Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i've been hit

... or tagged rather. here goes:


five things I was doing 10 years ago

1. running at least 5 days a week
2. singing in Choristers/going to England for the first time-- who knew that would be such a fateful trip?
3. not enjoying junior high
4. figuring out my hair
5. discovering flared pants


five things on my "to do list" today:
1. make dinner for tonight
2. go shopping for dinners for Sam and Katrina while I'm gone
3. go for a walk
4. finish my quilt
5. play with my Christmas presents

five things I would do if I were a millionaire:
(I'm assuming as a millionaire, I have multiple millions)
1. buy a new car-- one with air conditioning
2. outfit an infant's room
3. travel
4. buy a really pretty wool coat that actually fits me
5. invest

five things I will never wear again:
1. tapered pants
2. socks that show above running shoes
3. anything with puffy paint on it
4. bright red shirts (I look terrible in them)
5. stick-on earrings

five of my favorite toys:
1. my new Christmas present (more on that later)
2. my Bosch
3. my mp3 player
4. my bookbinding stuff
5. Sam


five people to tag:

1. sam
2. sam
3. sam
4. sam
5. sam

Friday, December 07, 2007

comfort

Once again, I apologize for leaving such a gap in posts. I've decided that for me, pregnancy and blogging do not go hand in hand. Blogging is not always comforting to me and I find myself seeking comfort much more often these days. For example, I eat a lot more often now. It took me a while to figure out that my bad moods and headaches weren't so much the result of stress or hormones, but rather simply not getting enough food. Now, when I start to get irritable, I eat something and try to drink more water. It's worked wonders. I'm SO much happier. And still not gaining any weight, but that's not what this post is about....

I decided I would write about some other comforting things we've done lately since they make me happy in the moment and I think it's generally nicer to read about someone's happiness than their unhappiness, so here goes, with no specific order:

Last night I made tacos, Mom style. I made the taco meat just the way she makes it (with onions and canned pork and beans) and I got out cold canned corn to put on top of it. I also opened a food storage can of refried beans and added some salsa and cheese and got it all melty and warm. Delicious. I don't think I've eaten that since I was in high school. It brought back lots of fond memories, including a certain white plastic dish that Mom would always make it in.

Our home is officially Christmas-y. Our tree is up and decorated with gold ribbon, red and gold balls, and Sam's ornaments from his mom. Then we have twinkle lights around our big window in our living room, and a nativity scene on the coffee table. I put a little porcelain child's nativity on my dresser in our bedroom. I remember my Mom let me put in my bedroom once as a child and it's been "mine" ever since. It made me think about dressing up my dolls and doing their hair for Christmas and putting them around the nativity when I was a girl.

I read a book called Three Cups of Tea by David Relin and Greg Mortenson. It's about Mortenson's now life-long effort to build moderate schools in rural Pakistan (and now Afghanistan). He was climbing down to a village from a failed attempt to summit K2 when he got separated from his party, including his porter who had his tent and equipment. He spent a night in the cold, ate a protein bar he had on him, and back tracked his path to get back on the main road to the village when he took another wrong turn and ended up in a tiny mountain village. The people took him in, fed him, washed him, and got him back to his porter. He swore to them that he would build a school for their village someday. The rest of the book talks about the struggle to make it happen and the eventual success and support he found, even though he began to focus primarily on educating girls in an increasingly extremist Muslim area. The whole story is just one amazing incredible thing after another. I have to think that a man doing work like that must have had special protection from God. Needless to say, it made me happy to read about someone doing lots of good in the world.

I'm going ice skating tonight. I LOVE ice skating.

I bought Double-fudge Brownie ice cream. It's one of my favorites and it makes some great milk shakes.

The other day I hurt my back at work. Usually, for this injury, I would take an anti-inflammatory and feel better, but they can cause birth defects, so I couldn't take it. Instead, that night I took a warm bath, read a book, stretched, and had Sam massage my sore spots. There's not a lot that's more comforting than that.

I'm trying to focus on all the positive and cool things about pregnancy, but when I'm having a hard time, these comforts REALLY help out. Here's hoping you can find a little comfort yourself this weekend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

there is two of us

You may or may not have noticed that it has been one-day-shy-of-4-weeks since I last posted on this blog. It's not because there's been nothing to share. I could have told you, for example, that I've been called to be the adviser for the 14-15 year old girls at church, which will be LOTS of fun. Or, I could have written about how I started and finished the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer in that time. I might also have shared that Sam's Grandpa Harold passed away (the funeral was very celebratory), that his sister passed the Texas Bar (HOORAY KATRINA!!!), or that his brother bought an iPhone. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it because there is one bit of news that has made all that seem too insignificant to write about in comparison.

And in case you haven't guessed it yet, here is that news:

I am pregnant!

Yay! I'm going to be a mom! Sam's going to be a dad! I have an excuse to quit work in a few months! (That's really exciting to me.)

Here are the basics:
- My due date is June 3
- I'm 11 weeks along at this point
- I had some nausea, no vomiting; I think I'm over the worst of it
- Zero weight gain to date, but my tummy is a bit rounder
- No, we don't care the sex of the baby
- If it's a girl we have a name. If it's a boy, we're clueless
- We will accept any and all hand-me-downs :)

I'm not sure what else to tell, so I'll just share some things I've been thinking about:

I've had a few pregnancy related dreams. In one, I was waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (nothing unusual) but found blood everywhere and knew I had miscarried-- that was scary, but thankfully, just a dream. In another dream, I had a very cute baby that was too small to be able to hold itself up, but it could talk just fine. It spoke in a whisper and said the alphabet and a few random words-- I don't remember well, but I think it might have sounded like one of the kids at work. Everybody commented on what a smart baby I had, but no one thought it was bizarre.

I'd like to give birth without pain medication. I don't like needles or IVs and I'd like to have control over my lower half once the birth is over. I'll think more about that as the time comes, but any books or techniques that anyone could recommend would be helpful.

I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited, and VERY grateful to have Sam supporting me and finding out all the information we need about insurance, and his time off, and which plans we could take advantage of to save money. It's nice to be taking this step as a family. I feel lots of sympathy for single moms.

To close, here's a picture of what I look like right now, mostly for comparison's sake in a few months. (Thanks for the birthday money Mom! Part of it went to buying that turtleneck.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

i can see clearly now

I got contacts last Saturday. I went after spending the morning at a Learning Day our Relief Society sponsored. I learned how to make an apple pie and I made a name plaque with vinyl letters. And then I ate a VERY yummy lunch of several different salads and buttery rolls and lively, fun company of some of the other women in the ward. As of right now, I like that hour-long lunch/conversation more than my contacts.

When I finished the eye exam and sat down with a technician to go through the ordeal of putting my contacts in for the first time, I braced myself for the inevitable comments. You see, I am a terrible blinker. I think I nearly drove the woman who did my make-up for my wedding crazy because I couldn't keep my eye still enough for her to put on the eyeliner. And I can't help it! My eyes just don't like to be touched and my fingers aren't strong enough to hold them open against a blink without some painful gouging going one.

