This week is Arizona's launch of the first Light Rail. It's free to all this week and all were there. We took the kids for this bit of historic experience and enjoyed the outing. I loved showing Zane the yellow A on the mountain I used to run up in college (for fun! and tight buns!) and the stadium where I used to walk past for parking 3400 miles away from campus and all the places that are the same in addition to those that have closed down or been turned into something new. Visiting your old college town with your kids is a trippy thing.

The best part of the whole experience was realizing people in Arizona do not know how to ride public transportation. It will be a community that will be learning together how to do the train commute thing. It was strange to me how familiar it felt getting onto a public space that moves ungracefully and packs with people invading my private space. How the subway, LIRR, Underground, PATH, and Bart were experiences I had to figure out while blending into a society that already knew how to do it. All I had to do was look around to figure it out; watch the tenured traveling folk.

But in Arizona it's a gathering of people learning how to do this for the first time in most instances. Things like how to stuff their bodies in quickly before the doors close, step into the middle so more people can get on, where to put your bike (not over my baby's head please!), how to hold on to a bar so you don't fall into my lap after each stop, how to control your kid in Heeleys (Lord help me I hate those things. mostly when they are rolling over my toes.), and how to move out of the way to let people off. There are all sorts of public traveling ettiquette and expectations that are only learned by experience and it was fun to watch and think about the learning and the people together figuring it out. It was like a giant social experiment.

I love the feeling of it being so new and touching it, being part of it. It reminded me of the Subway Series. Although I am not a big baseball fan, I loved being part of New York when the Mets and Yankees played during the Wolrd Series. Especially once I learned how rare that actually happens! And then after work one day I saw a brand new subway train roll up to my feet. It was crisp, sharp, edgey, and beautiful! I wanted to lick it, it was that squeaky clean. And it had both The Mets and Yankee logos painted tastefully on either side of each door. It was like Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx were all holding hands and singing Christmas Carols. Not really Staten Island cos no one really cares about that place. And don't even get me started on the the delicious cleanliness and updated colors of the inside of the subway cars and their pretty seats. I was afraid of soiling them with the lint from the back side of my pants. It felt good to live in New York that day.

And while we did not pass anything on our path as exciting as a wall with the words Times Square placed neatly into the historic tile of a wall during our adventure, it felt good to experience something new to Arizona. It felt good to live here today.


she might have a porcupine

* Illness twice this month with me and a nice, long round of sick with the boys has put a wrench in my lofty goals for December. Instead of stressing out and working OT, I accept that I was a whole man down for a far too many days during critical weeks of planned productivity and I am chopping things off the list. One big one is the Christmas card. Although we have over 100 stamps sadly sitting in their pack, they will be used another year. And I will start a new trend in saving money: Virtual Christmas Card! Not only will it save money and time, but I can reach more people without having to send 36 emails around tracking down new home addresses. I think it's a brilliant plan.

* I am glad that when I met one of my new neighbors in person, they only told me their first names. Because I don't think I could have kept a straight face if they told me they were Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I would have thought they were joking. But they wouldn't have laughed with me. And then it would be this akward thing and I would try to pretend it wasn't by suggesting they never name one of their daughters Winona. And they would ask why and I would say oh nevermind, it has nothing to do with Primus. Hey tell me more about your holiday plans!

But then I would try to make them feel better by telling them about a girl I knew who went from being Ms. Melons to Mrs. Tittsworth. And she happened to be obviously blessed in the general area these words bring to mind. Making matters a little worse? Or better? I can never decide.

* One of Evan's favorite things to eat are these things that are like graham cracker sticks. Although, unfortunately, they are called Morning Sticks. Really? They couldn't come up with a better name? For a children's snack? Is it just my sick mind, or are they 3 hairs away from calling them Morning Wood? What's wrong with calling them Graham Sticks instead!? I am telling you, it's all these pothead boys I dated in college growing up and getting jobs and making decisions they think are funny.


truth or dare

Years ago I attended a party where there was a white elephant gift exchange. I didn't hear about that detail of the party, so I didn't get to participate. It was hilarious to watch the collection of crap circling around the group. Pretty much everyone fought their guts out for the unopened can of almonds. My favorite item was the ironing board cover that was a doll in a gingham dress, complete with yarn hair and an actual fabric doll head that bowed down when standing upright on the ironing board. On my way out at the end of the party I noticed this treasure was abandoned; left alone in a corner. I still regret not bringing it home with me.

This year on my husband's side of the family, a family with about the same number of siblings as a small country, we are having our first white elephant gift exchange. You have no idea how excited I am about this. I have been dreaming for years about a day like this to come. I am so thrilled I have the desire to bring 7 gifts for everyone because I have so many ideas! I could play this game 12 times in a row and never tire of it.

Here are some of my ideas I might (or might not) deliver on:

1) A gift basket containing 15 different varieties of beans. Each wrapped with a decorative bow and treated like a Cuban cigar in perfect order and presentation.

2) A nice picture frame with an odd photo inside of it. Mike's bum. An 8x10 of an elbow. Close-up of a bowl of yellow corn. A chin. Portrait of ME, with a tooth blacked out. Autographed, naturally.

3) Who could go wrong with a mild, unused sex toy?! I am not referring to special man rings or penis shaped suckers. I mean normal stuff like whips, edible body paint or underwear, tassels, ceiling-installed trapeze kit. That sort of thing. The usual.
In my head it works out like that scene in Dumb and Dumber when he farts fire and everyone laughs in their Christmas sweaters.

4) A dashboard hula girl with a grass skirt that really wiggles.

5) One of those hats with the two beer, I mean soda, holders that have built-in straws that go directly from the cans on your head into your mouth.

6) A hat with a built-in mullet. Preferably blonde, tangled.

7) A hula hoop.

