12.19.2007

B is for Brett

This is our friend, Brett. He is the ultimate man's man. Tough, tall in stature, burley, etc. That's what makes it even more awesome that he is a collector of Department 56 village collectibles. I am pretty certain he is one of their best collectors. I had not seen many of these until I met Brett and his darling wife, Cindy. The little towns he sets up each represent a different era and it makes me want to jump in and be part of it. Walking along next to the display is sort of like walking around inside of a snowglobe. Maybe next year for his open house displaying them he can rig glitter and snow to drift from the ceiling. He is a local star, last year a newspaper featured a story on him and his houses!
**
I am pretty sure Aubrey's fudge will be available in heaven, it's perfect. [Thanks!]


I am quite sure hell will involve sweeping round sprinkles from the floor for hours, which really becomes a unintentional game of croquet because the balls just keep rolling around. And then you graduate to sweeping scrables eggs, which ultimately keep scrambling the more you try to sweep them. I am pretty sure the song Cheeseburger in Paradise plays on repeat at a high volume. And you have to wear socks with crumbs in them.

12.13.2007

the sad thing is i am not kidding

The very first time I had money to shop for gifts I was in 4th grade. I helped collect cans, crush them, took them to the recycling center, and ended up with about $35 to spend on my sister and parents.

We went to Target and I got to roam around by myself with a shopping cart for about 20 minutes or so to get the gifts. I had never shopped for someone else before, so naturally I picked what I thought I would want for a gift [which I still have a bad habit of doing as an adult].

My mom got a 3 pound box of assorted cream chocolates. My sister got a 3 lb box of assorted nut chocolates (because I loved those and could steal them from her when she was at school), and my step-dad got a 3 pound box of Clusters (because I didn't like him, he didn't like chocolate, and I knew I could eat them all and he would never know).

My step-dad saw me put them in the cart and told me chocolate isn't a gift! My mom corrected him and said I can give any gift I selected. I never ate any of her chocolates.

+++

I remember the first Christmas with Mike right before we got engaged. We were seated in front of his family's Christmas tree with all of his 400 siblings, I was still getting to know the family. I secretly hoped I would be getting my diamond ring, but knew it wasn't the time when he handed me a long, rectangular box. I opened it to find a long rose wrapped in gold.

"A chocolate rose! Awesome!!" Just as I began to take it out of the packaging to eat it, he corrected me.

"No, it's a real rose dipped in 24 karat gold!.......[awkard pause for reaction]......So you will always have a rose from me".


I kept blinking at it and said the most inappropriate comment possible when receiving a gift.

"What am I supposed to do with it?"

To understand how adorable of a gift that was one would have to read this post I wrote about giving a lady flowers. His gift was smooth, unique, clever, and timeless.

I just have a sick obsession with chocolate. And making bad impressions.

===

If I picked my own name for Christmas and had a budget of over $100 to shop for myself I would be slightly torn between using it for either a gift card to Amoeba and this awesome sure-fire heart attack gift tower from Fannie May. We both know the tower would win by a long shot.



It's a good thing I didn't pick myself.

But seriously, how awesome would that be sitting on your front porch waiting for you?

Someday when my husband passes away before I do and I am sitting around waiting to join him I am going to go the way of pleasure and indulgence. I will spend all of my social security money sending myself gift towers like this bad boy every month.

12.12.2007

December Challenge

A while back I gave a challenge to do a thoughtful package each month. I actually did one in November, but forgot to take a photo of it.

A friend of mine had a rough week, a friend who could probably lead and win a war she is so capable and organized! That said, a rough week for someone like that must mean a lot. On top of that there was a death in her family. I couldn't think of a single thing I could do to help her as I drove to the grocery store that evening.

While junk food can't chase away stress and it's not a super healthy offering, it made a bright impact to me when she had given me a junk food care package before I went to have my baby. I packed it into my suitcase several days before. I will never forget eating those delicious sugared almonds at 3am after going so long without food. The clear lip gloss turned out to be rather bright PINK! and I couldn't get it off. We had a good laugh about it early on in the delivery process.

So I remembered her awesome package for me while I shopped. I got a bright colored bag and a funny card and picked out all my favorite comfort junk food that would fit into the bag. She would be getting on a flight the next day so I thought it would be great traveling grub. Twizzlers, circus animal cookies, orange gatorade, chocolate covered almonds, etc.

_____

With the craziness of the following weeks, I imagine it will be too easy of a challenge for the month of December to give someone a thoughtful package. SO I have a different challenge for this month:

BRING SOMEONE A MEAL.

1) Think of the person/ family
2) Determine the ages of the people you are feeding (spaghetti? or chicken curry?)
3) Put a date on the calendar you know won't be too crazy, a day you can cook early and double a recipe.
4) Don't tell the person until the day of and while it's in the oven (4pm-ish). I planned tonight, but the day took a turn for the bad at 4 so it was good I had not called her yet so I wasn't officially committed. Another day next week will for sure work better.
5) Don't complicate things by trying to make it a 5 course meal. Keep it simple- it's service!
6) Tell me who you are going to serve this month.

12.10.2007

junk in my trunk

not my photo

One of my friends brought me a box of Trader Joe's Candy Cane cookies! They are like oreos. I read about them somewhere last week, I think, and wondered if the candy cane pieces were chunky.

After eating one I decided they are hit- the candy cane pieces are obliterated into a fine powder and smoothly blended with the cream in the middle. Literally no cane crunching, this was important for me to investigate before proceeding to cookie number two.

Before I finished eating number two, I left a message with my junk food partner in crime, Lindsey, to let her know they are so yummy- almost like mint girlscout cookies. I believe I ate 3 more before my message was completed.

After eating a whole row, I took a deep breathe and felt a nordic blast of peppermint carbon dioxide turn my nose hair into frost. Ew. I hate that feeling, the same feeling when chewing that winterfresh flavor of gum. It always gives me the burning sneezes/ eye twitches. Winterfresh gum flavor is the only kind of sugar I will turn down (along with circus peanuts).

Eating more than 5 at a time=winterfresh=nose drips. After that it's essential to unscrew the cookies and eat the non-frosted side. I just thought you might like to know.

12.08.2007

dressed in yellow she says hello

As far back as I can remember, I was always excited to start a new school year. Never nervous. The first day of each year I would find my desk and then scan the room for the cutest boy I would decide to have a crush on. I remember all of them, even in elementary school.

I was never good about keeping it a secret and it never donned on me, in most occasions, that perhaps they didn't like me back. Even if I followed them around the playground while they ignored me. I hate to admit I held this bad habit all the way through college!

1) Tommy Eaton was the first I remember. He was the Ken Doll of what my memory tells me might have been first or second grade. Blonde, feathered hair and blue eyes. Back when boys had cooties and girls never admitted a boy was cute. Well, I was different. While they sat in a circle with their pretty dresses playing jacks, I followed Tommy all over the monkey bars, through the swings, and passed the tetherball courts. I finally caught up to him one day and asked what he was doing. He told me he was making Jason (the kid who ate paste) do an initiation (how did he know this word?) for his club. He told me I couldn't join because I was a girl. I told him I could still do whatever Jason had to do, but better.

He laughed and shifted his attention to Jason and told him to run all the way around the soccer field. I trailed behind and eventually passed him. Jason gave up and never finished. I returned to Tommy and found him speechless, honestly admitting he didn't think I would be able to do it. That was the first time I realized I had talent as a runner. I felt more excited to have done something better than a boy, that I let go of my interest in following Tommy. I think I started hanging out by the kids in the soccer field from then on trying to play sports with the boys.

2) Tony Montoya was the next one. My sister will have to help me with this one, but I think it was second or third grade? This boy had a girlfriend, Meredith, but that didn't keep me from following him around and hoping for his attention. She was my first experience of having true jealousy. I am embarrassed to say I reveled inside the day she hit her head flipping over on the monkey bars. I honestly thought she wouldn't come back to school and then maybe Tony would like me. But.....she got stitches and was back at school, I remember being disappointed to see her (what an evil little girl I was!).

I had a birthday party and he was the only boy I invited. We had a break-dancing contest and he won. I ran crying to my room because I didn't win and hid for the rest of the party. I don't think he brought me a present. My adoration for him ended the moment I closed my bedroom door.