So, I watched the technician demonstrate, picked up my contact and neared it to my eye. The lady said, "You really have to open your eyes wide. And try not to blink." "OK" I said, trying to be civil and went at it again. Sometimes the contact would squish against my finger, sometimes it'd get crushed by my closing lashes. And still, the only commentary that woman had was, "Don't blink! You need to open your eyes!" She just said it over and over as if somehow telling me again would make me suddenly realize, "Oh! You mean my eye needs to be OPEN to put a contact in?! You'd don't say... And all this time, I was trying ON PURPOSE to keep my eyes shut."

That's what I wanted to say. I also wanted to say, Shut up! or Go Away! but my conscience wouldn't let me. I just kept saying, "OK" and "I'm trying.... really." And she just sat there, sighing away. Finally, I said, "You can go do something else if you need to. I'll just struggle with this here." And eventually, of course, I got them in, without her furrowed brow or sighing.

I told Sam the story on the way home and he kind of meandered his way into the bathroom as I tried again on Sunday morning. He stood there, watching, and I could tell he was holding his tongue. Once I finally got one in, he said, "You really do blink a lot," and then kissed my cheek to keep me from giving him the eye (which would have been red and teary, had it been attempted).

I'm now on day 5 of attempting contacts. I'm nowhere near having the "One day, it won't even bother you. You'll just pop 'em right in" experience that everyone keeps telling me about, but I am getting better. And I've decided they're worth the trouble. It's a great feeling to be able to both see long distances while I'm driving AND wear sunglasses instead of choosing between the two.

And the headaches are gone-- literally. Proverbially, I'd say my contacts give me one every time I have to put them in.

Monday, October 08, 2007

columbus day

What do you associate with October? Here are some things on my list:

pumpkins
sweaters
chilly football games
midterms
layering
corn mazes
leaves falling
scarves

Notice how sweating, sunglasses, and air conditioning are not on, nor might be associated with anything on that list? And yet, this October, they are unavoidable. Texas has left me stunned with 90 degree temperatures for the last 9 weeks. I really thought with the few cool breezes that have lazed through the air on a few choice afternoons that maybe the heat would break. I got so excited a few weeks ago when the weatherman said, "This is it, folks! We've got a bona fide cold front coming through!" My heart soared and I turned up the radio. "That's right, expect temperatures around 89 degrees, and scattered clouds."

Devastation.

But, I'm learning to live with it. Sam and I go running either in the early morning or late in the evening when the sun has gone down. I'm an expert at finding the minutest bit of shade to park my car in. And I know to carry a sweater with me everywhere to guard against the arctic blast that will greet me upon entering any building but my own home (we keep a very comfortable 75 degrees.)

So, in the spirit of taking advantage of what Texas has to offer, this is how I spent my Columbus Day off work:


I guess there are some perks.

Monday, October 01, 2007

my sweet man

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...... Sam!!

Sam walked into the apartment after work today, said, "I brought something for you...," and handed me this:

Can a husband get any sweeter than that? Three scoops... I mean... cheers.... for Sam!

Hip Hip Hooray!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

there's a place for us

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premier of West Side Story. Congratulations!

I've always loved the musical, I think in part because my Dad loved it. I've also known that it was groundbreaking for lots of reasons, including its focus on race and gang violence. But in the last month, I've heard two stories on NPR, one on the Houston local station, and one on All Things Considered, that have taught me more about the actual music of West Side Story.

On the local show, a visiting pianist played his arrangement of the overture. He then talked about how recognizable the songs of WSS are. He said, "You know within the first few notes that it's a tune from the musical." I had never thought about it before, but I realized after he said it that it was true. The whole musical has a unifying theme to it that makes it so memorable and classic that other, lesser musicals lack. The pianist said it was because Bernstein based the entire score on one interval, known as the "tritone." Hum the three notes of "Ma-ri-a..." That's a tritone. It's called the devil's interval and was banned from use until recently in the Roman Catholic Church (according to the pianist...).

Bernstein took the tritone and inverted, reversed, mirrored, and tinkered with it in other ways to form the base of each song. Even the gang members' whistle to each other is a twist on the basic tritone. The pianist played all the variations of it on the show, and if you listen to the program I linked to above from All Things Considered, you'll hear something similar.

Needless to say, I was impressed. What genius! The musical was reportedly met with good, though not raving reviews, partly because of its complexity, more akin to opera than to the popular musical of the day, like the Best Musical Tony Award winner the same year, The Music Man.

I decided I needed to blog about this because it's so exciting to me. I wish I could convey how cool I think this is! I once had a discussion with a friend about the merit of knowing about an author's personal life-- whether that knowledge added to what you gained from the content, whether it added depth or limited the possibilities for interpretation. I'm still ambivalent about that particular argument, but I have decided that learning interesting tidbits like this one make life much more interesting and inspire me to learn, create, and enjoy.


Monday, September 24, 2007

recap

So...it's been a while. I'm here to recap the last 3 weeks events.

September 8th was my brithday. We slept in and then went to Steven F. Austin state park for a bbq. It was very beautiful, shady, and quiet there. We cooked some chicken sandwiches and then threw around the football for a while. Soon afterward, some little kids who were playing on nearby swings asked if they could borrow the ball. We said OK, expecting them to throw it amongst themselves, but the boy who asked just backed up and lobbed one at Sam while he wasn't looking. So, we all started throwing the ball together. The smallest little boy always watched Sam's throw in awe. He'd say great things like, "Wow! What a bullet!" or "It's scary for a little boy like me to have a fast ball like that coming at me!" My favorite comment was, "Do you watch TV? 'Cuz you throw just like Vince Young!"

Eventually we left and came back home to change. When I got the mail, there was a package waiting for me in the office, from Sam. Inside was the Dark is Rising series in a boxed set and the DVD of "Newsies." I was so happy. Sam wouldn't tell me where we were going next. We went to a great Thai restaurant for dinner called Red Basil. It was very chic and yummy. It's owned by the NY Group and apparently got a great review from a very important reviewer. We definitely want to go back.

Once we got in the car, Sam couldn't hold his surprise any more. He told me we were going to the opening night of the Houston Symphony! They play at Jones Hall, which is very beautiful. It was neat to see all of Houston's high society out in the lobby in their evening gowns and jewels. But of course, the best part was the music. They played Tchaikovsky's piano concerto first. It was AMAZING. The pianist was incredible and the sound in the hall was so warm and lively. It was easily the best symphony performance I've ever seen. I also loved watching Sam enjoy the piano concerto so much. He would have loved to have played a concerto while he was at his piano prime and said, afterward, "I've only ever heard one other pianist play a concerto without a mistake..." Their second piece was Pictures at an Exhibition by Musorgsky which I'd never heard all the way through. I enjoyed it.

