January Picture Pages

I found this little gem on the kitchen counter all day. It made me smile.
Pretending to be Prince Ali from the movie Aladdin.

Loves to run away from me wrapped in his towel after bath.

When we lived in Brooklyn with cats, no kids, the phone would ring. Normally the kittens would be nestled into one of our laps so we started to say 'I'm covered in cats!' and the other person would laugh, but sigh as it would mean it was their turn to get up off the couch and walk aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way across our 2x4x2 livingroom to get the phone. Now we say 'I'm covered in kids!'

When he screams at me and the glasses in the kitchen shatter and whales cry at the pain of the pitch, I sternly tell my 16 month old to go into his room to scream. He locks eyes, takes a deep breath, and walks to his room. This is what I find every time.

His brother wore this shirt when he was two:


This is pretty much the circus act we take in public several times a week.
I really get paid too much to hang out with these characters.

Still fits nicely under the kitchen counter.

Can't forget the little girl. She loves gummy worms this month. This is also the time during pregnancy when the back turns away from a woman's regular shape, but into more of a thick keilbasa sausage shape. Mama the Walking Sausage. And the stride, well it's become like a cowboy strut. Call me Billy the Sausage Kid. Watch out wild west.


the wonderful, fabulous, so good, amazing day

Have you read the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? It's a cute little children's book all about this rough day this little boy is having and no one seems to notice. I have had days like that where everything seems to bug me or be a lot less convenient than usual. I know my kids must have days like that where they feel like they are always getting in trouble or bumping into something or spilling things.
I thought about how fun it would be to create for each of them their own little book each year about what makes a wonderful, fabulous, so good, amazing day for them. They each have such simple pleasures it's easy to think of how to make a day great for them.
For Evan, pretty much eating seems to be his favorite thing. Any kind of food any time of day. Also, he is quite thrilled to drink through a straw. Any outdoor activity makes it a super day for him and mom playing cars with him. Most of all, hanging out with his dad.
Zane has a great day if one of the following is involved: pizza, pancakes, or cheeseburger. Also a fan of playing outdoors, building or baking something with mom, rock band, or light sabers with his dad.
I look forward to reviewing 2008 photos to collect images of endless favorites for them that year and remembering the things they were excited about at ages they will never again return to.


but still i'm sane

Matt and Kim is an adorable band.

I just double dog dare you to try to listen without doing the running man in the middle of the room and laughing out loud until you pee your pants. That's what we like to do, anyway. Happy music to say the least. It helps in my heart they formed in Brooklyn, there's always a little special place in my heart for Brooklyn artists of all kinds. But only for good ones.

I love the most how happy she is (dare I assume her name is Kim? Would that be too presumptuous?). That's how I feel when I play my drums. I can't stop feeling overly happy. Only....I normally wear my bra. But only because if I didn't they might fall onto the snare drum and mess up my sic beats.



I admire many things about all of my friends. I admire the sweetness and spiritual peace my friend, Elisabeth in CA, always seems to carry. She is such a genuine and loving person that at times when I think of someone I know who enjoys parenthood thoroughly, even on hard days, her face almost always come to mind. I don't recall an encounter where she didn't wear her beautiful smile most of the time. Today I really enjoyed remembering something she wrote for our ward's collection of talents. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it with you. She isn't one to desire loads of attention, the humble ones usually don't need the spotlight like some of us live wires do. I miss my friend.

by Elisabeth [last name withheld for privacy]

As a little girl, one thing topped my Christmas wish list each year. I wanted a doll. It didn’t really matter what kind of a doll, but I had to have a doll or it just didn’t seem like Christmas. One year I didn’t get that doll and the tears welled up in my eyes all Christmas Day. It was miserable going to Grandma’s and seeing my cousins with their dolls.

The next Christmas, although I was actually quite old to be playing with dolls, there was a baby doll under the Christmas tree for me. The doll was supposed to drink from a bottle and then wet. But something was wrong with my doll. The water went in but didn’t come back out. I remember clutching my doll and listening as my mother called the toy company. Fierce love for my doll came into my heart and I told my mother, “I don’t want another doll; I just love the one I have.”

