2.25.2009

July 2008

I recently allowed my mind to wander back to the trek here from the sunshine state. I remember the idea of how we would get our stuff loaded and what our respective roles would be-how daunting a task it seemed for each of us, but temporary and enchanting to imagine our new life together in a new place where we would get to finally plant our roots as we longed for. And p.s. to finally have our own home. It was a time of transition, two busy little boys, excitement, dreams realized, family near by, hot weather, leaving our favorite place we have ever lived, and moving on. A mixed bag of feelings to say the least.

I think back to that brief chunk of time and I recall Mike helping me load the boys into our little CRV for the last drive I would take away from Siskiyou Drive. I remember the quiet family prayer for safety and then concern and confidence in his eyes as he kissed me goodbye and wished me well on my journey alone with the boys in tow. Friends and strangers from church were arriving to assist with the loading of the truck. I had worked hard to back every single box and my heart kept beating pulses of gratitude for Beka and Tara for the boxes they packed well into the late evening hours with me. As I pulled away from the curb, missionaries arrived. Several of them. And it was the first time since that one night I remembered a giant box sitting among all the others Tara labeled for me: Sex Toys. Which was really just heavy winter clothing.


I left the cable box with Cox and tried to peek into that Comic Book store we always promised Zane we would take him to, but was always closed too early. It wasn't open yet. And then we finally left. I merged onto the 680 one last time. Tears brimmed in my eyes as I gave an adios salute to those golden hills I was leaving and amazing wild flowers on all sides of me waving goodbye in the summer breeze. Oh, how I would miss Northern California. It was like breaking up with someone you really still liked, but knew it was time for something else. Something more fitting for a long term plan. It's an unsettling feeling, but eventually it's like completing a really good book that sticks in your mind for weeks, but once it's removed from the bedside table and finally placed on the shelf; somewhat forgotten.

The drive was smooth. I couldn't even tell you if it was 12 or 16 hours before I arrived at my in-laws. Mike would be trailing behind several hours after me and with a tired back from loading and driving this massive truck. My next memory was waking up the next morning and feeding the children. Mike's mom arrived from the early morning truck unpacking *party* with humor in her voice. A nice man from our new ward arrived to assist the unpacking efforts. And he brought his barely-a-teenager son. And that son found the Sex Toys box. You know, the largest box in the entire truck. He found it, the boy.

I remember Mike returning later to his parents' home after returning the final items were unloaded and the truck returned. Having little (if any?) sleep and looking so tired. He stood in the middle of the kitchen as the boys and I watched him with an eager smile. It was like he slaughtered the best looking bear in the forrest for us and we couldn't wait to see it! I asked him if he wanted to shower or eat breakfast before heading over to the house. And I will never forget his smile when he replied with, "No, I just want to take my family home". And we gathered up all our suitcases, collected the children, and we headed over on the 202 to start our new life in our first home. Tired. Exhausted. Exited. Out of place. Tired. He was the first to use the shower while I was running around the house with my camera exploring and soaking it all in detail by detail along with the kids. So glad to be home. Where we had been waiting to be for so many years.
The back yard was still dirt. Evan was sometimes still crawling, always hanging on a pant leg.Zane in his slip-ons he has since outgrown. And the baby not yet made. We stood on our front lawn that night and took this picture. Both so weary but bursting with pleasant feelings. I love this picture. It makes me feel really good. I love my family. I'm glad we're here. It might be really brown and dusty, sure actual tumble weeds roll all around, and the summers are torture. But jeez, there are colors in the Arizona sky in the early evenings that you can't find anywhere else.

2.23.2009

the fam

Othewise known as The Blue Angels: Family on Various Wheels Edition. Just waiting for our leather jackets to come in.

....and The Baby Girl. I love this shirt, it makes me want to eat watermelon. Only, it disappoints cos I expect watermelon to taste like the jolly rancher version and it never does.

2.22.2009

Me riding a cable car right before I left California. The homeless man singing to Beka about wanting to make love to her made the whole thing worth the long wait in line.
******
Just in case you weren't sure about how awesome I am, I thought I would respond to this facebook tag. But not on facebook, just cos I am such a rule breaker.

