Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Letter Series: On the Occasion of Our 9th Anniversary

Dear Favorite,

Tomorrow we will celebrate nine years of marriage.  And all I can think is they have been a hard fought nine years.  People who believe marriage is held together by some sort of magical love fairy have obviously not been on the other side of some of our more epic battles.

I actually think that's part of what has made this work, though.  We've learned, together, to fight fairly and only with one another.  I'm sorry it took the better part of those nine years to realize how important that aspect of marriage is...particularly since it's something you seemed to get from the beginning.

Actually, there were a lot of things that just made sense to you.  Provision.  Protection.  Support.  Encouragement.  While I was busy believing laundry was a need to be met, you were careful to acknowledge the less tangible needs in me.  To acknowledge those gifts is to openly acknowledge that our marriage has gotten to this point due to your continued persistence. 

That's just you, though.  You would never admit it, but as soon as someone tells you something is impossible, you have a goal--to prove him or her wrong.  Your tenacity and super strange sense of humor have been rallying points for us whether you've realized it or not.  And those gifts are mostly the reason we've notched our belts for nine whole years.

It's funny, though isn't it?  To wake up and realize that none of this looks the way we planned it, but to know that I would've chosen you over and over.  To me, that is the most accurate depiction of love--the fact that we have chosen each other in spite of circumstances that statistically ruin relationships.

I wonder if being a little bit broken meant we fused as we healed?  If that's true, I wonder what our relationship will look like when grief isn't a part of most days--when it's just you and me and not you and me and the could-have-beens.  It can't be less than beautiful, because I'm highly convinced that the flaws and blemishes are the story behind beauty.  And we certainly have our own fair share.

But whatever jumbled, beautiful mess it may be, we're right in the middle of it together.

And in the end, I want to be standing at the beginning with you.

I love you--as deeply as you've taught me to love.


Friday, May 25, 2012

What I'm Loving (5/25/2012)

I know I've been pretty MIA in the last few weeks.  I'd like to blame it on the constant activity in my life, but my lack of presence is mostly due to being inside my head for a bit.  Trying to figure things out.  Working on this guest post that may be the worst piece of writing I've ever generated.

But today's post?  Is bright and cheery and includes recommendations for several products I happen to think are fantastic.

This is the Fossil Satchel my parents gave me for Christmas, and after carrying it for five months, I think it's safe to hand out my reviews and opinions.

In short?  Love it.  It's really a classic bag with clean lines and tons of room for all the stuff I carry with me.  I highly recommend it.

I used to be able to do anything to my hair with few consequences.  Unfortunately, as I get older and my skin gets drier, so does my hair.  It's a problem because my hair is curly, fine and color treated so even though Suave thinks they are as good as the professional brands, I can assure you my hair does not respond to their formula.

I've paid a lot of money for hair products that  And I was pretty skeptical when my mom told me how much she loves this product.  It was $10 for a bottle, so I thought it was a pretty safe risk.

Thankfully, that was $10 well spent.  Jennifer, my hair lady, commented how healthy my hair looked the last time I saw her, and I really believe it has a lot to do with the shampoo and conditioner.  I get it at Sally's Beauty Supply (do they have those all over the country?  Or just here in the midwest?).  Liters go for $20, but anyone who has bought professional shampoos or conditioners knows that's a steal for that much product.

Earlier this week, I got a sunburn through my jeans.  I know it sounds crazy, but it's a true story.  That said, it's clear my skin is super sensitive and crazy dry.  Most body washes make my dry skin worse, so I decided to try something that was made for sensitive baby skin.

It really is awesome.  Plus, it wasn't as expensive as the Body Butter wash I was using so that's a real bonus.

To the left is Barky.  To the right is the newest addition to our family:  Corky.  I probably should've posted about him sooner, but we took him on a trial basis from a local animal shelter to see if he would jive with Bark's possessive personality.

He's six months old and the sweetest puppy, but he's super active and wants to play all.the.time.  The first few days he was here, Bark wouldn't have anything to do with anyone.  He was mad we brought this baby into his life and he sure let us know he was less than happy.  But over the course of the week, he's gotten used to him.  Sure, they've fought.  But I think Bark is adjusting well.

Oh, and if I believed in reincarnation, I would tell you that this puppy is Alex in someone else's body.  It's been serendipity--that's for sure.  We're going to finish paper work for Corky today, and then he's officially part of our House.

