Monday, December 27, 2010

And I believed her!

Some of this post might be considered an overshare, so don't read if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. Also, I realize that this will automatically repost on Tyler's Facebook page so Note: this is Amanda typing.

I've asked my mom, mother of 7, why she had so many children. At different times in my life, I've received different answers. One time, she said, "I just couldn't turn it off. Every time I turned around, I was pregnant again." I think I was a teenager, or maybe in my early 20's because I answered, "you know mom, they have things that you can do to take care of that problem."

And now, here I am, 3 kids in 4 years later because I just couldn't turn it off. Something had to be done, so I decided to get an IUD. My doctor, whom I know and love, told me that her office no longer stocks Mirena because they cost $800 and they were losing too much money on them. So, if I wanted one, I would have to buy it myself, have it shipped to her office, and they would put it in. She made it seem like no big deal. I called Blue Cross to see if such a thing were possible, and the lady on the phone actually said, "Oh Yeah! That's FINE. Just go online and fill out forms X, Y, and Z and send in a copy of such and such paper and we'll send you a check." I was apprehensive because it seemed all too easy, but she was so confident that this would be no problem; she knew which papers to fill out, what to photo copy, she used sentences like, "ask your provider for a copy of the superbill." Surely this woman knew which way was up.

I called CVS/Caremark and ordered the thing, had it sent to the office, they put it in. I filled out form X, Y, and Z, made the appropriate photo copies, and sent it all in. I waited. And waited. Meanwhile, CVS/Caremark was deducting $35 a month from my account and would continue doing so until I paid them $800. I received a notice from Blue Cross stating that my claim was denied. Excuse me?

I called and an hour on the phone later, got it all sorted out. Did I mention that this was in September?

Since then, I've received notices, placed phone calls, and made more copies. I called again today to get a status update.

"My records show that we sent you a check for $326 on November blah-bi-di-blah."
"Yeah, I never got that. Did you send it to blee-bi-di-bloo?"
"Yes. Well, because it was never cashed, I'll just put on a stop payment and send you a new check."
"Great. What about the other 400-some-odd dollars?"
"I'm sorry?"
"The device (this is what you have to call it when you call in, so you know) cost me $800."
"Well, Blue Cross only allows 500-blah-blah dollars, your deductible was met so we'll pay 80%, leaving you to pay 200-blee-bloo dollars."
"Um... what?"
"[Starts to explain allowances]"
"No, no. I get that. What you're saying is that I'm stuck with paying not $200, but actually almost $500."
"Um.... Right... well [starts in on some lame explanation about pharmacy benefits vs durable hardware benefits]."
"[Enter a rant about how I CALLED and MADE SURE that this would work and the woman said it would be NO PROBLEM and now I'm stuck paying what may as well be the full price for something that IS COVERED and HOW IRRITATED I am and that I HATE Blue Cross.]"
"[Clearly flustered] I'm sorry ma'am. That does sound irritating. You're more than welcome to appeal."
"YOU AND I BOTH KNOW THAT WON'T WORK! I'll get a nicely worded letter about how I am ultimately responsible for knowing my coverage and that I have a copy of the plan, and that they have no record of me ever even calling in, and that it says in article B section 13 that I shouldn't base my insurance coverage decisions on what the insurance-coverage specialists say."
"Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I apologized to the woman on the phone because she didn't do this to me. I probably will send out an appeal, but really, it probably won't work.

On one end of the customer service spectrum is Costco. I once took back some Cuties because they tasted a little funny, and they gave me cash back, no questions asked. In the middle is Target, where they require a receipt, a picture of you buying the item, and your first-born child before they'll give you cash back. And then way way down at the other end of the spectrum is the insurance company, who doesn't even give money to people who deserve it who are dying. Why would they give me my money back?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


From Here to Claire from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

Eight days, two states, lots and lots of juice boxes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This shouldn't be that hard

I was making cupcakes for Nora's birthday (holy crap, she's two). I wanted to halve my cake recipe because I only wanted 12 cupcakes. First item: 3/4 cup butter. I remembered the visual up on Mr. Malloy's wall in AP Calculus that some student had drawn of the denominator of the fraction smashing through the bigger division line and multiplying itself by the divisor. Make sense? No? In this case, the 4 of the 3/4ths would grow arms and smash through the line drawn below it to find the 2 waiting. It would be so happy that they would hug and multiply in a completely plutonic sense to make 3/8ths. (If the two was a fraction, it's own denominator would feel stilted by the numerator's newfound love that it would grow wings and fly up to the three on top of the whole problem, and it's life would have meaning again. Why no, I didn't pursue a career in math, why do you ask?)

Luckily for me, the butter stick is divided into eight tablespoons (eighths!), so I went to go cut 3 tablespoons off. I looked again and thought that 3 tablespoons looked a little small. I looked at my math again. Sure enough, 3/8ths is the answer, so 3 tablespoons.

I could not figure out where I had gone wrong. I puzzled about it for a while, then decided to come at the problem from a different angle: 3/4 cup butter is 12 tablespoons, so to halve it, I wanted 6.

I called my mom to see what had failed in my calculations. We decided that my math was sound but that I had forgotten that a stick of butter (the eight tablespoons in question) is only a half a cup.

And now, I feel dumb.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Thankamony*

*Only funny if you're Mormon.

Yesterday, I did Sharing Time in Primary (like Sunday School for kids 3-11). We have over 100 kids in our Primary, so it's a little bit crazy. Actually, a lot crazy.

My lesson was about the gifts that Jesus Christ gives us. To introduce the topic I said, "Christmas is about giving......" then waited for the kids to raise their hands and answer "presents." But, a kid in the front row yelled out, "THANKS!"

"Um... I was going for presents, but you can say thanks too."

After it was all over, and my sanity returned, I started thinking about giving thanks, and I have a lot to be thankful for (this list is by no means inclusive):

  1. My family. This includes ALL of my ever expanding clan. It starts out with my husband who is more awesome than I can say; includes my children who are healthy as horses, funny, cute, loving, and say besos instead of 'kisses' (Ethan can be included even though he's on my crap list for not sleeping because he is freakin' adorable); stretches out to my mom who, pending her feeling better, is going to watch my girls for 4 days while Tyler and I go to a wedding, and is always there to commiserate and offer good advice; and my brothers and sisters whom I wish wish wish I lived closer to. I think a lot about my family I've never met, my great-grandparents and think about how they had to have been good people, because they passed down their awesomeness to their kids, who passed it to their kids, who passed it to me, and I am free to pass it on to my kids. Thanks guys.
  2. I'm thankful for my husband's job that pays for our house and food. I'm thankful that I get to stay home with my kids, even though they drive me crazy sometimes, I wouldn't want it any other way.
  3. I'm thankful for the community I live in. We've got great neighbors and as most of us transplants, we're all bent on taking care of each other. Plus, when I see things like this:

    It makes me really glad I suffered through the 5 months of heat to get 80˚ Decembers.
  4. I'm thankful for the neighbor girl who comes over and holds my baby so I can do the dishes and start dinner. She can talk your ears off, and sometimes shows up a little too much, but those 20-minute breaks she gives me are invaluable. Plus, yesterday she showed up with a big bag of brand-new, tags-still-on clothes from the Childrens' Place, in exactly Lillian's size that she says her mom bought last year for her cousin and forgot to mail.
  5. I'm thankful that I get to work with the kids at church. It does get crazy, but I love those little guys.
My kids are freaking out, so that will have to be it for now. But I'm also thankful for food, especially this. So. Good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Purloined Sandwich

On Wednesday, we had a picnic at the park; I packed peanut butter & honey sandwiches for the girls. Lillian ate everything besides her sandwich, so I took it home and stuck it in the fridge.

Then yesterday, Nora told me she was hungry. I went to the fridge and took out the leftover sandwich. Who could foresee this would happen?

The Purloined Sandwich from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

But they're extinct!

