Macrander Late Thanksgiving Poem

It's that time of year when plump, ready turkeys start to disappear, When the Macrander family near and far,

Start gassing up the commuter car.

For Emily, Thanksgiving day was held in Sugar Land,

Though why Aggie always gets the first invite, I don't quite understand.

Aggie at the Underwood Thanksgiving.

Aggie followed around cooks and sat in the sun all day long,

Because the bond between her and Kaitlyn's cat was never strong.

Sarah flew from Denver to be with the rest of the clan,

And told the family about her new boyfriend, Steve, not Stan.

Sarah and Todd by Todd and Nick's apartment.

In Baton Rouge, Todd and Nick were kind enough to host the whole group,

Though in such close quarters, Dad struggled to find a private place to...stoop.

We always cherish the moment we get to watch Dad cook,

Because we know these secrets are found in no book.


After Thanksgiving, Jarrod and Emily did arrive,

But only to hop in the car and head to New Orleans - another drive.

On the hunt for a restroom, we went into the mall,

And found a tree to take our Christmas photo by, oh so tall.

Merry Christmas from Nick, Todd, Sarah, Emily and Jarrod.

As with custom with every trip,

Each Macrander goes to Todd to get a clip.

Todd cuts Jarrod's hair.

After several days of family fun,

And starting to feel like we each weighed a ton,

We gathered around the apartment stairwell,

While Todd ran to apply some last minute hair gel,

And took this lovely family photo.

Macrander family looking spiff.

Christmas 2015 off to a Lights in the Heights start

Mom and Dad have begun their whirlwind tour of the US. First stop is in Houston. Saturday evening we went to a neighborhood festival called Lights in the Heights. We dressed up Aggie and took her with us.

Aggie dog dressed up for Lights in the Heights

There was a lot of booze, Christmas music and of course lights.

Mom and Dad at Lights in the Heights.

After the light party, we walked over to a favorite restaurant of mine, Zelko Bistro. Oh and the pose is because earlier in the evening I'd taught Mom about skinny arm and skinny leg. It's a thing.

Dad and I at Zelko Bistro

Sunday we went to Brookwood and looked at all the pretty Christmas things and ate a good meal.

Brookwood Community

Mom and Dad leave for Seattle on Wednesday and when they return they will be headed up to Baton Rouge to help Todd and Nick move into their new house.

Nick and Todd at their apartment

Weekend Update: Last Hurrah at Underwood Ranch

Last Hurrah at Underwood Ranch Jarrod's days living in Houston are quickly winding down, so this past weekend we took up trip up to his family's land outside of Austin.


J went up early, as he usually does and I rode up with his Hess roommate Greg. We got in around 11 p.m. Friday night and found all of the guys sitting around the fire, drinking beer and having a good time.

There something about a fire and cold night. It gets people talking. We stayed out til 2 a.m. just catching up on life and shooting the shit.


We all slept in a bit Saturday, but when we finally did get up one of the guys had prepared French toast. J and I then went for a nice drive around the land in the buggie. We went and saw the cows and baby cows, the llamas and the donkeys. We were stopping for a moment so I could drink my coffee when all of the sudden we heard running behind us.

We'd left the little dog with Greg, but apparently when he went outside she ran away. And ran and ran, until she located us in the middle of a field of cows.


We fished for a while, but that didn't produce any fruit because we weren't using bate. Then it was time for the ATM game. So all activities shut down for the next several hours as the guys sat in front of the TV.

Later that evening, one of our buddies allowed J and I to try our hand at the dating app Tinder. I found a nice, cute girl for our friend and started a conversation with her, but it wasn't long before J said that I wasn't doing it right and took the phone away from me.


Afterword, we all got into the ranch truck and drove around the ranch with spotlights. J has always taken gun safety seriously and tonight was no different. We each took a few shots at some targets near the back pond.


Sunday we woke up early and began packing up. It was a beautiful day, so before it got too late, we took to the field and did some clay pigeon shooting.