3) B.J. (I SWEAR that was his name!) was a trouble-maker. He always had a crew cut, I think this might have been third or fourth grade. Somehow I remember him wearing Vision Skateboarding t-shirts, but I have a hard time believing I was thrilled by skater clothes that young. He had a birthmark on his forearm. He wasn't very good with his schoolwork and that concerned me, since I was certain we were going to be married someday.

A girl named Sissle gave me a candy heart that said "Hot Shot" in my Valentine's Day card. It hurt my feelings. I knew she was right. Then I opened B.J.'s card and the hearts inside said "I Like You" and "U R CUTE". It could have been chance; his mom could have put them randomly into envelopes. But my heart skipped beats as I looked across the room and smiled at my crush who might have secretly liked me back!

4) Jason (not the paste-eating kid) left school every other Friday for skateboarding contests. His dad came to pick him up on a motorcycle and had hair to his waist; always tied in rubber bands. Jason definitely wore Vision and G&S clothing and his shoes were always ripped up. I thought it was because he was poor, but now I realize that's just what happens when you skate. I think this was fourth grade. I remember things really started to pick up between us one day after school. We went down the tunnel slide at the same time!

Then all of a sudden he wasn't at school the following week. I heard a rumor he missed too many days of school and was going to be expelled and that is why they moved. I was sad, but always wondered what he would do for work to support our family if he ever got seriously injured (weird that was important to me so young!).

5) A.J. Rutherford was for sure fifth grade. He had perfect teeth and brown eyes and hair. We sat out front on my lawn with our boom boxes listening to MC Hammer, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, and Young MC tapes together. This boy actually liked me back and 'asked me out'. Which meant he thought we should hang out during recess. But since I wasn't used to this attention actually being given back it freaked me out. I broke up with him quickly and then felt a bit betrayed when he had a new girlfriend in sixth grade. Abby, she was the only girl in school who actually needed a bra. I heard they kissed under water at golfland and it made me glad it was her and not me. Kissing seemed so gross to me back then.

6) This was by far my most pathetic crush in the history of crushery: Mike Lynch. He reminded me of Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. I put all my boy focus on him from the end of 5th grade to 7th grade. If a boy told me he liked me or wanted to eat lunch with me I would say "sorry, I like Mike Lynch". We had class together in 5th or 6th grade and the desks were set up in a U shape. I was so thrilled when we sat directly across from each other so I could stare at him all day like a psychotic FREAK. One day I wrote on the bottom of my pro-wing high-tops with Magic Marker:

I

L
O
V
E

M
I
K
E

When I kicked my feet up onto the desk for him to see during reading time he laughed out loud!

Although there were many times I was proud to have made him laugh, he never liked me. I didn't accept that truth until I asked him to dance at a school dance and later someone told me he was looking for another girl during that song and wanted to dance with her. I was crushed and finally gave up. Only to see him in 8th grade and realize he was way too short for me anyway. He stopped growing and I didn't.

12.07.2007

zaney

For some reason I bought paper with a holiday border thinking it would be a good idea to write a letter to send with Christmas cards this year. I cannot write creatively under pressure, much less anything interesting that most of the people don't already know from reading here or there or that other site. Sure, the great-grandparents are not on-line so they might like to read a little something instead of the usual cold photo with nothing personalized or signed. But all I can think of writing about are lists of favorite moments this year. In which case the best Zane quote would be the time my mom was visiting and assisting with the dreaded potty training. We were all sitting at the kitchen table wondering how he was doing on his own in the restroom. All of a sudden we heard him giggle from the other room, then his feet came stomping through the kitchen and he shouted:

"Everybody! Take out your peenus!" with his business pulled through the leg hole of his underpants.

12.04.2007

here with you it's perfect

top eighteen songs by the cure. because i couldn't stop at ten.

Untitled
Pictures of you
Halo
Strange Attraction
Letter To Elise
Catch
Mint Car
Apart
Jupiter Crash
The Walk
Treasure
How Beautiful You Are
Boys Don’t Cry
Hot! Hot! Hot!
Lovecats
Shiver and Shake
Trust
In Between days

yum.

1) Almond Snickers

This product would be slightly better if the almonds were sliced (at least in half). For some reason it's way better in the dark chocolate variety, even though I normally prefer milk chocolate.


2) Wendy's Vanilla Frosty with the Oreo add-in (think cookies n' cream ice cream).

Who knew The Frosty could improve? This is worth a trip just to get this and nothing else. But since they have the best fries on the greasy market, you might as well get some of those, too.


3) That's all for now.
4) Then again....what if they made a vanilla frosty with the almond snickers in it? Then I think my tongue woud burst in delight.

12.02.2007

where disappointment and regret collide

Gah.

If I were an animal I think that would be the sound I would make right now.
Just Gah. Over and over.

One sure way to have a flop of a weekend is to make a To Do list 2 pages long. With nothing fun on it. And no scheduled breaks or room for reality related to the actual hours available in each given day. And then get super pissy at self and family because every little thing will feel like an interruption from the list. GAH.

***

I had a friend tell me once he felt like another piece of the furniture in the house when it came to his wife (assuming he meant attention). Ouch. I didn't know what to say. Until I realized sometimes the people in my house become furniture to me. People to care for or be near instead of enjoying. That's what happens when my expectations on my task list are more demanding than they should be.

I know we do this because our work is never done. There is never (seemingly to me) a moment when every inch is vaccuumed, every dish clean, and every article of clothing washed and put away, every belly filled, every cheek wiped, every project completed, every call returned, every email answered, every teaching moment seized, every object dusted, every paper filed. Spinning in the back of our heads are all the frivilous thing that would be nice to do, enjoyable outlets we would love to 'get to next' or dates to plan or trips to make out of town. We hardly feel we can get to a place when all is done so we can rest our minds from thinking about what is undone. Or letting the world slow down because who else is going to think of all! the! things! that! need! to! be! done! It's like living in a spreadsheet where all the numbers are the square root of an irrational number. But we are all waiting for it to be a perfect square, like 25.

So gah. Furniture Family. Or what I call roommate syndrom. It doesn't work for me, it's got to be different. I've got to take the irrational number and round up the way we learned to in grade school.

11.26.2007

whistling in the dark

So there was a part of becoming a Mormon that I was certain was going to be a struggle for me: The women. The Sisters, if you will. When I was initially learning about this religion I found it quite a lengthy bit of time to be at church for 3 hours. The final part of the rotation is normally The Relief Society for women and Priesthood for men. I would skip that last class and go home for lunch, watch some t.v., and wait for Mike to come over so we could make out.

I have always found guys to be generally more interesting to spend time with and less complicated compared to women. I also had an assumption every Mormon girl would be exactly the same as the ones that annoyed me the most. Think of Nellie from Little House on the Prairie. I knew some from school like her with the big bow, fake smile you thought you could trust, knife stabbing you in the back, kind of nerdy or overly pretty. Once I actually started going to the class and meeting some of the Nellies, I learned about judgment. And how wrong I was.

Each place I have lived those ladies have taught me a lot and continue to do so. These are some of the things I have learned about them over the years:

Some of them are college educated, even with Masters degrees. Some are not.
Some got married before finishing high school. Some are not married well into their 30's and beyond.
Some got married in the temple. Some were not, but sealed later. Others are married to a man of a different faith.
Some have pretty hair. Some fashion a wig.
Some wear dresses with doilies at the collar.
Some wear designer clothing and sexy heels to church.
Some have hearing aids. Some sing too loud.
Some are housewives. Some are lawyers. Some are cleaning ladies.
Some mow the lawn on Sundays. Some keep the t.v. off on Sundays.
Some struggle with depression. Some are deliriously happy.
Some are punk rock. Some do not know who Britney Spears is.
Some are divorced. Some are remarried. Some are widows.
Some are feminist. Others are church historians. Some are both.
Some are frumpy. Some have had boob jobs.
Some have lots of children, while others have none.
Some know their talents and enjoy sharing them. Some have no idea what they are good at.
Some are shy. Some need a lot. Some give a lot. Some are annoying. Some are brilliantly charismatic.
Some will say hurtful things. Most would do anything for you.
All are imperfect like me, but look to Christ to figure out how to be better.


