Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Books of 2009

This is the first full year that I haven't been in school, so I decided to try to read 50 books. Done. I'm copying Bridget and publishing the list, with my favorites in red. Also, I tried to give you credit if you recommended a book. Here we go:

Juvenile Fiction
Gideon The Cutpurse, The Time Thief, Time Quake, Linda Buckley-Archer, recommended by my SIL Chantel. I liked this series. I read the first two early in the year, and then had to wait for the third to come out later. Because so much time had passed between numbers 2 and 3, I was pretty confused as the author doesn't rely on that age-old device of explaining the whole plot of the previous book in the first chapter. So, read them all at the same time.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, Jessica Day-George, recommended by Allison. Cute. Compelling.

Graceling, Kristin Cashore
Fire, Kristin Cashore, recommended by GoodReads. I quote my original review:
I read this book in 1.5 days, much to the dismay of my family. I think Bridget said it best (although she was talking about a different book):
The point here is that Catching Fire is one of those lovely, delicious books that sucks you into its world and makes you want to ignore every other responsibility in your life, every other engagement, commitment, or member of your family, even the tiny helpless ones, and just READ. As much as I love reading, this particular kind of book doesn't come around very often (the Twilight series and some of the Shannon Hale books come to mind as other examples...)

This book did remind me a lot of Goose Girl in style and the mythical world milieu but edgier and it didn't end quite how I wanted it to end. But, I couldn't put it down, and will probably read the companion prequel, even though the review says it has dragons in it, and I usually draw the line at dragons. And Fairies.
Fire did have dragons, but it wasn't so bad. Not as good as Graceling.

The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, Forrest Born
, Shannon Hale. Check 'um out. You'll probably like them, even if you have to pretend you don't to keep up your rep.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins, recommended by Bridget by way of Stephenie Meyers. Hunger Games: don't start this unless you have at least 20 hours of free time. Right then.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin, recommended by Myriah. Both books from my childhood that I wanted to read again to see if they were still good. They are.

The Calder Game, Blue Balliet. I only grabbed this one because of the title. It was lame.

Harry Potter #6, Harry Potter #7, J.K. Rowling. Always a good time. We re-read #6 to prepare for the movie, and then had to read #7 for closure.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley. Another Goodreads recommendation and a right good one at that. I liked this book so much, I read it twice. I can't wait for the next Flavia book to come out in March.

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fannie Flagg. Not as funny as everyone says it is.

Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale. I like Shannon Hale, ok?

A Year Down Yonder, Long Way From Chicago, Richard Peck. When Allison told me to read these she said, "I want you to read these so I can say, 'hey, wasn't that book funny?' and you'll say, 'yeah, it was.'"

The Girl Who Could Fly, Victoria Forester, recommended by Bridget. Fun at the time, but mostly forgettable.

The Host, Stephenie Meyer. I think of this book almost every time I see Picacho Peak. (Which Tyler and I for a long time pronounced it peak-a-chu, because we didn't know better, and we thought it was funny. Our real estate agent informed us it's pick-aw-sho, or even slightly pick-aw-sha. So now, you won't make the same mistake as us.)

The Thief, The King of Attolia, The Queen of Attolia, Megan Whalen-Turner, recommended by Lu. I had the same problem as Bridget as the author's mind's eye worked differently than mine, and I often had trouble visualizing rooms, or how people were situated in relation to each other, which meant I had to re-read complicated passages more than once to figure out what the heck happened.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg. For book club.

Replay, Sharon Creech. Not as good as Walk Two Moons.

Peter and the Sword of Mercy, by David Barry and Ridley Pearson. A recently discovered FOURTH Peter and the Starcatchers book. How exciting. I hope they write more, they are so much fun to read.

NPR Books
(which I heard about on NPR, or Tyler did and then told me about it.)
*You Are Here: Why we can find our way to the moon, but get lost in the mall, Colin Ellard, recommended by Tyler. I didn't quite finish this one by the time it was supposed to go back to the library. It was really interesting, but I couldn't quite digest all of what he was saying between all the baby vomit and potty training.

Alphabet Juice: the energies, jists, and spirits of letters, words and combinations thereof; their roots, bone, innards, piths, pips, and secret parts; with examples of their usage foul and savory, Roy Blount, Jr. I wish I owned this book so I could dip into it every now and again when I need a pick-me-up.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith. Or, as Tyler called it, Pride and Prejudice and Not Enough Zombies.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, David Grann
American Buffalo: In Search of A Lost Icon, Stephen Rinella. I had the word vomit about both these books. I couldn't stop telling people about the worms in the Amazon that live right under your skin that tormented early explorers until they learned that the indigenous people could whistle a special way to make them pop their head out for easy removal. Or, I told more than one person who didn't want to hear about it how buffalo weren't over hunted until there was a breakthrough in the tanning process that allowed both the winter and summer coats to be processed, thus not allowing their numbers to bounce back in the winter months. Both were really interesting, I thought.

Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese. My attempt at reading serious adult fiction. It was ok.

How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer. I read this book before, except it was called Blink and it was by Malcolm Gladwell. The two books are different to a certain degree: How We Decide was much more focused on how the brain works to make decisions, while Blink focused on the types of decisions we can make without thinking.

I thought it was interesting enough, the writing was pretty good, and it made me understand why babies make me so superstitious. The author uses the example of slot machines and explains that our brains are addicted to making predictions and then being right and that slot machines are so alluring because our brains can't figure them out (because they operate on a complicated random number generator). This is exactly like babies with colic, to me anyway. My brain can't figure out what is wrong and all that trial and error is very taxing. So, when you make a prediction like, 'the baby will stop crying if the swing is set to level 3' and it works, you hold on to it with all your might.


Non-Fiction
The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment, A.J. Jacobs. Funny, impressive. Inspiration for my own unitasking experiment, which is floundering, but that's a different post.

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, Ammon Shea. Ammon Shea and I are completely opposite in temperament and ideology: he is a painfully introverted, psycho-leftist whiner, and I'm normal. He had something negative to say about every word concerning marriage (as in it's an outdated fascist-Nazi institution perpetuated by the unwashed masses who have yet to become enlightened on The Better Way To Live) and children (as in they are screaming brats who do nothing but annoy and take away your freedom to do whatever you want. Which, in the author's case, seems to be complain about sitting in the library for 8-10 hours a day.

I liked the words he found, but his commentary on them made me want to punch him in the face.

Two words I especially liked:
1. Minimifidian: (n) A person who has the bare minimum of faith (in something). As in, you assume movies will be horrible before you see them (but then they turn out great so you are always pleased and never let down).

2. Obganiate: (v) To annoy by repeating over and over and over again. See: my 3-year-old daughter.


Something Cleverish, Various. Good cause, clever-ish, but not clever. Actually, kinda lame sometimes.

Outliers, Malcom Gladwell

The Places In Between, Rory Stewart, recommended by Carrie. This guy is gutsy, and a little crazy, and probably very smart.

Braniac, Ken Jennings, recommended by Bridget.

*Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, Cheryl Mendelson. Every homemaker should read her essay on housework and homemaking. So good. I like her empowering view of housework as a part of homemaking, even if I think her views are a little extreme (I mean, she insinuates that if I don't do my dishes as soon as dinner is over or dust weekly, my family will fall ill and die). The asterisk is because this book is like 5,000 pages long and I've just been skimming what I feel are the relevant parts. I mean, I don't really need to know how to care for antique furniture or marble statues.

Adult Fiction

The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway

Tomato Rhapsody: A Novel of Love, Lust, and Forbidden Fruit, Adam Schell. I won this book off Goodreads and I liked it... mostly. One too many mentions of bastones for my taste, however.

The Actor and the Housewife, Shannon Hale. Lame ending.
Austenland, Shannon Hale. Eh.