****
Things I've have done during my lifetime:

(X) Had my heart broken
( ) Got suspended from school (no, but I got sent to the principal, do I get 1/2 a point?)
( ) Watched someone die (only on t.v.)
(X) Been to Canada
( ) Been on a cruise
( ) Been to Mexico
( ) Lived in a group beach house
(X) Been to the Caribbean
(X) Been on a plane
( X) Been on a helicopter
(XXXXXXXXXXX) Been lost
(X ) Gone to Washington, DC
(X) Climbed a mountain
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played a musical instrument
(X) Sang Karaoke
(X) Been to Hawaii
( ) Been to Alaska
( X) Been to the Hamptons
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
() Swam with Stingrays
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
( ) Lived in Manhattan (nope- just worked there)
(X) Made prank phone calls
( ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(X) Laughed until you cried (and/ or peed in my case- very often)
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Been kicked out of a bar (no, but a hot tub with Mike! Another 1/2 point please)
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating
( ) Been sky diving
( ) Swam in the Indian Ocean
( ) Been deep sea fishing
( ) Driven a motorcycle
( ) Driven across the United States
(X ) Been in a hot air balloon
() Been cliff jumping
(X ) Been to Yankee Stadium
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish (yes and it came true)
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(X) Seen the Statue of Liberty
(X) Traveled by train
(X) Been horse back riding
(X) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR
(X) Been to Disneyland OR Disney World
() Driven in a foreign country
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to a bullfight
( ) Been on Safari
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Been water-skiing
() Been snow-skiing
(X ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( )X Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(X) Been to a Major League Baseball game
( ) Been to a National Football League game
() Been skinny dipping in the last 5 years
() Ridden in an ambulance
() Ridden on an elephant
( ) Ridden on camel
( ) Climbed inside the great pyramid at Giza
( ) See the temples of Luxor and King Tut's tomb (Luxor in Vegas count!? jk)
( X) Been to Niagra Falls
( ) Seen the Taj Mahal

2.19.2009

Meal Planning

This is super dorky, but it's one of the few areas I have felt pretty organized in a way that works for me. When I follow my own steps for a process I am more likely to do it well and put better quality of thought into the kind of food we eat. It also saves me from too much impulse shopping and healthier/ planned snacking. Here it is, in case it might helps someone else.



Meal Planning Steps

1) Create/ print blank copies of a meal planing grid. I got this idea from my friend Erin. See a sample here. Or email me and I can send you my blank grid (kill.the.gluten@gmail.com).

2) Make a list of all the meals you can think of your family likes to eat (one column for each meal of the day). Sometimes I peek on food blogs for new ideas to add of as friends what they tend to make to generate more ideas for my lists. Place this list and the blank meal grids in a manila folder and keep it somewhere easily accessable.

Sample:

Breakfast: oatmeal, pb waffles, eggs + fruit, cereal + toast
Lunch: grilled cheese + broccoli, scrambled eggs + toast, pb&j + fruit
Dinner: Enchiladas +spanish rice, fajitas, spaghetti + salad, stir fry, chicken noodle soup

Snacks: yogurt, grapes, popcorn, chips + salsa, cheese and crackers


3) On scrap paper make a current inventory of food you have to plan meals around. Take note of what might expire soon (dairy, veggies, etc).

4) Pick one day every week to sit down and plan your meals- ideally before grocery shopping. I target the weekend for this task. Use your current inventory of food to choose your meals, then make a grocery list filled with all other needed ingredients.

5) Place the meal grid on the fridge so you don't feel too tempted to stray from it and use ingredients for something totally different and find yourself short on something you wanted to make later in the week. I am forgetful, so I need that kind of constant reminder.

6) Here are some food blogs to give you some ideas for meals (cookbooks are also helpful to thumb through to add ideas to your master list):

Photobucket

Cafe Johnsonia
pioneer woman
What I Made for Dinner
Epicurious
kill the gluten

NOTE: This meal planning process has helped me stray from the usual hot dogs or canned soup in a crunch too many days in a week. It has also cut down on the amount of fast food we consume and has inspired me to plan healthier meals and ensure I am putting veggies on the table for at least one meal of every day of the week (a good start for us). And behold! They are eating it! We are all eating better because of this kind of order and the 30 minutes or so I make once a week saves me a lot of time and wasted money on crappy fast food later in the week. And less trips to the store. I am getting better at being on top of and more in control of what we are eating instead of allowing for an unmanaged diet for my family. I'm not perfectly following this every week, but am working toward making it a more concrete routine as I love the results.

It is as it should be

In early February I determined it would be the month I would choose to learn about Jazz music. Not because it's part of cool stuff white people like. But because I have met talented and seasoned musicians I admire speak of their love for jazz music the way I moan in delight over freshly sliced baby swiss cheese. The way mothers talk about the things they love about their kids. I enjoy seeing people talk about what they love, the way their countenance changes. Suddenly we are riding in a hot air balloon and eating cotton candy clouds in the bright blue sky! Smiles beam and eyes glow happy so differently than regular conversation. Even their voice exudes passion for this thing they are expressing joy in.

