10.29.2008

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.

10.23.2008

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.

walls


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.




10.20.2008

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.

10.17.2008

color





puzzles


I have never enjoyed reading. It's not that a good story isn't worth getting lost inside of or that there aren't captivating authors that inspire me to learn new words or think differently. It's that it feels almost painful to sit still and concentrate for a long time on some paper and typed words. I have to shake a foot, scratch my head, fidget any way I can and then my mind is triggered by a word or idea that floats from the book that then takes me into a different day dream far, far away from the story. It's page three and I am hungry for a snack and have no idea what I just read.

It's something during school I hid well and felt embarassed about. Because of this weakeness in my ability to focus on things for a long period of time, I was not the quickest reader nor was I able to get through the tougher words when reading aloud as a class. It appeared in school if you didn't read well you were looked at as being dumb. It's truly the only time in school I hated an audience and actually wondered what kind of scholastic bucket I fell into. But I somehow pulled decent enough grades that I flew below the radar in that subject and moved on without drawing too much attention.

I was generally a B student, although reflecting back I am not sure how. I did my homework when I could complete it at home without distractions, however, tests and in-class assignments were always hopeless. I spent the time making other kids in the class laugh. Or day dreaming. Or doodling. Or counting the curls of hair of the girl sitting infront of me. I was rather obedient and mindful of my teachers and took my talking in class to a whisper when I got the look of death. I couldn't hear the instructions if the teacher spent more than 5 minutes explaining them, so after the 30 minutes of wah wha wawawah sounds I turned to a neighbor to get the summary "what do we need to do?" Luckily I was friendly enough with everyone that someone was always willing to help me get started on whatever it was we needed to work on. Or super score if the instructions were summarized on paper for me to read over and over a few times. I guess you could say I am a visual learned.

It's reflecting back on this time that I understand myself better. And my son. Thinking through the course of my life and what I have felt successful at (public speaking) and what I have not been so great at (compensation analyst) that is has become very clear to me over the years what I am strong at and what I am naturally not as strong at. Learning how my God-given brains works and doesn't work so well in some areas is part of the High School Carrer Assesment Tool that appears to be lacking. We cannot pick any career we want and do well in it. There will just simply be things we are better at and things we are not. I was not born to work at NASA. But I'm bright and will move mountains somewhere else in a more applicable field I was meant to fit into. HR proved to be a great fit for me, but I believe there is more waiting for me when the season is right in my life to look for it.

People that struggle with the ability to focus are not dumb. They are not slow (although I never felt I was personally, but have seen others appear to assume this of me). People that prefer visuals and human interaction to paper or spreadsheets or data are just different. Like the way I have brown hair and maybe you have red or black hair. We arrive here with this package of who we are and we are constantly trying to find the norm and benchmark to compare ourselve to and figure out if we are better or worse. "Normal" or "special". But the package deal is what we should be seeing that- we are apples and oranges and pinapples and kiwi and bananas and sometimes banana-kiwi hybrids. The way we look, the things we like, the way our brains work varies from person to person. That's how it's supposed to be. If we were all the same, fitting into a mold, then there are a lot of creative solutions our world would miss out on.

So when we don't, or our children don't, fit into this mold we get classified. We get a mixture of feelings. We have to read aloud and be found out that something isn't our strength even though another talent well surpasses those apples you are comparing me to. And then as a parent, you want to collapse and sulk and wonder all you are doing wrong for a child to not be exactly this mold his teacher expects.

And then you wash your face with some cold water and remember- oh yea it's actually REALLY boring to me to sit and listen to someone speak for a long time. I totally get that. I naturally want to get out of my seat and walk away, too, but have learned to work through that. Okay, so what did I figure out when I was learning to work through school with such a short attention span? What are creative ways to teach this? What are ways to make sure he is also always aware of his strengths and how can we make sure he feels that shine forth?

We all have beautiful minds. Even mine, the one that would probably be diagnosed with those horrible letters that are attached to our busy boys that would rather be running around outside instead of drawing at a table with crayons. We are made the way we are supposed to be. And I am given the children I am supposed to have to help them learn how to learn and play and have fun and grow and love. Even on days when I think I am not the best fit for their needs, I am actually their perfect fit. I know that I will either intuitively know or find ways to figure out how to lead them in this life. And while it's not nearly as straight-forward as the succession planning forms I completed in my past career, it's a lot more important.