8) Plastic ice cubes with scorpions inside.

9) A giant, pretty wrapped box filled with rolls of toilet paper.

10) A plunger.

11) A tacky Christmas sweater.

12) A box of toothpicks.

13) SpongeBob Band-Aids.

14) Useful to me: I have a variety of odd Christmas decorations/ snow globes former neighbors have given me that I would love to unload.

15) A deck of Old Maid.

16) A package of Christmas tree lights. The last thing anyone needs a few days before Christmas!

17) A large box filled with various balloon animals.

18) Zane's preschool gingerbread house. It's a beaut! And only 54 finger swipes from the frosting on the roof!

19) Manila folders fashioned into the shape of a Christmas tree.

20) A bag of circus peanuts.


are you normal?

I love the sound of fingers typing on the computer keyboard, especially over the phone. It's like listening to the rain; very relaxing.

I love refried beans and could eat them every single day. They don't even really give me gas very much. [Was that gas part convincing?]

I hate keyboard sounds off of laptops.

I hate the sound of that bathroom fan above the toilet. And the fan above the kitchen stove. Like fingernails on chalkboard.

I have this irrational paranoia that anything and everything loose in the car is going to get wedged under the brake pedal and I will be forced into a head-on collision because the break will be stuck. I am overzealous about keeping the car free from things on the floor anywhere in the car. Penny. Sippy Cup. Sun shade. Hand sanitizer. Sunglasses. Paper art work from school. Pens. Bottled Water. Or the LID (certain death)! Power Ranger. Backpack. Cheerio. Goldfish cracker. Candy wrapper. Dust. I am probably more likely to get into a car crash retrieving things off of the car floor while driving than the actual brake getting jammed.

I officially hate running skirts. I have been on the fence with this one, until I saw ladies at the gym working out in them. Ladies, we should never see the inside of your thigh as it is spread and lifted from the other, especially if those thighs are not fit [shiver]. It just looks raunchy. Even on the babes. Like you should hand them a beer and they will open it by biting the top of the glass bottle off to drink from it. And then scratch their groin and pick their teeth.

I hate the Faux Stone Panels. I saw it first appear on homes 8+ years ago as an alternative to paint, as it was a newer home embellishment for the outdoors. It was different, not my style, but props for uniqueness. Now it is on the outside of Home Depot, McDonald's, Walgreens, Basha's, the post office, Wal*Mart, gas stations, Circle K, and if you look long enough at it, it will begin to feel as though it is growing on your face. It is everywhere and it gives me a headache. There are times it is done properly when there is a specific pattern, an even texture throughout, while following a decent color scheme. I will dedicate a picture day/ post to the do's and don'ts of this rock effect so you can feel me.

Bev Mo. This is a chain out west that sells...wait for it.....I bet you can't guess........beverages. And guess what they want you to think- that they sell MORE. Pretty much the most lame title for a beverage party store in the entire universe. Could we please petition for some creativity here? I know it's odd, but for some dumb reason whenever I drive past a Bev Mo I want to pull my hair out at how dumb the title is. And take out the florescent lighted sign with steel pellets from a BB gun. I don't know why it bugs me so bad. I guess I just think about the people in charge of naming the store and imagine the conversation going like this:

Person A:
Well, we sell beverages....probably more than any other store.....so how about More Beverages!

Person B:
Oh! I got it! "BEV" (pause for effect) "MO!" Get it? Like More Beverages, but shortened?! We can save money on the sign that way.

It's the end of the day and everyone in the room is tired and wants to go home. So they all agree and leave.

Tevas. I hate them. Forever I will hate these shoes. No one's white foot looks attractive or athletic with black straps all crazy criss-crossed all over the place. The only thing worse than teva shoes is a couple wearing them at the same time. Although, tevas with socks on is pretty bad as well. Just freaking wear flip flops people! Unless you are on a wet rock in the middle of the ocean often, I can't see why these shoes need to exist. And then they went and wove that navajo pattern into the black straps and it got even worse. I know I offend many here, as most people I know wear these. And you can make fun of me for my Old Navy flip flops with the chunk out of the toe Evan chewed off and I will laugh with you. Just know it's something I have to get off my chest.

I hate that flakey layer between the peanut and the shell that is sometimes left on the nut when you go to eat it. I would rather eat pubes than a peanut with one of those stuck to it. And when peanut brittle has that crap snuck into it all hidden, what a disappointment. Improperly shelled peanuts suck.


chetsnuts roasting

I know everyone else loves this time of year. I imagine it's the pretty lights and pine scented trees, happy movies, opening presents and some even acknowledge Christ was born. It's a hectic month that overwhelms me with stress and feels like a financial planning and calendar filling strung-out time of year. Every minute of this month sucks the wind out of me. It doesn't help that, in addition, I have this inner conflict regarding the whole Santa scheme we shove down the throats of our children. Grinchiness aside, one of my favorite pleasures of this time of year: The Baked Goods.

They come out of everywhere, really. For a non-baker (with a celiac husband) it's like Halloween on steroids. Every gathering I attend: a plethora of baked goods. It's like that dream you have as a kid where you are at this giant table filled with delicious food all over the place and you eat for hours like a king and more food keeps coming and you never get full (I know Shaggy and Scooby would know exactly what I am talking about). Only forget the food part, man, the table is only filled with beautiful, presentable sweets! Tender, soft baked sweets people cared and nurtured and crafted for your holiday pleasure.
The best places to score baked goods this time of year are church parties because people try to out-do each other and bring creative, original recipes of homemade goodness. Even better are the treats that come to your door! Or the door of the people you visit. My mother-in-law gets the truckload variety. Most are perfected, annual delights delivered to her door by fellow empty-nesters that have been doing this sort of thing for years. They have their recipes down pat and no one duplicates. It's divine. Ample supply lingers on plates all around her home. I try to be generous and give the rest of the family at least a few hours during gatherings to let them have their select choices. Then I can't hold back any longer. I devour. And then ask for forgiveness later when someone is looking for a chocolate treat for their drive home. Oops. That was me. Sorry? Eat faster next time?
{Liz, just don't be a pig, try to control it sister.}