I come to learn many feel jazz drumming is exceptionally hard. I have heard on many occasions that if one can acquire skills to be a good jazz drummer, they can essentially master any other type of genre. My interest has been peaked enough to plan to give it a fair listen for appreciation's sake if nothing else. My plan was to collect a variety of suggestions from these jazz lovers and choose a song to learn on my drums during the month of February.

***

As the weeks took shape along with my pregnant belly rounding out and blocking the vision of my feet, this became an entirely different month than I intended. Filling my head with a lot of other thoughts and comprehension and plans in the Motherhood Sector of my head. This was the month we wrapped up extensive evaluations and deeper understanding of the way my son learns and behaves. And while I have a pile of things I want to learn, this certainly consumes me at the moment and allows room right now for little else.


As the month comes to a near close, several other goals glare at me in competition from a list at the bottom of the calendar. Food storage, budget revamp, home organization plan, etc. While I know jazz will need to wait for another month or two, I am contentedly aware of my proper choice in prioritizing the urgent and important above the enjoyable this month. I am aware there will be months ahead that will allow for the making of time and mental energy for the other stuff.
Reflecting on where I am and what I have learned this month is far more valuable than appreciating a slice of music. I would say one of the more valuable lessons I take away from February was changing my thoughts on how I interact with my son.

I went from changing this thought:

"It shouldn't_____________"

Such as: It shouldn't take this long for him to get dressed. Or for us to leave the house. Or get shoes on. Or brush teeth. For example. I would feel my head fume with frustration as certain days would press and press on my patience waiting for it to burst. The more I thought in my head 'I shouldn't have to give so many reminders or so much redirecting (or whatever else I thought was beyond necessary) the more my frustration grew. And the slower my son would move, the more distracted he became, and the more challenging his behavior turned.


I have replaced "It shouldn't______"
with
"He just requires _________".


He just requires extra direction. He just requires more time to brush his teeth. More directional reminding. He just requires for me to stop what I am doing often to make sure there is follow-through.
This is just the way it is and how it is supposed to be. And that flip of words in my head has made all the difference in understanding my role, naturally finding more peace, and gently guiding and leading through the day the way it's supposed to be done. At our home, anyway, with the spirit he received when we got this handsome little boy gifted into our family.

I feel like a shunt in my head was removed and it all makes a lot more sense now. I'd like to see a jazz song trump that feeling.

2.15.2009

*




Preschool *holiday* party loot and crafts that make it home via backpack always remind me of the joy I felt as a child seeing my name written on something. No matter how disposable that something was, it was mine. And seeing another person's handwriting on paper of my very own name made me smile every time I looked at it. As if a mini caricature drawing was etched in place of the dot above the 'i' in Elizabeth. I looked longingly at the way each letter was penned as if a copious amount of time was spent determining the stroke or curve of each letter.

And today, I still enjoy seeing the way other people place those 4 letters on a surface to give ownership to the project of this little person we made and gave a special name to.

Like usual, I enjoy details that sometimes deserve a lot less attention and thought. But wouldn't it be a neat project to cut out all the different ways his name is written on things over the years and put them into a book or jar?

2.10.2009

Kiley

I had a male roommate once named Kiley during my early college years. I figured since I didn't know how to get alone with girls very well it might be best to have at least one male room mate. The other was female and we each had out own bedrooms and unique schedules that our paths would not often mix.

Kiley had good taste in music and sometimes we would all go to concerts with some of his friends and ours. He was friendly and seemed to know people everywhere we went. He always had an interesting girlfriend coming around that he was head over heels with. He had a good sense of humor and made us laugh a lot. He was just plan and simple a fun guy to be around. In general, he was a pretty cool room mate.

Unless he drank. Or came home after drinking. Then he pretty much sucked as a room mate.

He would eat all the food in the fridge, none of which was his. Leave the dishes, forks, and his clothing all over the living room. Sometimes leave the front door wide open from his 2am arrival after a friend's party. And sometimes have the girlfriend over and allow her to smoke her cigarettes in his room, despite our agreement for no smoking inside the condo.

While he did pay the bills on time, he just simply had a much different lifestyle than us and we felt we might be better neighbors, not room mates.

Although we eventually did ask him to move out due to these concerns, there were so many great things about Kiley and I am glad I got the chance to know him. One of the things I admired about him was his loyalty to his friends. If he said he would be somewhere, he would be there. He might be late, but he would be there.

One night I joined him on an adventure- there was always an uncommon plan of adventure with Kiley. It just came with the territory of having his wide variety of friends all over the place. He promised a friend he would meet up at a rave in Phoenix. He didn't know exactly where it was, but had a general idea. I had nothing else to do at midnight, so I agreed to go along.

