Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas, Early

Christmas came early.
My mind-reading mother-in-law, Saint Linda, gave me this butter dish from Anthropologie.
I'm good.
I don't need anything else.
Santa is off the hook.
Unless he just reaaaalllyyy wants to bring me a cuckoo clock.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Boys vs. Girls

There's nothing like being knocked up to make a couple sit around and weigh the pros and cons of having a boy baby vs. a girl baby. I'll be honest with you. We could have cared less. We were more concerned with the fact that the ultrasound tech was REALLY looking for important things, like holes in the heart and malformations of the spine. Yikes.

But once the baby was declared healthy and we wiped the cold sweat from our foreheads, the tech smiled and said "It's a girl." Our brains began to spin.

I'd like to preface this post by saying my husband is one of those delightful males who is totally secure in his manhood. He buys makeup and tampons for me. He shrugs his shoulders and says "whatever you want" when I eat too much pie, get high on a sugar level spike and start screaming, "I'm going to paint the whole house pink! Wouldn't that be beautiful?" He doesn't bat an eye when I putter back and forth in front of his tv line of sight and decorate the man-room mantle in the frilliest, sparkliest, girliest Christmas decorations... on November 17th. But that's another story.

Matt wasn't pining away for a male prodigy to burp and fist bump with. But as we held hands and gazed into each others eyes, I saw a tiny bit of worry in his deep violet peepers.

"I think my job just got harder," he smiled, happy tears rolling down his cheeks.

Ha. Just kidding. The only time I've seen Matt remotely close to crying was when Mabel was a puppy and got stuck behind the refrigerator. Again. Another story.

I shook my head and patted his hand, "Nope honey. MY job just got a lot harder."

And that's when I told him this story.

One time Mom and Dad had an argument. Dad stomped into the living room and Mom clanked dishes loudly in the kitchen. She simmered for a while, and then noticed the house was uncharacteristically quiet. She rounded the corner into the living room and stopped short.

Dad was sitting in his chair, eyes closed. Rebecca (age 9) was standing behind the chair, lovingly combing his hair. Rachel (age 5)was perched in his lap, patting his face. They both gazed at Mom accusingly, and continued to console poor Daddy. It was clear whose side of the argument the girls favored, and Mom was clearly the loser.

People always patted Dad's back and said, "Three daughters? I'm sorry." But the person they should have been handing apologies to was Mom. She was the one we rolled our eyes at and mouthed off to. We ignored her advice. We snuck around behind her back. Daddy was sacrosanct.

So as unfamiliar as pink tutus and intricate architectural constructs of the female pony tale may be to Matt, he's not the one who really has to worry. I do. He'll be the good guy. I'll be the one who says things like, "No, you can't get your ears pierced a third time, you're ten." And Jane hold up a hand, and mumble "whatever mom" as she trots off to give Matt a foot massage.
And I can't wait.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Twinkle lights, kitchen

The boxes have come out of the attic.
The twinkle lights are going up.
The tree has a broken bulb and an unlit branch.

I've gained thirteen pounds since I got pregnant.
Mabel has gained one. It's her "sympathy pound."
Matt is watching football.
All is well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

My mom painted this. There are two tiny figures standing out on the pier. That's me and my dad when I was a little girl. For some reason it's always reminded me of Thanksgiving.

I've been thinking a lot about thankfulness lately. We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Our jobs were kept safe. Baby Jane is healthy. The book sold.

It made me think about the whole concept of thankfulness. I used to believe that being thankful was something that happened as a result of good things. Raise = thankful. Birth = thankful. Money = thankful. Vacation = thankful.

But then I thought back. Back to the last couple of years. I thought about 2008. I spent that year watching Angela get sicker. She died that December. I thought about 2009. I went to a grief counselor. I woke up in the middle of the night, dreaming about Ang. Some dreams were good. Some were not. They were flashbacks to hospice and beeping hospital monitors. Those dreams woke me up in the middle of the night, sweating, unable to go back to sleep.

It was hard, sometimes impossible, to be thankful during those years.

There is a lovely couple at our church, Pat & Lynn Wright. While talking to me about her husband's cancer treatment, she reached out to touch my arm.

"Liz, God is good all the time."

A huge lump formed in my throat when she said it and I swollowed furiously, trying not to cry in public. There they were, facing cancer. And yet, she smiled. She encouraged me. They had peace. Because God is good. I was humbled.

I used to believe that happy, optimistic people were just in denial. That they weren't as realistic as the rest of us. But not anymore. Optimists just make better choices. They choose to believe God is good. They choose to believe their lives are good. And maybe "optimist" is the wrong label. Maybe the right label should simply be "thankful."

I realized then, and have more and more as time goes on, that God really is good, regardless of whether we are being showered with physical fortune or not. He was good in 1984 when mom painted this painting. He was good in 2008 when I was crying. He was good in 2009 when I was recovering. He is good now. Thankfulness doesn't have to be accompanied by blessings or gifts. Thankfulness is a state of mind. It is a choice. A place where you can stand and smile and say "God is good all the time" regardless of your circumstances. The Wrights taught me that. Writing the book taught me that. Angela taught me that. God taught me that.

