The Heart of A Woman


Heart of a Woman Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this book. It is the fourth of her six memoirs and I've been slowly moving through them in chronological order. This was my favorite since the first. It is fascinating from a purely event and point in time standpoint, but then when you add it her indomitable spirit and her beautiful writing, it was a real treat.

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Tunes for Traveling vol. umpteen


Oh Silverado! My trusty iPod - you keep me sane while traveling. I am spoiled when it comes to music and I wouldn't have it any other way. Here's what I'll be listening to this upcoming week while I'm off to Phoenix, my 1,000 mile commute.
  • Aimee Mann
  • The Avett Brothers
  • Backsliders
  • The Beatles
  • Beck
  • The Black Keys
  • Blitzen Trapper
  • The Bottle Rockets
  • The Concretes
  • Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Eels
  • Elbow
  • Gillian Welch
  • Iron & Wine
  • Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
  • Kings of Leon
  • Laura Veirs
  • Molina & Johnson
  • The National
  • Neko Case
  • The New Pornographers
  • OK Go
  • Patty Griffin
  • She & Him
  • The Shins
  • Sigur Ros
  • Spoon (NEW ALBUM!!!)
  • Steve Earle
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Vampire Weekend
  • The White Stripes
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
!Viva la Tunes!

Oh the places you will go!


I'll go with a pretty basic personal history question today, exploring all the places I've lived.

I was born in Ogden, Utah and lived briefly in Layton, but the first house I remember was in Salt Lake City. Just East of Liberty Park in a lovely brick home that I still think of with fondness. I rode my tricycle off of the big cement front porch and knocked out a tooth. I played with kids on the street and loved taking trips to the corner store for candy. I was four when we lived there and I started Kindergarten at the neighborhood elementary school that fall. It is a happy time in my memory.

Shortly after I turned five, we moved to Ridgecrest, CA for a few months of my jumbled Kindergarten career. I just read on Wikipedia that it used to be called "Crumville" and that would have been a better name - it is a total wasteland in the middle of Death Valley. I remember riding the school bus, digging in the sand in our front yard while being absolutely terrified that I would uncover a tarantula or scorpion, and long walks with my parents through the desert to find random junk. The last was definitely the only happy thing I remember there, but our stay was pretty short so no permanent damage.

My third stop in kindergarten was back to good old Ogden. We stayed in apartment and my most salient memory was of a crazy goat that would roam our apartment complex and ram his head against our front door making me afraid to go outside. I have no idea what was going on there.

We moved to a house in Ogden for my first grade at Dee Elementary. It was a green house and I thought that was pretty cool. At least made it easy to find when I was walking home from school. I remember my elementary school was round and the classrooms only had three walls, the fourth wall being open to the center. I remember having a friend named Amber (which is the only time I remember sharing my name) who had the same green striped shirt as I did and that made me feel really special. I remember trying hard to figure out jump rope at school and being awful at it and in characteristic Amber fashion completely worried about the social repercussions of that. But the best memory in that house were the praying mantises. We had hoards of them in our back yard and I studied them with fascination. There was a really awesome shed/playhouse in the back yard and their egg sacs were all over the place. Very entertaining. I also remember having chicken pox at the same time as my best friend Brandon and getting to hang out all day together. It was great.

Second grade was another move, still in Ogden. This time to my grandparent's house to live while they went back East on a LDS Mission. It was a house I was familiar with so I was comfortable there from the get go. I remember playing A LOT on the street. A game called "black magic" (I don't remember what it entailed now) and extensive reenactment of He-Man cartoons were our favorites. I remember flooding the lawn of the family across the street (the kids said their mom was okay with it) and stomping around in the lake all day. I remember not quite fitting in with the kids at church since they had all lived their since birth and I was the "new kid". But I remember school being pretty good. This is the year I got glasses and that was a mixed bag. Tether ball and glasses don't mix. I remember being the age where brand toys were very important. Strawberry Shortcake, Poochie, Cabbage Patch Kids, etc. This is also the year when my brother showed up on the scene so that was a happy moment.

