Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayers tonight

"Our Christian wisdom is to name the darkness as darkness, and the Light as light, and to learn how to live and work in the Light so that the darkness does not overcome us."

Fr. Richard Rohr
Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent

The darkness has seemed oh so powerful today.  Sending up prayers for the families in Connecticut tonight.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sweet Happenings

The boys had their now annual cookie exchange with their book group this week.  We've been a part of a homeschool group that gathers monthly to discuss books for a couple of years now.  Unfortunately, our participation varies with the season and sports commitments.  But it has been a great experience for both boys, and has nudged them toward books that they might have been reluctant to read if they weren't going to get to discuss them with their friends.

 And in addition to reading and discussing books, they have a fun event once a month.  This month - holiday cookie exchange!  I didn't get to go, but did get to help (read I made) cookies for them to take and we all pitched in on decorating.  (I might have quoted the The Little Red Hen story when someone was less than eager to help at one point...)  Not masterpieces, our cookies, but homemade.  And we're still enjoying the cookies they brought home.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Seen and Pondered Sunday

So much input, so little time...

1)  I could be a serious documentary junkie.  An unnamed someone might be known to give me a hard time about filling up the Netflix instant queue with documentaries that I don't get around to watching.  I'm not deterred though.  I'll get to them one day.  Now I can add these to the list:
5 More Documentaries That Could Change Your Outlook On Life from New Urban Habitat.

2)  Drive In Movies.  Went to a special homeschool showing of Elf at the Blue Starlite Drive In last Sunday. It was all kinds of fun.

3)  Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically About Global Issues by Paula S. Rothenberg.  This book is required for a class on international women that I'll be taking this winter term.  I just started it, but find it fascinating so far.  I really like essays as a form, and especially a good collection of diverse essays built around an interesting theme.  (This is related to my love for a good buffet.  I'm all about a smorgasbord, be it food or books.) The second chapter by Janice Monk challenges us to think critically about the motivations and assumptions that we might take for granted when looking at maps, and how they affect our view of the world. It includes a cartogram similar to this one from

"The size of each territory shows the relative proportion of the world's population living there."

4) I got my first smartphone this week, and I've spent more time than I'd like to admit looking for fun apps to load on to it.  I was giddy to find that there is a free rice app.  I've gone through periods in the past where I've stayed up late trying to get to new levels on the vocabulary portion.  And Charlie Brown and I went through a period a while back where we had a grand time challenging ourselves with the Famous Paintings.  Now they've added even more subjects, although some seem a little glitchy still.

5)  Community radio, on the internet.  My friend Molly has a new program on KOOP radio called Dear Lady Twist.  Currently broadcasting online only on Monday mornings from 8-9 am. Get your week started off right.

"'Get up off that chair, dear lady ...' These inspiring words from Gary US Bonds (Dear Lady Twist, 1961) begin the show's theme song. What follows 'has a good beat and you can dance to it.' Jitterbug, twist, waltz, calypso, funky chicken, two-step, slow stuff, salsa, whatever... 'you can't sit down...' Yikes!
P. S. ' the twist and you'll never grow old.'"

6)  Finally, more Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas:
"I believe Jesus was teaching a larger version of what many of us say today when we say that we must 'think globally, act locally.'  Because I am part of the Big Picture, I do matter and substantially so.  Because I am only a part, however, I am rightly situated off to stage right-and happily so.  What freedom there is in such truth!  We are inherently important and included, yet not burdened with manufacturing or sustaining that private importance."
Happy 2nd Sunday of Advent!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent thought for Wednesday

"Jesus is always inviting us to live in the final and full picture, and not to get lost in momentary dramas, hurts or agendas.  In Latin we used to say sub specie aeternitate, that is, to ask ourselves everyday, 'In the light of eternity will this really matter?'"
Richard Rohr
Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seen and Pondered Sunday

These are some of the things I've seen and found thought provoking this week:

1)  TED talks.  I feel like I'm a latecomer to this party.  Or maybe it just all seemed too hip in the past.  Or maybe it's not the best medium for someone like me that's primarily a visual learner. (I had to listen to one of the talks I watched for class this week 4 times to be able to remember and clearly articulate the message.  God bless the pause button on Lyman's Ipad.

Specifically as I contemplate the acquisition of my first smartphone, I was glad I watched this talk:
"Demand a Fair Trade Cell Phone"
I have a student from the DRC, and he tells me this aspect of the violence there is just not known or highlighted enough.

I also liked this one:
"How I Harnessed the Wind"
Pretty much you'd probably learn something from any in the "Africa: The Next Chapter" theme.

2) Watching the TED talks reminded me of these two thought provoking films I saw as part of a class on Families and Poverty last year:
The End of Poverty website

"Leasing the Rain" Frontline's program on the impact of privatization of water rights in Bolivia

3) Okay from a couple of weeks ago, but too good not to share.  Scientific research through online games and puzzles. Fold It came across my radar when we saw part of this Nova Science Now episode at our local yogurt shop.