These Is My Words, Nancy E. Turner. This book really struck a chord with me. Maybe I read it when I was all hopped up on post-partum hormones, maybe I was feeling really lonely here in Tucson (just like the main character), but I loved it.

Persuasion, Jane Austen. I think the movie is also excellent.

Charms for the Easy Life, Kaye Gibbons

Playing For Pizza: A Novel, John Grisham. Yeah, he should stick to thrillers and stay away from regular fiction.

Abandoned
The Hour I First Believed: A Novel, Wally Lamb. People really like this, I didn't.

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz. Won the Pulitzer so it must be good, WAY too much swearing for me to handle.

Paper Towns, John Green. Not interesting enough, too high school-y.

She's Gonna Blow!: Real Help For Moms Dealing With Anger, Julie Anne Barnhill. I'd say (from what I skimmed) 80% of this book was the author's experiences with her own anger and trying to deal with it. And from what I could tell, the 'real help' was "pray more," which is not helpful at all. Ok, well, probably a little helpful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stealing my own Christmas

Being sick has totally made me Grinchy about this Christmas. Where does one find the extra energy to actually bake things? Make my own wreath? Are you kidding me?

I did find myself in possession of some extra energy and volition yesterday, so I thought I'd bake snickerdoodles and fill up the cute Martha Stewart goodie bags I bought for half off at Michael's. Tyler always complains when I bake things just to give them away (although one time, he told me that this was one of the things that attracted him to me... maybe because I was giving them away to him?), so I was going to bake a double batch. Turns out though, I didn't have enough cream of tartar for double. That cream of tartar, although I'm fairly sure it has other uses, I think I've only ever used it for snickerdoodles, which I usually only bake at Christmas time. Every 3 years or so, I run out and it always surprises me.

Anyway, we got the cookies baked and wrapped up, but failed at delivering them. We were only 2 for 4 at finding people home and/or remembering exactly what house they lived in once we got there. We'll get the rest of them. Don't worry. Then for extra holiday spirit, we drove up to Winterhaven to check out the lights. Every place I've lived has had that one neighborhood that goes all out for Christmas. Eagle Hills. Vine Street. Winterhaven. It was a lot of fun, until Nora started screaming and wouldn't stop. That part, not so much. But, I especially liked the Harry Potter house complete with Whomping Willow, Harry and Voldemort locked in mortal combat, and Bellatrix LeStrange up on the neighbor's roof shooting hexes. Also, I liked the Festivus house which was simply decorated with a Festivus Pole and a sign that said "A Festivus for the rest of us!"

At the risk of making this post extra extra long, I want to briefly tell about our two firsts that I had this weekend.

First first: My mother-in-law very generously and very unexpectedly gave Tyler and I a sum of money for Christmas and I used my share to buy a Shark Steam Pocket Mop. I used it, and I loved every second of it. It cleaned my floors wonderfully and I found all the complaints of online people completely unfounded. My one complaint is that it didn't clean the grout very well, but neither does my regular mop. Actually, my other complaint is that because it just uses water, it doesn't make my house smell pine-sol fresh. How are other people supposed to know I put in all this hard work mopping if they can't smell it? Maybe I'll make a button: "I mopped today, thank me!"

Second first: I usually only wash my hair every other day. I have a lot of hair, like a lot, a lot, and it's very time consuming to wash it and style it. And I dislike doing it, mostly because I'm not dedicated enough to get up before my children to shower, so it's likely I have small children hanging on my legs, whining and complaining about how I'm taking too long. Which, I get that it's my own fault. Anyway, I read this article which was completely liberating. It talks about how dermatologists recommend only washing your hair 2 or 3 times a week. Fabulous! On day 3, which happened to be Sunday, a day I'm normally crunched for time because church is at 8, I put some cornstarch in a salt shaker, shook it all over my hair, concentrating on the roots, let it sit for a bit, then brushed it out. Granted my hair lacked the volume or bounce you get with a wash and a blow out, but it didn't look greasy at all. I curled it like Stacey London and I actually got a lot of compliments on it. Little did they know it hadn't washed it in 48 hours! Ha! The only word of caution I have about this is that it will only work on blonde hair. Sorry brunettes, I guess you're stuck showering like a sucker.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember throwing up

I've been throwing up... a lot... um... recently, so I thought I'd tell a throw up story.

Lillian was 4 months old. My husband and my friend Stephanie's husband were in the same program at Cal Poly, and I think they were working on their senior projects, or their theses, or something to do with airplanes that was taking up a lot of their time, so we decided to take a day trip down to Santa Barbara and leave the men folk to their eigenvectors.

As you travel south from San Luis Obispo, about an hour away, 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara, is Solvang. I'm not really sure why this place exists, but it's a Danish tourist trap. All the houses have Danish architecture, they have statues of Hans Christian Andersen strewn about, you can buy Danish pastries at every turn... you get the idea. I had been there when I was young and if I was more dedicated to this post, I would have found the picture of me with my siblings behind this wood thing and put it up for comparison. But, I'm lazy. Also, I didn't know Lillian was chewing on the wood at the time. I was just trying to get her head over a body while holding her out sideways from me, which was very tiring.

We decided to stop there for lunch.

I had a chicken sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes, and it was delicious. As I was eating, I realized I couldn't see my food very well as there were bright flashes across my vision. And, anyone who gets migraines with aura knows what's coming. I took two Excedrin and tried to lay down on a cold stone bench in front of a bookstore. Stephanie took Lillian for a walk around while I prayed that the Excedrin would kick in before the headache.

No. Such. Luck.

After laying down for approximately 10 minutes, I felt a rumbling in my tummy. I sat up and quickly figured out that I couldn't make it to the bathroom in the bookstore as I didn't know where it was in the store, or even if they had one. I turned around, and threw up my chicken sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes (and probably the Excedrin) into the bush behind the bench. I felt really bad doing it because it was a shallow planter at about shoulder level if you're sitting, so there was no hiding what I had just done.

Stephanie came back and I said that we had to leave and that she had to drive us back to SLO. She was really nervous about this because 1. She had never driven our car and didn't like driving anyway and 2. We had to get gas for the return trip and she's from Oregon, the land where you don't pump your own gas, so I don't think she'd ever done it before.

We got back just fine but I couldn't eat sun-dried tomatoes again for at least a year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Operation Unitask: Day Five

Wow, this is tiring.

The computer has been moved upstairs which, I've found, is good and bad:
Good - I engage with my children much more often, like when Nora's eating breakfast, or when Lillian is picking up her blocks. Little bits of time that I used to spend checking my email.
Bad - I moved the computer into the office upstairs which is the most un-kid-friendly place we have in our house. Nora has spent the last five days upending my sewing box, going through the craft drawers, taking out all of my check books, finding and chewing on stray staples, pulling all our year books off the bookshelf, and trying to pull all the electronic equipment down onto her head. Maybe I should spend less time in here. I'm just saying.

The thing about so much engagement, is that you have to actually find things to do to fill up all that time. We spend a lot of time at home because Nora's 2 naps perfectly straddle Lillian's nap, so during the day, I most always have at least one child asleep. All this home time is a perfect recipe for stir-craziness and a complete exhaustion of all the activities our house has to offer. I've tried pushing Nora to stay awake and take one nap the same time as Lillian, but 80% of the time, this ends in disaster and at least two of us in tears. She's just not ready. Coming up with enough things to do to fill in those hours is a lot of work, and as I've been feeling under the weather lately (hint hint), we end up watching a lot of Disney Princess Sing-A-Long Songs.

Time for a new objective: Make (and try to stick to) a schedule. We don't have many house rules, mostly because Lillian's pretty obedient, and we don't really have a set schedule because we don't really have a whole lot that has to get done during the day. But Supernanny says that a schedule will organize our family and make us awesome, so I'm going to try it. I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to put on this schedule (see above and how I don't know what to do with my kids all day) but I'm going to make one.