Tyler sometimes gets irritated because I can't watch movies that are too scary and/or stressful or else I'll get nightmares. Sometimes, I get them anyway. Here's a rundown of the dreams I had last night:

1. Nora and I were held hostage in a men's bathroom by a man with a shotgun who had shot the other man in the bathroom with us and he was bleeding out and I was frantically trying to stop his bleeding, but he only spoke Spanish. "Mas despacio, por favor" was all I could remember how to say.

2. Tyler and I were spies or something in South America with our next-door neighbor Vic (who speaks Spanish) and we had to cross this busy 8-lane highway to get to the traveling circus on the other side. Instead of walking down to the corner, Tyler decided to just run across really fast, "It's what they do here," he said. He got hit right before he made it to the other side and I screamed "TYLER ARE YOU DEAD!?" over and over again. He wasn't and we stumbled into the circus where we were looking for this very attractive blonde woman. We saw her and she saw us, and she started to run. She ran into the nearby fortune teller tent and while we were arguing with her about how she had to come with us, a short-faced bear (pictured above) showed up and was trying to get in our tent to eat us. "BUT THEY'RE EXTINCT!" I yelled. "TELL THAT TO HIM!" Tyler yelled back. Then the baby woke me up.

3. I was in high school, and we were assigned a battle to reenact. I was assigned the Battle of Azízes, which a quick googling tells me is not a real thing. (There was a thing called the The Bloody Assizes wish is similar, no?) In the fictitious Battle of Azízes, a woman was captured as was going to be forced to marry her captor. She threw a rock at him when he dragged her before the phony priest. The prince was hiding in the shadows and was impressed with her spunk and killed the evil captor, rescued the fair maiden and they lived happily ever after (which, now that I think about it, is not really a battle). I recruited two of my friends for the project and I was to play the maiden fair. When we were rehearsing, we were going to use swords, but my friends decided it would be fun to use guns, like in Romeo & Juliet, the movie. One accidentally shot the other, and it turned into all-out gang warfare, and everyone had a gun but me. "Why didn't I bring my gun?" I thought. And right when I was getting shot at for starting this whole thing, I woke up.

When I told him about my dreams last night, he said, "So, can we watch stressful movies if you're going to get nightmares anyway?"

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Future Picasso

On the right is Lillian's classmate's mittens, representing more or less how the craft was supposed to go. On the left is what Lillian made. Yeah.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving, we participated in the 17th annual Thanksgiving 5K at Reid Park.

Tyler's game face. That kid in the elf outfit actually placed 5th or 6th out of all the men. Quick little guys, those elves.

It was promoted as a "European-style" 5K with obstacles, which is why we decided to do it. But this water feature/hay bale combo is 3 hay bales short of the sum total of all the obstacles. Tyler is behind that guy in the white shirt.

Hey Elizabeth. Sure, come visit us for Thanksgiving. While you're here, surprise! You can wake up at 6 to watch our kids while we go running. And it will probably be something like 40˚ outside, so bring a jacket.

The girls were such pansies when it came to jumping these pools. I'm in the middle looking decidedly uncool. They were all of 3 cm deep but everyone wanted to run around them, so there was a traffic jam on both laps. Come on ladies, live a little.

Tyler got 29:00 and I got 37:17. I would have been faster except I got a wicked cramp around mile 2 and had to walk it off.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweater Re-Fashion

I like how I look surprised that I'm taking my own picture. "Who would take my picture while I'm still in my pajamas with bed head?"

I've had this sweater for a long time, and it's cool, but a little frumpy and big.

So, in honor of not being in school, I decided to get crazy with the sewing machine.

And this is the result. Still couldn't be bothered to clean off the counters for the picture, though.

I shortened the length and made a ruffle with what I cut off. I also took in the sides. I originally was going to be brave and fix the weird shoulders, but that would have meant taking off the sleeves, which, when it came down to it, I was not prepared to do.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Take That People

Take That People from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

We reenacted Samson pulling down the house with the Philistines inside like 5,000 times.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Candy Bomber

The number of living legends I've met has gone from zero to one.

Gail Halverson is in my ward and he's the coolest nonagenarian I've ever met. He came and talked to our primary and told the story of how he became the original candy bomber.

I missed the beginning part, so I'm not sure what he was doing by the fence, but he was standing outside the fence that separated East and West Germany during the Berlin airlift after WWII. Whenever he was in uniform walking around in the States, kids would mob him asking for chocolate, so he was really impressed that the group of kids who had gathered on the other side of the fence were just looking at him. He felt prompted by the Holy Ghost to give these kids the two sticks of gum he had in his pocket. He quickly dismissed the notion as he felt it would cause a riot and he didn't want any of the kids to get hurt. The feeling persisted, so he broke the two sicks in half and passed them through the fence.

There was no riot. Instead the kids distributed the gum and then passed the wrapper around to the kids who didn't get any so they could smell it. This made Brother Halverson want to help them even more, because they weren't greedy like American kids. He worked out with the kids that he would come and drop chocolate in a few days and they would know it was him because he would wiggle his wings on approach. He convinced some of his buddies to give up their chocolate rations and he tied handkerchiefs onto the chocolate bars because, as he said, "getting hit in the head with a Hershey bar going 110 miles per hour would make the wrong impression."

He did this for a while in secret (the kids nicknamed him Onkel Wackelflügel (Uncle Wigglywings)) until a German newspaper picked up the story. He thought he was going to be in trouble because his commanding officer looked upset when he called Brother Halverson into the office. He didn't get in trouble, quite the opposite, the project was expanded into Operation Little Vittles.

I hope I can be that cool when I'm 90.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


I think about babies a lot. I have a lot of babies. We just watched the movie Babies. Most all of my friends have had a baby at least within the past 5 years. Rachel (her baby is coming up on 2) was telling me about the The Business of Being Born, and I started thinking about how my babies were born. Ethan woke up at 5, and I laid awake for a long time after he went back to sleep trying to decide why I choose to have my babies the way I did (all 3 in the hospital with epidurals, 2 with pitocin). It would seem from my everyday track record that I would be first in line to have a natural birth: granola, cloth diapers, clothes line, tofu, compost pile, the works.

I decided it was because my pregnancies were so awful, I just wanted the baby out as quickly and as painlessly as possible. If I had to give birth tomorrow, I think I would be in my right mind enough that I would do it naturally. But, after 5 months of vomiting plus 4 more of [prodromal] labor while being gigantic and exhausted and everyone commenting that I must be due any day now, I am just done.

I kept thinking about this day on the beach. I was 8.9 months pregnant with Lillian. It was July and hot, so we went to Avila. I was laying on my side on a blanket reading Ethan Frome of all things when Tyler said, "Amanda, fix your suit, you're falling out."

"I don't care."

"I care! Everyone can see your boobs."

"I. Don't. Care."

And I didn't. Some freak sandstorm could have come and ripped my whole suit off and I would have lain there naked until I finished my book and was ready to leave.

I also had two thoughts about my doctors:

1. I'm really glad that they let me try to push Nora out instead of making me have an emergency c-section. Nora was facing the wrong way, and the doctor grabbed her head and turned her while I was pushing. My L&D nurse of a sister-in-law says that at her hospital, they usually make those women have c-sections as a matter of course.

2. I wish that I was more with it when I was having Ethan and I could have asked the doctor whether or not I really needed the Pitocin or if she just wanted the baby to be born so she could go home. I don't think that she would have done that, and every one of the 5,000 people who checked me as I was in triage said the baby was positioned funny, I just wish I would have asked.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


"What? How did I get up here? Um, well, I was washing my hands..."

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Not our usual fare

I'm taking a class called The Art of Nursing. Putting aside how I feel about it, I had an assignment to create my tapestry of influence, seen above. I had to choose the virtues, and then decide who helped me develop that virtue.

