Sunday, March 28, 2010


I took maybe 4 or 5 pictures of these kids in this teacup, and this was the best one.

I like Lillian's complete aversion to being touched. I can't imagine where she got that from.

I grew up right next to Disneyland and had an annual pass every year starting when I was about 15. In high school, we went all the time. We'd go right after school, go on a few rides, listen to the Dapper Dans, eat a churro, then go home. We'd go on Saturday night and go swing dancing at the Carnation Plaza. We knew the best spots to watch the fireworks and where you needed to stand if you wanted to see Tinkerbell crash into her big mattress in the Matterhorn. I haven't been back since. I got burned out on the crowds and tourists and the Disneyness of the whole place.

But, as soon as we walked through the tunnel and on to Main Street, all the great memories came flooding back to me. It may just be the pregnancy, but I almost started to cry as I looked around. "It really is the most magical place on Earth," I exclaimed.

And, there really was something special about taking Lillian. She had several moments where she almost peed her pants because There. Is. Jasmine. Right there. Talking to me. She was so excited about everything and pretty well behaved, for the most part. Nora had a hard time sleeping in the stroller and was very crabby by about 3. I was also pretty crabby by that time. It may have been the heat, or all the walking while pregnant, but I almost fainted on our way to ToonTown, where we were going to go see Mickey, which was to be our last activity. And by "almost fainted," I mean it- my legs turned to jelly, my head felt light, and I yelled at Tyler that I had to sit down Right Now. I seriously considered just laying down right where I was and closing my eyes, but forced myself to walk 20 feet to a bench.

So, by the end of the day, the magic had worn off, the crowds were pressing in, it was hot, I didn't feel well, and Nora was freaking out. But, I'm really glad we went. Maybe we'll go again when I'm not pregnant and can walk around for more than 10 minutes without having to rest. Or, we should just get a wheelchair next time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mom's Beach

We went to California last week. It was kind of last minute, and really fabulous. Our friends the Allens that used to live next to us when we lived in Tucson proper, but have since moved to Flagstaff, drove out as well. We started the week off, as any week in California should be started, with a trip to the beach.

Wow, my kids are white. That's Rachel and she's just trying to provide some shade for her baby, and not nursing, not that there's anything wrong with nursing babies at the beach. I just probably wouldn't post a picture of my friend nursing without asking her. I probably wouldn't post a picture of myself nursing. Have I talked about this too much? Moving on.

I love the beach and miss it so much. Lillian, apparently, does not remember the countless hours we spent at Avila chillaxing in the warm sand because as soon as we got to the bottom of the hill, and the waves were in sight, she freaked out and said she wanted to go home.

Tyler's brother lives in Huntington Beach, which is not terribly far from the mom's beach (is that it's real name, or just what everyone calls it?), and I was jonesing for Wahoo's so we made plans to meet him for lunch at Fashion Island.

After we had been at the beach for like 2 hours, the Allen's baby got some sand or sunscreen in his eye, so we had to leave a little earlier than we planned and walk around the mall for a bit. Rachel felt really bad that we had to cut our sand-time and apologized a lot. I didn't care too much. That's kids, right? When we got in the car, Tyler turned to me and said, "you know, I don't know why Rachel feels so bad. I really only expect outings with the kids to last 45 minutes before someone gets sick or hurt or poos through every diaper and outfit we brought. I thought our beach trip was pretty successful."

Tyler's brother came with his wife and baby, so we had to take some cousin pictures. Carlie's grown quite a bit, so there better not be any more jokes about Nora eating her.

I'm not sure these fish needed any more food (because look at the size of those things), but there was no sign saying not to, so we fed them a whole bunch of animal crackers. Maybe I shouldn't put that on here in case all the fish at Fashion Island are now dead and now they can track us down. I've heard that those koi fish can get pretty pricey.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sugar Face

I refilled our kitchen jar of sugar from a 25 lb bag that I keep in the closet under the stairs. Not wanting to battle the closet clutter and wanting to just finish the cookies I was making, I left the 25 lb bag of sugar in the hallway.

Don't worry, Nora found it.

I was in the kitchen and I heard a curious crinkling noise coming from the hall. When I went to investigate, Nora was shoving fistfulls of sugar into her mouth as fast as she possibly could.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Save me Captain Moroni!