Mexico Unlimited

October 22nd marked the departure of Todd and myself from Baton Rouge to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on our very first international trip together. Our flight into Puerto Vallarta most definitely had either a drunk pilot or a super rookie in the cockpit the evidence was in the multiple attempts at landing. IMG_2070

October 23rd was our first full day and we found the tigers and parrots. We also went boogie boarding until we burned from both sun and board. That night we planned a dinner with all 16 family members that were present for 8pm. While the family was getting that together I shook Todd off my tail and ordered wine and roses to be sent to the room for 10pm. Quickly after that I gathered my cousins and asked that they take the ring and our camera to the gazebo on the pier and wait for me to bring Todd. At 7:30pm sharp the sun was setting and I had Todd in hand as we marched down the rocky jetty stopping to stare at every creature along the way, but we finally arrived in the Gazebo where I knelt to one knee and asked for Todd's hand. As quickly as I did that Todd snatched the ring from my grasp and thrust a ring toward me with a big smile and a YES!


October 24th was my quarter century birthday, which was spent with my new fiancé. We had four new arrivals bringing our group number to 20 people.

October 25th we were approached by my father to help in his proposal. Everyone in the group was given a card that told his soon to be fiancé, Tina Kelley, one thing he loved about her. My fiancé and I were the first card where Todd was the photographer and I was the navigator to get Tina around the resort to all the people and cards she was supposed to receive. The last person Tina saw was my father surrounded by everyone in the group with a rose in the sand and a ring in the hand.


October 27th Our entire crew of 20 piled into a little boat and headed across the bay to downtown Puerta Vallarta. On our arrival we noted that bathrooms cost 5 pesos to get into and everything was "almost free" according to the merchants. We also noted that everything for sale everywhere looked oddly similar to every other stands' merchandise even though each claimed to have hand made everything.


October 29th: Twelve of the bravest in our bunch headed out to the renowned Hidden Beach. We sorta snorkeled around for a bit until we hunted down and mercilessly ravaged by jellyfish. After a brief recovery onboard the vessel dubbed the "Mexican Titanic" by the crew, we jumped back into the water and were guided through a treacherous rocky water filled tunnel which served as the passageway to the beach. After we enjoyed our time on the beach the rising tide forced us out. For our return voyage we were given tequila and cervesa and watched the crew force passengers to striptease each other for entertainment...I should have filmed it.


Halloween: Ten of the best dressed including my adorable Peter pan went to Puerto Vallarta in search of a righteous good time. We managed to find ourselves in an overpriced club with table service which we then were escorted out of for our debauchery. After a few clubs/bars later we survived the night with only one casualty.


November 1st: We went on our last little excursion with a boat ride around the area in search of crocodiles. We found every shape, size, and color of iguanas in trees and rich peoples yard everywhere as if they are the Mexican squirrel. Pelicans flew overhead alongside blue footed boobies and we did run across a few crocodiles. More importantly many hours after our tour completed we went on a night beach walk. On this walk Todd stepped on a little fresh baby turtle and amidst that discovery we noticed several dozen baby turtles were covering the beach. We quickly gathered every one of them we could find and brought them all to the safety of the sea.


November 2nd we returned home completely satiated and ready to get back to normal life.


Another wonder meal at Matt's in the Market

I will turn my back on the tremendous view from our hotel room at the Westin. The view of Elliot's Bay and Peuget Sound is ever changing and mesmerizing. A television is unnecessary in this room, unless, of course an Alabama football game is on.

Ginger was in town for work all week and I joined her for the weekend. It seems that the fabled Seattle rain always clears and we have beautiful temperate weather when we are here. Yesterday was certainly no exception. Clear blue skies and mid seventies temperatures were the conditions of the day. The perfect evening to visit one of our favorite Seattle eateries.

We have eased into Matt's over the years. Our first discovery was while visiting Pike's Place Market and looking for a place for a late lunch. Repeated visits for lunch or drinks and cheese have gradually shaped our view of Matt's as a place where you can always get innovative food served in a cordial atmosphere with fresh breezes through open windows and views of the market and the sound. On the upper floor of the building, directly across from the Market entrance, the place has an open warehouse loft feel and the large windows always seem to be flooded with light.

After much anticipation and walking around trying to kill a couple of hours, we couldn't contain ourselves any longer and showed up 20 minutes early for our nine o'clock reservation. Unfortunately, there had been some kind of snafu and we didn't actually have a reservation. They were definitely slammed, but the hostess was cordial and worked us in for a 9:15 reservation. We waited patiently and spent the time cruising real estate listings on G's iPad.

