My parents might move to Houston!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My parents are going to make an offer on a property in Houston.  In a cute neighborhood in the loop.  Basically, right near us.  They may or may get this particular property in the end.  I don't know what they're bidding.  I don't know details.  But, I am so excited.  I have half-heartedly tried to be as reserved about this as possible because this is, by no means, fair to my other siblings and it isn't really fair of me to ask my parents to move to the city where I live, even though I have obviously mentioned--once, twice, or forty times--as many benefits as I can think of related to living near us.

I almost feel guilty thinking about the prospect that my life might just work out perfectly.  How often do you get to go away for your education, move home for a year and then move to a city, away from your family to pursue better jobs, and then end up with your parents following you to the new place?  Let's try never.  To be fair to my guilt-stricken self, my parents are not moving to Houston because of us.  They are really moving here because all of my mom's relatives are here and my mom has been missing those relationships in a very profound way for decades now.  Plus, Houston is warm and interesting and my dad is just going to love how many days out of the year he can be outside in the sunshine exercising.

The thing I miss most about home is my parents.  There are plenty of other things for sure, but the thing I miss most is my parents.  And missing them would only grow with time.  One of my goals for my future kids is for them to know both sets of grandparents well.  I didn't know my grandparents well until I grew up and once I got to know them I realized that I had missed out some.  My parents and A's parents are all fantastic.  If my parents are here, they will have a relationship with my kids and having that relationship come easy will allow me to focus my time and energy on developing the relationship between the kids and A's parents.  In short, I'm ecstatic.  Everything seems to be coming together.

The only thing that worries me is that last time things seemed to be unexpectedly coming together, the other shoe dropped and A got cancer.  I'm not really sure how to prevent any inevitable misfortune, but I do have a creepy feeling that things are going too well . . .





The Carries and Natashas

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My superhero guy went in for chemo yesterday and somehow when he came home, instead of being the loving, doting wife, I found myself angry and stressed out about the cooking, those constant pieces of clutter in the backroom, the dishes, the laundry.  I managed to cook salmon and pull together a spinach salad and a kale dish, but I did it in a stressed out hurricane fashion.  I demanded that he help me.

I recognized that I was having issues and I apologized, of course, but I'm back to the drawing board on how to prevent this from occurring.  It's not fair, or right, or healthy.  It isn't.  And it doesn't matter what those posts circulating my facebook feed right now say.

 If I believe any of those posts on Elite Daily or other websites, I could just tell myself that I'm a complicated, emotional, woman and that having feelings and demanding "respect" makes me better wife material than someone more taciturn because it means I am "pushing my man to be better."  I am the Carrie--according to Elite Daily's Sex and the City metaphor--who has passion and anger and therefore I am inherently more interesting, thoughtful, and driven than the Natashas of the world, who accordingly to Elite Daily are less demanding and "easy" to be with.

According to Elite Daily, the Natashas "go with the flow," they laugh and are always comfortable. They're good natured and let the man do whatever he wants.  In the other box are the Carries who are complicated, don't put up with not getting everything they deserve, they crave more from their man, have big dreams for the two of them, and argue at inopportune times because they are passionate and emotional because they care.  Not that the Natashas of the world don't care, but they're basic.

So, basically, you get a pass for being complicated and emotional and angry because you also have other positive traits.  And you're either in one camp or the other.  And the men who want to be around good natured women are boys and not actually men.  Okay.

Wait.  Really, Elite Daily?  Why are we demonizing having a calm personality and being easy to be with?  Is it just way too difficult to admit that sometimes, okay a lot of times, okay . . . most of the time, when we're being complicated and emotional we're really just in the wrong?  What is so hard about that and what is so immature, boyish, or wrong about preferring being with someone who is easier to be with?  And, stop a moment before you say that the point is that someone who is complicated and emotional is inherently going to push others around them to achieve more and be more intelligent and reflective because that would be an unintelligent and not a reflective statement to make.

