Saturday, June 27, 2009

One thing to do

A while ago, I blogged about how I didn't like Lillian watching a lot of TV, but I just had no idea what to do with her for 10 hours per day, especially when it's 100 degrees outside.

One of the best suggestions I got was to check out I've gotten a lot of good ideas from that site, including this one:

Play-Doh letters. You draw letters on cards and then help your toddler roll out Play-Doh and put it on the letters. Lillian really likes to do this. I like it because, as my kindergarten-teacher mother tells me, it develops something called 'letter sense.' As in, they figure out that L, M, N, and O are seperate entities instead of one word: elemeno. I also like it because I only have to be semi-present for this activity to operate.

Anyone else have any good ideas?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gee, Your Hair Smells

Let's just preface this with a fact: I took a shower last night, and washed my hair. OK? OK.

When I was in high school, I worked at an ice cream parlor in which we made our own waffle cones. Because I am One Who Is Responsible, I think it was most often me who noticed that we were down to our last box of cones and would make more. I made a lot of waffle cones. So many, that the smell of waffle cones was positively inculcated into my hair and skin. Even during swim season, the smell of waffle cones wafted around me. I'd walk into someplace, sit down, and the person next to me would sniff in my direction and say something like, "wow, you smell great!"

Just now, I brought the phone up to my ear to call my mom to tell her about my frustrating morning. My hand dislodged the hair that was behind my ear and it fell into my face, and I smelled it. It did not smell like waffle cones. It smelled like baby yak.

The thing is, Nora didn't throw up on me this morning; it's just the way I smell.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Reminescences: Satherhood

Here's my dad and brothers in November of 2004.

I thought in honor of Father's Day, I'd tell a story about my Dad, and one of the most important lessons he taught me. (This is how I remember it, so I apologize if this isn't exactly how it happened. I also apologize to Anne for remembering one of her not-so-good moments. We all know I've had my fair share of them.)

I was 14 or 15, and my sister Anne was 16 or 17. Dad had a big black truck, which was parked on the far left of the driveway. Anne had her bright blue 1970 Dodge Dart parked just to the right of the truck. I came in a friend's car, just to run and grab something in the house, and we pulled up slightly offset behind the truck, so we overlapped Anne's car by 6 inches or so.

I ran inside and got what I needed and came back outside where my friend was idling in the driveway. Dad was out playing basketball with my younger brother (I think) and some neighbor kids. I stopped at the top of the driveway, probably to explain where I was going, who with, when I was going to be back, etc, when Anne needed to leave. She started backing up, but had to angle her car a little bit, so as not to hit my friend's car. I suppose she underestimated how long her hood was, because she ran right into Dad's truck and scraped down the side of it a little bit until the car cleared. She looked at me, I looked at her, we both looked at Dad. After a second of stunned silence, he asked for the basketball, shot a basket, missed, and went into the house to make a phone call.

I don't remember what we did next, if we went inside to apologize, or if we just left because we didn't know what else to do. I for sure don't remember being yelled at, or my sister getting in trouble.

This event cemented something in my brain about my Dad, and taught me some lessons about what kind of parent and person I wanted to be.

1. I learned that freaking out is not helpful, and is, in fact, counterproductive. This has shaped a lot of the way I handle difficult situations, I think. I have a very, "well, let's solve the problem" outlook on life. When friends call with problems or to complain, I often ask if they want me to fix it, or to just listen. Nursing school and working in the hospital wasn't as stressful for me as it was for some of my classmates, because of my just-get-in-there-and-do-the-thing philosophy.

2. I learned that my dad could be rational if I ever did anything wrong.

3. And, I learned that our possessions are just stuff. It's not worth making your kids scared of you to yell endlessly at them because they ruined something. My dad restored classic cars, putting hours of work and untold dollars into these cars that I got to drive around as soon as I got my license (and sometimes before). I remember lecturing my friends on how to treat the car and not to slam the doors, but I don't remember being inordinately afraid of crashing or otherwise wrecking the car.