I'm supposed to let these people know that they contributed to my development, but some of them I have no idea how to get in touch with, one of them is not a person, and another one, I don't know personally. So, I thought I'd go with public embarrassment acknowledgment.

Feel free to stop reading at any time if you think it's too sappy or long.

Caring: Amy Sanchez. Amy is my sister. She is the oldest of us 7 kids, and she is an amazing lady. She's 10 years older than me, and was more like a super cool aunt than a sister. When I was in my tween years, she had already moved out, but lived close by. Every Saturday morning, she'd pick me up and we'd hang out. We'd go to Target or to the swap meet. She gave me helpful hints on how to move away from childish things toward more grown-up things. Practical hints like how often to shave your legs, what deodorants smell the best, and that you should use the time that it takes to fill up with gas to throw away all the trash in the car; to more nuanced things like how to handle falling outs. It's been 20 years since all that, and she's continued to care for me and everybody she meets.

Resilience: Austin Calder. Austin is my older brother. We are great friends now, but when I was growing up... not so much. He teased me mercilessly. M e r c i l e s s l y. It's all water under the bridge now, so I won't go too much in to it, but it made me stronger and more able to handle the vicissitudes of life.

Enthusiasm: Allison Plummer. Allison is my older sister (I promise I'm not related to the entire square). Allison is 8 years older than me, and much like Amy, she took me under her wing and hung out with me a lot. Allison taught me how to have a zest for life. Here's one memory of hundreds: she had a Simon and Garfunkel tape in her car and we'd dance and sing along to Keep the Customer Satisfied as loudly as possible. The memory brings about a feeling of pure joy and happiness, that I have to smile when I think about it.

Focus: McConnell's Creamery. I worked there in high school, and on week nights, there was just one employee. It was the first time that there wasn't really an "I'll do it later" option. I had to work until all the people got their ice cream, cash drawer put away, ice cream put away, fruit prepped for the next day, marble clean, dishes washed, and the floors swept.

Courage: Scott Callister. Bishop Callister was my bishop once. He knows what he did for me, and I just want to let him know that I'm very grateful and I think about his wise words all the time.

Humor: John Gruver. John was one of my best friends in jr. high and high school. We met on a class trip to Washington D.C. and we got to laughing so hard in the Air and Space Museum that I had tears rolling down my face and I couldn't breathe. He's a funny guy, and he made high school a lot more enjoyable.

Creativity: Myriah Cohen. I love Myriah. If you are in have any influence over hiring at an ad agency in Chicago, you should hire her. She's creative and funny and once, she put gummy bears in brownies. Just so you know, they make little lava-hot pockets of tongue-burning sugar.

Awareness: Dr. Bishop. Dr. Bishop was my high school photography teacher. His introductory speech was about how you have to look around to see things in order to take their picture, i.e. you have to walk with your head up. I was a freshman and in my extreme awkward phase, and after that class as I was walking to my next one, I realized that I did look down at the ground a lot when I walked. After that, I made an effort to keep my head up and look around at the world. I've seen a lot of great things, because I was looking.

Honesty: Charles Pearson. Bishop Pearson was our bishop right after we were married. He also said some wise words to me once that I've never forgotten. Thank you Bishop.

Dependability: Tyler Ball. Tyler is my husband, and he's fantastic. Dependability is one of his many many great qualities, and it's probably the thing that moved him from 'dating material' to 'marriage material.' If he says he'll do it, he will. Before we met, I was probably average dependable, if I said I'd do it, I probably would have, eventually. This went double for school assignments. If I thought the assignment was particularly lame, I'd procrastinate, do a lame job, and then talk my way into a decent grade. Also, I hardly ever went to class. Boring. I became a much, much better student after we got married.

Curiosity: Vivian Thomas. Vivian was my first roommate when I went away to school. I had a suburban childhood and knew very little of the great outdoors. Vivian is from a rural town outside of Fresno and knew tons of ways to have fun outside. We went exploring on the bluffs in Elwood Beach, up mountains, and down into caves. I've loved being outside ever since.

Accountability: Tauscha Johansen. I cleaned Tauscha's house when we were desperately poor college students. Once, I overheard her talking to her daughter, who was a teenager at the time. I guess her daughter was supposed to have cleaned her room, but didn't, and Tauscha, without any anger in her voice, said, "you didn't clean your room as per our agreement, so now you cannot go out." I really liked how she didn't yell and how it was more matter-of-fact, like a business relationship. I suppose this has influenced my parenting more than my professional life (which is pretty non-existent), but being a parent is so much of who I am, I wanted to include it.

Confidence: Barbara Arczynski. Mrs. Arczynski was my sophomore Honors World History teacher. At the end of the year, she handed out pencils for different things like highest grade, best attendance, and the like. At the end, she announced she had a special award for someone who she just knew would do something great with her life, and then she called my name. This came as quite a shock to me as I felt I was possibly just slightly better than average. After this point, I was more confident that I was fantastic, and I've thought about Mrs. Arczynski many times over the years to make sure I wasn't letting her down.

Empathy: Steven Levitt. I've never met Mr. Levitt. He is an economist and co-authored the book Freakonomics. This book was published in 2005 and the chapter on baby names made a big impression on me. My father is a staunch Republican and I can remember him railing against affirmative action, asking why, oh why, should his children suffer and get their spots taken in colleges and jobs when he's worked hard and raised them right and those spot taker's parents are all... well, not exemplary in their parenting skills. (he had a few more choice words to say on the subject). The chapter on baby names talks about how the name one is given can have a big impact on one's prospects in life. It got me thinking about how life is so much more complicated than whether or not you were read to in utero.

Reason: Claire Ashby. Claire is Vivian's sister, and I lived with her after I lived with Vivian. She has the same curiosity and love of the outdoors as Vivian, as well as a love of learning and reasoning (which I'm sure Vivian has as well, I just remember it more in Claire). I loved living with those guys and wish I could see them more often.

Generosity: Marti Shelley. Marti is my mom. If it weren't against the spirit of the assignment, I would have put her name in every single box. She is an amazing lady and I hope I can be like her when I grow up.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Healthy Competition

So, I don't know if it's good for our marriage or not, but Tyler and I love a good competition. Not competitions of skill or strength, because we all know I am a sore loser, but competitions at appointments. Previous places we have competed include the blood bank (until Tyler vowed he'd never go again, and before they sent me a letter asking me never to come back. Ever.), and the dentist. At the blood bank, they record your start and finish time, and we'd try to see who could fill their bag faster. Healthy? Probably not.

At the dentist, it's always a good time to see who has cavities or gets yelled at by the dentist for not flossing.

This week, we entered a new event: dermatology. Tyler has gone to the dermatologist a number of times to get various things looked at and/or removed, but I never felt the need to get my many freckles/moles looked at because they were all brown and boring and round.

I have one mole that's um, in a sort of sensitive area; an area that I couldn't see when I was pregnant. I've had it since I was very little, and in my memory it was brown. Now that I'm not pregnant, I can see that it has turned purple. Bizarre, right? So I made appointments for us to go to the dermatologist.

I totally feel like I won because she looked me up and down, said we'll "watch" the mole, pronounced the odd brown spots that showed up during my various pregnancies to be barnacles (which "normally show up in middle age" (lame)) and sent me on my way. Tyler had one mole removed and a number of warts burned off both his knees. I totally feel like I won.

Because, it's better when you win it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Murder Mystery Party

Tyler was a vampire and I was a zombie. I totally guessed the murderer.

Happy Halloween

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Transcend that!

Amanda Ball: "This connectedness transcends physicality as both Judy, Larry, and his mother experience a unity that is beyond death and space-time"

Amanda Ball: why am I paying to read this?

Tyler Ball: sounds like a star trek episode

Tyler Ball: next they'll be sucked through a black hole and have to relive it all over again

Tyler Ball: transcend that!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I am not dead

My mother-in-law emailed me yesterday to find out if I had fallen off the face of the Earth. Also, I skyped Allison yesterday, and she was surprised at what Ethan looked like. I guess I haven't taken any pictures of him.

