Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Two years ago today, Lance and I danced our way to the chuppah on a magical Florida first day of spring.  Our location was an equally magic garden, and we were surrounded by family and friends.

Today, we're far from that beautiful garden.  And just as far from our friends and extended family.  But the magic continues.

Tonight we will celebrate with a romantic dinner.  Someday we'll be able to celebrate back home in Florida with friends and family nearby.  But no matter where we are, I am thrilled-grateful-overjoyed-happy-thankful to have this wonderful man as my husband.

And to those who say that magic is only make-believe....Sometimes, the prince really does show up, just when the princess isn't looking. :-)  Thank goodness my parents read me fairy tales so I would know how to recognize him when he rode up, even without the white horse. :-)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

What do Annie's Food and School Gardens Have in Common?

A few minutes ago, my answer would have been "Nothing."  Well actually it would have been more like, "What? Annie who?"   Until someone reminded me that Annie's Foods was the company behind all of those colorful boxes of organic macaroni and cheese my kids love..the ones with the bunnies on them.  Then my answer would have been more of a "Ummm..." as I tried to sound thoughtful and avoid saying "Nothing."

Either way, I would have been wrong.  Because just now, while Cat and I were sitting outside at Whole Foods, eating Annie's Spinach and Mushroom Pizza, enjoying the breezy 70 degrees and the sound of blues music playing somewhere nearby, I got into a conversation with Christina McCalla. She's a brand manager for Annie's and told me about a cool program the company had that helped schools start student gardens, by providing funds for seeds, supplies and other gardening needs.

In these days when so many kids have never eaten food just picked from a farm or garden, and most have never planted anything, school gardens are a great idea.  And now the company is starting a "Win a Garden" program for schools starting in April.

Way to go Annie's!

And there's another plus today...our Annie's Pizza (their newest line of healthy, easy foods) and all the fixings are thanks to an invitation from LiveMom...a perk of being of MommyBlogger here in Austin :-) So not only did we get supper, we got to learn that one of our favorite "mom's-too-tired-to-cook-from-scratch" healthy meals is doing something to make the world a little better, one school garden at a time.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

TX M.I.L.K. Mom's Rock at SXSW

After the noise and craziness of SXSW, it was a wonderful experience to attend the TX M.I.L.K. (Texas Mom's I'd Like to Meet) event at Happy Salon and Spa.

Instead of the hectic energy and downtown venues of the rest of SXSW, this outdoor event felt like a gathering at a friend's home.  Several bands played, including Charlie Belle and Karen Chisholm, while moms and kids (and a few dads) enjoyed samples of Tiny Pies and Better Bites cupcakes, all washed down with ice cold drinks from the huge coolers.  It was cool and breezy, as we sat around pretty tables, or wandered around looking at the wares from vendors chosen to appeal to the mommy-set. 

What a difference in mood from the rest of SXSW.  Great music, bubbles and the sounds of kids filled the air. This was an event just for us moms!  Married moms, single moms, moms of babies and moms of teens.  Just moms. Now how cool is that?

Thanks TX M.I.L.K. Happy Salon and all the sponsors.  This was a wonderful end to my first SXSW!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Weirdness that is SXSW...and Austin

My first SXSW.  I have heard about it...I have seen videos and pictures.  But this was the real thing, in all its high energy craziness! 

There were parties....

And concerts....

Cat and I got to learn how to weld...really!  It was something I ALWAYS wanted to try and now I have done it!

And Cat got to paint part of the mural on the side of a building,

There were protests and activists....

And posters on every flat surface....

There were even, er, um aliens...I think....

And then there's the swag....By the end of the event, I had 9 new t-shirts, 36 pins, 12 CD's, 22 reusable bags, a multi-tool, 2 hats, 2 water bottle holders, 3 whistles, a couple of pairs of earrings, a hoodie with headphones built in, more pens and magazines and posters than I can count....and what fun it was to get all of them!

Yup, SXSW was amazing, even though I missed a few days with the flu ... (note to self....if it's 40 degrees and raining and the parties are 10 blocks apart, TAKE AN UMBRELLA!)

And next year, it will be even better.  I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Listening for God? Or just for us?

I was reading Harold Kushner's book "Living a Life that Matters", when I came across a section about Jeremiah and listening to God.  He wrote:

My question to Jeremiah would be: What did you mean when you said 'The word of the Lord came to me...' How does God speak to people? How can you be sure that it is God's voice and not your own wishful thinking? Of the many voices that come into our minds, how do we recognize which is the authentic voice of God?"

That question resonated with me, especially in this election season when so many claim to know exactly what God wants us to do. Too many candidates are all too willing to tell everyone whom God loves and whom God hates.  They, as ordinary human beings, say they know what behaviors and what attitudes God approves of, and which He/She/It condemns.

So how do they know?   What tools do they have to separate the divine voice from their own biases and prejudices?  Sure, some of them can quote scripture or commentary to support their view.  But then again, others can quote from the same sources and have a totally different result. So which, if anyone, is really hearing God's voice? Which is God's message and which is our own?

The question is nothing new.  The Rabbis who wrote the Talmud claimed to be writing the will of God, and yet even amid their very closed group, there was more argument and disagreement than agreement.  Surely if they had heard the word of God, there would be no room for debate!

And any student of history knows that the greatest horrors in our world's history came from different views of what God wants, what God says.