Almost twenty years went by and I forgot all about my defective doll. It was my first Christmas Season as a new mother in a home of my own. It seemed I had waited so long for this time, but I wasn’t feeling the joy I thought I would feel. Instead I was consumed with worry and disappointment. In August, we had been blessed with a sweet little boy we named Robert, after his two grandfathers. Immediately upon his arrival, the doctors knew that Robbie was not responding as he should. Numerous tests were performed, and we were told that there had been an insult to his brain, and it had not developed properly. We were told that we would just have to “wait and see.”

It seemed that each visit with a doctor brought more upsetting news. We were told that he would have seizures. The neurologist felt that he had a genetic syndrome and referred us to a geneticist. At 2 ½ months Robbie had to undergo a bilateral hernia operation. We learned that he was visually impaired. At his four month check up in December, his kind pediatrician just stood and stared blankly at Robbie’s charts on his podium. I realized this wasn’t a good sign! It seemed that despite Priesthood blessings and the fasting and prayer of our extended family, the worst case scenario was unfolding.

One December day I sat holding Robbie on the couch feeling quite melancholy. A wave of motherly love hit me and I tearfully held him close and told him, “I don’t want another baby, I just want you!” These words triggered the memory of my Christmas doll from many years before. In some small way, this memory was able to bring me the comfort that I needed that day. Robbie is now seven and each year of his life seems to bring with it new challenges. But the knowledge that I love Robbie just how he is has helped me accept these challenges.


once i ran to you. now i run from you

I'm sort of tired of playlist right now, so I'll make you work for the music I am enjoying in the event you want to hear it. And by work for it I mean to click the link instead of turning on your computer speakers. Fair? Fair.


Although it probably won't make our list, I think Anberlin would be a really cool girl name.

I like the sound. More edge and testosterone coming through than much of what I have been listening to lately. The drummer inspires me. I bet I can play this song.

See vid here for Feel Good Drag.


Coconut Records

Just hearts. Sweetness. Soft. Gentle. Rainy day music. Pretty.

Vid for West Coast here. This song makes me wish I could put myself in Mike's suitcase.


She Wants Revenge

Reminds me of Interpol mixed up with some 80's beats.

Joaquin Phoenix directed Tear You Apart. Not the best video ever. Actually kind of ruins the song. So just listen with your eyes closed.

Here is the vid for True Romance.

I keep waiting for the chorus of Soft Cell's Tainted Love to pick up with each of their songs and it makes me happy. I loved that song as a kid.


Tuesday, January 20th

I remember the day the shuttle blew up and the day the towers were hit. Not a lot of key days imprint themselves opon our minds that way; as history takes shape and changes us.

This morning we started with Zane climbing into the bed shortly after 7am to tell me the sun is up and when the sun is up, people are supposed to get out of bed. Then I encouraged him to get under the warm covers for a bit until Evan, the family alarm clock, sounded. Then we had a good 20 minutes of him insisting I move over to Daddy's side of the bed while he took over my cozy spot.

Evan woke up all smiles despite this yellow blob growing out of his nose and taking over his face every 5-10 minutes. The humidifier is always the best toy to play with first thing in the morning; loved by children ages 1-4. I think for a moment how this baby girl will be born during a historic year.

We got the paper, which we knew would promise for an important event happening this morning. The pavement was chilly on my bare feet and the workers were already starting on the roof over there. The sky was clear.

Before breakfast was served and as I tuned in to CNN Live we had our morning call from The Man of the House. It was a fine morning for a special family prayer for Obama (plus our family) in addition to a scripture reading about being kind to our neighbors.

The boys ate, Mike jaunted off to a brisk morning in Washington while I input typo after typo in the facebook/ CNN live chat while the inaguration began.

The pest control man arrived early and stood at the door waaaaaay too long staring and not talking (this is his thing for some reason) while I nicely rushed him in and quickly returned to my seat waiting for The Man of the Hour to appear through my computer screen.