9:15 became 9:30 and we were called to our table at a window in the bar area, but all good. Our waitperson, Phillip, came quickly and was responsive and helpful without being pushy to get a drink order. We were quick, though. The last time we were here we had a cheese plate and G had a tasty cocktail, so that was where we started.

We also settled on our entrees before Phillip left the table. Matt's menu changes regularly based upon what is fresh. The menu is not expansive, with 5-7 choices in each of the categories (appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts), yet it covers the range of food groups, such that whether you are in mood for fish, fowl, or beast, you can find something that looks good. Though I usually do not order halibut when out at a restaurant, because of the frequency and quality of the halibut that we have at home, the preparation with fresh corn, fava beans, and dashi broth sounded too good to pass on. I would have gone with one of my always favorites of seafood stew, but the preparation was with a coconut green curry broth and coconut is one of the few things that can spoil a meal for me. To my surprise G ordered the stew, so, I could, at least, sample it .

The cheese plate came, five cheeses arrayed on a piece of slate, each with a special accouterments of jam, ground nuts, home made corn flakes, etc. It was a mixture of Washington local cheeses and cheeses from France and Spain. It was also a mixture of cow and sheep milk cheeses that ran the gamut from brie to bleu. It was hard to choose the star of this array. Not usually a huge bleu fan the combination of a very mild bleu with a thin flat of chocolate with dried strawberries made that, I think, my favorite, but it was really like naming your favorite child. They were all special.

The Albarino that we had ordered was really good, pleasantly tart and paired well with the cheese and our entrees.

When the entrees came they were visually beautiful. G's seafood stew came out first and was overflowing with shellfish with nice pieces of salmon and halibut peaking out of the broth. "No way, are you going to eat all of that," I said. My halibut followed closely. It was perfectly seared (how do they do that?) and on a bed of veggies. When the server poured on the dashi broth I was assailed with a smoky aroma that set my salivary glands going. I definitely need to explore dashi as an ingredient.

I quickly snagged a mussel that was not deep in G's coconut infused broth. I could just taste the dreaded coconut, but the mussel was wonderful. G. dug in and the seafood flew, shells clattering into the discard bowl accompanied by appreciative expletives.

My halibut was wonderful. The preparation was fresh and nuanced. My first impression had been that the portion was a bit on the small side, but I found myself just barely able to finish. "Oh man!"

As we sat back to finish our bottle of wine, G. started surfing real estate listings again. Philip came by and, on a whim, I asked him where we might want to look for houses in the Seattle area. After a bit of back and forth, he pulled up a chair and talked with us about neighborhoods.

All in all, it was a great evening and really great food. Matt's is like any great thing. When the food, service, and setting are this good it is going to be discovered and known. We will return again and again, but so will others.

Always looking for my Knight in Shining Armor (Big Bend trip)

As it was getting toward evening Saturday night, Chelsea and I decided to take a walk around Marfa. This was the point in our trip where we talked a lot about life and where we see the future, faith, God and family. As we rounded a corner we saw this small stone church and Chelsea asked if we could go up to it. She was satisfied that her suspicion was true, it was in fact an Episcopal church. Chelsea was raised Episcopal and is in a period of spiritual exploration as she tries to land in her adult church. Anyway, no one was around so we tried the door. It was open. Despite Chelsea's concern that we might be tripping some sort of silent alarm, we went inside. The sanctuary was still and empty inside and seats maybe 100. It's pretty small. I told Chels that this is the kind of place I want to get married because I wouldn't be overwhelmed with the number of available seats for guests. The church windows were colorfully illustrated biblical scenes. We walked around for a few quiet moment before letting ourselves out and continuing on.

Dancing at The Post in Marathon, Texas

[youtube] Friday morning, Chelsea and I were told that we needed to go to The Post in Marathon to meet all of the "strapping young cowboys" by our guide director at Far Flung.

Saturday evening, late-late by my standards, Chelsea and I left Marfa and headed out toward Marathon. We hadn't eaten yet because we were waiting on the famous grilled cheese in Marfa. When we got around to checking out the Grilled Cheese Parlor, however, we found out that the wait would be around 30 minutes to get a sandwich and they only took cash or check.

