Then Aubrey had these super clear and awesome videos, which have since been taken down. I vowed to email her and ask her about it so I could join the party. But I never did.
So when Ian and Sheri had their awesome playlists rockin their site I knew it was meant to be for me, as well. So hurrah for getting the music to the people for free!
p.s. the awesome thing about playlist is you (the reader) can turn it on and off like a radio. You can also remove it from my site and play it while you go to other websites (click 'launch standalone player' on the bottom of the box; my mom will love this feature).
And the playlist combos are limitless! Irrevrent, 90s, #8s that are great, girl bands, ska, heartbreak, running, roadtrip, dancepartyUSA, top ten of a single band, big hair bands, jockrock, you name it! You should put one up too, it's great fun.
California is always beautiful. No one ever talks about the weather. Ever. Even in the spring. It just gets more beautiful. Most lifers here don't even take much notice to the bright colors covering the hillsides like soft baby blankets. Purple, white, orange, red, and yellow gently hover on top of the brightest and most abundant green grass I have ever seen. It's like when you use a popcorn popper and get all excited when the popcorn knocks the lid off and overflows. It almost seems fake, like a really big painting. Like I am living in The Truman Show movie. Like I can kick over the acrylic on canvas set that appears to be sky, mountains, hills, beauty. Unreal is a word I mumble often as I drive down any freeway, thinking Ireland must be more than my vocabulary could describe.
And it's not mine, California. I am just borrowing all of it. We never have intended to live here for a long time. It's a resting place for a bit that I wish I could package up like the folding chairs and take with me, where ever it is we decide to land and plant some roots. Until then I am living with a walk-on part of a background shot from a movie I'm not in.
I stopped agonizing about all the things I can no longer accomplish in a regular day like I used to. I stopped missing my less-interrupted flow of doing and going and fell into somewhat of a routine. My days began to take shape of something predictable, to a certain extent, and I stopped warning Mike about this idea of being all done with kids RIGHT NOW. Although both in a doctor's office after a long wait might always merit such warnings. I also think One realized the Other wasn't going back into my belly and has done some admirable adjusting, getting used to a new routine.
I remember for the first several months I had a pit in my stomach every day for two reasons:
1) Zane was missing so much of my time that we enjoyed spending together. Not necessarily a scheduled class at a place and a thing we did, just hang out time doing random things like getting cookies at the bakery on a Tuesday afternoon or playing play-doh to fun music and marching around the kitchen together. There just used to be a lot more extra time to fill. Blank spaces in the day to use any way we wanted to.
2) Evan was missing out on SO MUCH of me Zane got to have as a baby. This baby was literally placed on hold while I would assist with a bathroom emergency with his brother or catch Super Zane from kitchen counters. It didn't seem fair; I was feeling so distant from my baby.
I felt they were both getting shavings of me that couldn't possibly be enough for them to develop normally. Their basic needs and safety were intact and that seemed like all I could offer and that bothered me. I wanted to be two of me so they could both get 100% of what I have to offer. But that's not reality and a stubborn girl doesn't want to accept that. At least not for a number of months, anyway.
A day is a day. My mom would tell me that every time I would call her to cry over feelings of inadequacy or vent about a frustrating day spinning out of control. I finally let it make sense to me. Some days Evan gets snuggled a lot more and talked, plus songs from his mommy. And it's alright if I don't match that attention equally or even by fifty percent with his brother. And it's alright if Evan sits happily to watch Zane and I play Candyland as he is the one to get more cuddles another day. It's also alright if too many cartoons are watched one day so I can accomplish necessary household chores and administrative duties. By the end of the week, it seems to feel balanced and I am finally content with how this must have to work. So I can laugh again, smoothed out the worry crinkle on my forehead and enjoy these awesome people in my life. They know I love them even if they are all getting much smaller pieces of the pie than I would like to offer.
My preschooler always asks what the men are doing and admires the tool belts. We talk about what they are doing as sweat drips from their heads and their hands continue to callous. We watch from an air conditioned car that will probably never leave us stranded and leads us into a drive-through where we are handed food to eat in our air conditioned home or leisurely at the park. Those are times I am always tempted to stop by the median again and hand out Whoppers and Otter Pops.
It's also times like that I think about the dignity it takes a man to do a job like that. To do something physical with his hands to make money for himself and/or family. I think about the way we speak of this man I want to teach my son to notice him and appreciate him and his work.
And then I wonder if he will figure out on his own that it's not necessarily a desirable job to have, even with the cool tool belt. What age will he be when he starts to think about matching his skills and interests to a future job and relate it to what kind of income it merits. And how will I present this information to him? If he is really good at being a tattoo artist, for example, and has this talent to develop I want him to find every and any way to learn it better and improve himself to do it the best he possibly can. Not just so he can be happy in his chosen career, but so he can be marketable in his profession and provide the best he can for his family.