So, thanks Dad. Happy belated Father's Day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sleep Strong

How many times have girls asked me how I got Lillian to be such a good sleeper? She was an awesome napper: 2 2-hour naps at precisely 10 and 3. Into bed at 8, slept until 7 the next day without a peep. All this by 7 months old. She did this until she was a year old, when she went to day care and all the kids there only took one nap, and the peer pressure was too strong for her. Even now (after some issues in our Tucson house), I tell her to go to bed, and she goes whether or not she's tired, and stays there all night (although her definition of "morning" is getting earlier and earlier as it gets bright at 5:30).

How did I do this? A lot of crying. I have given the speech a few times: "You just need to be strong and consistent. You have to let them cry. It will only take a few nights, and then they'll have it. They might relapse when they get a tooth, but just give them Tylenol and tell them to go back to sleep."

I may have given the speech a few times, and I stand by it, but it sure is exhausting to actually do it, especially when the crying wakes up Lillian, too. Then we're all cranky.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New purse

I'm not good at sewing, but I sew a lot. And, by all accounts, I don't really like it. I complain a lot about my current projects, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to find time to do it. I tell myself that I don't have to do it, but for some reason, I keep buying fabric and patterns.

While working on this purse, I realized why I actually do like sewing. I walked into my sewing room, stared down the sewing machine and said in a horrible imitation of Darrell Hammond's imitation of Sean Connery, "So we meet again, Trebek." The sewing machine is my nemesis and I'm determined to conquer it or die trying. I get to physically wrestle something into submission, and I can often be heard to say things like, "You thought you were so smart, you and your double-sided fuseable interfacing. Well TAKE THAT PURSE!"

Lillian was being completely impossible as a model, so I sent her in to watch Curious George, and just set the purse on the ground.

And, though I'm not a very good seamstress, the stuff I make does tend to come out OK. This purse is from Heather Bailey, and I took it to the Relief Society Spa Night last night and got a lot of compliments. "I'll play your game, Trebek, you rogue."

This whole story also applies to crossword puzzles. I love working the NYT crossword, but I'm not that good at it, and I get so irritated at the authors who think they're being So Funny with their puns and little word plays. And yet, I can't stop, it's my own personal heroin.

Also, Nora had her 6 month check up. Her stats are as follows:

Weight: 20 lbs (99th percentile)
Length: 27.5 in (95th percentile)
Head Circ: 43 cm (75th percentile)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Newest trick

This was taken on Sunday; she's doesn't have to lean so far forward now. She turned 6 months old on the 15th, soon she'll be crawling, then walking, then talking, then talking back. Tyler asked Lillian if she was going to stay little forever, and she told him no, because she gets bigger every time she poops. I don't know where they come up with this stuff.

Here's my question. Nora is at a tough age because she's old enough to want to be entertained, but has no hand/eye coordination to do it herself, so I either have to hold her, or actively play with her to keep her happy. (Although, right now, she's amusing herself by rolling around on the bed, and that seems to be working.) Lillian's at a tough age because she's in her terrible twos, and started whining they day I brought Nora home from the hospital, and hasn't quit. She whines, she cries, she throws herself on the ground. Yesterday, I told her to pick up her letter magnets and put them back in the bag and she had the jelly arms and couldn't hold them in her fingers. And then, her feet were suddenly ferrous and the magnets were sticking to them and she couldn't get them off. Then, she just couldn't do it anymore and had to lay down. Then, she cried when I told her to get up and she had to take some time in her room to calm down. Then, she wanted to toss them into the bag, but couldn't make them in, so she cried. These were alphabet magnets, so there's only 26 of them. Actually, I think there's only 25 because we lost E, and it took the better part of an hour to get them all picked up. (And I had to call Allison so she could talk me down from strangling Lillian.)