So, we did what every good American would do and we went to Dairy Queen. I tell you what, the chicken fingers were hot off the fryer even five minutes before they closed. And if you get the chance, check out the S'mores Blizzard, it's the bomb.

It would have taken us around 40 minutes to get to The Post, but it turns out it's not on any published map (do as the locals do and ask). So we burned some time driving around and getting lost. Finally, we stopped by The Gage Hotel and I ran in to ask. I was surprised to find that our waitress Meghan, from a few nights before was working the bar. She gave me directions and told me that "everyone in town will be there."

Her directions were as follows: "Take a right at the railroad tracks and drive for about two miles." Um, make that 10-15 miles in the middle of nowhere with no lights. The only reason that Chelsea and I kept trucking was that we get being passed by cars going in the opposite direction. That seemed hopeful.

Finally we arrived. Chelsea and I both thought that we were going to a two-stepping bar. What we didn't realize was that we were really going to a community gathering. It wasn't a bar at all. There were grandparents and grandchildren and high schoolers. There were popular kids and misfits. It was a scene. People were sitting on lawn chairs, popping beers out of coolers. Chelsea and I found a space on a cement bench and watched.

There was a live band and a big cement block that people were dancing on. After some rag tag Texas Country, they played "Sweet Home Alabama" and I knew that these people were alright and everything was OK.

Seattle vacation celebrates Sarah's birthday

As these things happen, Mom posted a lot of pictures over the weekend. She was in Seattle with Sarah, celebrating Sarah's birthday, so there were a lot of photo opps.

After seeing a new crop, Todd asked me, "Why is our sister so beautiful?" I have no answer.

Sarah has always been extremely photogenic. I think it's because she has an honest smile. Whereas I've oft been accused of having a fake/forced smile, Sarah is always very present in her pictures. But beauty is just the beginning. Sarah is also passionate and knowledgeable and she has a heart for service. She bridges the outdoorsy - indoorsy thing with astute skill. She is a person with friends from way back that she keeps in touch with and that says something. Hold close people who can tell you about the friend they've had since they were little. These are the people that will grow with you in life and invest in knowing your deep down inner guts. Sarah is one of these people.

Happy birthday, Sarah.

Vintage Ralph Lauren holds a place in Sarah's heart

Sarah's red shirtSarah posted a new profile picture today of herself wearing a vintage Ralph Lauren plaid button down that she's had for years. Family, it reminded me of "This Shirt is Old and Faded" by Mary Chapon Carpenter. Anyway, sort of in jest, I pulled all of the photos I could locate of Sarah wearing this shirt off of Facebook. They span many years. It's remarkable this shirt has lasted this long considering that Sarah purges her closet, like, every two weeks or something. This shirt has made it through many slashings. And it still looks good. Rock that hot hippie look, Sarah. That shirt has become part of your skin.

Everything is Awesome (Weekend Update)

Good Tuesday, family! J and I were about town (though finally stayed in town) this past week.

The start of the week was odd as I missed Monday because of my trip to Atlanta for Mary's wedding. I have an assistant that just started working on my project and her first day was Monday...oops.

Well, her second day was just as strange because instead of going to the office, we went to The Galleria for the company's Users Group. It a big annual conference that we hold each year for our customers. It started with, like, 14 attendees and has grown large enough to fill a ballroom. That's pretty cool. Employees were invited top attend the keynote.

Wednesday at the office, we invited our customers to tour the office. Mom, Dad and J have had the pleasure, so they know that it's a real treat. Everyone loves the ping pong room. Also, this meant during-working-hours-drinking. That's pretty cool. Because of my winning personality, I was chosen as an elevator greeter. My coworker Josh captured this picture of me in action.

Wednesday evening, J and I went to Papasitos with Jason, Emily and some other friends for two-for-one fajita night. Since we had a big party, we were placed in a room with other big parties...which were birthday parties. So we heard the Papasitos birthday song several times. Do to copyright issues and it being a Spanish restaurant, it's not the real birthday song. Not even close.

Friday, I went to CVS Pharmacy to pick up some drugs. While there, I also picked up some nail polish. So, because I'm strange and not patient, I started painting my nails while in line. It started by painting my thumb then went from there. I finished one hand in the pharmacy line, then had wait in another line to buy some stamps. So, I started on the other hand.

