Monday, November 30, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

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

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

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

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

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

So, chill out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Changing Children

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

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

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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

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

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

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

View all my reviews >>

Friday, November 27, 2009

Untitled from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009


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

Yams+awesomeness=totally amazing.

You should try it out sometime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I can't wait

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Reminiscences: In which I remember donating blood

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Immigration observations

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

De-Lurk Day!

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

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

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

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

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

Ok.... go!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Saddest Day in Recent Memory

Yesterday was a real low point.

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

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

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

The low point is coming.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gaps in my education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happily Ever After?

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

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

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

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

A n y w a y.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Story Town

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Man in the Yellow Hat

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

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

Those librarians were on fire.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gun imponderables

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

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lillian, the fabulous

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Iron and Whine

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Immunization FAIL, sort of

My friend Sarah sent out this email:

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

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

Do you normally get it as well?

Why or why not??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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

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

That's the ocean.

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

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

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

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

Hostage crisis

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

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

Then we waited.

And waited.

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

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

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

Monday, November 09, 2009

To call or not to call

Nora is sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Here comes a robot with electric brains

I'm a robot from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

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

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Losing my Mommy Marbles

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

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

Day 1: no nap.

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


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

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

Day 2: no nap.

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

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

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

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

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

Wait for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 06, 2009

Extra Time

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

Guy Fawkes Day

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

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

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

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Survival, not thrival

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset

Untitled from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

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

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

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

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

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

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

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

I have a lot of experience with that.

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 02, 2009

Feeling Foolish

This happens a lot. Not me making this face, but Tyler makes me feel foolish... by repeating back to me exactly what I just said. He doesn't do it with any condescension in his voice, he's just confirming that I did say what he thought I said.

It really does happen all the time, but because I think I've worked to forget past incidences, and I don't have someone running around after me with a pen and paper to write them all down, like Yogi Berra or George Bush, I don't remember any, except the one that happened last Saturday.

Tyler and I were watching Game 3 of the World Series and late in the game, Philadelphia hit a home run, but the ball smashed into a camera and then bounced back onto the field. The umpires had a little meeting and decided to let it count as a home run. I did not see it happen because I was at the door giving out candy to one of the 5,000 Optimus Primes that came to our house that night.

When I came back into the room, Tyler explained what happened and I said, "so, it bounced back out?"

Tyler's eyebrows shoot up, "it bounced back out?" (Something has gone wrong.)

Slowly, I answer, "out of home run territory...?" (I'm really feeling lame at this point.)

His eyes narrow, "you mean, bounced back in."

"Bounced back in?"

And so forth. I think, in my head "in" was the stands. A box with defined sides. A ball goes IN to the stands when you hit a home run. So when it leaves the stands and goes back on to the field it goes OUT. Apparently, this is the exact opposite of the accepted baseball vernacular, which Tyler let me know by that eyebrow-raise-head-tilt combo.

It used to irritate me No End when he did this. Why couldn't he just let it go? He knows what I meant. Why did I have to marry an engineer who is so concerned with exactness, he wants to get a micro pipette for the kitchen so he can measure out a "splash"? I don't feel any less foolish now, but I'm more willing to let myself channel Lucille Ball and just laugh at how silly I sound.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I apologize for the low quality of the above shot, but it's mostly here just to prove a point. This is a picture of all the people Tyler works with taken on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. As you may be able to tell, Tyler is pretty much the only person who is not dressed like a pirate (he's wearing a green striped shirt). This is just to illustrate that they take holidays, especially holidays which require dressing up, very seriously. Which meant that he had to dress up for Halloween.

He wasn't long in deciding to be Han Solo. It's a pretty easy costume, which somehow I got in charge of putting together. This picture doesn't even show off the sweet red felt stripe that I sewed down the side (which Tyler's co-worker pointed out are so wrong. They're supposed to be bloodstripes, which I knew because I checked out multiple screen shots of his pants before getting started, but didn't feel like making). His vest I made out of an old lady's vest that I got at the thrift store for 50 cents.

I decided that it was high time that I dressed up too, especially because (finally) I'm not pregnant and can wear a normal costume. I asked around to see if anyone had a white bathrobe to make my Leia costume, but I could only find this LOTR-type robe. So I turned it around, basted up the back, rolled up the hood to make a sort of cowl neck, and opened two seams for my arms. Add Tyler's belt covered in tin foil and two knee-high compression stockings stuffed with socks (which was Tyler's last minute design; genius, really), and BAM: instant Princess Leia.

Lillian got a kick of how we were both princesses and insisted on arguing over which of us was going to marry the prince, played by Tyler because he had stripes on his pants, just like Prince Charming. No amount of explaining that I already married daddy would satisfy because She Is Cinderella and Cinderella marries Prince Charming. End of story.
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