The question is: if the kids are at a tough age, when is a good age? I vaguely remember Lillian being sweet but mischievous from like... 1 year to 2 years? Is this just because I was in school and outsourced her every day? And I asked mom when Lillian will grow out of whatever phase she's in now, and she said 23. Soooo, that's not helpful.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I contemplate killing Tyler

Sorry to all (two?) of my male readers, but I'm going to talk about womens' troubles this week. Due to whatever circumstances, I haven't had PMS in almost 4 years, so long ago that I sort of forgot how crazy I get. Last week, I thought I had certainly developed some sort of brain tumor that was causing me to get really, really angry over nothing/everything. I just happened to be reading my journal from a few years ago when I read this story, and it all came back to me.

It was 2004, and Tyler and I were dating. In an effort to control my fire-breathing tendencies, the doctor decided to put me on birth control, and you start on the first day of your period. This is a bad idea. I'm pretty sure that was the worst week of my life.

While I was at work, Tyler went over to my apartment to get some brown sugar and while he was there, he had the audacity to make my bed and pick up some clothes and put them in the hamper. When I got home, I saw that he had made my bed WRONG and put the jeans that I had only worn for a few hours the day before in the hamper. COULDN'T HE SEE THEY WERE CLEAN? Why would he touch my bed?! NOW I HAVE TO WASH MY SHEETS BECAUSE HE TOUCHED THEM WITH HIS DIRTY HANDS! HE RUINED MY LIFE! I gave him the key to my house and THIS IS HOW HE REPAYS ME? I may have called him to tell him that I wished him dead.

I quote from my journal:

I cannot believe how mad I was. In my bitter rage, I started doing Claire's dishes. She came over to tell me that I didn't have to do them, and I yelled at her. Something like, "WHY CAN'T I JUST DO THE FREAKIN' DISHES IF I WANT TO. ALL DAY AT WORK PEOPLE TELL ME WHAT TO DO, THEN I HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL AND LISTEN TO MY IDIOT OF A TEACHER AND DO STUPID GROUP WORK. THIS... CLEAN DISHES... THIS IS WHAT -I- WANT."

I don't think I had ever been mildly irritated at Claire, so this came as quite a shock to her. After standing there with her mouth open for about 30 seconds, I apologized and explained the situation to her. She laughed and invited me over to watch Scrubs with her. Zach Braff may have saved my relationship with Tyler, and thus my marriage.

I called Tyler to apologize and let him know what was going on. In true Tyler form, he set up his Outlook to alert him every 28 days so he would know to leave the state for a week.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hiking in the Santa Ritas

My sister Allison summed up my philosophy about doing things with kids. We were talking about making friends and the challenges of finding like-minded people. She said, "I want a friend who I can call and say, 'hey let's go out to [this fun place I heard about], it's an hour away and there's a chance the kids might cry the whole time, but I bet it will be more fun than not!'" Lucky for me, when I propose these sorts of adventures to my husband, he usually agrees to go. Last weekend, it was hiking in the Santa Rita mountains, which are just south of us.

We made Lillian walk the whole way. She started losing it when we got to our turn-around point, but I told her over and over again that she was a big girl and big girls walk on their big-girl legs and when we get back to the car, she's going to feel such a sense of pride in her accomplishment. When we finally got back to the car, she started yelling "Hurray! I'm such a big girl!"

The only other exciting thing about this hike was that it was Lillian's first introduction to peeing outside. She was much too distracted by the novelty of being half naked outside to accomplish anything. But, for attempt #2, Tyler decided to have her stand on a rock that was pretty much on the edge of a cliff and then he would lean her over the edge so she wouldn't pee on herself. I'm just going to leave it at that on the chance that he may read this.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How long can we get away with this?

Tyler was in charge of the lesson for FHE last week.

The basic gist of it was that prophets have beards like this one.

I also tried on the beard, but the picture came out really lousy (or I'm just the most unphotogenic person in the universe) so I'm not posting it.

This is what Tyler would look like as a prophet. He's very pensive and strokes his beard when he thinks.

