Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where in the World is Rene?

It's been awhile since I've mentioned my Favorite Sister. Well, she has recently graduated from college and has started her very first real job. I recently asked her some questions for my blog and she happily agreed to answer them.

So, Rene, what countries have you visited or lived in?

Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica, US, Canada, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Denmark, England, Wales.

Wow! You've been to some pretty interesting places. What was one of your favorites and why?

I really loved Bolivia. The country has it all—tropical jungles, the highest lake in the world AND the highest world capital, snow-capped mountains, beautiful music, vibrant colors, and great friends.

So, what are you doing these days?

I'm working at a historical museum, developing new exhibit space and giving tours here and there. And staring at the Mississippi River trying to spot bald eagles.

What is it like having a sister who was basically leaving home when you were born?

I always wished I could spend more time with her, and when I do get to, it's never enough.

Tell me about the Munchkins.

I love them to pieces. I’m proud to be an aunt. They give me an excuse to laugh and smile and play.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Vanilla, but only if it's Breyers Vanilla Bean. Otherwise, I'll pass on the ice cream and take a piece of my mom's cheesecake.

I'm with you on the cheesecake! White or wheat?


Places you want to visit before you die

India, Africa, Alaska (I've always been fascinated by my Grandma and Grandpa's stories of driving up to Alaska on unpaved roads. Grandpa said he'd drive 500 miles a day for nine days or something like that. Unbelievable.), anywhere and everywhere.

Do you have any adventures planned for the near future?

Not unless you count tromping around the wilderness of the kitchen, feeling my way through the dense forest of cutlery and cooking utensils as I slowly but surely get my bearings. (I did make a quite delicious egg-broccoli-cheese bake the other day.)

Favorite Starbucks drink?

Depends on my mood. Sometimes I just want a nice big cup of plain coffee (I love Casi Cielo) and sometimes I want a specialty coffee like a White Chocolate Mocha. Ooo, but an Iced Vanilla Latte—that's my real favorite. And thanks to my Big Sis for feeding (or enabling?) my Starbucks addiction.

Websites you visit every day:

All Astonishment, of course! and then some not-so-exciting ones--like my email account. Any other suggestions?

I don’t visit these every day, but I think they are too cool not to share:, where you can slop paint around on a virtual canvas (and pat yourself on the back for your creative genius), And an artistic tribute to Lincoln, which is fitting since it was recently Lincoln’s birthday (

Favorite book? Author?

I looove to read (I guess this runs in the family). One of my favorite authors is Steinbeck. My favorite book? I often have trouble remembering the plots of books after I read them (this must run in the family too), and right now I’m having trouble remembering any books at all! One that’s coming to mind is Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Another is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Weird random fact about yourself:

When people ask me this, I usually tell them that my only sibling is 17 years older than me. But I guess that won't work here,’s another one: I seem to have some strange natural talent for Minesweeper. And I love logic puzzles.

Thanks Rene. We're so glad you're back in the States!

Friday, February 27, 2009


"You," the teacher pointed at my daughter and spoke in a quiet voice. "You go hide behind the curtains."

"And you," his eyes turned towards me. "Hide in the bathroom. When you hear the knock, come out fighting."

"Yes sir." I caught my daughter's gaze and we exchanged a meaningful glance before jogging off to our assigned places. This was going to be fun.

It's never boring when Mr. N is teaching martial arts. He likes to implement what we've learned into a possible real life scenario. In this class, apparently, we were going to explore what would happen if a handful of attackers came out of the woodwork to target one person.

By the time class was over, we had learned several helpful strategies:

Keep moving, don't get stuck in a corner, run away if you can, don't fall down, if you have to fight - try to disable your opponent, use objects in your environment as weapons or shields and, above all, don't give up.