I am selfishly indulgent this time of year when it comes to my delightful intake of The Baked Goods. Unless, of course, oats or raisins are involved. Gawgh that's the worst. Especially when you think someone is handing you a plate full of something warm that appears to have melty chocolate chips in it. I am going to make a holiday wreath to decorate my front door that reads:

Oats? Raisins? Don't Even Bother.
Take it Next Door.
Merry Christmas!


the year of smith and wesson

CNN is asking people what their plans for 2009 are in terms of personal growth. Since you have to sign on and create an account, I decided it wasn't worth my time sharing my short list of plans. So I will put it here. Just pretend this is CNN and I am an ireporter reporting on...myself.

Liz in Arizona, mother of two, doesn't have steep expectations for 2009. A new little one will be joining the fold halfway into the year, so she expects to be in survival mode preparing and adjusting with this family transition. Her husband continues to travel and her building development does not continue to build beyond the 5 homes currently standing in the ghost town she calls her neighborhood. That being said, she has decided 2009 will be a great year to learn how to use a gun. She will be taking on the new skill of gun handling and plans to hook up with a local shooting range as she enters January. Her main target will not be to kill another human should such a fool enter her home, but simply to blast off his genitals.

She is hoping her husband's company will be able to weather the economic crunch, however, plans to work at Auto Zone down the street (they are hiring!) if they find themselves in a financial pickle. And Del Taco, too, if need be. This is the year she is also going to master the art of food storage collection and rotation. And that about sums up her plans for 2009.

Birth. Guns. Genitals. Food.

I am thinking Liz should put some vinyl lettering on the walls of her home with these words to remind the family of her goals in the coming year.

This is CNN ireporter Liz signing off.


a letter

Dear Heavenly Father,

I know you know me. You know my heart, you know how much I wish for all sorts of important things around me. Much more important than the topic in this letter. I know you hear my prayers. I know you feel my unnecessary anxieties in life and help me work through them all. And that whole patience thing, man where would I be as a mother without your help in that department!?

I know you work all sorts of miracles, both big and small. I know you are the only one who could create the human body and all the specifics that make it work. I know you have the whole world going on with wars and awful things you are helping people understand. I also know you are around with the rainbows and inventions of great things like delicious baby swiss cheese. I know you are all powerful and totally in charge of this whole big place and all the finer details. I know you have reasons for things happening and not happening.

Because I know these things, I do feel it's okay to ask you this burning question I have. Why do we women lose out boobs when we have babies? I mean, I know they are technically still there. And we both know how long I waited as a teenager to get them. I prayed often to you for them to grow and boy when they did I was sure grateful! And then they kept growing and we can't deny they assisted in the attraction of my husband, who also loved them.

So we take on the role of parents and I know how pleased you are about families growing. So I give birth and nurse the baby. Which I offer is far easier an experience for myself than most- a gracious thank you for that. And then when the time comes to wean the baby we are sort of left looking like aboriginal women. And I don't understand why it needs to end this way for our womanly shapes. It's really quite the head trip between the sheets to work off all that pregnancy fat and then find you are a much different woman on the outside than you were not that long ago.

I realize we get all sorts of blessings from motherhood and all, and I get that it's not supposed to be easy. I get that it's non-stop and I always am working on better accepting there is no lunch break alone for a long, long time. And that's my job, to care for them all hours of the morning and night and I am glad I am home and able-bodied to carry out their needs.

It's just that when I step out of the shower and wrap a towel around myself to tend to another urgent child matter, it makes me a little bit sad that the towel falls down. It used to not fall down. It used to stay on, in fact, I probably could have run laps around the block and it would have stayed wrapped and upright. Instead of slipping down and unraveling.

Maybe my awesome rack made me too confident. Maybe I cared too much about it. Maybe I am supposed to connect and empathize with aboriginal women. Maybe we are not supposed to have the bodies we once did for a reason. And I am sure in your eyes 'fair' isn't really something we have time to talk about with so many more important things going on in the world. But sometimes it just seems like that would be one cool perk to give us after this whole birthing/ nursing/ no sleep experience.

I know, it's petty. Really. I need to just get over it. Or start to think about what you might think about plastic surgery. I really don't want to get fake ones, you know how afraid I am of just a needle drawing blood. I just am hoping to understand this one a little better.

I really love the clouds and blue sky a lot. And the green grass. And butterflies- those are among my most favorite of all of your creations. And my family most of all, thank you for them.

In Love and Curiosity,



take this pink ribbon off my eyes

I have a friend who has had the tragic experience of losing a baby at birth in addition to several miscarriages, some very far along in her pregnancy. Upon discussing her experiences, she commented on a relative who cried upon learning the gender of her own baby would be otherwise than her desires. My friend, so very confused, couldn't understand.

I love the perspective she shared and secretly remembered that I truly, truly wished for a boy during my second pregnancy. And felt some shame for how excited I was to find out I got my wish that day in the ultrasound room. Although it might have been wrong of me to have that secret wish, this time around I don't have as strong of a desire for one gender or the other, which surprised me. I've been pretty open over the years about my wish for four boys, as crazy as I hear they are through and through at every age. But I think about it differently now-a-days. I don't wish for a specific gender anymore.

This time around the peaceful feeling of hope for a healthy baby outweighs the gender game in my head. Also, the fear I have for being enough isn't there this time like it was last time. I know the Lord will bless me with the energy and patience I need to be able to care for my family no matter how overwhelming it may seem at times.