And marching around is completely necessary when you sing Follow the Prophet. Tyler couldn't remember the words to the Adam verse, so he made up his own (you may remember the Nephi's Courage incident last year). The new version goes something like this:

Adam was a prophet, first one that we know
Him and Eve ate fruit and God said "Go! Go! Go!"

How old are you kids when you have to start coming up with "real" lessons?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Waxing Philosophic

Lillian takes her vacuuming very seriously. And, true to form, she's not wearing pants.

My insanity's been coming on for a while now. It first started getting bad when Lillian went through her Cars phase. I've watched that film maybe 600 times, and around viewing 250, I started to be concerned for the cars' souls. Do they have souls? Who made the cars? What if you crash and no one repairs you? Where do the cars go when the die? Is it possible to never die? What if you are made a race car and decide you don't want to be a race car, can you get refitted? Who attaches the cameras to the outside of the cars? How does Mac hook up his trailer? If Lightening and Sally fall in love, how would they... you know... make little cars?

I wondered about these and hundreds of other questions during the subsequent 350 viewings. Tyler, somehow, is not interested in discussing these conundrums. "It's just a movie," he says. "It's not real." Oh, but it is. It is.

Now it's happening with Sleeping Beauty. We got it from the library last week and have watched it every day since, so... 12 times. First of all, I severely dislike Flora; she's a jerk. For example, when she's making Aurora's dress and it's hideous and Merryweather says "it's looks awful," Flora responds, "that's because it's on you, dear." I would have punched her if I was there.

After I got over my fit of pique, I realized that it wouldn't have mattered whether or not the fairies screwed everything up with their fight over what color the dress should be (and thus alerting Maleficent to Aurora's location), because the King and Queen planned a huge party for 1 minute after sunset and invited the whole kingdom. Any Mistress of All Evil worth her salt would probably figure out that Aurora would be in the castle, and thus be able to lure her away to accomplish her nefarious plan.

Also, the faries put everyone to sleep in lieu of telling them that Aurora is asleep. What kind of plan is this, and what is it teaching our children? Obviously it didn't affect the people in the country. What if some peasant or someone from a neighboring kingdom wanted to visit his relations and thought everyone was dead? Or began looting?

I need professional help.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I light the shower on fire

A few weeks ago, Tyler took Lillian to Cub Scouts where they had a bonfire and cooked s'mores. Since then, Lillian has been very interested in fire and wants me to light candles all the time. For this week, I thought I'd tell about my most exciting fire experience.

During my second year of college, I started working on the prereqs for nursing school. Among these was Medical Microbiology, one of the hardest classes I've ever taken. In the first few weeks, because our professor wanted to turn us into germ freaks like herself, she made us take cultures of things around our houses. I cultured the light switches, cutting boards, my toothbrush, keyboard, and drinking water. The day we read the cultures was the scarriest day of my life; on that day was born a new germ freak. I went home and started scrubbing.

My roommate Vivian walked in right as I started on the light switches. "Can we set the shower on fire?" I asked. "Um, OK," she answered.

See, we read about a study they did where they were testing for germs in toilets and between tests, to sterilize the toilets, they lit them on fire with isopropyl alcohol. Our shower had been suffering from neglect and, as I recall, it was pretty big. I didn't want to have to scrub that whole thing down, so I thought if we could just light it on fire, I wouldn't have to scrub it.

And, as Vivian (or maybe Claire) told me once, they didn't know other people's moms didn't let them play with matches.

After a short trip to the store to pick up isopropyl alcohol and matches (Vivian told the checker not to worry and that we Weren't. Up. To. Anything.), we got home, splashed the alcohol around the shower and threw in a match.

In hindsight, we should have put the alcohol in a spritzer, because most of it just ran (on fire) down the drain. And, it didn't budge the grime in the shower.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Dinners that Lillian ate

I've had two successes and one incredible flop in the dinner department. The flop was a falafel adaptation. After I finished frying the little croquettes, I gave one to Tyler to see if he would like it. He scrunched up his face, shook his head from side to side, then opened and closed his mouth like, 10 times. We ended up cooking a frozen pizza.

