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California, Part One

20 Dec

Oh how quickly it came and went! But our trip to LA to visit my two sisters and Broinlaw (thanks for the grammarian awesomeness, Miss J), was so much fun. The traveling party consisted of Me, B, R, and L, plus my parents, hereafter referred to as Nana and Papa. R had his fourth birthday while we were there- I can’t believe my little boy is 4!- and what will probably be that December baby’s first and last birthday pool party. December pool parties don’t generally work out in MT or ID. Anyway, the rundown of said vacay

First airplane ride for a very excited R, but L, who is apparently a seasoned pro after our Cedar City adventure, chilled in the airport ‘reader’s corner’ with Papa. She did get excited on the plane- it was fun to watch her face. I couldn’t see R, who was sitting behind me with Nana, but she said he was ecstatic.

Friday afternoon we drove from Long Beach Airport to No Ho, where Big Sis and Broinlaw live in a storefront space that functions as both home and art studio.

We got settled in, then went to dinner at local joint PitFire Pizza-yum-, then back to the house to work on the gingerbread train…

… and get the kids and the grandparents to bed. Then the sort-of-grown-ups sat down to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.

Ok. How had I not seen this before? Big Sis and Broinlaw, were like, “What? How have you not seen this before?” I know. That’s what I just said.

LuV it.

If you, like me, live, apparently, under a rock, and have not seen this before, and plan on watching on my advice, be forewarned: not a comedy. Hilarious. But not a comedy.

You’d have to watch it for that to make any sense.

Anyway, on with the vacation. Little Sis arrived via San Francisco commuter flight in the wee small hours, and Saturday morning we all had a pajama picnic at the park near Big Sis’s place.

Then, after getting dressed, it was on to The Getty! ~sigh~ The Getty. Unfortunately we had only a few hours when we really needed a few days. I saw maybe a tenth of all I’d hoped to see. Guess we’ll just have to go back!

The gardens and the architecture are art in and of themselves. But then you go inside…

Oh, I love the love (excuse the repetition) that is so apparent in this painting.  This is The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis by Jacques-Louis David (in case you didn’t know).

Doesn’t Degas look like a moody, Byronic sort of fellow?

And, back outside…

Okay. That’s one long blog post. And that was only Friday and half of Saturday. Part Du at a later date. Merry Christmas!

Love, AM


I’m in Love…

11 Oct

…with these books. Here’s a new list of Super Reads.


The illustrations in this book are all hand-stitched quilts. It is mind-boggling. And the story is simple and heart-warming as well.




Classic Cicely Mary Barker who, like her fellow Frederick Warne and Co. author Beatrix Potter, was educated at home and self-taught in art.



A semi-fictional tale of the childhood of the poet Pablo Neruda, written with unforgettable beauty.

And I had to take my own photo of this one because the one on Amazon just doesn’t do the artwork justice:


I may have mentioned before that some books make my stomach jump up to meet my heart, and my breath catch in my chest…
… you know, the way you felt when you were in elementary school and that certain special someone walked around a corner and looked at you…
… or sat by you, or brushed your hand as you walked by. This book does that to me. Funnily enough, that’s also what it’s about. First love.

And I hope my posting those pictures is not totally illegal.

Anyway, Free Unsolicited Advice: Read these books. And after you’ve read The Dreamer, join me on my Pam Muñoz Ryan kick. I read Becoming Naomi León yesterday, and Paint the Wind and Esperanza Rising are on the list next.

Anyone else fallen in love with a good book lately?


Parenting: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth

22 Aug

Parenting: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth.

We Should All Turn Ourselves In Now…

10 Jun

Apparently, I have committed a felony on more than one occasion. And so has B. And so have you, and everyone else you know. Free Unsolicited Advice: Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state:

Hey you- yeah, you in California. I see you with that Navel Cutie in one hand and your clarifying shampoo in the other. You can’t run from the long, weird arm of the law. I’m watching you.

2 Jun

My faves of the moment:

Creaky Old House is a near-perfect description of my dream home tucked into the folds of a really fun story, Once Upon a Twice is a Lewis Carroll-esque, slightly spooky poetic fable, and Rapunzel’s Revenge is an action-packed graphic novel that, surprisingly, captivated both my little ones throughout its 100 or so comic-book style pages. I say surprisingly not because I expected less from Shannon Hale (big fan), but because I thought the format might be too busy -too complicated-  for a six year old and a three year old. ‘Twas not so. I put my officially official Stamp of Approval and Seal of Recommendation on all three tomes above.

Keep Soaring,


Sweet Cheese-filled Pastries. She’s Posting. (For Kim)

8 May

I really have been meaning to do this for a while. I even sat down two weeks ago to upload and post pictures of a fun day we spent at Lake Como,  but then discovered that, for some reason, the driver that makes my computer talk to my camera is missing. . . and the software is in a box in the garage somewhere.  Now I know that that’s really no excuse to not post anything, but that’s what I did. And that’s that.

But I’m here now, posting. And will perhaps return at more regular intervals in the future. One can only hope.Onto my thoughts for today and maybe a long overdue smidgen of Free Unsolicited Advice.

My lovely little family and I ventured out to the Farmer’s Market bright and early this morning, as we do almost every Saturday from May to October. When we’re living in Missoula, that is. We rode the trolley down to the end of Higgins, and hopped off, market basket in hand, bright-eyed and ready for a breakfast pastry in the fresh morning air, only to be slapped in the face by a stinging Hellgate canyon wind that- I swear- made the temperature about twenty degrees colder downtown than up on the hill.  We grabbed galettes from the nearest vendor and huddled against the old train station wall while we ate, then made a quick tour of the market stalls, decided we had enough vegetables at home where it’s warm, and hopped back on the trolley.

I don’t know about anyone else, but even a brief outing on a blustery day like today makes me more tired than if I had walked all the way to the market and back on a warm day (trust me, I’ve done this), so when we got home each of the four of us sought out our own snuggle-down, cuddle-up blustery day activities. Pillows, blankets, books, sketch pads. . . ooh, I think we’ll have soup for lunch today. Anyway, I went looking for a sketch of a dress I had drawn last night, thinking maybe I’d sew a bit, when I happened upon one of the many notebooks I keep laying about. I flipped through- nope, not the sketches I’m looking for- but there’s that story I started a while ago. . . and there are some encouraging thoughts on motherhood I wrote to myself. There’s a to-do list from a random day many months ago, and a first draft a Christmas letter I never got around to sending out. Hmm… a homeschool lesson plan, a  to- sew sketch of Laurelei’s Easter dress and some scribbles courtesy of Riley.

And that’s when it hit me (that’s right, now she’s getting there): this notebook, and the dozen or so others I have like it, are invaluable to me. Brian and I were talking with our friends a week or so ago about the journals/slash diaries we kept as kids and how we would never want our children or our grandchildren reading some of the stupid, shallow things we wrote about. And it’s true. My seventh-grade diary entry about my favorite shade of eyeshadow and the cute new boy in school? Not really anything for the future generations there. But my scribbled, hurried, here-a-little there-a-little, list-filled notebooks? I’m on those pages. As a mother and wife and writer and artist and friend. . . I’m all over them. Those are the pages I’d want my children and grandchildren to read. And maybe my blogs.

So, Free Unsolicited Advice: Write it down, sketch it out, make a list, and then keep it. It’s a little piece of who you are.

Happening in my home right now: Riley is desperately trying to order “double french fries” at Laurelei’s tea party. “Sorry, we only have banana bread. Don’t forget to use your fork,” she says.

Love, AM