So, no. I'm still here. Turns out, having 3 kids under 5 and going to school full-time is a lot of work.

Here's a quick rundown:

Tyler plays softball in a city league and is having fun playing with all his new woodworking toys.

Lillian is an excellent big sister and is constantly begging me to let her help. She's learning to write and is really solid on L, H, and A.

Nora is 80% potty trained. She can stay completely dry with a bare bottom, mostly dry with panties and not at all dry while she's sleeping or if someone is not right there to take her. That's right, SHE can tell ME when she needs to go. I like that Lillian sometimes says, "when I was a baby, I had to learn how to use the potty." In my head I answer, "honey, I tried when you were a baby, but you didn't want to do it until 6 months ago."

Ethan is still a crabby baby. He sleeps ok at night, but horribly during the day, which is draining for everyone. He's good sized- the 3-6 months clothes are getting a little snug (he's 2.5 months old), but then again, we only know how to make really fat babies. Aaaaand... he's crying.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Two malapropisms for you:

malapropism: an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, esp by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.


On Saturday, I went to a baptism. For those not familiar with Mormon baptisms (or Mormon meetings in general) we love programs, the physical piece of xeroxed paper. For most every meeting, there are programs printed up, even if they just say who is saying the opening and closing prayers. At the baptism (where I had my program in hand), we sang the opening song, someone offered an opening prayer, and then the man conducting got up an announced, "We have an altercation on our program..."

That would have been awesome.


For school, I have to participate in an online discussion board every week with a certain number of required posts. These posts have to be "substantive" in nature, which means, pretty much, we're all just trying to sound smart to make them longer. Earlier this week, I made the point that it is appalling to me that the medicaid system doesn't have a program in place to track expenses or recognize fraud. Ashton (gender unknown) replied, "Amanda, I must conquer; Medicaid is inefficient."

Again, I want to be there when that goes down.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


A few people have asked me about composting, so I thought I'd enlighten the world about how we compost, Ball style.

First you get a tub like this:
Then you drill lots of holes in it. The holes are about the size of my pinkie, maybe a little smaller. Make them in all the sides, the top, and the bottom too.

This is the stuff I put out this morning. There are all kinds of lists people have posted about what is and what is not compostable. Mostly, it's all organic matter that isn't dairy or meat.

To have successful compost, you need to have about equal parts brown matter and green matter. You can think of it like this: the stuff from your kitchen is green matter, the stuff from trees is brown matter. Some examples of brown matter are: sawdust, shredded bills (this is very satisfying), torn up newspaper, dead leaves, etc.

I keep the small tub of sawdust next to the compost and pour in a couple handfuls every time I add stuff from the kitchen.

Then you shake it all up. Air is very important to the compost, as well as water. You may have heard that Tucson is a desert, so I wet down the compost about once a week. It should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge. If you live in a place that is more humid, you may not need to wet it down.

Your compost will have arthropods in it, this is a good thing. If you can't handle that, composting is not for you. It doesn't smell if you're doing it right. I did have a period where mine was attracting a lot of flies, but I don't think I was putting in enough brown matter, and it was right after I made jam, so the compost was like 80% strawberry tops and hulls. I haven't had much of a problem since then.

Also, notice at the bottom of the last picture, I put a sun chips bag in there almost 2 months ago, and it's still fully intact, crinkling as loudly as ever.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Garage Update

My parents came to town for a little over a week in August to help out with the new baby. Well, actually my mom came with my niece Courtney to help with the baby, while my dad came to play with me. So I took the week off work and most of the time was spend working on this:

It may not look like it to those with untrained eyes, but this took most of the week (in the garage in AZ in Aug mind you). I'd estimate we made at least 10 trips to home depot and drank at least 20 gallons of water each.

Last weekend I was trying to do something in the garage and I decided it was a little cluttered so I utilized some empty space in the garage like so:

So maybe I put a few extra things on those hooks, but it sure did open up the garage. It even had Amanda saying, "Awww, its like we have a grown-up person garage!". Finally, I have a proper place to shed my blood, sweat and tears. Thanks dad.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

When you sit down

If you sit down to feed the baby, your toddler will start throwing herself bodily against the refrigerator to alert you to the fact that she's hungry.

So, for fear of injury, you'll put the baby down and get the toddler some yogurt. (This interruption will cause your baby to scream.)

After you sit back down to finish feeding the baby, your toddler will eat approximately 10% of the yogurt, and apply the remaining 90% to her body and hair.

As you take the toddler to the sink to rinse her off, the running water will remind you that you've had to go to the bathroom for the last hour.

So, you'll walk into the bathroom only to be greeted with the smell of cleaner, and you'll remember you tried to scrub the toilet earlier that morning but got no farther than putting the cleaner in the bowl.

As you're scrubbing the toilet, your oldest child will materialize and inform you that she has to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW and needs to use the toilet you are presently cleaning and she is NOT going upstairs because it's an emergency. You leave her to it and try (unsuccessfully) to get your toddler to put her shirt back on.

She'll climb up onto the toilet, but will perch on the very edge even though she's been fully potty trained for over a year and knows not to do this and knows that it will make you very angry when she pees all over the ground.

As you are cleaning up the pee, your baby will start screaming because it's been 30 minutes, and he's hungry. Again. And if you sit down to feed the baby...

Monday, August 23, 2010


Tyler asked me once why I always insist on making a spectacle out of myself. I maintain that it happens organically without any help from me.

Take, for example, what just happened. I woke up at 6:30 and actually got dressed in real clothes. Lillian and Nora woke up about 7:30 and I brought them downstairs and got them set up for breakfast. Nora got Cheerios with yogurt instead of milk, with which she made quite a mess. She had it all over her, and proceeded to rub her yogurty face all over my shorts. I got her cleaned up, and then decided to put a load of laundry in, so I just took off my shorts and threw them in.

I went downstairs and sat on the couch with a book - the couch that's right in front of the front door, and blinds on the little window right next to the door were open. Right then, my neighbor John knocked on the door. I could see it was him due to the open blinds. I couldn't run past the door to go upstairs to get some shorts real quick, because he'd see. I looked around in vain for some sort of cover up, and then just decided to open the door a crack, and hide. I was so flustered, I'm afraid I was a little rude as I took the flash drive that Tyler left at his house, awkwardly explained that I wasn't wearing any pants, and then shut the door as soon as possible. John, being super nice, just laughed it off, but it was awkward.

See how this wasn't really my fault?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Monsoon Birthday

Untitled from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

Mother Nature was kind enough to give me a pretty rockin' monsoon for my birthday.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Idle Prattle


Lillian has reached the age of idle prattle. She's been here for a while, but it seems to be reaching some sort of fever pitch.

Last night, I was trying to watch the last 5 minutes of Plain Jane, a show I had not so much as heard of 30 minutes prior, where they take shy, plain women and teach them how to flirt and be assertive and pluck their eyebrows in order to help them get the guy. We were at the getting the guy part: the exciting, dramatic part, and Lillian starts up with her chatter.

"Lillian, be quiet for just a minute, I'm trying to watch this."
"I have to be quiet, or Nora?"
"You, be quiet for just a second."
"You're watching this?"
"Yes, I'm watching this and you keep talking. Be quiet."
"What is this show?"
"It's my show. Shhhhhh."
"It's a quiet show?"
"Lillian, stop talking."
"Can I use a whisper voice?"
"Sure, how about you whisper in the other room?"

She did this for the last five dramatic, guy getting minutes. Solid. No let up.

Actually, she does this all day long. Solid. No let up. My mom pointed out that it's not so much that she talks and talks and talks. It's that she expects you to answer. Every. Time. And there is much distress if you ignore her, or, heaven forbid, you're in the bathroom, or trying to sleep, or on the phone.