Funny, I think I used these same set of guidelines to survive when my children were young. ;)

Which, of course, begs the question, How Many 5 Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When Worlds Collide

Two of my favorite hobbies happily collided last night. When I showed up for Kickboxing class, a photographer from the local paper was taking photos for an upcoming article on self-defense and women in a college town. During the course of the evening, he moved about the room, taking pictures and trying not to get kicked. Or boxed.

At one point he took a few shots of my sweaty self and, when he whipped out his handy dandy notebook to write down my name, I had a chance to chat photography with him. He was surprised that I knew his name and when I mentioned my name, he remembered me from an interview that I did with his colleague. "You had some nice work," he told me. A complement from a Real Photographer. That made my week.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1811
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
P. J. O'Rourke

Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought.
Sir Arthur Helps
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
Sir Richard Steele
Never judge a book by its movie.
JW Eagan

I love reading. Mostly as an escape. I am constantly battling the lure of settling in with a good book verses attending to the list of tasks at hand. I know there's a balance somewhere but at times I struggle to keep it. If you could see my house right now, I think you'd know who won the battle this week! :P

So, have you read anything good lately? I've got some laundry that I'd like to put off a little longer and could use some recommendations.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I love looking at other people's photos on Flickr. There is some serious talent hanging out there! I am constantly being inspired and challenged to improve my own work.

Something in these photos has caught my eye. It might be a color or a concept, a prop or a pose. A unique angle or an interesting setting. A delicious detail. Whatever it was, it made me take a second look. Or a third.

Click here to access each photo individually.
Click here to see all of my favorites.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Press 12

I had a voicemail on my cell phone the other day. After dutifully listening to it, I was cheerfully given several options:

To listen to your message again, press 2.
To delete your message, press 7.
To undelete your message, press 4.

How distressing! What if I make a mistake or change my mind? I think there should be more options. How about:

To reundelete message, press 5.
To unreundelete your message, press 6.
To reundelete your message in Spanish, press 3.

Master Munchkin thinks there should be even a few additional options:

To blow up your phone, press 10.
To reblow up your phone, press 12.
To blow up your phone in Spanish, press 13.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Boy Named Sue

A conversation from our car yesterday:

Master Munchkin: If I have a daughter, I'm going to name her Sue. No, wait! If I have a son, I'm going to name him Sue. Then he'll run away from home.

Me: But someday he'll track you down and might want to beat you up for naming him Sue.

Master Munchkin, optimistically: I could always cut off his ear.

Me: So, my grandson is going to be named, "Sue" and he's only going to have one ear?

Master Munchkin: Yeah. You got a problem with that?

We're such a genteel family.

A Boy Named Sue

Friday, February 20, 2009

Instinctive Fears

"All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears--of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words "Some Assembly Required."
---- Dave Barry

I don't have a lot of phobias, but the one I do have wasn't on this extensive list: A list of Phobias

I was happy to discover that there are a lot of things that I am
not afraid of! Like otters. And beards.

Do you have a phobia? Not just a general dislike of something, but is there something that really frightens you?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Fight Like a Girl, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

My fabulous Flickr friend, Miz Booshay, walked phototographers though the process of making a diptych. I always learn something new from her.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trio of Pairs

Trio of Pairs, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

I saw these beautiful pears at the grocery store recently. They were almost too pretty to eat, so I brought them home and did what any wacko artistic photographer would do: I put them in a basket and hung them up in a tree in my front yard. I fear the neighbors think me a bit odd.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Miss Munchkin is reading Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. The unabridged version. All 1432 pages of it. When I was 14, I was an avid reader, but I was reading books like James Harriot's All Creatures Great and Small. Fun and easy-to-read stuff. Not foreign, historic, epic novels.

I think she became interested when she saw the musical last Spring. The themes of redemption, love, and forgiveness are timeless and moving. Plus there were catchy tunes.

After she finishes, she will write a paper on it for school.

I'm so glad I'm done with that part of my life (the required writing, not the reading)!

