The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is a piece of fabulous story telling. I was swept in to the characters and enjoyed the narrative very much. The premise I found very interesting, both the Shakespearean parallels and the new and rather creative American setting. The only fault I found with the book was it stuck to the plot of Hamlet a little too closely. The suspense was somewhat mitigated by this fact. I was also more than a little bothered that the analogous character to Ophelia was portrayed by a dog. But still very enjoyable with some notable comments on language and friendship.

View all my reviews.

Pieces of Austin


We spent a little time out in our lovely city yesterday. We started out with a leisurely walk down at Town Lake at the city's center. The leaves are pretty bare, but still a nice time to be out and enjoy the good weather. It was mid 70s yesterday - strangely warm considering the cold snaps we've had lately.

And then we headed down town to visit the state capitol. We've been meaning to go since we moved but didn't make it happen until now. It is a beautiful building and the girls loved the huge staircases. Well, at least for a while until their legs got tired. We didn't take the official tour, but just wandered around to enjoy the architecture.

We do love our cowboys here in Texas. (But in case anyone is wondering, G.W. isn't very popular here in the capitol city.)

Merry Christmas


Happy Gingerbread Day


I love to make gingerbread on Christmas Eve. I think we've solidified it into a full fledged tradition. This year we upped the ante from Christmas cutouts to our very own gingerbread house. The girls had tons of fun loading on the candies. I had to specifically request a few cookies left for me that didn't m&ms and red hots piled high to the sky. We might be hungry for dinner later :-)

Family Games


We've been playing a lot of family games at home the past week or so. Something I remember fondly from my childhood and a more palatable way for me to play with my girls than Barbies or Littlest Pet Shop. I'm always on constant lookout for good games for the girls that don't make me want to run away screaming. (Princess Monopoly anyone?) Here are some of our favorites:

Whoonu is a fantastic family game or party game. Even the littles can participate. The gist is to figure out how much you know (or don't know about the other players' personal preferences and favorites. Total classic.

We just bought Triple Triumph a few days ago and I'm pretty much thrilled with it. Strategy game that is easy to pick up. Tessa does really well at it and even Sylvie gets the basic concept. But still interesting/challenging enough for the adults.Pente was my favorite to play with my dad. Another strategy game with simple concept but can be very challenging if your opponent is worthy. It's only two player unless you want to do teams. Tessa just learned it a few weeks ago and she already loves it. Sylvie kind of gets it, so we can "play" but it will be a while until she can really play on her own.

Blokus is another great strategy game for up to four players. (Noticing a trend here?) Both my girls like it but it will be a while until they are able to really max out on it.

A classic. If you haven't played Pass the Pigs then you're missing out.

Set a tricky one. It is definitely one for older kids. Tessa can play it, but it always takes her a few rounds to get the concept back in her head. I love this game.

I don't really play this game much, so I don't know if it qualifies for a family game, but Hyper Dash is just quite amazing and deserves mention here. It's a game that is endlessly adaptable from toddlers just learning their colors to older kids and perhaps even silly teenagers. A very active game too that will certainly send your kids to bed tired.

Anyone else have a favorite to add to the list?

Yet another weather related post


I'm sure these weather posts are getting old to most of you, but it's such a novel thing to me after years of Phoenix's relative meteorological stability. It's kind of exciting to experience our city in new ways as the months pass by. (It's been over six months now, how incredible is that?)

This month we woke up to thick fog. The girls thought it was wonderful. If I had any further to drive I wouldn't be very fond of it, but the school commute is pretty short and it was very pretty. I've been meaning to take more pictures of our lovely neighborhood to give you all a taste for where we live. Starting with pictures in the fog is probably a little backward, but that will lend an element of mystery to it all.

Kung Fu Pencil

We finally watched Kung Fu Panda a few weeks ago and Tessa is enamored with it. The bonus disc has a how to draw section and with it's help she drew these. I think they're fantastic!