My step dad wasn't the most awesome person I have ever met. But something about his stories of digging ditches and framing homes in the Arizona summers along with the constant reminder of him regretting his lack of education resonated with me as a kid.
People giving lessons at church often like us to participate so they don't have to do all the talking. I have no problems with being the first to break the silence. I just don't always wait long enough to make sure I know what the lesson is about. Or long enough to make sure what I am going to say benefits the direction of the thoughts previously stated. But I keep doing it and it has become funny inside my head when it happens.
I normally enter the room late while the lesson has been going on, probably from wrangling my son into his class or feeding the baby. I take a seat and catch the tail end of whatever the teacher is saying. I only know she is taking pause and waiting for someone else to speak, answer her question or offer a precious piece of testimony. My arm shoots up before I can think and I am pleased to see her relief to know she has a participant! That's when I realize I might as well have said "space ships go really fast" because the words I offered had nothing to do with lesson. The teacher responds to my comment with a blank stare and blinks a few times. Then someone rescues me by sharing input more fitting to the topic.
I have to hide my smile and pretend it didn't just happen. The humor inside me that I did it again when I know better; remembering that I still don't stop myself very well. I force my bursting laugh to stay inside like helium in Mylar. Because sometimes that's how it feels to embarrass myself. It's like an addiction, it sort of feels bad in a good way.
This part is fun to sing along to:
i like boys with strong convictions
and convicts with perfect diction
underdogs with good intentions
amputees with stamp collections
plywood skinboards ride the ocean
salty noses suntan lotion
always seriously joking
and rambunctiously soft-spoken
On a separate note, I am feeling less thrilled about the band Angels and Airwaves (A&A) the more I listen to them lately. It brings up the age old question: what is important in music the lyrics or the music? To me both, probably to most people the answer is a good blend of both.
With A&A I am completely smitten with the sound all instruments create together. They create a collection of melodies that make you feel like you are lifted off of the ground and in a sort of in-between place. Sort of like things around you are on pause.
But. BUT the lyrics and even at times the singer totally kills the vibe. You are enjoying it and then you stop and think about what he is actually singing and you lose the momentum of the groove. Really? You couldn't have come up with better words? You can't make your voice do something more?
I think I have grand disappointment in this band because I was hoping the reason he was no longer part of Blink-182 was for a good cause, something better. Musically I would say yes 110% it's there. Lyrics and such, not at all. They need to replace the singer and they will do much better long term as a band.
You know when you have this taste for a thick glass of freshly squeezed orange juice? Listening to them is like expecting that, but getting Sunny Delight instead. Or even Tampico.
Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State
I heard this quote last week and I have been thinking about it a little. And I decided I like it. Although, it's not a hard one to like. I think I naturally try to be a relatively helpful person any time I have the opportunity. So if that's the only requirement........
But that is not all it takes. You kind of have to love people and stuff. Like children. Other people's children, that one isn't so easy for me. Don't get me wrong, MY kids and my nieces and nephews are easy to love. In addition to my friends' kids. And the sweet ones. Those ones are all on my team. It's not a secret I try to hide, although it's not something I would say I am proud of. I need to work on it.
When I moved here I was 'scouted' lovingly and rather candidly by someone who was looking for assistance with the children at church (The Primary). They always need extra hands on Sundays, it takes is a lot of people to make the program happen smoothly. After I shuddered, I ultimately shared with her my feelings about dealing with other people's brats. Nice introduction, ay? Don't you want to be my best friend?
This year my oldest son reached the age to enter Primary. Those first weeks he struggled with the transition and I did my best to help him transition and encouraged him to stay in his seat, or at least in the same room.
As I sat down next to him I glanced around at all the boys and girls in their seats; wearing their finest Sunday apparel. My heart softened as I realized every single one of them was an example to my son. Even the undercover "brats" I might have imagined in my earlier conversation. I was so proud to bring him into this fold of children who gather to learn about our Savior every week.
I loved the loud one who participated in the game about a scripture I had not known myself. I loved the sweet girl with the bow who sat so reverently and smiled at Zane. The boy who raised his hand eagerly to answer a question. I loved every single child in that room and felt something very different come over me. It kind of felt like this painting by Greg Olsen.
I realized I understood The Difficult Child better than other type of child in the room, the kind of child I feared and wanted to avoid the most is the one who needs love the most. Some days that is my son. And what if every mother/ woman snubbed Primary the way I once did, who would be there on Sunday to love and teach him lessons, songs, and stories?
Each week it's where I find myself wishing to be, helping any kind of child learn about Christ. And letting me learn to love the way He does. If I am ever asked to help, I now answer with a delightfully quick yes.
So perhaps I should change the quote to remind myself:
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women's children.”
1) Girlfriend- what the FREAK are you doing standing next to him? You better be flipping him off under that podium. Or poking a sharp knife into his manhood.