Being nice and good nature is an evolved way to be.  Working hard not to be angry at inappropriate times is also mature.  Looking for a spouse with those traits, mature as well.  There is no get out free card to this type of behavior.  If I ever have to hear that "if you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best" quote again, I'm going to lose it.  We're all human and we all make mistakes, but we should be working towards being better rather than patting ourselves on the back for being complicated.  And no, this doesn't mean that we should require our spouses to love us and encourage dreams.  There's no reason that being good-natured means you can't also require those sorts of things, it just means you go about seeking them in a kind, straight-forward way.

I'm still a work in progress, but it's worth working on.

Reflections

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Yesterday, we buried my cousin, J.  I can't write more about that now--maybe later--but I would remiss if I didn't begin the post with a mention.

After the funeral, graveside service, and reception, I worked very hard to try to compartmentalize my feelings and put on a happy face for A's company's holiday party.  Except for a few internal moments, I did a good job.  The holiday party was lovely.  The company had rented out a small, nice restaurant with high ceilings and big windows.  There was a bar and a wonderful four-course meal.  The people are wonderful.  The company is very young with young employees and its culture involves a work-hard play-hard attitude, which meant that it paid for all the employees to arrive using uber so that they could enjoy themselves and stay safe.  Lovely.

A & I joined others folks afterwards at the bars downtown.  We stayed out late enough to grab a 1 a.m. slice of pizza, which is something I haven't done since law school.  The pizza slice came with all the predictable bloodsugar issues and I probably should have refrained, but you have to do something special every once in a blue moon, right?  We finally made it home just after 2 a.m., but then my bloodsugar issues kept us up until around 4.  Complete craziness.

This afternoon I went for a run to try to cleanse my system and clear my mind from all of yesterday's intensity.  I thought about the drama between different extended family members and the way that affected me.  I thought of my cousin's volunteer spirit and the way she had embedded herself into the community.  I felt guilty that I hadn't somehow found a way to know my cousins better throughout more of my life and wondered how much I really fit into the extended family in Texas after moving to join them at such a late point in life.  I wondered if my grandmother and her sister would ever resolve a fight that has kept them separated for years.  I thought about my cousin's husband and young son.  As my feet hit the pavement, I cried for so many different things in the hopes that I could just wring it all out at once . . .

That hasn't seemed to happen, but I am beyond grateful for A and all of the family in my life.  I'll try to make the most of being lucky to have so many wonderful people placed around me.


Holiday Series: Holiday Hacks for Christmas Cards and Gifting

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I spend hours surfing everyone else's blog looking for fabulous holiday ideas or hoping someone else's holiday ideas will spur my own holiday ideas and I have found so many wonderful crafts and ideas.  But, the little touches or ideas that are too simple to merit an entire post have probably contributed to the festivity far more than the larger ideas.  Thus, without further ado, I present a few "holiday hacks" and ideas.

1. Christmas Cards:
  • I loved my mom's Rolodex when I was a kid and I tried to make my own in my early adult years.  I got over it.  If you aren't yet over it, get over it and transition to an e-system.  I swear by google contacts.  Just go ahead and do it.  This is by far the easiest way to track relatives' addresses and it comes in handy year-round.
  • Writing a good Christmas letter is tricky.  If you write a letter, my best advice would be not to take yourself too seriously.  To some extent, your update will include the highlights of your year, but if you sound too serious it will come off dripping with self-righteousness.  You're always almost over the line with this one and yet people love getting these letters.  Tread lightly!
  • We've used SimplyToImpress the past few years and been pretty happy with the results.  I'm always tempted to do a cute animal card, but a poll of a representative sample of our recipients unanimously preferred card with pictures of us, even though we are far less cute than animals.
  • I love adding a cute little stamp to the envelope.  Cheap and adds an extra cute touch.






































































2. Gifting 
  • For a million extended relatives is an awful budget-strain/time-strain for everyone involved.  This year, our extended relatives opted for a secret santa exchange in order to make it easier on everyone and add some intrigue.  We used www.drawnames.com to generate our list for us over the Internet.
  • For immediate family we used Amazon wishlists and google docs that included all family members except the recipient so that everyone could annotate with what they were buying in order to avoid duplicates.
  • One of my favorite ideas for a friend this year was personalized wrapping paper and gift tags from Minted.com.  Who doesn't need more gift-packaging at this time of year?  And it's so convenient to get something you can use right away.
  • We also have extra hot chocolate in mason jars with chocolate-covered spoons in order to give with ease those gifts we weren't expecting to need to give.
3. Decorating


  • One huge plastic gallon of various red balls creates a uniform background that pulls the tree together in spite of all those fun, quirky ornaments and you can use those balls in glass bowls for great decorative pieces around the home.