I summoned Zane to watch him with me as the soon-to-be-President began to head down the hallway leading him to the platform where the world waited to cheer him on. For the first time I saw a brief solomn look in his eyes that made my heart climb into my throat. It was a look that made me feel proud to be able to see him heading into that doorway; representing far more than I can begin to express or realize as a young, white, middle class woman. A face that felt the honest love of a nation and history of our ancestors celebrating a whole lot more than just the changing of hands running a country that has a lot of problems to solve.

I missed much of the singing, but was able to see his speech. To me, I felt it was from his gut. It was powerful and honest and real. It was inspiring and I admit that few people can reach through a t.v. screen (or computer screen) and say things in such a way that I want to move and take action on something important. His ability to communicate well along with his personal history and experience will allow him the ability to establish and maintain key relationships with both farway and local people in our world.

Today our 44th American President was sworn in and I got to see it! The very first African American President: Brack Obama. I think he is a great fit for this job. But he will not be perfect. He isn't supposed to be. But he will be great. Because he knows he has to be. And we will applaude him along the way.


green eggs and ham

I remember a friend telling me once how she tried to explain to her husband what it felt like to have the work you do all day long undone before your eyes. She pointed out how he works on excel spreadsheets for a while. How he spends hours preparing information and making it look just so. And then asked him how it would feel if she just walked up and deleted is all. Every day.

And in that conversation we weren't complaining about our roles as mothers or housewives. This life is exactly all I ever wanted and planned for. So when I write about the parts of it that feel hard for a moment or a bit more than I imagined, I am just reflecting back on the former me and how I thought it was going to be. I wouldn't do any of it differently. I hope that goes without saying.

So sometimes in the middle of a situation I think of the former me again and I have a conversation with her in my head. Like I pretend in this conversation I am able to go back in time and explain it to the old me so I get it and know what to expect in greater detail. Just because I actually enjoy explaining things in great detail and I have about 43 former me's I talk to on a regular basis. Some call this schizophrenia. I call I Liz doesn't have cable television so she has to entertain herself sometimes.

So it's dinner time and there is fussing for food. So I hurry my pace and reassure gently that food is on the way. About 30 minutes of comforting the fussy one, emptying the dishwasher, preparing the drinks, table setting, and gathering The Other One we are finally ready to eat. Not a minute late for target dinner time! Before I can sit and fold my arms for the meal time prayer The Fussy One has flung his entire bowl sideways onto the table and the plate full of food smacks onto the floor. A few remaining pieces linger on his tray. He picks them up gracefully with his delicate baby fingers and flings them across the kitchen. As I take my seat I am relieved it's Monday because that means I still have a spring in my step. We pray and two of the three of us eat in the midst of the one-way food fight aftermath.

It makes me think back to the former me. How I would explain that scene to her in her terms. I would tell her sometimes it's like going to a meeting. One that involved all this data she would need to gather for 30+ minutes and there would be this deadline and copies of this report would need to be printed for everyone. And she would get it accomplished and have the margins just so and the heading all fancy. Just as she hands out the final copy in the room full of people, she finds they all crumpled it up and threw each report on the ground. She doesn't even get a chance to go over the information. Someone crosses their arms and tells her "we want the report on pink paper". Then they leave the meeting and she has to clean it all up and go through that exact scene in 4 hours. Because at 4pm they really want the paper blue by then.

And then I tell her how it's a little different when it's breakfast for dinner with scrambled eggs. Then it's like they put the reports in the shredder and hole punch before tossing it on the floor for her to clean up.


two layer

The family that eats chocolate cake together stays together.


village people

It's amazing to me when I step back to realize how much of the role of mother naturally draws one to give so much of one's self. How easy it is to forget about your own needs and give until you are flat empty only to remember you needed to stop for air along the way, but used your last puff to care for someone or something else.

I just declared to myself that for every month this year I am going to learn something new. I have been feeling very stagnant and dusty in my mind and that's not something I want to develop as an acceptable feeling or way of life. I love learning and although it's not the season in my life to enroll in a college art class or take many drumming lessons, there are a lot of other things I can fit into my life from my list of interests. So, my new thing might be as simple learning how to make sushi better, how to shoot a gun, or how to decorate my living room.

