7.30.2007

goodbye, July


My thoughtful package for July is for a friend who visits me each month to make sure I don't have any needs. To make sure I have friends, feel included and important and part of my ward family at church.

She is my visiting teacher, the first person I needed to rely on in a massive crunch since living here. She watched Zane while I had my Stereotactic Core Biopsy (check for breast cancer I wrote all about here) while Mike was away on a business trip. If she did not visit me those first couple of months I lived here, I would not have felt comfy asking her for such a huge favor. A favor she willingly did without hesitation. It honestly felt like I had a guardian angel plucked from the sky, it meant that much to me.

After many years in an amazing house, she is downsizing as an empty nester and moving into a newly built home soon. Leaving the one she has touched well with her personal home decorating skills. While she probably does not have need for a single material thing, I still keep thinking about her for my thoughtful package this month. It's a simple idea I hope won't become clutter in her life.

I chose a citrus fresh hand lotion from L'Occitane to help her with "refreshing" ideas for her new home she will enjoy decorating. I also included some magazines that might inspire home decoration ideas.
It's nothing spectacular and may not even be something she would choose or use, but I am gonna go with it and write up a nice little letter letting her know I was just thinking about her this month and hope her stress isn't too high with the changes going on in her life. If you haven't chosen your thoughtful package person, maybe send an email or make a call to tell someone you appreciate them who wouldn't expect to hear it.

7.25.2007

the res


i love to stop and look at different generations and think about what their lives are like. how different they are than mine right now. it gets me thinking about what i want my life to be like when i am older. i realize how temporary "now" really is; good and bad days alike.
walking with other moms around a resevoir back in spring, we all had our strollers pushing along our freshly curious toddlers. 4 of us, all pregnant with various due dates discussing current food aversions and cravings. one loved refried beans, another fruit. i couldn't handle onions, and another could only eat baked chicken with nothing on it or a corn torilla.
as we huffed and puffed up a hill, a group of senior citizens merrily passed us by, some glancing over their shoulders and smiling at one of the children. i wondered if they were thinking back to their birthing years.
i loved the idea of outdoor activity that much later in life. still having friends to enjoy the outdoors with. conversation about the 'now' moments that just need to be heard or swapping stories about the grandchildren.
at the top of another hill we caught our breath. the sky and green life around me surrounding the fresh water made me feel so alive. i turned to see this little group taking a break in the shade on a picnic bench. it was an image that matched my train of thought. if i could paint a picture of a slice of life in my retirement years, this image is what i would plaster the canvas with.

breath

Over the past 3 years of being a mother, there are some mornings I am haunted with a thought that takes me a few moments to shake.

I take a good, long look at my son's innocent face as we stand in the kitchen getting ready for breakfast. I gather in his bright blue eyes filled with wonder. curiousity. happiness. comfort. I have an eerie feeling about how normal the morning is, after we get our kisses goodbye from Mike and begin our regular day.

Some mornings like this I develop a sinking feeling in my chest as I hear his car drive away. My stomach is flipping pancakes while I imagine the horror of the morning of September eleventh. And the scars that were left behind a lot deeper, more raw for other families.

I imagine a specific story of a mother who got a call from her husband who was on one of those fateful flights. I imagine, like my typical morning, her children were eating breakfast and the phone rang. As details of what was going on unfolded within her ear she looked at her children and perhaps began to tremble. Or maybe she was too shocked to react at all. He told her where to find the paperwork in the desk to arrange for life insurance. I can't imagine recieving a call such as this. I can't begin to imagine what words she pieced together when the reciever left her hands. When she had to turn to her look into her children's faces and deliver such shattering news. To know what was about to happen and to not be able to stop it. Life changed for everyone that day, but for families like that changed isn't enough of a word.

I have a quiet little wish in my heart those mornings as we say goodbye, that Zane's Daddy will be back that night. And every night.

7.23.2007

storehouse story

Sometimes I feel somewhat spiritually numb and show up to church on Sundays with a bad attitude. I am sure it has nothing to do with me being the slug in the family, causing us to arrive very late week after week.

Some weeks I am not feelin' it, the topics people speak about bore me or seem cliché. I don't feel like being social. I just want to be in my bed sleeping. Or watching MTV. Or eating. I am a loser that way sometimes.

So I remind myself my religion is more than being in a building every week and soaking up spiritual goodness, which actually does happen some weeks. That part of it for me, church on Sundays, is only a tiny sliver in a grand haystack.

It got me thinking to times in my life when I was moved without expecting it. The times I might have been asked or called to do something I would have never volunteered for and perhaps went forth with trepidation. The times I put my charity hat on and ended up with an experience that touched me spiritually in ways not always felt inside of a church building.

