Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Visit Home.2 or Mom's Wedding

My mom got married last Saturday. I'm really happy for her because I can tell she's ridiculously happy, and every mom deserves to be ridiculously happy.

My sister Amy sent me these matching dresses for the girls. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to hold off eating Nora, she's so cute.

Anne held Nora and entertained Lillian during a lot of the reception. THANK YOU ANNE!

"You may now kiss the bride."

I was not able to hold/entertain the girls because Tyler and I were somehow put in charge of the chocolate fountain, which was a surprising amount of work to keep going... but so delicious.

Lillian and Mia are BFF. She asks me every day when we are going to go back to Amy's. Today? After nap?

Sorry for the blurriness of this picture. I stole it off my sister's Facebook page and she must have uploaded the 10 KB picture, but how cute are my sisters? I also love how Mia and Lillian are cracking each other up.

Sometimes people will tell me about their families and about how this sibling isn't talking to that one, or that the family collectively shuns one of the brothers because of whatever, or blah blah blah. And I think, it's just not like that in my family. I have three brothers and three sisters and we all get along. Sure we fight sometimes and argue other times, and I specifically remember acting as ambassador in 2002 when two them swore they would never speak to each other again, but it all worked out (they probably don't even remember the incident). And now we really are one big happy family. I love it. Before I had children, I wanted to recreate that sort of big-happy-family love for my own kids, but since having #2, I realize that if we want to have a lot of kids, I'll actually have to bear all those children and then, more importantly, raise all of them. Aaaand, that's sounds like a lot of work. So we'll see how that one goes.

Just one more reason why my mom is awesome.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Visit Home.1

We just got back from four days in California. As I am ever the professional blogger, I didn't take hardly any pictures. But unlike some visits, I did take a few... so here goes:

First, something that has nothing to do with our trip, a picture of Tyler getting mauled by his children. I like him, they like him.

Wednesday, I packed. Wednesday evening, I packed. Wednesday night, I packed. I'm not entirely sure why it took so long, probably something to do with the fact that we had no clean clothes when I started, and my kids kept wanting me to feed them/change their diapers/find lost toys/etc. When we started out planning, we thought we'd wake up in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday and get a chunk of driving out of the way before the kids woke up. As the packing took longer and longer, and my hours of potential sleep were ticking away, when it came time to set the alarm, the fight was gone, and I had Tyler set it for a sissy 5:30 wake-up. However, I guess I've trained myself to ignore Tyler's alarm, because we actually woke up when Lillian came padding into our room somewhere around 6:45. There goes that early start.

Here we are outside of the General Patton museum somewhere in the desert of California. Coachella? Palm Springs? All I know, is that when you hit Blythe GET GAS, even if you have a little more than a quarter of a tank and your car gets 30 miles to the gallon and you don't even think you need to stop because you're not even close to running out. Your gas light will go on and you will start having mild panic attacks because it takes slightly more than a little more than a quarter tank of gas to get from Blythe to the nearest gas station, which is by the General Patton museum.

We drove down to Huntington to visit Meghan, Jason, and Baby Carlie. Lillian loved her little cousin and wanted to hold her the whole time.

We went to this pub and ate these really good sweet potato fries that I'm still dreaming about.

Nora is gigantic compared to Carlie. It was good to see everybody, even if we didn't get to go to the beach because it was completely cold and foggy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: Trial by fire

We were sort of forced into finishing our cinder-block walls in our backyard. I'm a little irritated about this because I had visions of, I don't know, paying the mortgage with that $300. But, (deep breath), I'll tell the full story when I have pictures.