The next week we worked a lot, though I got to go to a fun evening with some of the other new sisters in Relief Society. Sam got sick early in the week, and then I caught it from him and by Friday night I was feeling pretty awful, so that week was fairly uneventful. Saturday night was fun though. Our friends and neighbors, the Bonds, invited us over for dinner and once they put their son to bed, we played Cranium-- boys vs. girls. We girls were just stomping our competition but since the game was about to end and we all wanted to play more, we changed the rules and the boys made a great comeback and eventually won with one card. We had great fun making fools of ourselves trying to hum and guess and draw and sculpt. The great triumph of the night was when Leighanna and I had to write down 3 comfort foods each. To win, 2 of them had to be the same. I wrote down "ice cream, chocolate, and pot roast." Leighanna wrote, "milkshakes, chocolate, and mashed potatoes." The boys were stunned.

The next week of work was tough, still being sick, but I had some easy and fun days with the kids. MV (those are his initials), my favorite, wanted lots of tickles and and at the end of the day when I was tired and my head and body ached, he said, before getting in the car, "Gimme a hug, Heather." He's so squishy and big and cuddly.

Sam picked me up from work early on Friday and we headed straight to Dallas. He had brought with it a package from Amazon that had all the things I had bought with my birthday gift certificate from Sam's parents. I bought my own copy of Anna Karenina, Anne of Green Gables, and The Prince of Egypt. Sam's never read either of the books, so I started reading Anne of Green Gables to him, though I didn't get very far because my throat hurt so much from being sick. I think we'll enjoy working our way slowly through it.

We got to Flower Mound around 6 PM where a delicious dinner of steak enchiladas and chips was hot and ready for us. Then we all changed and went to Dallas to see The Lion King!! The costuming and dancing was as incredible as I remember and I loved seeing it again. The next day we helped Sam's brothers with their homework (though mostly distracted them from it by joking and telling stories), played the new game Joseph got for the Wii, and watched some Cosby home videos. It was very relaxing and lots of fun to see the Cosbys.

Sam and I independently were asked to play the organ and conduct the music, respectively, in Sacrament Mtg. We got lots of comments afterwards on how cute we were doing the music together, and on how talented Sam was. He also accompanied the special musical number, so his piano skills were also displayed. The ward was very, and rightly, impressed. I have such a great husband.

And now we're back to Monday! I got off work at lunch time today since the power had gone out and only two rooms had light from windows, and the building was getting hotter and hotter, so we sent all the kids home. I don't mind since I needed to clean up the house for a dinner we're having tonight with my VT companion and teach-ee and their husbands. They're both couples without children, so it'll be nice to get to know them better.

Sorry to just spit all this out without any breaks or pictures. We'll try to come up with something a little more interesting and timely in the next post...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"it's all happening at the zoo"

Sam and I decided to go to zoo on Labor Day. It was free so we went early to try to beat the crowds. That plan didn't really work, but we had a GREAT time anyway. We started out in the aquarium and I was amazed to see something of everything-- which proved to be true throughout the whole zoo. We really liked the flourescently-lit jellyfish tank. It was purple in the zoo but looks blue in the picture.


We then moved on to the birds, and then went to the Children's Zoo. They had a great fountain play area where shoots of water from the ground would turn on and off unexpectedly. Many mothers had to keep their kids from sticking their mouths over the water, but it was clear that the kids LOVED it, and it was great fun to watch them get so excited.

While there, we watched a group of fruit and nectar bats being fed. They hung the fruit on big chains, and the bats would fly up, grab on, and start munching away. It was surprisingly interesting to watch as they grappled for territory and used the claws on the tips of their wings to dig out fruit.

I liked seeing all the babies. We saw a baby antelope, giraffe, orangutan, and elephant.


Who doesn't think of Henry Mancini when they see a little guy like this?





Sam and I also really enjoyed the monkeys. These were at the entrance to the primate section:



Even from outside the primate exhibit, we could hear some really loud whooping from two monkeys calling back and forth to each other, so I'm sad to say that less exciting primates got glossed over as we wove our way through the exhibit along with everyone else in search of the loud and hilarious noise. We took a couple videos, and though this one doesn't show the monkey that well, you can hear them calling back and forth to each other. One would whoop and the other would whoop back and then the first would come back quicker and the exchange would go faster and faster until they couldn't keep up their screaming pace and then it'd cool down again. It's like at sporting events when you start chanting and it just gets faster and faster until breaks down. So here is Susie (the instigator as the nearby volunteer informed us) and her friend.



Here is one that better shows the monkey. Notice the big bulbous throat area. That inflates as they make the low whoop before the high shriek.





We finished our day at the zoo in the air conditioned reptile and amphibian house where we saw this leucistic croc...

...and then we went to the car to get lunch. We had just finished our sandwiches at a nearby picnic table when it started raining huge heavy Texas raindrops. We gathered up our food lickety-split and ran to the car, only getting mildly soaked, and it rained for the rest of the day. Perfect timing!

Now you know, that when you come to visit us here in our really nice apartment in Houston, you will have a FABULOUS zoo to go visit as well!

carding

I had this great idea.

I'm terrible about sending out birthday cards to my family and friends. When I got married, Sam informed me that he never got a birthday greeting from his brothers until they got married, implying that it was now my wifely duty to send birthday cards to all Sam's siblings and their spouses, along with my own siblings and their spouses, as well as to our parents and grandparents. I wasn't too surprised and even expected that I'd do so, no matter who I married. So, the point is, now that I'm married, I really feel a responsibility for birthday cards.

So here's my plan: in free moments of time, I'll write birthday cards with generic well-wishes like, "Hope you had a super day!" "See you at the holidays!" "We miss you!" which could apply to everyone (kind of like horoscopes). Then I'll pop them into envelopes, address one to each person I'm responsible for, slap a forever stamp on there, and then file them away to be sent monthly.

What do you think? Brilliant? or Un-feeling and Insensitive?

Friday, August 31, 2007

life and times

We Cosbys are really cool. We're cultured and outdoorsy and up-to-date. You can tell by all the cool stuff we do. Take, for instance, our latest trip into Houston.

We went to Miller Outdoor Theater to see Madame Butterfly performed by the Houston Ebony Opera Guild. It was a free show (as a side note: I think it's funny that Sam and I only go to free symphonies and operas and museums where the material is arguably of much greater worth than say a movie, for which we pay $8.75, or dinner at Chilis which can get pricey). The night was beautiful, warm, breezy, not too humid, and Sam and I saw a couple shooting stars.

Sadly, Sam and I were not very impressed with the opera. I'm sure that's due to a number of factors. First, it was performed in English, which, as everyone knows, is not as beautiful as Italian. Second, I couldn't understand a lot of what was being said because the sound wasn't that great, and the words weren't said, they were sung. Third, the man playing Pinkerton must have been having trouble with his voice since he often sounded raspy. Finally, it did not meet my criteria for becoming an opera/musical that I love because it neither a) made me think "Wow! that was a really beautiful aria/duet/intricate octet, etc nor b) made me walk away humming one or two of its melodies in my head. I certainly recognized some themes in the music, but they didn't stick with me like two other operas I've loved: Carmen and Don Giovanni.