So Happy Thanksgiving.

May you be blessed in your soul no matter what is happening this year.

Because God truly is good all the time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mabel Steals My Pillow (AKA The Battle of the Couch Continues)

I thought this cute pillow would look good on my little brown retro couch that hurts my bottom so I'm trying to distract myself with cute little decorative pillows. How's that for a run-on sentence. And not using the appropriate question mark punctuation.

I'm feeling rebellious today. Here's why.

Mabel and I have been feuding over her inappropriate pillow usage for many, many years now. Like this. Or this. So finally I called her bluff. I bought a couch on Craigslist. It's very Mad Men. It has no detachable back cushions for her to crush. It's also tiny. And hard. It hurts my tailbone.

But I had limited choices. Like being broke and only being able to afford a $60 couch. Also, and I haven't mentioned it until now, George and Mabel had a "pee-off" contest on the old fluffy couch years ago. Whenever a visitor sat on the old couch, their body heat slowly released the acrid aroma of prehistoric dog urine from within the cushions and into the air. No amount of cleaning ever helped. And we probably lost friends over it.

"Did you smell that?"

"Yeah, when I sat on the couch. Was that..."

"Piss? Yes. It was. They're gross."

"Let's never talk to Matt or Liz again."


So... after all that whining and explaining... you can see why I'm stuck with a really good looking yet incredibly uncomfortable retro couch. And why I keep deluding myself into thinking that cute pillows will help the situation.

But they don't help. Mabel continues her crush-a-thon on all things pillow related. The couch remains uncomfortable and makes me rub my aching tailbone in what could be perceived as a very inappropriate gesture while I gripe, "I'm pregnant. I should have something soft to sit on. Maybe I'll just buy one of those hemorrhoid donut things." *SNIFF SNIFF*

Mabel, on the other hand, gives the new pillow 4 stars for fluffiness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

November, Really?

It's November. I almost want to pinch myself. When did this happen? I'm cracking out the pine cone dishes. And the Bing Crosby music. And the cookies.
I gave Mabel a small piece of cookie while Matt watched. No chocolate. She was perhaps the most thankful dog in the whole wide world, even though I ended up yelling at her to be still so I could take the picture. She totally doesn't get the importance of blog pictures.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Chalkboard Announcement

And her name is Jane.

Boy or Girl?

The baby kicked me last week.


Matt felt it with his hand.

It was very cool.

Also, I'm wearing this green scarf all the time.

It fits my mood.


We're off to find out the big question today.

Boy or girl?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bring It On Time Change

"Falling Back" is not my favorite phrase.

But with the shorter, darker days comes a lot of happy home time. There's nothing like chilly temps and long shadows to make us retreat into our houses, do some laundry and watch old movies. Mabel likes it too, mostly because she burrows into the laundry piles when I'm not looking. And no, I don't rewash them afterward.

Time change always lights a fire under me to organize closets and get rid of excess 'stuff.' I've been tackling the kitchen storage especially. You can't really tell, but I've emptied out the whole top shelf in the laundry closet. We're calling it Operation Make Room For Baby.

So despite the lack of sunlight, I look forward to getting rid of books I won't read, dust bunnies I don't like, and walking back and forth in front of the guest room, imagining it as a nursery. This year I say, "Bring it on time change."

Monday, November 15, 2010


Current favorite meal: bratwursts and this relish.

Homemade Relish

2 dill pickles, chopped
4 teaspoons pickle brine (fancy word for juice)
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
salt & sugar to taste

Bridal Shower, True Friends

I love this picture. Julia is pregnant too. We both have achy hips. She got down on the floor, at a shower, in a dress, to show me physical therapy exercises. When I think of true friendship, I will always be reminded of this picture. I love her.

Like I said, we were at a bridal shower. Our friend Kristi is embarking into the wonderful world of marriage. The ladies at church know just how to give the right send off: cupcakes, presents and lots of prayers.

We ate fruit. We told funny stories on our husbands. We coveted Kristi's awesome new Cuisinart food processor. We ate some more.

And thanks to Julia, my hips are feeling better already.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Non-Nursery Nursery Inspiration

When I was young I used to watch My Fair Lady constantly. I was always so offended when Professor Higgins would shout, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?"

But lately, I find myself voicing a similar complaint.

"Why can't a nursery be more like a fun kid's room?"

I might be the only woman in the world who isn't a huge fan of traditional baby nurseries. Pastel colors and sugary sweet themes aren't totally my thing. But THIS room, now this is a room to love.

These pics come courtesy of Meg over at Whatever. She decorated this room as a guest-room/play-room for her kids. I love it. I love the bright colors. I love the fun fabric. I love all the vintage/thrifty finds. Maybe a nursery CAN be more like a kid's room.
P.S. And THANK YOU for all the fun nursery links yesterday. There were some great ones, and I got a lot of inspiration!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Little Project

Perhaps I violated some sort of sacred brass-is-precious rule by spray painting this.
But that's OK.
It won't be the last time.
I really do hate brass.
So much better.
I'm thinking this will make a good table centerpiece for Christmas.

