Texas

Oh January.

Where do I even begin? I think I'll just share what’s happening in my small slice of the world… Here's what I’m seeing: Solidarity. Pride. Vigilance. Beautiful people. The power of showing up.

Here's what I’m doing: I’m surrounding myself with people who care about what’s happening, who are taking thoughtful actions, and who can broaden my experience and perspective.

Here's what I’m learning: One of the most important questions I can ask myself right now is “Why now?” Why was the Women's March on Austin my 14-year-old daughter's first march and mine too? Sure, I’ve been an informed voter and an appalled citizen before this year, but why am I getting off the sofa now? And second...Why was every march last week--across the entire globe--deemed peaceful? I'm grateful they were safe, but we have to ask why so many police officers wore pink hats and not riot gear like they often bring to other marches. I don't have easy answers. But I am thinking about all this, and I know reflection is critical for me and many others if we want to move forward with a broader understanding and an increased ability to advocate. Now that I know the power of showing up, I need to show up for more.

Here's what I can’t stop thinking about: Stop Asking What the Women's March is "About." "I march because I just don’t want to stay healthy, I want all women in this country to stay healthy. Especially those who, due to economic disadvantage and poor access to healthcare, are more susceptible to not being healthy. I march because a “pussy” isn’t a grabbable object... It is not something that in one breath you can desire and in the next take away safe, affordable care from. It’s a part of the human body that requires medical attention like any other part of you. It’s why you’re here, and it deserves more respect than ignorant, controlling, punishing regulation."

To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation.  "He volunteered stories of other letters: a woman in Minnesota writing about her monthly expenses, a dad writing to say that his son had befriended an illegal immigrant and that the experience had flipped his own bigotry on its head. He talked about a guy who wrote recently to say how joyful he was that the Obama administration was about to end."

If you’re like me and struggling to find light these days, I can share that so far the only antidote to my fear and outrage has been action. And I mean more than just sharing articles on Facebook. I am new to this, but here are some organizations that are helping me speak up and show up in effective ways.

Indivisible Austin. Inspired by Indivisible: A Practical Guide For Resisting the Trump Agenda they are uniting Austin’s six congressional districts to defeat Donald Trump’s policies.

Women's March: the next steps. 10 actions for the first 100 days.

Daily Action. Resisting extremism, one phone call at a time.

And if all else fails, spread the love and buy an early Valentine's Day gift. May I suggest a gift/donation to one of these organizations? Fewer calories than chocolate or champagne…

Planned Parenthood Human Rights Campaign Sierra Club ACLU

That's all I got. If you have sunshine to share, I would love to hear it!

See you out there!

👊🏼Liz

 

The Sibling Revelry Project

The sibling dynamic has always fascinated me...I've talked about it, read about it, written about it, photographed about it, hashtagged about it, you name it. As long as I can remember it's been a topic that resonated on a very deep level with me. (Typical Middle Child/Only Girl behavior? Hello observant, empathetic negotiator.)

When my husband and I started a family back in 2002, I hoped a sibling would soon follow. My dream, as I wrote years later, went something like this...

"I never wanted a child. I always wanted children.

Siblings, confidantes, compadres, chums. Tattlers, teachers, accomplices, antagonists. Rivals, secret-keepers, scapegoats and partners-in-crime. Mentors and tormentors.

I wanted wagon pullers, swing pushers, fort builders and sand-castle destroyers. I wanted a full table, too many backpacks, and commas on our Christmas card.

I wanted a firstborn, a middle, a baby. I wanted to marvel at both the reliable and the shattered stereotypes. I wanted shifting alliances and third wheels. Teamwork and the circling of wagons.

For better or worse, I wanted individual players in the ultimate team sport. Sharing the same space, fighting for the same oxygen. Believe it or not, I wanted splash fights, inane arguments, thrown elbows in the hallway, imaginary Do Not Cross or Else! lines..."

So here I am. Living and breathing and observing siblinghood every day. I'm fully immersed in the battles over time, energy and oxygen. It's not always pretty, but it's usually entertaining and sometimes enlightening.