Now that we're on summer break, I'll try to post a little more often.  And I'm working on things of substance that may require feedback.  You'll be here, right?  To help me perfect inperfect writing?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest Post: New Comics Wednesday (5/23/12)

For BigBro's first installment and an explanation of terms, click here. He will be visiting intermittently to share his knowledge of comic books, graphic novels and literary material in general. Give him some love in the comments or email me and I will forward your comments to him.

I’m on the road this week.  So this post will be short. 
One area we haven’t talked about is webcomics.  Webcomics are similar in style to Sunday comic strips and viewable through a web browser.  One of the best is Abominable Charles Christopher.  Karl Kerschl weaves a tale of anthropomorphic animals that could rival Bambi or The Lion King.  For almost 5 years, he has posted a new comic every Wednesday.  You have some pleasant reading ahead of you.  Enjoy.

Pull List: Prophet #24 (digital)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fat Tuesday 5/22/12

This week's goal:  -2 lbs
This week's loss:  +0.8 lbs
Total loss:  -4.2 lbs


All that stuff about calories in and calories out is baloney.  Unfortunately, that's not the way weight loss works for everyone.

Next week's goal:  -2 lbs

Friday, May 18, 2012

To the Class of 2012

In 1997 a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich, published an article titled "Advice, Like Youth, Is Probably Wasted on the Young."  Two years later, director Baz Luhrmann released a song fashioned around Schmich's words--"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)."  I think about that song--and Schmich's words--during this time of year because, like most adults, the only noteworthy advice I have to give graduates and former students includes inane suggestions like brush your teeth regularly, exercise purposefully (learn to like running now!) and read for pleasure every once in a while.

But if I had the opportunity to share my heart with the class of 2012, this is probably what I would tell them:

Many of you have had your life's trajectory planned for the last three years.  I'm not surprised given that we often allow you to believe that life is made up of prerequisites.  At least, our questions seem to point you in that direction:  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Where will you go to school?  Where do you want to live?  How will you pay for that?  Etc.  As you sit in these chairs and spend your last few minutes as high school seniors, you are probably listening to me (at least every other word) while simultaneously painting the picture of your future--college, jobs (with reasonably high paying salaries), travel, marriage, children, etc.

That picture you're painting?  It probably looks great.  It, for you, is the best possible outcome--all life has to offer.  And you are just sitting on the precipice waiting for me to stop talking so you can grab the bull by the horns and get that picture started.

Humor me for a few minutes while I delay your dreams.  As an educator, I want all the success in the world for you, but I don't want you to buy into the misconception that all these roads you dream of traveling will align themselves perfectly.

Because mostly?  They won't.

The lack of alignment has little to do with planning or impending disaster.  Life happens.  And when it does, unanticipated detours make their way on the map.

Sometimes those detours are necessary--like the trailer I never intended to buy, didn't plan to live in and certainly didn't anticipate staying in for 8 years.

Sometimes they are the road you should've taken and ignored for "bigger" and "better"--like the teaching certificate I didn't pursue until I was in my mid-20s.

And sometimes there are the plans that just change the way you think--like my marriage to my favorite man in the world.

Planned, or unplanned, those roads are the stuff of life.  My idealistic 17-year-old self believed I would be working at an ad agency, married with a few children by the time I was *almost* 32.  My real life bears no resemblance to that pre-planned journey (and tends to believe my 17 year-old self was an idealistic nincompoop).

I guess I could've told myself that some of these circumstances wouldn't last forever, but I'm hesitant to disregard the things that have brought me to this point.  Just like jr. high and high school weren't worthless experiences for what is come in your lives, the side streets that lead away from the "plan" shouldn't be disregarded as unfocused side steps from the original path.

Steps have defined you.  The ones you navigated when you walked through these doors will no longer be a part of your day-to-day experience, but they have helped define the person you are.  Likewise, the steps and mis-steps in your future will largely impact who you are and the decisions you make.

One day, you're going to wake up and realize this wasn't the picture you were painting when you sat in chair listening to some woman speak at graduation.  I hope it won't disappoint you to make that discovery.

But more than anything, I hope you quickly learn plans fall apart.

I don't intend to push you away from planning entirely.  I just want you to know that your lives  probably won't follow a straight path to success.  And that's OK.

The real goal is to forget the specific trajectory:

Life will move forward regardless.  That's a guarantee.  But the way you live it?  Requires little planning and  few prerequisites.  My guess is you'll find something worthwhile there you never anticipated.