That being said, I will admit that if it's a girl, I might feel a little nervous. I have thought about those feelings a lot this week and realized raising a girl feels as though it comes with a whole lot more in the expectations department. Potential expectations of her, I imagine. Which could be entirely wrong, but boys just seem like they would be who they become, yes, derived from what their mother teaches them at home. However, they do draw a lot of experiences from their father as they will one day be a man, too, just like him.

I fear as a mother, as the female role model, I might fall short in the areas that are important for girls to learn from. What if she comes home pissed off one day that she is the only girl who didn't learn piano or quilting from her mother? Or cooking or singing or some other typical girl skill her mom just never had interest in. I can see it now, a teenage break-down right before she slams her bedroom door: DRUMMING and sarcasm?! That's all you've got for me?! Thanks a LOT mom. That's really going to win them over.

Because isn't that what's important to girls- winning them over? Being the most pretty and popular? Knowing how to fix your hair and pull together an outfit and be on the cutting edge of fashion? And what if I have a girl that has interest in all these things and I have to keep sending her to other people in the family/ friend circle to learn them? I'm not very good about being the kind of girl our society and culture tells us we are supposed to be. And while I appreciate that's who I am and have grown comfortable and brave finding myself in that different path of interest that strays from the mold at times, I don't know that it's something a daughter would appreciate.

Or she could turn out to be a tom boy like I was, after all, she would have two brothers follow. But if she doesn't, I want her to be who she wants to be and follow her interests and what if they are all things I suck at?

Overthinking this for a moment? Yes. But it sure feels good to get to the root of my feelings and understand what I am nervous about so I understand myself a little better.



I used to roll my eyes to myself when people would talk about the inability to gain weight. Who has a problem with that anyway? That doesn't seem like a logical problem to have. Here, let me lead you into the Liz Diet of Junk Food for a couple weeks and I will help you take care of all your woes.

So this last week I got to hear the baby's heartbeat and while I was still basking in the comfort of that sound, I was scolded for not gaining weight. Since when did I turn into one of those alien freak people with the 'inability to gain weight' label? I eat every meal, I have done nothing different. I ate an entire cherry pie by myself last week for crying out loud, I don't know why I am not gaining weight! I eat man portions, I order the Macho version of everything at Del Taco. I guess it's just that pesky food aversion list is getting longer by the hour for some reason. Who knew one would have a time in their life that a burger or fries could not be consumed if death was on the line.

When I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn’t buy Brandy!

And you: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed in Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenland!

So I heard the most remarkable words of support a husband could possibly breathe into his wife's ear during a time of womb growth: skip the gym today and go to the grocery store and buy everything that looks good to you.

Best idea e v e r! I took his advice. This is what it looked like:

Green Peppers
Cran-Apple juice
7 variations of The Frozen Dinner
minus the salisbury steak variety
hot pockets
ice cream sandwiches
flat bread
baby swiss
oh the baby swiss
you have no idea
tomatoes off the vine
Apple juice
Orange Juice
string cheese
cherry (ONLY CHERRY) yogurt
Triscuits- 2 boxes
peanut m&ms

I am turning to snacks more often between meals hoping this will make the difference. If I don't gain weight in the next couple of weeks I will have them check a little more closely for tape worms in my uterus. Or maybe there is a hole in my back and all the food is leaking out and I just didn't know it? Maybe there is a gremlin that lives under my bed and at night when I sleep it climbs into my esophagus and sucks all the food back up before it gets digested?


beefy treats

Last night I left my house at 7pm with my kids mostly ready for bed. Plan: hit the drive-thru pharmacy for Evan's ear infection medicine.

{Can I pause for a moment and allow myself to appreciate a pharmacy that not only stays open past 6pm, but also one that has a DRIVE FREAKING THRU?! If all pharmacies go bankrupt I will personally get 13 jobs to make sure my little CVS with the drive thru stays alive.}

As I dig into my junk pile, I mean diaper bag, to pay for the medicine I find the space that always holds my money card in my wallet is void. I know immediately where it is, that trusty golden debit card. Earlier in the afternoon I sped away with hot tacos in hand (the only companion to The Triscuit in this pregnancy diet of All Other Food Sounds Gross). I was so eager, too eager, to eat those warm and crunchy beefy treats that I left my card behind. This happens often in my life. Only I normally leave it in plain sight with high traffic, widely public areas for lots of people to have lots of opportunity to find my treasure. Airport phone booth, Post Office counter, Parking spot, Grocery store, Library.

It's Losing the Childhood House Key grows up and meets Real Responsibility, and loses it all over again and again.

My favorite part is Mike's role in this experience. Every time he has the same reaction. As if this has never happened to me before. As if we are dealing with this for the first time e v e r. He forgets this sort of thing happens to me all the time, and has all my life. Then he immediately assumes $65,464,572,678 has been charged in the "brief" time our financial ticket has been misplaced. Which , to keep myself honest here, is normally a good 48+ hours before I realize it's missing. And it takes me another 4 hours to retrace my steps with my blank memory, all the while promising him I know it's not stolen. I just left it somewhere- trust me. I experience this so often it's like leaving your CDs in the car and trusting the car wash people. Somehow they are still there when you get your car back every time! just like that. not smiling. it's okay. it's not stolen. i promise....

So Mike is incredibly patient and confused as to how exactly I could misplace something so valuable (and so often). Before I blink he has checked the account 5,000 times. And the best is how nonchalant I am about the whole ordeal because it's (sadly) as common an experience as getting an oil change. I have learned what Ebay proclaims: people really are good. And on the inside I think it makes him 700 times more concerned and frustrated, but on the outside he is insanely calm. A total cucumber. I love that about this man. He has the kind of control over his emotions top politicians wish they could have. He could really be a poker champion.