There was this kind older woman that was my cashier and she needed to take a swig on her Arizona Tea, so I had time to paint. Anyway, with fresh and wet nails, I could really maneuver the checkout process. So my kind checkout lady took my card out of my wallet, put my stamps into my bag, helped me sign my receipt and then put the $20 I took out into my wallet. All the while, she was kind and said she "understood" that sometimes a girl just needs to "pretty up."

Sunday was church as usual in the morning. Though this week the band was all new. That was pretty cool. Since J has been back, he's had the opportunity to play quite a bit, but this week he chose to sit it out.

We finished out Sunday with a trip to Little Woodrow's in Rice Village to watch the USA World Cup Game. Here's a picture from a happier moment before that final goal.

He asked for her hand. You won't believe what happened next...

This weekend, J and I went to Atlanta (Hot-lanta, Wedding-lanta) for my dear friend Mary Nevaire's wedding. Mary and I met in college through Kappa Delta and bonded over Piggy Wiggly and collared greens. Mary is Southern through and through and I think found comfort in my 1-drop Sourthern-ness that I claim from having family immediate family from below the Mason-Dixon.

Mary and Austin's Wedding Story

Mary is a close friend that I could tell many stories that time...well the Internet doesn't need to know about any of that. Seeing Mary and Austin get married was a long time coming. When I met Mary in school, she was "single." She and Austin made the decision together before they left for college that when they were not in the same state, that they were able to see other people at their choosing. Austin was going to Georgia Tech. I think that for a lot of people that would spell disaster, jealousy, whatever, but for Mary and Austin it worked. And Mary did date other people, but throughout college Austin remained a constant.

After school, Mary moved back to the South and was able to finally live near Austin and really give dating a-go. They lived in Nashville a while, and I think it was sometime around then that Mary started to think more seriously about getting married. Then, as life happens, her grandmother and grandfather who she was very close with, passed. And something about that BIG LIFE MOMENT propelled the pair toward marriage. It may have also had something to do with Austin getting assigned to Hong Kong for work, but you never can tell, right?

So during their engagement, Mary moved back home to Atlanta to plan her wedding and prepare for the big move across the world and Austin went on to Hong Kong. Six months later, on a warm summer day in June, Mary and Austin got married in a beautiful ceremony in her parents' backyard.

I should also add that Mary is a fantastic writer. You might even call her a feminist, locavore blogger. Her writing can be found at

Other Pictures of Our Atlanta Adventures

Lake Tahoe Trip with the Girls

I'm typing this up on my lunch break, so how much I'll be able to write is really dependent on how long before officemate returns to his desk.

This past weekend, I went on a trip with my sorority sisters to Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nevada.

We try to take this trip annually and this time marked our fourth year. Past years we've gone to New Orleans, some-river-in-Texas and Kansas City. So far, we've been blessed to have the same girls be able to attend. It's always a good time getting catch up on what's-been-going-ons for the past year, because really, who uses the phone anymore?

This year was a BIG ONE because our friend Brittany is about to leave for Peru for two years in the Peace Corps. We're planning on Girlfriend Getaway-ing to Peru one of those two years but have no solid plans yet. Another BIG DEAL was that my dear friend Chelsea announced to the group that she was engaged! Chelsea and her fiance James have come to visit me a couple of time in Houston recently and so I'd say I can confidently say that they're now "couple friends" with us. (You know, friends that you can go out with as a couple where no one wants to secretly kill a member of the quad.) I've known Chelsea for several years, and I've seen her entire relationship with James, so it's really cool to get to see them (nothing works here but a cliche) 'take it to the next level' or 'seal the deal' or 'smash the plate' (is that something people say? Opa!).

On the trip, we were able to book two adjoining rooms with a passage way between the two so we could move back and forth as we wanted to. Friday we went into the village and did a little bit of shopping, though there wasn't much shopping to be done...Incline Village isn't super touristy which is nice unless you're looking for a souvenir tee-shirt. Also, since when are all souvenirs Made in China? Doesn't that defeat the point? There was one shop selling locally made crafts, but the woman working at the shop - it was a quilting shop - had a total attitude. She was so rude!