Our neighbor's guy did the wall for us. We were calling him The Nice Man all weekend because 1. Lillian was scared of him and 2. He spoke zero English, so we didn't chat him up and we never really got his name. The Nice Man worked all weekend on finishing our walls. At one point, after he went home for the day, we saw he had left a little section undone. The section was not strictly part of the wall, so we weren't sure if he was going to do it or not. This was Sunday. (Much to my dismay he had shown up while we were at church. I told Tyler that this was the one time in our lives we've had anything close to a Man Servant and we suffered him to labor on the Sabbath. I still feel bad about it.) Anyway, come Monday, it was up to me to ask if he was going to finish that section of wall. It's true that I have been taking Spanish classes through the public library, but my vocabulary is limited to: soy ama de casa y tengo dos hijas. I was pretty nervous, but when I walked out there (armed with Lillian, a bottle of water, and a cookie) I saw that he had done that little section. Phew. We had an awkward conversation in which I told him I spoke muy pequeño Spanish and he said gracias por la galleta y agua and I made Lillian say de nada which sort of sounded like 'umbrella' but I think he got the idea.

I've had a few exciting 'just do it' experiences, and I was trying to think of one to tell today. But, for some reason, the only one I can remember is when I learned how to sing harmony. Not that exciting, but it will do.

I've always been a soprano, so in my formative years of singing, I never learned to pick out the secret alto notes hidden under the melody. My sophomore year of high school, I was trying out in front of our 50-or-so member co-ed choir for some sort of special number. I sang the soprano with another girl who sang alto. When we finished, our choir director said something like, "that sounded good, let's hear it again except switch parts." I froze. I really wanted this number, but I had no idea how to sing harmony; I'd never even attempted it. Ever. Not once.

As happens so often when I'm nervous, I said said something dumb, "But, I don't know how to sing the melody." (Of course, I meant harmony). Without skipping a beat, my director replied, "Well, good thing altos sing harmony, then," and he cued the pianist to begin the intro (he was always a very no nonsense sing-or-get-off-my-stage kind of guy). A fellow soprano sitting next to me sensed my anxiety and hummed my starting note. I screwed up a bunch at first and I'm pretty sure I wasn't singing very loudly, but I ended on the right note, and that's all that matters right?

I didn't get the part, but I realized that singing harmony isn't all that hard.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My cooking nemesis

Omelets were one of Cooking's greatest mysteries. I've tried on many, many occasions to make them, but I always screwed it up and ended up just eating scrambled eggs with stuff in it. I imagined the cooking gods were up on Olympus just laughing at me. "Look at her," they'd be saying. "Pitiful mortal, thinks she can cook an omelet. An omelet! Only the gods are worthy to fold eggs in half!"

But I knew that wasn't true. See, I had this friend Kent who, I'm pretty sure didn't know a whole lot about cooking, and he could make omelets with the best of them. Thus, I knew it was possible for us mere mortals.

So every once in a while I'll try again. And check it out:

Take that cooking gods! I just had a little snag up at the top, but otherwise it's a perfect sausage and cheese omelet.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I don't know how it works, but somehow kids are cuter in the bath.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Job Search

Some of you have asked how my job search is going. The answer is a lot like this:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember a science project

The other day, I sent Tyler to take care of the spider webs on the patio because we were having preschool at our house the next day. He yelled that I should come check out this spider. We couldn't see the underside, and the backside gave no hints. I was curious as to what kind, so I captured it in a jelly jar, and put in some Kleenexes soaked in fingernail polish remover to kill it.

While it was dying, I searched the internet to find out what kind it was. On it's back were some red dots arranged longitudinally, and I couldn't find a picture of one like that.

Finally, it died, and fell over. Then I saw this:

and I knew exactly what it was.

You may be wondering about my spider-capturing-and-killing skills. When I was a freshman in high school, I took Honors Biology, in which we had to assemble a bug collection with 50 different kind of bugs from some number of different orders, and we had to identify them down to the genus. I think it was to teach us about binomial nomenclature, or something, but I could have learned that from a book. What it did do was make me feel like there were bugs crawling on me at all times. I had nightmares that every bug I killed had mutated and come back to life and came after me, wielding the little black pin that I had stabbed it with to mount it to my posterboard. I would lay in bed and slap my legs because I was sure there were millipedes crawling on them.