++

One thought brought me back to when I lived in Brooklyn several years ago. Very few people have cars there because the subway is easier. And, well, if you saw what our car looked like once we left and the colorful language awesome people scratched onto it, you would understand it better. We were one of few families at church with a car. My calling with the Relief Society coupled with the convenience of having a car led to a request for me to assist with delivering food from the bishop's storehouse to those who needed it.

It would be a lie to not admit I did not want to get up early each Saturday, untruthful to say that I did not grumble about it. I would be remiss to not offer that some neighborhoods I would not feel comfortable entering in broad daylight.

But it started to change me after the first time I went. I arrived to a really small storehouse that contained a few refrigerators, several cabinets, and one single man coordinating a lot of food inventory and a lot of orders for several wards and branches. He was an older man, a little slow moving, but direct and efficient. It humbled me to watch him in action. I wanted to be like him.

Each week Mike went with me, I never had to ask. His example of duty was a strength he never realized provided me more backbone than I had before. He navigated our car packed with food and took the heavier boxes up flights of stairs as I trailed behind with the plastic bags that contained lighter items. The feelings we had together in that car, making those trips and bringing people food for their families, were some of the times I felt closer to God in all my life. I never felt like I was giving enough. I always walked away wishing I had cleaned out my own cupboards for them and gathered personal belongings I regularly used so I could sacrifice something beyond just my personal time. I would get back into my car at the end of the afternoon with a soberness of gratitude and a little embarrassment for all that I had- for how good I had it and I didn't even know. From my shoes to my health, from my teeth to my food.

We later got moved into another ward due to boundary changes and the first Sunday there was an announcement over the pulpit that a man had passed away, leaving a widow behind. I don't recall the medical condition that was described, but I recognized the name. It was the man in the storehouse, he was gone. Each Sunday I looked at his widow and saw rays of light beaming from her. I just wanted to tell her what an amazing person I knew her husband was, despite the little interaction I had with him. I wanted to tell her how our Heavenly Father must be so proud of him and his service. How he made me want to be a better person.

So on Sundays when I am not feeling it, I remember solid times that whispered in my ear what life's like when I try be more like Christ. How I sometimes learn how to in that brick building, being near people who are also trying. How I learn from others' Brooklyn Storehouse Stories. How callings or needs for charity change me when I participate, albeit at times with a sour heart initially. How I also find it in the world around me outside of the building and in the fiber of who I want to be.

7.22.2007

welcome to the cheap seats

The Kid has officially dropped. With about 1 month left on the clock.

I basically woke up this morning, got out of bed and with each step found that it's like a wrecking ball is slamming unto my bladder. No wonder it felt like my pelvis was ripping apart the past couple of days, he needed to hunker down a little further with his giant head.

***

My bag is packed. My oldest son's bag is packed. The baby doll decoy for Toddler Shadow has been purchased. The 'Big Brother' T-shirt has been made for the first time he meets the youngest. People are on my emergency list, ready to take The Z.

The undone:
select baby name
purchase sexy nursing pajamas (as if they exist)
pack toothbrush
wash one more load of baby clothes
scrub entire house with elbow grease
clean car
install car seat
arrange nursery
arrange baby station in my room
get gifts to and from each boy
call list
new baby blanket special from me
good camera charged, extra camera packed
cash in on as much sleep as possible

7.20.2007

fight fire with fire

My mother called this morning to ask me about the earthquake centered in Oakland.

My response was oh yeah, the earthquake.

Since when did an earthquake become an afterthought in my often-panic-stricken mind?

Mike felt it "rumble and then shake a little". This one was further away than the last we felt. We were also on the top floor and sleeping in bed, so we were distanced from the earth. I think I might have heard something rattle in the kitchen for a moment.

+++

My early morning telephone conversation went on to another topic. My mother informed me lighters are now allowed on airplanes. Awesome. I imagine the moment that was announced all of al-Qaeda gathered immediately for a meeting to put some destructive plans together, laughing all the while at how this changes their current blueprints into 13 less steps while they eagerly work towards blowing us all up in the air.

All I have to say about it is that I am not boarding a plane until I complete courses in Fire Breathing.
While I add lighter and unicycle to my list of things to pack into my carry-on bag.


7.19.2007

what i love

Is that I have a husband who knows I am not a girl to swoon over a fancy purse, shiny jewelry, or exotic trips to Tahiti. Not that those things aren't awesome at times, but it's more simple things that I need on a regular basis that sweep me off my feet.