Take a minute to look over the above picture. Let me briefly explain the story behind the picture for who have never read the Book of Mormon. The central figure of this story is Moroni who, in an effort to rally the troops tears off a piece of his coat and writes some inspiring words on it. "In defense of our homes, our wives, our children, our liberties," or something like that (Tyler also suggested "from hell's heart I stab at thee," but I think that he's getting mixed up). Moroni attaches this piece of his coat to a pole and calls it the Title of Liberty and rides around and inspires men to join his cause to fight off the enemy.

This is a moderately famous painting in Mormon culture, so it shows up a lot, like on the front of the church programs, or in the Gospel Art Kit (a collection of paintings about scripture stories) that we recently purchased.

Tyler opened to this painting and said, "when I was little, I always thought those pointy things were his ears, like he was an elf... and that it looked like all those people on the bottom were drowning in lava. (In a cartoonish voice) 'Save me Moroni, save me!' Actually, it still kind of looks like that to me."

I think this highlights a key difference between boys and girls as the only thing I ever thought was unusual about this painting was that he must have had a big coat.

Monday, March 08, 2010

It's... a...

I would scan the pictures from our ultrasound to show you that we're having a boy, but they're all the way upstairs.


I'll just tell you.

It's a boy.

"Are you excited," is what you want to ask, because that's what everyone's asked. I think, if I were to rank my emotions at this time, they would be as follows:
  1. Overwhelmed
  2. Panicky
  3. Relieved that a) it's not twins as was the suspicion of a woman at church, b) he has 10 fingers, 10 toes, 2 kidneys (because we have kidney issues in our family), and a normal sized head and 3) they moved my due date up to July 14th. Sah-weet. (But also, to go along with numbers 1 and 2, if this baby comes on the 14th, that will be 2 days before Lillian's birthday, so for two days, I'll have 3 kids, 3 and under. And, oh. crap. That sounds like a lot of work.)
  4. Excited
I'm still no closer to deciding on a name than I was a few weeks ago. We have a short list of 3, but I'm not ga-ga about any of them. I like them as names, but none of them jump out as THE name for THIS baby.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Nora Bora

We here at Us and Things have been deluged with requests for more pictures of Nora. And, by deluged, I mean two of you asked. This series of pictures represents my best efforts at a photo shoot.

The problem is that she won't (can't?) hold still. She is the wiggliest kid I've ever met. She's up, she's down, she wants to crawl over here. What's that? Can I eat it? Pick me up. Let go of me.

We had our neighbors watch our kids when we went to El Charro, birthplace of the chimichanga, which I never thought were good until I had The Pollo Elegante, and now I wish I had an extra-large stomach so I could eat two. Pollo Elegante... so good. Oh, anyway, our neighbors. When we came back, she said, "wow! Nora gets around. We were watching a movie and Lillian was sitting nicely and Nora was on my lap, then on the ground, then on John, then in the toys, then she went in the other room, and when I went to go look, she was up on the 3rd shelf of the bookcase."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

High Chair Makeover

Yesterday, I was perusing the giveaway section of Goodreads, and they had a book about called EcoBaby or something. The blurb said that average parents spend upwards of $7,000 in preparation for the birth of their child. Is this true? Because that's ridiculous. This book purported to show you how to spend less than $1,000. I'm pretty sure that for Lillian, we spent about $50 before she was born, and not really very much until she started growing out of all the hand-me-down clothes we got from friends and relatives a year or so later.

I didn't really think that it was a secret that to save money, you don't buy new things: you borrow, take hand-me-downs, pillage thrift stores, breast feed (if you can), and make your own baby food, which is not that hard. I should have written that book.

Anyway, we were really fortunate to get a lot of our baby furniture from Tyler's sister, who was done having her kids. One of the things she gave us was this high chair:

It's sturdy and useful and, until recently when Tyler broke a prong off one of the buckles, in perfect working order. But, sorry Tonya, it's ugly. I've always thought it was ugly.

Then, the other day, I ran across a website selling (and extolling the virtues of) laminated cotton. At first I couldn't find any for less than $18/yard, and I thought that was a little steep. So I looked into just buying a new cover, but that was going to cost anywhere from $30 to $50, and I'm not paying that.

Finally, I found some non-ugly, gender-neutral fabric for only $13/yard. I felt like I had won the lottery. Later, when Tyler came home from work and I relayed this whole story in breathless detail, as he was trying very hard to sound interested and hide the bored look creeping onto his face, I stopped myself and realized that this is my life. And I was very depressed for a second.

But then I remembered that no, this is my life:
and I was happy again.