Dropping my instinct to judge was not the only thing I have been learning to do, I have also learned a lot about improving myself. It's nice to have a community of women to learn from, lean on, grow with, and serve. It's nice to meet people that used to seem so different from far away and find out that's what I love about such acquaintances. The relationships I have enjoyed the most are with people whom have very little in common with me. It's like a room full of puzzle pieces made up of different talents and personalities that might not look like much of a picture a couple pieces at a time, but put together it connects to a wonderful image.

That's not to say it's perfect. There are puzzle pieces that are on opposite ends of the puzzle for a reason. Some people just aren't going to get along and they don't have to. But even those I have come in to contact with what seems to be the negative magnetic charge to me have taught me things and been loving enough.

11.24.2007

obedience

My husband brought many wonderful things into our marriage, one of them was an awesome green chili enchilada recipe! His family made it for dinner on occasion while we were dating and always on Christmas Eve. As often as I try, I never seem to make it properly. One attempt after another my frustration grows and I have to resist the urge to pour what is ultimately green chili soup down the drain. I had tried so many times I was sure I had that recipe memorized.

+

The past couple of weeks I have been having bouts of sour attitude and lack of spiritual shine. A sort of religious numbness, if you will. My occasional poor attitude wanted company, so it began to spread its dark cloud into my feelings as a mother and wife and housekeeper- all roles I began to feel a failure at and I couldn't understand why. The negativity in my mind refused to let green grass sprout as it pushed away the sunlight. I affected the mood in the home and everyone else in the family. Sour spreads fast!

One evening I spent some time reading through submissions the ladies at church gave me for a book I am in charge of compiling. It will be comprised of personal journal entries, favorite quotes, short stories, and favorite scriptures. My stubborn heart softened as my eyes scanned over the uplifting words. One struck me the most, exactly what I needed to be reminded of:

Proverbs 3: 5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not onto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

It was incredible how easy it was to change my attitude with such little effort. How fast my worries as a mother eased from the tightness I normally carry in my shoulders.

It reminded me of the steps backwards and away from Him I have been taking. If that important relationship is distant it is because of me and my lack of effort to make it strong on a regular basis.

++

That evening I closely followed every step of the recipe for those green chili enchiladas. Oh, onions! I always forgot about those before. I read each step twice and did not rush. There isn't nearly as much sour cream needed as I thought! I repeated Mike's suggestions through my mind about making the layers thin. When that casserole came out of the oven I knew it would be exactly right. I had the answers easily available to me all along, I was just too stubborn to read them.

Somehow following that recipe and feeling the way I did about it turning out alright reminded me of the recipe for spiritual fulfillment. I have the scriptures, talks, and conference available for me to follow, like a recipe for happiness. And prayer for guidance on specific things I struggle with or find my children struggling with. There are so many other details in this Plan of Happiness. It's better for me to remember I do not know them by heart. It's best to not wing it on my own without reviewing the basic steps often. I have resources I know can guide me along on my journey for a closer relationship with The Maker.

Yes, somehow I connected the building of enchiladas to spiritual nourishment.

11.19.2007

filling lamps with oil

I loved the analogy my friend Tania shared with me this evening.

I was telling her about the little hints of jealousy that are starting to creep up into our little family (mommy is evan going to be outside of your belly ALL day today?). I admitted that I honeslty thought those initial weeks of crazy behavior of his former self were all we would get. I thought it was all done and we moved on as a family unit, free of memory from the old life. I have no idea why I thought this. I know I remember clearly what life was like before 2, of course a toddler probably feasts his dreams on the memory of grand personal attention he used to get.

My friend told me to imagine what it would be like if Mike brought home a new, cute, younger wife that suddently needed a lot of his attention. I am sure I would start to wonder when that new person would be leaving so we could have the old life back and I could be the main attraction again. And even the times she came along grocery shopping in the stroller I would still know she was there even if she was sleeping and quiet, it would not be alone time with Mike. I would know things are still different and I was no longer #1.

Anyway, she said it in a way that was a lot more comical. The point is, of course, it's going to be an adjustment for a long time and of course there is jealousy. It's just never truly going to come out in obvious ways. I am not going to hear a 3 year old say hey mom, I am jealous. Can you put the baby down and play soccer at the park with me again? It sure sucks for me that you are busy with someone else all the time now. No, coloring for 5 minutes this morning doesn't make it all better. I think I am going to go urinate on my books since you are holding him right now because I am mad.

I just have to put his clues together and do what I can to balance and take the advice of scheduling little one-on-one time when possible. Letting him pick what we do and where we go and giving him back a little of what he used to have.

------

I passed a blind man this week and regret not stopping to tell him how incredible of a day it was. About the colors and the grass and the beauty of this earth. I was enjoying the crunching of the leaves and the bright green surrounding me with a backdrop sky one would craft up in a dream. Northern California is simply so crisp with color and freshness like a digital workmanship's end product. It almost feels fake, like I could kick over the cardboard trees and the birds are Oz, just chirping from a speaker. It was like a little piece of my mind gave thanks for The Creation and pretended The Garden of Eden might really be around the corner.

-------

I actually responded to an adult this week using the word "silly" with a straight, seriously genuine face. I guess I should have followed up with my trademark fish face, gets the kids every time.

-------

I hear myself slipping away, that identity we mothers clutch onto for dear life. The purse that's been hanging in the closet for so long it really can't be considered fashionably late. I don't bother shopping for fall trends because I can't figure out how to get my carpet vaccuumed within a 10 day stretch of time. The tending to one more additional person pulls more from my time than I want to accept. But I never realize it until I look at that check list I created 14 hours prior. Nothing can be crossed off. Not a single thing.

But the measure of success must change and it's no longer a day at the park that leaves me feeling pleased. It's making one smile and the other laugh. Getting a morning shower out of the way. Kissing my man and making him grin. Laughing with a friend on the phone, usually while I wash dishes or fold laundry. Multi-tasking takes on a new meaning. Much like the way challenge today is different compared to what I thought it mean 2 years ago, or even 2 months ago.

I'm still here, inside. I just don't think about me nearly as much or daydream about the extending of frivilous skills right now. There isn't time or energy. And that's an adjustment all over again, but essential for today's priorities. My responsibilities are wide, but not impossible and they are important enough to allow frivilous joys to take a back seat until I have room again. It might be an hour one week and two another. It might have to wait a month. Or a season. But I am still here. And I still eye that bowl at the skatepark waiting for me to come play. And the drumkit wanting to sing. And my running shoes yearning to crunch the leaves with a rythmic beat. Think about that list of things to see and do and try and dream. I am getting my home in order and my children cared for and these are things I wish came more natural for me to excel at. But they don't so I must work at them and that is where I am.

11.16.2007

in which writing while mad happens

They will say what happened to her? She used to be a nice mommy, one with relative patience and kindness towards her son! What happened?

I will tell you what- potty training a boy.

You know how mothers tell their older children 'you will do this because I GAVE BIRTH TO YOU!' Potty training this boy is so far beyond the experience of birth. Birth to this boy was cake, painless compared to this. I honestly sat down one fine afternoon after the 9th scrubbing session from the carpet and wondered how bad it would really be to skip the potty training. If there was a way for me to be all done with this and do diapers for life I would find it. No one would know, I thought, oh I guess until the Junior High locker room.

I will spare the pages and pages of stages we have been through and even the hoops I have jumped through with potty parties, chocolate treats, toy cars, and candies getting this to work. And the elation I felt watching it stick, seeing the little toes dangle for a #2 success melted my heart more than anything else in the world. Hearing the mad rush to the bathroom of little feet getting the bare bottom onto the potty and the beautiful tinkles into the water. That had been my life for two weeks straight: zero accidents. I even steam cleaned the carpet over the weekend, thinking we were moving on. SO GLAD the scrubbing was behind me. I even smirked as I crawled on my hands and knees several times a week cleaning the bathroom floor (and oh how I ever though I would need to put so much thought into how to clean every nook and cranny of the entire bathroom so often). I get an A+ for janitorial work this month.

All that to turn and find a basket of his books saturated in urine one morning in the middle of the common play area. Another day long, dry drips eight feet high crusted on my floor-length mirror, as if he tried to spell his name. Another day I felt wetness opening his drawer to get his clothing for the day, finding the entire face of the dresser drawers saturated. Today I heard splashing and caught him standing in the middle of his room with a stream sailing across the floor, landing mostly into the Little People Farm. Some into the Little People Boat. Some on the carpet (which btw is incredibly hard to find when lightly distributed by spray motion). The rest landing into a cute wicker toy box now spackled with urine along with many toys inside.