For that project, I spent untold hours chasing moths, butterflies, and bees at my younger brother's baseball games, digging in the dirt in my backyard, and hoping I didn't catch malaria as I sat around a pond in Carbon Canyon hoping to catch a dragonfly.

And, I'll just say that this project would have been So Much Easier had we lived in Arizona. Black widow spider? Check. A bazillion crickets? Check. Very large beetle that seems like it belongs in Ancient Egypt and not by my front door? Check.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Titan Missile Museum

I don't know a lot about the Cold War, but from what I learned today, it seems like the scariest time in the history of the world. Or, maybe that was just our tour guides being dramatic, but I'm pretty sure it was really stressful. The United States adopted a theory of deterrence, in which they built 54 of these nuclear-armed Titan II missile silos which would all be fired if we were attacked assuring total annihilation of our attacker. That's 54 nuclear warheads essentially pointed at the USSR 24 hours a day for 25 years.

After the Cold War, most of the silos were dismantled and destroyed, all except the one right here in Sahuarita, which they've turned into a museum.

Here's Lillian in front of the converging-diverging nozzle. Tyler tells me this is how you get things to go super-sonic.

This is the big antenna out front though which would be transmitted any orders. Our tour guide pointed out that this is a pretty obvious target, so there were many back-ups in place. Now-a-days, it's only used by the local ham radio club.

And there's the thing itself. It's really big. Like 9 stories tall. It could be fired in something like 30 seconds, or maybe I'm making that up... but I think it's really not very long at all.

We simulated the actual launch sequence, which actually scared Lillian half to death because of all the bells and whistles it set off. It's a two key system and me and our tour guide Jim both have keys. Notice he's across the room, far enough away that no one person could do it alone.

Tyler had to wear a hard hat because he is so tall. Lillian wanted to wear one too, but I said no because I figured she's probably just want to wear it for 30 seconds, then I'd have to carry it around for the rest of the tour.

This is the safe where the verification procedures were kept. I was wrangling Lillian, so I couldn't pay adequate attention, but the officers had to make sure that the launch orders had come from the President, so they had a series of codes and envelopes that they had to open and make sure everything matched. I think Austin described something like this to me once... so if you have any questions, I would refer you to him.

The tour was interesting and informative and I would have enjoyed it much more if I wasn't alternately making Lillian behave and shielding her from the scary buzzers and assuring her that we were perfectly safe in the elevator because she felt we were seconds from certain death. Also, they talked a lot about the technical specs of the missile itself, and I got lost somewhere between the butterfly valves and the chemical names of the propellant.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Peeing in the shower...?

A debate as to whether or not this is ok has raged in our house for a long time. Make sure you select "English" from the drop down menu. Or really, whatever language you want, I guess.

I'm fully on the side of this is just fine. Urine is sterile (which is something I tell myself every time I get peed on), it kills the bacteria in the bottom of the shower, and I'm bizarrely obsessed with saving water. I don't specifically hold it so I can pee in the shower, but if I'm in there and I have to go...

Tyler is extremely against this on the grounds that it is gross.

Where do you stand?


Nora can crawl, did you know? Here she is desperately trying to help me sort some coins.

Lillian likes to help me work out. Here we are doing sumo hops.

And pike crunches. Notice I'm cheating and bending my knees.

And here's mountain climbers. Jillian often says "I want you to feel like you're going to die." These do make me feel like that... mission accomplished, Jillian.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

One Hour Till Bedtime

I'm completely baffled by what other people do with their kids all day because I run out of ideas all the time. I have this problem especially when Tyler has to leave in the evening and it's just me and the kids all night, after it's been just me and the kids all day long. After dinner is done and cleaned up, I just stare at them, and they stare back, all of us with a 'now what?' look on our face. We've already colored, done the dinosaur puzzle 4 or 8,000 times, watched probably too much TV, played with the blocks, and been on a walk. It's too late for playdates or to start any sort of big scheme. Nora's got to go to bed in a half an hour, so we can't go anywhere, and nothing's open anyway. (This was the time when I used to walk to Claire's house, but she lives in California, so it's a bit too far away. I've got to find another Claire, is what I've got to do.)

