Thursday, August 27, 2009

Karma Cash-Out

I love the BumGenius 3.0 diapers. As far as cloth diapers go, I give these 5 out of 5 stars. I have Nora in these bad boys for various reasons, by far the number one being to save money. The 3.0's fit babies from 8-35 lbs, so she'll be able to wear them until she's potty trained or, next week, if she continues on her current trend.

I got a $100 gift card to Amazon with our credit card points. Because I like to live life in the fast lane, I bought 2 more diapers at $17.95 each and a pack of razors. Tyler, equally as daring, bought a reusable air filter and air filter cleaner.

Yesterday, the box came and there were THREE diapers in it. The customer service rep was a little confused as to why I was even calling. "Well, do you want to keep it, or do you want to send it back?" she asked. "If you want me to send it back, I'll send it back. But, if I can keep it, I'll keep it." "Why don't you just keep it? It will be less work for everyone involved."

So, take that all those people who won't give me a job. I made $17.95 in one day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gozer the Destructor

As I was making dinner last night, Tyler was playing with Lillian and kind of letting Nora do her thing. We were having left overs, so I was pretty much just making green beans and heating up the rest of the pasta, so it took all of 15 minutes. In that time, Nora managed to completely destroy our toy corner. Granted it's not the most organized space on the best of days, but check out the picture from left to right: she pulled multiple pages out of the Sesame Street coloring book; emptied and scattered the plastic bin that holds dolls/toys/Handy Manny and all his tools (Pat the hammer is in the foreground); scattered her ring stackers; pulled several dress-ups out of the box, sucked on the box, upended the box; pulled a pillow off the chair and deposited it in the pile; attempted, but failed, to open the Mr. Potato Head bag; dumped out all the wooden blocks and was sucking on one of the arch-shaped ones when we finally put a stop to her rampage. I was setting the table when I heard Tyler say, "I'm just going to start calling you 'Gozer the Destructor.'"

Speaking of Nora, my brother told me about this website. I apologize for the suggestive-sounding name. But, it makes cool pictures.

My assembly job was not so good. But, I had Lillian right there, and she (for whatever reason) did not want to assemble a picture of Nora, and felt that if she hijacked the pages and put them in her own order, somehow it would make a picture of Thomas the Train.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Piano Sleuth

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to buy a piano. I had about $500 saved up thus far for the whole operation, but I was still unsure of what direction I wanted to go. Did I want a new piano (which would have cost a bit more than $500, which means a lot more time spent saving)? Did I want an electric piano? Did I want a used piano? How used are we talking here? One day two weeks ago, I was idly checking craigslist for used pianos, and I happened upon a listing for the Green Valley thrift store (which is right close to me... actually, it's the only thing close to me). They were listing a piano for $180. "Chances are," I thought to myself, "it's a piece of crap." But I loaded the kids in the car and drove down there to check it out.

We got there, and the piano was off in a dusty corner with a tag that indicated the price had been marked down at least 3 or 4 times. Probably because all the keys didn't work.

So I opened her up to see what was going on with those keys.

I noticed that the inside had a fancy design on it, just like the piano I grew up with.

(This is a dramatization, of course.) What I saw was that the offending keys were disconnected.

There, right as rain. And, the little old ladies were very impressed at my engineering know-how.

While reassembling the piano, this little screw came out. I put it back in and decided to buy the piano. I could have afforded a nicer piano, but I had no way to move a nicer piano from who-knows-where in Tucson down to my house aaaaand, these nice old ladies were going to get someone to deliver it in two days for a nominal fee.

I waited with baited breath.

The piano showed up two days later and it looked... off. The first thing I noticed was that it didn't have a music stand (see above picture). I asked the delivery men if it had come off, or if they had taken in off and forgotten it. They didn't know what I was talking about. Huh, maybe that screw came loose and some helpful sales person had set it aside somewhere. I'd call the store later. The second thing I noticed was that some of the keys were cracked. I didn't remember that at all. Those moving jerks cracked my keys. I did a run up the keyboard to make sure they still worked, and a number of them didn't so I opened it up again. No fancy design. In fact, the whole set up was different. By this point, the moving truck was pulling away. I ran out behind them, flailing my arms, screaming, "You brought the wrong piano!!!"