I like her though. Don't let my irritation fool you.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Look down, now look up. Your kids are now in a sandbox.

One of my projects I had while away from work when Ethan was born was to build a sandbox. Lillian and I bought all of the materials and sand and cut and assembled it in most of one day. Lillian spent most of her time playing with my hand tools, but she did hand me a screwdriver every now and then. It just so happened that I found a smokin' deal on a plunge router a day or two before I built the box, so I decided to make good use of it and put the kids names on the side: "See Amanda, we did need a router." Hopefully I don't have to have another child before I have time to build something again.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


See more pictures of Ethan, and ogle my friend Phil's super photography skills here.

Things are going at our house. Where they are going, or what they are going to do when they get there is to be decided as soon as I can remember what day it is and/or when I get more than 3.5 hours of sleep in a row. We're going on day 17 here, not that I'm counting.

Ethan isn't colicky, most days, which I am very thankful for. He just does the usual baby things like not sleeping very much and needing to eat every 5 minutes, which is not very restful, especially when you have Nora the Destructor alternately destroying everything in our house, as her name would suggest, and needing more water. That girl is thirsty.

I had a little bit of the new-mom-crazies this past week and I felt like yelling and crying and hugging/hitting everybody. Saturday night, Ethan was awake from 2:30 until 6. I may have admitted that I was having some buyer's remorse and maybe said that I wanted to take him back. We went to church and I had Ehan in the wrap. A gaggle of kids ran up and asked if they could see the baby. I bent down and up ran Joey, he's 4, I think. Joey's mother had a baby last month, but the umbilical cord tore during labor causing extensive damage from blood loss. The baby died a week later.

"Your baby is beautiful, our baby died."

And then he scampered off as if he hadn't just blown me away.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dear Nora

Dear Nora,

I understand you are having kind of a hard time with Ethan. Pretty much, as you see it, he's a devil baby that has come into your life as some sort of punishment for some unknown crime. He's stolen me, your mother: my lap space, my time, my energy, and my love. I feel unexpectedly guilty about this. You are so small and so cute and it breaks my heart for you to feel thusly abandoned.

However, as I thought on this, I realized that I was you once. My mom had a baby 18 months after she had me. I was that older baby: abandoned by her mother for someone smaller and more helpless than myself. And, you know what? In my conscious memory, I cannot think of a time when I felt it. I don't remember thinking that my younger brother was a devil baby. I don't remember ever feeling like I didn't have access to my mother's love or time.

This gives me hope that this phase will be short-lived, or at least, that you won't remember it.

With love,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ethan's Heart: Everything is Fine

In case you heard through the grapevine about Ethan's heart:

By the way, we named him Ethan Tyler. In the end, the deciding factor was that I liked the sound of Ethan Tyler better than Levi Tyler after saying them about 20 times each.

Anyway, the first day he was born, the doctor gave him a clean bill of health. Then, he started breathing really fast. It's my understanding that babies should breathe about 60 times per minute, but Ethan was up to 80. This, plus the fact that the doctor heard a murmur earned Ethan his first echocardiogram, which showed he had a murmur (tricuspid valve regurgitation), patent ductus artriosus (pictured above) and a patent foramen ovale (pictured below). You probably all know that babies hearts have a physiology before they're born than after and it's supposed to switch over when they take their first breath.

But, sometimes it doesn't. Like with Ethan.

They did a follow-up echo the next day and the PDA was closed but the PFO was still, well, patent. He doctor wasn't really worried, so I wasn't worried and they let us go home.

Today, we saw the pediatrician and he couldn't hear a murmur. We'll follow up with the cardiologist in a month. Other than that, we're doing great, except for the fact that he was up every hour an a half between the hours of 11 and 4:30 and was under the impression that he was STARVING every time.

We'll have to work on that.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Baby Ball 3.0

As we all know, I've been in labor since May. But, last night around 7, I started thinking maybe these contractions were stronger. Maybe. Then I had a little bleeding, but really nothing to get excited over, especially since I had been to the doctor earlier that day and she'd checked me (I was 3 cm). I sent Tyler to the pool with the kids and set about packing my hospital bag, just in case we were going to go.

I debated back and forth about calling someone to come over because I was pretty sure that if we went to the hospital, we'd get sent home because my contractions were strong, but I wasn't screaming, as Tyler kept pointing out. I decided that I'd call my friend Rachel and we'd go because night was approaching and I didn't want to have to call her at 3 AM.

On the ride there, the contractions slowed down to every 8 minutes, and I was sure they were going to send us home. We got to the hospital at about 10, and they were really full, so we waited in the waiting room for about an hour, during which time, the contractions picked up in intensity and frequency, but I still wasn't quite sure that they'd keep me.

By the time we got hooked up to the monitor, I was having to hee hee hoo it through, AND I was dilated to 4 cm, which is the benchmark for admission. We got into the L/D unit at around 1 AM, and Tyler and I were a little goofy from staying up so late. My nurse was pretty funny and was cracking jokes left and right. I had an epidural at around 2, (I think I told the anesthesiologist that I loved her), and we tried to get some sleep. Between the beepy machines and them coming in every 30 seconds to ask me questions and/or poke at me, it wasn't terribly restful. My doctor showed up shortly after and recommended some Pitocin as the baby wasn't coming down properly. At 4 AM, she did an exam and my water broke. By 4:15, I was seriously considering pushing. With both girls, I didn't feel anything with the epidurals, but this one was "less dense" and I could actually feel quite a bit. They made me wait until 4:30 to start pushing and Baby Boy Ball was born at 4:53.

7 lbs, 9 oz
20 3/4 inches

The doctor said I had a "small tear" and let the resident sew it up. I'm not entirely sure how many closings the resident had done previously, but I'm going to bet it was maybe only one ever before. So, that took a long time, and it seemed like they did 5,000 stitches, which I'm fine with, because my doctor kept saying, "take your time, do it right."

The baby and I are both doing great, just chilling out here in the recovery room. He was really gaggy and was having a little trouble getting out all that mucus in his system, so they took him and suctioned out his stomach, which I'm sure he hated, but I didn't see it.

We took more pictures, but didn't bring the cord to upload them onto the computer, so you'll have to wait until I get home tomorrow.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Mostly for my family

I went to the doctor this morning. I'm "a good 3 cm." This plus the facts that I feel like the baby is dropping, my hips are all loosey goosey, and my feet are the size of footballs all make the doctor think I'm going to have the baby sometime within a week.

"Don't make an appointment for next week," she said. "If you're still pregnant by Thursday, just go to the hospital."

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Job Update

We're breathing a big sigh of relief: yesterday, right when he was leaving work, Tyler's boss came around his desk and told him that they were finished with the lay offs. I think about 12 people were let go.

So, for now, Tyler still has a job, I'm still going to go to nursing school, we're not going to move, and Lillian is still going to ask 5,000 times a day if she can watch another movie. But, that last one has nothing to do with our employment status, she'd do that anyway.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Depressing Marco Polo

My family was having a family reunion last week. We had already decided not to go because I'm hugely pregnant, and contracting, and hoping that I go into labor any second. Then things happened at Tyler's work. They asked us to be discrete, so I can't go into any details, but they asked him to take some furlough time and rather than sit around the house for almost a week, we decided to go catch the tail end of the reunion.

My family was, as always, super fun to hang around. I took only one picture the whole trip: when we crossed the Colorado river into California, Lillian wanted me to take her picture in California because you never know, you might look different. My sister-in-law took a whole bunch, so I'll probably steal some from her. Actually, she was quite dedicated. She followed Nora around for a good 20 minutes in order to get a picture of her smiling. Mission accomplished.

We lounged around the pool at two separate pool parties. Lillian had fun forcing her cousin Soren to play Snow White and dance with her. There was brownies and food and catching up and texas sheet cake and all manner of salads and nothing even close to triple digit temperatures.