However, this particular performance, being done by an all black cast, did make me think of how it was a pretty relevant story for Houston. A black woman, who is assured of true love by a man, is left abandoned with a child. I know it's politically incorrect of me to have just made this connection since it was a black cast, and to have never realized it before, but well, that's what happened. Anyway, I wondered if anyone else made that connection and what they thought of it.

On another note, Sam and I just read Freakonomics which has a large section on the black-white income gap, black crack gangs in Chicago, and the difference between high-income and low-income names, along with sumo wrestlers, the KKK, real-estate agents, and abortion. The entire book is about as unified as that sentence I just wrote. It's basically a collection of Stephen Levitt's papers put into anecdotal form. I found it entertaining, though not very enlightening. I'm currently in the midst of The World is Flat and Sam just read Guns, Germs, and Steel and with all these books it's fun to see how authors are RIGHT. It makes sense. No one wants to read a book where the author is always doubting his own argument. Still, those kind of books read like an entertaining college lecture, but without highlighting inconsistencies and opposing arguments.

Aside from all that, life is fairly normal. We take walks, talk about our dissatisfaction with the two-party system and our ambivalence toward the war in Iraq, make dinner together, and discuss various life-plan options available to us. It's nice to be married and have someone to do all that with, especially someone as kind, funny, smart, and helpful as Sam.

Oh, and Sam found a man named Jose selling $25 TVs on craigslist, so we can watch movies on something other than the laptop again. Yay! I just found Sense and Sensibility at Target for $5, and Sam is such a nice husband that he says he's excited to watch a Jane Austen movie with me, even when he didn't like the book. What a guy!

PS-- The Chacos came! Hurray! They're soooooo comfy. They have better support than my running shoes!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

sam's first blog post EVER!

(I really wanted Sam to post on my blog, so we figured our anniversary would be a good jumping -off point. Any comments I add on this post will be in parentheses, like this one. Take it away, Sam.)

Well, I am supposed to chronicle the events of the Saturday of our first annual anniversary weekend celebration. It all started in the wee hours of the morning, when I decided that I would make Heather breakfast. Making breakfast for others has been a long-standing tradition in my own family, and I admit that I found it a little shocking when Heather first told me that she preferred cereal for breakfast over all other foods--including great breakfast food like pancakes, bacon, eggs, etc. At this point, you can imagine my dismay. Anyhow, I had heard her say that coffeecake would be a breakfast that she would enjoy, and I was overjoyed to hear something that I could make, rather than just pour in a bowl.

So, at 6:30 AM, I woke up and realized that I needed to go to the grocery store. In order to not make this blog longer than it needs to be, suffice it to say that I had been spending many stolen moments reading and re-reading Irma Rombauer's advice on how to make coffeecakes from her Joy of Cooking (which holds a place of honor on our countertop). Therefore, the preparation and cooking began, and it took longer than I had expected, but as I had hoped, Heather remained in a state of slumber until I turned on the food processor to chop chocolate chips--chopping chocolate chips may sound weird, but you will just have to take my word for it when I say it was an act of culinary genius (I wholeheartedly agree, and did not mind feigning slumber for the next 40 minutes to experience such a marvel). So, after eating coffeecake, I suppose that Heather was looking for an equally eventful morning as she had provided the previous day, but, I had planned nothing until the afternoon.

(Finally realizing this, I took full advantage of primping time, and asked Sam numerous times what I should wear, and he remained unhelpfully mysterious. I'm still not satisfied with how I looked, which may be the reason why we have no other pictures besides the food)

I, Sam, remind you that the parenthetical comments belong to Heather, whereas my own parenthetical commentary will henceforth be offset by the -- (that is an m-dash). Thank you, Heather. After the morning passed, we drove off into the sun toward Bellaire Blvd., where I had previously arranged for an order of pupusas for lunch. They were authentic and delicious (the ants loved them. I set a bag of salsa [yes, a bag, it's authentic] on the ground and the ants swarmed it), and so we continued on our way toward our next destination: Galveston, Texas. A slight difficulty appeared in my plans in the form of bad traffic, but after driving for two hours, we arrived at our destination. I knew that I wanted us to see the Galveston Historic District, but I had not really come up with a site-by-site visiting plan, which was both good and bad. Good, because it kept us from spending money we would have otherwise felt bad about spending once we saw that some of the museums' publicity operations were of a much higher quality than their actual appeal. Bad, because we had to aimlessly wander around at times before finding the little gems that characterize the historic downtown--also known as The Strand. One of those little gems was an art museum, which we barreled past while walking down the street, but Heather noticed it, so we turned around and entered. It was a great little spot, with displays from local artists of various glassware exhibits. The donation that we put in the plastic donation box was the only money that we spent while on the Strand, and it was well spent.

(According to the guide that Sam printed off of the Internet about Galveston, the Strand area is filled with buildings from the mid-1800s, many of which survived a severe hurricane at the turn of the century. I especially enjoyed the intricate brickwork and a wicker-basket topped elevator.)

After enjoying the old-timey ambiance of the Strand, we headed off toward our final destination, which was the beach. Perhaps a little bit of background is in order for this segment of our travels. Texas beaches are much like the beaches of many lakes and reservoirs: they make you feel close to water, but are otherwise less impressive than say, the Bahamas. Or even the California coast at its worst. Nevertheless, it is the ocean, it is a beach, and swimming is enjoyable no matter where you go, which was the case when we arrived. At Stewart Beach State Park, we entered a parking lot full of cars, changed, and dove (waded) into the water with many close neighbors. The most unexpected and entertaining scenery turned out to be the leaping fish of the Gulf of Mexico. At least every couple of minutes, and at random locations both near and far, large fish would leap out of the water again and again like skipping rocks. Many times small schools of fish would participate in this activity, and they felt no shame about doing it right next to a human body. It was a lot of fun to watch, just slightly more fun than watching the pelicans trying to dive down and eat them. Anyhow, we basked in the relatively still ocean for a couple of hours, and just passed the time talking and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere. (I thought the beach was interesting because there were no waves, and the water just broke close to the beach like at Lake Erie, but while you were in the water you could feel a fairly strong current that could hold you up if you leaned against it, which entertained us for several minutes.)

At this point, I feel that I have lapsed a bit into stream of consciousness, so to wrap things up, we had a wonderful and eventful Saturday together. (We ate dinner at Chili's too.) This is the end of my first obligatory entry into the blog, and you can probably expect to hear from me again the next time Heather "strongly encourages" me to contribute.

Love,
Sam

i sell things

It's true. It's official. I sell things. I sold my old TI-89 calculator on Amazon. I've sold textbooks. And now, I sell my books. As in books that I have made.