I think I remember his truck having a broken headlight and trouble starting once in a while, so I hoped we would not be stuck in Phoenix. I remember driving on the freeway and coming to realize he had no idea exactly where he was going or how much this rave was going to cost to get in. I had zero money and knew his budget was slim that week. He was notorious for not being fully prepared and I recall pointing this out to him often. Things always seemed to work out for him, much of the time, despite his free spirit. He rarely worried about things typical people stress about. on that drive I thought about how I was being a total buzz kill and insisted inside my head that I lighten up already! As I backed off from my friendly lecture on responsibility, I caught his coy grin troubled by some shifty looks at the dash. Suddenly, he pulled over. We ran out of gas. Which I knew would not normally trouble him, but because freak-out-Liz was the passenger, I could tell he was feeling pretty concerned more than I had ever seen him look.

I followed him to a hill of dusty gravel off the freeway and we climbed over a chain link fence. I wasn't mad or scared or smug. It was actually an adventure and I knew enough about Kiley that we would make our way home eventually and it would all be fine. Especially because he was sober! I think this attitude of mine on shocked him about me. I think the anticipation of trouble stresses me out more than an actual situation of being in the middle of a difficult situation. We found a gas station without much walking on the same street we saw hookers strolling along on. I imagine it was not the better part of Phoenix we were visiting.

Back over the fence with whatever gas his pocket change could muster into a gas can and off we went. But not back home. It was well past 2am and we had no idea where we were going, just that he made a promise to a friend and he was going to deliver on that promise and put forth all his efforts to make it happen. After stopping off at a couple of gas stations and asking for directions we finally found the old abandoned warehouse where the remains of a busted party were smoldering. He never found his friend, the party was long over, and even the music was mute. But we found it with a bit of adventure along the way and I didn't regret going. I wonder if I can find Kiley on facebook?

2.07.2009

where we gather for grub

When we were first married in a tiny apartment in Tempe, AZ we did not have space for a kitchen table. We also knew we would be moving to New York in three short months and had heard kitchens there were even smaller. We ate dinner in our laps for years and rarely had dinner guests for that reason.


Several years later when we lived in Windsor Terrace, a quaint little space of Brooklyn, we finally got some elbow room in our kitchen and got ourselves a cute little kitchen table. It was sort of like those tricky notes you fold up all crazy in high school. It would be a small square table for two, OR!, if you turned it just right sideways and lifted up the top layer it would fold out into a rectangle; now an uncomfotable seat for FOUR! It made it feel more like home to have a place to sit and invite at least one couple for dinner. But we still mostly ate dinner on our laps in the livingroom watching television. But more often than that, went out to eat. At that point our kitchen table might have seen more of the kind of baby making action than eating food off plates action. Such sorts of activities in general lead to this:


Then we moved to Westchester with this kitchen table and it was still pretty lonely during meal times. Our child was in a high chair for meals and I would wait to eat dinner with Mike when he got home from school after 10pm. The table was an object, not an integral part of our family routine or lifestyle. It filled a corner. Just sort of took up space.

Then we moved to California and suddenly we booted the high chair and became a family eating dinner (or pumpkins) together at this table. That little kitchen with the immediate view of our lemon bush made it a happy place to hang out. Zane learned to paint, eat/ smoosh play doh, and color at this table. He has his first friends for lunch time giggles over chopped up hot dogs at this table. Used a big boy cup at this table. Spilled, scratched, bumped into, and eventually broke this table. It was in this space I realized the kitchen table was one of the few places we would gather as a family without distraction. No t.v., phone, or internet would distract us from each other. I decided it would be important to make sure it would always be a place we all associate positive feelings with by avoiding contention at all costs. We would not force food, we would not argue, and we would not shout or scold at our family table. There are still rules, but they are enforced peacefully and with natural consequences and gentle reminders. We aren't always perfect at following these guidelines, but it's what we strive for.

Then the table broke. One half snapped off the hinges.



After consulting with Craig's List and preparing for a hopeful move to Arizona in coming months we picked a cheap one that did not match our chairs by style or color. It was intended to be more temporary than it has been, but has served us well. Mike collected the table from a middle aged women who appeared to be selling many of her necessary household goods to make ends meet. It made me wish she had priced it above the meager $50. That detail about its history made me feel more humility about scrubbing the old crumbs between the leaf crevices and more forgiving of the crack in the middle of the table that always leaves a gap wide enough for two quarters to slip down side-by-side with or without the leaf in it.