To celebrate these lifelong relationships, I'm launching a new project that aims to capture the heart and humor of siblinghood. The Sibling Revelry Project is starting on Instagram and I hope you'll follow along and see where we go. (@siblingrevelryproject).

I'm planning to photograph a wide range of siblings young and not-so young, so send me ideas and please spread the news ... I swear it's not tattling!

2016-siblingrevelryproject

 

 

 

The legend lives on

 

2016.05.leslie

So, this awesome photo-op happened the other day. If you don’t live in Austin you might be wondering what I’m doing cozying up with a statuesque guy in a bra and thong undies. Hell, if you DO live in Austin you might be wondering the same thing. Or you might be wondering…why does Liz get to do ALL OF THE COOL THINGS?

Well, in this case it boils down to being in the right place at the right time and being an aggressively friendly neighbor. (I can’t help it—and by the way would you like to help me organize the next block party?) It started a few nights ago when my husband and I were out walking the dog. We took our usual loop and passed a white-haired neighbor as he was climbing out of his truck. He flagged us down and asked, “Hey, do y’all remember Leslie?” Because we’ve lived in Austin for nearly 20 years, we didn’t return his question with a blank stare.

Of course we know Leslie! Well, knew him. Or rather, knew of him. Everyone did.

Leslie Cochran was a local legend—a cross-dressing homeless man who was especially fond of barely-there thongs, sparkly tiaras and feathered boas. He ran for mayor three times and claimed to have coined the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan. He certainly embraced the motto and was adored all over town. Leslie spent a lot of time on 6th Street, flashing skin and entertaining the party-going masses with his stories and his charm. For a tip, he would pose for photos and usually give unsolicited advice. When he died in 2012 a large crowd gathered at Auditorium Shores—many wearing thongs and boas—to celebrate his very large life.

Now the party lives on. It turns out that our neighbor Bob was collecting signatures to “Put Leslie back on the streets” with a sculpture that would reside on a downtown bench near Leslie’s old stomping grounds. Bob is a retired architect and current sculptor. He told us that the Leslie project was not just a petition, but a reality in the works. And by in the works, I mean Leslie was in his backyard right at that moment. I didn’t hesitate: Can we see him??

Bob was happy to oblige, and we got an impromptu tour of the lush garden that his wife maintains. We spotted Leslie’s arms and legs lounging on the covered porch, and we learned that at this stage of a project, Bob stores most of his larger sculptures as disassembled pieces. Looming nearby was another half-built masterpiece: an imposing depiction of Stephen F. Austin. From the waist down, The Father of Texas stood with one leg bent powerfully in front of him, the tail of his frontiersman coat blowing behind him with bold authority. And in a perfect moment of too-awesome-to-be-true, there was Leslie’s armless body…propped up against Austin’s thigh, wearing a bra and smiling as big as Texas.

Bob assembled Leslie with care so that my husband and I could take turns posing with him. As you can see, I was downright giddy by this point. There’s just something magnetic about Leslie, even in statue form. Bob captured it all, right down to his stilettos.

If the project gets approved and funded, Austinites and tourists will always be able to hang out with Leslie and grab a photo with the legend. I can’t think of anything weirder or greater.

 

Some observations after Week 1 of braces

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So, last week I got braces. These are not to be confused with the braces I had at age 8 to fix a few wily teeth growing in odd places, or the braces I had at age 15 to straighten my entire mouth. No, these grown-up braces are to correct everything that my teeth have been doing over the last 29 years. (Hint: they have been very busy!)

I will spare you the details, but in a nutshell I’m now correcting problems like alignment and migration issues, which honestly sounds like my teeth are ready to retire to Boca Raton. I opted for lingual braces, which are metal brackets that attach behind the teeth because I was swayed by the promise of “hidden braces.” Nobody needs to know!

On the plus side, the lingual braces will work magic on my teeth and I don’t have to look like a teenager when I smile. On the downside, there is a major adjustment period while my tongue learns to speak properly with sharp metal objects infringing on its personal space. Supposedly it takes a week or so to adjust but I must be a slow learner because I'm not there yet. It’s been a very long week, my friends. Or as I like to say, my frienths.

