, whatever you want to do”), I find myself thinking about our religion, our family traditions, the special experiences we have had by being in the city, our collective hobbies etc. Right now the only idea I have is to come in dressed up in one of our Halloween costumes (we dress up as a family every year), and read some of my daughter’s favorite picture books to the class.

I wanted to open up the comments to what you all have done when given this assignment or any ideas that come to mind if your kindergartner had the opportunity to be the student of the week.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Why I am a Moron...Part 1

Part 1...because there are oh so many moronic parts to my life :)

So...I'm terrible about taking care of my health issues. Those who know me well know this about me. Good at taking care of the kids, bad at taking care of myself. This episode involves me being a moron about my vision health.

I have bad vision and have since high school. However, the last time I had an eye exam was about 7 years ago. 7 year old prescription for contacts. 7 years ago my vision was 20/80. Oh, and my glasses are from my junior year of college; I will be 33 next month. I can never see anything (ask my girlfriends, they will attest to this). But I hate going to the eye doctor and so...I continue meandering through life slightly blind.

However...my last pair of contacts died on Monday. The ones that I leave in my eyes for months at a time, day and night. Ya wonder why they died? Yeah....Left with my 12 year old glasses (which are complete crap but allow me to at least see colors and vestiges of outlines) I decided, "I MUST GO TO THE EYE DOCTOR". I have been self prescribing my own contacts on 1-800-Contacts now for about 5 years; whenever stuff started to get blurry, I'd "reconfigure" my prescription a bit. No, I am not an eye doctor. Just a moron. This is why Carrie gave me a hard time when I complained of a headache after trying out a "new" prescription last summer.

Anyhoo...I showed up at Lenscrafters today, figured out my insurance, sweet talked them into letting me have an appointment RIGHT now (they could already tell I was a little on edge - not being able to see does that to a person), and went back to the exam room.

The technician took my crap glasses so now all I could see was different shades of fuzz and handed me a board with what she said contained drawings of 8 diamonds. She instructed me to tell her which parts of the diamonds were raised 3-D.

After looking at it for about a minute I handed it back and said,"Is this a trick question? I think it is...". "No, m'am", she said. "Try again". So I looked and looked - couldn't even tell these things were diamonds, handed it back and told her I couldn't see a thing. Then I laughed and asked again, was that a trick question, seriously? "No, m'am. ALL of the diamonds had 3-D raised dots". Failed that one.

Next machine - she wanted me to "look into the light" and press a button when I saw the wavy lines. "OK, go" she said. I sat there, waiting for the lines. "M'am, you can start now". "Oh", I said. "What am I looking for?" By now she probably thought I was mentally handicapped or high or maybe both. "The black and white lines m'am? The ones that are moving?" She had such hope in her voice when she said it. Yep. Still nothin'. "M'am PRESS THE BUTTON IF YOU SEE ANY MOVEMENT AT ALL". Uhhhh...I think I saw three little flashes...maybe. Failed that one too.

I also failed 2 more tests, the basic ones where you read the lines of letters and numbers, yada yada yada. Couldn't see jack.

So then the dr. came in and after I went through my whole spiel about how I refuse to do glaucoma testing because I hate the air puff in your eye thing AND the dilating thing (he was pretty concerned that I was refusing stuff but he should have just been proud of me for even sitting there, looking around at all the fuzzy haze), he asked me what brand of contacts I had been using. I fished out my last poor container of one lonely contact and handed it to him. He looked at it and asked how often I wore these things and how long I would leave them in my eyes. I told him he didn't want to know...but he assured me that he DID so I told him, oh, months at a time.

"M'am...these aren't even FDA approved for this prescription and the way you have been wearing them! Where did you get these things?" Uhhhh...I don't want to talk about it...He made some notes and looked really concerned...I'd have loved to have read those notes he made but you know, I wouldn't have been able to see them.

So we did a bunch of other vision related things, lots of different lenses and "does 1 look better or 2?" WOW! They ALL look great! This is already a HUGE improvement over my own personal prescriptions! Sign me up! WOW, I can see the second line from the top! Now the third! Oooooo, maybe even the fourth?