The founders of this country understood this dilemma, too. They tried to put into place protection from a state view of religion, and Jefferson wrote extensively about the need to separate religion and government, knowing that our very human issues often cloud the real message.

So why, knowing this reality, do we still, as a country, accept candidates who claim to speak from their own religious point of view?  Why do we not tell them to leave the religious message at the door to their synagogue or mosque or church?

Why if we cannot know how to hear God's voice above our own, do we still accept the words of other humans who claim that they are immune?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Mr. Rogers Gives Me Chills

A few minutes ago at the PBS Kids presentation at SXSW, they played a clip from Mr. Rogers, probably recorded a short time before he passed.  In it he thanked all of us who grew up watching him for being his friends and knowing that he liked us just the way we were

And I got chills.  Not bad, scary chills.  Instead it was a warm, touching chill -- his show was for so many kids, a special moment in the day when make-believe and imagination were not only okay, they were exactly what you needed.  And even now, it is something special.

You could see the reaction of the other attendees, sitting here in a crowded Hilton restaurant on a rainy Austin day ... all around me, wistful smiles appeared on faces. Even a few tears. Seeing that clip of him reminding us all that he did like us exactly as we were (and are) was clearly a message that still resonated with all of us.

I remembered a moment when I was a kid and I realized that for some kids, Mr. Rogers' expressions of love for them "just the way they were" might have been the only time they heard words like that directed that them. (OK, I was a weird child...but it was all right because Mr. Rogers liked me "just the way I am.")  I cried when i first realize that, and I almost did again today.  What a gift he gave to so many kids!

But the good news from this presentation is that Mr. Rogers' message, and his lessons about life, caring, self-esteem and of course, the power of imagination, will live on.

A new series called Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood will be airing soon on PBS stations across the country.  The animated show features the characters we knew and loved like Henrietta Pussycat, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, and of course, Daniel Striped Tiger, but they are now the parents of preschoolers of their own.

The star of the show, Daniel Tiger Jr., will teach a new generation lessons about caring, taking turns, dealing with scary things, and being a part of a family. But above all, Fred Rogers message about being loved "just the way you are" comes through loud and strong. And that's the very best part of all.

Thank you Mr. Rogers.  For the lessons we grew up with, and for leaving a legacy that will live on in this new series.

And just for the record, we loved you just the way you are, too.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The wonderful sound of rain

I've always loved the sound of rain...but here in Texas, it is even sweeter.

Right now, I'm sitting here on my couch, only feet from the open back door.  As I sort out my schedule for SXSW events, I am listening to the wonderful sound of rain falling on the patio.  It's real rain...heavy, almost-worthy-of-Florida rain.  

And I love it.  

Back in Florida, rainy days were an invitation to spend my lunch hour outdoors under an awning or overhang, watching and listening to the rain while I ate or read or just watched the falling drops.  

Rain is rare in Texas...sadly.  And next to my friends, whom I miss with all my heart, I think I miss the rain the most.  

So it's time to put my computer away for awhile, and head outside to enjoy this treat.  The schedule will wait.  The blog will wait, and even dinner will wait. 

This is Texas, and I need to treat myself to some rare and wonderful rain time!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Dear Scruffy

Polly, my dear friend, my sister-from-another-family, lost her canine companion Scruffy yesterday. When I saw her post about him, I started to cry.  These furry, cuddly beings aren't pets...they are part of our families.

So for you, Polly, here is my letter to Scruffy...

Dear Scruffy:

I heard last night that you had left Polly's side to cross the Rainbow Bridge.But before you join friends and family on the other side of the bridge, I hope you have a moment to listen to what you meant to those of us here.

When I met you, I was uncertain about Yorkies.  One of your distant cousins had nipped me as a child -- he was a nervous unhappy Yorkie.  But I didn't know any others....until I met you.

You were one of the sweetest, happiest, most loving little beings I've ever met.  I will always remember taking turns with Cat and Rachel to hold your leash on outings, and being greeted with your fuzzy kisses at Jazz Brunches and Flashback dinners.

On camping trips, we were always happy to see your family arrive, but you were that extra little shot of fun, scampering around on your tiny legs, anxious to join in.

I know Polly will miss you.  But we will too.  So as you head over the Bridge, take with you our love.  I've sent good thoughts ahead of you to my own much loved and much missed doggie friends Misha, Christopher, Pastchio, Cindy, Penny and all my wonderful kitties...I hope they will welcome you.  Tell them I said hello.

All of us

Monday, 5 March 2012

First a chimney sweep, then the kites

The other day, I met a chimney sweep.  Actually, I didn't know he was a chimney sweep when I met him.  I just liked his hat...a traditional black top hat.

We chatted for a few minutes, and then he shook my hand, reminding me that Mary Poppins (the wisest woman in history, according to Charles the chimney sweep) said that shaking hands with a chimney sweep brings good luck.

And I am not one to ever turn down good luck!

And then yesterday, we saw the kites.  Hundreds of kites at Austin's 84th annual Kite Festival.  And suddenly, the sky was full of kites...more kites than I had ever seen in one place.

Kites of all sizes and shapes....

And people and music and of course, dogs!

A cute pup near our chairs

Including Maya.....

Maya Puppy!

 ...who loved meeting all the other dogs. And watching the kites! Seriously!

Anyhow... With chimney sweeps and kites in one week, shouldn't I be ready for the carousel that will take me on a cross country jaunt?  It can't be far behind!