Ta-Da! It doesn't fit quite as snugly as the other one did (which is weird because I cut the pieces the same size), and it's only slightly mangled around the left side, but I think it looks pretty good.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Robot Pony

On the morning of the Rodeo Round-up (see previous post), Lillian came and got in bed with me. I started talking up the pony ride because she tends to be a little shy about things like that. "Do you want to go for a pony ride today?!" I asked.
"Yes! And Daddy will ride a robot pony!"
"Um, ok. I don't know what that means, but if they have robot ponies, Daddy can ride one."

Turns out, they did have a robot pony.

Robot Pony from Amanda Ball on Vimeo.

Rodeo Days

The rodeo is kind of a big deal here in Tucson. There's a parade and people get a few days of work and school. We didn't go last year because I was chicken (the rodeo grounds are in the barrio, which I am no longer scared of) and I had a 2-month old baby, so I was looking forward to getting in on the Tucson experience... AND because all the years I lived in San Luis, I never made it to Poly Royal (pronounced like how John Travolta says "Royale with Cheese" in Pulp Fiction) for one reason or another, so I wanted to break my no rodeo streak.

This year, Tyler was out of town for Rodeo Week, and although I'm not scared of the barrio (as a friend once said, "bars on the windows mean that they make their own tortillas!"), I'm not brave enough to lug my two children with my pregnant belly (and yes, a woman at the grocery store said I must be due sometime soon. She was so grandmotherly I didn't want to crush her by saying that I'm actually only 20 weeks. Or maybe I just didn't want to admit it to myself) to an event that they probably won't enjoy, just to settle a decade-long rodeo drought. My mom called me chicken, but I think I was just being practical.

The good thing about our little town out here in the boonies is that they sponsor events like last weekend's Rodeo Round-Up. It's all the things my kids probably would have liked at the rodeo, without the hassle of actually having to go there: pony rides, petting zoo, bounce house, face painting.

I mean, how often do you get the chance to maul feed a baby goat?

Monday, March 01, 2010

When Aloha Means Goodbye

I have a secret that's really not that big of a secret: my life has spoiled my plans over and over again. Don't get me wrong, life's been good to me so far. But, it's also messed with me a lot, specifically with my travel plans. Right after I graduated high school, I wanted to go to England and Scotland with the AP English class, but somehow I couldn't go due to a combination of lack of funds and the fact that I didn't actually technically take AP English.

In college, a group of friends went to Mexico, but I was really sick and couldn't go.

We wanted to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but as we got married in the middle of the semester on a random weekend, our schedules didn't permit it, so a long weekend in Pismo Beach it was.

Tyler and I were in the early stages of planning a trip to Peru when I found out I was pregnant with Lillian and we decided it would be more fiscally responsible to actually, you know, save our meager funds for our unborn child instead of splurging on airfare.

After graduation, we did get to spend almost 2 weeks in DC and Boston, which was a miracle and so much fun.

Since then we've been to... Idaho. Which was a lot of fun, but it's still Idaho, in line with that pesky fiscally responsible attitude that we have adopted.

Ever since the stars aligned for us to buy our first house during the time that the government was throwing free money at first-time home buyers, I've had visions of Hawaii dancing in my head. We would be able to afford the air fare with minimal financial impact AND Tyler has a really good friend (Hi Erin!) who lives in Hawaii who offered to house us for at least part of our trip. It was a really good plan and I was really excited about it.

We knew that we wouldn't be able to make a trip like this for a looooooong time where we'd only have to buy 3 tickets and only have 2 kids. I looked up airfare, planned out the things I wanted to do and see, and perused Frommer's at the library during story time. I told a bunch of people that we were going to make them jealous and looked at maternity swimsuits online. All that was left was for us to coordinate better with Erin and Tyler's work about a date.

Then, President Obama ruined my life. You may have heard that he cut the funding for the Constellation Program, which program has been paying our bills and purchased us our first-time house. I'm not worried about Tyler's job: even if he does get laid off, I'm 99% sure he can find another one... just one that is not in Tucson. The caveat for the first-time home buyer's credit is that you have to stay in your house for 3 years. Come March, it will be one year, and Tyler's job is guaranteed for at least one more year. But, if we have to move after that, we have to give the money back. I haven't looked into the scenario of having to move and buying another house right away, but I'm not counting on us being able to sell this one right away, or even after a long time, or at all.

So, once again, I say aloha to Hawaii.

The one upside to waiting is that after next year my mom will be retired and can maybe watch one (or more?) of our kids, so we won't have to buy as many tickets. Eh, mom? What do you think?
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