Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I'm Into This Month - February 2015

This month has been a little unusual around here.

Thanks to my parents, our master bathroom is being remodeled. We had a huge jetted tub and a tiny shower and what we really needed was no tub and a larger shower. After about five weeks of work, the last bit is being finished right now and I'm really looking forward to having a much nicer and much more functional master bathroom.

A few other things I'm especially loving this month:

She Reads Truth app - I especially love their plan for reading the Bible through in a year, something I'm determined to do in 2015.

Criminal podcast - I had to find something to help with my Serial podcast withdrawals. I can listen to an entire episode in the time it takes me to drive to Lily's school which makes it very convenient but also means I'll be done with all of them before the end of the month. And then I'll be looking for something else to listen to....

Badger Headache Soother - I think I'm one of those people who has a headache more than I don't have a headache. I'm considering finally going to see a specialist about it but in the meantime, while it doesn't make them go away, this balm is quite comforting.

Love Bean Fudge Cream - A big plate of fruit and a bigger dollop of this right in the middle makes me very happy - and makes eating Paleo very easy.

Couch to 5k - While I wouldn't actually say I'm loving this, I'm trying really hard to be more active. I've never been a fan of running but since it's the cheapest form of exercise there is, requires no real equipment,  and I can pretty much do it anywhere, I'm doing the Couch to 5k program again. (yes, I said "again". I did the whole program once before but never ran a 5k and promptly quit running after the last workout. Because I like to repeat the hard work of getting back in shape as many times as I possibly can. Except not.) This time, I've told myself that I will run a 5k and then, I will buy a new pair of tennis shoes. I'm generally pretty motivated by footwear so this could actually happen.

And there you have it - the February highlight reel. Anything special going on with you this month? I'd love to hear about it!

Have a warm and cozy weekend, sweet friends. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Just a Date

Remember that time I wrote a blog post on the "faux-ship"?

And I talked about how dating has become a lost art? Like just a simple "let's grab a cup of coffee and get to know each other a little better" date. Where a guy isn't afraid to cross the "friend threshold" to see what could happen. Where a guy just asks a girl out with plain old words and not some elaborate Pinterest scheme that involves costumes and balloons and dancing ponies.

And remember when I was told that same post was so "ridiculously sexist"? 

Good times. Good times. 

Well, when a friend shared an article on dating with me, I just had to share it with you.

For one thing, it's written by a man, addressing some of the very same things I talked about in my original post. So maybe he says it better than I do. Or maybe it just sounds better coming from a man. 

But if you have older high school or college-age kids, I think it's worth a read. And a conversation with said kids. 

Because it's not a marriage proposal. Or even a serious commitment. 

It's just a date. 

And even if you think I'm still being ridiculously sexist, I'd still love to hear your thoughts. 

You had me at Chipotle. @chipotletweets

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thinking Before I Speak

Last week, Ryan challenged our church congregation to "go unplugged".

The idea was to do a three day media fast. There weren't really a lot of hard and fast guidelines because it wasn't meant to be this legalistic rule-fest. It was just a challenge to cut back on screen time to see if any differences in efficiency, attention span, stress levels, and the like could be detected in as little as three days.

In the Rush house, we decided to do a crazy thing and use our phones like... ahem... phones. What a concept, amirite? Instead of firing off dozens of texts, we decided we'd actually pick up the phone and speak.

And here's what I learned after three days - when I actually have to pick up my phone and utter phrases, I constantly weigh my words.

I ask myself if what I have to say is really important enough to warrant a phone call right this very moment. If it's pressing enough that I need to call someone in the middle of the day to share this thought with them. Or tell them this funny story or ask their opinion.

Which then led me to think about Facebook.

How funny do you think most of the Facebook status updates would be if they were spoken? How strange would it be if your phone rang and a friend just said something like, "It's a big, big day!" or "Chips and guacamole!" or "Taking a morning walk" and then hung up the phone?

Kinda crazy, right?

All of a sudden, those words that we felt were so important to type don't seem nearly as big a deal when we have to call and say them to someone.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a big fan of texting. I'm often able to respond to someone more quickly and efficiently via text rather than a phone call that requires more of my time and attention. But maybe the constant barrage of texts flowing out of my phone are just not quite as important as I thought they were when I consider speaking them instead.

And if texting doesn't really require me to be that tuned in, does that really count as having a "conversation" with someone? I don't think so because when I've had several days of just texting with my big girls, it feels like we've been speaking in bullet points. And then I request a phone call so I can hear their voices. Or even better, a Skype call so I can hear their voices and see their faces.

So I'm not sure where the balance is. Or if there will ever be an even balance between typing and talking. I'm confident my texting will still outweigh my phone calls.

But I am more aware of my words. I'm thinking a little more before I post a status update or send a text.

And after three days unplugged, I don't think that's such a bad thing to learn.

Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Around the Web in Six Clicks

A round-up of random things that struck my fancy - enjoy! 

We love some banana bread around here (paleo version, of course) so I'm excited to try these five ways to kick it up a notch.

You might think you're a book nerd but here's one way to know for sure.

Thinking about trying this the next time I have trouble falling asleep.

Reinier Gerritsen is working to capture the lost art of reading real paper books.

While the rest of the house is not really my taste, I want this over my mantel. But the million dollar question - what book cover?

How many of these most mispronounced Texas city names do you actually say correctly?

Plus bonus link because it still makes me laugh. Maybe you missed it?

See you Monday!

Monday, February 9, 2015

No More R-Word

I remember Kasey Studdard from his football playing days at the University of Texas.

I knew a little bit about him, mostly the kind of stuff you pick up from TV announcers in between game plays. But what I didn't know is that Kasey used to be a special education student.