The seven of us were admiring the crafts in her shop and I saw that she made some smaller quilted items. I said, "oh, you should consider quilting dog collars." She balked and said, "I could never do that, I think people who dress there dogs up are disgusting."

Um, well, oops.

I was really irritated because I totally was turned off by this woman but it was the ONLY shop that we could find that sold local stuff. So because of her bad attitude I did not patronize her shop.

Saturday was the day we’d set aside for hiking. Chelsea was just returning from a walking tour of Spain, so she pitched to us that we walk a 8ish mile round-trip hike. All of the girls agreed, though I’m sure that many were suppressing an urge to say, “no” as to not be the only one who would rain on Chelsea’s long-hike parade.

It was a really nice day for a hike, the snow and rains from the previous week were gone as were the clouds from the day before. So we set out on our hike, maps in hand. Along the way we me some British women who tried to rent us property in Austin. Before we knew it, we very clearly not on our intended path. Somewhere around mile seven we stopped for peanut butter sandwiches and hotel-stolen jam. At this point, half of our party split to go home. But four of us braved on – and on – and on. Yea, don’t trust bikers when they say that the lake is “just around the corner.” By that time we had figured out where the hell we were and knew that there would be a pond that would serve as a logical end point to our hike. We made it.

When we got home, my pedometer said that we’d hiked 18 miles…just a small amount off from the original eight that Chelsea said…and 40,000 steps. Later that evening, Sarah Michelle and I went to the consierge to ask about a recommendation for a spa that was cheaper than the one the hotel offered. Yea, classy, right? Well, so we got to talking about our day and about our hike and next thing we knew, one or the women hands us complimentary vouchers for use of the amenities at the hotel spa. So it was only the steam room, sauna, relaxation station and showers that we could use, but that’s more spa than I’ve ever had and yea, it was totally free. Awesome.

There was this group of women in the spa with us, you know, the LOUD, RICH and ANNOYING type? They asked our group which package we had gotten (all which started around $400) and I felt shammmme, shame, shame, shame. The free one. All of the women thought this was quite hilarious, and then, to my surprise, admitted that they snuck in their own champagne so they didn’t have to buy it from the hotel. That was pretty funny.

Sunday’s highlight was a chartered boat ride around Lake Tahoe, just for us girls. It was Beautiful (with an intentional capital B) but, as I told Mom and Dad, was no Alaska. The boat ride was so cool, the weather was so perfect, the tide was so right, the captain was so creepy. That happened. It was his second chartered boat ride of his liffffe, but still, really man? He asked one of our girls if he could shoot a photo of just her on the boat, because her “sailing outfit was so perfect.” It was a short dress.

We got off the boat alive and really no worse for the wear. After all, it is that shit that happens on vacations that we will talk about for years to come. Like that time that they accidentally didn’t have our booking in New Orleans and instead gave use the pent house suite? Or that time the firefighters in the firehouse across from our hotel (same trip) invited us to stay the night. The fire wasn’t the only thing that was smoking, if-you-know-what-I’m-sayin’. I mean they were hot, not that anything was actually on fire.

Anyway…anyway, maybe the oddest thing coming out of the trip was just how many times we were asked if we were visiting for a bachelorette party. No. I guess we’re just that age. I guess it’s not that often you see a group of seven single women traveling together, getting along.

So, I know I’m lucky. And I’m so appreciative I have these women in my life.

Travel and BIG Life Moments Update

Let’s start with the most exciting news. Mr. Sanders graduated from LSU this weekend with a degree in Construction Management and is employed!

Todd and Nick welcomed several of Nick’s family members into their home this weekend to celebrate the occasion. Nick’s father even flew in from Alaska.

After the ceremony, Nick, Todd and family drove up to New Orleans for dinner at WINO (second time mentioned on the blog..remember Christmas?) and then some gambling. There was a fancy dinner thrown in there somewhere in which Todd ate ox tail and some sort of liver.

The next day, they were off to Pensacola where I believe they are right now. They’re likely sitting on a beach and drinking something delightful.

Dad is overseas this week in The Hague. I have no idea what he’s doing over there but I do know that it’s pretty because he sent us this nice picture:

I also know that Dad forgot how to tell time because he called mom at 1:30 a.m. one morning thinking that it was 10:30 p.m. and that Mom was in Alaska. Both Dad and I got an earful about that one. Remember, family, Mom does not like to be woken up by phone calls in the middle of the night.