My observations so far:

1. The “nobody has to know” is exactly true as long as I don’t talk. Otherwise I sound like I have a lisp AND a mouth full of marbles.

2. Some orthodontists call these braces incognito braces, which sounds very cool and James Bond-like. But I can’t even say the words CIA or spy without spraying myself in the face. So...not very cool at all.

3. I would like to temporarily change my name to Kate because hard letters are much easier to say. “Hi, my name is Lith” is getting so annoying.

4. Also annoying: My kids, who keep asking, "Can I call you Brace Face? What about Metal Mouth? Is it funny yet? What about now?" No and no and no and no.

5. The braces might be the best diet ever because it’s such a hassle to eat that I would almost rather starve to death. A 5-minute snack requires 45 minutes of brushing/flossing/waterpikking nonsense. Math has never been my strong suit, but even I know that’s a raw deal.

6. Having a work-from-home job is a big perk when you are self conscious about every word you say. Until... you have an outside meeting and must explain the new speech impediment. My boss was super supportive and said, “Oh thank God! I thought you had been drinking!”

7. For years my kids and I have been making fun of the way Ed Sheeran pronounces sixth when he sings “Under the lamppost back on 6th Street...” but now I’m convinced he has incognito braces too. Nobody needs to know, Ed! (But now we all do!)

8. My entire vocabulary has suffered. I’m avoiding all kinds of difficult “S” words and resorting to simple, toddler-like conversation. When trying to explain how I thought a recent event in the news could be a “slippery slope for the Supreme Court”...I instead opted for “Ugh. Bad.” Insufficient is now lame. Unconscionable is now mean. Luckily, all my favorite cuss words have hard sounds and have been unaffected.

9. To help buffer the pain, my orthodontist gave me all kinds of wax and goo to put on the brackets. These work pretty well, but I also found that a square of Dove chocolate gets stuck on the brackets just as easily, so I might as well leave it there to enjoy for hours and hours.

10. The Dove chocolate (#9) is sort of ruining my new diet plan (#5) but like I said...it’s been that kind of week, my frienths.

2016.02.LeoLiz Can you tell who has the braces (brathes)?

Peace and joy and other favorites

I hope this time of year brings you many words of joy. Words like...

No assembly required Dishwasher safe Batteries included One size fits all

And also,

I love you Please Thank you Hooray I love it Yes No thank you See you soon It's perfect You're welcome Come over I remember I love you, too

Thank you for reading my words here this year. I hope to bring you even more in 2016! xoxo

2015.ewm.holiday

Photo credit: Bonnie Berry Photography

Goodness

Like a lot of families, we try to incorporate volunteering into our lives--to support our community and to teach our kids by example. As a family we have done countless school fundraisers and charity races. We’ve collected blankets for animals and coats for kids. We've hosted bake sales for needy families and planted trees for needy parks. Every one of those projects was worthwhile and engaging, but this year we decided to switch things up. Instead of one-time projects we wanted to offer a steady stream of goodwill. We wanted an ongoing commitment that our family could do together and feel a real sense of investment.

It sounded simple enough because of course a city the size of Austin has plenty of needs. Then we factored in our kids’ age range and our busy family life and it wasn’t so easy after all.

So we started researching and began with this wish list:

1. Something meaningful to us.

2. Something that works with our family schedule.

3. Something that lets us work with friends.

Y’all, I’m happy to say we found a match!

It’s only been a couple months, but it already feels so great. Once a month we meet some friends (another family of 5) at Mobile Loaves & Fishes. We make sandwiches for the homeless and load up one of the trucks that goes out for delivery 365 days a year. When our schedules allow, we hope to make some of the delivery runs, too. A few incredible stats: Mobile Loaves & Fishes has 16 trucks and more than 18,000 volunteers in 5 cities and 4 states. They have served nearly 3.9 million meals to the homeless. That’s too many sandwiches to count!

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The organization has also created a 27-acre master-planned community that will provide affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive environment for the chronically homeless. We have worked out at the Community First Village and, like the truck ministry, it is full of family-friendly volunteer opportunities. In fact, one of MLF’s greatest strengths as an organization is how systematic and accessible they are. It’s so easy to volunteer that it takes away any obstacles or excuses.