I blush at the surprise kiss gently applied to my neck when I least expect it.
I smirk from a love pinch while I cook dinner.
I grin with the naughty emails he initiates.
I enjoy hearing about the times he thinks about me on his drive home or during a meeting.

This girl, stealing a line from The Stone Roses, can explain easily what she and most girls probably want:



I WANNA BE ADORED.


7.17.2007

no really, thank you

When mailing a pile of thank you notes to family and friends for the gracious gifts given for my son's third birthday, it's probably a good idea to pay attention to which stamp each family is getting before sticking them all on.

The Star Wars Collection, for example, has many pretty photos of Luke, Princess Leia, and Queen Amidala. Even Chewbacca is a nice one, might make the family smile and want to watch the movie.
When you get to the bottom of the stack, however, and the last thank you note to mail is for the great grandparents, you are kind of screwed when you only have these two stamps left to choose from.


7.16.2007

the cake

I just recently wrote about some of my friends. Some of them totally came to my mind this weekend. I have a handful that are so amazing at baking and really plan and execute the most stunning birthday cake plans for their children you will witness in your entire life. They are quite talented, I love their attention to every detail. And I love to eat their cakes.

I also love them for knowing the birthday cake is an afterthought for my parties. The boxed mix and canned frosting work for me, and even that sometimes gets a little ruined.

This weekend, for example, my boxed cake and canned frosting cake melted in the heat of my sunny kitchen. It was like a middle school volcano science project. It was not edible, not to be served. This was not discovered until 30 minutes before the party began at another location. I handled it well, planned to get a grocery store birthday cake along with balloons.
*
With minutes to gather said items, I rush to the bakery counter and find a rather special man approaching. Special as in a little different and awesomely unique and I am totally confident he can help me. I ask him to write Happy Birthday Zane on top of this overly frosted cake. I leave to get the ballooons while he works on the cake. I am satisfied with how much better this cake will look instead of the erupted volcano oozing on my counter at home.

I wait for 20 minutes for a few measly shots of helium. Apparently, Safeway takes flower arrangements quite seriously. So, if someone is in front of you in line with flowers and you are in a hurry, just realize you are going to be very late. I go back for the cake balloonless and talk myself into being okay if balloons aren't going to work out because I need to leave this store before I claw someone's eyes out. It is just all taking way too long.

I get the cake and I stare in amazement and wonder if it's written in Japanese. Upon first glance I cannot identify a single letter.

"It looks nice, doesn't it?" he asks with a proud smile.

I say yes and thank him. I go to retrieve the balloons, staring blankly at this messy script with every step. I don't have time to try again and there is no other bakery man behind the counter. It has to be okay. I smirk at what other people would do, my friends that put more stock into the cake, and they are on my shoulders encouraging me and telling me it's fine. I finally get the balloons, after she pops one, and I am on my way.

The party was awesome, even with one less balloon and a cryptic cake. I find gratitude in the part of me that is okay with imperfection, that B student in me, especially in crunch time.

7.15.2007

golden gate stretch

Dear Friend,
It's been a while since I last wrote. I have had visitors that have kept me busy seeing fun things, laughing, and waving goodbye. Will write more soon.

Love and Rockets,
liz

7.10.2007

3


Heeeeeeeeeeeey. What?! Jim Morrison started out this way!
He'll eventually learn to face his audience, too.
***
I remember the very first drop of blood I ever saw come from his tiny body. He had put his fingers into the cooled baseboard heating panel while I was on the phone with my mother. He did not cry, he just left smears of blood on the yellow wall as he 'cruised' unsteadily along the perimeter of his bedroom. I hung up in a panic and my heart raced as if it was the end of his life. I just never imagined my little flesh and blood was actually going to spill blood. That one drop felt like a tragedy, as if I was an unfit mother. BLOOD! MY SON! HOW?!
Today he turned three. I casually blotted his skinned knee, which he had repeated scabs covering several times this month from tripping over air. There was no panic, there were no tears (from either of us). I didn't hesitate to apply pressure, clean, and bandage as I carried on a conversation with a friend. He wriggled all the while, ready to go out and have fun being a boy. Rough and tumble and occasionally bloody.
Who knew 3 years later it would all be so different, so much more fun?

7.08.2007

they luv you

Here's another one for your ears. Been a bit behind in music updates as my stereo has been stuck in the 90s again. So here's a fresh-to-me sound from the UK.

The Ordinary Boys



Here is one of their videos. I like his voice. The lyrics and beats are relatively simple, but capture you the way The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" hooks your heart the first time you hear it.