I'm curious: what does your daily schedule look like?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Good, Better

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a good mom. I tried doing some research to answer this question, but a lot of what is out there when you Google "good mom" is about giving yourself credit, not burning yourself out, not judging yourself by how clean your toilets are, and whatever else under appreciated, overworked moms need to hear. I'm not under appreciated or overworked, and I know I'm a good mom. But, I want to be an awesome mom.

How does one become an awesome mom? I started observing moms that I thought were awesome, and I started thinking about how it was mostly about making life special for your kids, which doesn't mean making making their desserts into dragons, getting them the greatest toys, or being cutsie-pie (because kids don't really appreciate that). But, what does that mean for me?

Then yesterday, I was reading The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs. In the book, he performs a series of social experiments in his own life. He decides to tell the truth for a month, live by George Washington's 110 rules of conduct for a month ("adjust not yourself in public"), do everything his wife tells him for a month, and he decides to unitask for a month. The unitasking chapter was a little bit of a revelation. Of course, it's humorous in the book how he describes tying himself to his chair so he doesn't get distracted, and wearing a blindfold when he talks on the phone, but the essence of it is that he becomes more mindful of what he's doing at any given time.

This is what I need.

So, I'm starting my own month-long unitasking experiment. Or, more like a Mindful Mothering experiment.

Day one objective: move the computer upstairs into the office. We have a laptop and I keep it in the kitchen, and in my minds eye, I can see the scene play out a million times in which I'm telling Lillian to do X, Y, or Z, and she's dilly-dallying because I'm playing on FaceBook or checking my email for the 20th time, and I get more and more upset with her because she's not doing what I'm asking, and then it's really time for us to leave and she hasn't got her shoes on, like I told her 10 times, but made no real effort to help her find them, or sort out which was right from left. I've tried to do this in the past (put the computer upstairs), but ended up hiding in there a lot, so we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping it will help me be more focused on my mothering tasks and not so distracted by the siren call of Ask Prudie.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Mormon Mafia



My friend Bridget posted this on FaceBook and said, "I can't stop watching this." I can't stop watching it either. The "moving my hips like 'yeah'" is so hypnotic. But, that's not what I want to talk about.

Both of us just know that this guy is Mormon. But how are we so sure? Sometimes I see women at the library or wherever and they look Mormon, so I casually look for clues. Nine out of ten times, I can spot some dead giveaway, like a Young Women's bag or a glimpse of their garments as they wrestle their kids.

It's not like being able to spot Mormon churches. One time, I was up in Half Moon Bay with Candie on a Sunday, and we were driving to church. I had never been to that building before, so we were driving along the street slowly, looking for addresses. I looked up ahead a little and saw it on the left and said, "oh, it's up there." It was probably 150 yards away and obscured by the building next to it, so Candie didn't believe me.

Me: That's it. Trust me.
Candie: But how do you know?
Me: I just. Know.

All the churches kind of have the same sort of architectural style with a steeple instead of a cross so once you've been to 40 or 50, they become pretty easy to pick out.

But, what about the people? Is it their squeaky-clean look? Their penchant for doing silly things like making a movie of themselves doing ASL to Miley Cyrus?

Or, is this my superpower?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

NaBloPoMo Roundup


Phew. It's over. Thirty posts in 30 days is tricky, especially since for approximately 27 of those days either one or both of my children, my husband, or I was sick, which I could have discussed, but I think it would have gotten really boring. I held back. I really did.

Instead, I discussed hot button topics like illegal immigration, 2nd amendment rights, and immunizations. Here's the stats on the rest of the posts:

Crafts- 1
Kids- 4
Mommy Madness - 4
Books- 2
Adventures- 2
Sickness - 3

Add a couple of Tuesday Reminiscences in there, plus a very successful De-Lurk Day! (even if the person from Montrouge, France never showed up), and you get 30 posts.

I'm sorry if the writing started going down hill towards the end, or the editing got sloppy, but I tried my best, and I did it.

P.S.- To all those people who, on De-Lurk Day wrote some variation of "I don't know if you remember me but we were in [whatever] together," I remember all of you! Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

For those of you with no children, I'll tell you a secret you probably already know: when you fly, you can take your stroller right up to the gate and just leave it right there at the bottom of the jet-way, and it will be waiting nicely for you at your next destination. This is called "gate checking." On our return flight today, we were on a smaller airplane, so a lot of people's carry-ons didn't fit in the overhead bins and had to be gate-checked.

Usually, it's just me and maybe one other mom waiting for them to bring up our strollers, but this flight, there were about 30 people waiting for bags. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. Probably 15 minutes. I always find it so interesting to watch people in semi-stressful situations. Thirty people standing around in a small space, all cramped after flying for two hours, hungry because it's lunch time, and just staring at each other.

I have a pretty solid No-Complaining ethic, (see earlier post where I discuss how I am not a squeaky wheel) so I held Nora and chatted with the lady next to me. But, other people... I'm amazed at the lengths they go to make themselves upset and miserable.

We were only there for 15 minutes, and by the end I thought these people were going to riot, led by a grumpy old man and a middle-aged man who kept complaining how cold he was (when we just came from the bay area and it's at least 20 degrees warmer here... like the temperature in the jet-way is the airline's fault as well). "I CANNOT believe they are making us wait for our bags! You would THINK that they would know how to do this and that they would have the STAFF for this sort of thing!" "It's ridiculous that I had to gate-check my bag. I've NEVER had to check that bag. EVER!" "The reason I DIDN'T check my bag was because it had fragile things in it. And now, they're probably BROKEN!" "I'm NEVER flying this airline ever again!"

Does that really make people feel better? The staff who is responsible for this problem are most likely underneath the plane, rummaging around for our bags, and they can't hear you.

So, chill out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Changing Children

When Lillian was born, people said she was the spitting image of Tyler. Then, she got older and people said she looked just like Tyler.

When we had Nora, I thought she looked a lot like me. Phew, because truth be told, I didn't really like ALL the people who told me How Much she looked like Tyler.

We went to church today with Tyler's parents, and everyone (why do people like to comment on this so much? I don't think it ever occurs to me to say to complete strangers what parent their children look like) said the exact opposite: that Lillian looked like me, and Nora looks exactly like Tyler. I was skeptical (and a little sad) about this until I was looking at pictures of Tyler as a baby and they look almost exactly the same. I looked and looked for a picture of Nora making this face so we could do a side-by-side comparison, and I found one, but Nora has different eyes (probably mine) in the picture, they didn't really look that much alike, thus negating my assertions.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you liked The Goose Girl, you'll probably like this book. It has the same elements: little known fairy tale retold with some twists, oddly compelling, and squeaky-clean writing.

Before I knew it was based on an old Norse folk tale, I thought the author had totally ripped of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe- land of never ending winter, gowns made for giant women, fawns. But, turns out, she didn't. I tried briefly explaining the plot to my husband, but he didn't get much past "enchanted polar bears and talking wolves." So, if you just get over the fact that it's fantasy, but with only cursory mentions of fairies, dragons, and brownies, and it's written for teen-aged girls, you'll do fine. And, I think you'll like it too.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, November 27, 2009

Untitled from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

Tyler was sick, then Nora was sick, then I was sick. Lillian was a rock. She got a little wheezy somewhere in there, but nothing too bad. Mostly, she just watched a lot of TV in a two week period, and this is what happened.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

It was so good- I ate too much, and now I feel a little sick. This hasn't happened in a long time. It was all those yams my MIL makes. I'm pretty sure the recipe reads:

Yams+awesomeness=totally amazing.

You should try it out sometime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I can't wait

So, I decided that I would make Nora some felt blocks for her birthday which isn't until mid December. But, as soon as I finished the first one (on the left) I gave it to her.

