Deja Vu


So I finally finished off the painting today and here are a few pics for your viewing pleasure. The blue isn't quite as deep as I was going for. Not quite sure yet if I'm 100% happy with it. Funny thing is after trying so many shades, it looks suspiciously like I ended up with something a lot similar to our kitchen in Phoenix. I love the gray in the dining room (so named for it's future potential). The color ended up cozy and sophisticated.

So one day there will be furniture purchased for these lovely rooms. But right now it really does feel amazing to have a little more of me in the house. Next project is to change out that embarrassment of a chandelier in the dining room.

And then find a piano for the living room... And some bookshelves to flank it... And of course a big table... And a new couch... There's always going to be one more thing...

But for now I'm really, really happy.

For those of you keeping track, these are rooms 10 and 11 that I've painted this year. It makes me want to cry. I'm going to go for my master bedroom over the Christmas break to make it an even dozen.


Just an informational post for those that are on Blogger. I could very well be light years behind the curve, but I just started using Picasa on my laptop as a stop gap due to some problems with my primary PC. I normally use Adobe Photoshop Album and love it's organizational capabilities. But Picasa and Blogger get along VERY well and has eliminated that annoying single upload of every single picture issue (which annoys me to no end). Just select your photos and push a button and it will upload directly to Blogger. Not sure if I'm going to switch permanently. But for those of you looking for a free and awesome solution, I would definitely check out Picasa for photo managment. It is a google product after all and they do rule the world.

We are zoo people

We went to visit the San Antonio Zoo yesterday. We are definitely zoo people and were excited for our first Texas zoo experience. It was a really fun (and long) day. Kind of rainy in the morning, but cleared up to be a perfect day to be outside. The zoo is more compact than the Phoenix zoo, but really beautiful and has some good animals.

Feeding the Lorikeets was one of the best moments of the day. You buy a little cup of nectar then go into the enclosure to have dozens of birds come maul you for the sweet stuff. Tessa had one land on her head and was definitely alarmed, but didn't scare her away from the birds completely.

Anyone else remember these Mold-A-Rama machines from the zoos in your childhood? I was thrilled when I found these. Just the smell of the hot plastic brought back lots of memories. Tessa got an orange giraffe and Sylvie got a blue jaguar.

We capped off the day by going to see Madagascar II. Thought it was appropriate considering it stuck with the animal theme. The girls said it was, in their characteristic style, "the best day ever". Lots more pics here.

Mmmm Turkey


We had Thanksgiving with friends here in Austin and it was a lovely day for the adults and the kids alike. I am very, very, VERY full.

Happy Thanksgiving

Our girls were up nice and early - just couldn't sleep with the anticipation of the day. I was looking forward to sleeping in more, but oh well. Once we were finally all up and moving, they ran to get their "Thanksgiving Box" which they prepared in secret all day yesterday. We took turns pulling things out of the box and read them aloud. Honestly, could these girls be any more precious?

More pics just because


Because my girls are adorable. I don't need any other reason.

Pics just because

The girls have been wearing these dresses for two years now. Considering Sylvie's only four that's pretty impressive. It has crept up past her knees so probably time to retire them. She was sad when I told her, but then happy two seconds later when Tessa reminded her that she can wear the larger of the two dresses in a year or so.

I very much love the tree in my front yard. Probably should name it or something. So I like to take pictures near it any chance I get. Still haven't gotten one that I really think does it justice though.

Baking time

Mmmm... Warm rolls are probably my favorite thing about Thanksgiving. Woke up early this morning to make some fresh. My assignment for Thanksgiving is pies, but we can always use more rolls, right?

Made two of my four pies today: Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake and Chocolate Chip Pie. Tomorrow I'll make Lemon Meringue and my favorite Applescotch, the only apple pie I like (cause it's super sugary).

Love, love, love the baked goods!


Yes, thankfulness. I very much believe in the power of gratitude. And there are so many things I am grateful for. More than I can ever list here, but I certainly try to work a few into my prayers every day.

Today I am especially grateful for my family and friends and the opportunity this blog has given me to reach out and stay connected. 2008 has been a very difficult year for me emotionally. It's not always easy for me to reach out during those times, but staying connected to you all here has made such a difference to me.

So thank you all! And thank you Mr. Blogger.