There was only one piano in the store, they tried to tell me. I carefully explained my case, went through all my exhibits, and finally found my receipt that confirmed that yes, they had brought the wrong piano.

A few days later, they showed up with the right one. A week later, the nice old piano tuner man came and gave it his once over.

And now I have a piano.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Something I've Been Thinking About

Can someone explain couponing to me? I often get coupons at checkout for 30 cents off some name-brand product. I get that this coupon will be doubled, making it 60 cents off. But, when I go to pull that name-brand product off the shelf, I see that the store brand is a dollar cheaper to begin with.

How does this translate into the pictures that people have begun putting on their blogs of piles and piles of non-perishables with captions that say "Cost: $257.99. Paid: $1.00. Savings: $256.99"?

What is going on here that I am not getting?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mail Surprise

Lillian reenacted getting the package from the front porch and opening it at least 4 times. I'd want to pretend that I got package after package as well, especially when they have....

tu-tus from Aunt Anne in them! Please, ignore Lillian's crazy post-nap hair.

I predicted that Nora was just going to eat hers. I was only slightly off.

Notice Lillian's hands: I won't give her any M&M's so she has to eat pretend ones. Isn't that the saddest thing you've ever seen?

Followed by the cutest.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I've known this for a long time

Last weeks TIME magazine cover story was called Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. The article has three main points.
  1. Exercise makes you hungry so you eat more than you normally would (and often more calories than you just burned).
  2. Exercise makes you think you are entitled to treats. "I deserve this doughnut, I went to the gym this morning."
  3. Exercise makes you tired so you are less likely to move when you get home from the gym (as in less likely to take the stairs, go to the grocery store to shop for dinner, vacuum, rake the leaves, etc).
This information comes at a very interesting time in my life- day 14 of the 30-day shred. Pounds lost so far: zero. I'm five pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight and I was hoping Jillian could get me there. But, after reading this article, I realize why she's not. I am hungrier, so I often have seconds of dinner. I do think I deserve some cookies. And, I do move less because I can't go up the stairs anymore because I moved up to Level Two and my hammies are constantly on fire.

I've actually known about this for a long time. Back when I swam on swim team, I never lost any weight, despite the fact that I swam for two hours a day. Swimming for two hours every day burns a lot of calories and I was always starving when I got home so I ate... a lot. Then, when swim season was over, I would gain a few pounds because I was in the habit of eating when I got home from school and I had to train myself to remember that I didn't just burn 5,000 calories.

I'm not going to quit the 30-day Shred because I'm no quitter. But, I am going to give up on my expectations that it's going to help me lose that last 5 lbs... and probably try to cut back on my cookies consumption. But, not too much, because I deserve those cookies. Don't I?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember the last time I had a job

I've been trying to get a job. I hate looking for jobs. I hate updating my resume. I hate calling and talking to people who don't want to give me a job and tell them why they should hire me.

In November of 2003, I moved to San Luis Obispo, knowing only one person (my roommate), I had no job, had only been to the city once before, and only a few month's worth of savings. Immediately, I began filling out applications. I applied for real jobs where I could wear a pencil skirt and possibly some sensible black heels, pretend jobs where I would wear a name tag, restaurant jobs where I would wear a tie, and even some jobs where I would wear rubber gloves. SLO is not a big city and all the jobs were taken. I got all my classes on MWF so I could work TR, but no luck. Application after application, interview after interview, I was shut down. November finished up. December came and went. I had no idea what a grind it is to have people tell you over and over again that you're not good enough to make sandwiches or file papers. "I know the alphabet, I promise," I would say. "It doesn't matter," came the answer.

January came. My rations became meager. I started eating a lot of oatmeal and oranges. I started thinking about the possibility of moving back home.

Finally, near the end of the month, my luck turned and I got a job at San Luis Trust Bank as a teller, which job carried me through the next few years: nursing school, meeting and marrying Tyler, having Lillian.