This month I have learned some things already. Beka helped me learn what to do in a fabric store. If I had gone alone, I would have spent hours looking for curtain material in the section designated for woman's clothing. Despite their clearly marked signs.

This month I have already learned the importance of evaluating what I need and how to communicate and arrange for that. In this lesson it's been hard to accept I cannot do it all and that I have resources my husband has lovingly suggested I take advantage of to make my life easier.

After a hard couple of days of not being all I can be like a good army girl, I thought of the things in my life I need help with (even if only temporary) and made a plan with key people and made some calls (along with Mike). I feel more prepared for the final months of my pregnancy, more free to serve others to my fullest extent (which sadly isn't much right now), more prepared to arrange our home for a new little one and most importantly be the kind of mother and wife I want to be.

There is no template for the needs of a typical mother, but it's important to always remember what mine are and for me to do an internal compliance check. A sort of inventory, if you will. We've all heard it takes a village to raise a family, but sometimes it takes a some people from the village to help a mother raise a family.

Some of the things that I found important for me to schedule (when possible) that assist in my replenishment/ peace: date nights, social time, a break during the week with babysitting trades, my mom coming once a week or more during the evening hours, more park days, little moments of learning and self development, and home organization effort. And a lot of baby swiss cheese, cran-apple juice, cherry yogurt, warm dill pickle spears, and creamsicles. Sometimes I share the creamsicles, but only when I get caught eating one.



how sweet is this little girl? it's killing me.
can i just put my little girl in shoes and tights like this every single day?
even in the desert summer?
*images of her daughter by SouleMama


giving thanks

So the hours between 4pm and 8pm are my least favorite of most days. Pulling together a kid-friendly dinner that is almost never what I feel like eating myself. Playing I-Spy to get one of us to eat (you can only guess the item after taking a bite of food.) Bathing two during a time in the evening I am ready for a martini. Then it's the amazing 'race' to get them into jammies, brush teeth and put toys away. How on earth does all of this require 4 hours of our day?

Sometimes I transform into a Mother Who Knows and I fit something fun into the middle of that time slot to make it more positive. Like a dance party or ice cream or something to look forward to that doesn't feel like I am the family dentist pulling teeth at every corner during this 4 hour block of time.

But in reality, I am really The Mother That's Ready for That Trip to Montana; even if it's winter. My snow white voice got hoarse over the playful encouragement to eat broccoli over an hour ago. So I begin to transform into Cruella DeVille, at least in my head. My body is screaming at me to put my feet up for a few minutes. But my mind is looking at the clock and longing for the process to be over with so I can put my feet up without jumping back onto them and pulling one or the other off the kitchen table. This is not exactly the best article I would choose to submit to The Ensign. But this is just how it goes sometimes.

The littlest tucked in by my desired time with even a few extra stories and songs. Then comes The Greatest Challenge of the Evening: the four year old. I take a deep breath and gently remind him for the 4th time what I asked him to do 30 minutes ago. I step away to sit down, which is never a good idea in this process. Because it is a process. Anything this boy is in need of doing requires hand holding and ample reminding whether I like it or not. Extra book time is the only collateral I have at this time of night and most nights it works to get him moving. Not tonight.

I calmly remind him of the consequences of not listening and suggest he kneel with me at the bed for prayers. He screams and shouts and scolds and pouts. I find snow white in my throat and convince him to kneel with me for prayer and through his clenched throat of anger with me he begins his prayer:

Dear Heabenly Father,

Thank you for this ebening, thank you for Jesus.
Jesus, please turn mommy into a pencil.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Looks like this process isn't going well for more than just one of us. So I turn back to my former life and think of how I solved things. Back when it seemed like I knew what I was doing most of the time and had a more level head. I remember the role I had in creating or adjusting processes. And the importance of taking a step back and identifying what can change in the list of things to do from start to finish and what parts must remain the same. I am determined to make this part of each day better so we can all go to bed with the peace and calm I want to instill in my home as often as possible. And I also don't want Jesus to turn me into a pencil.



who knew having crabs was still so fun? crab grass, that is. still makes for happiness around here.


bringing families together one note at a time

Every single person I have known to own or play rock band has told me how much fun it will be and easy for me because I already know how to play the drums. This made me excited to visit friends' homes in hopes of wowing them with my (albeit beginner) drum skillz.