Occasionally, I'll call my mom because she's always got good ideas.

So, I thought I'd start documenting the things we do at this time. In case any other moms have this problem; but mostly for me, so next time I'm bored, I can look back and think 'oh yeah, that was a good time suck.'

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I am amazed Tyler kept dating me

I've been friends with Rachel for a while, since moving to Arizona. And, since then, she's heard some stories about when me and Tyler were dating, and she admitted to me that she's not quite sure how we ended up together in the end because all the stories were of me being mean to Tyler, or ruining our dates somehow, or me breaking up with him. Rachel, here's another one for you:

I used to have these really really cute brown work shoes. They had a wedge heel and squarish toes, and a little button on the side. But, turns out, they made my feet smell, something I didn't really think a lot about.

The bank where I worked was maybe 1.5 miles away and I didn't have a car. To take the bus, I had to be at the bus stop at 10 after the hour. The ride was only 10 minutes long, and if I was working on the next hour, I'd have 40 minutes to kill. So, I walked, which only took about 30 minutes.

Because Tyler is chivalrous like that, once we started dating, he started picking me up from work so I wouldn't have to walk. After one long day, he picked me up, I kicked off my super cute work shoes and put my feet up on the dash.

Fast forward to years later, after we were married. Out of nowhere, or maybe we were talking about feet, Tyler says, "hey remember that day I picked you up and you put your feet on the dash?"

"Kind of"

"Your feet smelled so bad, and when you put them up on the dash, the smell was picked up by the air conditioning and was totally blowing in my face."

I haven't put my feet up on the dash since.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Backyard Landscaping

Our backyard right now is just dirt. Boring. Of course, we've been planning to landscape it, but it was sort of far down on the priorities list. #1 was a car for Tyler. #2 was blinds. #3 was couches for the front room. #4 was a piano for me. #5 (now #1, I guess) is landscaping the backyard.

We knew we wanted some bricks and some grass... but now that it's next on our to do, I can't decide how I want it. So I thought I'd leave it to the internet. Now, I know you're not surprised that Tyler built a scale model in SolidWorks of our backyard, because you shouldn't be. (Even the BBQ and patio set are to scale.)

These first two shots are of option one- Extending our current small patio.

Pro: it would be a larger flat area. You could just walk right out of the house to put stuff on the table for dinner and not have to walk around the BBQ.

Con: the table would mess up the line of sight to the lake if we wanted to have a porch swing and swing on it at night, or whatever.

And, option #2:

Pro: clear shot right out of the house to whatever swing set or climbing apparatus we want to put out there. Also, clean line of sight from future porch swing.

Con: left turn out of the house, seems to eat up more grass area.

I think we've mostly decided to get fake grass. Tyler was very anti fake grass until he accepted the fact that to have a lush, green Northern-California-type lawn, you'll lose your shirt to the water company. And, the Arizona grass that goes brown dormant in the summer is unacceptable, apparently.

I also want him to put a planter out there, but we've talked about that before. I'm still not sure that I'll grow actual food in it... maybe just some nice flowers.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Hungry Cowaparrot

When typing the title to this post, I asked Lillian to say "caterpillar" at least 10 times so I could get it exactly right. I'm not sure I did... It's somewhere between cowaparrot and carapillet. You might remember the last time we went to Character Story Time at the U of A. I thought enough time had elapsed that we could try it again. I prepped Lillian for a solid week to get her ready for this:

Nora, as you can see, was completely fearless. Lillian was pretty ok, she didn't want to touch him even though the bookstore helper assured her that he was very soft.