There were fireworks, which Lillian almost missed. After we had waited in line for a good 3o minutes to use the questionable port-a-potty and walked all the way back to our blanket, she told me she had to go again. Kyle suggested we walk over to the Von's and use their bathroom because there was no line. It was Tyler's turn, so he took off 15 minutes before the fireworks were supposed to start. Ten minutes went by, they still weren't back. The fireworks started, they still weren't back. Ten more minutes went by, and they walked up; Lillian had picked that exact moment to have some bowel difficulties. I was preemptively stressed out about how much crying and whining was going to happen from Lillian upon learning that she missed the fireworks, but the show was about 30 minutes long, so she didn't realize that she missed anything. Whew.

Also, Grandma Marti put Lillian's hair in braids like Jesse on Toy Story, and then this morning, Lillian wanted ME to do it. Turns out, I'm still really, really awful at french braiding hair. There was a lot of "OUCH! YOU'RE HURTING ME," and "I DON'T WANT YOU TO DO IT ANYMORE." Maybe I can get one of those beauty school heads to practice on.

One word about Tyler's job. Yes, he might lose it. About 10 people in his office of 50 have gone so far, and it's not over. We won't know for sure for a while. He said it's like some depressing game of marco polo where he's sitting at his desk with his eyes closed calling out "marco," except if you catch the people calling out "polo," you get fired.

If it does happen, we'll figure it out.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Super Ultrasonic

I was actually a little disappointed by the news we got at our ultrasound yesterday: the baby is perfectly normal. Maybe a little part of me was hoping that they'd find something that meant we'd have to get that baby out RIGHT NOW.

This is the misery that is the final weeks of pregnancy- wishing birth defects or complications on your unborn child just to make. it. stop.

The baby is measuring at only 7 lbs 3 oz, and my doctor tells me that late-pregnancy ultrasounds tend to predict a few ounces on the big side, so we'll go with 7 pounds for convenience sake. At this stage, babies gain about a half a pound a week, so even if I went all the way to 40 weeks (Lord, help me), the baby would only be 9 pounds, which is not that big of a deal. I mean, it's still a huge baby, but nothing that would require me and this baby to part ways early, unfortunately.

Instead of listening to everyone who's predicting that I'm going to go early, I'm just going to accept the fact that I'm going to be pregnant and sweaty for 4(!) more weeks.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Applesauce Brain

We don't have cable, so I have to get my World Cup (Copa Mundial) fix via Univision. This works out most of the time, except for when there's when there's a weird call like in the US vs Slovenia game, and it's not totally obvious what's happening. And, it goes without saying, the Spanish announcers are WAY more interesting to listen to than the stiff-upper-lip English ones.

Anyway, I put the kids down for a nap yesterday, and sat down to watch the game. On the score graphic, it was ESP vs CHI. The ESP team's uniforms were black, red, and yellow so I caught on pretty quick that it was Spain. The CHI team's uniforms were bright red, so I immediately concluded that it was China. Our TV isn't that big, so it took me a while before I started seeing that the CHI players didn't really look Chinese... they looked Hispanic. A Hispanic country that starts with CHI....? Is there one? Does it start with CHI in Spanish and not English?

I won't tell you how long it took me to figure this one out because anything longer than 3 seconds is just embarrassing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pregnancy progression

32 weeks

34 weeks

Almost 36 weeks, today

The 35-week picture almost looks bigger, but I think it's just the shirt I'm wearing. My sister Allison pointed out that she was bigger and I'm a cry baby and I need to suck it up. Actually, she didn't say that last part. Her baby was 11 lbs.

I have a doctor's appointment today and another ultrasound on Tuesday to figure out how big this baby is and/or what the heck is going on in there. The most frequently asked question is: So, if you find out the baby is 10 lbs, are you going to get a C-section? (Or it's close cousin: are you going to get induced early?)

The first person that asked me, I was just confused. "No...? Why...?" Then 3 people asked. Then 5 people. Then 10 people.

Is this common? Are we women so wimpy that 10 lbs is beyond anything we're willing to try? I could see if you were a really petite Asian woman who was married to a tall, strong Prussian type and the doctor told you that no way was this going to work out naturally (it's called CPD), but 10 lb babies are no new thing. My sister did it. My mom did it. I'm a pioneer woman. I can do it.

And, as far as getting induced early, it's far more important to me (and probably to the doctor) that the baby is fully cooked than my extra two weeks of discomfort. But, ask me in two weeks if I still feel the same way.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My babies!

For school, we had to create an application packet for a job that we would theoretically want to apply for upon graduation. Considering I've had this assignment about 5 times before, it wasn't too difficult to modify my existing résumé and cover letter to fit this newest job. The only difference was as I was doing it, I started FREAKING OUT.

For ever since I started nursing school, before I had children, I knew that I did not want to work full time. I have very fond memories of my mother being home and eating dinner as a family and learning things at her knee and all of the other adventures that come with having a stay-at-home mother. I felt very strongly that this was the sort of atmosphere I wanted to recreate for my children. But, I wanted to work a little. I felt like nursing would be the perfect career: you can work as much or as little as you want: down to one shift every other week if you want. This sounded good to me, so I went with it.

Then, once I graduated and was attempting to get one of these types of jobs, I found out that the hospitals want you to work full time for a year before moving down to part time. I made my peace with it back then, but then no one would hire me.

As I was typing up how my clinical experience in nursing school prepared me for a job on the floor, I started thinking. Now I'm going back to school in order to get a job. A job that will take me away from my babies. For a year. MY babies. The ones that I birthed, and soothed, and fed, and rocked, and held, and laughed with, and cried over. I started to cry.

I suppose this violent emotional reaction took me completely by surprise (must be the hormones). I mean, I was ready to deal with feeling guilty over going to work, but not ready to not want to do it. Maybe a few more tantrums will change my mind... I think I hear one brewing over the Mr. Potato head.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lillian turned 4!

Shhhh, don't tell her that her actual birthday isn't for another month. It's just than in another month, I'll have some kind of really small infant and won't be up for birthday parties.

For being thrown together at the last minute (a few of her friends left this week for 2 week vacations), I think it turned out really nice.

Tyler drew a Woody for "Pin the Star on Woody." The kids didn't really get this one, and I think that some of the older ones could see through the blindfold.

We also played Toy Story bingo, which was a little bit of a disaster because I had them marking their cards with mini marshmallows. You can probably guess that the game too for-ev-er because the kids kept eating the marshmallows instead of putting them on "Hamm-4." Also, I think the kids had never played any version of bingo before, so the whole concept was totally lost on them.

Number one game, which Tyler made up on the spot: see how many balloons you can get to stick to you.

Lillian had lots of help opening her presents.

And we ate alien cupcakes.

Nora was way into hers.

It wasn't very cutsie-pie or slick, but that's not my style. The kids had fun and Lillian hasn't stopped talking about it ever since.

I can't believe she's four already.

The other day, we were on a walk, and some teenagers were being rowdy nearby. "Are those grownups?" Lillian asked.
"No, honey. Those are teenagers."
"Am I going to be a teenager?"
"I sure hope not sweetie."

She will one day, probably. I'm already irritated about that. But, I'm glad that, for now, she's still my sweet, whimsical little girl who pretends that her feet are friends with each other.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Labor Strike

I was trying really hard to put myself into labor yesterday. My sister Amy thinks that this is just a matter of walking "a good mile." I think she's the only one for which this works. I walked that good mile, and then I did all the dishes, and then I played hide-and-seek and I got my contractions to come pretty strong every 3 minutes. Then I sat down to play bubbles with Nora and they stopped. Like that. Lame.

It would have been really convenient to have the baby last night. I have a paper due on Friday, but it's mostly already written, so it would be almost a week before I have anything due. I was also ignoring the fact that the doctor thinks I'm only 34 weeks and would probably try to stop my labor if I went in. (According to my ultrasound, I'm 36 weeks, but the doctor somehow doesn't believe in changing my date. Thirty-six weeks sounds much better and I just pretend that that's how it is.)