What other contaminated surfaces have I not yet discovered?
I used to think the moms who did a cold shower for accidents were sort of cruel. Now I know, they are wise. They are experienced. They are my heros.

Sorry Zane, Mommy's kid gloves are off with this one. The carpet and I mean business.

11.15.2007

646 area code?

I keep getting a call from some angry man speaking another language on my mobile phone. I normally find it a common courtesy to call the person back and let them know they have the wrong number. Even if they are too dumb to realize each time my message presents them with MY voice and name of LIZ. I am a good citizen that way.

But. BUT. When you get increasingly more angry in your foreign language and call multiple times a day with said angry voice, I become less interested in assisting you. I begin to find it comical with a big twist of annoying. Tomorrow when you call, I will answer it with both children screaming at the same time. Worse than a torture chamber. And you will never call again.

11.14.2007

another first

Sometimes one hour of the day can turn even Mister Rogers upsidedown even if it comes after hours of eating glorious rainbows and walking on marshmallow clouds.

*change diaper
(plan to feed baby)

*find toddler pouring my can of soda into sippy cup. overflows onto chair and freshly mopped floor.
(send toddler to room for not listening the 16 times I insisted he stop pouring, place baby in safe place, plan to clean mess and then feed baby)

*baby is safe, toddler in room, clean mess and turn to feed hungry baby
(baby begins to whimper)

*toddler screaming from first floor, I am on second floor. place baby in safe place again and race to toddler as it's the type of cry from him that tells me danger. (racing down the stairs my mind jumps from cut! glass! head! bleeding! arm! broken! is a 'something's broken cry', I just know it)

*baby screaming brains out upstairs by the time I get to toddler

*toddler screaming brains out and standing with no pants on in the hallway near the bathroom. upon inspection, no blood, uncertain of broken bones, toddler screaming too much to speak and no objects near him for evidence. I hug him to comfort him and still no comfort. Confused, I begin to put the pieces together: back of shirt wet, pants down, back of legs and bottom wet. Did you fall into the toilet? Sobs yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees.

*too many minutes to console and speak gently through it to make sure he won't be scared of the big potty for life (hey...buddy.... you got out all by yourself didn't you! and you knew to go on the potty to begin with such a big boy! i am so proud of you BIG BOY let's put a safe potty chair on that one, too, and it won't happen again).

*baby screaming far too long and needs to eat, finaly I return to baby and feed him (thankful for the advice that the oldest needs to be taken care of first sometimes)

*toddler whimpers on another safe potty upstairs and is on his own, I decide, for at least 15 minutes unless bleeding is involved cos this baby has GOT to eat already.

Sadly, something like this happens at least once a day right when the baby needs to eat.

11.13.2007

i can't imagine an hour without you


The Hours
From the UK (of course). I simply love their sound.


Everybody gets knocked down
how quick are you gonna get up?
+give a listen

11.11.2007

happy.

This car makes me happy.

I can totally see myself driving this car during my empty nesters stage. Floppy sun hat and giant, dark sunglasses enjoying some dusty music flowing into the streets around me. Maybe something like Don McLean's American Pie.

Perhaps Mike will be at my side, maybe he will be at home building something with power tools. Or training for another marathon. But it's definietly a drive with a scenic view. I go for miles and never stop smiling.





* a photo I took 10/06 in san francsico

11.09.2007

don vito corleone


Whenever I have a toothpick
in my teeth I always wish
I could do an impressive
impersonation of The Godfather.
*
Isn't that what every housewife thinks
after she tests the doneness of brownies
fresh from the oven
that will serve the good ladies
at a church party?

11.07.2007

wipe butts

It's interesting to step back and think of all the plates I am in charge of spinning. In the workforce I found it much easier to prioritize and plan my day. It was nice to put undone work or projects into clean folders and place in a drawer. It was nice to look at a clean desk every day.

This, children and house and self, is not so easy for me to organize. My dishes and kitchen floor refuse to be placed into a drawer. That bathroom Someone is potty training in is too soggy to stay in a folder. Nursing the baby can't truly be scheduled until the day begins and even then, rarely stays on the charted course. I am still looking for that water cooler to take a break and have a chat with my friend from accounting.

Working in the middle of my home, on my home, and for two little children for bosses sometimes feels as if all the desk drawers got emptied out and industrial-size fans blew the papers all over. Only the fans never turn off and I am grasping whatever task happens to fly past me the moment I happen to have a free hand.

This is not intended to have a negative tone, I am doing exactly what I chose and am grateful to be a mother at home. I just need to get freaking organized. Below are some of the categories I need to sort out and break them down into some cycles within months and days. These are not just mine, Mike does a lot when he is home on the weekend. But my goals for the weekends are to have fun as a family unit instead of doing chores. So I am working on trying to figure out what I can realistically accomplish during the week and what will have to fall into the weekend routine. What I can handle on my own and what I need routine help with, which will probably be subject to change almost every week.

Household
vac
laundry
dishes
meal planning/ making
grocery list
bathrooms
misc. inventory of stuff
etc.

Admin
dr. appt.s
misc phone calls
church calling
paper org
budget review/ plan
etc.

Parenting
reading
planning activies
play dates
play time
etc.

Personal
date night
gym
friends night
creative writing time
creative projects
etc.

Basics
wipe butts
feed kids
clean kids
etc.

11.04.2007

loves.

I remember learning about policies in the guidebook when I started working for a German Bank years ago. It was the first time I had heard about FMLA. I recall my peers telling me that it partly exists due to the importance of mothers having time to bond with their babies before returning to the workforce (while their job is still protected).

I haven't thought about that bonding time and law much until this month. I have been (perhaps overly) sensitive to the attention that the baby gets while the toddler is around. I almost feel like I am cheating on my oldest when I coo and silly-baby-talk with Evan infront of him. As though he would go and jump out the window from feeling unloved for that sliver of my attention being directed toward another person. Because of this I fear Evan has done a lot too much watching and not enough blending into the family, especially during weekdays.

This past week I have been including baby talk and play more often into our routine. Sure, it may include much talk about what a big brother Zane is or how Zane does this and that, but it's allowing me to gently ease more attention away from one and towards the other. Something this new one needs, deserves, and enjoys. And I need, deserve, and enjoy providing that. Besides, those smiles are coming at me fast and furious- who can resist getting lost in baby babble and happiness as often as possible?

Today I felt what must be that bond the FMLA wants to happen. Mike and Zane were waiting in the car for us. I was snuggling Evan close while burping him right before going on a family drive. I took in an extra deep breath just to get some more of that soft, clean, baby smell until it consumed me. His dark, fuzzy hair gently rested against my cheek like feathers. I had to force myself to place this sweetness into the carseat, I had to tear him away from my chest. Once he was belted in, all cozy while still sleepy and drunk on milk, I literally felt like our hearts just shook hands. I finally feel like I know my boy and he is really, deeply close to me the way I have been wanting to feel.

I think a big part of this has been realizing the importance of Zane seeing me love and tenderly play and talk to Evan more often. That is the only way he is going to learn to interact with this little brother of his, by watching me. He has mostly been ignoring him and walking past him. That, or, trying to squeeze his foot, hand, or head. This week he has been more interested in shaking a toy near him or telling him about a toy. Shaking it a little too close to his face and asking is Evan going to come too when we leave the house. He is more aware. More interested in these new smiles he can evoke from this tiny person.

I am feeling good about the balance of attention I get to offer both children, albeit there are days or hours it has to be uneven and that's just how it goes. We will all have to be alright with that at times. I know it will change, the balance needed, as Evan gets older and will take more adjusting on all our parts. It's just feeling more blended this week, less awkward and uncertain.

11.02.2007

the birth of the halloween costume

It all started several months ago when I innocently purchased a toy race car for my son at the local Target. Bright orange seemed to be a nice color, and hey there were numbers on it so we could practice identifying them while we play.

Dad informed us it's an actual race car and hey let's watch him drive for reals on t.v. Zane is mesmerized and always needs to know the location of his Tony Stewart car (in the playroom and on the race track). His best buddy Jack borrowed it and we purchased another one so they could each have one. The second one came with a magnent and included a photo of Tony himself, bearded with cool sunglasses on.