She's 1. She doesn't care about waiting, or surprises. And, when it's her birthday, I'll wrap them up, and let her unwrap them again.


For this project, I decided to learn how to blanket stitch. This fish was my first attempt. I'm still not sure what happened there at the bottom.


I got much better as I went along though. Right?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember donating blood

I had some hot chocolate this morning in my "Help Someone Live To See Another Sunrise" mug that I got for donating blood. I have O- blood, the universal donor, so the lady at the blood donation place called me to remind me to come in every 8 weeks. I didn't mind it so much, and it was like instant karma. And free cookies, popcorn, and juice.

After Tyler and I were married, I started making him come with me to donate. He only went a few times because he hated it. Pansy.

One of the times we went right before Tyler was going to take me to work. He finished first and was sitting in the recovery area. As I walked past him to get my popcorn, he gave me a big, hearty slap on the rear. This is very unusual for him and I looked at him in astonishment. All he said was, "I bet people are going to be really nice to you today at work. You know, because you gave blood." Ok, weirdo.

Twenty minutes later, I walked into work and was getting myself all set up, when my coworker pointed out that I had a sticker on my rear end. A sticker that said, "Be nice to me, I donated blood."

I had to stop donating blood after I had Lillian, just after I got my 3 gallon pin. You know how they fill up those extra little vials at the end? Those are for testing your blood for various diseases. I got a notice in the mail that I had had a false positive for some obscure blood-borne disease that I'd never heard of whose name was mostly letters and numbers. The notice said that I did NOT have this disease and not to worry. The next time I donated, I got another notice that said I had another false positive for this disease and although I did NOT have it, it said that because of the two false positives, I could never donate blood, tissue, breast milk, or my organs in the event of my death. I don't know if I believe that because my mom had thyroid cancer 26 years ago and at the time, they told her never to donate blood, and then just recently, the Red Cross people said that enough time had gone by, and she could donate again.

So, if the waiting period for cancer is 26 years, what's the waiting period for a disease you don't even have?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seriously?

Poor Nora. She had croup two weeks ago, then she had pink eye last week, and it's still hanging on and making her life slightly miserable.


Then today, I noticed a worm in her diaper. Gross. Super gross. We went to the doctor and he diagnosed her with pinworm. This makes me feel like a bad mom, like I was letting Nora play in an open sewer or something. I wasn't. I promise.

While we were at the doctor's office (for a bazillion hours), they took her temperature and, surprise- it was 103.5˚. I didn't really even notice that she was hot at all. (Now I really feel like a bad mom.) She had been a little fussy, and I had given her Tylenol a few times thinking that she was working on a tooth, or something. The doc looked in her mouth and thought her throat looked red, and I remembered that a few days ago, she got a fine red rash on her flank so he thought maybe she had scarlet fever.


But, she doesn't. She just has the flu.

After we got the kids into bed Tyler asked me what parts of Nora are contagious. I think he was referring to the pinworm, but I could only answer, "what parts of Nora aren't contagious?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Immigration observations

Point 1: I live in Sahuarita, which is just south of Tucson, which is in the very south part of Arizona, about 40 minutes away from the border. We live right off the freeway that takes you to Mexico, so we see a lot of traffic with Mexican license plates. A lot of traffic; probably 10 or 15 cars a day with Sonora plates. In fact, we participated in the community-wide yard sale a few months back, and most of the people who came and rummaged our stuff had Sonora plates. Which is fine. People in Mexico need clothes too.

Point 2: Obviously with such proximity to Mexico, immigration is a really hot issue and there are stories on the news all the time about it. One side of this controversy is the water stations some do-gooder types have set up across the desert for those that are so inclined to walk out in the wilderness to get across the border. The idea being that it doesn't cost that much to maintain these water stations compared to the amount of money spent on rescuing people languishing in the desert from lack of water (which lack of water was not a deterrent in the first place, another argument in favor of keeping them).

Query: Why the heck are people walking across (and dying in) the desert when it doesn't appear to be that difficult to just drive over the border? So not difficult, in fact, that you could come up for a day trip to go to a community yard sale? Why couldn't you, if you were so inclined, come across the border and just not go home?

I asked my friend Nate, a Tucson native, these questions, and he said that probably the people who walk across the desert can't afford a passport and/or a car to drive them across the border.

Maybe I'm just not cut out for illegal immigration because still I don't get it. Maybe they don't want a passport because they don't want to be traceable...? Maybe they really are that poor but, I just can't imagine poverty crushing enough to risk walking across the desert, which I am pretty sure even the cleaned up, pesticide treated version that is around my house is actively attempting to kill me. I once walked outside in my dirt backyard in flip flops and sustained at least 20 red ant bites. I can't even imagine walking in the real wilderness. I'd be dead in 5 minutes. Tops.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Unstable

Tonight, I offer two stories that represent why I think Tyler is so great.

1. We have four pillows on our bed: two regular and two king sized. The two regular sized pillows have white cases and the king-sized ones match the duvet cover. Now, I think any regular person would realize that the white ones should go underneath the patterned ones when you make the bed. Not Tyler. He regularly puts the larger pillows underneath the white ones when he makes the bed. I asked him once why he did this, and he said that if he puts the smaller pillows underneath they'll be foundationally unstable. I find this hilarious.


2. We've been listening to (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To by Weezer a lot. The chorus of this song has an echo:
If you're wondering if I want you to (I want you to)
I want you to (I want you to)...
Sorry about the, ah, innuendo.
Tyler doesn't sing, usually. Ever. I was singing this song in the shower the other day and I was fully prepared to echo myself, but I heard Tyler's "I want you to" before I had the chance. He sang the rest of the chorus with me.


Sorry if those stories were lame, but I just saw the pillows on the bed, and it made me laugh. So I thought I'd share.

Oh, and thanks to those who de-lurked yesterday, but I know for a fact that not all of you did it. Google Analytics doesn't lie, person from North Hollywood or person from Montrouge, France- I'm looking in your direction.

Friday, November 20, 2009

De-Lurk Day!

My friend had a De-Lurk Day a few months ago, and even though my blog is not as popular as hers, I thought I could have my own De-Lurk Day.

I use Google Analytics to track my stats, and I have readers in Manheim, Germany; Kennewick, Oregon; Manchester, New Hampshire; and a lot of other places where I've never been and I'm not sure I personally know anyone who lives there.

I'm really curious about these people. How did you find my blog? Did you click through my cousin-in-law's blog (who keeps saying she doesn't know me, but we met at Tracy's wedding, remember?), do you live next door to my sister and got curious about why I lit my shower on fire? Did I know you in Santa Barbara? Did you go to high school with Tyler (hi, Nick)? Or, are you one of the 10 people who Goggled "compression stockings pregnant" only to find out I used my compression stockings to make my Leia buns for my Halloween costume. Or, Tyler did. (If you were actually wondering about the reason I have them, it was for when I was pregnant and working in the hospital, and thus on my feet for 12 hours a day. They really do help keep down the swelling.)

Even if I don't know you, and you don't know anyone I know, or talk about, or who comments, I'd like to hear from you. And, even if I do know you, and you know everyone I know, I'd still like to hear from you.

Leave a comment and let me know how you found my blog, or if I'm related to you, or if you live in Sahuarita and wish we could be friends... not that I'm desperate for friends, or anything.

Ok.... go!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Saddest Day in Recent Memory

Yesterday was a real low point.

Either me or one of my children has been sick for 11 days now, and 11 days is a long time to be holed up with a baby and a 3-year old, I'll tell you what. I was starting to feel a little isolated and lonely, so I decided to take the kids to story time at the library. Because I'm the only one who's still sick (but I'm mostly better, just a lingering runny nose), I thought if I just sat off to the side it would be no big deal.