Third grade would take me to the final house of my childhood. We moved only a few blocks away from my grandparents, so my church and school were the same and there wasn't much disruption. There weren't really any kids close by, so there wasn't as much street play but I did start traveling a bit on foot to play with friends from church. The street we lived on was a really steep hill, going up on both sides, our house near the bottom. That was super fun to learning to drive on in the winter. I remember mowing the lawn (a lot) which wasn't very fun with a push mower and lots of hills in our yard. I remember exploring the vacant field across from our house for bugs when I had pet lizards because my parents wouldn't buy them crickets at the pet store for food. That summer sucked. I remember helping my parents remodel the house - knocking down walls and stuff. I also got to design my own bedroom since it was being built from scratch in an unfinished basement. It was completely awesome and I loved rearranging my furniture an decorating it with posters and chotchkies. Oh so many chotchkies. I remember my childhood dog, Gertie the miniature schnauzer getting sick and finally dying when I was in High School. She slept with me at the food of my bed and her terrible halitosis made my bedroom stink I'm sure. And of course this was the house that my two beautiful sisters came home to as babies. I was in high school by then and that was a pretty big part of my adolescence - second mommy.

So I was out of there like nobody's business come college and I think I'll save the rest for a second installment. This is lengthier than the bullet list I had planned but it's fun reminiscing. I will now close the chapter on Ogden and thank goodness for that. No real love left for that city even though I wouldn't really say it was a bad place to grown up. We'll just say I'm happy leaving it in the past.

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk


How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one I've deliberately been moving through slowly. It's one of those books that I just like having on my nightstand to read every once in a while when I need a reality check or a pick me up. I like it's practical approach and it's respect for a child autonomy. A definite recommend for anyone dealing with kids pre-school through high school.

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The Lacuna

The Lacuna: A Novel The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really loved this book. The novel approach, the setting, the characters were all completely enjoyable. The author obviously had a lot to say about what it means to be an American and there were a lot of take aways for the current political climate. I did find the naivete of the main character a little trying at times. But on the whole it was a treat.

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Park Weather

We've had a lovely change of weather this past week and traded in our frosty temperatures for the 60s.  What better reason do we need to spend the afternoon at Zilker Park?



epic fail pictures
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Tomatoes are the devil's fruit


The topic for today is "foods I refused to eat as a kid". I'd have to have my parents verify this one, but I will claim to have been a moderately easy kid as far as diet is concerned. Although I was an exceedingly slow eater and remember this being an issue at the dinner table. But as far as picky eating goes, I did (and do) have one major items on my gag list. I absolutely despise raw tomatoes. I want (wish, wish) to like tomatoes, but let's be honest - they're just gross. But I've tried hard to get over my revulsion and while tomatoes in any form used to send me running, I have now expanded my taste and now enjoy stewed/canned tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, salsa, and even pico de gallo. But put a raw tomato slice on a burger (not that I eat burgers any more) and I can't even touch it even if the tomato is subsequently removed. Salads are a problem too since those evil tomato juices have a tendency to make themselves at home all over the once innocent greens. I think tomatoes loom so large in my head that there's not much else that I can think of that I hate to eat. I'm sure like all kids there were things that a more sophisticated palate would enjoy that I turned my nose up at, but nothing major comes to mind.

A puppy!


Kind of a puppy anyway. The shelter is estimating her age at 6 months so she's through the worst of it anyway. I found her online and couldn't believe that a pure bred Brittany would be at the local Humane Society. So my normally impetuous self was sent into overdrive at the thought of such a lovely dog who certainly wouldn't last long. She is very mild, maybe on the skittish side for the moment, but full of energy and very sweet. Our first dog Cricket is pretty much a bump on a log so the girls think it's miraculous that she wants to play with them. We named her Cinnamon because of her pretty orange color. She's been a total delight to have in the house. Hopefully as she comes out of her shell and finds her true self I'll still think so.

Cricket seems to be tolerant with a slight hint of happiness to have her in the family. I can see Cinnamon watching him to see what she is supposed to do, but he is the most un-doglike dog, he isn't much of a role model. He has a wound on his back leg that he has been licking, hence the lovely cone that he gets to wear for the next few weeks. Sylvie is really happy that it's blue and thinks it was chosen because it's her favorite color. It is a huge source of amusement in the house since he looks like such a doof and gets stuck under the table with it on.

Car radio


I'm attempting to work through some nouveaux style personal history questions on this here little blog. I am picking from this list in a completely random fashion and today it's going to be, "What do you like to listen to in the car?" Alrighty...