When we drove home, we took the back way. This back road follows the path of the Santa Cruz river, so every business is like... The Santa Cruz Mobile Park, or Santa Cruz Landscaping, or La Iglecia del Rio. Tyler and I joked that it should be called La Iglecia del Rio Sin Agua, because I've never seen a river in Arizona with water in it.

Not 10 minutes after we were laughing about our 'Sin Agua" joke, we actually drove over the Santa Cruz, and lo and behold... that hurricane has paid off.

Then, it turned out that there was a Safety Fair going on. We checked out the fire engine, a strapping young fireman offered to help Lillian get in the cab and look around... but he was a bit too strapping for her, so she declined..

Then we took a ride in Thomas. It was pretty awesome.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Some letters

Dear Jillian,

I just did level 3 of your 30-Day Shred. I have been fairly faithful in doing it mostly every day for 28 days, except a couple times last week when my baby was up 4 or 10 times in the night, teething you know, and it was all I could do to walk in a straight line and doing pendulum lunges with a hammer curl might have resulted in serious bodily injury or property damage. Now, a little after the warm-up, you said that I would probably have a little bit of a six-pack by now. This, in my case, is wildly false. Maybe you should say, "If you've never had children, you will probably have a six-pack by now." That's a more accurate statement. But, if I never had children, I probably wouldn't need your sadistic 30-Day Shred either.

A mother of two

Dear Fall,

I hear tales that you are starting to show up everywhere else in the world. There are signs that you should be here too, like the gigantic display of clementines at Costco. And yet, you are not here. I understand you are making your best effort by reducing the temperature from 103˚ to 97˚, but maybe you could work a little harder. I'm not asking much, I just want to be outside at 10 AM and not have sweat pouring off my face.

Sweaty in Arizona

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In One Hour!

Every few weeks or so, we get a new movie from the library. This time around it's Cinderella. Lillian is obsessed with this film.

Not just putting on her Cinderella dress ups and watching it, but acting out ever scene.

Here, she's acting out when Cinderella (played by Tyler) goes to wake up her step-sisters (played by Lillian) at the very beginning and they load her down with washing and mending.

Lillian is saying, "Take this, and this too. And have this washing back in one hour. One. Hour. You hear me?"

Now Tyler knows how I feel.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember a bet

Often times, I think I have the pokiest child in the history of pokey children. Lillian dawdles, and "just a minute"s, and "be right there"s into next Thursday. If I tell her to do something and leave her to her own devices to do it, there's a 100% chance it won't get done. For example, right now, she's pushing 30 minutes in emptying the silverware. I realize she's 3, but I think if you count how many times I have to say, "Lillian! Get down here and get your shoes on" in a given morning, it will be at least 20% higher than any average mom.

I don't remember being pokey myself, but I have one memory that suggests to me that I probably was. I don't know how old I was, the memory is of that foggy quality that makes me think I was pretty young... so maybe 5. My mom told me to put my shoes on, and I guess I was taking kind of a long time because she came in and said, "I don't know why it always takes you so long to put your shoes on. You know, I bet you can't get your shoes on in under five minutes!" In hindsight, she probably wasn't actually challenging me, but that's what I took it as. She walked away and I whipped those shoes onto my feet as fast as I could, just to show her how superfast I was.

I got up to show her my lickety-split handy work. "Mom, I put my shoes on!" I was sure she'd be so excited and say she was wrong about telling me I was a slow-poke. Nope. "Good, get in the car," was what she actually said.

I'd be lying if I said this didn't hurt my 5-year-old self a little bit. But this is pretty much the only negative memory I have of my mother*, which goes to show that she's was, and is, an awesome mom.

*I actually do have another negative memory: like the first, I was pretty small, and asked my mom what an Autummus was. As in Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea and frolicked in the Autummus.... And instead of answering my question, she just laughed at me. This greatly hurt my feelings. I was confused about this (the lyrics, not being laughed at) until I was a teenager and came across some sheet music to the song.
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