Single exposure to BPA linked to increased blood pressure

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The NYTimes is reporting on the results of a groundbreaking study on BPA exposure today.  BPA exposure was not something to which I had paid lots of attention, but after this study I am going to begin researching my BPA exposure immediately.

The study, published in Hypertension, which is an American Heart Association journal shows that a single exposure to BPA--drinking from a plastic cup or metal can made with BPA (or other similar chemicals) raises blood pressure two hours after exposure.  In order to determine this, researchers compared blood pressure in subjects who drank soy milk from a glass as opposed to plastic container.  Subjects who drank the soy milk from the plastic had elevated blood pressure.  While one exposure seems relatively harmless, doctors theorize that chronic raises in blood pressure contribute to cardiovascular events.

A & I do not keep canned and plastic drinks at home with the exception of Gatorade, but this seems like more motivation to avoid canned sodas and to get rid of that Gatorade.  I'll also be checking our tupperware to make sure our fleet is entirely glass and looking for other exposure because why not?

Our sole power: love

Monday, December 8, 2014

I have always thought the advice in Baz Luhrman's "sunscreen" song is smart.  I have frequently found myself attaching lines from the song to events in my life.  Too many times the line in my head has been: "Don't worry about the future.  Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.  The real problems in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday."  And so it was with A's cancer diagnosis.  And again this morning when I learned my 33-year-old cousin passed away unexpectedly as a result of a pulmonary embolism.

She leaves behind her husband and four-year-old son.

Last week, they were in the normal world, visiting the aquarium, trying to get their foster puppies adopted, buying Christmas presents.  This week, they are in the world of facebook posts and online fundraisers (https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/98v6/in-honor-of-juliane-jules-lovelady) and we are all staring at the pictures, transfixed by J's blonde hair and blue eyes in the picture of her and her adorable son in the waves against the blue sky.  Her carefree smile.  Her carefree son.

The world spins in ways I don't understand.  Sometimes, while deciding amongst the directions it can take, the world spins entirely off its axis and you are left in a world that is unrecognizable.  There really isn't a silver lining, but if there were one, it would be feeling loved and embraced by other human beings who inhabit this planet.  Our sole power is in pouring out love.  I am continually reminded to try to live in a way where I pour and pour until it hurts.

Holiday Series: Spiced Hot Chocolate

Even in Texas, the mild December chill is enough to make me snuggle up with a sweater and a coffee mug filled with hot chocolate.  My pinterest board has been filled with ideas for hot chocolate bars for a few years now, but I've never quite found enough time during the holidays to actually execute on that idea so giving out spiced hot chocolate mix in mason jars has had to suffice this year.

This easy, inexpensive homemade gift has just enough a touch warmth and adorable to touch the hearts of neighbors and friends everywhere this holiday season.















Shopping List:
1. Dry milk powder or packets
2. Baking cocoa
3. Sugar
4. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Cloves
5. Mason jars

That's it.

Steps:
1. In a large bowl, mix one dry milk packet or one cup of milk powder with:
2. 3 TBS baking cocoa
3. 2 1/2 cups of sugar
4. 1T cinnamon, 1T nutmeg, 1T pumpkin pie spice, 1T cloves
5. Scoop the mixture into mason jars

These measurements are approximations.  The fabulous thing about using baking cocoa is that you can create the mixture and continually test it to see how much sugar and how much spice you need in order to adjust the mixture to your liking.  Make sure you're getting enough of the hot chocolate powder mixed in with your water while you're testing it and then add sugar until you've reached the sweetness level you desire.  If you don't want as much control over the sweetness, you can use regular cocoa powder and start out by cutting the amount of sugar in half.


I tied a ribbon around my jars and attached two chocolate-covered spoons to each hot chocolate mix for the perfect token Christmas gift.


Bonus: A & I have been enjoying some quiet evenings with a little hot chocolate before bed.