For the brief moments in time that I've had a commute, I've done a lot of audio books. Just makes me feel more productive. But that is certainly (and thankfully) not the majority of my days. Here in Austin, I typically listen to 93.3 KGSR which is a lovely little radio station. A nice well rounded mix of all types of rock and indie. Adult without being too adult. This marks the first time since my high school days that I have devoted myself to radio. (I miss you KJQ.) In fact, in the entire nine years we lived in Phoenix I didn't listen to a single radio station other than NPR. Now that I go back and deal with rental cars I do occasionally surf through the Phoenix radio dial and it's a complete mystery land to me. And major sucko in my humble opinion. I also listen to NPR here in Austin but it has a very different feel considering over half of the programing is music and not news. I recently branched out and added the local classical station to my presets but have yet to fill up the rest of the buttons. So when the advertisements of commercial radio are getting me down or NPR has something even too eclectic for my taste, there is of course our extensive CD collection to keep me in tunes. Never a quiet car for me. I would like to buy a new stereo for my now almost 10 year old car with an iPod jack. CDs are just so 20th century, no? Such wonderful problems to have.


Dave just returned from marathon number 3 in Mobile, AL. Three! That's a career. And mighty impressive to a girl who struggled through a measly two miles this morning. He drove there with his long time running companion Jacob and of course enjoyed "the scenic route" on the way back. He stopped in New Orleans and bought the girls Mardi Gras masks which they were thrilled with. More pics of the drive in our January album.



I seem to have vast amounts of pent up energy the past few weeks. And not a particularly useful kind. I just seem to have ideas and schemes and plans and a need for new ventures. All floating around my head and screaming for attention. But nothing is really feeling quite settled or smart or even appropriate. Maybe it's just all the talk of New Year's resolutions when I've never been disciplined or focused or brave enough to really tackle them well. Or maybe my longevity stinks and I'm having a mid life crisis.

Look at me, I can't even stick to a single adjective for a sentence!

So here are some of the orphans in my head. Maybe writing them down will make things start to fall into place.
  • I've been making earnings and such gearing up to start an Etsy shop. I of course think they are fabulous, but I have no illusions of this being much of a success. Just looking for enough money back to fuel my bead buying habit. I seem to be stuck in the last stages of making this fly. My camera has been acting up and getting the online presentation right is eating at me.
  • I've started several craft projects, all competing for attention. I have a nativity cross stitch that I want to get done by next year (a year seems reasonable, but I do let things slide). I need to finish beading my advent calendar. I've promised the girls that I would crochet them each blankets in the colors of their choice. I'm enjoying them all right now and I'm in a bit of a zone (thank you audio books), so I'm just trying to power through before I get bored and quit.
  • I am currently obsessed with thoughts of semi-chucking my car and getting a cargo bike. I've wanted one of these bikes for months now - since my friend Naomi posted a picture on her blog (so that means it's your fault). And most of my daily errands are pretty close by, but really? Am I really going to make a go of it? It sounds so Austin-y and a great way to be in tip top shape. But what about when it's hot? And cold? (It is currently 25 degrees outside!) Its too expensive to buy unless I'm really going to commit. Why do I really want to do this? Are all the cool kids doing it?
  • The scariest thought in my head is one of a puppy. I want a dog to run and hike with me, and to actually play with my girls. And Cricket is getting more neurotic by the day and I think a friend would help balance him. Or make him infinitely worse. That's the hard part. Maybe a young adult dog instead. Maybe not. Argh!!!
I haven't been to yoga much this past month due to a ridiculous amount of colds that have visited my asthmatic lungs and my girls being home and messing up my overly luxurious personal schedule. So maybe all this noise in my head is just me needing to get back on the mat. Or maybe it's time for a new venture...



I went running this morning despite it being ridiculously cold. Thirty degrees I believe. I probably would have skipped it but I knew my running partner was waiting for me and I had woken up too late to text her with an excuse. At one point during our "run" (yes, the quotes are still warranted) I looked over and she actually had frost on her back - our sweat had frozen right to our fleeces. I'm really not supposed to be this dedicated, but I'll take a moment here to be thankful for running buddies.

Happy New Year!

We spent New Year's Day in San Antonio with good friends. A lovely day at the zoo and then dinner on the Riverwalk at Rainforest Cafe. The zoo was really fun and it was nice and sunny to offset the crisp temperatures. Even though we had stayed up past midnight to ring in the New Year the night before, the girls enjoyed themselves. Yes, there were random moments when Sylvie would throw herself to the ground screaming over an unknown slight, but that's not so different than an ordinary day, eh? We didn't spend much time on the Riverwalk after dinner - just too tired - but it was really beautiful to see it all lit up with the Christmas lights. Good day. Lots more pictures here.