-
Last week I stood in the costume aisle of Target thinking my son would be excited to choose his own October personality. Nope, he just pulled the plastic weapons off the hooks and asked me if he could get them one by one. Sword? Hammer? Dagger? Sword? Crying. Sword?

After he turned down each and every costume available in his size, I knew I had to make a choice for him because 30 minutes in this aisle was far too much for me. Then I saw it, bright orange gleaming from the hook below the pathetic excuse of a Shrek Costume: TONY STEWART RACE CAR DRIVER!!!! It was meant to be. Zane still gave it a thumbs down because there was no weapon, but I chose it anyway. Despite the fact that the sponsor, The Home Depot, was plastered across the chest.

-
It wasn't until he put it on that he got excited and realized this is fun. How often do you get to pretend to be a race car driver? Dad drawing on the beard and grabbing the sunglasses for him on the way out the door made all the difference. It was a hit at the ward party, to my surprise. A group of dads in one corner offered an applause as he walked by and they shouted "YEAH! TONY STEWART!"

-
On the 31st he got to wear it to preschool. Crash and burn, it was a fizzle. He walked in after hearing the praises of a perfect princess and a pirate. The teacher took one long look at him with her hands on her hips and said "The H OM E ...Depot". Silence. I informed her he was a race car driver. Silence. She said she knew.

DAMMIT it's his favorite toy to play with in our entire house, Townee Stoowort number twenee! He LOVES that car and his dad taught him to enjoy a new sport. It's cute, it's personal, it's perfect for Zane. At least pretend you get it.

Another princess walked in with rave reviews. I kissed his clean cheek and escaped (we left the beard and sunglasses at home this time, I had a feeling the effort wasn't going to be necessary).
-
That evening we began the annual tradition of begging for candy from strangers. Living among widowed elderly folk, I did not expect much reaction or recognition of the costume. But, we did the beard and sunglasses effect anyway. Just to confuse them all the more.

Each door was the same, they would smile and pause, only to read his chest: "the home......depot?"

He did a nice job shouting Happy Halloween! and waiting patiently two steps away from the door. Holding out his bucket. Only taking one. Even if they tell him to take more. Saying thank you. I would quiz him between houses about how many times we ring the doorbell. He would answer FIVE! I would remind him ONE. He would press it seven times. And then ask each person if they had a dog. After, they would say you can be my handy home depot man if I need something fixed in the home.

Then the final door bell for the night, seemingly the last straw for mom. Another lady reading his chest in disappointment. I could not longer offer a gracious smile. Before I could correct her, the husband looked up from the newspaper to peek around the corner and see my handsome son. A large smile brightened his face as he moved toward us and said "NASCAR race car drivier!" as if he had known us for years and won a small lotto at the same time. I loved this man. He made my night and I told him so. Zane made his.

Halloween was complete. Someone understood us.


---
And the baby? He was the most logical costume that would work in the bjorn.

10.31.2007

happy.




These are just some photos that have made me happy this month and thought I would share.

I want to post happy photos more often.

Even if it's just a can of Sprite Zero or the color in a photograph you love, it's worth sharing to celebrate the smallest of happy details that make you tick.


I invite you to do the same next month.


Thanks for the inspiration Beka and happy mundane.

The Husband Fault

I never really noticed my husband's sleeping patterns. I never realized he was a heavy breather. Tossed and turned a little abruptly here and there at random times all night long. Kicked his feet to get the covers just right. Pulled the blanket up with a firm TUG. Adjusted the position of the pillow. All causing the bed to jiggle or hop just right.

I don't really notice all these subtle things until we go to sleep after feeling an earthquake. And then about 76 times throughout the evening I attempt to fall asleep, but instead freak out with all these false alarms. I often sit upright and feel the walls. Grab the baby. Sometimes run towards the hall before I realize it's just him settling in for the night. Not Heyward, afterall.

10.30.2007

5.6 in alum rock, CA

earthquakes suck.

even the teeny tiny little baby ones with an epicenter miles away.

they still suck.

happy halloween.

10.28.2007

one for the kids


In honor of Halloween this week, I want to review the Do and Don't List of Trick-or-Treat offerings. Thoughts inspired by my toddler's collection via weekend party, which btw was a happy candy experience for the most part.


Do
chocolate of almost any combo
twizzlers
skittles
suckers
ring pops
spooky eyeball chocolate/ candy
any Halloween novelty candy [molded or wrapped in holiday icon]
glow sticks, glow wands, etc.
tootsie rolls (only chocolate variety)
original life savers mini packs
spider rings
candy corn packets
gum
bit-o-honey
sugar babies
dots
nerds
junior mints

Don't
chocolate of mini-snack size (too small!)
wacky 'hot dog' gummi nonsense (yuck)
pennies, any change
baked goods (boring)
toys (lame)
flavored tootsie rolls (yuck)
hershey kisses (too small, too common)
whoppers (yuck)
sweet tarts of any variety (boring)
gummy life savers (yuck)
mint life savers (too small)
hard mint candy in general (yuck this time of year)
jaw breakers (unless it's a spooky eye)
pixie stixx (too instant, makes me choke)
plain m&m's (too common)
taffy (too sticky)
coupons
jolly ranchers (too common)
bottle caps (yuck. sorry lindsey)

10.25.2007

chain talk

Remember the Sizzler restaurant commercial, you would hear a man's voice whisper {ssssssssizzllllllllerrrrrrrr}?

I remember they started to go out of business one by one in Arizona. So when I had a friend in college, Matt, tell me he worked there I laughed every time. All I could think about was there is still one standing? and the whisper {ssssssssizzllllllllerrrrrrrr}.

We were hanging out once and he had to stop and get his paycheck. I just stared at the sign and laughed while he went inside. As he got back into the car I asked him about red-headed waitress who kept looking at me through the window. He told me how he used to date her and they just barely stopped going out.

As she seemed rather attractive, almost out of his league attractive, I asked what happened.

"Dragon breath" was all he said. That was it, apparently bad breath was a deal breaker for him.

Tonight on my way home from shopping I passed a Sizzler and all I could think about was a man's whisper {draaaaaagon breeeeeeeath}. I have never eaten there and never will because it is completely associated with nasty paste-mouth in my mind. Like the way you feel as if your tongue is made of shredded cotton after you run a long time in the desert. yuck.

***

What were your deal breakers?

Some of my more shallow ones were:
poor smile
dirty finger nails
big booty
lame shoes
lack of life plan or aim
pot smoker
didn't open doors for me

Thoughtful Package


October's Thoughtful Package goes to Zane's preschool teacher.

Why?

We all know he is one of the more busy, high energy boys in the group. And nothing says hey, I appreciate your patience like a jar full of cookies. That, and I was...well.....a little late picking him up one afternoon. {big oops} Nothing says sorry- here is a peace offering- I promise it won't happen again like that jar full of cookies.

At the end of the day, I know not even a jar of cookies is going to make you like me or my son more. But at least I can try!!

10.23.2007

plans

Every day this month I have thought about all the things I planned to accomplish in October. Then I realized I was saving all my photos in the September file on-line and HEY wait October is almost over.

So with the measly chump change I have left of the month, here are some of my goals:


get kids' costumes
complete 72 hour kits
make a new friend
shop for fall clothing
and shoes for zane
call my grandma
buy a new CD
baby announcements ordered
find myself some cozy threads
pray with Zane each morning (especially on preschool days)
laugh every day
set up my drum kit
take the kids outside each day, even if only for 5 minutes
make my kids laugh every day
call landlord to request an indoor pool
and half pipe for backyard

10.22.2007

Good? yes.


*update: link corrected.
Ear candy for this fine Monday.

The only word I can think of to describe these powerpop New Zealanders is captivating. Can't say I love the name The Mint Chicks for their band, but since I love mint chocolate chip ice cream it's forgiveable.

10.19.2007

stocker or stock broker mentality


There are times I believe I might have shed much of the thick skin I developed living in New York while boarding that plane in LaGuardia Airport, sending me off to the West for good.

People that have not had the New York Living Experience often ask me the same questions. "Are people really THAT rude?" is always one of them.