The two other dinners, while not quite the Most Delicious Food Ever, were easy to make and healthy(er). And, Lillian ate both, which never happens. (Amy noted that she ate a cupcake just fine, along with soda and cookies. Somehow, however, I can't bring myself to serve these things for dinner.)

Cumin Chicken with Black Beans

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 t ground cumin
2 T olive oil
1/2 c chopped red onion
1 anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 c frozen corn, thawed
1 1/4 c cherry tomato halves
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 T chopped cilantro (I used parsley because cilantro is the devil's herb)
2 t red wine vinegar

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound with a mallet to 1/2-in thickness. Rub cumin over chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken for 4 minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board. Return the skillet with pan drippings to medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, and 3 T water and cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes until ingredients are just heated through. Remove from heat and toss with the scallions, cilantro, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice chicken and arrange on top of beans.

Serves 4.

Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower

12 oz multigrain elbow macaroni
1 head cauliflower
4 slices bread, dried on the windowsill overnight (I used left over garlic bread)
1/2 c fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 1/2 c reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 c milk
1 T dijon mustard

-Heat oven to 400. Cook the pasta, adding the cauliflower during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain.

-Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Add the parsley, 2 T of the oil, and 1/4 t each salt and pepper and pulse to combine; set aside.

-Return pot to medium heat and add the remaining T oil. Add the onion, 3/4 t salt and 1/2 t pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft, 5-7 minutes. Mix in the pasta, cauliflower, cheese, sour cream, milk, and mustard.

-Transfer to a 13X9 baking dish, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

Serves 6.

It's official

This year, because I'm righteous like that, I've been trying to follow commandments that heretofore I didn't feel really applied to me, namely, planting a garden and amassing my year's supply of food.

The food storage is going pretty well. We went to Sam's Club and spent about $200 on our 3-month supply, which Tyler has already broken in to for the Lucky Charms. But we now have enough pancake mix, syrup, flour, sugar, raisins, oil, oatmeal, cereal (minus the Lucky Charms), yeast, spaghetti, and chocolate chips to last in the event of disaster.

The garden is going less well. You may remember I planted a garden a few years ago. It looked so great at the start, but, in the end, it was a flop. The birds ate all my tomatoes, the zucchinis had tough skin, our watermelon rotted from the inside before it ripened, the radishes and lettuce died, and the yellow squash plant turned out to be a cucumber, which I had no use for because they're gross.

Try, try again, right?

Our backyard is unfinished, and in discussing the landscaping, I asked Tyler to put in a planter, so we could have a garden. One day. Because my last gardening attempt went so well, ahem, I decided to prove my prowess by growing an indoor herb garden. I bought a little kit with a container, dirt, parsley, chives, and basil seeds. I kept it on my kitchen counter right by the sink. I planted the seeds and they sprouted. I faithfully watered them, and even had Lillian spritz them with water, on account of the dryness.

The parsley didn't last a week.

The chives made it maybe two.

The last of the basil finally succumbed yesterday. They weren't looking good (they were almost dead) and I was too embarrassed to ask anyone to water them while we were in California. The 4 days without water were too much for the little guys.

I told the ladies at church yesterday about how my garden died-

Ladies: That's because you don't have a drip irrigation system. All my gardens died until I got one. You need one here in the desert.

Me: Oh, um. It was my indoor container garden.

Ladies: Well, um... Better luck next time...?

So, what do you think? Should we spend the money to put in a planter (and drip irrigation, apparently), not to mention sacrifice space in our already not-that-big backyard, for a garden that is probably just going to die?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Newport Beach Temple

On the way home from the beach, we stopped at the temple. It was clear and beautiful by the time we got there.

The flowers were simply beautiful and everywhere. The desert has it's own beauty, but I just kept staring at all the green and all the colors.

