Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oh, what do you do in the summertime?

Tyler was trying on some clothes, and Lillian wanted to be just like Daddy.

I need help.

See, I've really only been a stay-at-home-mom for 7 months. Sure, I stayed home for a year when Lillian was born, but from 0-12 months, she was an infant. I'm finding out that staying at home with a toddler is much, much different. People would ask me what I did all day when I was at home. Mostly, I did what I wanted to do: I read a lot, I taught myself basic Spanish, I went for runs, I chilled out. I could give Lillian a piece of tape or a box and she'd be good for at least an hour. However, chilling out is no longer an option.

I hold two diametrically opposing views of myself and parenthood. The first view is one I came up with when I was learning to drive stick, namely: people dumber than me do this all the time. 'I'm smart, I can do this.' I've used this little mantra many times in my life to coach myself through a difficult task. The second view I hold is that for some reason, I think that everyone is doing a better job than I am. Whenever I screw up (like last week when I gave Lillian a spoonful of peanut butter and as soon as I turned around, she fed it to Nora. Turns out, Nora is not allergic to peanuts), I think, 'other mom's don't do that.' I don't berate myself, and it's not one mom in particular that I think is so super. I just have this prejudice that other moms, in general, are more together than I am.

Which brings me back to what I need help with. One of the things that (for whatever reason) I fixate on is how much TV Lillian watches. I can't break myself of using that as a measure of how well I'm doing as a mother, and of course, other moms don't let their kids watch that much TV (my brain tells me, but statistically, the average toddler watches about 5 hours of TV a day, so I know this isn't true, but I can't help thinking it). I used to very strictly limit Lillian to about two hours a day: Sesame Street in the morning, and two episodes of something else in the afternoon. Since Nora was born, this has gone out the window, mostly because I've been too tired (or I've been glued to the couch nursing) to do anything else. But now, my problem is that I don't know what else to do.

Say we go to the park in the morning. We'll get home around noon, eat lunch, and Lillian will go down for a nap and sleep for two hours. She's up at 2:30 and there's still 3 hours until Daddy comes home. What to do? Color: 20 minutes. Make a small craft (like, unrolling cotton balls and gluing them to paper): 15 minutes. Play blocks: 10 minutes. Um... color again? You see my problem? I feel like we do this cycle of coloring, reading books, playing play dough, and emptying the dishwasher. What else is there? Is it just that my child isn't very good at entertaining herself?

I ask you moms out there the same question so many asked me: What do you do all day? What kinds of things do you do that are semi-structured but don't take too much time/effort on your part to set up/run? Or do you just say, "go play"?

What kinds of things do you do when you don't have any errands to run, you've already watched two episodes of 'Little Einsteins' and there's 2 hours left before you can reasonably begin making dinner?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Potty Training, My Little Stinker

Lillian often likes to 'eat' food out of books. Just recently, she started feeding it to us. Then, she started feeding Tyler non-food items, like bees and eyeglasses.

The real adventure this morning has been my feeble attempt at potty training. It went something like this:

(note: Throughout this ordeal, I was giving her juice and water almost constantly.)

8:00- attempt #1 to sit on the potty. Successful, chocolate chip reward given.

8:15 - Lillian requests to wear big-girl panties. Request granted.

8:20 - Lillian has an accident. We have a talk about accidents and I make her sit on the potty. Attempt #2 successful as well. Chocolate chip reward given. Second request for big girl panties. Request granted.

8:35 - Attempt #3, unsuccessful. No chocolate chip.

8:40 - Accident #2. Second talk about accidents. Attempt #4 to sit on potty, unsuccessful. Switch to training pants with vinyl cover.

8:50 - Attempt #5, successful. Chocolate chip.

8:52 - Accident #3. More talks. Attempt #6, unsuccessful.

9:10 - Attempt #7, successful. CC.

9:12 - Accident #4. Mom gives up.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Four Years

Tomorrow is our four-year anniversary. This sounds like a lot to me, but my in-laws just celebrated their 40th, so I know it's not that much. Just for fun, here's a look back at what we've been doing this whole time.


Just before I met Tyler, my life had taken a big left turn, but I was pretty sure I had ironed out all the kinks. I was ready to hang out with Claire in SLO, graduate college, and start my career. Tyler walked in, he was way too... nice, so I walked him right back out. But something happened, he wouldn't leave. I liked him OK and all, so I was fine with him hanging around, plus he had a car and I didn't. Pretty soon, I let him take me on another date. To Hearst Castle.

This was the most disasterous date ever, mostly that was my fault. As you can see from the picture below, I had an awful time: women's issues. I was in a lot of pain and I don't know if the day was dry or if my contacts were just old, but they were bugging me so much, I couldn't see very well. I couldn't have been terribly pleasant to be around. (Myriah, maybe this is why I hate Hearst Castle).