The deal with 'rude' there is that there isn't time to be overly nice. Business is business. Commuting is commuting. People have things to do, places to be and little time for the fluff. That makes it a tough place to adjust to if you are friendly, but you learn to accept it and quickly build your armor. Hurt feelings or sensitive reactions to some sharp conversations will hold you back. It will exhaust you in a place like that.

There is not always sugar coating. No, there is hardly ever sugar coating. After you realize rough interactions are not always the norm you just prepare to face it in every situation and gauge which personality guns to respond with. It's not needed as often as you would think, but it's an important strategy to roll with. Especially on the subway. If you want a seat.

With this behind me, I often kick myself when the opportunity lends itself to respond with my New York Liz Graces.

----------

I remember sitting in jewelry class in high school. Steve B was working on a welding project for a belt buckle. He wore a welder's face mask that always cracked me up. He came back to the table I sat at and talked about this mellow guy he worked with after school. They worked in a stock room somewhere stocking boxes. He laughed to the group of us at the table how the mellow guy pulled a box off a shelf that was packed incorrectly. As he was up on the ladder and pulled the box out, everything fell from the bottom and all over the place.

I would be so pissed, I though.

He mentioned how the guy calmly got off the ladder and cleaned things up, only responding with "Heeeeeeeeeeey. Who was the wise guy who packed this box?" Then he proceeded to continue on with his job. I admired how emotionally non-affected Mellow Guy was and have always thought of that story when I freak out over little things.

-------------

Today I was told by the landlord that I was 'crossing the line' by asking for bathroom faucets to be traded within the house. My toddler cannot pull out the handle to the most conveniently located bathroom sink. I was totally Mellow Guy and made it sound like no big deal.

As I thought about the conversation today, I tried to measure how important it was to me to have that sink changed out and if I should have busted out a NY attitude. Initially I was proud of myself for not getting angry during or after the conversation, albeit a little shocked it was considered 'crossing the line'.

It really isn't that big of a deal, the sink problem has multiple solutions that do not involve a handy man. But I wish I had been more prepared for his strong tone and at least matched its intensity to some degree. To let him know I can. Dang, why does that matter so much to me. Because perhaps I would not be thinking about it 5 hours later.

10.18.2007

ganja

I've never smoked reefer, I have never been officially high by the stuff. Now I might have had a 'contact buzz' by others in the same room during college parties and at concerts smoking out. But I would honestly never really know. I never felt like I was missing out on anything, back then and sometimes today I find myself laughing uncontrollably at things that are not terribly hilarious.

That, and I have lived my entire life with the munchies.

So would pot even out my dietary weaknesses? Would it perhaps reverse my munchies? Do you think I could get my doctor to write me a prescription?

10.16.2007

too many days of no writing= lots of words

I remember being at a skate park in Brooklyn on a warm Saturday and a friend asking what Mike and I planned on doing the rest of the day. It was about 9am or so and I had not thought much about it until he asked. I dunno, maybe go to Ikea? He replied with something about being lucky, how we could do anything we want without kids. Nothing else was said by either of us. He would be returning to his parenting routine for the remainder of the day with his adorable wife and sweet child.

I remember wondering what was lucky about another trip to Ikea where we would argue about which cheap item of furniture wouldn't fit into our tiny apartment. What was so exciting about Swedish meatballs for lunch with hard French fries? I partially envied that they had already started their family, dove into the glamorously unknown life of parenthood.

-

Initially, once I charted that course, I remember missing dinner out at a new restaurant featuring cuisine from a country I had never been to. Sampling unique appetizers, sipping from wine glasses filled with mineral water, and discussing how well the wait staff served us.

I remember feeling like it was hard to not have adult interaction throughout the day. To not have a measure of productivity, far less sleep, and my new wardrobe of old navy t-shirts covered in regurgitated milk. And it was hard, for the me at that moment, a transition I stumbled with. Despite the fact that 'hard' as defined by the world at large has little to do with middle class American housewife boredom, I was still allowed to determine what my label of hard would be compared to the course my life had followed prior.

Looking back, I want to think of myself as silly for thinking that hard. But I understand the perspective now and how the definition of hard for me changes the more life experience I have. That is largely different compared to how my neighbor might define hard. How the me in 5 years will define hard.

"The Hard" of today will keep changing. Hopefully it will encompass common wifery complaints of nonstop laundry and essentially busy schedules like a taxi cab driver. Hopefully those normal aspects of parenthood will not be muted by health issues or tragedy. Although for many others it does. And that sucks and makes my "daily hard list" rather pathetic. But my stubborn perspective refuses to permanently change. And I think that has to be alright sometimes.

The hard I find in my life right now has little to do with newborn needs, although I had suspected otherwise before Evan's birth. Today the hard is reviewing the short 3 years I have been a mom and hoping I have been doing it right. Letting go of the wish I had done my education and career on a more child-rearing topic. Nutrition, Childhood Development, Health Services, Math, Science, Something More Helpful to this Most Important Job. Something that didn't make me start from scratch in the 2004 delivery room. Something that could have given me a head start. Like the way my sister taught me to play the flute weeks before my first lesson in elementary school. It was great to be first chair that year. I wish I was first chair in parenting.

--

Lengthy marital alone time/ frequent dinners out are still missed, but that 'hard' is becoming long forgotten. The easy part about my old life was not so much the freedom of where we got to go at any time we wanted. The easy part of before was the limited amount of worry and responsibility for another. The weight of that emotional addition of new life (coupled with unbelievable joy and love) fills the brain beyond rational volumes.

Making decisions about how to teach, discipline, direct, redirect, encourage, discourage, etc. marks the future of someone that cannot be undone. And you would peel off your skin and hand it over if needed to make sure those decisions are the best. That's what's hard, you don't always know if you are right. You can only love, use best judgment, research, consult with others that are experienced or experts on specific components of this gig. You have to walk into an office and hope that Pulmonologist (for example) didn't cheat on her tests.

Before, we used to just show up for a job on time and accomplish tasks. We didn't know what this hard was like back then. And that's alright, no one is supposed to know a future hard. We are just moving up our own scales of life experience at our own given pace and every stop allows us to look back with new glasses to see today more clearly. This month I want to remember that wedding coming up for someone and that college girl I know have their own 'hards' that are allowed to be, even if nostalgia makes us intially remember otherwise from our own paths. And I imagine if/ when I have more kids I will look back at age three + newborn as a breeze and wonder why I ever worried about anything. Even if it seems to make sense to worry some in the now.

10.08.2007

of juggling and sand

I often think about how I would describe something to the former me, to prepare the future me. Which is really the present me. Or maybe it's just outside thinkery to the present me to organize my thoughts and life into order and perspective. To fold them up nicely and put them on shelves of understanding.

The experience of having my first child was like being given a new round of balls to juggle in life, in the dark. Slowly as I figured out motherhood and the new tasks/ responsibilities of my new life the the dimmer to the light slowly allowed some visibility. I also became more skilled at juggling, less of the balls would fall to the ground.

As the child grew with age, there were hard parts about the age he either outgrew or I learned to handle well. Thus, some balls rarely fell in the art of juggling or might have been discarded altogether only to make room for a new rotation of balls. This could be in the shape and form of discipline, childhood development, new techniques of play, potty training (this one, btw, feels like 16 balls have been added to the load), behavioral setbacks or challenges, etc. Just as I begin to feel like I can climb onto a unicycle and juggle all the balls above my head with ease, some begin to hit the ground or need to be changed up. Things always seem to change when I feel I have a handle on them.

Enter another child and that one comes with a whole new bucket of balls to juggle. Albeit the colors and sizes of them are familiar and less stressful if handled alone, they are more tricky to weave into the colorful balls already in the air. Learning to handle the new combined tasks requires inventory and sorting. Some of the more complicated ones have to be set aside. It basically means choosing the balls with the label basic survival mode such as feeding, cleaning, laundry, and safety. And even those are a struggle to keep in the air initially. My mother was here to help me identify those and keep them up in the air.

But once again, I got used to the round in my arms and found it time to evaluate the shuffle. My sister came to stay with me this weekend at a good point in the process. She helped me see ways to ease into a new juggling routine. It's time for me to bring more balls into the game, take on more control of the pace. So some are going to drop again, but I will know which ones to let go of and which to keep my eye closely focused on. I think. I hope.

I often find my head filled will exclamations such as ...and there are people who have more. FIVE! NINE! TWELVE? How do they do it?! They are crazy. I could never. I can't imagine!