I wish I could blame it on hormone imbalance brain, because that would come to an end in a chunk of months. And it might work as an excuse for the dirty clothing I put unwashed into the dryer this afternoon. But let's be honest, I have permanent pregnancy brain here people. What can I say, it's part of my charm.


birds and bees

It's funny, the way people respond when you tell them you are expecting a child. When you have a bun in the oven, a fetus growing, a miracle from God inside of you. It's funny because 98% of the time the first thing that falls out of the mouth of the person listening to your announcement responds with this before you finish your smile and kills every ounce of excitement: Were you trying?

Um. What? I'm sorry did you just ask me if I was trying to create another human being? Because I'm just hoping with every thought in my head that the heart keeps beating every day. That's were I'm at. And hoping I get to keep my body safe and allow this miracle to happen and you just asked me about my sex life. Hrm. Well, let's whiteboard my ovulation cycle so I can prove to you my family plan, since that's everyone's main interest, and then next we can talk about the sexual positions we engaged in while we were, yes, trying.

The best was work colleagues when I was expecting my first at age 27. You see, in the tristate area women of my age were barely getting married, finishing their MBA Programs and thriving in their careers. Out east it seemed early to mid 30s was more the norm for starting a family. And by then you can afford a nanny, so it's only a mild interruption on the career front.

So people I worked in the same building with, they also had the same question. Which feels a whole lot different when you wake up in the morning, put on some smart business clothing with high heels and decide it's the day to share the news you have been excited to deliver. And in the hallways of florescent lighting when your little baby bump is barely starting to show, someone asks you if you were trying. Again and again the cute outfit and blow-dried hairdo suddenly melt off of my body and I feel like a giant vagina standing in front of Bert from Accounting. What started as a wholesome conversation about my family took a strange twist.

Well, Bert, um, jeez sorry I forgot to email the company on the distribution list when my husband and I decided to toss the condom and pills and go for it. I forgot that it was everyone else's business when my intimate life involves protection or not.

And then.... what if it wasn't planned? You want to know if we were two drunks throwing caution to the wind hoping that ol' pull and pray method works out?! How is the conversation supposed to go if that was the case?

Well, Bert, come into my office have I got some details for YOU! I'm so glad you asked because I have been dying to tell everyone about this child coming to an unprepared and scared shitless family!

I hope I never ask anyone if they were trying. I imagine I have wondered, but what gives me the right to care about someone else's family plan or possible oops? How exactly does that affect me and my life or how I view that person?

I don't write about this to offend friends or relatives who have asked us this, I can't even remember who the 2% were that responded positively at this point. No matter, as clearly I am not the majority anyway so I probably shouldn't be so confused about it all. I just write about it so I can remember how it made me feel. So if I ever wonder about it for another I can remember it's not my place.


you might be a redneck when.....

{Posed on his own in the $2.99 jammies.
Then Mike taught him The Kid 'n Play}

So as parents, I am sure there are silly ways we go about being a family in the privacy of our own home that might not be the norm. And you don't think much about until such things are brought to light in a public setting. Child flatulence, for instance, never ceases to crack us up. Call it the inner immaturity within us, call it what you will. But it's hilarious to us when our kids rip one. And it's even more hilarious when they come of the age to crack up about it, too. It's not something we have spent a great deal of time thinking about as parents, how to teach our children to manage the natural passing of gas in a public setting. Until now.

So in our church there is a time in the chapel where people are most reverent. It's during both prayers and the passing of the sacrament. It's also a time when parents are sweating bullets to keep their kids quiet, solemn, and peaceful. Thankfully, our kids were doing a pretty good job of this on Sunday. And then Zane ripped one. Not just a little one, a giant one that vibrated deeply through the fabric of the padded pew and ricocheted off the wood and then smacked us across the face on the way back up. It was a man fart. It could have easily been Mike's, but by the look on Zane's proud face it clearly was not.

Mike and I looked at each other with the typical plastered grins we exchange when our kids make loud noises from their bums. And then we froze with words, Zane was giggling and we couldn't pull together a straight face between the two of us to turn the event into a teaching moment. All was lost. And then. It gets better. Zane is even more proud we can't hold back our smiles and lifts a cheek, presses the air out of his stomach with all the might his little body can muster. Sacrament bread is heading our way and out pops a machine-gun load of toots from my four year old's rear end. It was like 13 in a row and his smile got wider as he let them rip; each louder than the last. We had no chance. We never recovered from round one, how on earth were we supposed to pull ourselves together and speak coherently now?

He sits pleased as punch, the most reverent of any other moment in the history of this child sitting through church. Tears are streaming from my eyes as I cover my face with a green hymnal to hide the explosion of laughter building in my red cheeks. I peek over at Mike to see him unable to address the situation either, looking down at his shoes while working hard to lose that smile.

How do you think Jesus would teach the little children to manage their gas?



I am learning to be less particular about my oldest son's wardrobe as we continue into uncertain economic times. That being said, I still try to find good deals at my favorite places where I feel decent quality might be had.

Today's need was church pants. I tried to look at Gap first because those always tend to last pretty well and take a good beating. Each pair of Gap church pants have lasted Zane, his cousin, and now the little brother without holes or seams coming apart. The trick is finding them at a good price. I found they had a good sale going on at an outlet- to me church pants at $14 that will last through the next size change is worth it.

They did not have his size. Old reliable next stop for me is The Children's Place. There isn't a lot I like at this store when I am being particular because their clothing falls apart quickly and normally follows goofy color schemes or lame graphics. They are always spot-on price for button-up white shirts and khaki church pants. They barely make it through the needed time before the next size is needed. Sometimes you can find them on sale for $12.

A major score at this store was pajamas. Again, I am normally picky about what I think the age 4 boy should wear and prefer the loose pants look. However, I scored some completely ugly, tight-fitting winter pajamas for $2.99. Can't find a better deal where new clothing is concerned.