We showed up a few minutes before it started and I didn't see anyone I knew, so I sat off to the side, as planned. The one woman I know showed up. She scanned the room, I thought she saw me so I waved, and she went and sat on the other side of the room. Okey dokey. Dis #1. So, I'm out in public, still by myself.

I tried to make conversation with the woman to my right, but when her friend showed up, she stopped talking to me. Dis #2

The low point is coming.

I tried talking to the woman on my left. She was Chinese, and I'm not sure how much English she spoke. And, she was sitting on a mat. The mat was bright pink and rubbery-spongy looking. It had some sort of cartoon bunny or cat on it. Nora was fascinated by this mat. She wasn't licking it, or vomiting on it, just sort of poking it. I said, "I think she likes your mat," and gestured to Nora. The woman looked disapprovingly at Nora, then back at me and said, "it's waterproof."

"Oh, that must be... convenient." Because, what the heck do you say to that? The lady took one more glance at Nora who was picking up a corner and letting it fall back down and then picked up her mat, walked about 10 feet away, and sat back down. SuperDis.

I wanted to cry. In fact, once story time was over, I did cry in the car the whole way home.

To make myself feel better, I sliced up the pumpkin bread I made two days ago in a fit of domestic energy and delivered it pop-over style to the ladies I visit teach. It got us out of the house, and it's always nice to have people be happy to see you. Even if they're really only happy because you brought baked goods.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gaps in my education


I was thinking about a class I took in nursing school; I think it was called something like Prioritization and Decision Making. Although it sounds boring and irrelevant (at least it did to me when I registered for it) (I mean, I know how to prioritize, right?) it was actually really helpful. The academic part was kind of boring. We studied Maslow's Hierarchy (pictured above), and really, once you read it through, what else is there to talk about?

The helpful part was mostly the professor's little tips she gave us on how to manage our time, the main one being "Fast First." She would list out all these nursing tasks that had to be done NOW and you had to figure out the order in which you were going to do them. Like: you have a new admit who need their paperwork done, a patient with pain 7/10 who's requesting meds, the doctor needs you to assist in putting in a central line, and another patient who needs help getting to the bathroom. Assuming you had only a CNA to help you out, you would tell the CNA to get the guy to the bathroom on your way to get pain meds, help with the central line, and then do the admit paperwork.

At work in the hospital, I started applying Fast First, and I saw that I was actually able to get more done. I thought, "This is the kind of stuff I need to know!"

I was thinking about all this because I was thinking they need to teach a class like this for motherhood. I learned how to change diapers, how to sew, how to cook, how to clean a bathroom, how to play Chutes and Ladders but, I came at the tail end of my siblings, so I never really saw my mom raise young kids and thus I never learned those "other" skills that you need to be a mother of preschoolers. How to make it all work.

I'm not explaining this very well. Um, I asked around when I had Nora for advice on how to raise two kids and people would say things like, "you need to be really patient." True, but not helpful. The best advice I got was when my sister said, "when you're getting into the car, put the baby in her car seat first, and then do Lillian. Then, when you're getting out, get Lillian out first, and then the baby second." That is the kind of stuff I needed to know!

When I was chatting with my mom about my sick kids, she mentioned that she used to have a book called The Art of Homemaking, or someone she knew had it, and it offered helpful tips on how to keep your house clean while caring for sick kids (it is besides the point that she did not find these tips helpful). That is the kind of stuff I need to know! Who knew that such a book existed? I don't know why I didn't guess; there are books on everything else.

So, I requested a book called Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House from the library (because they don't carry The Art of Homemaking) and I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Thinkback - In which my english class resembled an episode of Jerry Springer

Due to Amanda being incapacitated, you will have to suffer through one of my posts.

I have often told Amanda that my high school was ghetto. We have driven past it several times as we have been to visit my parents, but I don't think she has ever really experienced it. Here are a couple of examples of things that were different between our high schools that I have discovered:

  1. Amanda's school had a gym and an auditorium that were not the same room (I believe several dances were held in our gym, although not being much of a dancer, I did not attend)
  2. Amanda's school had something called "Show Choir" of which Amanda was a member. Apparently it is part choir and High School Musical. Amanda told me once that there were competitions to see who could have the biggest hair. Big hair at my school was usually accompanied by a pick)
  3. White people were not a minority at Amanda's school. I think she said there were one or two black people in her school.
  4. I've never asked, but I think it's safe to assume the pool at Amanda's school did not include a shallow end. (this made for interesting water polo games at MA)
Now I did not grow up in a ghetto, but my high school did fall in the middle of several colorful cities. My high school was a cultural experience to say the least. I once had to deliver a pizza (I delivered pizzas for Rount Table in high school) to my school and found a whole wing of classrooms that I had never noticed before and I'm pretty sure it's because nobody there spoke English.

With this background, we now arrive at my senior year English class taught by Mr. Cane. Having previously failed my junior year AP literature test (which I attribute to my confusing Captain Ahab and Captain Nemo in one of my essays), I decided not to attempt another AP English class my senior year. I found Mr. Cane's class to be much more my speed. We were given such assignments as looking words up in the dictionary and reading 3 books throughout the course of the year. Some times we had "debates" in class led by the students. I got through the class by playing tetris on my calculator after finishing my calc homework, or hanging out with Nick (or Duke Nicolas as I see he is known now).

On some of the more exciting days in class, a couple of our classmates decided to have one of their usual shouting matches in class. Mr. Cane was a litte on the pasive agreessive side, so he let them yell at eachother for 5-10 minutes before asking one of them to leave (usually the girl). About half way through the year when the class started to thin out due to dropouts and/or birthing children, the same two people had a slightly more heated argument than usual. I have no idea why they started yelling. It may have had something to do with the guy calling the girl a beast or possibly something worse, but it ended with her leaving the room. However, on her way out the door, she was inspired to pull the fire extinguisher off the wall and hurl it in the direction of her assailant. He was fast enough to dodge it, but it did bounce off his desk and glanced off another student. I'm pretty sure she never came back to class after that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happily Ever After?

I'm sick and not a little bit tired. I feel un-attractive, un-funny, un-wifely, un-momly, and especially as I'm trying desperately to come up with something to post about, un-creative.

I have the aches, a sore throat, a headache, stuffy nose, alternating periods of extreme sleepiness with insomnia, aaaaand pink eye. That's right, I now have pink eye. I get all the good stuff. A few days ago, Tyler asked me if I thought his eye looked red. Coming from him, this is a silly question because his eye is always red. On account of the bionacle.

He has an irregular astigmatism and keratoconus, just in one eye, which means he has to wear a combination soft/hard contact. The bionacle. It irritates his eye, so it's often red and angry.

I woke up this morning and my eye was gooed shut. He told me that this happened to him too, but his went away. Mine did not go away, it got worse. I told myself that I'd go to the doctors tomorrow, but around dinner-time, I got desperate and put neosporin in my eye. Which goes against the warning on the label, but my mom assured me that 1. the doctor would just give me neosporin drops and 2. she put neosporin directly in my brother's eyes as per doctor's orders when some bug spray exploded in his face and burned his eyes. So, I'm fairly sure I'm not going to go blind.

A n y w a y.

The only thing that happened to me today, besides being sick, was that I finished a book which was by no means the next Great American Novel. It was the literary equivalent of comfort food and it did not end the way I wanted. I feel betrayed. I read this thing for a predictable happily ever after, and I feel like I got cheated.

I'm the first to admit that I don't really read to be enlightened. I don't read to become smarter. I don't read so that I can have witty things to say to my friends. (Friend?) A lot of what I read, I read to escape. To have a little moment of silly fun before I have to fold the next batch of laundry. I try to tempter this tendency and read serious books from time to time, but mostly I don't.

The book was Shannon Hale's The Actor and the Housewife, and I guess it had some brand of it's own HEA, but this is Shannon Hale- authoress of the Extremely-Mega-Happy-Scooby-Doo HEA, which is what I was expecting, and didn't get.