The funny thing is now, I have a license. I'm qualified to do something that people need me to do, that I could get paid real money for doing, but no one is hiring new nurses. The nurse recruiter I spoke to yesterday said it happened like this: there was a nursing shortage so everyone went to nursing school. All those people got hired. Now there are a lot of novices working in the hospitals and Arizona has state mandated ratios of how many novices vs experiences nurses that can be on the floor at any given time. Ergo, the hospitals can only hire experienced nurses to keep up with the ratios. Q.E.D.

You need to have at least 1 year's experience to be hired, but you cannot get 1 year's experience unless someone hires you. I hate trying to get a job.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Girlie Blog

My friend Bridget once wondered whether or not her blog was girlie. I do not wonder about mine. I know it's girlie. Back when we started it, and Tyler sometimes wrote too, it was less so... which is why I think it's funny he still imports it to his Facebook page when it's mostly me updating it with things like what I'm going to write about tonight.

Back in 2002, when my sister-in-law had her first baby, back when we all used to live in Santa Barbara, we were hanging out in the institute and someone asked her how well the baby slept. She replied that the baby slept OK and the questioner said something like, "Oh, what a good baby!" What followed was a conversation on how it's not fair to label babies 'good' babies because they sleep well, and 'bad' babies because they sleep poorly. I was 18 at the time and didn't think a whole lot of it, but have heard people say things like that over and over since I had my babehs.

I've found that people don't just label your baby 'good' or 'bad' based on sleeping habits, but somehow that extends to your skills as a mother. I get that if you work on letting your baby cry during the night for a week straight (something of which I'm a big supporter) they'll probably learn to sleep through the night. But, my friend Candie tried this with her baby, and he screamed and screamed and made himself throw up and screamed some more, so she had to give up when she started becoming mentally unstable due to lack of sleep. But, when she tells people that her baby doesn't sleep, he's a bad baby, and she's a bad mother.

My babies don't have sleeping problems, but Lillian has been the toughest nut to crack when it's come to potty training, and I've found that the same sort of stigmas apply: if your kid is easy to potty train, she's smart and a good kid and you're a super mom who did everything right. If your child has problems, they are slow and bad, and you are not making an effort as their mother. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the disapproving sniffs that I get when Lillian has an accident at the grocery store. I'm tired of cleaning urine out of the carpet. I'm tired of mopping and toting around pee-soaked panties everywhere. I'm tired of doing laundry. Lillian starting showing signs of being really ready to potty train one year ago. So, for 365 days, I've been reminding, begging, rewarding, bribing, dragging, helping, and putting stickers on charts and it Has Not Worked.

I'm tired of trying different things to get her to go. And I'm tired of people telling me what's worked for them because I've tried that too. Aaaand, it hasn't worked.

I. Give. Up. Lillian will wear pull-ups until she decides she's darn well ready. And if that means she goes to kindergarten wearing pull-ups(which my mom assures me never happened in her 10 years (or however long)) of teaching, then so be it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All about Daddy

In honor of Tyler's birthday today, I interviewed Lillian to find out more about him.

Q: What's daddy's name?
A: Tyler Ball.

Q: When's daddy's birthday?
A: Cake.

Q: Where is daddy from?
A: He's sleeping.

Q: Where does daddy go all day?
A: Daddy be worried, has to come home.

Q: What does daddy do for his job?
A: A cake. A work cake.

Q: He does cakes for his job?
A: Yeah.

Q: So, he's a baker for his job?
A: Yeah. He's a baker. (He's an aerospace engineer)

Q: What's daddy's favorite food?
A: A glass of milk to drink.

Q: What does daddy like to do for fun?
A: Play toys.

Q: What's daddy's favorite toy?
A: Rings. (Nora's stacker toy that Lillian has claimed for her own and likes to pretend that they're bagels or bracelets and/or stack them on her head and knees.)

Q: Who's daddy's favorite?
A: I ate snack at preschool. I eat the animal crackers, not the apple.

Q: What's your favorite thing about daddy?
A: Daddy likes to color with me in my princess book.

Q: Is daddy ever naughty?
A: Yeah.