Frankly, I imagine our lives, decisions and all, look a
little like this--chaotic, but beautiful.
I really hope you discover a few dreams your high school minds would've never anticipated, and I hope those dreams change every road you ever planned to travel.

Until then, happy wandering.

--Mrs. House

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Comics Wednesday 5/16/2012

For BigBro's first installment and an explanation of terms, click here. He will be visiting intermittently to share his knowledge of comic books, graphic novels and literary material in general. Give him some love in the comments or email me and I will forward your comments to him.

When you think of comics what comes to mind?  If you said the adventures of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and their friends, you wouldn’t be completely inaccurate.  While superheroes tend to dominate the American market, comics are a diverse medium and not a single genre.  It takes a little more digging but there is a depth to graphic storytelling that goes deeper than the capes and tights set.  In these blog posts, I hope I can open your eyes to some of the better examples.

Craig Thompson’s OGN, Blankets, is one of the best tales comics have to offer and is my favorite book in any medium.  I devoured this almost 600-page semi-autobiography in just a couple days.  It was as if Thompson’s art and dialog were meshed into the basic language of my brain.  I highly recommend this coming of age tale to anyone who has always been close to their sibling(s), has fond memories of their first love or has struggled with faith.

Pull List: Secret Service #2, Justice League #8 (digital), Saga #2 (digital)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fat Tuesday 5/15/2012

This week's goal:  -2 lbs
This week's loss:  -2.2 lbs
Total loss:  -5 lbs

I continue to track during the week and fail to track on the weekend.  So far, it's a pattern that has worked for me because I continue to do a quick evaluation on the food that hits my plate.

Surprisingly, I haven't really deprived myself--particularly when it comes to carbs.  I'm just learning to practice a little moderation.  (What a novel concept, right?!)  I even ate pasta with my mom one afternoon and pancakes the next day at breakfast.  I just coupled those meals with a large salad and bacon and eggs respectively.  That way, my meal was rounded with protein and fat--not just endless amounts of sugar.  I also really limited my portions.  I ate about half my pancakes and only half of the pasta portion given.  Honestly, those half portions were more than enough.  Restaurants are really generous when it comes to portion sizes.

Still no exercise, but, as promised, Courtney and I will be trekking all over town starting this afternoon.  We'll see how that affects next week's weigh-in.

Next week's goal?  Two pounds.

20 sticks of butter down...a grocery store's worth to go.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Someone Else's Words

Part of the reason I have this blog is because I believe in putting things in my own words.  Sometimes, though, that just isn't possible--for a hundred reasons.  So the next best thing is to use someone else's words and hope they capture a tiny piece of you in the bits of light they cast on a subject.

That's my hope.

I hope you appreciate the bit of sun this woman is casting on Mothers' Day.

I'll work on my own thoughts in the meantime.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guest Post: New Comics Wednesday (5/9/2012)

For BigBro's first installment and an explanation of terms, click here.  He will be visiting intermittently to share his knowledge of comic books and the characters many of us have come to appreciate through movies like Thor, Captain America or Iron Man (just a short list).  Give him some love in the comments or email me and I will forward your comments to him.

So you saw The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble in the UK) and are wondering what comics to read.  First, we should thank Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for the Avengers bombastic 1960s origin.  However, it was Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch who made Hollywood take notice.  In 2002, they reinvigorated the then ailing Avengers franchise with The Ultimates:

The Ultimates #1 by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch
âMarvel Entertainment

Their sleek 21st century reimagining wowed readers and signaled that these concepts were ripe for film.   Suddenly it wasn’t radiation and gamma bombs that gave superpowers but clandestine attempts to recreate the supersoldier program that birthed Captain America.  In a stroke of genius, Millar and Hitch recast Nick Fury, the foremost spy in the Marvel Universe, as Samuel L. Jackson.  The brilliance of Millar’s words and opulence of Hitch’s art show through on every page.  So if you’re interested in the roots of the films you’ve been enjoying for the last four years, look to the following books:

The Ultimates Vol. 1: Super Human
The Ultimates Vol. 2: Homeland Security
The Ultimates 2, Vol. 1: Gods and Monsters
The Ultimates 2, Vol. 2: Grand Theft America

A word of warning, these stories like the film should be considered PG-13.  If you were confused by the first post-credit reveal, you might want to check out this.