You've won this round Shannon. I'll still probably read your next book, but don't think that I'm going to forget this.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Story Town

It would appear that how much I enjoy events is directly related to how well they're organized. I'm talking about big events here, events that are advertised in multiple media. And, apparently, librarians are master organizers. But, you probably guessed that about them.

We went to Story Town yesterday, up in Tucson proper. What they do is act out 5 or 6 childrens' stories, like little mini-plays. I thought Lillian would really like it, but she didn't know any of the stories that they did, so she wasn't that into it.

The librarians, though. They planned for children like Lillian.

They had a princess village, which... I'm not sure what princess this is. Malevolent? Cleopatria?


Lillian was really excited to see Cinderella and Snow White from far away, but then got shy when we got up close.


They had little literacy-related games for the kids to play.

Clifford


The Man in the Yellow Hat


Curious George. Aaaand, this picture is in the running of the worst picture of me ever. I think I was trying to lean down and give Lillian a reassuring squeeze because she was, apparently, not too hot on the idea of George touching her.

Not pictured: two mini art projects, a pretend post office, bubbles, and a booth where the kids could try on various civil servant-type outfits: firefighter, doctor, police man, etc.

Those librarians were on fire.


And, our best attempt at taking a family shot. You'd think the beeping of the timer would have let me know that it was going to go off, especially because this was our second try. But I guess that piece of taco on my face couldn't wait.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gun imponderables

  • Tyler was telling his co-worker something he learned at the police station concerning the officers' guns by starting, "I've been around guns a lot and..." His co-worker stopped him and said something like, "but aren't you really religious?" The point being that religious people shouldn't like guns and all be pacifists.
I don't know...? Tyler pointed out that all the gun nuts belong to the Christian Right. But, why is that?
  • I read a lady's blog who lives in Texas and she wrote about her daughter's Veteran's Day Pageant at school. She said something like, "I'm sure you can all guess about my political leanings: I live in Texas and my husband owns a lot of guns." She went on to say something like, "I am conservative therefore I love my country." She went on with a heavy subtext that if you believe otherwise, politically speaking, you do not love your country.
What about owning guns makes you conservative? Why don't liberals like guns? And why can't I love my country if I don't love guns... or something?

Why are the most conservative states the fattest? Why are the most liberal people the stingiest when it comes to charity (which I can't find a map to back up, but I swear I've seen this on the news). I really don't know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lillian, the fabulous

You know how when you're in some sort of retail or food service job and you boss tells you that a customer who has a negative experience will tell 10 people, but the one who has a positive experience will only tell 1 person? Or something.

I have this problem. When something goes wrong with Lillian (like yesterday when it took her a full half-hour to walk 50 yards because she had to look at, touch, smell, catalog every flower, plant, and bug that she saw while I'm yelling "COME ON! HURRY UP! GET OVER HERE!"), I'm far more likely to call someone and kvetch about it (I called my sister Allison and said, "I swear, she's got the brain damage and it's driving me crazy!") than if she does something sweet or cute. After 3 years of this, I think, at least to my family that does not live near me, I give off the general attitude that I don't actually like my children and feel constantly burdened by them and wish that I never had them.

This is not true. I do like my kids, I like being a mom, and I'm really, really glad that I have them.

So, here's my Top Ten Things I Like About Lillian list:
  1. I love her little voice. Everyone comments on it and says that it sounds so sweet, which it does.
  2. Like most kids, she says really funny things all the time. Once, out of nowhere, she said, "MOM, DAD! I like snakes!" "Oh, you like snakes?" Then, with an chuckle in her voice, she answered, "No, I don't like snakes." Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny. She also makes 'rules' about what's going on, probably to help her make sense of everything. We were sitting in choir at church (because she didn't want to play with the other kids in the nursery) and as the men were working out their parts, she said, "Only boys sing in choir. Girls don't get to sing." Or, "only moms can get the mail. Dad's aren't allowed."
  3. She's very polite. She says please and thank you for everything. Once, I had to give her some gross medicine and she said without a hint of sarcasm, "Thank you mom. That was yucky."
  4. She's very caring. If anyone around her is sad: me, Nora, kids in nursery, she's right there to hug them and say, "I know, it's ok."
  5. I love her active imagination. She's constantly pretending to be one princess or another and acting out scenes of various movies or cartoons. It's so cute.
  6. She's not destructive or violent. Sure, she makes messes, but it's very rare that she breaks something, or colors where she oughtn't, or gets into something and spreads it all over the walls, or whatever else kids do. And, once she figured out that Nora was a person, and not just some super annoying doll, it's very rare that she pushes/hits/bites her, or anyone else. In fact, I can think of only one time she pushed Nora over, and she...
  7. confessed right away, because she's bizarrely honest, and not just in a "why-are-you-so-fat?"-sort-of-kid way. I can ask her what happened and she'll say, "well, Nora was crawling on me and trying to steal my juice, so I pushed her off the couch."
  8. To go along with #6, she is hardly ever willfully disobedient, which is good and bad, because she is very smart. If I tell her not to do something, like not to wear shoes on the couch, she won't do it. Also, you are not allowed to do it either, and she'll call you on it. But, she's forever looking for loopholes, which are at times funny. Like, she'll put her shoes on her dolls and make them walk around on the couch, because, clearly, you meant only people weren't allowed to wear shoes on the couch. I find I have to laugh at myself because I start saying things like, "Ok, you can get out of the cart, but you are not allowed to pick up, touch, breathe on, or move anything on the shelves, you have to stay close to the cart, and try to keep one hand on the cart at all times, but don't push the cart, that's my job. You cannot hang on Nora's legs because that hurts her. Also, don't hang on my legs, because it's hard to walk when you do that. If you run away, or knock something over, you'll have to get back in the cart."
  9. She's genuinely excited about life. Tyler took her to the police station last night with the cub scouts and she can't stop talking in her excited little voice about the things she saw "MOM! There was a potty in the holding cell!" It makes me laugh.
  10. She's just the right amount of cuddly for me. You may or may not know this about me, but I require a lot of personal space and get claustrophobic really easily. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy cuddling with my kids, just not All The Time. And Lillian doesn't either. Sometimes, she wants to sit on top of me and read book after book after book, and I love it, and sometimes, she sits on her end of the couch, and I sit on mine, and we're both fine with that.
I guess it comes down to the fact that I really like her, and I know she likes me. We play and have fun and sometimes it's hard when she's being headstrong and stubborn and I swear I'm going to sell her to the gypsies, and then she says something funny or makes a joke and I laugh and hug her.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Iron and Whine

I mentioned before that I'm now taking iron supplements and they make it so I'm not tired all the time. Which, I really like. No longer do I fall asleep on the couch at 8 at night. No longer do I start thinking about when I can go back to sleep the minute I wake up. But also, no longer can I fall asleep at will.

I'm now figuring out that I treated sleeping sort of like a hobby. If I was bored, or out of things to do, I could take a nap. If Nora woke up at 5:30, I could feed her and then go back to sleep, even if I fell asleep at 9 the previous night.

I cannot do these things anymore because I'm Not Tired. Today marks the second day in a row I've been up before six. It's awful and bizarre.I miss the feeling of being exhausted and falling into bed to blissfully welcome the loving blanket of sleep. Now, I go to bed because it's time and if I don't go now, I won't get 8 hours.

Yesterday, I was really sick and tired and feverish and needed to get some sleep and it was hard. It took a few tries because even though I had the door closed, I could hear Nora fuss, and Lillian talking to Tyler about how she really wants to go visit mom in her bed, and the microwave open and close, and fire engines, and airplanes, and children playing outside. Is this what it's like for normal people? How do you live like this?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Immunization FAIL, sort of

My friend Sarah sent out this email:

There are so many controversial topics, especially immunizations, and with being a first time mom, I enjoy asking others about their experiences and thoughts on different topics to get different points of view.