I sold my very first book to my sister-in-law Anna. She bought it as a wedding gift for her brother, and its a journal with the bride and groom's names on it. It was so much fun having someone else make all the decisions about the book-- the size, the colors, the papers, the style. I hope she likes it! Here are some photos, though I think it looks much better in person. The flash emphasizes any little flaw! Though, as my teacher always said, "The flaws are what make it personal and home made!"




PS-- to see more books that I've made, click the link to the right to a web page of them

Saturday, August 18, 2007

happy feet


I'm having a girl moment. I need to brag about the GREAT sale I just got. Here's the story.

This is Tax-free weekend in Texas wherein sales tax is suspended for certain required items, namely apparel and back-to-school supplies. But retailers are allowed to suspend taxes on almost anything and many do, along with having great big sales.
So, to join in with the masses, Sam and I headed out to the outlet mall to buy him some brown dress shoes. He found some he liked in Famous Footwear which was having a buy one get one half off sale. Now, I've been looking for some good sandals that'll support my feet like shoes, but keep them cool. I found some good Columbia sandals already marked down so we got them for $15.

But that's not the sale. Just wait.

I wore the sandals around a bit and decided they didn't fit just right and would chafe if I wore them too long or got wet or dirty in them. I told Sam I had this problem with lots of sandals and had a suspicion that Chacos wouldn't give me that trouble. Only problem is, they're usually $95.
Well, we decided to maybe buy them anyway and searched for a local distributer. We found one, back at the mall and saw they had Chacos on sale for $71 on-line with free shipping. Not bad! So we went back to the mall and tried on Chacos to find the right size. Within 5 minutes, I was hooked. My feet have never felt so aired yet so comfortable. And Sam is now yearning for some Chacos flip-flops.
So, back home we came and popped online. We used froogle and the Chaco website to find anyone selling Chacos, and the original $71 seemed like the best. But, I decided, why not check Amazon? And there they were: Chaco Zx2 Headwaters in Bluebell for only $54 and FREE shipping! Hooray! And happy early birthday to me.
It's amazing how much a great sale can make your day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

addicted

I liked that "cynical" quiz so much, I took several more. They're really quick. Here are my results:

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

You're highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.
If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second.
But you don't harness your energy unless you truly need to.
And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you


Your Theme Song is Beautiful Day by U2

"Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away"

You see the beauty in life, especially in ordinary everyday moments.
And if you're feeling down, even that seems a little beautiful too.


I was shocked by this one...




You Are Austin



A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.

You're totally weird and very proud of it.

Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.



Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick



Also surprising, and both disappointing and satisfying

Your Geek Profile:

Academic Geekiness: Low
Fashion Geekiness: Low
Gamer Geekiness: Low
Geekiness in Love: Low
General Geekiness: Low
Internet Geekiness: Low
Movie Geekiness: Low
Music Geekiness: Low
SciFi Geekiness: Low


You Are Socks!

Cozy and warm... but easily lost.
You make a good puppet.


You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

looking for the best in life

I don't think I'm cynical, and I know people who think I'm unrealistic in my expectations for my life (that life really can be pretty darn good most of the time and I can help to make it that way). However, I have friends who are so optimistic and smiley and love everybody and I sometimes feel like a little dark cloud around them when I make the slightest negative comment about a situation. All that is to say, I was a little surprised by the results of this blog quiz, but not too much.

You Are 20% Cynical

Cynical? Not even close! If anything, you're a bit naive.
Overall, you enjoy life and try not to be paranoid. Even if you've been burned before.


PS-- Sam and I probably won't get to writing about the rest of our anniversary till this weekend. So check back around then.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

happy anniversary

Our first anniversary is today. Hooray for us! One year and going strong. We have had a lovely weekend.

Friday was my day to plan. We had a leisurely morning and then went to see The Bourne Ultimatum. I had intended to let Sam choose whichever manly movie he wanted to see (Transformers, Live Free or Die Hard, or Bourne) but Transformers' first showing was too late in the day to get the $4 weekend morning show ticket price, and Die Hard wasn't there any more, so Bourne it was. I was happy because I really wanted to see it and Sam assured me that's what he would have chosen anyway. Overall, we liked it. There were some awesome chase scenes on both foot and car/motorcycle but there was also some violence that I closed my eyes for. Sam and I both wished we could have gone with Grandpa Roly, who LOVES the Bourne movies.

After the movie we ate some homemade pizza on our way to the Forbidden Gardens which has a small model of the Forbidden City and a replica of the tomb of emperor Qin, discovered in 1979 and filled with an entire army of terra cotta soldiers. Here is a short history of the Gardens from roadsideamerica.com "Forbidden Gardens was built in 1997 at the pleasure of Ira P. H. Poon, AKA "Mr. Poon," a Hong Kong real estate mogul who wanted people of Asian descent (including his teenage children) to know something of Asian culture besides firecrackers and kung-fu. Mr. Poon lives in Seattle, but preferred constructing the sprawling exhibit somewhere outdoors, open year-round, on flat, cheap land, where there was a large Asian population. Houston, 25 miles east of Forbidden Gardens, has the third highest in the nation."
It was incredible to see the models. They had about 20 full size replicas (the close up) and three spreads of half size replicas, including some of the cavalry and the room that had been singed by fire from tomb robbers. (It's a funny story-- they came in and robbed the tomb and then tried to set it on fire to destroy any evidence they'd been there, but when they left the tomb, they shut the door, closing off the oxygen supply, so everything is in tact, just blackened a bit.)

We also loved the names of the palaces in the Forbidden City, things like, The Hall of Supreme Harmony, The Hall of Imperial Supremacy, The Hall of Earthly Tranquility, The Palace of Heavenly Purity. Each roof had its own color and those had different meanings. Most were yellow, the color of the Emperor. The library's roof was black, the symbol for water, to protect the books from fire. Others were green symbolizing growth and fertility, like the building where women came to have their babies. We loved hearing about the symbolism because it's so different from what we see in palaces in the west. Symbols of nature and color really faded away when Christianity pushed out the worship of nature.
My favorite part was hearing about the construction of the city. The story was told to us like this: All the best architects in China were brought together, but couldn't think of how to build the palaces. After much mental anguish, the dragon god came down and presented them with a cricket cage. Crickets not only symbolize luck, but they also were used as a security device since they stop chirping if someone comes near them, and you'll know someone's outside snooping around if your cricket goes quiet. The emperor loved it. It was a beautiful design and could say to his enemies, "If you try to come near, we're always watching." The building relied on the weight of slanted wood slats leaning on one another to hold itself up, so no nails or cement were used in construction, just a little tree sap. Incredible! And, the whole city went up in only 14 years because the emperor enlisted one million architects and laborers to come get the job done.