We finished, he made more notes and told me to never use those contacts again and to please only use what he was going to give me. I laughed, agreed and asked him how bad my vision was. "M'am...you're a big E". "Huh?" I asked. "Well, that means all you can see if the big E on the chart. Your vision is 20/400 and that's without taking the two astigmatisms into account. "I have TWO astigmatisms?!? WOW, no wonder my prescriptions haven't been working!"

I walked up to the front counter to pay my bill, brand new contacts affixed to my happy eyeballs...and my flip flop broke. So as I was paying my bill, I was also stapling and taping my flip flops back together. I must have been QUITE the site.

But hey, I could SEE my flip flops!
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A New Gang In Town

Moving from Queens was difficult for me. I loved our tiny second story apartment next to the Triborough Bridge, our Greek/Italian neighborhood, our ward, our friends, even the grouchy Greek owners of our neighborhood laundromat where I could never follow "laundry protocol" exactly to their liking. I was anxious for a fresh start but I also felt like we were falling into a stereotype that I had wanted to avoid -- yet another young family from the West who had moved to NYC to get ahead, and now that we had, were moving to the suburbs to live large (although really, how could any of us confine our NYC experience to such a narrow stereotype?)

We definitely aren't living large, but by Queens standards, the town we live in now feels like a country club. We spend our summers kicking back at the neighborhood pools and lakes, our winters at the town center drinking hot chocolate and ice skating. I took a tour of our neighborhood school last week and I wanted to cry out in joy to the public school gods. I couldn't have thought up a better school for my kids - a diversified student body, a strong arts and science focus. The kids were busy, happy and learning.

Yet I still feel twinges of guilt when I use my shiny new appliances, when I shop at clean stores with plenty of aisle space for my cart, when I drive my car for that matter....usually unlocked. "You are such a sellout, " I tell myself. Living in New York, that lifestyle we loved to hate....that felt real. This life...it feels more like an extended resort vacation.

Well, it turns out my little East Coast Camelot isn't perfect. I have uncovered a gang problem of sorts in my town and its members are extremely territorial and prone to violence. In fact, I have been attacked twice in the past two weeks.

Let me explain....since winter has lifted, I have spotted tons of geese around town. At first, it was a fun game for me and the boys. Spot a goose, count the geese....anything to keep them busy during our errands around town. Then I started riding my bike into work (I work 2-3 times a week teaching SAT prep classes) and noticed geese not just near water sources, but hanging out on street corners at busy intersections. Both of my "attacks" occurred at busy intersections that a goose had claimed as its own.

My first attack, I was woefully naive of the danger at hand. I remember thinking how cute it looked....like an overgrown duck. When the goose saw me approach, arched its neck, flapped its wings, started squawking in that half-crazed way and headed my direction, I was so stunned I actually stopped my bike. When the goose kept coming towards me, I decided I'd better get away, but not before feeling a couple of sharp nips from its beak on my ankle.

The second attack, the following week, was much like the first. This time, however, I tried to fake out the goose by changing directions on my bike, like a basketball player penetrating toward the hoop. I avoided bites the second time around, but the memories are still fresh wounds.

As I told my younger sister on the phone the other day....now here's something that would never happen to me in New York!

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Freebies from the Crib: UBrand

This freebie comes from Michelle Warford, once a producer for Yahoo! and now mother of two and creator of cool and practical UBrand luggage identification tags.

Just like any good invention, this one came from Michelle's personal experience which made her think "there must be a better way."

“I had just taken a flight alone with my two young children. There I was - waiting for my luggage with my antsy four-year-old daughter and an impatient one-year-old son - trying to herd in the kids with one hand and find our bags with the other. It was then that I realized that there needed to be an easier way to identify luggage. Luggage tags are useful, but can be hard to spot because they attach to the top of a bag, which isn’t always visible right away. I needed something - preferably cuter than duct tape - that made my bag immediately obvious to me and everyone else around me.”