Working with friends has been a huge perk. Our kids love seeing their friends in this type of setting. Sure, they joke around some, but they also take their jobs very seriously and try to out-awesome each other with their volunteer skills. As a bonus, with two families we have more flexibility if a kid gets sick or someone has a conflict.

And is the project meaningful for our family? Yes. Unfortunately, homelessness is a part of our daily landscape. We live in the middle of the city, a few blocks from an intersection that has at least one guy standing on the corner at all times of the day.

We use this intersection several times a day and for the past couple of years, a man named Eddie has been there almost every day. Eddie is there when we drive to ballet, to soccer, to art class. He’s there when we go to the grocery store, when we go for a run, when we go eat at a restaurant. Our kids see him when he’s cheerfully waving to all the drivers, when he’s yelling at a bystander’s dog, and when he’s stumbling up and down the curb with a bottle in his hand.

Countless times the kids have asked why nobody is helping Eddie. I’m usually at a loss for words. “Maybe people are trying...maybe he has a hard time accepting help...maybe he’s fighting some demons we don’t know about.”

Since we started helping Mobile Loaves & Fishes, the kids have a new question: “Do you think Eddie will get this sandwich tonight?” Maybe. I hope so. And if not this Eddie, then it will certainly help another Eddie we haven’t met.

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The holiday season is a great time of year to support your community, but it’s also a great time to commit to supporting it year-round. I hope you find something valuable that works for you and your family!

Other Austin organizations we love and support:

The Trail Foundation Austin Parks Foundation Little Helping Hands Austin Pets Alive

Vacation re-entry

 

CB2015

Vacation re-entry is a bitch. Especially when you leave the cool mountains of Colorado for the fiery urban sauna of home. Oh Austin, I'm trying to love you again but right now I'm deep in the stages of grief.

1. Denial. Noooo. This can't be that bad, can it? Sure vacation is over, but it's still summer. I like summer. I like home. I like real life. I like routines and chores. I like heat. Wait, what?

2. Anger. What in holy hell have I done? How did I get home and why is it 1,000 freaking degrees in the shade? Why are my kids asking me for meals or wanting to be taken to the pool? Why am I expected to open the bulging credit card bills that arrived while we were gone? Why do I feel so cramped? Are there suddenly more people in my family? We have spent two solid weeks together! How much more Together Time do they all expect?

3. Bargaining. Maybe if I don't unpack and don't do laundry we can just tack on another trip that leaves tomorrow. Maybe Hubs and I can alternate working while the other drives. We only saw a little snow in Colorado...we really should find some place colder this time. Alaska! Icebergs! I would cancel vacations for the next two years just to get a few more days of fun right now.

4. Depression. I will never be as happy as I was that one day last week, running down the mountain in long sleeves. Or that morning I drank 3 cups of coffee under a rainbow sunrise. Or that night of the outdoor concert when we stretched out at the base of a mountain, the sky changing colors every few minutes, the kids rolling down nearby hills, the wine and laughter with friends mingling into a perfect harmony.

5. Acceptance. If I can't be on vacation, I might as well be earning money toward the next one. School starts soon, and that means more hours in the day to work. Oh joy. But honestly, do I want to be the friend who complains about her vacation hangover? Don't we all hate that person? Ok fine. I'm home. I'm unpacked. I'm dealing. I'll just leave it at that.

 

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How are you surviving the last gasp of summer, my friends? I'm sending y'all strength and air-conditioned vibes!

Love is a rock

2015.heartshape.bw  

It started with a slick, dark rock retrieved from a mountain stream by a boy totally in his element: filthy, soaking wet and up to his knees in adventure.

He presented the heart-shaped rock to me in the completely casual way that 10-year-old boys often do. Check this out, Mom. You should have it. And I reacted in the overly sentimental way that 42-year-old Moms often do. I love this so much, buddy! I will find a special place for it next to all the other treasures you have given me!