****

I love this quote by Glenn Beck (CNN 2.28.08) and how he figured out his work-around to summarize a complex interview. I totally get this- this is how I have learned to understand things. Simplify the data and put it back together creatively. And I bet this is a far more interesting an article to digest (for my head anyway) than the details he initially heard. He has found the perfect career for him that touches millions.

"Professor Roubini recently laid out what he called the "12 steps to financial disaster." Unfortunately, they were really complicated, and I have severe ADD, so I've boiled them down into five phases that even a rodeo clown like me can understand. "

10.16.2008

someday

I am going to take a class that teaches me to paint with oil on canvas.

I am going to volunteer at a hospital that will call me in when there is a family that wants my service. A family that wants a family portrait before their child departs this earth.

I am going to see Billy Joel perform live.

I am going to raise a lot of money for something really important.

I am going to launch my husband into a dream that will bring him a lot of joy and fulfillment.

I am going to learn French and visit Paris in a whole new way.

I am going to salsa dance with my eternal companion.

I am going to have a complete photography portfolio I am proud of.

I am going to have a kitchen with black and white squares for the floor.

I am going to eat a lobster in Maine.

I am going to snowboard with my boys on the best snow we can find.

I am going to interview and report on something really interesting.

I am going to change someone's life by encouraging them to find Christ.

I am going to have special, regular one-on-one time with each of my nieces and nephews and make sure they know I love them. That they are each like no other and uniquely awesome.

I am going to find and drive a cause that needs me and my skills.

I am going to have something published in a way that has never been done before.

I am going to say it just right the way someone needs to hear it.

I am going to be the person I am supposed to be doing exacly what I am supposed to be doing. Just as I am trying to do right now.

I am going to look at my kids grown and be amazed at their beauty. And miss them dearly. And the days I am in the middle of right now where they are close and safe.

I am going to be really, really good on my drums. And I am going to record something.

I am going to write a letter to my father when I finally get my words right.

I am going to host a great party with a pie eating contest. And someone will start a throw-up chain reaction and it will be just as hilarious as Stand By Me.

I am going to write a song that will move you.

I am going to tell someone I don't know that they look beautiful today. And I will mean it.

I am going to make friends with strangers.

I am going to find some of the people who built my house and shake their hands.

I am going to listen to music more often. I am going to dance in my livingroom more often.

I am going to bring the gay couple in my neighborhood everyone talks about some brownies.

I am going to call someone just because I thought of them.

I am going to love you even if you hate me.




note: if i had access to my photos i would post the one i took of my shoe while i was riding on a cable car in San Francisco- one of the things i always wanted to do and finally did it my last week there.

10.15.2008

Be Wise


Print your favorite photos you have taken at the end of every single month. Make it a habit.

I did not. I may lose some or all of the digital photos I have taken in the last 8 years. We have a back-up process and did this regularly, but somehow it's partially corrupt upon conversion to the new hard drive. Evan's baby book has zero printed photos in it. Zero.
{yes, that was in fact the whole box}
{...and his attempt at sharing "mm_M?"}

Yeah. Could be some serious tears shed this weekend if my photos are not recovered. And thrashing about in a padded room.


I remember reading about an interview of Robert Smith talking about his song Pictures of You and how he wrote that song around the incident he had with a house fire. He busted past the firemen to go back into the house to get some old photographs. I can't say I feel that far distance from his feelings related to my own photographs.


Yes, I have some on Flickr and the kids' site, however, that's about 2% and nothing can compare to those first months when they entered the world being caught on our camera. Nothing. Of course, we have mostly been living away from family so there are very few people who have photos of them at these early ages. And my online Kodak account expired and deleted all the photos I was posting years ago.

This is the day I curse digital photography and myself in the same breath.

Don't let this happen to you. Hopefully it's not the complete story.

In honor of hope for a restored back-up here are some of this month's favorites I thankfully had in my camera.

{zane sad because evan [sick]}

10.14.2008

the friend with that brother


I hung out with my sister and her friends before I learned how to drive a car. It was my ticket out of the house. And I enjoyed hanging out with them. She had a friend with an interesting older brother. He had a real job that paid him real money, however, he still lived at home. When he was working we would go into his room and his sister would tell us how strange he was and show us his stuff.
He liked Christmas music, a lot. So he would listen to it all year long. It played on his alarm clock radio when he woke up. His entire music selection in his car was strictly Christmas music. He often left it playing in his room even when he wasn't home. I thought it was unique and peaceful.