But, even though I was awful, Tyler was really concerned. He wanted to help, to make me feel better. He offered to stop and buy me medicine or ice cream or whatever I needed. He rubbed my shoulders or left me alone, depending on my mood. At the time, I had no idea how much it cost to tour the Castle, but after I found out, I thought if the shoes were on the other foot, I would have been irritated that Tyler ruined my day after I paid so much for it. If he had any thoughts of this nature, he never let on. This really turned my opinion of "nice." I decided I wanted a "nice" guy.

After the tour, I felt a little better so we drove up this hill overlooking Morro Bay. You can see Morro Rock just to the left of my face. Even though I had been a horrible date, Tyler asked me out again. And again and again.

By August, Tyler and I still weren't what they used to call "going steady." At least not to me. Then my friend Jen (on the far left of the picture) invited me (far right) to go backpacking in King's Canyon. I bought a new backpack for the occasion thinking I'd use it again and again in my swinging single life. We were gone for a week, during which time, I did nothing besides hike and talk about Tyler and how great he was. It was a surprise to me, I had no idea he was so fabulous. When I got back home and saw him, I realized I had missed him a lot. A lot a lot.

Two months later, we were engaged.


Three months after that, we were married. Everyone warned me that the first year is the hardest, and after four year, I'd have to disagree; the first year was the easiest.

We were both in school, so our lives weren't terribly exciting, but we went on a few trips during those first months. Around May, I think, we hiked Half Dome in Yosemite. This was my last big hike. I haven't used my backpack again because...

In October, one year after we got engaged, I found out I was pregnant.

This was our dining room in our apartment on Boysen street. That was a great year: the Winter Olympics and the World Cup, Patrick and Peter across the street, Claire and Liz two streets over, dinner parties, Trivial Pursuit, Settlers of Cattan (or rather, Settlers of Zarahemla), Farmer's Markets, the Geek Movie, a lot of good music mostly provided by Claire.


When I was four months pregnant, we hiked Bishop's Peak. I knew it was the last time I'd get to be up there for awhile.

In July, Lillian was born. Here we try to give her her first Gravenstein apple. She doesn't seem terribly interested. Mmmmn, Gravensteins.

December was a big month. Above is my first run in with a jalapeno. I saw someone on TV chop up a jalapeno with their bare hands for guacamole. I decided to do this as well, with disasterous consequences. Within minutes, nay seconds, my face was on fire. I called my mother and Tyler's mother to find out how to make the burning stop. My hands started burning. We consulted the internet. I put baking soda, baking powder, and vinegar on my face. All to no avail. So take heed: if you're going to chop up a jalapeno, wear ziplock baggies on your hands, or get someone else to do it for you.

Over Christmas break, we took a trip up to Oregon to go snowboarding on Mt. Hood with the Saponases.


In February, we went on a hike with our friend Liz. I remember this hike because Liz pretended to ride a bike like she was on that Capitol One commercial. It was very funny. Lillian hated this backpack/carrier. She screamed the whole hike. Around this time, I joined a hiking mom's group in an effort to make friends with other moms. I went hiking every week for a few months but didn't make any friends. Probably because it's hard to make small talk when your baby is screaming bloody murder.

And who could forget the dog sweater? My Chinese friend Patrick bought us this dog sweater for my baby shower. His line of thinking was that babies crawl with their arms out in front, like a dog, so wouldn't dog clothing fit better than human clothing? Did I mention he's a mechanical engineer? And Chinese?

Our friend Blake (who's taking the picture) took us river rafting on the American River. That was pretty fun, although not as fun as when he took Tyler the year before.

In December, Vivian took our family pictures in Goleta. She does such a great job, and she's great. I want to grow up to be just like her.

Also, at the First Annual Canaan Christmas Party at the Cohen's, I got Tyler to do the unthinkable: we karaoked "Baby It's Cold Outside" in front of other people. If I didn't have this picture to prove it, I would think I dreamed it. This party was such a good time, I'm sorry I missed the Second Annual CCPC.


You guys all remember this last year, so I won't go too much into it. We took a trip to DC and Boston.

We took a trip to San Francisco (although this was before our trip to DC because I still had long hair, sorry for them being out of order) and saw the Wave Organ and Alcatraz.

I found out I was pregnant in March. Tyler and Lillian dressed up like superheroes to disrupt my study time.

We graduated college and had a big farewell party at Port San Luis attended by no less than five Ashbys (if you count Jerry and Levi) and Liz and my entire family (except for the Maryland Calders, and they were missed). Vivian took this picture of Lillian in the sand. She does such great work. I passed my boards, Tyler defended his thesis, we moved to Arizona, and I had Nora (not pictured).