Some of their influences: The Smiths, The Kinks, The Jam, Elvis Costello, etc.

7.07.2007

you are my sunshine

We know where we have been: 54% humidity, 74 degrees in New York.
We know where we plan to go: partly couldy, 109 degrees in Arizona.

And we know where we live now: breezy, 74 degrees in California.
So we can sit back and enjoy a cool breeze in July and remember how good it feels. For this slice of year-round heavenly weather in our lives will not be for always.

7.06.2007

you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip

My first real job, one that actually provided a wage that would allow me to live on my own, was as a collector for overdue credit cards. No matter how bad of a day I had, when I strolled into work a lot of people had it a lot worse. Tens of thousands of dollars of debt worse. It wiped away my worries of getting a low test grade immediately.

I became pretty good at this job, I found the secret was to be sweet as honey. Getting them on the phone- that was the trickiest part of the job. I had to pretend I was a friend calling, casually act is if we knew each other.

I had a headset connected to a computer screen and accounts would pop up at the exact moment the call would automatically ring the cardholder. Sometimes there was a lag and I would have a person on the phone and no information for a couple seconds. That's when I just began small talk.

Hi! How are you doin'? What's up?

Then I finally get the information on the screen while they tried to respond and place my voice.

Oh, this IS Jake, isn't it?

*

I learned to read fast and hopefully pronounce the names correctly or the call would be over. The real Oz would be revealed. Nguyen was one I never got right, e v e r. Sort of like getting off the chair lift with my snowboard attached. I just didn't even bother to try, jumped onto my knees and crawled out of the away. I hoped the next person who called Nguyen would be able to say it properly.

Then there was another classic that drove me NUTS! A name I got wrong only due to the split-second pressure of reading without thinking.

Hi, is this Jesus?

I knew as soon as it rolled out of my mouth the call was done because I didn't pronounce it with the proper "hey-zues ". I had to put it on mute or hang up because I could never compose myself fast enough, it just sent me into fits of embarrassment giggles. Those calls never ended with a payment arrangement.

7.05.2007

the rainbow connection

Some days I ponder what the real priorities are supposed to be for us on this earth. There are so many that are easy to forget about when going through the motions of running a household, feeding and tending to children, work or church duties, social interests, etc. It's refreshing to remember the simple things count, too, and are also important. I have had someone tell me how much a simple hello or smile made them feel on a lonely day and this quote sums it up well.

"Your calling is to bless lives. . . . Just the way you smile or the way you offer to help someone can build their faith."

Elder Henry B. Eyring

7.03.2007

i shot the sheriff

A pregnant lady walks into a gun store with a toddler and a diaper bag.

That's the start of a real story, my life, one day last week. Kind of like the start of a bar joke.

The dad wanted to take the son to the race tracks. The son needed ear protection. The kind that look like giant headphones to a 70's record player. Those.

The husband sends me to a "sporting" store with an address. I go, expecting REI on a smaller scale. "Sporting" in my mind didn't translate to THINGS THAT KILL PEOPLE AND SLICE ANIMALS store.

Let me tell you about the best part of the whole experience, besides my face as I entered the door (his tiny hand in mine) and found myself speechless when he asked what are those pointing to a glass case full of DAGGARS. They are not volleyballs, son, that's for sure. This was not the store I thought was on the other side of the door.

*

We carefully make our way to the front desk, boy pulled tightly close to avoid spilling boxes of bullets or stray rifles on display at the counter. There are several grisley men "trying out" different types of empty guns, aiming them past us at the wall. Awesome.

A man with a hesitant look approaches me and isn't sure what to say. I smile and request children's ear muffs. I pull Z to me even tighter and follow the man down a skinny aisle, guiding the diaper bag behind me and gently aiming my belly away from the end cap display of gun powder. I am having a hard time holding back my smirk at how odd we look in this store, all three of us. Totally pretending I come here all the time, like I know exactly what's going on and what we need and what that strange thing in the blue package is all about. TOTAL regulars, you better believe it.

As he selects a few options, he finally turns to me with a red face...

"How old is your son?" Avoids eye contact.

Oh! He's three! Proudly, as if it's small talk at the park.

"And.....you're taking him...............shooting?" he slowly asks with a nervous half smile.

I explain he is going to see real race cars and needs ear protection, then we get down to business and the awkwardness leaves the building.

As curious as I am about the world of how to select the right gun for what (much like my comic book curiosity), we leave quickly with the ear muffs. I silently wonder how much more fun that visit could have been if I had made random comments about a cheating boyfriend and questioned him about the price of an Ak-47.
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