And I love this color. It's almost the exact same color green as the dresser in the guest bedroom, soon to be nursery. Speaking of nursery, anyone have some inspiring baby-room links to send my way?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Should Be Writing But...

I've got edit brainstorming to do. But life is distracting. Like watching TV. Waiting to feel tiny baby butterfly kicks. Planning Christmas gifts. Plotting nursery ideas. Trying to find a black maternity dress for a wedding. Admiring the crisscross patterns the late afternoon sun makes across the floor.

And then when I finally do make it into my office to do some work, there's that pesky problem of Christmas movies stacked on the book case, conveniently within reaching distance. It's a big toss up when you think, "Hmmm, writing, or Christmas in Connecticut?" Sigh. I'll put nose to grindstone very soon. Just as soon as I move all those movies into the den.
Thank you for ALL your well wishes yesterday. I am so thankful for the love and encouragement I've received from you ladies!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Real Book

My agent, Laurie Abkemeier, sold the book I wrote. I'm still reeling.

My sister Rachel summed it up when she said, "Liz, you're going to have a REAL book."

In honor of such a huge announcement I thought it appropriate to revisit the "Monkey Face" picture. Not because it's related to the news. It's just funny. And Matt may or may not have caught me trying to reenact said Monkey Face in the mirror last week. I blamed it on my hormones.

So what's it about? The announcement went out yesterday and said this:

"Mabel's House blogger Elizabeth Owen's WHO STOLE MY GREEN GABLES? A Tale of Friendship and Faith -- and Learning to Love What You Have, a humorous memoir about what happens when the quest for domestic perfection meets reality, and comedy meets tragedy in the form of a best friend with cancer, to Mary Norris at Skirt, at auction, by Laurie Abkemeier at DeFiore and Company (world English)."

Anyone that's read my blog for the past few years knows about Angela. And yes, she's a central part of this book. I wanted to write a book that would make you laugh. I wanted to write a book that would make her proud. I wanted to write about losing her in a way that would leave a reader smiling and feeling hopeful, not sad. I hope you'll like it.

So that's my news. I'll keep you posted as the process gets started and let you know the release date (which will be at least a year). In the mean time, I'm going to search the house for my smelling salts. Or more realistically, pregnant-friendly Tylenol.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good Weekend. Scratch That. Great Weekend.

Why so great? Energy. Lots and lots of glorious, wonderful, sunshiney energy.

This weekend consisted of a haircut. A shopping trip to Wal-Mart. (By the way, Wal-Mart has a couple of big jar candles - Mulled Cider and Pine - that are $4 a piece AND smell just like Yankee Candles.)

I cleaned house a little. Played with Mabel. Helped throw a bridal shower. Hung out with Matt and watched tv while cuddling under blankets in the chilly house. We had to turn the heat on.

And the best part? I cleaned my office, which has of late become dumping ground for all things baby related.

Like I said. Glorious energy. Great weekend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Goodbye Flip Flops

Arkansas waited patiently for fall. It's finally here. It rained all night. I slept like a log for nine hours. No leaky roof like last year.

This morning was dark and drippy and cold. I turned on the heat. It seemed like a good day for a dress and tights and boots. Although, I can barely see my boots.
It also seemed like a good morning for hot chocolate in my car. The ducks swam in the rain. Boat dock lights twinkled in the distance. Goodbye flip flops. Welcome fall.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All's Well That Ends Well

Cranky Pants.

Meanie Face.

Moody Patooty.


The Word that Rhymes with Witch.

These descriptions give you a clear picture of what it's like to be me right now. Last night I stood in the shower, reduced to tears because the brand new bar of goats milk soap my mom bought for me slipped from my grasp and fell to the bottom of the tub. They weren't gentle, sweet tears. It wasn't one of those "aw, she's pregnant and emotional" moments. It was scary.

My nose turned red. My face twisted like an angry turnip and I blubbered. I tried to grab it as the rogue soap slipped side to side around the drain. Shampoo ran into my left eye. I began to scream in pain.

It was the pregnancy-hormone equivalent of Armageddon.

And so I finally kicked the soap. I stubbed my toe on the side of the tub. I cursed, incorporating words like "rat" several times into my tirade. The soap flew into the air and believe it or not, I caught it. Mid air. Right in front of my face. I sniffed a few times, held my eye open under the shower to wash it out (which had at this point had turned an angry shade of pink), and proceeded to finish my shower.

I believe it was Shakespeare who coined the phrase "All's well that ends well." And I guess that even applies to hormone-laced, profanity-filled, eye-stinging, soap-losing showers.

Weekend Recap

So this weekend I went home to Mountain View.
I skyped with Becca.

I loved on Mom & Dad's dog Lucy.
Mabel was didn't appreciate it at all.

I rested, went to Bean Fest, and spent the rest of the time apologizing to Mabel for loving on Lucy. It was fun. It was relaxing. And I wore those gray sweats the entire time.