Favorite Albums of 2008


My favorite albums of 2008. Just to spite Dave they have no particular order. I have no expectation that you, my precious and few devoted readers, have heard of most of these gems. I guess this is one instance where my blog is truly for myself. But feel free to enjoy regardless.
  • Beck - Modern Guilt
  • Blitzen Trapper - Furr
  • Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
  • Hayes Carll - Trouble in Mind
  • Elvis Costello - Momofuku
  • Jakob Dylan - Seeing Things
  • Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (probably my favorite for the year)
  • Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - Rattlin' Bones
  • Tift Merritt - Another Country
  • She & Him - Volume One

Comments Please


So for reasons that are still somewhat unknown to me, I decided to venture out into the larger blogging world today. Just googling around for some funny or interesting things to read - needing a distraction today I guess. I was a little late in discovering this small mommy/personal narrative niche of the blogging world so I guess it's not surprising that I'm late in discovering the rest of the blogging world as well. There were two things that immediately struck me. First: I am not as long winded as I thought. Some of these people are in serious need of an editor. I am looking for a momentary distraction, not your personal treatise on all things wrong/funny/wonderful with the world. Secondly: Wow! There are certainly a lot of people with things to say. And I am in serious need of some navigational help. Anyone have any amusing blogs or web sites that they find charming? Again, I'm looking for a two minute break when my brain hurts from work, not any kind of serious committment.

I did get a tip on cakewrecks which looked to be mildly amusing in small doses. And I do find Stuff White People Like more than a little funny. I love the Onion too but that's old news. But what am I missing people? I need tips.

Back to Fall


We had our run in with winter this week and now it seems we are back to fall. One more revelation pertaining to the new city: beautiful trees = yard work. Well, yard work for Dave and yard fun for girlies.

You can see the individual photos over here.



Here's a picture of my front yard this morning. Everyone says that we don't get snow in Austin. Some say it was an ice storm, or freezing rain, maybe sleet, or hail. I have no idea - I just know it's white and very, very cold.

The girls were thrilled as we drove to school this morning to see the "white stuff" on all the roofs along our street. You can see just a dusting along our eaves.

The Road Home


The Road Home The Road Home by Rose Tremain

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this book. I wasn't particularly looking forward to it and didn't really know what I was stepping in to. And even after finishing it I'm not sure exactly what drew me in so strongly. The story moves along wonderfully and the main character is so well drawn. He's realistic and sympathetic. A wonderful immigrant story, so hard at points but satisfying too.

View all my reviews.

Christmas Carnival


We went to a neighborhood Christmas Carnival yesterday afternoon. It was lovely weather and there were lots of fun activities and crafts for the girls. Super fun.

Dancing Cowgirl


Sylvie came home from school today wearing a fake cowgirl hat. I have no idea why since she told me their unit in school this week was learning all about Disney (really? great!). But she was so cute I had to take a picture.

Sylvie just inherited this shirt a few days ago. (Yay for cleaning closets!) I remember very distinctly when I bought this shirt for Tessa that I was amazed at how big she had gotten. This must have been one of the first 4T shirts I bought because I thought she had graduated to a "big girl". And now Sylvie! Sigh.


My friend Kathy, a wonderful writer, posted on her blog about the act of writing and asked why blog? I began to comment on her blog and decided to post here instead.

Such an interesting question. I think I blog primarily because this is the one way of leaving a personal record that seems to have really stuck for me. I've never been much of a journaler and I love knowing that there is going to be something left of me to document my craziness for my daughters. Or even for me in a few years when these memories have blurred together. Personal stories can get lost so quickly - sometimes it doesn't even take a generation.

I also blog because it makes me feel connected to my family and friends that are close and far. I have felt somewhat liberated knowing that the different facets of my personality are somewhat synthesized together here amongst these posts. Obviously there are still parts of me that are kept private (a girl's got to have her mysteries), but I feel more like a whole person putting these things out for all to read.

Thanks Kathy.