...and then

I was putting the baby to bed this evening and thought to myself:

Who are the wise guys throwing golf balls at my son's window?

And where are they getting them all from and how are they throwing them so fast and hard?

But then we looked outside and it all made sense.


The last two Sundays were busy, so no camera in hand.

The first one I missed, if I had my camera, I would have shot my fav scene of the weekend:

a) All of us tucked into a giant heavenly bed at The Westin in Bellevue, WA with the covers pulled up to our chins watching cartoons early one morning before the sun had breakfast.

The more recent photo would have been:

b) All of us sitting on top of the piles of laundry that needed to be washed, in addition to the giant pile of Mike's dry cleaning that I kept forgetting to take in before we left.


Yesterday I saw the most fabulous rainbow. Even though it has nothing on the govenator rainbows often seen in his territory, it was rather spectacular. Also, nothing beats the scent of a desert getting a fresh drink of rainwater. Wet dirt in these parts, like the coffee bean and bread aisle at Walmart, make me want to curl up with a cozy blanket on the floor and lick up the aroma for hours.


raise the roof

People always talk about having a baby itch. I never had such a feeling. With every child we just knew it was time for us to begin the, uh [ahem] process of making a baby. There really isn't a way to smoothly transition from the topic of getting freaky bareback to front door mats. Or if there is, I am too lazy to try to find it this fine evening.

I am, however, feeling an itch for decorating my home. Unlike hot sex, I actually do not know how to do this. I don't know where to begin. I suppose people that have more experience decorating their space have good advice for me: start with one room at a time. But which room?!

I enjoy seeing the inside of homes after knowing someone personally or professionally for a while. I find it interesting that often times one's home is decorated and kept the way they keep their personal appearance. It's not always true, but I would love to photo journalize it someday so I am keeping a mental list of all those that follow my theory.

There was a woman I worked with at church on a project that was very careful with her words and I could tell she carefully selected every detail of her outfits each day with specific shoes to coordinate and jewelry to match. Not perfectly match as in color, but the mood or style of her threads. Her hair perfectly manicured without a strand misplaced. Nothing faded, nothing dingy, all things well kept and neat and tidy. I love being around people like this because it inspires me to want to clean up my act and try a little harder to be a tad more presentable.

The project we worked on provided and opportunity or me to drop materials off at her home. I was secretly hoping I would be invited in to test my skills at matching personal presentation to home vibes. I was spot on. I have never seen carpet more white and clean in all my life. I was nervous to walk on it for fear my veins would burst and ruin its perfection. Each room specifically tied to a design theme, many artifacts collected from her world travels and displayed strategically well. Not a speck of dust could be found, perfectly warm light surrounded us in each room we visited in. Her home was an exact replication of her.

And although none of the things she displayed were items I would personally pick or choose for my own home, it made me think about what types of things I would pick. And where in the world can I find them? And what colors make sense to combine? And what is a realistic budget to follow [not that this is any time or season to spend much on decorating walls].

I find this feeling of inspiration in many homes I have visited over the years, but feel uncertain about where to begin. Maybe I start with myself and try an intentional hairdo for once? Nah. How about a new, clean pair of casual shoes less than 5 years old? Maybe making some effort to wear clothing that isn't 3 sizes to big for me just because I hate shopping? How about I just start with my front door. A mat and some potted plants. I think I can handle that.


my plan:

1) measure desired size of mat
2) something that will go with color of the door: dark brown
3) randomly grabbing a cool looking one at Target isn't a great approach- too small (photo above)
4) something that doesn't say welcome or have words at all
5) nothing corporate or boring
6) start looking online and in stores
7) I don't like that rope texture that sheds



So yeah, Facebook huh. I didn't quite get it at first. I mean, there is Linked In where you collect all your professional contacts for networking and the like. That is an excellent tool, but not so useful to me as I took on the new career of chef, I mean janitor, I mean housekeeping, uh, I mean housewife.

So it all started with Blogger for me, a great plan for keeping in touch with distant friends/ family in addition to a creative writing outlet when the mood strikes my fancy. Or a virtual brag book documentation for some- whatever the purpose it's fine and there and available and widely utilized. And read by a mostly unidentified crew so who really knows if you are truly keeping in touch with people you intend to connect with or just hearing yourself *speak*.

Then I found Flickr to post on a sidebar the photos I took both creative or cute ones of my kids that might be less than creative. For the aunties and grandmas in the family that remember to save the bookmark and keep checking.

Next for me was MySpace. I didn't quite understand what to do with it. It seemed like a giant virtual orgy of girls posting their best cleavage and pouty face shots possible left and right. If you aren't single, it begins to feel rather uncomfortable to hang around such space. It felt like little to do with music and a lot to do with mate-hunting. Although I admit I did enjoy free access to some samples of bands I might not have otherwise made time to give a listen to. It is not all for not.

Now it's Facebook. I am also unaware of what to do with it, it's purpose in my life. My initial thoughts are as follows:

1) Wow, I was pretty late to the party. EVERYONE is on Facebook.

2) It's like the acceptable version of blogging for guys.

3) It's less boobs than MySpace and more professional portraits.

4) It sort of feels like Pokémon trading cards, like who can have the largest collection of friends listed at the end of every week should get 5 pretend bonus friends and look even MORE awesome!

5) I am not really sure what to do when someone I am not friends with by choice invites me to be their Facebook friend. What is the etiquette? It's not like I would call that person back if they left me a message on the phone or an email in my inbox. And most people in that category know that, so it's really me being a number on their friendship headcount and that makes me like that person even less.

6) It really is a blast from the past and like my sister said- it's like a high school reunion you don't have to go to. Only you get to be more selective about who you want to associate with and catch up with.