Because things have a way of working out this way, his small gift started a habit that I've continued for a year. Whenever I'm out exploring, walking the dog, or really anywhere...one eye is on the lookout for heart-shaped treasures. Usually they are rocks, but sometimes leaves, cacti, shadows or puddles. A friend swears they seem to find me, not the other way around.

All three kids have joined in on the hunt. On my weekly runs with my oldest son, he insists we bring along my phone so we can photograph any hearts we find. For me, this simple tradition has become a moveable gratitude practice, a moment to pause, a hello from the universe, a hug from a lost loved one.

It's a small reminder to seek and you shall find. Look for love and you'll find it everywhere.

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Follow me on Instagram to see more of my #heartshape and #heartshaperock collections. #loveisallaround, y'all.

 

2015.05.heartshapecollage-1

 

A week of mornings

Mornings: Everybody’s got them. I happen to be a fan of them, and this week I’m documenting mine on Instagram. I’ve always been a morning person. As a kid I was the one at sleepovers who woke up early and had to lay there quietly, listening to unfamiliar sounds until my host would finally, finally wake up and show me where her mom kept the Froot Loops.

In college I consistently took 8:00am classes and would come home for lunch (and a nap) right as my roommates were waking.

A decade later as a new mom, I thought my early bird tendencies would totally pay off...but as all veteran parents know, every sleep habit goes to hell when a baby comes along. It wasn’t until I made peace with the fact that I would be exhausted for several years that I stopped counting my hours of shut-eye and got back into my regular early-morning routine, despite how my babies were sleeping.

Now here I am with growing kids and a busy family schedule. Waking up early has become a key factor to my personal happiness because absolutely nobody in my family needs me at 5:00am. That means it’s all about my own needs until the split second I walk back through the door...and then all bets are off.

The mornings aren't over this week, so there are still more photos to come, but here's a small taste of the whole series. Enjoy!

2015.03.Mornings-1-3

The #aweekofmornings thread was started by Xanthe Berkeley and has some incredibly lovely photos from all over. Plug in that hashtag and serve with your favorite breakfast!

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Before/After

Apparently it really does take months to unpack, but I think we are now as close to settled as we're going to get. As promised, I've got lots of before and after photos for you. It's so weird seeing the old photos of our home, even though most were taken just a year ago. The rooms are familiar and strange all at once. A quick overview of the remodel: We started with 1,650 square feet (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 living room and 1 small loft that we used as a bedroom). The goal was to get all the kids upstairs, rearrange the downstairs for better traffic flow and add a second living space. We also wanted to brighten up the entire house and pare down our furnishings to make everything look more cohesive. It was a tall order, but our awesome team made it happen. Because of neighborhood restrictions, we were limited on the amount of square footage we could add, but we were able to fit 3 new bedrooms and 2 new baths upstairs in 830 sf. (Hooray for a creative architect and a determined homeowner!) We went from 1,650sf to 2,480sf and love the final result. It feels like our old house vibe, but better...What more could we ask for?

 

EXTERIOR BEFORE: 2014.02.03.House-23

EXTERIOR AFTER: 2015.04.House-3

ENTRY BEFORE: IMG_4621.JPG (1)-2

ENTRY AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-57

ENTRY AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-51

LIVING ROOM BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-10

LIVING ROOM AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-35

LIVING ROOM BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-13-2

LIVING ROOM AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-38

DINING ROOM BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-22

DINING ROOM AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-6

DINING ROOM BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-19-2

DINING ROOM AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-12

OFFICE BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-8

OFFICE AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-83

KITCHEN BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-16-3

KITCHEN AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-14

STAIRS BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-23

STAIRS AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-64

MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE: IMG_4645.JPG-2

MASTER BEDROOM AFTER (now TV room): 2015.02.27.House-3

MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE: IMG_4652.JPG-2

MASTER BEDROOM AFTER (now TV room): 2015.02.27.House-11

UPSTAIRS BEFORE (photo is 5 yrs old, but gives size perspective. This was the entire upstairs): IMG_1224

NEW VIEW LOOKING UPSTAIRS: 2015.02.27.House-23

And then some AFTER photos that don't really have BEFORE shots...