After the gardens, we bought some Blue Bell ice cream, a Texas original since 1911, and the third-best-selling ice cream brand in the nation. (It's been eaten on the space shuttle and at Camp David!) The Strawberries with Homemade Vanilla is amazing. Then Sam read a little while I went and bought food for dinner. We had steak topped with garlic butter, shrimp cocktails (though they too ended up being dipped in the left-over garlic butter), and Caesar salad. I also lit a candle and made a short playlist on Windows Media Player of love songs to satisfy my own romantic desires.

After dinner, we were going to go to the batting cages, but that didn't quite work out so we went and walked around the very ritzy, very pretty Galleria mall (according to their website, they're the fourth-largest mall in America) which is built under a long glass atrium. While there we peered at designer brand clothes and jewelry and played in the more accessible, middle-class-friendly Disney store and Apple store where we got our fill of playing with the new iPhone.

What a great day! Sam planned Saturday, and I (we?) will write about that soon. It's bedtime now.

a bow in the cloud


Genesis 9
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

how much is it worth?

A rather convoluted train of internet surfing brought me to the homepage of Allure magazine. There, it's daily poll asked "How much would someone have to pay you to shave your head?" Their options were 1)Nothing, I'd do it for free 2)$1,000 3)$10,000 4)$1 million. Amazingly enough, I really had to sit and think about this question. For sure, I would never drop below $10,000, but I wasn't quite sure that was enough.

In my mental calculations of how fast my hair grows, I would have about 2-3 months of having hair short enough to get me stared at in public. How embarrassing would that be? How ashamed would I feel? How debilitating would it be to feel unattractive, and to have my husband find me unattractive? Could I live with those levels for 2-3 months? Would I gain confidence, or some other virtue, by withstanding stares and questions? Would I feel justified when I told people why I shaved my head?

What would $10,000 do? It might be the down payment on a house. It would buy most of car. It would buy us good furniture. It would give our 401K a jumpstart. It would cover lots of expenses while Sam went back to school. But those things don't feel too far out of reach, or very necessary at the moment.

On the other hand, at my current wage level and number of hours, it would take me 7 months to make $10,000. Would I trade 7 months of working for 2-3 months of some shame?

I talked to Sam about all this and we agreed that most definitely we'd agree for me to do it for $50,000 and I suspect we'd be convinced for $30,000, so I don't really see why the writer(s?) of this very scientific survey jumped straight from $10,000 to $1 million. I think many others felt this way too, since at the time I answered the survey, 64.5% of respondents said $1million would be their limit and I suspect that many would go for less.

So, I pose the question to you. How much would someone have to pay you to shave your head (for the women) or to grow your hair long (for the men)?

In the mean time, here are some other potentially embarrassing odd beauty routines someone would have to pay me to do and how much my going rates are. This doesn't make much sense, but I think these are such simple pleasures, someone would really have to shell out the dough to make it worth it, even though most of these happen pretty frequently:

Assume these last between 6 months and 1 year
Not shave my legs or armpits: $50,000
Wear mismatching clothes:$75,000
Not wear makeup ever: $7500
Not pluck my eyebrows: $5000
Never use a blow dryer or hot hair tool: $7500
Never paint my toenails: $1,000

Any other suggestions? I'll tell you how much it's worth to me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

our house is a very very very fine house

Here it is! Lots of people have been asking me for pictures of the apartment, and here is a video tour! The quality isn't that great, but it gives you a good idea of our living conditions.

Part 1



The end got dark, so I just cut it off there. I was showing the number next to our door.

Part 2



Something I neglected to mention, but that I hope is visible from this video is the light, airy feeling of the apartment. We love having windows all over.
Thank you Jon for the Wall Street Journal on top of the island in the kitchen! Sam reads it every day.
At the end of this video I was showing you our "wall of love" over the sink. It's a montage of all the engagement photos we have from friends and family. Its a reminder of how great it is to be in love. Not that we really need one...

Part 3



The end! We really DO think you should come to visit us. We have lots and lots of space for just the two of us. Just give us a ring whenever y'all wanna come on over.

Monday, July 16, 2007

coming attractions

Sorry I've been a little distant lately. In the works is a major blog post displaying my new apartment!!! Get ready for lots of pictures, and if I can figure it out, a video!

Monday, July 09, 2007

I got a job! Starting this Tuesday I'll be working at The Shape of Behavior. It's a school/day care for children with disorders in the Autism spectrum. I'll become an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis*) trainer and work with the children on their language and functional skills, with a healthy dose of playing involved. I think I'm most excited about the fact that giving tickles is one of the accepted rewards that the child can choose to work towards during the day. I also get to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work every day. Wish me luck!

* The wikipedia page is under mediation and some of the comments on the "talk" page are pretty interesting. ABA is criticized because it teaches the children to state their needs or to stand up or to say "I love you" via rewards or lack of rewards even though the children may not actually mean or feel these things. Like any therapy, it has its problems, but it seems, from what I've read that parents see a greater difference with ABA and feel like their children are doing better when they use it. And if the family is happier and the child seems less frustrated, I say that's great.

Monday, July 02, 2007

the sound of freedom

Sam and I were looking through our modest music collection to create a patriotic playlist. Here's what we could scrounge, with our justifications for including it on the list:

Stars and Stripes Forever John Philip Sousa
--The only one we to which we can apply the strange label "a given"

Simple Gifts BYU Women's Chorus
--It's an American folk song

Take Five Dave Brubeck
--
Jazz is, as I'm sure you know, the only true American art form

Come, Come Ye Saints
-- A classic tribute to America's pioneers

Rhapsody in Blue George Gershwin
Fanfare for the Common Man
and Rodeo "Hoe Down" Aaron Copland
--
Quintessentially American songs from American composers

Take Me Home, Country Roads John Denver
Sweet Georgia Brown Louis Armstrong and Edmund Hall
Big River Johnny Cash
The Only Living Boy in New York Simon and Garfunkle
Sweet Home Alabama Lynyrd Skynyrd
--
These songs refer to specific places in this our fair home- West Virginia, Georgia, the major points along the Mississippi River, NYC, and Alabama respectively- and they do it with flair

Home Michael Buble
-- My anthem during my last few weeks in London. In essence, "I've been all over Europe and it's been great, but what I really want is to come home to somebody who loves me." Since that home happens to be America, we included it.

I Love The Lord BYU Men's Chorus
-- This probably is a little unfamiliar to most of you. It's the song the BYU Men's Chorus sang at April General Conference Priesthood Session. We LOOOOVE it. Since it was first performed in America, we let it stay.....I mean, it's our list.

stuff it


My first try at making stuffed shells. Sam and I agree that they'd be better with more basil and oregano. We're going to try buying the frozen stuffed shells to see if they taste as good as the homemade ones. If so--we're going frozen all the way. They cost about as much as making them by scratch and save a lot of time. However, I might be dissuaded if anyone has a GREAT recipe for them from their Italian great-great-grandmother. Either way, they're certainly pretty.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

a night at the symphony

Our Friday:
3-4:30 PM I finish listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on CD while showering, creating an outfit, and doing my hair for the evening to make the cheap meal and free concert in the park seem much more of a date than just something to do.