7) I linked my blog to my profile. Oh CRAP! Did I blog about any of them by name? Time to comb the archives.

8) I still don't really get what the purpose is. It feels like an ongoing life-long yearbook people sign sometimes. And maybe it's a good place for photo uploads now instead of Flickr? It feels strange to place faces together from different spaces of my life in different places. NY, CA, AZ adult life and now I am finding adolescent friends more recently. Perhaps it will be a great tool for me when I plan that whimsical 50th birthday party. Maybe one day I will get to track down Niya.


Silent Auction

Hilari and her adorable family won the silent auction photo shoot I held for the Neilson family.
I knew it was going to be a cool family to spend an hour with when the dad and the three boys rolled out of the car in their black converse. Mom did a good job art directing their outfits! They were a lot of fun and I hope they enjoy their photos. These are just a few of my favorites.


garlic naan

So I have so many things going on in my head right now I can't decide what to write about. I need to get them out so I can think straight and stop having these conversations with myself. Is that normal? Does normal even exist? I am pretty sure it doesn't. I suppose I will keep the heavy stuff tucked in for now and go with the lighter side.....

I lost some links with the crash of the hard drive and found some again. It was nice to only have 10 instead of 40 blogs to check, or so I thought. But then I was able to see Jessica had her baby! A beautiful boy that gave us all a big scare early in her pregnancy. And Tyler had another surgery, a little brave baby the same age as Evan, and he is looking great! And The Langfords are still teaching people about God in Guyana and they are so inspiring. And another Liz stood in the rain with Max for an important cause. And I got to see Laurel's front yard full of California leaves that I really miss along with all my friends. Alysha dressing cute as always, sharing her fashion skills with the world, as if they can handle it. And Kelly doing her orchestra thing and getting filled up the way we mothers need to. And Kathryn's cute party for her little girl!
I didn't miss out on earth shattering information, but I did miss checking in on my friends.

If done in moderation, checking in on the spaces they maintain makes me feel like I am still part of their lives and it makes me happy to read updates. It makes getting settled in a new place a lot less lonely while I continue to make and strengthen friendships and continue to find my place.

This week I found a park I finally like! We went in the middle of the morning spontaneously the way I used to in my former life. Like a dog running its course in the back yard, I miss my rhythm and routine that seems to not have fallen into place yet here.

When I lived in The Beautiful State I would turn left on Ygnacio (ig-nay-she-o) to get to Safeway, Dry Cleaner's, Bakery, Tara's house, Wendy's, Jamba Juice, my doctor's office, Christina's house, church, Cindy's, the women I would visit teach, Maria's house. All within 5 minutes. If I turned right I would find Target, Bally's, the pediatrician, downtown shopping area, Sargam Indian Food, gas station, Erewan Thai Food, the train to SF and The 24 within about 5 minutes. I took Marchbanks to get to preschool, the park, the skate park, the pool within about 2 minutes.

The only tricky place was Taco Bell. That took about 10 minutes and 3 turns.

Here every single place I need to go seems to be in a different direction. And 20+ minutes away. Which is a freaking hassle when you suck at managing your time and following any sort of schedule. How do you coordinate play dates on the fly when you all live so far from the park?! I would have to plan my whole day around making sure I am there on time and then it's pressure and stress so what's the use. And then there is that whole 'I am a late person what if they are not' factor that takes a few play dates to work out on top of the compatibility factor for both mom and kids. I have names and numbers and friends but I am not aware enough of all of our schedules. And when I think of the effort I get lazy and just imagine everyone else has their own routine and rhythm going on already.

I just want to get my routine back, but it's like fitting a circle into a square. At least I saw a beautiful skate park this week and it's my very first favorite place! It's a beauty. I got to roam around in it with the boys one morning and I was excited to turn to Zane and tell him THIS is where he will learn to skate as a big boy, Evan too! I want to take him there early Saturday mornings.

I dunno about this place. Sometimes I just really miss California.



This year's halloween brought with it some newness. A new 'hood with a handful of houses to trick-or-treat at, thus exploring a neighboring 'hood with houses aplenty. A new costume for Zane, but a repeat for the second one in line. A pre-halloween tailgate BBQ with new neighbor friends. A Halloween Miracle at Target, while racing against the clock to get a few items (buns, lighter fluid, candy buckets) I realized my wallet was not with me. A perfect STRANGER offer to buy my goods. I declined, but then realized how much I needed that lighter fluid for this BBQ for the party waiting at my home. Then he insisted the children need their candy buckets and plucked it all from my cart, which brought his meager bill of twenty-something dollars to something in the forties. I vowed to do the same for someone else another day and he said that sounded good. Good thing I was shopping in my slutty French Maid costume. Just kidding, I only wear that one at night for Mike. But my most favorite thing about Halloween this year was that we got to buy one additional pumpkin for the little pumpkin growing in my tummy! At the end of May (hoping all goes well) our family will become a party of five.


Our House

I have been thinking a lot about the word and feeling of 'home' lately. When we moved to New York as newlyweds, we felt we were leaving home. We never thought about that new state becoming a place we would feel or consider home. As we moved from one town to the next, we started to leave behind memories and favorite places and people behind. Some to never see again. Goodbyes made us feel like we were leaving another new home, but never feeling as entirely 'home' as Arizona felt. But even that faded over time.

California never felt like home because we never intended to stay for long. We didn't allow ourselves to fall too much in love with the idea of living there. Arizona had been our long-term destination since the very first flight we took heading east in 1999. We were so close to this desired location of 'home' we kept our sights on the desert and waited to return 'home', even though it didn't feel like home when we would visit.

Once we got here and moved into a new-to-us town we quickly realized it didn't seem like any kind of home to us. All the things we left behind on our trail of personal journey were so different than this place. We missed them all terribly. And although we have a lot of loved ones here we are glad to see more often these days, they are not our home. We are our home.