Anyway, as I was planning how this was all going to go yesterday, I realized that the baby still has no name. Of course, I knew this, but the full weight of it hit me as I was scrubbing the pans.

The baby has NO NAME. I pictured the L/D nurse standing there with the little card, looking at me over the rim of her glasses with her sharpie poised and me saying, "I don't know... um... I haven't had enough time to think about it...?" (Incidentally, Lillian calls them "pointies" which I find unbearably cute.)

The problem is that when we named the girls, I had a gut feeling about the names. Lillian came right off the bat. I KNEW that was her name. Nora took a little while longer, but I could FEEL that her name was Nora.

This baby... there's names that I like, and names that Tyler likes, and a few names that we both sort of like... but none of them are THE name. I tried the the Nymbler again this morning, but after suggestions like Alpin and Tiernan, I gave up.

I feel like we're looking for a house all over again. When we were going around with our real estate agent, he kept asking me what I was looking for so he could help narrow down the options without us having to look at every single one. I couldn't tell him because the list of things I wanted was so undefinable and certainly googleable: I wanted all the bedrooms to be on the same floor so I wouldn't have to trudge up and down the stairs in the middle of the night. I wanted the bathroom to be far away from the living room because no one wants to hear you doing your business. I didn't want to be able to see the TV from the front door. I wanted the kids' bedrooms to be far away from the play area.

See what I mean? I want a name that's common, but not too common. A name that sounds fresh, and yet everyone will have heard of it before, but that doesn't sound too dated. And, most important of all, I want it to be THE name. Is this too much to ask?

So far, my front runners are Brigham and Collin (although, I'm souring on Collin), Tyler likes Ethan but since he decided he liked Ethan in 2006 when I was pregnant with Lillian, EVERYONE has named their son Ethan. This isn't a problem for him, but I can't get on board with it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kids that are kids.

I kid you not, I put these books away, went to the bathroom, came back and found this. I'd be much more inclined to clean if there weren't little hands following me around, undoing everything I did literally seconds after I do it.

Lillian came into my room like this and said "FLOUR POWER, ACTIVATE!" Actually, that didn't happen. What actually happened is I heard this flour bag crinkle for 3 or 4 minutes, then Tyler said, "Nora, come here. Put your arms up." At which point, she started screaming. I wandered out of my room to see what was going on and encountered a red-faced Nora with the flour bag on.

Turns out, she hated the flour bag outfit. Lillian, however, was way into it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Lillian watches Sid, the Science Kid in the mornings sometimes. I really dislike this show, but it is very educational and if she got to watch something, I'd rather it be that than Bokugon or whatever those round ball things are that the kids play with incessantly in primary. Bakugon? Anyway.

The other day on Science Kid, they were talking about how heat changes food and cooks it. To illustrate the point, they made applesauce.

So, Lillian decided she wanted to make applesauce.

Neither of my kids have ever liked applesauce, but I was thinking maybe the peer pressure from Sid combined with the excitement of making it herself might sway Lillian. I mean, she decided she liked bananas after years of hating them just because she watched a Blue's Clues episode where Steve talked about how great they were.

Turns out no, she still hates applesauce. Also, notice in the above picture, she's taken to dressing herself. If you see her, there's a a 99% chance that she not only won't match, but she'll be wearing something so alarmingly mis-matching that you'll have to blink a couple times before you can focus on her. As long as it's weather appropriate (the other day, I had to draw the line at the opaque red tights under her pink skirt with purple polka-dots and light blue and yellow shirt), I really don't care.

Allison asked me what Nora was up to, and I'd have to say that it's a lot of this: mischief. Here, she found Lillian's box of crayons and ate a few before I found her. The other day, I called poison control for the first time because of her. She ate the cake of dishwasher soap that didn't fully dissolve during the cycle. (She was fine.)

She can walk really well and run a little. She says a few words and uses a few signs (mostly just more and milk). She can use a spoon to feed herself, sort of, and follow one-step directions pretty well (throw this in the trash, put this in the sink, bring me your shoes, take this to daddy). When she's not doing those things, she does a pretty good job at getting into everything and tormenting her sister. Lillian is not very physical and as such has no idea what to do when Nora steals toys from her, or tackles her. She just lays down and whines, "Moooommmmmm... Nora's on meeeeeeeeeeee." I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes I say, "You're bigger than her! Push her off!"

Which is not to say that Lillian doesn't dish it out sometimes. The other day, she came and found me while I was in the shower and told me that I should go see Nora. "Oh yeah, what's she up to?"

"I made her into a tape ball."

After trying to clarify what, exactly, a tape ball was, I saw first hand: Nora walked in covered head to toe in scotch tape. Sadly, I didn't have my blogger brain on and failed to get a picture of the blessed event. The funniest part was that Nora was way into it like, "check out the awesomeness of this tape!"

The other question you all want to ask is: how are you feeling? "Pretty much, awful" is the answer. I seriously debated about whether or not I should go to the hospital yesterday, but I decided they would just want to keep me there for 6 hours to decide that I wasn't in labor, which is a waste of everyone's time, so I just stayed home and forced my kids to watch 4 movies in a row.

Tyler thinks that the baby is working out in utero, which is what is taking up all my spare energy and oxygen. This actually would explain why my pulse races and I'm out of breath all the time. Not like, normal pregnancy out of breath, like, I'll have to sit down while brushing my teeth because I'm too tired to stand and hold my arm up.

Baby steps to mid-July.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

To my new neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I know you just moved in, and I want us to be friends, but there are a few things you should know about us.
  1. We sort of hate small yapper-type dogs, of which you have three. That's fine for you, but when you let them out to yap for 30 minutes at 5 am, it's a little bit much.
  2. We have a shotgun in our room, there is a clear view from our room into your backyard, and my husband is a very good shot.
  3. I have a reputation for being a little bit irrational when I am woken up at irrational times.
  4. My husband is pretty suggestible when he is woken up at irrational times. Anything to make the noise stop, if you catch my meaning.
I'm just trying to be up front about this, and I hope you still feel comfortable borrowing eggs from us.

Your neighbors

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

My first school assignment

I just wrote my first school assignment in two years. Pretty much the only thing I'm freaking out about is the fact that I have to do 16 weeks' worth of work in 4, but other than that, this thing should be cake, right?

The assignment was 300-600 words on "Who are you and why are you in this class?" (the instructor might have phrased it a little nicer than that). Here it is:

My name is Amanda and I am trained as a nurse, but I currently stay at home with my two little girls and little boy on the way. We moved from the central coast of California down to Tucson almost two years ago which, honestly, broke my heart. But, I’m learning to see the beauty of the desert and appreciate all the things that Arizona has to offer.

Since the day that I brought my first baby home from the hospital, there has been a growing disparity between the things that I like to do, and the things that I actually do, but such is the reality of having small children. Gone are the days of week-long backpacking trips, body surfing at the beach, and wandering around just to see what there is to see. Here to stay are the days of wiping noses, reading Where is the Green Sheep? 5,000 times, and making peanut butter sandwiches. Of course, to frame the trade off like that is not fair: along with the peanut butter sandwiches, I get to raise two incredibly cute girls that fill my life with laughter and love and a sense of completeness that I never got from even the most majestic mountain in the Sierra Nevadas.

I’m taking this class as a prerequisite to the RN to BSN program. I became an RN while in California, but between moving to Arizona and having baby number two, I never worked. By the time I was ready to go back to work, the economy crashed and there were no jobs for new grads. The fact that I couldn’t find work was disappointing, but not catastrophic as my husband had a steady job working in the aerospace industry on the Orion project. Then, a few months ago, President Obama announced that the Orion project would be cut from the budget and the steady job looked not so steady. So, we decided I would go back and get a little more education in order to open more job opportunities in case of the worst case scenario.