I guess he had a tendancy to really go overboard if he liked something. I don't know if it was a clinical disorder we tend to classify interesting people as, but I found it refreshing. I loved how he surrounded himself with what he had passion for. He also adored his hardtop Jeep. He bought every gadget and add-on possible one could get for a Jeep. With the lighting accessories and all the other bells and whistles, it looked like he was driving a UFO down the street.
He really really loved Sandra Bullock. Naturally, he had every movie she had ever been in and knew every possible fact about her. If she had a movie in the theaters, he would attend as often as his scehdule would allow. I never thought much about her as an actress, but once I learned of his deep interest in her I appreciated her a little more.

His sister told us about his boss at work, I guess he was a real asshole to everyone. She told us stories about things he would do or say and how mad her brother would be. It didn't seem fair, who would be mean to a guy that found happiness in Christmas music and driving his UFO mobile? Several times when while he was at work we would go into room, find his boss's number programmed on his phone and call. We crank called his boss as often as we could. I was the culprit, repeating his last name over and over in a deep, scratchy voice like an angry old woman dying. I can't remember the last name now, and I believe I might have even been saying it wrong all along, but it seems to me it might have been something like Tiller.


"Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer"
{said in a whisper. pause for effect]


TiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRR
{said louder, as if getting more irate}


Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer
{click. I can't believe he stayed on the phone that long almost every time. He must have been so confused}
+++
Then there was this mean girl they went to school with that had legs like tree trunks. So I would call her and just say 'Arbor Day' and remain silent. Any time they would say something back I would repeat it like it was a normal greeting in the most nerdy whiney voice possible.
Excuse me? Who is this? Who are you calling for?
Arbor Day.
This call also lasted a lot longer than I imagined it would. And this was a weekly ritual.
------
Then caller ID was invented and that about ended my period of the length I would go in the juvenile delinquency category. That's really about as dangerous as I got.

10.10.2008

This is the coastal town

I want to remember this week the way it was. It started with a yellow note pad containing two lists on the top page. One side was filled with household chores and projects while the other list had fun places to go, people to visit with, and fun things to do. I want to remember that as the week progressed and things got crossed off, most of the crossing off happened on the fun list. The other list wasn't nearly as important and I am glad we knew better.

I want to remember we still kept the house running and the baby on his schedule. That I folded laundry like usual, but got to sneak peaks through the blinds while Zane and Mike made soccer goals out back. That Zane laughed his guts out when his father put him on this shoulders to cheer for him and danced all silly for that 15th rock in his good behavior jar. How Evan ran across the yard to throw his baby arms around the back of his father's legs while he gardened. And the way he stopped for a moment with each one of us any time we wanted him to, nothing was more important than us every minute of this week. We always know that conseptually, but wow what an amazing thing to feel and see it for an entire week. Our canteens must be full. I know mine is.

Each day I think it's Sunday and I want to be sad at the goodbye we have become accustomed to swallowing hard in our choked throats. But then I remember it's not, everyday is not Sunday! Every day has been a day we get to gobble up Mike as much as we want and our home is singing and shining and every corner is beaming with gladness. Even little dust bunnies that wait for me, they are so happy to watch us hang out this week.

I want to remember how he taught me to stop doing and to just relax this week. To enjoy the weather changing, open the windows, and spend more time outside and less infront of that kitchen sink. I want to remember Zane playing cars quietly at the foot of the bed while Evan slept in his crib and I took my first nap in I don't know how long, and super bonus with my husband napping next to me! Touching feet! During a breezy afternoon on a weekday. You can't bottle this stuff up and get it at a store. It's what magical days are made of, simple perfect days.

I want to remember how peaceful this week felt, how present and complete our home felt. If the whole world fell apart around us, oh wait it sort of is and it doesn't matter because we are here and we have us. All in one spot. It was not all busy work and it was not all rushed and it was not a running clock or a packed suitcase or mixed emotions. It was just regular. And regular never felt so great.