Pull List: none (Sad, isn’t it?)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fat Tuesday 5/8/12

This week's goal:  -3 lbs
This week's loss:  -2.8 lbs
Total loss:  -2.8 lbs

I really like FitDay.  I haven't tracked my eating every single day, but I do fairly well on the weekdays.  On weekends, I'm very careful about what I put in my mouth and even avoided ice cream on Sunday when I visited Cool Spoons with my parents.  I do love that the program calculates where my calories are coming from--fat, protein or carbs.  I can set specific goals for nutrition or for weight.

(For the record, I contacted FitDay about their lack of a recipe calculator, and one of the men assured me that would be corrected in the coming months.  Frankly, I'm looking foward to it.  How can you track what your eating if you can't enter recipe information?  Especially since I cook so much at home these days.)

Diet-wise, I've done really well...with the exception of Friday night.  (It was Cuatro de Mayo, people.  I had a date with some of the girls from school.  And fruit trays=more carbs than I should've eaten.)  I'm very careful about the number of carbs I'm eating, and my calorie number has stayed relatively low.  That said, weight loss has been slow.  Frustrating.  In fact, if I weigh two days in a row, I may actually show a gain even though I've stuck to this diet religiously.  But commitment is commitment.  I'm actually posting a few of my pictures on instagram if you're interested in following (CrysHouse).  And I have kept my carb percentage below 35% since we started Fat Tuesday.  (Which basically means I've had one whole week of success.)

Other than dancing my butt off at prom (Anyone else know how to Wobble?  The students taught me.  It was an experience.), I really haven't had time for formal exercise.  Once my final is submitted for grad school, I am committing to walking a couple of days a week.  That means next week=me+Courtney+that unweildly walking stroller.  We should be a hit in town.

Next week's goal?  Two pounds.

After all, we're doing this one stick of butter at a time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Honey Badger Don't Care

I'm a humor risk-taker.

I put a lot of things out there for the sake of a laugh, and sometimes?  Those things are ill received.  I'd like to tell you that honey badger don't care. 

Legitimately, sometimes honey badger really don't care.  But more often than not, honey badger is a little bothered.  I mean, it may be a mean, little animal, but everything has feelings, right?  You can only get bitten by a snake so many times before a little nap just doesn't cut it anymore.

OK, now I'm not even sure where I was going with that analogy except to tell you that the honey badger sometimes occupies my waking thoughts.  Sheer cunning with a vicious ability to survive?  Yes, please.

And now I should jump into some awesome story that shows all of us exactly what lessons we can learn from the honey badger.  But that would require the ability to turn this post around, and I'm really just not feeling it.

Nope.  There are other things to feel today and none of them include I'm-going-to-teach-you-lessons-with-my-stellar-writing-and-awesome-comparisons.

Because it's May.

Because I hate May with almost as much ardor as I dispise December.  The two redeeming qualities this year include a completely full and demanding schedule and the end of the school year.  The latter is something to which I look forward--and I'm more thankful for things like that than I ever have been before.

So I expect to be less present this month.  Maybe because I need to be more present in my actual life.  Maybe because I don't want to become super repetitive here.  Maybe because I'm tired of talking about it.

Some periods of time don't let those feelings sit dormant.

But I will be around.  And I may even pop in from time to time if I manage to concoct something worth reading.  And I will continue posting guest posts as they become available.

And if you have a few minutes, I would certainly covet your prayers over the next three weeks or so.


(PS.  If you really need to catch me, email is the easiest way:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guest Post: New Comics Wednesday 5/2/12

I'm grateful to have the opportunity to loan my "space" out to other people from time to time.  I hope my guest writers will introduce you to new and interesting material that goes beyond june bugs or Samscratch.

BigBro has always been interested in comic books.  In fact, his interest might be the only reason I ever learned anything about the X-Men, and I have to credit him for cultivating a deep love of Star Wars in me.  Periodically, he will be here to host New Comics Wednesday.  All of your questions and comments will be forwarded to him so show him some love in the comments!

Welcome to the first installment of New Comics Wednesday.   My name is Ronnie (aka BigBro or My Precious) and this will be my intermittent Wednesday guest blog.  Why Wednesday you ask?  Wednesday is the magical day that new comic books are released in North America (and now the UK) every week.  With these posts I will try to give you a glimpse into the world of graphic storytelling from vibrant superheroes to somber memoirs.  We should begin with a glossary of common terms that you will need for this journey.

