Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reaching Across the Aisle

While watching the State of the Union address tonight, I became convicted that perhaps I have more left-wing leanings than I thought. Sure, I might be a card-carrying Republican, but I'm also a member of a union. Yes, I like my government on the smallish side, but I also want the National Endowment for the Arts to keep live theatre, well...alive!

The thing that really made me realize that I'm reaching farther across the aisle than ever before? Nancy Pelosi and I...

...totally have the same haircut! See?

Now I know you're thinking, "Please, Tracy, you have bangs and Nancy doesn't." But to that I say, "I'm trying to keep things non-partisan around here people! Sometimes you have to overlook the little differences to find the things shared in common."

Saturday, January 23, 2010


When we traveled to Virginia for Thanksgiving, I played my first game of Yahtzee. Brian's family has been playing it for years, but this was my foray into the wonderful world of Yahtzee, and I was instantly hooked. We played everyday for the rest of our vacation.

I loved it so much, Brian gave me the game for Christmas.

His mom came for a visit last week, and again, we played it everyday. It's a lot of fun, and it doesn't require so much concentration that you can't chat while you play.

Here's a picture of Brian and his mom showing off her "snake eyes Yahtzee"!

Who knew this little game of dice would become a family obsession? I didn't see it coming, but I can't stop rolling for just one more Yahtzee!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


One of Houston's treasures is the Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural Science. It is a permanent exhibit, and it proved to be a wonderful place to spend part of a rainy afternoon last week.

How many butterflies can you spot on this branch?....

There must be about 50-60 varieties of butterflies on display at the Center, just fluttering and lighting on plants all around you.

This one was my favorite. The underside of the wings (shown here) are brown and moth-like, but the topside of the wings (which are hidden in this picture) are a wonderfully rich cerulean shade of blue!

I highly recommend it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adorable Birthday Cuteness!

This photo is just a teaser. Click here to see more birthday cake fun from the party I shot this weekend! It will make you smile. You won't be able to resist his adorableness!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Because I'm a Grown-Up and I Can Do What I Want...That's Why!

After Christmas, Brian and I decided to treat ourselves to a little getaway weekend at the hotel where we had our wedding reception. It's only a short drive away, and it's located near a ton of great restaurants and shopping, as well as two movie theaters. We certainly took advantage of those amenities and had a great time!

As there were mega after-Christmas sales going on, I was delighted to buy a cute down vest--something that I've long wanted, but never really needed. One of the features of my vest is that it has a detachable zip-on/zip-off hood, which I immediately zipped off and never thought of again. That is, I never gave it a second thought until today, when I began to do a bit of tidying and had to find a new home for the unzipped hood. (It had been sitting in a heap on my floor.)

That's when things got a little dicey, and I realized that the pain of finding a place to store it simply wasn't worth it, as I don't like hoods, and I knew I'd never zip it on. Ever.

So I threw it away. I threw an unused, perfectly good hood away.

I don't know why, but that seemed so wrong to me. Shouldn't I save it just in case? At the very least, there must be some craft I can create with it. Maybe a homeless person somewhere needs a hood... I confess that I even called my sister at home and on her cell phone to ask her if it was okay to do that. As it turned out, she didn't answer either call, and I had too much self respect to leave her a voice message asking her permission to throw away a clothing item that I bought with my own money and knew that I would never wear anyway.

That's when the voice inside told me that I needed to put on my big girl panties and throw the hood away. I would not get in trouble. No one would judge me, and even if they did, I would survive.

So there. I did it. All on my own. Because I'm a grown-up and I can do what I want!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Glory and Beauty

This morning, I was reading the part of the Book of Exodus in which God is giving Moses instructions on how to make the priestly garments to be worn by Aaron and his sons when they enter the Tent of Meeting and the Holy Place to offer sacrifices before God. It struck me that in two different places, God's instructions are to "Make sacred vestments for your brother Aaron to symbolize glory and beauty", and later, "Make tunics, sashes, and hats for Aaron's sons to express glory and beauty". (Italics added for emphasis.)

God even tells Moses to "Consult with the skilled craftsmen, those whom I have gifted in this work, and arrange for them to make Aaron's vestments...."

In the midst of what feels like rather dry reading, I find it somehow comforting to see that the things that make my heart race a little faster--glory and beauty--are also on the heart of God. In fact, I think they reflect His very character. It's not just that He appreciates glory and beauty, it's that glory and beauty are part of who God is!

I love that God directs Moses to go consult with the skilled craftsmen, and that He even calls those craftsmen "those whom I have gifted in this work". As an artist, it is very affirming to see that God values artists and artistry and that He is explicit in letting Moses know that He has gifted them in this work.

Often in my adult life, I have felt like the very talents with which God has gifted me are the very hardest skills with which to earn a living. I have felt like a dreamer most of the time and like a slacker during a few low points, but during those golden moments when I am working as an actress--when I am doing exactly what God has created me to do--time seems to stand still, because in those precious moments, I am able to reflect the beauty and the glory of God, simply by being who He made me to be and by doing what He made me to do. Those brief moments in the grand scheme of life shine like stars in the night sky of my memories, and I hope they will bring glory to my great God for all eternity!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Cultural Context

Today, this day after New Year's Day when the gyms reopen and throngs of people flood through the doors to work off their holiday calories, I went to my first "Zumba" class. Zumba is an aerobic workout class done to Latin Music and incorporating the fundamentals of Latin Dance, such as salsa, merengue, samba, etc. It was an awesome workout. I left having worked up a good sweat and feeling a little more guapa and tranquila. ¡OlĂ©!