I want to remember this feeling of being refreshed. Rejuvinated. Refilled. Extra patient and open to every 'mom come look at this!' and baby hug no matter what else had my attention. Both of us here to spread the attention and household duties really makes a difference that made me feel like a Queen for a Week. Never has daily willing help changing a diaper, doing the dishes, helping One Busy Boy burn energy or cleaning a messy highchair been so appreciated.

I want to remember his beaming smile seeing Evan's tricks and snuggles. Laughing at Zane's new words and negotiations and enjoying all of our energy. The smile in his eyes of being home for a while. Our home feels like it's really ours when he is here. It's like he came back with invisible cloaks to wrap us in like warm, chenille blankets.


****

This isn't to say there weren't typical moments of miscommunication that needed to be worked through. We aren't perfect. But those parts of this week totally got drowned out by the better ones and those are the ones I remember and feel right now so those are the ones I want to record.

10.08.2008

thought for food


Sometimes I get bored tracking my life here and take some days off cos the instant reward of this time on the computer is little to zero most of the time. I do love keeping in touch with friends and making new ones, don't get me wrong- there is great value in those ties. However, it's the long term benefits of recording my life and thoughts for my posterity's sake that will one day hold some value for me. Although I might need to go back and delete all those posts about my boobs. I can't imagine that would be inviting material for my little boys.

I do, however, almost always gain from the time I spend browsing others' pages while I see their strengths shine through the screen. I am currently working on the planning/ organizing part of my life as it is an area I desire to greatly improve in. Planned meals/ snacks before grocery shopping just makes my life so easy. My friends Erin and Tania have been some recent examples to me of this regularly executing this task. Lindsey and Adriana are friends that are also into blogging about food, however, they are a bit out of my league in the meals they prepare- but they just might be up your alley.

Tania posted in a new spot on how she plans a month worth of meals at a time and recycles that plan, adjusted a little here and there each time.
Erin often posts a weekly grid that displays each day's breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. I love this approach and plan to print out blank grids exacly like those on half sheets, print out a bunch to stuff into a manilla folder, then complete the week's food plan before the start of a each week.
I love having a list of ideas hanging on the side of the fridge to choose from with all ingredients stocked. We eat better and I am less stressed.
This will also help me in continuing to plan and stock a realistic rotating food storage plan for things besides beans and rice that might not have the longest shelf life ever (also think unique celiac food storage).I don't know how to post a grid, but here is my list for the week (specifics per day to be traded as desired). Some still need a side of veggie or starch and I plan to try new meals as the weeks progress.
*
Tonight:snack- yogurt
dinner- chicken fajitas + refreid beans + chips
*
Thursday:breakfast- eggs florentine
lunch- gf cheese pizza
snack- pretzels, cheese
dinner- Cafe Rio Inspired Pork Salad
*
Friday:breakfast- gf banana muffins, yogurt
lunch- picnic to go (cold cut sandwiches, apples, baby carrots)
snack- candied pecans
dinner- leftovers (canned veg. soup for kids if they are over it)
*
Saturday:breakfast- pancakes (gf and normal) and eggs
lunch- Chinese Chicken Salad
snack- popcorn
dinner: Chicken Cordon Blue or Hawaiian Haystacks
*
Sunday:breakfast- eggs, hashbrowns, toast (gf, included!)
lunch- grilled sandwiches (got some gf bread!) and chips or fruit
snack- popcorn
dinner: chilli and gf cornbread

10.07.2008

718

photo from flickr


Brooklyn was an interesting place to live and learn about. We first lived on 6th Avenue and 21st Street. Then on Greenwood Avenue right by the cemetery. I wish I had maintained some sort of photo journal during that time in my life. So many things seemed odd to me that very first month, but then by the time we left nothing really seemed odd anymore. It just became my way of life and it became home. Of course, that still meant there were parts of the borough I would not enter in daylight, however, over time I knew exactly where those imaginary lines were so I knew how to be street wise without being scared. Graffiti was part of its history. Drug busts around the corner just came par for the course. Millionaires down the block and hoodlums a little further down.

There was the usual crowd gathering around their territorial bodegas. Normally nothing in hand actually purchased from said bodega. Just grown men who knew this place like the back of their hands hanging out. Same spot, same time, just loitering. But no one would consider it loitering, it was just what people did. And everyone that would pass was a known friend since birth. People born in Brooklyn, at least around our streets, didn't seem to leave Brooklyn.