When she returned home and searched for the perfect luggage identifier, she found nothing beyond the colorful luggage tags and ribbons she had already found to be less than "identifying". That's when the idea for UBrand was born.

UBrand tags are made from a 3-D polymer based construction that are water, UV, heat and cold resistant which attaches using a semi-permanent adhesive. What does that all mean? Basically, these tags can handle the extremes of severe travel conditions, stick well to luggage while still being removable (without leaving a nasty sticker "goo") and are simple to use (no sewing!).

And with the cute designs and newly added monogram letters, they aren't just for travelers anymore. UBrand tags can also be used on jackets, backpacks, lunchboxes, diaperbags, and sporting equipment! In fact, Michelle's kids (now 4 and 7) and all their school mates go crazy for them and love collecting the UBrand tags making Michelle one of the coolest moms on the block.

Now's your chance to be a cool mom too. Michelle is offering 2 free Ubrand tags to each of this week's FIVE freebie winners. Which tag will you choose and what will you decide to "identify"? Make your comment now to be

And if you aren't one of the lucky five winners, all Tales readers will receive FREE SHIPPING on orders from UBrand through 4/15. Just select first-class mail shipping and then enter the code: CRIB08 on the following payment page.

How to win this Freebie:
-You have until Thursday (4/10), midnight EST to enter.
-Make a comment (any comment) on this post
-Please don't post under Anonymous - use a Blogger login or the "nickname" category.
-Winner will be randomly picked and announced Friday(4/11) morning (unless I am in the process of having a baby)
-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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Monday, April 07, 2008

12 months and 1 day until...

I have one year left of being in my twenties, and I am a little bit panicking.

For all that has happened in the past 9 years, I really cannot believe that my twenties are coming to an end. I have 12 more months of being in that demographic that I check all the time: 24-29.

I have always been ok with aging, but I figured out that’s because my age still starts with a 2. I endearingly call most of my friends OLD because their ages begin with a 3. But soon, I wil be in my thirties too.

I had absolutely no trepidation about leaving my teens and entering my twenties. I was thrilled to be finally old enough. But, in my thirties, what do I have to look forward to? What am I NOW old enough to do? Well, in about 6 years I could run for president and maybe my insurance would cover an amniocentesis. My ability to conceive will probably be gradually compromised. The elasticity in my skin will get looser and looser. I will undoubtedly spend more money on anti-aging products. The spider veins and cellulite will probably increase while my metabolism decreases. I will no longer be considered for certain jobs. The other day I was sent on a casting for a 35-40 year old woman for a pharmaceutical. I think in a few years I will be going out for botox and menopause commercials. Boniva anyone?

Am I already there? Really?

At the same time I see that most of my daughter’s classmate’s parents have about 10 years on me. They seem completely unphased by this. Should I be panicking that I will be an empty-nester before I am even 45 years old? Should I wish I was older? Am I insane to have two children in my twenties?

I am so mixed up....I think I get that aging is mostly positive, but seriously, I have not spent much if any time on the reality that I will be in my thirties one day, and that countdown has begun, and I'm a little freaked.

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Art Gallery

If you are getting spring rain or you live somewhere where spring hasn't figured out how to arrive yet...try this to entertain your kids inside. I promise, it's so fun!

Play Art Gallery.

Now, for some of you just the name will get your creativity going and that's all you need. But I'll explain how we played Art Gallery, to get the rest of you started.

To prepare

--I cut out some "frames" from old files (you could also use cardstock or construction paper). Make your center cut-out about the size of a half-sheet of paper. I drew some swirls and curls on some frames and drew straight lines on others to make them look fancy. Then I taped them along a couple walls, from the top only, at kid height.

--Next, I wheeled in my son's desk, which is really a printer stand. This was our cashier's table. I stocked it with an egg carton and some change. (The egg carton seemed fun for sorting-- but any sort of bowl will do.)