NEW MASTER SUITE (created by combining two small downstairs bedrooms and a hall bath): 2015.02.06.House-27-2

2015.02.04.House-67

2015.02.06.House-29

THE 12-YR-OLD'S ROOM: 2015.02.06.House-6

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NEW BATH (GIRLS): 2015.02.04.House-100

NEW BATH (BOYS): 2015.02.04.House-113

THE 10-YR-OLD'S ROOM: 2015.02.06.House-16

2015.02.06.House-17

THE 6-YR-OLD'S ROOM: 2015.02.04.House-109

2015.02.06.House-22

GOOD LUCK CHARMS BEFORE: IMG_4624.JPG-3

GOOD LUCK CHARMS AFTER: 2015.02.04.House-17

Thanks for taking the ride with us! If you want to see previous posts about the project, check out these... Makeover Madness Dismantling I Spent Three Solid Days Obsessing Over Grout Color So You Don't Have To Moving Home

Also, big thanks to our team: Paul DeGroot, ArchitectGary Zygmont, Urban Home Builders and Houzz, which fueled my obsession and inspiration for every last design detail.

Throwback Thursday: Namesake

So many things I love about this photo, which I shot a little over 6 years ago....

My wee one was only a few weeks old, and we had gone on tour to show him off to loved ones who couldn't travel to see him. Here he is meeting his great-Grandpa, who shares his middle name. When I hear the phrase circle of life I think of small moments like this...beginnings and endings all blurred together, propelled by the love and energy of everyday life. Forget the big, bold stuff. Richness lies in these tiny atoms of beauty and grace.

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What my dog is wondering right now...

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What time does the school bus come? Do I smell a snack? What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding? Is it nature or nurture? How long til Liz makes me get off this yummy rug and on to my bed? Why does everyone in the house have a regular bed except me? What does “weight-management” dog food mean? I bet Isis from Downton has a sweet deal. And a king-sized bed. How did Katy Perry changed clothes so quickly during the Super Bowl show? What the hell, Sarah Koenig? Does anybody really know what time it is? How long until dinner? Plant, animal or mineral? Remind me again why Pluto can’t be a planet? How does gravity work? Why is it OK to chew on that rectangular thing but not this one? If everything evolved from amoebas, how do we still have amoebas? Squirrel? Squirrel?? Is it mind over matter or matter over mind? Why does Liz think I need music on when she leaves the house? I'm a dog. And the mailman is coming in 3, 2, 1.... I hope I peed on enough spots this morning. I totally could have caught that chicken if I hadn't been on the leash. Why the hell are there chickens living in the middle of our city? If a cat meows in the neighborhood and nobody hears it, did it really make a noise? What's the frequency, Kenneth?

 

Replacing the irreplaceable

2014.heartrock

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this photo. I have an affection for heart-shaped rocks and photograph them whenever I spot one. This particular limestone treasure sits on the property line between our wonderful neighbors and us.

Unfortunately we are losing these neighbors soon and I'm seriously bummed about them leaving our street. They aren’t going far, but anyone who has been lucky enough to have an amazing next-door neighbor knows how special the relationship can be.

So, now that their house is on the market I’ve offered to help screen the shoppers. It’s a crazy world out there and you never know who you’re going to get. To make it easier on all of us, I even drafted a handy questionnaire. For my readers’ benefits, I’ve included the correct answers. If you are a good candidate or know one, I just might put in a good word for you!

1. Do you have kids? Between the ages of 6 and 12?

Correct answer: Yes and Yes. No offense to the young professionals, the empty nesters, the intentionally childless, or the families with babies who make a midlife uterus do nostalgic flip-flops. But yeah...we are looking for neighbors with young kids.

2. Do you like kids?

Correct answer: Oh I get it. Trick question...because not everyone who has kids actually likes kids and not everyone without kids dislikes them. But yes, I like kids. Especially the noisy ones.

3. Is your kid perfect?

Correct answer: Are you serious? What a dumb question. No...Is yours?

4. Will you freak out if my kid acts like an ass to yours?

Correct answer: No? Maybe? I hope not, but if I do, I will be able to talk about it like a grownup. See answer above: kids are not perfect. And newsflash: neither are grownups.