Dad returns at the end of this week, so we wish him a safe and worry free flight. This coming weekend, according to the Mom report, she and Dad are going to a dinner at an important political figure’s house. The gallery is impressed.

Meanwhile, Mom and I drove up to the Underwood ranch this weekend for Kaitlyn’s birthday celebration. It was a BIG moment because Mom has never met the Underwoods, well any of them other than Jarrod. Though odd sidenote, she met one set of his grandparents on a random trip to Houston a while back.

Anyway, we arrived Saturday midafternoon. Mom swears that I “almost rolled the car” when driving into the ranch. I admit that I was driving a bit on the fast side and I was coming up a gravel road. I totally forgot that the road splits (I admit that I forget every time) and, with gusto, yanked my wheel to turn the car to take the other road. Well, now I know, when on gravel, don’t yank the wheel. We skidded a bit, though I believe that we were never in terrible danger. I directed the car into some rougher terrain and it quickly came to a halt. Just wanted to put that all out there on the Internet before Mom goes spreading rumors that I almost killed her in the Matrix.

Per Kaitlyn’s birthday request, we had an evening crawfish boil. Mom, to my surprise, went along with my plan to rescue one of the crawfish and walked with me down to the pond to let it free. Though she has told me several times since then that the crawfish is likely dead, drowned in the mud. I’d like to think that he’s happily scuttling along somewhere doing his lil’ crawfish thing, thanking his lucky stars for the big, white rescuer.

I saw Mom off in her rental car, Sunday afternoon and quite honestly have been chilling like a villain since then. I had grand designs to wash my car and laundry yesterday afternoon, but ended up taking a long nap on the couch with the little dog and the going to the grocery. But hey, it can always wait until today, right?

Really? Cop edition

Wednesday midafternoon in the office fighting off a small headache. We’re entering that time of year in Texas when it is still cool enough to do stuff outside, but hot enough to do it sporting a swimsuit.

This weekend, J, J’s friend from grad school and I piled into J’s SUV to ride down to San Marcos for the first river float of the season.

On the way up, unfortunately, J got pulled over for speeding. We were sooo close to San Marcos, going through a very small town called Martindale. We’d been following behind a slow truck towing a boat for quite a ways, so when we were finally were safe to pass J hit the accelerator and went around. Just as we were merging back into our lane, a cop comes out of nowhere and throws his lights on. It was really one of those, “are you kidding me?” moments.

The cop was a jerk. Do they make small town cops that aren’t? He asked leading and open-ended questions. He said he clocked J at a number that seems impossible. Now, I’m not saying we were not at fault. We were speeding. But there was no reason this guy had to be such a…typical small town cop. Really, dude? This is your impression of Martindale that you want to leave?

J swears that when his court date comes that he will drive up to the town and defend his case. Well, I secretly hope that he cools off by then and doesn’t. Because really, that cop doesn’t have anything better to do and will likely show up in court, guns blazing. And put yourself in a situation to be belittled by that guy again? I don’t think so. I’d rather pay the fine and take defensive driving any day.

'It is well with my soul'

J and I just finished the most wonderful weekend camping trip to Garner.

It was our first camping trip as a couple. And we survived! It's been years since I've camped and so I'm happy to report that not a lot has changed.

My friend Chelsea's boyfriend served as the master of ceremonies as he was the expert camper. Due too one of our campers backpacking experience, we cooked for our semi-large group on his one burner attached to a half-sized propane can. It was all good, but still laughable. I remember the days when we used to "car camp" and used out totally legit camp stove! Oh the good days... Anyway, I think you live and learn and no one died along the way.

J and I even hiked up to the summit of a small Texas "mountain." Yea, it was pretty much a vertical ascent and the outdoorsy boyfriend pretty much jumped up the mountain at a speedy clip leaving J and I to kinda bumble up the mountain at our newbie, untrained pace. Either way, we made it! When I get the pics I'll be sure to post.