The Geography of Bliss

The Geography of Bliss The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Loved this book. It was so funny that I found myself giggling in bed while I read. I felt like I learned bits and pieces of useful information about different cultures as well as what really comprises our happiness. Great read.

View all my reviews.



So I've been waiting to post to my blog until I had pictures of my living room and dining room that I painted Saturday (Yay me!). And I've been waiting to take pictures until I clean up the mess from painting. And I've been waiting to clean up the mess until I can inspect the walls to see if there are any spots needing more coverage. And I've been waiting to check the walls...

Seeing a pattern here? So yeah, life's just not exactly perfect when it comes to the getting everything done front. And I'm going to have to just learn to embrace that because it's only bound to get worse over the holidays. I'm having a really hard time accomplishing even a fraction of the stuff on my daily to-do list and while that bothers me, it's the rising stress levels that are really the problem. I need to take responsibility for at least that portion. Stuff may or may not get done, but I've got to remember to breathe.

So I painted and I'm thrilled! They rooms look great even though there won't be any actual furniture to inhabit them for quite some time. Baby steps here. I'll post pictures when... well, when I get around to it.

Random thoughts


I wish I had written this. So funny.

Sticking with the November theme


I went visiting teaching today and was greeted at one home by full on Christmas regalia. Tree, dolls, houses, chotchkies galore - even spicy candles. They are apparently excited for Christmas to come. I will be the first to admit that I do not get overly worked up by the decorating part of Christmas; Dave does pretty much all of it. But isn't it just a wee bit early to be pulling out the tree?

No really! November is awesome!


The weather here has been refreshingly chilly in the mornings and wonderful in the afternoons. We did finally turn on the heater this weekend since the lows were in the 30s (and the house was in the 60s) but the highs are in the mid 70s and that's just about perfect if you ask me. The girls and I headed to the park this afternoon to enjoy the sunshine.

Sylvie loves this particular park because the monkey bars are close to the ground. She can't cross them yet, just sits and swings for ages and ages.

Tessa found several school mates at the park and was thrilled beyond belief. This whole going to school with kids in your neighborhood thing is still novel for us.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull


Jonathan Livingston Seagull Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I remembered loving this little book when I was young so when I saw this lovely illustrated version I had to buy it. Such a lovely tale of our potential and all that we can be. I love this passage about humility and learning:

"By the time they returned, it was dark. The other gulls looked at Jonathan with awe in their golden eyes, for they had seen him disappear from where he had been rooted for so long.

He stood there in their congratulations for less than a minute. "I'm the newcomer here! I'm just beginning! It is I who must learn from you!"

"I wonder about that Jon," said Sullivan, standing near. "You have less fear of learning than any gull I've seen in ten thousand years."

View all my reviews.

Three cheers for November


My girls had Monday off of school and I had yesterday off instead. So I found myself with some actual free time on my hands. Unheard of! Dave was in Chicago for the day so I really was a free agent unto myself. I dropped the girls off at school and headed out to a part of the Barton Creek trails that I had yet to visit. And guess what I found? Autumn! Actual red and golden leaves. Not tons, most everything is still green, but there are small signs of fall and it was lovely. A bit drizzly out and nice temperatures in the 70s. Yummy.

My Antonia


My Antonia (Enriched Classics) My Antonia by Willa Cather

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had been warned that this book could be slow going, but I was swept up in it immediately. I haven't read anything of Cather's (yet another classic that I seemed to have missed along the way) but can instantly see why she is praised. The language is beautiful and very accessible. The characters were great and I was keenly interested to see how they would play out. A lovely portrait of the place and time.

View all my reviews.

Too much information

I tried out a personality quiz online this weekend and was totally amazed by the level of information it gave me for the little input I provided. I'm not going to post my results because, well, you don't need to know me that well, but I'd be interested to hear if anyone else things the analysis is spot on. It really only takes a few minutes.

Add music video director to my resume


I came home from Phoenix to discover that the girls have a new favorite song. Much to Dave's chagrin they had demanded it dozens of times while driving in the car.

Yes, Sylvie picks her nose. Tessa does too but thankfully refrained for the filming.