"You are right, Sir, when you say that Les Miserables is written for a universal audience. I don't know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone." Victor Hugo

Monday, February 16, 2009


Transition, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Can you believe that this is our Winter? Usually the skies are dark with snow this time of year.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love List

In honor of Valentine's Day, I made a list of things that I love about my family.

My husband
  • makes me feel beautiful
  • is a solid, stable guy
  • works hard for our family
  • makes me laugh
  • can still make me go soft in the knees
  • has incredible eyes
  • is uber intelligent
  • is an awesome father
My daughter
  • keeps her room clean all by herself!
  • has a beautiful smile
  • possesses a great sense of humor
  • is an awesome writer
  • talks openly with me
  • makes great grades
  • can kick my butt in martial arts
  • makes wise choices in friends
  • gives great backrubs
  • asks me for advice
  • has wonderful taste in music
My son
  • cracks me up hourly
  • is as sharp as a whip
  • is the most generous and unselfish child I know
  • is great at making friends
  • is 100% BOY
  • loves to grapple with me
  • makes parenting a delight

I have been blessed beyond measure.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Big Sky

., originally uploaded by MrsMama.

We've had some weather changes recently, which made for some dramatic clouds. This was shot in our front yard.

The Party

The Valentine's Party was fun and the Master's clementines were a hit, especially with the parents. I did overhear one child thanking the Master "for the candy orange" and another telling her mother that she wanted to eat the Master's orange but she didn't know how to "open" it! :P

Friday Funnies

Q. What's the fastest drink?
A. Milk - because it's past your eyes before you even see it!
(you have to read this one out loud)
Courtesy of Mr. B (not in the nose).

I was telling the Master about a fat, little mouse that I saw scamper in front of my car the other night.

"How do you know it was a mouse?" he countered. "Maybe it was a really small chinchilla. Or a sloth that drank too much coffee."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fruit of our Labor

This year I wanted to do something a little different for Valentine's Day. The Master is of the age where there is an Official Class Party at school, complete with many paper valentines and lots of sugar.

The Master loves clementines and bad puns so we went with this:

"Orange you glad it's Valentine's Day?"

It's hard to get a sense of scale, but these fruits are actually pretty small. We put them in short, plastic cups and added red heart stickers.

Easy! Healthy! Different!

The kids are going to hate me, aren't they?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Number 6

I was happy relieved interested to come across this list of 6 Famous Wordsmiths who Couldn't Spell. I was definitely surprised by Number 6!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Lesson

I guess you can't keep a good man boy down. The Master is bouncing back as much as possible from his Unfortunate Incident over the weekend. A meeting with an Orthopedic doctor revealed that the injury is more ligament-related than bone. He will wear a temporary air cast for the next few weeks while the ligament starts to heal, then we'll return for reassessment. He is in good spirits and is hopping vigorously about the house with a cool, camouflage-colored cane.

Here is the Master during his cello lesson. You can see the air cast on his leg.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Free is Good

Check out these beautiful, free Valentine's Love Coupons:

Love Coupons

Sigh. I know I'd love to get these (hint, hint, hubby!) :)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

How I Spent my Saturday

Yesterday I spent most of the morning kickboxing and grappling. I left my class totally exhausted and ready for some rest and recovery! After I got home, I skipped the shower and dragged myself straight to the bed. The Munchkins were playing outside and my husband was working on the computer.

Suddenly Miss Munchkin bursts in with the report that the Master was hurt and he was asking for me. They had been jumping on the trampoline and he had landed on his ankle and was in considerable pain. Sure enough, his ankle was huge and he was in tears. Off to the ER.

Of course, I looked and smelled fabulous with my sweat-dried hair pulled back in a hasty pony tail. There was a college basketball game in town so the ER was pretty busy.

The X-rays revealed that a stretched ligament had pulled a chip of bone off of the Master's talus, a bone in the ankle. We were sent home with an air cast and a referral to an Orthopedic doctor. We'll know more after meeting with him. In the meantime, I'm faced with the challenge of keeping an active 7 year old quiet and off of his feet for, oh, about 2 months. I'm open to suggestions!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Flight into Light

Flight into Light, originally uploaded by MrsMama.