I'm sharing an article he wrote for Medium because this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. As the parent of a child with special needs, I love it when people like Kasey use their platform to bring attention to an issue that needs to be talked about so that positive change can occur.

See if this doesn't get your attention:

Click here to read Kasey's article. 

I also wrote a little more of my thoughts on this subject back in 2011 in case you're interested. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Money Can't Buy Happiness But.....

I read an interesting article a few days ago and I can't seem to get it out of my mind.

It's called "How to Buy Happiness:  The Purchases Most Likely to Bring You Joy" and the premise is that while money cannot actually buy you happiness, there are some purchases that might make you happier than others so it's wise to really think about how you're spending your hard-earned cash.

It suggests things like spending money on others, investing in your financial security by paying off debt, or spending money on experiences rather than material goods.

But here's the part of the article I keep coming back to - to be happy, buy the right kind of material goods.

I'm pretty sure we can all agree that buying a cute pair of new shoes makes a person way more happy than buying, say.... four new tires.

So what's the right kind of material goods?

Well, it's different for everyone and is based on this thing called "the comfort principle", which means  that we should try to spend our money where we spend our time. And if we do, those purchases could actually have the highest impact on our happiness.

Here's a handy little chart taken from the article that can get you thinking about where you might spend most of your time:

  • 8 hours: (Work) Office chair, computer, office desk, monitor
  • 2 hours: (Commute) Car, car stuff
  • 1 hour: (Cooking) Kitchen utensils
  • 3 hours: (Living room recreation) TV, video games, music
  • 1 hour: (Reading) Kindle/iPad
  • 1 hour: (Exercise) Running, treadmill, elliptical
So here's what I'm thinking....

I spend a whole lot of time in my kitchen, not always because I love cooking so much but because special diets tend to take quite a bit of prep time.

Based on the comfort principle, you know what purchase would have the highest impact on my happiness?

A really, really good set of knives. 

I don't even know the best kind to buy. Just no more cheapie ones that come in a set of 6 in a plastic blister case. The ones I tell myself I'll just pitch when they're dull and get new cheap ones again. Because I never pitch them and never get new cheap ones. I just keep sawing away at veggies and meat, not worrying about sawing my fingers off because the knives aren't sharp enough to do damage to human flesh. Pretty soon, my teeth will be just as effective as my current knives and I'll be youtubing videos of beavers taking down trees to perfect my kitchen cutting skills. 

So yep. Some good knives would make me pretty happy. 

Another thing? A crockpot that can be also used on the stovetop for browning meat, like this one: 

No more dirtying and hand washing my ceramic dutch oven just for the 5-10 minute step of searing a roast for the crockpot. 

And since sleeping, snuggling Bird in the bed, and showering are things I do every single day of my life, if I apply the comfort principle here, my "high-impact happiness" purchases would be a set of really nice sheets, a better pillow, and some big ol' soft, fluffy towels. 

Ryan and I have been married for 23 years and I seriously think we're still using towels that were wedding gifts. Our towels are so worn out that if I pull too hard when trying to dry my back, they will actually tear.  I'm not even embellishing to make this a better story like a good preacher would do. It is just the gosh-honest truth. 

So yeah... some nice, new towels would be a good investment in our happiness - and the key to getting a drier back.

We don't go out that much because we have to arrange a sitter for Lily but mostly, it's because Ryan and I are basically homebodies by nature. Once we tuck Bird in for the night, we often watch a show or two on the DVR. So when we moved to Katy, we unknowingly applied the comfort principle to our living room and got a great television since we spend time there every evening having a "home date". So we spent money where we spend our time and that makes us happy when we sit down to catch up on our shows.  

Now what about you? What would you spend money on if you had a little extra cash and allowed the comfort principle to help make your decisions?

PS - Thanks to Brenda Hughes for reminding me that we spend a lot of time eating so it would probably be smart to spend our money on bacon, which would make us very, very happy. :) 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Five Favorites - Things I Like About Katy/Houston

I think it goes without saying that Austin is pretty much the coolest town in Texas. It just has its own quirky personality that you can feel the minute you arrive in the city limits.

I grew up outside of Houston so it's not like I'm a native Austinite. But Austin is where Ryan and I got married, where we lived for 15 years and pastored for 10 of those years, and where we raised our kiddos. so it just feels like home to me.

And living in Austin has spoiled me to other Texas cities.

But since our move last June, I'm discovering that Katy and Houston have a whole lot more to offer than I thought.

Here are five of my favorite things about this area, in no particular order.

1 - HOV lanes
      Two people counts for high occupancy so Birdie & I join the other commuters in the "fast lane" on the way to and from school. And even better? One of them practically runs straight from my doorstep to the driveway of Lily's school.

2 - Seafood
      It's everywhere and in all price ranges. And being just a teeny bit closer to Louisiana means we've got some great gumbo in these parts.

3 - Shopping
      Whatever I could possibly need or want, I swear there is a store (or multiple stores!) that sells it in this town. That's great.... but possibly dangerous, too.

4 - Rain and Thunderstorms
      I had forgotten just how much I love a good thunderstorm in the evening. And how enough rain makes for some great "goin' barefoot" grass. I even bought rain boots (see #3 up there) and have already gotten my money's worth!

5 - Major League Sports Teams
      I don't watch as much sports as the rest of my family but it's fun having local home teams like the Astros, Texans and Dynamo. Now if we could just get a hockey team down here, it would be the perfect sports city.
      And just in case you're wondering, we are die-hard Spurs fans in this house so you'll find no mention of the Rockets here.

I know that Houston has much more to offer, like amazing museums, live theater, the ballet, a great zoo, and the symphony just to name a few, so there's a whole lot more for us to discover.

I'm expecting to add more favorites to the list the longer we're here.

Your turn - what do you love about your city?

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