5. What will you do if we see each other early Sunday morning, braless and in jammies retrieving our newspapers?

Correct answer: I will wave from afar. Unless I have really good gossip that cannot wait.

6. Do you keep avocados in stock?

Correct answer: Yes. And if yours is firm and mine is ripe and you need it for a recipe tonight I will gladly trade you.

7. Do you have a dog? Does it sometimes bark?

Correct answers: Yes and yes. It’s a dog...sometimes dogs bark. But I put it inside or give it a bone to chew on when the noise gets too much.

8. Would you mind if you found my kids digging through your recycling bin for building supplies?

Correct answer: No problem, as long as they aren’t drinking from my wine bottles.

9. Do you appreciate the difference between the all-day playdate vs. the 30-minute, outside-only playdate?

Correct answer: Oh yes! The all-day, in-and-out of the house/yard/pantry playdate is awesome and so wonderfully old school. But then there are days when the house is actually clean and you want it to stay that way for more than 5 minutes. And let’s face it, sometimes we need our space. Those days I'm all, “Stay outside! Thirsty? Turn on the hose! Hungry? Wait til dinnertime!”

10. Will you invite me to every single jewelry/kitchen gadget/clothing party you host?

Correct answer: I am allergic to those kinds of parties.

11. If my kid politely asks you to buy whatever kind of scout/charity thing he’s selling, will you buy one?

Correct answer: Every single time.

12. What’s your stance on toilet papering the house and trees?

Correct answer: I don’t if you don’t.

13. Are you going to blog about me behind my back?

Correct answer: I won't if you won't.

Hammering

2015.01.write-1 Sometimes you just have to start. Pick up the damn hammer and put a hole in the wall. How hard can that be? It’s only a tiny hole. Sure, it might end up being in the wrong place...too high, too low, too wonky. There is always potential for error. In fact, you may get a few holes into the project and realize you have the entirely wrong kind of equipment. You may have to pull everything out and start completely over, in the process making a mess or making a scene. Cleaning, patching and cussing invariably follow. If you are lucky, there will be no permanent damage.

But you have to start. You have to remember that this is not your first time. You’ve sat right here, usually in a January much like this one, and you’ve made plans and charted goals. You are not a rookie. You know that starting is the hardest part.

Yet. You are experienced enough to know that once you do finally start, once you make that first hole, you’ll eventually hang something on that hook, and it’s quite possible this something will look like garbage. Perhaps its no fault of the artwork, but once it’s placed, it simply may not work in the spot you imagined. You may find yourself starting all over again. You may have to scrap the plan entirely.

You may even (gasp) have to live for a while with a bare hook on the wall...goading and taunting you for your inability to finish something. That’s certainly one way to look at it. It’s often my default. But you could also take that bare hook as a sign of determination and optimism...a sign of starting. A sign of doing the hardest part.

A sign of picking up the hammer and hammering away.

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Happy New Year, readers!

I’m looking forward to a new year of storytelling through words and images. Thanks for being here and inspiring me to start...and then to keep going. Liz xoxo

All is calmish and bright

Only an optimistic fool like myself would expect to move into our house the week of Thanksgiving and have everything JUST SO by Christmas. Maybe other people can pull off that kind of magic, but they must be the kind of people who do their gift shopping in October (why don't I ever do that??) or who don't get struck with the Family Flu the week before Christmas (the family that fevers together believers together). So yeah, this week optimism took a hit and reality stepped in. Somehow, unpacking the last dozen boxes loses priority when you realize you still have multiple VIP gifts to purchase and Amazon Prime cannot save your sorry ass this time.

Which explains this room below...formerly known as our master bedroom, eventually to be a TV room, and currently Staging Area for all our random crap that doesn't have a home yet or hasn't been snuck off to Goodwill.

IMG_5168

As an antidote to that room, I've tried to carve out some spaces of calm among the clutter. These bookshelves are one of my top favorite things to come out of the remodel. When I need a little dose of tranquility, I go sit in front of these shelves and think...We might not be settled, We might not have any presents under the tree, We might not have planned our Christmas Eve meal for 12, We might still have Christmas cards to address...but by God at least all the red books are lined up together just so.