4:30 Sam comes home. I continue playing with my hair and put on some make up while we talk about funny things people have said to him at work

5:30 Sam and I gather an array of ponchos, tent flies, umbrellas, and blankets to keep us dry in case the forecasted intermittent thunderstorms decide to pop up during the concert.

5:45 Sam and I discuss our siblings' love lives and our own courtship experience on the long drive into Southwest Houston. The fastest way to get there is via a toll-road, so we opt for the slower, but more scenic (and free) Westheimer parkway.

6:30 We arrive at Vic's Backyard BBQ for dinner because Sam has gotten a 50% off coupon for his birthday from his work. The decor is mostly neon beer-brand lights, antlers (both on and off the bucks they came from), and photos of famous celebrities of the 40's-60's. We pick up a tray on our way in, order our main course-- a bacon cheese burger for me and chicken fried steak for Sam-- and point out which "side dishes" we want from the aluminum cafeteria-style vats of mixed vegetables and macaroni and cheese. The man behind us fills his tray with eight Coronas.

7:00 We drive further in to the city, through the very pretty university and museum district. We go around the round-about twice, passing our exit the first time, and almost getting hit by on-coming traffic.

7:35 We get to the park. We easily find free, close parking. We are given programs and red bandannas with Target brand (the free concert sponsor) targets all over it. We are early enough to get a great seat right at the front of the lawn and begin alternately reading our programs and people watching.

8 PM Four senior citizens just 10 feet to our right argue over whether they should move off the grass and under the pavilion or stay on the lawn. Eventually the ladies win and one of the men gets up to carry their chairs and cooler to the pavilion. The other man stubbornly declares it would not rain, reclines his chair as far back as it will go and refuses to budge.

8:10 Sam points out that the guest conductor for the evening (James Gaffigan) is the assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra and has participated in the Blossom music festival.

8:15 The old man's friend comes back to retrieve an extra blanket. The old man still doesn't move.

8:20 Sam and I decide we will attend the 4th of July free concert which includes "A Star-Spangled Salute," a Texas Sing-A-Long Medly, the 1812 Overture (we both hope for real cannons), and a fireworks display

8:25 The old man's wife comes up to the lawn and says while flapping her arms about, "There's a nice breeze down there." Man: "What?!" Wife: "A BREEZE! (arms flap more wildly) AIR!" Man: "There's a breeze right here! We're outside!" The wife goes back to her seat.

8:30 The concert begins with the William Tell Overture. Immediately a huge grin comes across my face as I remember playing with my dad and brothers and sister while listening to this. I tell Sam about it: "Here we would prance around and Daddy would spin us." The music gets to the foreboding part. "I would always get so excited because I knew the storm was coming and my little stomach would be all a-twitter." The "storm" rages in the symphony; I'm almost laughing and can't keep from bouncing my feet. "Dad would toss us onto the couch and we would jump off in time with the music. We'd squeal as he'd catch us and throw us about." The storm calms. "More twirling" The trumpet sounds the call for the "race" in the now infamous Lone Ranger theme part. "We'd all line up and sometimes ride our wooden horses or yard sticks and race around the house, Daddy coming up behind and poking our sides to scare us silly. We bounced the house so much and scratched the record so badly it wouldn't play any more."
Sam points out to me a bassist who flings his head back at every emphasis in the music. It's hilarious to watch. I point out the little shoulder shrug the conductor does as he conducts the "ba-da-bum. ba-da-bum. ba-da-bum-bum-bum"-- obviously a member of the hip-hop generation. By the time the song gets to the part where it has ending after ending I'm so giddy I can hardly stand it and I cheer and whistle when the piece is finished.

8:45 The piano is moved in and the symphony plays Mozart's Piano concerto No. 22. During the third movement I think of how many times I've used this piece to calm me down, ease my worries, accompany my homework, or remind me that life is good and beautiful.
The old man is asleep.

9:30 Intermission. Sam and I switch chairs so he can have the comfy one. A woman sitting in front of us returns from the concession stand with nachos and Sam and I say "Mmmmm" simultaneously. I make Sam try on the Target bandanna to see how he looks in a do rag. He looks like Prison Mike. The old man's friend comes over to him with a box full of ice cream bars. The old man looks at each one, reads its package, and changes his mind three times before choosing one. As his friend walks away he shouts, "Tell [my wife] it hasn't rained yet!"

9:45 The orchestra begins Beethoven's 7th Symphony. During the second movement I remember hearing the piece for the first time on a CD my best friend's Dad made for us our freshman year of college as a balm for our tried spirits. That too has been used to calm and comfort me many times since then.

Later (around the third movement) : The old man is sprawled and lounging, sucking on the fudge-sicle in one had and grabbing mint Milanos out of a bag on a cooler next to him with the other. I point him out to Sam who says that's what he hopes to be doing at that age.

The last movement: Sam and I reconfirm our position that the conductor seems to have a bit of hip-hop in his style. His stance is wide as he bounces in time. He nods his head and shrugs his shoulders, all the time looking relaxed and fluid. I watch, fascinated. Sam watches the flailing bassist to keep him awake.

10:40 We clap and cheer as the concert ends and we pack up. I am thoroughly pleased with the beautiful evening (we felt only a few drops the entire night) and the beautiful music. Sam and I are reminded why we come to the symphony so often -- every couple months or so. The old man struggles to roll out of a full-reclining position and stand up again, rubbing his back and knees. We all head to our cars.

Friday, June 22, 2007

scrapbooker's delight

Sam and I bought a printer this week. We had originally purchased one from OfficeMax but then found one with very similar features, free photo paper, and scrapbooking software for $30 less at Walmart. I've played with the software a little bit and here are two products. The first was made using one of their ready-made templates and the second is one I made on my own. It's a lot of fun, though I'm not sure quite what I'd do with it. I'm impressed with the huge array of backgrounds, fonts, and little scrapbooking tags, ribbons, and trinkets with which you can adorn your page.


Monday, June 18, 2007

everything's bigger in texas

Sam and I were driving to Dallas on Friday morning when we noticed a sign on our right which said, "World's tallest statue of an American hero." Our curiosity piqued, we kept our eyes open and in a few moments, there it was: a 67 foot tall statue of Sam Houston at the side of I-45 in his one-time home, Huntsville, TX.
Upon sighting it, I was at first shocked and then burst out laughing because, as you can see from the freeway picture, the statue is pretty abrupt and seems more than a little out of place. Well, at least to an outsider. Sam (Cosby, not Houston) took the statue a little more to heart having been indoctrinated with glorified stories of Houston's heroism in revolutionary triumphs like the Battle of San Jacinto where he and his men beat the pants off Santa Anna who had killed all their friends at the Alamo a month before. However, despite my amusement, I had to admit to Sam (Cosby, AND Houston) yet again that everything really IS bigger in Texas.
It's true. Texas has 3 of the United States' top 10 cities by population and 5 of the top 20. It's the second largest state in the Union both by area (to Alaska) and population (to California) and home to more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other state. The port of Houston is the sixth-largest port in the world. "Big" is an understatement when referring to Texas. As I thought about it, I came up with a few more things that are bigger in Texas.