This table welcomed a new family member where Evan had his first bites of baby food. It was part of the obligatory photographs of those face conortions made when one eats pureed carrots for the first time. It was the surface his tiny baby hands rested on as I bibbed him up for the grand transition into the new era of Messy Eating Time.


It survived the move to this desert and has more recently been explored by a preschooler obsessed with transformers as he explores the ways in which the leaves fold and tuck and bend. Old time (and new) friends and family have gathered around this table and I have often noticed how out of place it sits in our home asthetically. As the lingering chairs of that long ago Ikea trip have held stready for our family, their days have finally been numbered. Two of our remaining four chairs broke. And now, my friends, it is time for the grown-up real life kitchen table set purchase.

As we ponder the style we like and what we feel might fit best in our kitchen space, we have come to realize much life circles around this one piece of furniture. It will be used more frequently and listen to more important conversations and laughter than pretty much any other piece of furniture in our home. As the years go on more of my children will learn new things in different phases of their lives at this spot. I have plenty of homework years to guide my kids through at this sacred slab of wood in addition to many family prayers that will offer thanks from each of our hearts that we get to have food and each other.

This next table, it will be important to us. It will need to look right, but most importantly be the kind of table I allow us to live and play at and spill things on and most likely scratch and wear down. I have to remember the memories around this rectangle will be more important than keeping it in perfect shape. Us wearing it out and making it part of our family is what will make it ours and our house a home.

2.04.2009

i'm feeling turbulence



I am thinking how much I disliked California groundcover plants. It was everywhere, rarely grass. The idea of all the twigs, bugs, and spiders hiding inside of it made me itch. But then in spring they became filled with millions of purple little flowers and suddenly my distain vanished and I became friends with the groundcover. We liked hanging out together on long walks, drinking up the rain together, and watching the neighbor kids roll down that hill on their boards. We got chummy, me and this ground cover.

*

So...I realize that I am an open book. And that I should keep a few chapters closed, especially to a mostly silent audience that is littered with unknown on my stat counter. But then I get all my emotions bubbling and brewing in my head and they explode. So that's what I enjoy about writing, it keeps my head intact somehow. I guess we can toss around the word theraputic if we want to. Which doesn't make sense to anyone else unless they get release from writing the way I do.

*

About one or two days of each month (let's be honest sometimes it stretches into a week) I have a hard time with this routine we have. I have a bad attitude about wearing the mom and dad hat for so many days in a row. That we both wish it was different, but can't really do much to change it with the economy the way it is right now. The hope and faith I normally carry 3 weeks of the month of him finding a local job wains. That wish for a day when dinner will hit the table and both chairs (+ folding chair) will be filled with every family member each week of the night- that thought dims. The idea we might have an evening that we can touch feet under a soft blanket in front of a movie- it runs bleak. That notion the evenings might not have to end with assuring the kids of how many 'sleeps' until Daddy comes home- that thought crashes into a pile of broken glass at my feet.

And I keep it to myself those days because I know it will pass. And how selfish to let my emotions get the best of me when I know how lucky we really are. We planned this routine and it's not forever. We agreed to give it a shot and we both knew it would be challenging for each member of our family in unique ways. And each month when I hit this bumpy emotional spot I realize I am clutching on to the empty part of that glass and fixating on how mad I am that it's empty! And in my haste and blindness I knock it over and watch all the milk spill all over the counter. I see how much was in that cup I that I had overlooked.

So many things in life will never be perfectly ideal. Happiness, peace, and joy in my attitude get completely demolished on that week of every month that I let myself drop into the valley. When I really should be dancing on the peak and showing my kids the glorious sunset while we drink our glasses together that are half full.

2.02.2009

everytime i fell on you


I like this band Chairlift. Even though the song Bruises has this iffy almost yodling bit I might have suggested they drop a notch. She has a great voice, kind of like Ivy and Dido or Frente. The boy singing part remindes me of The Beloved a little bit. A nice sound for a day when you have all the windows open to air out your space and clear your head.

kitchen

It's exhausting, but fun to be in search of the perfect something. Even if it means the something you are replacing has left you with only two kitchen chairs for the dining room table. We will wait. We will not settle. We will also not have dinner parties or guests over for a while, but we refuse to settle any longer in the furniture shopping game. From Copenhagen to Costco and everywhere inbetween......we will find The One.
That's been a hard shift of attitude since becoming a home owner this year. Suddenly a quick trip to Ikea isn't going to work for all of our household needs anymore. Only because we are tired of replacing their good looking crap.
So far 5 stores and one strong table possibility (but hate the chairs). And many more stores to go.
I enjoy the process of elimination as we figure out easily what we don't want, which somehow leads us to figuring out what we do want. It's kind of backwards, but that's the attraction.
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