Q: What does he do that's naughty?
A: Poking your bum.

Q: What games do you like to play with daddy?
A: Candyland.

Q: Who wins when you play, you or daddy?
A: I win. (This is true. I've witnessed at least 10 games of Candyland with the two of them and Tyler has only won one time. Ever.)

Q: Do you want to take a trip with daddy?
A: Yeah. YEAH!

Q: Where would we go on our trip?
A: A trip. Mom, she's chewing on my markers. (Nora has gotten a hold of the blue marker.)

Q: What present should we get daddy for his birthday?
A: A work cake.

Q: What does that taste like?
A: It tastes like marshmallows.

Q: Do you love daddy?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Me too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I contemplate Nora Ephron

I'm a big Nora Ephron fan. For those of you who don't know that name, she wrote some of your favorite movies: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, Mixed Nuts and most recently Julie & Julia. (And no, I didn't name my child after her... but her name might have served for, um, inspiration.)

Yesterday, I was reading about Julie & Julia and Ms. Ephron and thinking about the book that she wrote, I Feel Bad About My Neck. It's pretty funny, and there's one part that I think of all the time. She talks abouy how there's a song that Edith Piaf sings called Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, and it's a great song where she sings about she has no regrets. Ms. Ephron then says something to the effect of, "Not me. I have a lot of regrets."

I think this stuck with me because I feel like people are pressured into accepting all of their decisions as they all add up to the person you are today. But, there are decisions that I regret. One of the ones that, for whatever reason, sort of haunts me is one I made during my senior year of high school.

Brace yourselves.

I dropped out of show choir.

In my experience, show choir doesn't really exist outside of Southern California. It's best to experience show choir, so here's a video of the choir I was in performing Heartbreaker in 2007, which is a few years after I was in it (and dropped out).

I performed with the lesser show choir for my freshman and sophomore years of high school. My junior year, I decided to take the year off and switch to drama, which I did and had a lot of fun. Then, senior year, I tried out for the top women's choir (pictured in the video) and made it in. After a few weeks of school, I decided to drop choir. The show choir schedule is pretty hectic (competitions every weekend and a big show once a quarter), and I was taking 4 (or 5?) AP classes, 6 AM seminary, mutual every Wednesday night, aaaand I was filled with that snobbish teenaged antipathy that sabotages most everybody. I decided that to do my best in my AP classes (which is funny, because I ended up getting my first F in one, but that's a different story), something had to give, and that was show choir.

But, memories are made out of the stuff you do, not all that late-night studying for AP tests (although, sometimes if it's real late, it gets pretty funny). So, in looking back, I can't help but think all that snobbish teenaged antipathy would have been helped by singing and dancing, instead of being fed by isolating myself in my room with a comparative politics book.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shower Updates

As ever mother knows, as soon as your children can walk and talk, shower time is no longer sacred. Also, it has to be all business. There's no soaking or opening up of the pores. It's straight in, shampoo, conditioner, body wash (if you're lucky- sometimes, my sister pointed this out to me, I just use the shampoo as I'm rinsing it out to wash the rest of me) and you're done.

Lillian likes to come give me updates on the general goings-on of the house. Here's today's updates:

  1. Mom, Nora's awake. (I only put her down 30 minutes ago) Did you help her wake up? No, she did it on her own. (I don't believe that for one minute)
  2. Mom, Nora's crying.
  3. Mom, Nora has poop. In her diaper? No, in her crib. (Great)
  4. Mom, I had an accident. Well, it was just a little accident (accigent, as she says). Did you make a mess? No, I put my panties in the toilet. That's nice.
This all in about 15 minutes.

Yesterday, I was thinking about how people my age are starting to get divorced and how sad that is. (Seriously, a couple we were in the singles' ward with who got married literally the day before me and Tyler got divorced.)

Me: Let's never get divorced, OK? We'll just stay married forever. I mean, I want our kids to have it normal.

Tyler: OK, but I think "normal" is to have divorced parents.

Me: OK, then. I want our kids to have it bizarre.

Tyler: With you as their mother, they'll have no choice.