I will never personally know how to balance the needs of raising twelve children, but I get a better understanding of how you add a little at a time and sort out priorities much better today.
____

It's so corny to say, but I really do love the poem Footprints. When I read the last lines I always get goose bumps. I know that when I glance over my shoulder at the past month and think about how fast it went and the days I was able to function with such little sleep and feeling so overwhelmed, I know I was not doing it alone. Not only did HE carry me, but so did my husband, my mother, and my sister. They have all caught some of the balls flying into left field and helped me put them back into the game.

Sometimes there just isn't a thank you big enough for the people in your life that offer so much more than you could ask for.

10.05.2007

ironic

We have a freezer that automatically refills the ice trays. It makes a shhhhhhhhhhhhhh sound each time the tray is getting refilled with water. We might just happen to be on the same schedule, or the sound of my freezer making ice causes my milk to come in.

love is like a merry-go-round

I keep trying to start writing but someone needs me or my emotions flip into something opposite of what they were 2 seconds prior. Sounds so cliche and there really isn't a very creative or interesting way to write about emotional ups and downs. But it sure is funny to collect them into a list and laugh about them the next day.

To reflect on how all those little ant hills seemed like The Rocky Mountains at the time. Then not. Then so. Then not. It's like a spinning wheel only the needle never really lands on one feeling for very long. It just keeps on spinning and changing and you are hoping for no! whammies! I thought I got the hard end of the deal, you know, the one who has to grow and birth the baby. But really, he has to deal with this mind boggle of a wife on occasion. Maybe he's the one with the hard part.

+ the weather is so nice, i love this blue sky. it's so beautiful here year-round. i love it. [smile]

- where did this chilly air come from? ARGH! I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!!! [scowl]

+ so glad i got into a pair of jeans. now i get to choose from TWO pairs of pants each day! [joy]

- damn these are h u g e jeans, i can't believe i am this size right now. why can't i have THREE pairs of pants to choose from?! [sob sob sob]

+ yay for preschool, my son is so happy and will love to play with other kids and outside and paint.....[bliss]

- what the....? why is he the only kid doing __________?! what am i doing wrong, is he really ready for preschool? have i been a good enough mother? i let him watch too much t.v. [sob, sob SOB]

+ this baby is so sweet, love the sleep i get at night. [birds chirping in spring time]

- everything is out of control. this house a wreck, my body is a disaster, i have no idea what i am doing, i am a horrible mother, laundry is all over, the dishes are piled up, the baby book is incomplete, someone won't poop on the potty, it's all going wrong. [gnashing of teeth + sob, sob, sob]

+ these jeans really don't look too bad. [wink in the mirror + smirk]

- you can see the milk-catching pads through every single shirt i put on. i am a circus freak. [hopeless]

+ my whole family is safe and snuggling on the couch. nothing better, more peaceful than being together. [piano sonatas]

- "Mike, can I have a hug?" [ just sobs. just because. not even about one single ant hill.]

+ the house is so clean, this really is such a great day. i am so grateful for my family. [full heart]

- what did i do with all my free time before i had kids? can i have one of those hours? just one? [desperate]

+ dang 6 weeks isn't getting here fast enough. i have one super hot husband. [gnashing of teeth + purring]

+ I can totally do this! I have great boys and a great husband! [now just tattoo this into your brain, Liz]

10.03.2007

wednesday blues

I have such a sour attitude today. And no one wants to hear about that.

But you might want to hear about
the Spark by Skip Hop diaper bags I just noticed at Target for $30.
I remember my friend Alysha (p.s. who made this killer outfit for Evan {her photo})showing me Skip Hop bags for the first time at a baby boutique in Brooklyn a couple years ago. I secretly wished for the blue camo. Thanks to my sister, I finally have it (just hope she's not too sour we didn't know about Target's selection sooner). Glad to finally toss my dusty old Manhattan Portage.

10.01.2007

backwards namery


Around 1994 I walked into a dusty little concert venue called The Nile in Mesa, AZ on a typical Friday night. The walls were normally filled with messy fliers for bands playing later in the month. That Friday night, however, there was a bright white banner advertising Evian bottled water. I loved the way the word looked and imagined it without the "i" and how bold the name Evan was for a boy's name. Maybe even my own boy's name someday.

Around 1997 I went to the Arizona State Fair to see Morrissey play for $7. I stopped by a free booth that printed out names and meanings in fancy font. The two names I had printed were Ivan and Ahmed. They were my leading names for when I have boys myself. Doesn't every girl have a running list of baby names her whole life? Didn't anyone else have a crush on Ahmed Zappa in 1997? Maybe it was just the way we wore the same blue Converse One Star kicks.

Around 1998 I was dating Mike. Somehow the topic of baby names came up. I thought it was cute he also had a list. I remember Kennedy was a name he liked for a girl and how he was certain his first son would be Trevin Ivan.

Late in 2003 we were expecting our first son. We began our combined list of baby names. We agree that no name would be on the list if the other did not approve. The list started out large, but as time went on many were crossed off by each of us exercising veto power. These were the final names on our list when we headed to the hospital: John (my late grandfather's name), Vance, Torin, Jarek, Ahren, Miles, Hunter, Zane, Elijah, Zachary, Carter, Evan, Hunter, Benjamin, Esau, Isaac, Seth. At some point we learned Zane and Evan were Hebrew for John, these names became more favored.

July 10, 2004 I gave birth and allowed my husband to pick his favorite on our list of agreed names within seconds of his first breath. Zane Ivan was selected for his name and we determined Evan would be the name of our second son. Although Evan was the first boy name we ever agreed on, it could not be used as our first born son would carry on the middle name as a 4th generation Ivan.

Late 2006 we begin a new list of boy names for our second son. Evan is at the top of the list, few other names are considered: Isaac, Ezekiel, Seth, Jake. I admit Mike delivered dozens of names to me month after month only to be rejected. I did not put much effort into looking for some reason. We tossed around several ideas for middle names. One evening in my 9th month of pregnancy I had a strange path of thought that led me to the shocking thought. What would I name this baby if Mike passed away before he came? Would I name him Michael? Or Clive- the name he pushed for 9 months and met with my complete resistance? Clive would never be, but I like the sound of Evan Michael- why didn't we think of that before as a middle name? As we brushed our teeth that night I revealed the end of my thought and he had been thinking about that same middle name as well. Then we openly wondered if we would really go with the name Evan once we meet him.

September 5, 2007 our second son is born. We take long looks at him and cannot place a name for several minutes. What name fits his look? We have panic on our faces and hesitate calling family because we have no name. I finally have clarity of thought. What we love about the name Evan is that it is unique and doesn't have 'a look'. We don't know what an Evan is supposed to look like cos we have never known one. He will define what an Evan is on his own. That is why we want our children to have unique first names. He is named Evan Michael and his father begins calling the family.

The only thing we have left to say about names today is that if we are ever blessed to have a little girl, her name will be Violet. And if she has a sister, I am pulling for Amelia and he is pulling for Millicent.

9.30.2007

Like a river flows, surely to the sea

There are times when I open my mouth and it's the 12 year old me speaking. I normally don't realize it until it's too late. Until I glance at my husband smirking, waiting for my ears and brain to catch up to my voice.

A friend once told me that's why my husband and I make a great couple, he noticed how patient Mike was with my Lucille Ball moments. Keeping quiet and giving me small clues like a grimace or chuckle, guiding me back to the educated, occasionally bright grown-up that I am.

I mix up words. I get names wrong. I insisted in one conversation that the lead singer of R.E.M. was Michael STRIPE. There are times I speak with too much confidence and the other person might not catch it, other times my husband comes to the rescue and eases in the right information before the transmission enters the ears of another person. We're a good team that way, tries when he can to eliminate me creating an awkward moment for myself. Sometimes he's too late.

For years I would tell him about the time I met my sister's husband while they were dating; it was on the 4th of July. We all went to see fireworks and Karl Marx performed. He always smiles and says quietly, you mean Richard Marx? And we laugh. We will be 98 years old sitting on the porch and have that exact conversation all over again. And we will laugh the same together about it like it was new.