As I was moving to the rhythms of the latin music, I thought about my year in Spain and how thankful I am to have an insight into Spanish culture. And of course, I've spent the majority of my life right here in Texas! It is impossible to grow up here without a bit of the local Mexican culture rubbing off on you, and for that I am happy and grateful! It made me glad that even though I would never pretend to completely understand the various latin cultures with which I've rubbed elbows, I do have a context for them! And today, I felt humbled and thankful to have a context for the dances I was doing and the music I was listening to. When the Zumba instructor spoke Spanish to our mostly latino class, I knew what she was saying, and when I heard the music, I could dance the salsa with a little bit of flair!

Last night, Brian and I watched a video, which is part of our required adoption training. The video was called "Grief and Loss in Adoption". The idea is that the hub at the center of the wheel of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptee) is loss. Obviously the birth parents have to grieve the significant loss of their child when they make a plan to place for adoption. Whether the adoptive parents are choosing adoption because of infertility or not, they still have to grieve the loss of their genetic continuity. What I hadn't stopped very long to consider, though, was the significant losses that an adoptee faces: loss of medical information/history, loss of knowing biological family, loss of nation of origin (in the case of international adoption), and a loss of control over the whole process (the adoptee never chose to be placed for adoption and didn't choose their adoptive family).

One of the people interviewed in the video was a lovely woman in her 20s or 30s. She was adopted from South Korea as an infant and raised in a caucasian family in Baltimore, Maryland. She spoke with a southern accent, and talked about her experiences of loss through her adoption. One of the things she has grieved as an adult was the loss of her identity as a Korean. Although she feels like an American girl internally, externally she is Asian. She spoke of not really fitting in with the Asian community because although she might look Asian, she has no grasp of Korean/Asian culture. What she did know, though--without a doubt--was that she was a Cockran (the last name of her adoptive family).

Her suggestion to American families adopting from abroad was to think of exposing not only their adopted child to their culture of origin, but to have the mindset that the whole family adopts a bit of that culture. So in our case, just as we will adopt an Ethiopian child/ren into our family, our family will also become a little bit Ethiopian. Brian and I thought that made a lot of sense. While we will never be able to have a firm grasp on all things Ethiopian, we can make an effort to become a little bit Ethiopian as a family. We can go as a family to eat Ethiopian food (which we did today for lunch!). We can play Ethiopian music at home and celebrate certain Ethiopian holidays as a family.

My hope is that if my child/ren one day return to Ethiopia, that they will have the same sense that I had today in my Zumba class. Although they won't have a 100% grasp of life in Ethiopia, I hope the rhythms they hear, and the flavors of the food they taste will be just familiar enough to feel a part of it all because they have a context for it. And on days when my child/ren feel like they're not quite part of any one ethnic/cultural community, I hope they will know without a doubt they they are Owens!

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Day Ponderings

Today we took down our indoor Christmas decorations, and it just looks so bare without our tree and the other bright lights up! While I'm feeling incredibly blessed to have had such a wonderful holiday season, I confess I'm feeling a little blue now that the glad noels and shining bells are coming to an end.

I'm really looking forward to seeing my mother-in-law soon! She and her RV will be arriving in Texas in about a week and a half or two, and I'm really looking forward to spending some time with her. She's a great mother-in-law, and I'm looking forward to some serious games of Yahtzee!

I'm ready to meet my baby/babies. We are just over halfway through our time sitting on the wait list, and I told Brian today that I'm just feeling so ready for our adoption to move forward! The waiting has been relatively easy for the first half, but I have a feeling that the second half will be harder.

I really want to spice things up on my blog! I've gotten away from the introspective writing that once made my blog more interesting (in my opinion!), and I want to get back to that. Even though my purpose for starting this blog was to have a place to express myself free from the judgment of my inner critic, I still find it hard to be as vulnerable as I want to be on my blog. I want to get over that in 2010!

I don't know if it's that I'm 35 now and something has shifted or what, but I'm feeling largely nonplussed about making unrealistic New Year's resolutions. There are a few things I'd like to accomplish this year, but I feel much more private about them than I typically would, sort of like they are personal treasures in my heart that I'm pondering with myself and with God, but I feel absolutely no need to shout them from the rooftops.

I watched the Florida State game today with Brian. It was so awesome to see Bobby Bowden go out with a WIN! What an amazing career he's had--57 years! He's in his 80s and looks so young! I think there is something so awesome about working at your dream job for all those years! I can completely understand why he didn't retire sooner. Who would want to quit one's dream job?

Speaking of dreams fulfilled, three years ago today, Brian proposed to me in La Jolla, CA, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I'm so glad I married him!

On that note, I hope that each of you have had some dreams realized in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year full of hope, abundant blessings, and many dreams fulfilled!