Do you see what I have to put up with? And, with mornings like this one, how could any person stay sane?

The reason I had to take a shower is because I did day 7 of the 30-Day Shred. We went to The Wal-Mart to buy hand weights because I have heretofore been using cans of green beans. In the hand weight aisle, while Tyler and Lillian tried out the family pack of boxing gloves (what a brilliant idea) I tried out all the moves of the Shred with the 3 lb weights, and then the 5 lb weights. The 3 pounders were pretty easy, and I could tell that I wouldn't be able to do the whole thing with 5 lbs. Tyler convinced me to get the weights I wish I could do, instead of what I knew I could do easily.

Turns out: no. I can't do the whole thing with 5 lbs. And, I can no longer pick up Nora. Sorry kid.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Pedicure Woes

It was my birthday last Wednesday, and Tyler got me something he often gets me: a gift certificate to get a pedicure. It's ok that he gets me the same thing every year, because I ask for the same thing every year, because pedicures have become so ridiculously expensive that I can only justify it if it's for a special occasion.

And, every year, I'm starting to feel more and more like an old person when I open it up. I usually say something like, "Twenty-seven dollars?! Time was you could get a manicure and a pedicure for that kind of money."

It's not many things I can say "time was..." about being that I'm not that old. So, here's a short list of things I remember about The Good Old Days and/or things that have shocked me recently about the youngsters these days.

1. I remember walking to Thrifty's and getting an ice cream for 39¢.
2. I heard on Grammar Girl that you are now supposed to only put one space after a period when typing a paragraph. This pains me a little bit, like the grammarians are stealing my childhood, and it is completely impossible to train my fingers to do. I actually heard of this a while back, but it was from an uppity 19-year-old girl in nursing school who's grammar foundation, in my opinion, was shaky at best so I did not believe her one bit.
3. I remember when the first person I knew got internet service. It was called Prodigy and compared to today's internet, it was very limited. I remember thinking, 'this is a good idea, but what use is it?'
4. I had a pager in Jr. High because only business men and drug dealers had cell phones.
5. My friend John was the first person I knew to get an mp3 player, when we were in high school. It held 13 songs.
6. I woman in our ward gave a talk today. I consider this lady somewhat of a peer, although I know she's younger than me. She was about to read a quote from President Benson, and she said something like, "this is from a while ago... let's see... 1986, so I wasn't even born yet..." I couldn't hear what she said next because I was too busy trying to mentally digest that people who were born in 1987 are adults.

My pedicure looks lovely, if you were interested. The nice Vietnamese woman chided me good naturedly as she set about the work of scraping off my prodigious callouses on my heels with the tool she had to retrieve from the back. Us Calder women can grow callouses with the best of them and no amount of pumice stoning or PedEgging at home will keep them at bay.* This is why, once a year, I can justify the expense of the pedicure. And, I like it when they massage my legs.

*Once, a Russian beautitican told my sister to put "the Crisco" on her feet and then tie them up in baggies before she goes to bed and that would cure her callouses. This seems, to me, on par with illegal information gathering techniques and completely freaks me out and makes my skin crawl just to think about. So, whenever I complain about my callouses and how there's nothing I can do to stop them, Tyler always offers to get the Crisco and I just count down the months until my birthday.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which we visit the crazy house

Before The History Channel became The History of War Channel, it was cool and had interesting things on it. Once, they ran a program on the Winchester House. I was pretty young, 10 or 11, and I had no idea where it was located, but I was completely fascinated. My sister Anne and I begged Dad to let us go visit it. I don't remember what he said exactly, but I think he told me it was too far away. It was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester, of Winchester rifle fame. She believed that the house was haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifles and that only continuous construction would keep them away, or something like that.

Construction on the house continued around the clock for 38 years. The house has all sorts of numbers of all sorts of things: 160 rooms, 950 doors, 17 chimneys, 5 or 6 kitchens, staircases that lead to nowhere, itty bitty cabinets, doors that open into nothing (complete list of stats here)

I had almost forgotten about my desire to go see it, until Tyler took me home to meet his family for the first time; I had never driven to Northern California before. And, when we passed San Jose, I saw a big billboard for nothing less than the Winchester Mystery House!