I love writing and I’m excited that this class will help me learn how to be better at it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wacky Baby Dreams

I walked into stake choir practice last night, and several old women, independently of each other, joked that they didn't think I was going to make it to stake conference in two weeks. Ha ha. Ho Ho. I still have 8 weeks. Thanks.

Even my own mother, in that delicate-mother way that they have asked if maybe the doctor had said something about maybe I was a little big... maybe...? But, no, she hasn't said anything. And that's the thing about OB/GYNs when you're pregnant. Most EVERYTHING is normal during pregnancy and it only gets worse until the baby comes. So you go and complain about the fact that sometimes, your right leg goes dead for a few seconds and you can't walk, then comes back to life like nothing and she says, "yeah... your baby is pinching your nerves, that's pretty common, just try to sit down." Or you complain about how you see stars every time you stand up. Or that you have pretty much been in labor for 2 months and still have 2 months to go. Or that you have heartburn that makes you cry it's so painful. And, she says, "yeah... that's pretty common. Try to sit down and drink a lot of water."

Another thing that is totally normal: crazy-vivid dreams. They are long and super realistic. And, I'll have slightly different versions of the same dream 4 or 5 times in one night. Last night, in the beginning of the night, I dreamed that my friend Mandy and I trained and participated in a triathlon (probably because the big city-sponsored triathlon is today). I went through the cycle of us discussing the possibility of doing it, meeting at the pool to swim, her helping me pick out a bike and practicing putting my feet in the clips, and a lot of running. I had this dream at least 3 times, one right after another with only slight variations. Fairly innocuous.

But, far more common for me is to dream about something awful over, and over, and over again. This morning, after the (insert expletive) birds woke me up at 5, I drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming 3 or 4 times that Nora drowned in the bathtub. I put her in the tub, but then I had to leave the bathroom for something: the doorbell, Lillian needed help, the phone. All the time I had anxiety and I strained to hear her chattering or splashing. I don't hear her, so I run back upstairs to find a blue baby, face down in the tub. I pull her out and start CPR and yell at Lillian to go get the phone but she's too scared to move. In one variation, I had the phone in my pocket; in another, I forgot how to do CPR.

All the time, I dream stuff like this and it's most always horrible things happening to my kids. I've dreamed that Lillian was kidnapped and sold into the sex trade, or that she fell of the jungle gym and broke her neck, or that Nora wandered into the crossfire of a gang fight in South Tucson and got shot. I stopped watching any sort of crime drama in hopes that it would help this problem, but it hasn't. I guess, I know it's a dream, so it's a little less stressful, but not really by much.

My sister told me that she dreams that she gets shot and has to call 9-1-1, but can't get through. Does this happen to anyone else besides us?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Top 5 worst night's sleeps

Our house has been a den of sickness this past week. On Saturday, Nora felt a little warm, but was acting fine, so we loaded up to drive into town and run a bunch of errands. Twenty minutes into our trip, we weren't quite at Destination #1 yet, and Nora threw up all over herself. We weren't equipped to handle that particular disaster, so we gave up and went home. She proceeded to have several instances of what I would chart (if I were her nurse) as N/V/D (nausea/vomiting/diarrhea). Sunday she felt fine, and so did everyone else, so I thought it was a one time incident. Not so. Tuesday, Lillian started throwing up. A lot. I felt like an old-timey nurse because I was just running around changing sheets and mopping. I think I did 4 or 5 loads of laundry. Yesterday, she had less of the N/V and more of the D problem. Also gross. Plus a temp of 103 that came down to 101 with Tylenol.

Then, I started feeling sick in the afternoon. Plus, I had heartburn really bad. I called my mom in tears, and I think I sounded sufficiently pathetic that she's decided to drop everything and fly out here. I heart her.

Anyway, last night was I think the last stand of Lillian's sickness. I felt really bad for her, she was so weak and tired and sad and feverish, so I agreed to let her sleep in our bed. This has never happened before. I think I got about 2 hours of sleep.

My friend Carrie pointed out once that it's not a lack of sleep that makes a bad night. I've stayed up all night writing papers or that one time I watched all 6 hours of North & South, and sure you're tired the next day, but it's not so bad. No, a bad night is one where the promise of sleep is constantly being made and broken. Last night, I think, was my 4th worst night sleep.

#5: 2001. Both my roommates were out of town and I was by myself in my apartment. In the dead of night, I could have sworn that a man opened my front door, talked loudly for a few seconds, then left. It's probable that I forgot to lock the door and some person (probably drunk, I mean, this was Santa Barbara) accidentally came inside, realized it wasn't his house and left. But I was so freaked out. It being the middle of the night, I started coming up with all sorts of crazy theories like the drunk guy was just an excuse for one of his friends to slip in and hide in the shadows until I fell back asleep, at which time he would murder me in my bed. There was a young married couple who lived down the street and I called them and made them come get me and I went to sleep at their apartment, where I slept soundly for the rest of the night.

#4: 2010. Last night. I had a fever, heartburn, big baby belly, kept having to get up to go to the bathroom, and I was being muscled out of my bed by Lillian, who was really hot because she had a fever too.

#3: 2006. My dad was going to come visit and spend two nights at the Madonna Inn. My memory is kind of sketchy about what happened, I think Jeri got sick, so he ended up not being able to come. For some reason he couldn't cancel his reservation, so Tyler and I went to spend the night there. I was pregnant with Lillian, but I'm pretty sure that had nothing to do with the awful sleep we got. It was the most uncomfortable bed I've ever been in with the firmest, tallest pillows ever. At about 3 AM, I looked over and saw Tyler was awake too, so we turned on the TV and watched that movie with Jimmy Fallon where he really likes the Red Sox.

#2: 2006. The night I was in labor with Lillian. I had been having serious contractions all the previous night and day and by the time we went to the hospital that night at around 8, I think, I was zero dilated. I cried. Because the doctor felt my contractions were pretty strong and that I was in a lot of pain she gave me a shot of morphine. I remember them asking if I wanted it, and me being like, "YES PLEASE," but now it seems a bizarre thing to offer. It made me hallucinate and get even more wacky. Then, I remember swallowing a pill, which Tyler told me later was Ambien. So all that night, I was SUPER tired from the sleeping pill plus not having slept in 36 hours, hallucinating, and contracting every 5 minutes. Tyler told me I'd be dead asleep, wake up and scream for a minute, then fall dead asleep again. I sort of remember the doctor breaking my water and I vaguely remember the anesthesiologist coming in to give me an epidural. Mostly I remember he asked if I had ever had surgery before, and I told him that I couldn't keep my eyes open. And Tyler fainted when the doc stuck the needle into my back. After the epidural, we slept for about 5 hours until they woke me up and told me it was time to push, so I was rested for the actual birth part, which was nice. This night would be #1 worst, but I was so out of it, I don't really remember a lot of it.

#1: 2008. We had just moved to Tucson and in an effort to make friends, we decided to go on the ward campout. I was pregnant with Nora and we only had a 2-man tent. I suppose that counts as the first time Lillian slept with us. She was so fascinated by the novelty of sleeping in the tent, outside, on the ground, in between Mom and Dad that she didn't sleep all night. She talked, she wiggled, she played with her stuffed animals, she wanted to touch all the zippers. At one point, Tyler took her stuffed bunny and threw it to the bottom of the tent in an effort to get her to stop going 'boing! boing! boing!' on his head, which was very distressing to her, and needed it back RIGHT NOW but I couldn't find it in the dark. Plus, there was someone snoring really loudly nearby. Plus, I was pregnant sleeping on the ground. We couldn't just pack it in and leave because we had given our neighbors a ride, so we had to stick it out.

In the morning, I tried to be optimistic and say maybe if we got another tent, or a bigger tent it would be better but Tyler announced that we'd never go camping EVER AGAIN.

Am I the only one who keeps track of this sort of thing?
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