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.
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