Have you or will you [for your baby/kid(s)] be getting the:
Seasonal Flu Shot
H1N1 Flu Shot

Do you normally get it as well?

Why or why not??


I'm not one to be political, and I'm not looking for an argument, but since this is NaBloPoMo, you get to hear me expound on things I wouldn't normally talk about.

I believe very strongly in routine immunizations. My kids get all the shots from MMR to their DipTep, I'm on board. What I do not have a testimony of is flu shots. This is probably due to the fact that I'm pretty sure the year I was pregnant with Lillian and my doctor FORCED me to get one was the first one I'd ever had. (This is the same doctor that argued with me for 20 minutes about whether or not I needed a RhoGam shot when both Tyler and I are O-.)

I don't know why we never got flu shots in our growing up years. If my mom had something against them, she never told me; it was simply a non-issue. Because I never got the shot, and rarely got sick, I began to regard them as completely unnecessary, and also, only for paranoid people.

Now that we go to the doctor's office for all of Nora's bazillion well checks, they're always pressuring me to get flu shots for my kids. For whatever reason, I can't bring myself to do it. Lillian has never had a flu shot, and she's never gotten the flu.

I feel the same about the H1N1 shot, except that I'm really probably not going to get it because I'd have to go to TEP stadium, and if the local news is to be believed, wait in line for hours and waiting in line for hours with two squirmy kids is really not my idea of a good time and something I don't think I could bring myself to do for something I have no testimony of.

Tyler got a flu shot every year of his life, and I think is a little baffled by my opinions, so this year, I decided to do an experiment. I got a flu shot, because they were handing them out in WalMart, a place I already was, and there was no line, and I made a deal with Tyler that if I didn't get sick, I would get the kids shots next year. But if I got the flu anyway, he could take his flu shot and... you know.

I was going to write about how vindicated I am that flu shots are useless because I woke up this morning with a sore throat, achy body, low-grade fever, and a headache. But, I happened to be chatting online (while writing this) with my friend Carrie, who is a doctor, and she told me that I probably have the same virus Nora has, which, I wasn't aware that adults could catch. She she said that yes, adults can get it, it just doesn't cause the same croupy cough. Huh. Who knew?

And, although I'm biased against the shot, I have to admit that it probably wasn't designed to protect me against whatever croup virus I have. Dang.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember when I thought Tyler had died

*Sigh* We used to live here. This is a place called Montana de Oro (there's supposed to be a tilde over the second 'n' but I'm on Tyler's computer and I can't figure out how to make one) and it's my favorite place on earth.


That's the ocean.


Look at us: so young, so... unencumbered by children. It was a lazy Saturday just a few weeks after we were married, and we decided to hike Oats Peak. Just like that.



When we got to the top of Oats Peak, it was really, really foggy. We thought it would be funny to take a picture of Tyler falling into the mist.

One second after I took this picture, Tyler fell off the side of the mountain, which was not a small distance. My heart stopped. I screamed. I ran over to where he disappeared to find that he did not, in fact fall off the side of the mountain. There's a gentle slope behind him which he stepped down and into the fog to make it seem like he fell off. Jerkface. I really did think he fell and died and that I was a widow at 21.

I don't think I've quite forgiven him (five years after the fact) because one of us brought it up a few days ago, and I was mad all over again.

Hostage crisis

Around dinner, Nora's breathing turned stridorous and labored, so we took her to urgent care where the doctor took one listen and sent us to the ER (we suspect this is probably because they were going to close in 30 minutes).

The hospital is really the only place where you pay to be taken hostage. Nora was diagnosed with croup, got some steroids, and chest and neck x-rays (for which she had to be put in this iron maiden contraption which was pretty much the saddest thing I've ever seen) to rule out foreign body obstruction.

Then we waited.

And waited.

An hour later, Tyler asked what we were waiting for. I told him the doc had to read the films and then discharge us. Nora's breathing had slowed and she was sleeping comfortably.

I'm not a squeaky wheel. I thought the doctor was probably busy, or a trauma had come in (which was hinted at by the x-ray tech), and they'd get to us in their own due time. I probably would have waited another hour, trying my best to look pathetic and tired, and giving the nurse a withered look every time she walked by. Tyler is more of a kind to take matters into his own hands, especially if he feels like the situation is lame, or unnecessary. He politely bothered the nurse until she bothered the doc who ran in all in a dither to tell us she didn't have anything stuck in her throat (surprise) and that we could leave.

Time of arrival: 8 PM
Time of discharge: 12:02 AM
Time in bed: 1:00 AM

Monday, November 09, 2009

To call or not to call

Nora is sick.

She woke up last night at 2, wheezing with rhonchi and a fever. She was breathing really fast, 53 breaths per minute, but she wasn't blue, or grunting, or having retractions. I considered taking her in to the hospital for a breathing treatment, but I decided to give her some Tylenol and see if that helped. Once it kicked in, her fever went down and her breathing became less labored, so I let her sleep.

She woke up again at 4 and I brought her to bed with me but she mistook that gesture as an overture of play and giggled and climbed all over Tyler and me. Back into her crib went she and cried for an hour. I felt bad doing it because she was already having such a hard time breathing, but I was exhausted and couldn't sit up with her any longer.

She got up again at 6:30, and my wonderful husband got up with her and let me sleep until 7:45, which was magical. When I came downstairs, he asked if I was going to call the doctor.

I always find that question to be so sticky in my brain. If I call and ask whether or not I should come in, I think there's a 99% chance that they will say that I should. It cuts down on their liability and we were actually taught in nursing school to tell people this if they called wondering. So I can't rely on the nurse at the office to tell me whether or not to come. And then I think to myself, "I'm a nurse, what do I think?" I think, yes, she's sick... but she's not in distress, she's not barking so she doesn't have croup, her fever is under control, she's not pulling on her ears, and she's not especially lethargic or crabby. And, what's the doctor going to say?

He's going to say, "yep, she's sick. Make sure she gets lots of rest and fluids and call me if she gets any worse."

My normal MO is to just skip that first visit and then call when they get worse, which rarely happens; they usually get better. So, I think that's what we'll do today, but I'm conflicted because I've never had a wheezy child before. I don't know. I'll let you know what I decide.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Here comes a robot with electric brains

I'm a robot from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.



Here's another installment of our One Hour Till Bedtime series. The cleaning/organizing of the office/sewing room/spare bedroom yielded two boxes. Tyler turned one into a new cardboard house, much in the style of our old house. The other became a robot suit and Lillian wore it around saying "I'M A ROBOT, I'M A ROBOT" in her best robot voice for about 20 minutes. It was great. I wanted to color some dials and buttons on it, but Lillian vetoed that idea. Which is too bad because it would have been great.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Losing my Mommy Marbles

Nothing can completely explain what it feels like to loose your mommy marbles. And, to the outside observer or after the fact, it doesn't really seem like you should have lost it, considering what happened. But let's start with some exposition.

It's Friday. It's the fifth day in a row that I've been all by myself all day long; in survival mode. Thursday, we went to the zoo in the morning. We went with Lillian's preschool which was better and worse than just going by ourselves. Better because Lillian had kids to talk to and run around with. Worse because Lillian is the pokiest child in the universe and the other kids were constantly moving on and Lillian was constantly lagging behind, meaning I was constantly nagging, pulling, pushing, yelling, and urging her to hurry up. We went during Nora's naptime, so all of us were completely worn out and I, for one, was especially looking forward to a nap. The kids fell asleep in the car and decided that that 30 minutes was all they needed.

Day 1: no nap.