Yes we can


Being out of town and a different kind of busy, I wasn't able to catch all of Barack Obama's acceptance speech on Tuesday night so I found it on YouTube this morning. I am excited and proud to have elected a president who represents so much of the good that I hope for our country. His speech making is so eloquent and inspiring. I know some people think this is simply a skill that can be dismissed as unessential to the office of president and perhaps even a false way of obtaining it. But I believe good speaking skills can demonstrate a deeper level of thinking, synthesizing those thoughts, and then inspiring others to those higher planes. Essential for any leader. I am ready for a president that can inspire me to do more for my country. The President Elect's language was so inclusive; his positivism is such a breath of fresh air after years of fearmongering. I have been dismayed by the anti-scientific, anti-intellectual push that I have seen gaining steam in politics over the last several years and I hope we can move to a place where we inspire each other higher instead of pushing everyone down to the least common denominator. I know his presidency won't be perfect and rhetoric won't make the changes happen that we so dearly need. But I am hopeful, very hopeful.

Friendships are golden

I had a great time in Phoenix catching up with co-workers and friends. I got to see a lot of wonderful people, but these lovely ladies were the only ones fortunate enough to be with me when I remembered to pull out the camera. Among the four of us there are now 12 kids (although I seem to be pulling down the average) and we've shared a lot between us as they've grown up bit by bit.

Thanks so much to Audra and her family for letting me stay with them this past week. I love to watch the sparkle in your kids when your family plays and spends time together - the affection you all share is infectious. It's so beautiful getting private glimpses of other family's lives.

I can't say I'm glad to leave my family here in Austin and fly to Phoenix every few months, but it is a wonderful opportunity to maintain the fantastic connections I have with friends there. I miss you all!

One more thing


And yesterday I forgot to say thank you. Thank you to Dave who is home playing single parent this week with my girlies. Tough job for sure. My girls think it is the biggest treat ever to get their daddy to themselves all week long, but I'm sure he will be ready for a break by the week's end. Big huge thank you Dave.

Clear as mud


So here I am in Phoenix on my second week long commute to the office and I realized that most of you probably have no idea what my job actually is. No need to feel bad about it. (Unless you are a man at church who when in the course of making small talk has asked me what my husband does and after I not so subtlety drop hints that I too might have an interesting career to converse about and you have ignored me and plowed right on - you should feel bad about that.) It's never been a question I've answered even to my own satisfaction. Let me try again. For the past nine (!!!) years I have worked for Glendale Community College in the College Research Services department. My job title is Coordinator of Institutional Effectiveness which I find exceedingly silly. I have had a few job titles since I began at GCC: Research Assistant, Institutional Research Analyst, and even Acting Director of Research and Planning. Some days I think of myself as a data analyst, some days I think of myself as a report writer, some days I think of myself as the guru high on the hill that people come to ask questions of. Basically, I help people answer their (hopefully intelligent) questions about data and trends related our students and the classes we offer. Who are our students? What classes do they take most often? How do certain populations perform in certain classes? How did changing x in a program change y? Ad infinitum. Anytime anyone needs to make a smart decision, our office can provide data to back up or challenge their assertions. I push a magic button on my computer and make the answer pop out. With pretty charts and graphs. Must have the pretty charts and graphs.

I love my job (most of the time) and it is very well suited for my particular brain. It was a happy accident that I found it and I'm so glad that I did. I was set to quit so that I could stay home after Tessa was born but my boss at the time offered me an opportunity to work half time and mostly from home. I gave it a shot and it has been fantastic. Not always easy, but I am extremely grateful for it. I feel very fortunate, especially knowing there are many who don't have such a great opportunity. GCC again has given me a great opportunity - this time allowing me to move my graph producing self 1,000 miles away and still keep my awesome job. So I fly back every so often to remind them what a fantastic employee I am. And now we're back at the beginning - me in Phoenix. Tada!

Tunes for Traveling


Here's what I have on my trusty iPod this week...
  • Beth Orton
    The Black Keys
    The Bottle Rockets
    The Concretes
    The Cure
    Eagles of Death Metal
    Fleet Foxes
    Gillian Welch
    Golden Smog
    Iron & Wine
    Kathleen Edwards
    Kings of Leon
    My Morning Jacket
    Pearl Jam
    Red Hot Chili Peppers
    The Shins
    Snow Patrol
    Sufjan Stevens
    TV on the Radio