A Girl and My Dog


Tessa would probably be a very faithful dog owner if Cricket would let her. But Cricket is my dog through and through. He follows me everywhere (EVERYWHERE!) I go. But every once in a while she has a lovely little moment with him. Usually book ended by me yelling at him to go play with Tessa and stop following me.

Emotions R Us

Yes, these pictures were posed. But honestly this is a typical five minutes for my beauty. She's yelling at her sister as I type. I should probably go intervene but I'm really tired.



Data visualization is an interest of mine. It's a big chunk of my job and I just find it fascinating regardless. Here's a crazy graphic that I found today on one of the data vis blogs that I read. Is this terrifying to anyone else?

Year in Review 2008


A recap for 2008. I would promise brevity, but that's not likely considering the source. I've been perusing my old Christmas letters and I've noticed that we have some years full of big change and happenings, and some years of where I filled up the page with cute pictures of my girls because there wasn't much to write about. This would be a change year.

For those of you just tuning in, we've uprooted the little fam and moved to Austin, Texas. Texas is not a place we ever thought we'd end up at, but Austin already feels like home. This city is certainly our kind of place with the great music, lots of festivals and things to do, a prominent outdoor spirit, more liberal politics, and a certain zany community vibe. Wonderful city.

So more to the beginning...

The year began with me jumping in with both feet to the work thing by taking a temporary assignment as Acting Director of my department, College Research Services. I was working 30 hours rather than my normal 20, but also going into the office every day which I hadn't done since Tessa was born. It was hard and busy but a good opportunity for me. So we'll count that as stress number one. Not too far into the year we got the official news that Dave's office would be dissolving and he was being offered relocation to any of their other U.S. offices. (Stress number two!) I think they would have preferred that we went to Chicago or L.A., but we chose Austin. We had liked the idea of Austin for a while and jumped at the chance to move to such a cool city.

And so it was time to sell our house. Selling the house should count as stresses numbers 3-5 just because it was so monumental and hard. Phoenix and selling houses aren't the best of friends this year. But we painted and freshened things up (that was the best spring break ever!) and priced aggressively and consequently sold pretty quick. Phew! My head was filled with dreadful scenarios of Dave heading out to Austin and me and the girls being stuck in Phoenix in a house that wouldn't sell. Anyway, Dave and I jumped on a plane a few days after we had a solid offer and found a house in southwest Austin that we simply couldn't live without. The timing of the whole situation worked out amazingly well. We closed on our house in Phoenix the last week of school in Phoenix (and the last week of my temporary assignment at work) and closed in Austin about two weeks later. Corporate housing carried us over for the interim and served as a nice little pretend vacation.

A major good thing in this whole move is that I was able to keep my job at GCC and now am working remotely from Austin, commuting to Phoenix a couple of times each semester. It's hard leaving the fam for those weeks, but it's a great excuse to catch up with friends in Phoenix and I am very grateful to retain those connections.

Dave's job stayed essentially the same so the change hasn't been much of a shake up for him work wise. Although he does occasionally get to run his commute to work which provides much personal satisfaction for him. The city here is very conducive to running and biking, one of the big reasons we love it. Dave comes home from his runs with a big grin on his face - totally in love with the beauty all around.

And girls! We still have two beautiful daughters. They are happy here in Austin. The adjustment was a lot smoother than I had anticipated for both of them. Tessa is in second grade now and loves her teacher here at the local elementary. She really is ga ga for school. Sylvie is attending half day pre-school and really enjoys her class and teachers. Getting details out of her is always difficult, but she comes and goes to school each day with a smile so I'm sure she's having a blast.

This Christmas "letter" is different than in years past because there's so much else out here on my blog. Not much left for me to expound upon. So suffice it to say, on my own behalf, that 2008 has been a difficult year. Big stresses coming from lots of angles. But so much promise and good fortune too. I am immeasurably thankful for family and friends that all together form a network of love and support for me and my little family. I am also so thankful for our Savior and peace he can bring to each of us. We wish you all bounty and love for this Christmas season.