****

During our courtship, I took him to Vegas for his birthday so we could be sinners by gambling and making out like rock stars. I arranged the whole thing and was quite proud about it. I even got us tickets for an evening performance. We were so wrapped up in making out, that we were running a few minutes late. As we sprinted across MGM Grand (hey what can I say, I was a big spender) I realized I had no idea where we were supposed to go.

I finally spotted the concierge desk as Mike trailed behind me (he wasn't quite the marathon runner yet). I caught my breath and put on my proper adult voice to request the location of the magic show. She said we needed tickets, bla bla bla, make me more late why don't ya. Then I held up the tickets and inquired again which direction we needed to go to see the David Hasselhoff Show. She told me she had no idea what I was talking about. I was getting frustrated and more time was being wasted. Mike finally overheard my part of the conversation and leaned in casually to inform her we had tickets for David Copperfield. I turned 5 shades of red and shrunk to about 3 foot 2. We were quickly on our way and got into our seats just as the show began.

I love that we can laugh about that part of me. I love that he handles my verbal slips gently in a way that works with me and gets us where we need to be. Or that, at times, they are not discussed and never criticized. That sometimes I get angry with the B student in me, the lazy part of me that may surface at really inconvenient times when I wanted to make a good impression.

I love how careful Mike is to speak and choose his words. How he takes a moment before he explains something to gather his thoughts and deliver them graciously. I love that my goofiness adds humor to our marriage, even if they are little kinks I sometimes wish I had ironed out when I was 12.

9.27.2007

getting the shaft

It's funny how people always tell you how something is going to be. Logically, you hear it, but the emotions and feelings associated with it never connect in your brain about what that experience/ emotional tangle might be.

Having a second child I knew logically the world would not revolved around this one like it did with my first. I knew there would be guilt, I push it away from my mind several times a day.

With Zane, I literally stared at him almost every moment of the day when he was a baby. I studied every feature and examined how they all changed a little at a time. From the curves of his ears, the decoding of facial expressions, the shape of his toe nails. I remember noticing the day his finger prints were more distinctly raised and the day I felt hair starting to bud on his legs for the first time. I drank him in by the gallon for as long as my eyes would stay open. Then I would hop out of bed the moment I fell asleep to make sure he was still breathing. I think it's what some would call an obsession.

This time around, I spin my attention from one thing or person to the next. I multi-task and when I am sitting to nurse I think of all the other things I could be doing or plan to do next. I need to remind myself to relax and enjoy this baby more. I know it's normal, this different experience between mother and child. I also know he doesn't know anything different than a slice in the pie of my attention. And that makes me sad for him. Will there be a time he gets to be my obsession? It's only been a handful of weeks and I feel like I have missed out on him somehow. It's hard to describe. I guess I just don't feel like I know him the way I knew Zane this early on. If I was asked to draw Evan's face I fear I would miss too many of the fine details.

None of this, by the way, is associated with the measure of love. That's an entirely different topic and feeling. The love is just there all the same and just as big as the sky. It almost comes more naturally and easily because I learned how to love innocence and 2am screaming in the same spot deep down inside my soul 3 years ago.

9.26.2007

W4

Several years ago I had a job at a bank in a department that was sold off to another bank. I was either going to join another department or take a severance check. I wasn't intrested in either option and began to job hunt. I had ideas of getting another fancy bank job with all those benefits that someone of my youth couldn't possibly appreciate. I hoped it would be in Midtown Manhattan so I could shop during my lunch break and admire huge, flashing, sexy advertisements darting at me from every angle. I wanted to feel the heartbeat of New York with every breath I took.

At least that's what I thought I wanted. I started to wonder if there were other options, something less stuffy than a formal bank setting. Something that would allow me to be a little less corporate, but still professional in work and pay. That potential something came by way of headhunter within a couple weeks of my searching.

It was a job in Greenwich, CT. A locale thick with trees, Mecedes, and fleece pull-overs. It would mean leaving the urban plan and subway to hop into my car for a commute that could be upwards 2 hours one way. It would mean leaving the security and learned tricks of the banking world to figure out a new industry entirely. It was a risk I wasn't sure about. I spent the initial pre-screening process uncertain about my interest.

I remember my commute home one evening, transferring at West 4th Street. I had spent many hours pouring over the pro's and con's of this job prospect. I crawled out of my pounding mind and looked around from the outside of myself. I saw myself stepping down from the curb and crossing the street with yellow taxi cabs flying by. I watched myself pass the usual street performers and inncense burners. I determined on W4 for certain I wanted this to be my job. This would be a risk worth taking and an opportunity worth checking out. I would put my very best foot forward, research everything I could about the company and prepare myself for my best interview possible. I committed to giving it my all, my 110%. I packed up the fence I was sitting on and left if behind as I boarded the F train home to Brooklyn.

That moment at West 4th was important for me to determine the level of confidence and ability I would have going into the process of something new and different. If I went in with a ho-hum attitude or lack of complete interest in succeeding, If I didn't believe in myself I might not have gotten the job. A job that was my favorite, most memorable experience as a working girl.

*

People keep asking me how it's going with two kids. I admit I was terrified to bring a new one to the fold, uncertain of how I would do. I worried about all the things I might fail at and what challenges might face me that I might not be prepared for. Even once Evan was here, I cried in a room alone at the idea of my mother leaving my side and worried I would not be able to handle this on my own. I was on the fence, partly convinced I could not do this alone during the day.

Monday was a West 4th Street day for my new life with two. I decided when I woke up I would give it my all. I would be entirely patient, accept the energy I had no matter how little, focus on specific and realistic tasks, enjoy my toddler, and coo with my baby. I had a plan, I wanted to succeed and I determined it would be productive and positive.

I had the confidence to know I could handle it with a calm heart, even the scrubbing of accidents on the carpet from my toddler. I was amazed at what I accomplished at the end of the day and felt a sense of ability I had not felt as a mother before. I was happy with the way I divided my time between my children and the home and even had dinner on the table by 6pm.

*

Is each day a West 4th Street day? No. Some days are a train wreck. Tuesday was a train wreck and we had fast food for dinner. But it's nice to know a Monday Kind of Day can exist and can be my example for myself of what I can handle when I set my mind to it. And to accept that not every day can be like that. Many will not be.

So, how am I doing? Depends on the day you ask, and even that day my answer changes from hour to hour.

9.23.2007

turn, turn, turn


The seasons changing here is quick and if you blink you might miss it. But I had an exclusive clue, the lemon bush in front of my kitchen window begins to bear green little fruits right before Autumn. So once the green appears I hold it like a secret in my hand and wait for the cool breeze to roll in.

I caught it last week. I was sitting with Evan next to an open window and felt the first crisp rustling of the air blow through. It had the scent of fresh cut grass and the sound of leaves preparing their annual drift to the earth. It had the taste of pumpkin pie, Halloween costumes, and outdoor festivities. It had the feeling of calm and secure and newness. Autumn arrived and I welcomed it with open arms through an open window.

I took a walk with the older of my two and we saw a few leaves gently resting on the ground. It was nice to know even though I have locked myself inside for a couple weeks, I still caught the change of the season right on time.
photo from 11-06

9.21.2007

housewife crushery

Andrew Bird appeared on a re-run episode of Jack's Big Music Show. There's just something extra cute about a talented, accomplished musician when he sings to puppets for a children's program. He has a magical singing voice, give a listen here.




Shout Out Louds.......speaking of The Cure, this group has a similar sound that I adore. Someone told me about this band recently but I didn't follow-up on it (Brooke?). Two thumbs up, sort of that shoegaze, mellow yet poppy sound to me.

9.20.2007

remembering you standing quiet in the rain


UPDATED: Early in my marriage I realized I married a man who was not fond of writing poetry, engaging in public affection, whispering sweet nothings, writing love notes, or taking photos of his wife.

Searching for recent photos I have taken in my defunct digital camera card, I found this hazy picture of me. Most women would be appalled at the fatty chin and lack of grace in the way a hot, uncomfy summer day was stolen in the frame of a shot. But it made me smile to know I was captured by the man who flutters my heart in non-traditional ways.

I love this shot in all its unabashed, realistic, non-glamorous, husband-loving glory.

I love this marriage, these years where we try less to shape and mold and change each other and enjoy each other for who we are a whole lot more.

****
Hrm.

Later, upon further investigation, it appears the camera was actually in the hands of NOT MY HUSBAND.
O well. I guess I still love him.
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