I may have squealed with delight. Too far away? Maybe, but I think I took that to mean it was in Kansas, or something. Here it was, in my own state!

We didn't go on that day, or the trip after that. But eventually, I got to take a tour and check off 'visit Winchester House' from my life's to-do list.

I don't know why I don't have any pictures of the inside. Perhaps we weren't allowed to take any. Tyler, do you remember? It was really cool, although (and Myriah, I think this is how you feel about Hearst's Castle) all I really wanted to do was explore on my own: peak into rooms, open drawers, wander aimlessly for hours. Ah, oh well.

Monday, August 03, 2009

It's not so much a laugh...

I was outside with Lillian, playing with sidewalk chalk when Tyler poked his head out and told me that he found Nora a new best friend.

Besides Nora's non-ladylike chuckle-laugh, I have two other exciting pieces of news:

1. Allison sent me The 30-Day Shred. As Lillian was asleep and Nora was on auto-pilot, I decided to do it right when I got it. Aaaaand, I'm not going to be able to walk tomorrow. But, don't worry, Jillian already made me feel lame about it by telling me the 400 lb people could do more jumping jacks than I can. Allison got a copy for herself (for our birthdays: "Happy birthday, here's a kick in the pants") so she's doing it too. I think she's on day 3 now, so I can't quit. I will keep you posted.

2. This next bit of news concerns Lillian, and it is the most exciting thing that's happened to me (concerning her) since she was born: she is starting preschool tomorrow.

I feel giddy just typing it.

It happened like this: I have been thinking about looking into preschool since Lillian turned 3 a couple weeks ago. In a conversation with the above named sister, she informed me that I could expect to pay $100 per month per number of days per week Lillian attends, as in $100 for 1 day/week, $200 for 2 days/week, and so on. If I had a spare $200 lying around each month, I wouldn't be suffering so much for lack of Jamba Juices. So, I decided to talk to the ladies at church to see if they wanted to do a co-op preschool. I'm in the social dungeon that is primary, so I snuck out and went to Relief Society, made an announcement, and left my number. After church, a woman approached me and said they had a co-op going and they were looking for a 6th member and they start this week!

Two days a week from 9-11:30. I am beyond excited about this.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bodies of Water

Lillian's super smiley face. I think she looks a little Anime when she does it.

As the Ashbys say, "You haven't really visited a place until you immerse yourself in a body of water," or something like that. The problem with Tucson is, there are no bodies of water (except the pool, but I'm not sure that counts).

Until now. We just got back from the 3rd annual City of Tucson Mud Puddle party. Of course, like the professional blogger that I am, I made sure to forget my camera. So, I don't have any pictures to show you How Much Fun we had. They had made mud puddles for all ages so we spent quite a bit of time in the toddler area and playing at the mud tables before Tyler and I decided to go head to head in the obstacle course.

They had 3 obstacle courses (for different age groups) and the oldest one was for years 9+. This is really why I wanted to do it for, I am convinced I can do anything a nine year old can do. If it was for 13+, I may have had my doubts, but 9 year olds: bring it on. The biggest downside to the obstacle course was waiting in line right by where the fire engine was spraying hoards of screaming children who squealed with delight every time they would focus the stream and spray all the people waiting in line to run the obstacle course. My kids loved that part. Nora especially. (Although, at that point, I was glad we didn't have the camera.)

It was pretty lucky that right when we were getting to the front of the line, we spotted some friends of ours who agreed to watch the kids so we could go head-to-head. The course was like a low-tech version of Wipeout. I wasn't sure which of us had the advantage - Tyler is definitely faster, but there were some obstacles that you had to crawl under and/or scramble through and I'm smaller. When it came down to it, his long legs were such a big advantage when slogging through the 2 feet of mud, that he beat me soundly.

So, if 2 feet of mud counts as a body of water, Tucson, consider yourself conquered by The Balls.

The other highlight was watching the Tucson firemen run the obstacle course. After that, I needed the cold spray of the fire engine.
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