Friday morning, I cleaned and tried to organize the office/sewing room/spare bedroom. After a while, the children made it abundantly clear that cleaning and organizing weren't actually that fun and we went to the park. I packed a snack and we hung out at the park for almost 2 hours. We came home and I put Nora down and She Was Out. Sah-weet. I thought she'd be down for at least 2 hours, maybe 3. Lillian elected to eat lunch before napping, so 20 minutes after I put Nora down, Lillian got into her bed. FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER, Nora starts screaming. Lillian pops out of her room to inform me that Nora is awake.

Thanks.

I try to shush Nora and let her cry herself back to sleep, which is incompatible with Lillian sleeping, as their rooms are right next to each other. So, I offer my own bed for Lillian to sleep in. This is a super special treat which Never Happens (mostly I was thinking about how my room is on the other side of the house and our door is really thick).

Now we're in medias res. Keep in mind, I was counting on at least an hour of ME time. And that promise has been fully and cruelly revoked. Stolen. I'm starting to crack. Nora's been screaming for 20 minutes, and it's not likely she'll go back to sleep. I get her out of her crib and set her up downstairs with some toys. While she's playing, I can hear Lillian making noise upstairs. I don't care, as long as she's quiet.

Day 2: no nap.

After a bit, I hear her come out of my room, so I go upstairs to tell her to lay back down and I find this:



I had already taken off her diaper in preparation for getting in the tub, but rest assured, the lotion was all over her legs and feet as well. And my bed.

I begin to purposefully slow my breathing so I don't do anything rash.

As it has already been firmly established, Lillian hates taking baths. This did not help her case against being strangled.

The moment comes when it's actually time to wash Lillian. She's hunkered over on the other side of the tub pretending her astronauts are mermaids, or something. I say, "Lillian, get over here and sit on your bottom so I can wash you."

Wait for it.

She lays down on her stomach, flashes me a mischievous grin and says in her pert little voice, "like this?!"

I start seeing red. "Get over here and sit on your bottom."

"Liiiiiiike this?!" and she pops up, grinning, onto all fours.

I really have to force my hands to hold onto the rim of the bathtub so they don't fly involuntarily to her neck. "Get. Over. Here."

I can't believe how mad I was. Furious. Bitter. Seething. Frustrated. Exhausted.

I eventually did get the kids to sleep, mostly by forcing them to stay in their rooms until they fell asleep, which was for all of our own goods.

Before you have kids, you think motherhood is hard like swimming in the ocean is hard. You understand that there are tides and currents and it's salty and there's jellyfish. You get it, it's hard. But when you're swimming, and you step off a sandbar into a hole, causing you to lose your balance at the precise time a wave strikes you in the face and you tumble head over heels until you're pretty sure that up is up, but it is, in fact, down and you are running out of air and you get your feet under you and push your head clear of the water and right as you start to take that gasping breath, another wave comes and hits you right in the face, it's awful.

And other times, it really is fun to swim in the ocean of motherhood... just watch out for the sandbars.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Extra Time

Just to clarify:
  1. I did have some say in whether or not Tyler would work this extra time as it was completely optional.
  2. Tyler does get paid for his extra time, he just doesn't get time-and-a-half or anything. He just makes his regular salary.
Come back tomorrow for an account of my massive mommy meltdown I had today. After telling Tyler about it, he replied, "well, the sheets were feeling dry recently."

Guy Fawkes Day

Occasionally, I do something as a parent that I'm pretty sure is going to mess up my kids. Yesterday, I made a "Guy" to burn that night. Lillian, however, wasted no time making friends with Guy. She took him to the grocery store and made him fly around our house like a butterfly. He was her Guy.


And then, we burned her Guy. Notice our "bonfire." I think if I was more with it, and not in the aforementioned survival mode, I could have rustled up something a little more impressive.


She was confused and a little hurt that we lit him on fire. But, after I promised that I'd make her a new Guy, she was fine with it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Survival, not thrival

Tyler works for a subcontractor, right? So they contract for, say, 5,000 hours in a given time period. When that time period is coming to a close, they may look around and see that they've only used up 4,000 of those hours. If no one works those extra 1,000 hours, they'll just have to give the money back, so they tell people they can work extra time (not "overtime" because they don't get paid more). There are two rules to working these extra hours,
  1. You must work at least 8 extra hours per week.
  2. You cannot use PTO to count towards your 48 hour total.
Last week, Tyler told me he wanted to work extra hours every week until the end of the year. I died. Then he told me about Rule #2, and I came back to life, but it was touch and go for a while. Rule #2 means that he can't work extra hours next week (Veteran's Day), Thanksgiving week, Christmas week, or New Year's Eve week, which leaves 4 weeks of me in survival mode.

He decided he was going to do the extra 8 hours over M-R and leave Friday well enough alone. This is fine, but it means he is gone from approximately 6:30 AM to 6:00 PM, give or take depending on traffic and whether or not he falls asleep in the shower.

When I'm in survival mode, chores fall away; I tend to only clean the pans when I need them again, which is not often because I've stopped cooking, to cut down on dishes. I switched to disposable diapers to cut down on laundry. I spend the time I would normally spend cleaning or cooking or shopping for groceries trying to make life fun for the kids (so they don't eat me alive): going to the park, going for walks, spending a whole hour helping Lillian find and sort acorns from the tree behind our house.

Query: are they called acorns if they don't come from oak trees?

Here it is Thursday, and I've only seriously thought about selling my children... well, just Lillian, to the gypsies once, so it's been pretty good so far. I also like that Tyler doesn't say things like, "what happened in here?" when he comes home and all the toys have been dumped out of the toy box and scattered hither and yon, there are dishes piled in the sink, and I'm laying prostrate on the ground with both children climbing all over me. I think he knows that if the shoe was on the other foot, there is a 99% chance that one or all of them would be dead, so he's just happy we're all alive at the end of the day, the condition of the house notwithstanding.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset

Untitled from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.





For Lillian, nothing is what it is. The spatula in the orange juice is the sun going up and down. The wipes are band-aids and she's Belle and the crib is the Beast who just got attacked by wolves trying to save Belle and she has to put the band-aids/wipes on him/it.

This tendency to be so whimsical and inventive sort of weirds other kids out, and that's only if they can figure out what the heck she's talking about. I usually can figure it out because I know what movies/shows she's watched recently, but sometimes I don't even know what she's talking about. Like last night, in her prayers, I'm pretty sure she said she was thankful for being thirsty (firsty). I looked at Tyler and he just shrugged his shoulders.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I look forward to Guy Fawkes Day

As I was walking around trick-or-treating with Lillian, knocking on doors belonging to people I don't know, I was thinking about how bizarre Halloween would seem to somebody from a different country that didn't celebrate said holiday. If you just happened to move here the day before Halloween and you just happened to leave your lights on that night, all of a sudden a gaggle of little kids dressed as princesses, ghouls, and ninjas would ring your doorbell, threaten you, and then hold out plastic pumpkins expectantly.

Then, I was looking at the calendar this morning, trying to schedule an appointment for Lillian and I saw that this Thursday is Guy Fawkes Day. The only reason I have any idea what this holiday is about is because my Canadian friend Mallory asked me right after she moved to the States whether or not we celebrate it. I told her I had no idea what she was talking about and she was shocked. Because who wouldn't want to celebrate a holiday which mostly involves just setting things on fire?

So, this morning, as I was looking at the calendar, I decided that I wanted to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day this year. I don't think that we can carry a burning effigy through the streets as this will probably get us arrested, but we can build a bonfire in our backyard and burn things.

I have a lot of experience with that.



Santa Barbara, 2001. Yes, that is what you think it is.


I'm not entirely sure how this burning party started... but we took turns going into the house and finding things to burn.

Man, it was fun having Vivian as a roommate. She told me that it wasn't until she was a teenager that she realized that other people's moms told them NOT to play with matches.

Other things burned that night: a tampon, a giant sombrero, and a pool of isopropyl alcohol.
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