1. Churches
Sure, California's got the Crystal Cathedral and Saddleback Church, but no one's got more big churches per capita than Texas. Big churches in Texas are just slightly less prevalent than LDS buildings in Provo, and that's just because they can hold more people. Lots more people. Take the BIG church that is the view out every single window in our apartment, Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church. When we first got here, we thought the church was the expo center we saw advertised, but no-- that's dwarfed behind the church which also has a large school with 3 wings and 4 portable classrooms. BIG. And there are countless others just like it. The best part is, they're full, so we have some wonderful neighbors.

2. Freeways
We thought I-10, which goes from the gulf coast through the center of Houston all the way to San Antonio, was a big freeway. It's got about 10 lanes, and like any other respectable large-city freeway, is currently under construction. This construction, which we assume will be finished by the time the area it serves grows by another 463% in a decade (I'm not kidding), is meant not only to update its 1960's construction, but also to widen it to a gargantuan "24 lanes, including feeder roads." BIG.

3. Houses
They are both tall and sprawling, for two reasons. First, there aren't any basements in Texas, due to the level of the water table, or something like that, so if you want three floors, they've got to go UP. Second, land here is plentiful and cheap. Sam's brother who lives in New Hampshire bought a condo for the same amount of money his high school buddy used to buy a beautiful, new 4 bedroom home here in Texas, and that's with an entry-level income. If you're at the peak of your career, you can be assured of getting a nice big dream home in Texas.

4. Phonebooks
I have 3 of them, all new, all for only west Houston. Again, cheap land + lots of people = having 3 T-Mobile stores and 17 smoothie shops (Piccomolo gets two thumbs up, but I haven't yet been to Funky Monkey or Iggiz) within two miles of my front door.

5. Hair
Some people say it's the cowgirl in Texas women. I say its the humidity.

6. Trucks
Tons of them, and all jacked up. When Sam and I went to the DPS to get his license renewed, we pulled up next to one of these trucks. The bottom of it's body was at the same height as the rack on top of our station wagon.

7. High schools
Cinco Ranch High (the one where I would send my teenagers if I had them) covers 66 acres and the teachers use golf carts to get around campus. Need I say more?

8. The Sky
About half of Texas's population is located either in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Houston areas (with another good chunk in San Antonio). As such, once you get outside that, it's just fields and forests. I've seen many a big sky in my day on my innumerable road trips across Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico, and I can say Texas's sky is just as big and beautiful as those of the great plains or the southwest deserts. Simply lovely. And big.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

books books books books books


A friend recently asked for suggestions for her summer reading list. Sadly, I never know what to say when I'm asked that. I'm not sure whether that's because there are too many or too few books right up front in my brain to know how to respond. To make replying a little less mentally taxing, I consulted my newly bought and assembled and already completely full (and overflowing into metal crate shelves) bookcase to find some favorite titles. Here are my selections with titles for both, as she put it, "poolside as well as thought-provoking material that leads to self-reflection and an [anonymous reader] more suited to the world's challenges." Please feel free to comment and add your own suggestions.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel-- good for both poolside and thoughtful times

The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe-- a (very) short satire on modern art

*I'd also recommend his satire on modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House

Jane Austen-- anything, though my personal favorites are Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb-- about breaking the 4 minute mile

Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women put Motherhood Before Marriage by Edin and Kefalas-- an interesting piece of sociology. much of it can be browsed. it's not a continuous story, but there are excellent excerpts from interviews, and has one of my favorite tid-bits of research tucked in its back pages, "[After-school] programs range in cost from $1000 to $4000 per teen per year, but since experts estimate that the typical non-marital birth costs taxpayers roughly $3,750 annually over 18 years, these programs might eventually save, not cost money. Research also shows that programs which engage these at-risk youth in service-learning are especially effective, though the experts aren't sure why."

In the Company of Men by Nancy Mace-- about one of the first women to attend The Citadel, a military academy

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom-- a Christian Dutch woman and her family who are hiding Jews get sent to concentration camps. Fascinating and moving.

Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
-- a story in South Africa just before apartheid was enacted. written in beautiful language. In London, most of the people I went to church with were African. I LOVED to hear them speak. It was so simple and honest and pure, like singing. It's hard to describe, but you can get a sense of it from this book.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

saturday is a special day

Like most people I know, Sam and I really like Saturdays for what we don't have to do on them. With this luxury we slept in, read books, read the paper, browsed the internet, lazed. Sam made a delicious buffalo-chicken salad for dinner. But we also like Saturdays for what they allow us to get done. Today was a particularly productive day. Sam cleaned the battery terminals on our car and bought a fire extinguisher and I went grocery shopping. We also did some things together. First, we hung some pictures above our bed-- which is always more work than it seems it should be.


Then we bought a vacuum. It's no Dyson, but it sure sucks well and has some nifty tools. It is a little creepy to be able to see all the dirt in your house flying around in a little plastic tornado.


Our final accomplishment of the day was committing ourselves to two years of monthly bills to T-Mobile. We got a family myFaves plan. This means that I can choose any 5 numbers and call them for free. Other than Sam, I'm having a tough time deciding who they should be. If you want to be one of my faves, leave me a message in passionate language describing why I should pick you. In the mean time, Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 08, 2007

bobby pins from sammy-kins

It's the little things that really prove someone's love, right? At least, that's what we learn from Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer and I'm prone to believe it. Take for example, the actions of my husband yesterday evening. He came home from a stop at the supermarket with a small package of bobby pins for me. But these weren't just any bobby pins. Some background: every time we've gone to the a super-walmart, -target, -Smith's, -Albertsons for the past several weeks I've looked for these special curved bobby pins that don't stick out from my head. No one carried them. Not one single curved bobby pin, just the shoddy plastic tipped nightmares. So yesterday when Sam was perusing the aisles of Kroger and saw the bobby pin section, he looked at every single package they had and brought me home a whole box of beautifully curved, head-hugging bobby pins. What a man.

las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso

The newest collection from the makers of the loveliest chocolates I've ever tasted

Thursday, June 07, 2007

an ideal husband: how sam measures up

It's funny to go back and look at my list of traits I'd like in a husband now that I'm married. Sam certainly meets the large majority of requirements. We both wish he had a little bit more of number 11, considering our current woes. Only number 50 seems to not be so important anymore, but that may be just because we're in Houston. I've been pleasantly surprised at just how well Sam does at some of these, like 67, 33, 22, 17, 12, and 5. And of course, he has all the essentials of the list, like 1, 2, 6, 27, 28, 35, 39, and 55. I love Sam!