Comic:             Sequential art and dialog or narration that tell a story.

Comic Book:   Generally used to refer to a serialized 20-30 page magazine format comic.  Also referred to as “floppies” or “pamphlets” but not by me.

Trade:             A collection of multiple comic books into bound format that usually tells a full story.  Also referred to as “TPB” or less accurately as “Graphic Novels.”

OGN:               Original Graphic Novel.  Original stories not previously serialized in comic books.  This is the proper usage of Graphic Novel.

LCS:                 Local Comic Shop.  Specialty stores that carry comic books and other related merchandise.

Pull List:         A subscription service generally offered by a LCS.  I will be posting my weekly pull list at the bottom of each installment of New Comics Wednesday.

Day & Date:    Digital comics offered the same day as their print counterpart on apps like ComiXolgy.

That should be enough to get you started.  This week is a special week in comics.  Once a year on the first Saturday in May, we celebrate Free Comic Book Day (FCBD).  On that day, comic shops have special offerings from participating publishers that are free to the public.  Follow the link below to found out this year’s offerings and where you can find a participating LCS.  Then, go check out your LCS this Saturday and get some free comics. 

Pull List (5/2/2012): Earth 2 #1, G.I. Combat #1, Action Comics #8 (digital)

Pull List (FCBD): DC Comics: The New 52 Special Edition

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fat Tuesday 5/1/2012

The six of you (one of whom is my father and maaaaaybe my mother if she gets around to it) who read my blog are looking at the logo and likely wondering how my participation in Fat Tuesday is going to be much different than the last time I tried to participate in Fat Tuesday.  I applaud your critical thinking skills.  Mostly because I'm wondering the exact same thing.  But here are a few things for your reading pleasure:

1.  I like to eat.  Believe it or not, my eating repetoire tends to go the way of savory much more often than sweet.  I do like ice cream, but sweets are not my dietary issue.  Portion sizes may be...

2.  I've heard several people comment that they do not like organized religion.  Well, I do not like formal exercise.  I love to dance at prom, and I've been known to join a good game of capture-the-flag or tag.  But I do not like treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers or gyms.  I do not like walking without an end destination (and I fully expect we have business at said destination) and I will not run unless someone is chasing me.  Actually, scratch that.  I probably wouldn't run even if someone was chasing me.

3.  I have PCOS.  A few of you are groaning, "Is she really bringing this up again?!  But it's necessary information because it means some foods are definitely on the "smaller portions" side of the table for me when other people can eat a regular helping.  Those foods aren't bad; my body just doesn't process them correctly.  It also means that a one pound loss for the week is a huge deal.  (You should also note that I'm never pleased with a one pound loss.)

4.  I get frustrated easily.  This isn't my first rodeo.  I've been dieting since I was 13.  So even though I know my body is slow to respond, my head hasn't really gotten in the game these last 19 years.  I still think I should show a 10 lb loss in two weeks.  I lose steam when other people don't even try and drop weight quickly and I haven't had a piece of bread in weeks and only lose 1.8 lbs.

With those things firmly planted in front of my face, let me line out my plan of attack.

*  I'm quitting Weight Watchers.  (I'm sorry, Casey.  We'll still talk.  I still plan to diet.  I'm just taking a different approach that WW doesn't measure well.)  Instead, I plan to use FitDay to track what I've eaten so I can find a more balanced approach to the calories.  (The only thing I don't like about FitDay is its lack of a recipe calculator.  C'mon.  What kind of person never needs to learn what a serving is in nutrients?!)  I'm setting a goal to track diligently for one month.

One month is the goal for now, right, Taylor?

*  I'm taking a diabetic approach to eating.  I do not have diabetes, but my body is insulin resistant.  That said, I'm attempting to regulate the carbs (and protein and fat) I eat in order to balance my blood sugar.  It doesn't mean I'm going low carb.  I've tried that, and it just doesn't work for me.  Instead, I'm learning to incorporate carbs as part of my meal instead of making them the entire meal.  I'll share some recipes here if you would like and give you the nutritional run-down...well, if I remember to take pictures and post them with my Fat Tuesday posts.

*  I will probably try to do something that looks like exercise during this month-long challenge.  I will also share the likely disastrous results.

My goal for next week?  Three pounds.

See you in seven days.