--Then I set up the table with a few art stations: Markers/crayons, chalk (with black paper), and mosaics. (To do mosaics I cut lots small squares of various colors of construction paper and throw them in a bowl. Then I draw simple geometric designs or pictures--house, flower, boat, etc, for the kids to glue the squares in.) I kept most of my art paper 1/2 sheets. Some mosiacs were full size but the acutal picture still fit within the frame's opening.

Next came the kids.

I had them all be artists first. As soon as the art was made I taped it up on the wall under (showing through) a frame. But not taped TO the frame (this makes it easier to take off and sell). When we had enough finished pieces the kids became the sellers, buyers, cashiers, and some remained as artists.

I was actually the seller first (to help them get the hang of it). I showed the buyer around the living room and tell them about each piece of art. I made up ridiculous names of artists, funny explanations of each piece, and exorbitant prices.

Then the buyer would choose their favorites and buy them from the cashier. (You'd almost think the cashier got the shaft and didn't get to do much--but I think having the desk and the change was a favorite job!)

We continued playing, switching jobs as we felt like it, constantly trying to keep enough art in the frames, and having a great time.

Here's why I loved playing Art Gallery and why I'm posting about it.

--First, it's a great activity to get involved with your kid's imaginative play--I didn't find it boring after 5 minutes.

--Second, it can be simplified or made more elaborate based upon your kid's ages--I think you can get a great variety of ages involved in the game (ours ranged from 2 to 7).

--Third, you can get a bunch of kids involved, or keep it to just a couple. We had my three kids plus two neighbor girls over.

--Fourth, it's fun for boys or girls.

This game may go a lot like office, restaurant, school, and so on. I had just never thought of art gallery! In fact, I owe the inspiration to my 5 year old niece. While I was IMing my sister, she said that she had to go because her daughter wanted her to play art gallery. I don't know exactly how they played, but we had fun running with the idea.
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Friday, April 04, 2008

My Bags Are Packed, I'm Ready to Go

Tomorrow is my official "due date." The problem is that it's lookin' like nobody told the little boy who has made his home in my uterus for the last 9 months. It seems he feels pretty comfortable there (despite my double dutch jump roping this past week) and isn't making plans to vacate anytime soon.

After getting "checked" today, being pregnant for like FOREVER is looking like a real possibility. When the midwife asked me to please make another appointment for next week, I almost lost it.

I am getting dangerously close to the crazy place. You know, the place where I am 3 weeks overdue and end up having to push out a small child instead of a tiny little newborn (which almost kills me) who I then have squish into the cute little "going home" outfit which make him look like a stuffed sausage in all his first photos. I don't like the crazy place. Please don't make me go there.

So I am determined to try a considerable amount of "put-you-into-labor-old-wives-tales" this weekend in an effort to trick myself into thinking I can somehow coax this baby into the world before my new "everyone will-have-to-look-at-my-feet-soon-pre-labor-pedicure" completely chips away. The faint silver lining is that thanks to General Conference, I won't have to face everyone at church this Sunday with their I-know-you're-well-intentioned-yet-I-still -might-have-to-kill-you "What are you still doing here? and "Are you still pregnant?" comments.

Here's the list so far: Red Rasberry Leaf Tea, Evening Primose Oil, a possible trip to this LA eatery for "the salad", sex, bumpy roads, long walks, stairstepper, and (at the suggestion of Melissa) sex while driving over speed bumps after walking up stairs.

Any other suggestions? BTW, I am nowhere near desperate enough for the old castor-oil-labor-inducing-colon-cleansing. I've heard way too many horror stories.
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Same gals, same topics, but a new look.

In honor of any spring cleaning that might be going on in our homes, we decided our little online home was due for some sprucing up. So behold, the new Tales from the Crib. Here's a little about what has changed...

Our rather lengthy lists of links and post topics which were featured in the side column of our former blog have now been condensed into pull-down menus - just select the site or topic you want to read, and you'll be magically whisked away.

One of MY favorite features, the "Recent Comments" section, is unfortunately being a little persnickety in our new template, so it's been abandoned for the time being; we hope to see it back soon.