The feeling of home is never the walls we are inside of. It is not the grass I stand on as I water our garden. It is not even the kitchen table that usually has an empty chair. Home is when we are all together. The dirt or flooring under our feet doesn't matter, the words labeling which state lines we stand in is not home.

All of us in the car is home. All of us sitting in a pew together on Sundays is home. All of us sitting in the livingroom together watching Harry Potter on a lazy Saturday afternoon is home. Chasing the kids together at the park is home. All of us getting Bahama Buck's is home. Home is all of our seats filled at the dinner table. Home is all of us being together no matter where we are or what walls or sky surround us. It's a great feeling to define it. It's too bad I didn't realized this several years ago.


Moses had the children of Israel carry with them the Tabernacle (a large, portable temple) as they wandered in the wilderness. It could be taken apart and then put back together as they traveled. No matter where they set it up, it was the same temple with the same sacred ordinances occuring and the same level of importance it had in its prior place. I imagine the spirit and peace felt in those portable walls didn't change from place to place. That's the way I feel about home for our family. No matter where we live, us just being together where ever we are is the same kind of purity found in the traveling temple. We have learned to set up shop in a lot of different places and created our home together where ever we have landed.

We plan to be in Arizona for a long time, maybe even forever. There is always a chance, however, that things could change with Mike's job situation and the right opportunity for our family one day could bring us to yet another place. And it would be alright.


have a seat, this one will take a while

My husband and I were asked to give talks in church this past Sunday. I was pleased with myself for going into the ordeal with far less concern about getting more attention or making people laugh this time around.

The suggested topic was associated with this talk given by Elder L. Tom Perry. Essentially, when giving a talk it's always best to draw from personal experiences and invite The Spirit to help guide you in what to say and how to say it. That's the direction I took and found the path of my talk was easily found.

Elder Perry talked of life's ups and downs; times he was unemployed and then his wife was diagnosed with a life threatening illness. While there was an unusual amount of stress in their life at the time, he explained how they found a peaceful place to spend time together alone and talk. How they learned having a positive attitude and happiness were important for them and their children. He also said to prepare and simplify our lives.

I thought about my own childhood, the trials my mother has faced. Experiences tougher then I may ever fully appreciate. Then I thought about the happy times in childhood. I realized those times happened to be some of the years she struggled the most financially as she got her feet on the ground as a single mother with two small children. She was always positive and happy and maintained such a good attitude that we never felt the internal stress she might have been feeling as she learned to provide for us with very little means.

As her career developed and her finances became larger, our happiness was still there. It had little to do with the amount of money she had in the bank account, but everything to do with her attitude and example. Later she married a man none of us care to think much about today, but it's important to acknowledge his contentious and negative attitude brought into the home. It changed the family dynamic entirely. No one was happy when he was around, he was a total downer. It's been nice as a mother now myself to think back on my life and recognize what an excellent example of positive mothering my mom naturally taught so that I can decide for my own children to try harder to handle rough days or trials with a positive attitude and optimism. Many of us may experience unemployment in our homes in the coming months/ years due to this turbulent economy. Or perhaps some other trial we may not expect or know how to deal with perfectly. I hope that during my future hardships I can remember this lesson so the peace and happiness in my home will be the priority.

I also thought, while preparing for this talk, about how prepared my little family is for a financial emergency. How long could our means provide money for a mortgage payment without a regular income? How much food do we have on hand in storage? What can I do to prepare now while we have discretionary income should money be tight or scarce? What can I cut from my current budget to make more room for the things we need to be more prepared? What can we sacrifice now to be in a better position later?

Of course, the other component on this topic is spiritual preparedness. Having faith that the trials we get are ours for a reason. That we have to trust The Lord will help us through them and find what we need to learn from them. I will always remember my friend in New York, Jenny, and how different her reaction to 9/11 was. Most people were angry or confused when they talked about it, especially when viewing the rubble. She told me how she visited ground zero as it smoldered with her two children at the time and just wondered peacefully what are we supposed to learn from this? I was impressed with her clarity in throught and how much more beneficial that question was in healing from the circumstance and looking to The Lord in faith to help us understand what's going on and why.


In my HR life there was never an easy way to explain to an employee their experience with the company was coming to an end. But companies have to survive and make money so when times are hard, heads are cut. And cut again. There would be several rounds prepared, names on lists changing all the time. Managers would have preferred to let zero go, but they had no choice. They had a number and even some of their excellent employees found themselves confused as to why they needed to meet with us on a Monday morning.

But they had an easier market to jump back into then, I fear there won't be a market to step into. The jobs I would seek for myself would not be hiring, they would be cutting back. Things are not going to be normal in our economy for a while.

I don't want to be doom and gloom, but it's some of the thoughts I need to purge while I urge myself and my friends to just be as ready as we can be. If your family isn't going to be affected, maybe your neighbor will be. I want to be prepared and in a position to help, not need.

My sister-in-law inspired me to begin my food storage plan (including gluten-free meals).

Read a sample of her 3 month plan here.


My friend Anna wrote a really good post on this topic recently. Read it here.

p.s. she totally woke this guy up to buy cotton candy.


I think it would be really cool to change the view of the backyard cinder block wall. It will take a while for plants to grow.

It would be neat to plaster it out and press a complete, brightly colored table setting into the wall before the plaster set. One table setting per family member in different sections of the fence, different color setting per person.

Or imagine a tiny little tea cup set pressed into it. Anything would be better than brown. I might have Zane take the chalk to it next week.


guess WHAT!

I have all of my pictures back.

Every single one of them.

Every last snapshot.
[6 months prego w.Z above, 8 months below]
[above is the day i had evan!]

I like Kelly's idea of burning them all onto discs and then I am going to keep them in the safe.