To those who say the first year is the hardest, I say what about a few nights ago when Nora was colicky all day and then up ever hour and a half from 11-4 and just after she went to sleep, Lillian trotted into our room to tell us she had a messy diaper and my husband, who doesn't function well on little sleep, had to get up to go to work the next day and I had to get up and care for two children under three all day? Huh? How can arguing over where to put the couch compare to that?

But, when everything calms down, when I watch Lillian twirl around and tell me she's a ballerina, or when I look at Tyler asleep on the couch with Nora on his chest, or a million other times a day when I'm amazed by how great life is, it's all worth it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snow Day

When we first got here to Tucson, we'd ask people questions like directions to someplace, where to get a good pizza, or what do does one do for fun here. Whoever we asked would say, 'oh you must be new. Where did you move from?' We'd say we moved from the central coast of California and without fail, the person would scrunch up their face and say, 'why did you leave? and why would you come here?' I got the overwhelming sense that everyone who lived here was looking for a way to leave. Maybe because I knew we were here for the long haul, five years at least, I tried to like Tucson. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was doing a pretty good job. Then my friend Myriah posted about my favorite place in the world, Montana de Oro. I realized that I miss SLO so much and Tucson stinks.

I decided to renew my efforts. I thought and thought about what, exactly I liked about SLO. I made a mental list and I discovered I liked it because it had things that no other place had. Surely Tucson has things that no other place has. Maybe I would like Tucson more if I formed more associations with things that belong to just here.

Thus, we decided to visit Mt. Lemmon and play in the snow.

At first, Lillian was into it. The snow was cold, but nothing we couldn't handle.

Good times were had sliding down the hills.

Then we decided to go for a little walk.

We found this snow cave someone had built. Here's Lillian and Tyler contemplating whether or not to go in. Lillian decided against it.

We set her in front of it to take a picture and she FREAKED out. Maybe she thought we were going to push her inside.

That was the beginning of the end of our outing.

I stopped to take some pictures of these icicles and that stop was 20 seconds longer than she wanted to stay. All of a sudden, the snow was too cold, too snowy, too outside, and too not accompanied by Toy Stories as she calls it.

Here's the meltdown in action. Total time spent in the snow: 20 minutes. Total time to drive one way: 1.5 hours.

I look awful in this picture. Really horrible; I'm not sure why I'm posting it. Oh well.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Double airplane

I'm so glad when Daddy comes home.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Root Beer Floats

Tyler's root beer float and my root beer float.

That mug is bigger than his head.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Christmas was a wonderful affair. We got many great gifts and got to spend some great time together as a family. Lillian got this purse and glasses from Anne. They are a hit.

Tyler got a new-ish pistol from his dad who said 500 times that I should learn how to shoot it too. I don't want to learn how to shoot it. I know how to shoot the shotgun, isn't that enough? I had the following conversation with my dad over the phone about the gun:

Me: So, Tyler got a pistol for Christmas from his parents.
Dad: Oh, I hate those things.
Me: Me too.
Dad: Yeah, they're awful. You know, they're trying to outlaw them in Southern California.
Me: Really? That seems drastic.
Dad: Well, they're trying anyway. What kind is it?
Me: (Consults with Tyler) A Smith and Wesson
Dad: What?
Me: Smith and Wesson
Dad: A Smith and Wesson pitbull?
Me: Pitbull? No, a pistol.
Dad: Oh, well. You should have a pistol in the house.

Disclaimer: My dad just couldn't hear well over the phone. The preceding is in no way a comment on his ability to understand. Comic mayhem simply followed from a bad cell phone connection.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My comeuppance

Colic. It's awful.

I'm number 6 of 7 kids. Most of my older brothers and sisters will tell you all about what an awful baby I was. In fact, when I was in labor and pushing with Lillian, Mom entertained all of the nurses and the doctor with colorful stories about me crying for hours and hours and the creative sleeping arrangements that had to be made to accommodate my fickle moods and how I would only be calm in the swing which was a wind-up number so periodically throughout the day, "WIND THE SWING" was a common interjection. She, probably only half-jokingly, would tell me that she wished I had a baby as awful as me, just so I could get a taste of my own medicine.

Too bad for her wish, Lillian was great. She slept, she hardly cried. It was fabulous. 'I could do this 7 times, no problem.' Not that I want seven kids, but you get the idea. Now, I have Nora. For the last two and a half weeks, she's been great. Not so great at sleeping as Lillian was, but manageable. Then yesterday happened; she started crying. I fed her, she cried. I burped her, she cried. I changed her, she cried. I swaddled her, she cried. I held her, she cried. I took her temperature, normal. No change in bodily functions, no excess vomit.

What do you call a baby that cries for no apparent reason? Comeuppance.

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