On the top of the mountain, there was a stack of rocks to mark the highest point of the formation. Like people do on Everest, past hikers had left rocks indicating the date they had climbed and words of encouragement. It was neat that the time we arrived there was also a trail now-dried flowers that led up to the hill of rocks and apparently were a part of a marriage proposal. We deduced this because there were a couple of rocks at that said, "and I want to spend the rest of my life with you." We assumed that the "Will you marry me?" rock was carried back to the bottom as a keepsake, but the other nice words were left behind. These rocks were fairly large..small I don't blame the happy couple for leaving some behind. I do give major props to the young man (I'm guessing) who  secretly hiked up the mountain to set up the romantic scene only to hike down and do it all over again with his wife-to-be.

Anyway, the picture has nothing to do with all this I just typed. Mom took this picture at the Antique Rose Emporium weekend before last and I like it. Reminds me of a favorite hymn, "It is well..."

Listen to 'It is Well in my Soul'

Happiness is a choice!

From a wise friend of mine, Rachel:

Decide is the killing off of another option (geno-cide, sui-cide, homo-cide) . It requires careful thought and validation from others with a lengthy explanation of why you made the decision, and it is final.

Choice is simply free choice.  It does not kill all other options. It requires no validation from others. We all have free will, and that in itself is a gift.

“I decided to go to Rice because this other college was more expensive..if I live in Houston..blah blah, blah….”vs. “Oh, I just chose to go to Rice.”

Life is actually really simple. We choose to complicate it sometimes.

Life is too short to not choose happiness.  Happiness is a choice.

First lazy Saturday of 2014

Ah. I'm back home. Sitting here with mountains of laundry and bills I'm to frightened to open. Home is where the peace is, right?

It is nice to be home, but, you see, I didn't realize-no, I didn't want to realize-that over the last two months as family came and went, I never really cleaned my home. You know about those hiding spots? The one you shove stuff in when company is coming over in five minutes? I started the cleaning process this week and my home has exploded. That's what I get for surface cleaning for two months, right?

It seems like the last two months went by in a blur. I was with the Underwood's for Thanksgiving. Then Jarrod came in town for his graduation at the beginning of December. Then Mom was in Houston for a day. Then she left. Then she and Dad were in town for a day. Then they left for Christmas in Baton Rouge. I went to Christmas in Sugar Land with the Underwoods. Then it was off to Alabama for a week. Then I came home. Todd and Nick came in town for about a day and a half for to celebrate the new year. Then they left. Then Gonzalo came by with his crazy dog. Then Jarrod came by with my crazy dog. Then it was 10 p.m. on the night before I had to go back to work!

I'm glad Todd and Nick came in town. They got to hang out with Todd's friend Angie from high school. Jarrod and I went to a couple friends' home to celebrate the new year and we played rummy. I've never played before, though I think I got the hang of it.

The next day, Jan. 1, Todd, Nick, Angie and I went to Ikea. Yep, that's right. Todd and his lover come in town to visit me and all they want to do is go to the Ikea. Nick helped me assemble a Target shelf for my new mixer. So thank you very much for that. Anyway, we had a fruitful visit to the land of Ikea. Let's see if I can remember what they got: a lamp with a crinkly paper shade, a bathroom rug, some candles, some picture frames...all for less than $100! Bargain.

While at Ikea we came across these adorable cultural stuffed dolls. Todd and Nick posed for a "family portrait."

Happy New Year, family. Many adventures to come in 2014.

Now get to cleaning your houses your nasty hoes. I know your home is as messy as mine.

Christmas with Nick & Todd

We just spent 3+ great days here in Baton Rouge with Todd & Nick. It was a really special Christmas. We had great food, lots of good wine, did some shopping and sight seeing, farkled (Thanks to Sarah for introducing our family to farling) and, generally relaxed.

There are many special times for a parent. The birth (of course), first step, first goal, off to school, becoming an adult and accomplishments and honors along the way. What must rank right up there is being with your child as they cross into that special relationship that makes them whole, happy, and secure. Being with Todd & Nick feels that way. Our family is bigger and stronger.

May you always continue to grow in love and support one another as you mature as people and expand their horizons individually and together.

Thanks for a wonderful three days.

Holiday travels begin

First, Mom and Dad visit Sarah in Denver for Thanksgiving.

Then, Mom flew from Denver to Houston to hang with me in Houston for a week.

Mom and I were blessed to be able to visit Brookewood, a home for functionally handicapped adults, on their open house! Many Christmas gifts were purchased.