We didn't live in the trendy section of Park Slope, we were in South Slope. It was mostly occupied by Puerto Ricans. If you don't believe me, visit those streets instead of the Puerto Rican Day Parade next year. And then all the transplants like us started creeping in and filling in the gaps. We were taking over, so they said. Us young, overpaid white kids were taking over the neighborhood and making rent go up. The Jewish landlords were buying up all and every building they could - blocks at a time in certain areas. They were fixing them up cheaply and doubling the rent. I guess this type of thing has a word- they call it gentrification. I just wanted a two bedroom with a short commute to the city. I didn't know so much more was going on when we moved in.

Anyway- so getting used to Brooklyn was an adventure. I don't remember hating it, although we did have some choice words to mumble when the truckers rumbled over potholes at 2am outside of our window. That pretty much sounds like a truck is driving through your brick wall. And when the trumpet music blared from the neighbors as if 15 mariachi bands on brass were marching in a living room parade. It literally caused the walls to vibrate. And when the ice cream truck parked on our corner weeknights at 11pm. Funny the lingering crowd at 11pm buying 'ice cream'. Bars on the windows of every first floor became common, even for the fancy brownstones by the park. After the first week, I never thought about crime rates or break ins or any sort of theft. Even after our snowboard rack was stolen, we never felt in danger the way you would think bars on windows would make you feel.

When people would visit from out of town, we would see our home with new eyes all over again. We would reassure them it was a safe place. Walking home from the subway at night there was never a moment I felt threatened or concerned. Although there were a lot of people coming and going all over the place every time of every day, I felt it was a rather harmonious community. Probably not the prettiest or cleanest buildings or streets you ever did see, but it was a true bit of history and culture and life we got to live in the middle of. And it was like nothing we will ever experience anywhere else we live.

And then our first Brooklyn summer was most spectacular. It was like the movies, we would be walking home from the subway after work and fire hydrants would be cracked open for kids to run through! Streets would be blocked off for block parties and that always meant urban sprinklers. People came out of the woodwork- every stoop was filled with people sitting and chatting, laughing, relaxing, enjoying each other's company. We had no idea how many people lived around us until the summer! The transition into summer on the streets of Brooklyn would be a fabulous photography project. We didn't have a stoop in the first place, we had trash cans outside of our building door instead- no steps. But we would visit friends who had stoops so we got to participate in this age-old tradition of people watching. We didn't know if we would live in Brooklyn forever or just how long we would stay, but if we bought a place there one day we knew it would have to have a stoop. Or find another way to linger out front comfortably.

photo from flickr


Then we learned about all these free concerts in Prospect Park. Blue Man Group. New York Philharmonic. They Might Be Giants. In addition to movies under the stars. Drum circles. Soccer. Picnics. All of a sudden we felt our quality of life triple just with the activity and adventure associated with this awesome park in the summer. I can't even begin to discuss our favorite places to eat, it would take too many words. It was a wonderful pit stop for our little family of two for a bit. We miss a lot about that place. Especially in the summers.

***

When I started that job in Jersey City, NJ and my new boss heard that I was commuting from Brooklyn she got a sour look on her face. She asked me what it was like, as if it was the slums. And then she proceeded to tell me how she lived in this pretty little quaint and quiet town in New Jersey where the homes look like doll houses. Then she told me about her strange neighbors from Brooklyn and how they bring folding chairs out into the front of the garage and just sit there for hours. All the other neighbors think it's so odd. She laughed to herself as she explained their ritual and wondered out loud what could they be looking at and why they don't just go into their back yard?

I smirked inside and knew the secret ways of Brooklyn that she would never understand. I thought about her neighbors when she invited us to dinner in her doll house. I longed to find them and imagined my conversations with them to be entirely more interesting than the one I was forced into about drapes and the paint colors on her boring walls. On the drive home Mike remembered what I told him about her Brooklyn neighbors and we were both sad to not see them outside. And we both chuckled at how one day we will be back in the suburbs we will be just as odd with our chairs in the front. We were silent for a bit after that while we drove thinking of our distant future, smiling.

***

I smirked inside this afternoon when Mike got out the folding chairs and placed them outside of our garage. We are finally living in that distant future and I love it.

I am so happy we have taken a little piece of Brooklyn with us into our suburban, Arizona life.