4) Good cause meets fashion meets local. Open Arms. Good stuff  And Mona, featured in the ad below, is a former student of mine!

I've started off my Advent season indulging in the latest Louise Penny book, The Beautiful Mystery.  If you're a mystery book fan, and haven't read her before, I highly recommend starting with the first Inspector Gamache book, Still Life, and working your way through them all.

Happy 1st day of Advent!  Hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Losing my biggest fan

I have been terribly absent from this place.  I’m not sure anyone notices.  I’m not one of those big time bloggers who has thousands of followers and sponsors.  If I was, I’m sure I would have been fired by now.  I’ve always done this space for me.  Gathering thoughts, chronicling our lives, putting things out there in the universe to remind me what I’ve thought is important in our lives or the world.

But things they are a changing.  Many of the big gaps in my blogging are due to stupid mundane things like misplacing the magic connection cord thingy that lets my camera talk to my computer.  (This has happened way more than I’d like to admit….)  But ironically enough, I’ve also found myself go silent when big things, painful things happen.  I think a lot of people who blog might find this to be true, even if like me you suppose that only a handful of people, most of them related to you and therefore obligated, read what you write or look at the pictures you post.

me and Mom, Mt. Bonnell in the 90's

I’ve joked before that only my mother and three other people out there read my blog.  The total tally may or may not be true.  I let myself look at how many people were following me on Pinterest one day, then briefly compared it to my friends, and then realized how incredibly junior highesh I felt (Why didn’t I get invited to that girl’s party?  Why does know one like me?).  Now one of the really painful things makes that statement untrue, whether the overall total is right or wrong.  Now my mother is not here to read this.  She died August 29, 2012.  And that makes me incredibly sad.  

She was my biggest fan, and the most complicated relationship in my life.  She loved seeing pictures of my boys, and would occasionally say “I checked your blog, but you haven’t posted anything lately.”  I spoke with her often, but the pictures were another way to stay connected over distance. 
 the Grand Canyon, 1991?

So now, with her gone, I want to get back to blogging, but maybe do some of it a little differently.  Even before my mother died, much had changed or happened in my life that is important to me.  Much of it has gone unnoted here.  Although it’s been over two years, our foster daughter went back home to her family.  That event, and the experience with CPS and the previous 18 months she spent with us, were incredibly life changing and educational.  A little over a year ago, I went back to school part-time, trying to finally finish my undergraduate degree.  And this past summer, I got a part-time job.  A real, paying, part-time job, which I’m loving.  All these experiences have introduced me to people and ideas and websites and books that I think have value and are important.  I think I want to start noting some of these things here.

This does not mean that I won’t still chronicle other aspects of our lives here.  I still consider mothering my main gig, and if I do say so, I have some pretty handsome young men in my house and I’d like to keep including pictures of our adventures.  But it turns out that older children are a lot less agreeable to having you post cute pictures of them sleeping or perhaps dancing gangnam style.  And who knew, teenagers like their privacy!  While the 10-year-old is enough of a ham that he’s pretty amenable, and the teenager probably doesn’t me mind lauding more and more grownup type achievements, like getting his Learner’s Permit, I’m ready to mix it up more, and share some of the really interesting things I’m learning about through my college classes and my work teaching adults English, and just all the neat things I learn from the incredible people I’m privileged to call my friends and family.

So for the other 3 of you that were the loyal readers with my mom, hopefully I won’t bore you terribly, and you can carry the load.  She’s left a pretty big hole.

in memoriam
Peggy Joyce Harper Waller
April 11, 1937-August 29, 2012

St. Mark's Square, Venice

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roman Legion's Signum

Sometimes I feel like the least crafty homeschool mom in the world. My youngest would love to do lots of craft and creative activities all day long.  It's just not one of my strengths. Luckily the other day, the planets aligned and we actually had all the materials to complete one of the projects from The Story of the World Volume II Activity Book. As long as I provide materials and stay out of the way, he does great.  Behold, his Roman Signum.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

summertime tomato goodness

I'm so glad tomatoes are in season.  Easy dinner tonight - Ciabatta from Happy Vegan Baker, picked up at the SFC Farmers' Market East on Tuesday, a little olive oil and seasonings, fresh basil from my backyard, beautiful tomatoes from Tecolote, and some goat cheese (sorry Happy Vegan) to top it off.  A few minutes under the broiler.  Delicious summer dinner.  Maybe some peaches for dessert...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dinner. May 27

Still pretty focused on food.  I've been reading French Kids Eat Everything.  In a nod to the book, I put a tablecloth on the table and lit the candle.  Beyond aesthetics, the book is challenging me to put more effort into the content of our meals, and not simply accept and cater to the boys' inclination toward a limited palate.  Hence, dinner tonight was an attempt at meeting in the middle.  Summer squash soup garnished with flat leaf parsley followed by steamed green beans and pizza made with store bought crust and topped with garlic stuffed olives.  A few cherry tomatoes on the side and dessert of strawberries and a peach.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

watermelon radishes

3 months...where has the time gone.  I will start playing catch up soon.  But for today, simple food photos.  Watermelon radishes, courtesy of Tecolote Farm's CSA


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shrove Tuesday

On the eve of Lent, I wanted to share a link to my friend Dreena's blog. She somehow manages to keep up multiple blogs, all of which are wonderful, including ones about her adoption and weight loss journeys. Today I'm linking to her Catholic blog. Her words were just right for me as I embark on this season. I was especially struck by this:

"There is something in we humans that longs to be tested and stretched. There is a longing inside of me to know the breadth of my willingness; power is borne in letting go of control."