IMG_5170

Here's hoping that your holidays are filled with cheer and that you find your own happy little place of calm when you need it.

 

Liz  xoxo

 

 

Moving Home

This is our final, crunch week for the home remodeling project that has been consuming our lives for the past year...Hooray! We move in this weekend, just a few days before Thanksgiving...Hooray? Of course I'm so ready to be back in our house, but the holiday timing is not ideal. Or is it?? A few great reasons to move the week of Thanksgiving...

1. You are totally off the hook for all cooking responsibilities. (Sorry family, the pie pans are packed. Hello, Whole Foods!)

2. You have no time to shop or get sucked into Black Friday drama.

3. No need to haul the Christmas tree out of the attic..it's already sitting in the driveway!

4. You already have the gifts that every kid on your list wants anyway...giant, empty cardboard boxes!

Wow, I'm feeling better already.

I have been lax in posting photo updates here, but hopefully you've seen some of the updates on my Instagram feed. Here are a few of those progress photos. There are lots of tweaks and touch-ups happening right now, so I'll post true After shots once we are in and a bit settled. Stay tuned!

 

BEFORE:

2014.02.03.House-23

NOW: 2014.10.26.house-30

2014.11.18.house-11

BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-23

NOW: 2014.11.18.house-3

BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-10

NOW: 2014.10.05.house-1

BEFORE: 2014.02.HouseBefore-16

NOW: 2014.11.18.house-15

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you! I hope you have a moving-free holiday. Or if you do move, may you enjoy your store-bought pie, canned whipped cream, and cardboard box gifts.

Cheers, Liz

 

 

Summer Snapshot pt. 1

It's now half-way through summer and we've hit triple digits here in Austin. I don't even have to look at the thermometer to know for sure, because the clearest sign is that every little thing my family is doing has started to irritate me. Beginning with swiping my stuff every time I turn around. Which is how this came to be... photo 1 copy

And then I realized that even though I'm always happier in the sunshine, I've been finding more and more reasons to stay indoors. Like when this 3-hour reorganizing emergency happened...

photo

I know, I know....PUT THE LABEL MAKER DOWN AND BACK AWAY SLOWLY.

 

In between the obsessive-compulsiveness, we are tossing in some traditional summertime fun.

Like this...

photo 6

And this...

photo 1

And this...

photo 3

Lots of this...

photo 5

And when I'm lucky, some of this...

photo 4

 

But as we know, all play and no work makes for a boring household so I'm also trying to earn the Meanest Mom Ever badge. Exhibit A: insisting that my new 10-year-old finish his birthday thank-you notes while waiting at a doctor's appointment.

photo 7

All in all, it's shaping up to be a great second half of summer. Starting tomorrow we are escaping the heat, heading to the mountains, and leaving the label maker and To-Do lists at home. I'm bringing the camera, of course, so follow me on Instagram and just dare me to come back home from paradise.

 

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Battle cry

2014.06.20.SiblingRevelry-7 Four weeks into the summer and this is what my kids are fighting about:

 

He stole that one awesome LEGO piece that only came in that one awesome set.

She never has to shower first.

He's touching me!

Why won't he let me hug him?

He said he hates broccoli the most but only I do.

He's copying me!

She's ignoring me!

It's my turn to be It.

I always have to be It.

She harvested ALL of my Family Barn wheat and it takes 24 hours to regenerate.

He moved my pencil.

She sat in my chair.

He never walks the dog as often as I do.

He didn't let me find the farting cow on Pictureka.

He threw my favorite torpedo in the deep end.

She always guesses the trivia questions before me.

He smooshed all the silly putty into one big pile and now we can't tell whose is whose.

He keeps unplugging my Kindle from his charger.

She keeps using my Kindle charger and it's not my fault she lost hers.

He called me a brat.

She keeps calling it indigo but it's really blue.

He's humming.

She's smacking.

He's clapping.

He never gets in trouble.

She always gets her way.

They always, always think they're right.

 

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Want more? You might enjoy this one or this one about sibling revelry.