Turns out, the drums on rock band are nothing like the drums in real life.

I sat down all confident, ready to rock out some Beastie Boys and needed more instruction than I expected. This is the part where I have to tell you my hand/ eye coordination is pretty much handicapped. I am sure if there was a possible way to evaluate this aspect of how I function, my test results would confirm: severely delayed. Rock band is like playing that 80's game Simon. Where you have to punch the lighted up buttons in the same sequence and it got faster and faster. I hated that game. I threw that game across the room.

Real life drumming, however, is a game of using your ears to learn the beats of each individual part of the drum kit. You first learn the pattern of the base with your ears, then listen and learn the snare, then hi hat, then toms. It's ear- hand coordination. As you try what you hear, you actually listen to see if you are finding the beats.

Rock Band seems impossible to learn how to play with ears. There is so much noise going on with the other people pressing the keys on the guitars, the live singer in your ear, the song playing regardless of what you are trying to make it do (it's not your noises, it's the song noises even if you aren't playing properly so you don't even really hear yourself like you do with an actual instrument), and then the game's audience cheering (but not for me cos I suck at this game). The sound of the drum parts in the song is so muffled I can't find a beat to follow in the thick of the sound surrounding me. So basically, you could be deaf and play Rock Band better than me any day of the week.

But it's been fun, don't get me wrong. Disappointing friends and self is always a bucket of laughs. And don't forget feeling like a fraud. 'No, really, I can play some songs on REAL drums!' So it's a good way to gather friends, spend family time together, and listen to music. I'll vote for one in my own home no problem. Even if it takes me a lot longer to figure it out, at least I can be a loser in the comfort of my own home!

So how did it go with Rock Band Night One at my own house?

Liz on guitar, Mike on drums, Zane on vocals, Evan in his crib sleeping. Mike is still figuring out how use each controller to navigate and the plastic and cardboard are still laying at our feet. It's minutes out of the box. I enjoy seeing how giddy he is with our new toy. I am eager to improve and figure this out. At the end of every song you get a score like in school- a percentage out of 100 (based on how well you can play Simon). I imagine raging parties where I am the champion, scoring 100% on every song in any band member position selected. I will be a pro. I imagine opening my own Rock Band Competition Venue where people can win awards for being unbeatable. Like a Karaoke night, but better. The possibilities are endless.

My feet land me into reality again. No strobe lights. Just Zane getting scolded for trying to press all the buttons on a controller again. Each time his father tries to select a song he finds himself on a different screen and totally lost. We finally get a song selected and I need instructions again. 4 notes into the song the word FAILED flashes the screen and I am kicked out of the game. Mike and Zane continue and I am standing in the middle of the High School stadium during an assembly with my pants down.

I place the guitar down. Step over the boxes. Announce to the family that I am going to go fold laundry now and do something productive.

It's so rad to spend $199 to feel like a total asshole in your own living room.

An hour later I am cozy with my four year old on the couch as Mike puts all the gear away. He reassures me he will figure out how to turn off the 'failed' functionality. Zane declares across the room to his father 'We were really good at rock band!" He turns to me with a sly smile and points to his mommy with whom he is snuggling with under a soft, white, angelic blanket "But you weren't very good at it".


12 months in pictures

I picked one favorite photo from each month of 2008 with January on top and December on bottom. How did I just make a year-end nostalgia post sound like sex? I really need to be lesss awesome in 2009, it's killing me.

* that's a hard project because there is a natural draw to pictures of favorite moments or memories, but those aren't neccesarily great shots. It would be fun to do a monthly photo summary even with poor shots, just memory jogging images to help tell the month's story of events. Hrm something new to consider for this year.....