Miss Munchkin runs into a field of local sunflowers. I love the contrast between her red dress and the yellow field.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tag! You're It

There is a fad floating around Facebook right now - 25 Random Things About Me. It starts when you get "tagged" by a Friend. You create and post your list then tag other Friends. And they tag their friends. And, well, you get the idea.

Here's my list, mostly taken from here. Because, if you're a proper blog stalker, 25 just isn't enough.

1. I have been spelunking.
2. In college, I met Maya Angelou. She said, "Hi Baby" in her warm southern accent.
3 .When I was 19, I helped physically build a church in Mexico.
4. I grew up in what some people consider a religious cult and lived in a Commune.
5. I have sung on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York. Yes, in front of an audience.
6. I know Sign Language and have taught at a School for the Deaf.
7. I had a horse and can ride both English and Western.
8. I was an only child for 17 years.
9. I have a Green Belt in martial arts.
10. I love stargazing and will drag my children out of bed at 3 AM to watch a meteor shower.
11. Once I stood right next to Holly Hunter at an art museum and pretended not to know who she was.
12. I feel light-headed if I see, think about, or think I see a broken bone.
13. I have never pierced my ears. Neither has my mom. My sister and daughter do have pierced ears - I think they are very brave.
14. I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth. Not literally - I am not that flexible.
15. I have a very dry sense of humor. Many people don't get it.
16. I would rather have a cavity filled than get sick to my stomach.
17. I like a clean and tidy house but my house is not usually tidy. Or clean.
18.On my honeymoon, I stayed in a mountain cabin with no electricity and lots of rodents.
19. For the first time in my life, I can now do push ups.
20. I have Crohn's disease.
21. One time I backed my husband's car into my mother-in-law's van. Not on purpose!
22. I have never gotten a speeding ticket. Or been pulled over.
23. I remember words to songs and melodies and can sing entire musicals and 3 hour choral pieces to you. Please don't ask me to.
24. I can read a book then re-read it a year later and not know how it ends.
25. Both of my children weighed almost 10lbs at birth.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

One Bite Won't Kill You

The hoot I was telling you about earlier is none other than Ann Hodgman. She's written 3 cookbooks called, Beat This!, Beat That! and One Bite Won't Kill You. These aren't your ordinary cookbooks. Ok, yes, they have yummy recipes in them, but she writes them in a way that will have you taking them to bed at night only to laugh so much that your husband will insist on knowing why you are cracking up, and then you'll have to read entire sections out loud to him. But you'll enjoy every minute.

A few more quotes to wet your appetite:

You won't be able to stuff this turkey. But wouldn't you secretly prefer that?

Is there anything more hateful than mint jelly?

I'm only saying 25 minutes per pound because I don't want anyone suing me.

You may be suspicious of the Miracle Whip. I was too.

Nothing makes me angrier than spooning through vats of broth and turning up just potatoes.

Immoderation in all things, as my father never says.

I'm not sure where you can buy Beat This! and Beat That! these days, but I've seen them used from time to time. If you see a copy, snatch one up!

Beat This!

There is a set of cookbooks that is perfect for this time of year. Not only is the food incredible, the author is a hoot! I'm off to pick up the Munchkins, but I will leave you with a few quotes to sustain you till I return and reveal all. I may even post one of her recipes for you to try.
For maximum guest intimidation, there's nothing like homemade crackers.

People bolt these down without chewing, like seals catching fish.

My friends would eat this dip with ladles if they could.

This will make you seem very cutting-edge and kamikaze-ish.

"I don't want to sound like The Bad For You Cookbook here. I'm not telling you that you have to use lard. I'm just saying it makes the best fried chicken. Same with the MSG. No one is making you use it! But as long as you're using lard, for God's sake, you might as well use the MSG too."

Like a Girl

Like a Girl, originally uploaded by MrsMama.