2) Still can't believe you are standing there. I hope someone offered you a LOT of money to be there so you can take your girls on a long vacation far away from this loser.
3) I am glad you didn't force a smile. I am glad you allowed your eyes to tell us how you feel. Because we all hope to never know what it feels like for a husband to hang out with a prostitute. And it sucks you have this pain and mess to manage.
4) They showed us a clip of the two of you together before this unfolded. You looked about 20 years younger. Which is completely understandable. I imagine you have not slept for days and days.
So there is that. And then there is me being late all the time. What is it with me and late? Is it like this simple little cricket chirping I struggle with putting outside because I get too lazy to look for it behind each door? My little bit of memory that loses information like sand through a sifter. Too much to work on? How is that, Liz? There are people juggling a dozen kids going every direction each day of the week and I can't remember to pick up my husband's work clothes from the dry cleaning on Mondays? Even with a loving reminder call in the middle of the afternoon? How is that?
Driving down the road this week I thought about my sister and how different her responsibilies are on a daily and monthly basis with the unique needs some of her children have. Also, the adjustment to a new state, her husband's new job and long hours, sometimes traveling. I thought about the generations of women in our family and what their lives were like daily and weekly. My grandma experiencing The Great Depression and becoming a widow with 4 young daughters. My mother experiencing times as a single parent moving into a new state with little work experience. We have all had our own paths with our own hardships of varying degrees and they all look so different.
Then I circled back to the little souls my sister is raising and how perfectly well they fit into her family. It was like looking at a completed puzzle from afar, it made perfect sense given her ability to be so organized and orderly, careful and thorough. Her experience helping to raise me, the natural way things come to her as a loving and instinctual mother that the needs her children have match up to her skills evenly. They were predetermined to be with her and her husband, I believe, before they even came to this earth. Any other woman in my family would provide all they could, but she provides exactly the tools they need in a way that fits like a glove. Needs that just might have been a lot more challenging to meet in the years of The Great Depression, for a single mother, or an absent-minded mommy.
I sometimes wonder the path of my life and what it's prepared me for. What comes next, what I will be fighting for or standing up for or rooting my guts out for. Myself? My husband? My kids? The PTA meetings? HOA rules? Habitat for Humanity? Mental Health Causes? Better School Lunches? Sex Education? Cancer? My Neighbor? The Girl Scouts of America? Nothing? Boring regular life or H U G E things that are not the norm? I have no idea. I just know we are given tools and our life paths help us sharpen them for a reason; either for ourselves or other people. And they are not just for the purpose of making money to gain material things, they are given to us to make a difference at some point in our lives. I wonder if that time will be handed to me or if I will need to seek it out.
I was also thinking about how we all sacrifice different things sometimes. I was feeling rather privileged one day a few years ago and remember praying to my Heavenly Father to help me understand the feeling of sacrifice and how to prepare for it (this is a little personal so handle with care here folks). I remember looking around at my safe home and crazy things were happening in the world and I was safe and healthy and had a healthy baby boy. My husband had a job and was getting into a really great school. Some husbands we knew did not have a job at the time and other personal things in others' lives were not going so well. Of course, I didn't want to join their situations, but merely had heavy compassion in my heart and knew I had not had nearly the struggles they might be facing. It felt unfair.
As I look back between that time and today I can say we have still not been jobless. We are still healthy and intact. We are still not in the middle of a burning building, a flooded city, nor are we in the way of a brush fire gone out of control. We are in a good place, perhaps better place as a family than we were years ago. We sit and smile at each other and look around at each other and know how good it feels to be together. I can feel it because the sacrifice we made was one we needed. Some might not even classify it as a sacrifice. Two prayers were answered when Mike started his MBA program. Not only did he get in, but we began a course of feeling somewhat isolated from each other.
I learned how to be a mother with him getting home late on a 10pm train, only to get up around 5am the next day and head to work again. He had long weekend projects with peers whom also held full time jobs during the week. Zane didn't know his father very well, this was a source of great resentment for me. It created a wedge initially that was a bit of a challenge to remove. It took a lot of perspective on my part to get there and understanding of our plan for him to do this for the future of his career. Our sacrifice was the removal of the most important thing any family has: our time together.
I didn't realize that my prayer was being answered at the time, I didn't realize it was our little family sacrifice time and how temporary it would be. I also didn't realize how much it would mean to have him walk in the door at 7pm at night and feel so thrilled Zane gets to play rough with him before going to bed and Evan gets to babble and giggle with his daddy each night. I am grateful for the perspective those years have given us.
I recently wondered why I had not been the type of mother to frequent the zoo. Had I been neglecting my motherly duty of showing him the beauty of God's creatures? Why have zoo excursions not been a priority over the (almost) 4 years I have been raising these boys?