Sunday, March 30, 2008

Right Cross

In honor of tonight's kickboxing class, I wanted to show you how to do a proper right cross. This is one of my favorite punches and is quite powerful when done correctly.

Jane Welcomes Spring

Jane Welcomes Spring, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Jane Austen enjoys the blooms in the local fragrant garden.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Thought, Indeed

Cheer, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.
~Beverly Nichols

'Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!
~William Wordsworth

Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you.
~Edward Payson Rod

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.
~John Ruskin

If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.
~Audra Foveo

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.
~Gertrude S. Wister

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pictures of Perfection

Here are some simple tips from National Geographic's website to make your future family photos much, much better. I wish I'd read this years ago.

Tips from Joel Sartore's book, Photographing Your Family

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just for Kicks

Last night the Munchkins and I tested for our new belts in martial arts. Master Munchkin has a natural infinity, I guess, for kicking and punching for he received his yellow belt and got bumped up to the next age level. He is quite proud, since most 7 year olds stay back another year.

Miss Munchkin and I received our orange belts. This represents that we have learned a certain set of skills and have attended about 6 months worth of classes. We are still the "new kids on the block" since it takes about 3 years to become a black belt at our martial arts school.

Last night, we were tested mostly on boxing technique, including jab-cross-kick combinations with a few parries, covers, and hooks thrown in. We also were graded on our kicks - front, side and roundhouse.

Also included in our yellow belt training (but weren't on the test) were several self-defense techniques, such as how to get out of various choke holds and hair grabs. This is one of our favorite parts of class - where else can you officially choke your daughter with two hands or pull your mom's hair? ;)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Best Evidence

"Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is..."

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Good Memory

Remember, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

"...a good memory is unpardonable."

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice

Monday, March 24, 2008

Greetings from Machu Picchu

The latest in the "Where in the World is Rene" saga

My Favorite Sister checks in from Machu Picchu, an ancient city in Peru.

Here she is frightening feeding the local llamas

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

All Things New, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Enjoy this season of hope, growth and new life.

He is Risen!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

88 is Great!

88 is Great!, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

My Grandmother is turning 88 this week and is also celebrating her Sixty-Ninth wedding anniversary. Since they live in another state, we had to celebrate from afar. My mom and dad came over and we posed for a 3 generation Happy Birthday Photo.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.

This article caught my eye, The Holiday Hallmark Can't Handle.
Good Friday is the one Christian "holiday" that the wider culture, even in America, has not taken up. It is the one holy day whose Christian significance cannot be bleached out to leave a commercially viable residue. Christmas can be for children and families, for shopping, for feasting. Easter can be bunnies and baby chicks, the newness of spring and a whole lot of chocolate. Even a couple of days marked out to honor saints in some Christian traditions-Valentine, Patrick-have been pretty much entirely taken over by a culture of romance and hedonism, sex and shopping.
Not this day. There is nothing marketable about Good Friday. Suffering, sacrifice, injustice, betrayal-what's to celebrate? What's to shop for? Who could pig out on a day like that? (the rest)

Also, this article is worth a read, Good Friday Surprises.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Far and Away

My Favorite Sister had an amazing adventure in the Peruvian jungle and traveling down the Amazon River. From her recent email:
I held a 3 toed sloth and had an anaconda around my neck! I also pet a very tame and friendly tapir and watched river dolphins jump in the Amazon. I had no idea there were dolphins in rivers....but there are! We had a very knowledgeable guide who knew everything about the jungle plants and animals. We took jungle walks and boat trips down the river. Once we ventured out at night to go looking for alligators. We didn't see any, but we did get to float in the river in the middle of the rainforest and listen to all of the amazing night sounds.

This weekend she is headed to a famous, ancient city - can you guess what it is?

Hint: It is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Right Conduct

"What is right to be done cannot be done too soon."
Jane Austen (Mr. Weston, Emma)

Respect for right conduct is felt by every body.
Jane Austen (Mr. Knightly, Emma)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Go Thither

I've mentioned before that my husband and I speak different languages. Oh sure, we both use the English language, but our words mean very different things! For example, on his blog he says things like, "The children array contains the list of child namespaces. This can be convenient since child namespaces are stored in their parent namespace alongside all the other stuff". Faithful readers to this blog will note a subtle difference:

Student: How did you change the camera exposure on the fly like that?
Me: I turned the little dial.
Student: Which dial?
Me: Oh, you know - the one on top, next to the Thing. Next question!
(from Class, Please Welcome MrsMama)

It's a good thing that love transcends language barriers. Or, for an analogy that my husband would appreciate:

Love is like pi - natural, irrational, and very important. --Lisa Hoffman

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Power of the Push Up

Can you do push ups? Not too long ago, I couldn't. Well, maybe I could do one -if I was on my knees. But since starting Krav Maga a few months ago, my fitness has improved. Now I can do about 16 "real" push ups. My current goal is 20.

Both the Munchkins can do proper push-ups. They can both do more than I. Even the Little One. Miss Munchkin can crank out 30 in 1 minute. She's my hero.

The New York Times had this to say about the push-up. Read the article to see why it's an important skill. Then drop and give me 20.

Dog Vs. Cat Diary

(author unknown)


7 am - Oh boy! A walk! My favorite!
8 am - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9 am - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
Noon - Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!
2 pm - Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!
3 pm - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
4 pm - Oh boy! Playing ball! My favorite!
6 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Mom! My favorite!
7 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Dad! My favorite!
8 pm - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9 pm - Oh boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My favorite!
11 pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in my people's bed! My favorite!


Day 783 of my captivity

My captors continued to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from clawing the furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant.

Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded. Maybe I should try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to throw up on their favorite chair. I must try this on their bed.

Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little kitty cat I was. This is not working according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary confinement throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More important, I overheard that my confinement was due to my powers of inducing something called "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit.

The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant. He speaks with them regularly, and I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured. For now...

Spring Fever

Handstand, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

"It's spring fever...You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

Mark Twain

Friday, March 14, 2008


Suzuki workshop, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Master Munchkin recently attended a Suzuki workshop. (You can see him on the left side of the stage, in the green and blue stripped shirt.) The teacher of this session is Eric Hauck, a cool cellist who was classically trained and plays in rock bands.

These students are being trained in the Suzuki method, where music is taught at a young age as a language and an aural art. You may be familiar with the "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" theme that students learn quite early.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Irish Dancing

St. Patrick's Day is next week. I think we should all try this the next time we are waiting at the post office:

The Truth About Irish Dancing from Irish KC's website

I will if you will! :)

Where in the World is Rene?

This week, my Favorite Sister is exploring a rain forest, visiting the Most Populous City in the World that Cannot be Reached by Road, and boating down a famous river. Where is she? Any guesses?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On the Shoulders of Giants

The Way Home, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

- Sir Isaac Newton

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chasing the Wind

Overheard in Miss Munchkin's classroom:

Teacher: What's the purpose of an education?
Boy 1: to get smart
Boy 2: be able to get a good job
Boy 3: get though life
Teacher: Actually, the purpose of having an education is...
Boy 1: to get educated
Teacher: learn how much you do not know.
Boy 2: So we need an education to learn that we're stupid?
Teacher: The purpose of an education is not to get a job. If you think that, you are chasing the wind.
Boy 2: But, if you were really fast...
Boy 1: It's actually really easy to catch the wind.
Boy 2: Yeah, you just stand in front of it and it catches you!
Teacher: Guys, you are trying to avoid this conversation. You are using everything you've got to change the subject and avoid talking about this. What's the matter with you?
Boy 1: A.D.D.
Teacher: I think it goes further than A.D.D.
Boy 1: A.D.H.D.
Teacher: This is vanity!
Miss Munchkin: ya think?

Monday, March 10, 2008


Yesterday I spent the day at a National Geographic photography seminar and came away inspired. One of the tips that I learned was that you can use your wide angle lens to produce vertical photos that really provide a sense of depth. You can get so much "information" in a photo when you can show both the foreground and what's happening behind. I took my camera to the lake last night and shot this:

I love the sense of scale here. I think the viewer gets a feel of the majesty of the sky.

It was reassuring to know that even National Geographic photographers don't know what all the buttons on their cameras do. And they take lots of pictures and delete most of them. Just like me. :)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

National Geographic

National Geographic is hosting a photography seminar in our area and I am going! Right now. Literally. I'm so excited!

Jim Richardson is one of the presenters. Here are some of his incredible photos.

For a mini-lesson of your own, check out NG photographer Annie Griffiths Belt's 10 tips for taking great pictures.

Dry Me Pants

Dry Me Pants, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Miss Munchkin left this for me on my computer screen. I just love her Irish-Pirate accent! (Especially since she is neither Irish nor Pirate) :P

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mostly Martha

You may have seen the DVD, No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, in the New Release section at your local movie store. If you are tempted to rent or buy it, first check if the store carries the movie "Mostly Martha" (2001). It's the exact same story, except that Mostly Martha is in German and the acting is, well, good. If the thought of subtitles turns you off, I think that you will become so quickly sucked into the movie that you don't even realize that you are reading them. Sibylle Canonica brings a believability to role of Martha that Catherine Zeta-Jones, um, lacks. Of course, I'm a woman and you gents may be able to overlook that little flaw and be a bit more forgiving. ;)

Just a subtle suggestion: Mostly Martha would make a great weekend movie.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quote of the Day

". . . from politics, it was an easy step to silence."

Jane Austen, Northanger Abby

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cat Nap

Cat Napper, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it's not a waste of time. - Martha Stewart

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Giant Pencil

(Overheard in Miss Munchkin's classroom)

Teacher: Put the giant pencil down.
Student1: I don't have another pencil!
Teacher: Borrow one.
Student2: What do you have against giant pencils?
Teacher: Nothing, other than the distraction that it causes.
Student2: Are you prejudiced against giant pencils?
Teacher: (calmly) Just their distractions.
Student2: You're prejudiced against giant pencil distractions?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Card Shark

A quote from last night's family card game:
"You're just trying to trick me into bluffing you!"
Master Muchkin, age 6

Another Classroom Conversation

Overheard in Miss Munchkin's classroom:
Teacher: Let's see...who can I pick on...." (chorus of "me"s follow) "Tannyr, can I pick on you?"
Tannyr: "Yeah...."
Teacher: "Now watch as I push on Tannyr's head with my hand. Does that hurt?"
Tannyr: "No."
Teacher: "Now, what would happen if I pushed on his head with this little thumb tack?"
Tannyr: "Ahh!"
Teacher: "Would that hurt more?"
Tannyr: nods quickly
Teacher: "What's the difference?"
Preston: "Yeah, there is no difference, so it shouldn't hurt."
Teacher: "What's the difference?"
Tannyr: "It hurts more...."
Teacher: "But I'm using the same force! So it shouldn't hurt more."
Preston: "Yeah, prove it!"

Sunday, March 02, 2008

All Astonishment

Yesterday, while I was out of the house, Miss Munchkin did some cleaning.

She swept, mopped, vacuumed, picked up toys, cleared off counters, cleaned the bathrooms, made beds, dusted and did laundry. Apparently, she took some photos:

The place looked great.

I hadn't asked her to do any of it. What a surprise and what a blessing!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Neither Safe, Nor Politic

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."
 - Martin Luther King, Jr.