Lillian woke up right before we left, so I made her get out and take some pictures with me.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Visit Home: Part the Second

I told my friend Myriah that I was going to go to California. She said, "Can I come visit you?" What? Where I was going, and where she currently lives are not close. After asking 'really?' four or five times, I got that she was serious and we set a date. Lillian kind of looks like a duck in this picture.

Every time I go to California, I really only have two things on my itinerary. #1: Go to the beach. Up until my move to Arizona, I'd never lived more than 30 minutes from the ocean and I miss it. A lot.

Which is why I'm glad Myriah consented to go with me. Because she'd never been to Huntington Beach, I decided to make it an adventure and try to remember how to get there from memory. We only had to do one U-turn. (I took the 55 until it ended and turned onto 17th, but I forgot to turn onto Superior, oops.)

All of Southern California was beset by June Gloom, so we didn't go in the water. I didn't even bring jackets for them at all, or even pants for Nora. Just like the last time we were here my kids were severely under dressed. Nora's wearing Lillian's spare shirt on top of her onesie, wrapped up in my nursing cover. Jeri was very apologetic about the weather, saying how she wished it was sunny for our visit. Man, I get plenty of sun in Arizona, don't you worry.

Lillian has had a hearty dislike of the ocean since she got knocked over by a wave at Pismo Beach. But, I'm pretty sure she would hate it if that hadn't happened. She stayed far, far away from the water and played happily in the sand. This was Nora's first trip and as she's too little to object, I made her put her feet in.

She didn't like it.

#2 on my California itinerary: Eat at Wahoo's. So. Extremely. Delicious. I've never actually eaten at the one in Huntington before, and I think the salsa is a leeetle bit spicier than the ones inland; I couldn't eat it, but I blamed it on Nora. Or, I've gotten sissier. One of the two. Aaah. If I had to pick something to eat every day for the rest of my life, it would be the #6.

Even Lillian got in on this action. And, I realized as I was making this post, I only got two pictures of Myriah. To Lillian's left is her arm.

And here she is with the Duke. On the way home, the kids fell asleep, so we decided to visit the Newport Beach Temple. I kicked myself for not remembering some church clothes - I mean, we could have taken turns running in and doing inititories or something. I took some pretty pictures of the flowers out front, which I'll probably post tomorrow.

Thanks Myriah for driving 3.5 hours (well, probably more like 4.5 if you factor in the... detour) one way to come see us!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I walk into a door

It rained babies yesterday: Allison had her baby, a boy, and my friend Rileigh had a girl. Nice work guys.

From late 2003 until I got married in January 2005, I lived with Claire in a one bedroom apartment on Ferrini Road. I usually went to bed first (surprise, surprise). Sometimes, when Claire came to bed, she'd close the door to our room. I'm not sure why she did this. (My guess is to cut down on noise. Claire's a pretty light sleeper and we did live in a college-y part of town.)

In the middle of the night, when I'd have to get up to go to the bathroom, because she only sometimes closed the door, I'd often forget to walk with my hands in front of me and I'd run face first into the door. I did this probably 5 or 6 times.

Finally, it happened two trips in a row. The next trip, determined not to bang my face into the door, I walked with my hands out in front of me. I was so proud of myself that I remembered, when the door hit me in the face anyway. What? The door opened inward and the skinny end had passed perfectly in between my two hands. I knew it wasn't true, but at that moment, I was sure that either Claire or the door was out to get me.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Visit Home, part one

This is my sister Allison. She's hooked up to some Pitocin as we speak to get this baby out of her, because, wow. Her due date is today, but I'm pretty sure that baby needed to come out three weeks ago.

We were sitting here and talking about something completely unrelated to pregnancy, and asked, "can I take your picture?"
"Because you've never seen a pregnant lady as large as me?"
"Um, I didn't want to say it like that, but, yes."
She said she realized that the horizontal stripes weren't helping, but also, she didn't care.

I like this picture because everyone looks irritated. This is Dad and Jeri, whom we stayed with.

Jeri was watching her granddaughter who is 5 weeks older than Nora.

They are pretty cute, except Nora looks ticked that I'm taking her picture.

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