Please visit here Bright Catholic to read the rest of the article.

Happy Shrove Tuesday! Be open to metamorphoses and the miracles!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post Valentine's Day De-Brief

My fabulous early am-miles apart-parallel play-workout-text support-buddy Dreena has already heard these amazing revelations this morning, but I thought I'd share with my broader audience of five.

I had a wonderful Valentine's Day. Bike Monkey got his braces off; we bowled with Dreena's wonderful family and friends; my sweet husband brought me flowers and bread and really good cheese, then took me to a wonderful benefit concert at our church.

It was however, not the best eating day, unless you count french fries and chocolate as a good lunch. I had what is best termed as a sugar hangover this morning. So much so that even though I woke up around 5:30, in plenty of time to make it to the gym by my usual latest of 6, I was compelled to do really urgent things before leaving, like shopping for low-heeled wedge espadrilles online and looking at other people exercise in books and on the internet.

But I finally got out the door (reminded that somehow 6:30 a.m. traffic is much worse than 5:30) and made it to the gym. And of course I felt much better once I exercised. Which stinks, because if I didn't feel better I'd have a reason to talk myself out of it tomorrow. Anyway, I learned two things at the gym this morning:

1) My gym buddies are keeping track of me. One of them pointed out to me that I was late when I sauntered in at 6:45.

2) You can consume LARGE amounts of chocolate dipped strawberries and valentine dots (see photo below) without gaining weight, as long as you substitute them for a meal. No lie!

(Full disclosure, this photo is from last year. This year's were long gone before photographic evidence was recorded. And there was no hope that the strawberries would last long enough.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Color Run 2012

Chilly weather brought on by overnight cold front. Mud brought on by overnight rain. Fun brought to you by the first annual Austin Color Run.

Friday, January 27, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." See Soulemama

Thursday, January 26, 2012

colors of the rainbow - on my plate

Last night wonderfully colorful veggies to accompany my turkey burger. English peas, golden beets, and purple (!!!) cauliflower. Beautiful and yummy! If I'm not mistaken, beets and cauliflower are from Johnson's Backyard Garden, purchased at our wonderful local co-op, Wheatsville.

And once the florets were trimmed off, the cauliflower looked like a creature from the deep. How cool is that?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

this Thursday - Mirazozo

No catchy title, no breaking news. Just a day well lived and enjoyed. Beautiful weather; beautiful art; good friends and good food; good work.

Morning field trip to see Mirazozo by Architects of Air. It was simple and beautiful and moving and not stuffy art.

Lunch with homeschool friends at Sandy's Hamburgers. Lovin' the $3.89 Thursday special.

Quick dinner at home with jerk (thanks Lisa!) tilapia, coconut rice pilaf, and chard from my backyard. I love that chard is so hardy. Mine is totally neglected and just keeps producing through all kinds of crazy weather.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Endeavors

Both boys are trying out new sports with the New Year. After 5 years of our life being primarily dominated by mountain biking, Bike Monkey is taking a little break. Other sports have been explored along the way, like baseball, fencing and boxing, but by far biking has been the foremost sport for our family.

Bike Monkey is playing basketball with a YMCA league. They seemed pleased to have a 14-year-old who's six foot on the team. And I'm enjoying fitting some other things in our weekends. I wish I had a picture, but it turns out my sports photography skills with my current camera leave a lot to be desired.

Through the years, Charlie Brown has participated in t-ball, gymnastics, and even break dancing. His newest endeavor is aerial arts at Sky Candy. For those of you who know him, you know what a perfect fit this is for his personality. He's only had one class so far, but he really loved it and is looking forward to more. His favorite apparatus so far is the silk.

And in other family sports news, we headed to Main Event at the tail end of our holiday break. The boys and a friend enjoyed the rock climbing most. The kids even conned me into climbing too. I had forgotten how much I like climbing, but also not realized how much of a fear of heights I've developed in the last few years.

The kids, or course, were undaunted.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Soaking Up the Sun

It's a slow start back to school for 2012. Charlie Brown's out taking advantage of two Christmas presents - his new Kindle (thanks Grandma!) and the portable basketball Santa brought his brother. It's a hard life Charlie Brown. Feeling thankful for sunny winter days.