Otherwise, it's the same Tales you've been reading all along. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Post Back

Can you believe I haven't blogged for THIS long?

I have been incapable of much creative thought for the past month because my brain has been oozing blood. I'm pretty sure it's healing up just fine, but I will enjoy the ignorance of my hopes until I know for sure in a few weeks.

No pity please, just explaining my absence. I am doing good, but still working on retrieving that blogging part of myself, and I have mustered up enough to come up with a very exciting first post back.

Drumroll and a kick-line please....

Pukey is now a blossoming 6-year-old. She is delightful in every way most of the time. She is an ideal first born for many reasons and I am quite in love with her.



She puts her finger in and whatever she gets goes straight into her mouth.

She then pauses for a good swallow.

I think she likes it.

I have tried to explain why it's innapropriate and even resorted to trying to shame her for doing it, but I cannot get through to her. It's just something she does. ALL THE TIME.

So...advice please.

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You know your child is sick when...

You have stopped at the convenience store after school for the purpose of buying him a treat. You are standing with him in the candy aisle, asking him what he wants, and he says,

"I want to get a treat mom, but my tummy hurts."
"Do you want to pick one out now and we'll save it for later, when your tummy feels better?" you say,
"No, lets just wait." he says.

And so you walk out of the candy aisle and the store, empty handed.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Meeting Moms

When I moved to Wisconsin I found that the ward was really spread out. This made it tough to easily get together with moms I was meeting at church. (I really was hoping for some across-the-street types.) So, I decided to venture into community groups in order to meet some women who lived closer to me. Here's a look at what I found.

A friend of mine in Iowa always raved about her MOPS group. MOPS stands for Mothers Of PreSchoolers. I decided it was time to see what it was all about. MOPS is a Christian-based program where Moms and kids go for their own kinds of fun. Moms get to drop off their kids at a fantastic age-appropriate child care area. My kids both LOVE their classes--and I have been impressed with the professionalism there. They have fun teachers, clean rooms, great toys, activities, bible lessons, and crafts. While they are busy the Moms go to a large class where they get to eat brunch, chat with friends, make a craft (some weeks), and hear a speaker. It is SO great! Each week you sit with the same group (which gets rearranged yearly) so you really get to know a core group. In my area there must be over 100 women in all. After the speaker, each group meets in a separate room for discussion about the day's topic. I have found the ladies to be so genuine and fun and the discussions to be entertaining and enriching. I think MOPS is fantastic--I absolutely recommend to anyone to find a chapter and enjoy your special morning now and then.

MOPS meets monthly or twice a month (for 2 hours) for the duration of the school year. (Though many small-groups get together during the summer and MOPS has a few large park activities in the summer as well.) The cost is $25 for the year. Childcare is $6 per family each time you go. Both prices are a bargain for what you get!

The second group I got into is called MOMS Club International. It is a little different from MOPS in that you have more activities for Moms and kids together. At their monthly membership meetings they have a speaker (somewhat like the MOPS does) and their childcare is free, but is a rotation of the Moms watching the kids in a nursery room-type area. They also have (at my location) space for kids to color or watch a video closer to the Moms. I'm not as wild about their childcare--but it is free. In addition to a monthly membership meeting, MOMS Club offers its members a variety of break-out groups--scrap booking, cooking, exercise, etc, and all kinds of playgroups. I think their biggest pull is the playgroups. You instantly have choices of groups to join and you can decide which one has the right ages or meets at the times most convenient to you. MOMS Club also organizes a lot of activities at local establishments--library story time, gymnastics free-play, chuck-e-cheese, these types of things. They are also very active in service opportunities in the community. MOMS Club (as you may have noticed) is really similar to Relief Society! It's just held in the morning so you can go and bring your kids. MOMS Club is $30 a year.

Between these two groups and a weekly church playgroup I really have more going on than I can do! But better to be busy and pick and choose, than to be bored!

Does anyone else belong to a different group outside the church? Or have another way they've met Moms?
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