10.06.2008

we all live in a

We are finally able to spend some daylight hours outside without sweating.
Another 10 points in favor of October.

10.04.2008

where were they?

So I lived in Walnut Creek, California for some time before we came to settle here in Arizona. Walnut Creek was a quiet, beautiful little town. When people ask us what it was like living there, the best way to answer is by explaining it's what we imagine the Garden of Eden is like. Each day was perfect. Each day we spent time outside enjoying nature. We never heard thunder. I never saw lightening. Even the rain was pretty and enjoyable.

It was a rather predictable, humdrum sort of place. No shady characters, no urban edge, not much varied from the daily flow of WC. Except one day I went running. And instead of the usual dog walkers I would greet on my jog, I saw excitement happening at our favorite family park. At Heather Farms Park I saw camera crews, boys with tattoos, goofy 70s dressed kids, and all sorts of amps and musical gear. I forgot much about it, until I just saw this video.


It doesn't make any sense. The band Every Avenue is from Michigan, but I am 98% certain I watched them film that exact part with the pimpsters carrying the cooler. I am disappointed I missed the slip n slide, I might have snuck in for a ride. For no other reason than they possibly filmed this video in one of my favorite spots, they get a thumbs up. Otherwise, I have to admit, their sound would be easy for me to overlook.

p.s. i love how there is a load of laundry in the orange washer.

10.02.2008

punkin


Halloween fever is in the air. I love the inspired thought.


[Gabby did some cool plates with her kids: her photo]


[Jon already has his pumpkins: his photo]



[Courtney is watching Halloween movies: her photo]


When I lived in Westchester, New York I enjoyed fall and how punctuated the season was in that little part of the world. The leaves on rows of trees seemed to cascade into various shades of comfort food and pumpkin spice candles. Everywhere you turned you knew it was cozy sweater time and Halloween would be just around the corner. I enjoyed getting lost in the old neighborhoods with maple leaves shedding great piles of fun on vast, green lawns. Colonials donned unique holiday wreaths for each season coordinated with the style of the home's curb appeal. I longed for my own home and wondered what it would look like and what kind of wreaths I would find in my own taste to proudly display for each holiday (I should totally make one out of Halloween candy!).



I recall October being my favorite of all months in Arizona. Good things just always happened in October. Even if a bad thing happens this month, decide to draw a silver lining on it just because it's October. I have never been good about home decor. I will probably never be an expert at it. I can, however, try to improve in the holiday seasonal decorating and take on the little project of creating a holiday mood. It seems from what I have learned, it might be good to have a theme be it a color or pattern of some sort. The only thing I do already have for each holiday is a candy dish. Good thing my priorities are straight. For Halloween I chose happy pumpkins. Wooden. Orange. And that's as far as I am going to go this year.

I hit up Wal-mart for some (cheap) happy wooden pumpkin yard things to stick into the ground, window decals for the sliding glass door, and some garland with the orange pumpkins happily poking through. I learned from my sister to work with the kids on making our own construction cut-outs to decorate their rooms with the holiday colors. We can order some kid Halloween movies on Netflix and get some books from the library to get us into the mood without spending money (new goal as of late). For sure make sugar cookies in spooky shapes and orange frosting. We will splurge, however, on the pumpkin patch festivities. Mike will also find a way to eat nasty pumpkin ice cream* and I will try to beat last year's record of Most Candy Corn Ingested by a Human Being. I am thrilled to have my own home, now, to decorate our own space and build on that plan each year. I can finally wreath shop! I won't get my fall wreath until I find the perfect one for my home, so that might take some time (watch for future post). I want to eventualls collect holiday table cloths and have space on a specific wall with picture frames dedicated to the season- switch them out so the walls can reflect images of tulips in the spring, for instance.



I really love October.

*Btw- Pumpkin Ice Cream should not exist. Every time I see it or hear about it my throat starts to tighten and I have to think of unicorns to keep myself from throwing up. I might be wrong, but I am pretty sure little Halloween elves gather rotting neighborhood pumpkins, take them to a back alley and beat them with baseball bats. Next, they mash this stringy, fleshy mess up by stomping on it with their dirty bare toes and then cram the mushy goo into 1/2 gallon containers. They toss it into the freezer and call it ice cream. Seriously. Hey enjoy it, it only comes out once a year.
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