Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 1: Arrive in Charleston!

The fun started right away when Anne greeted me at the airport with cachirulos for each of us! ¡OlĂ©!We grabbed some lunch, dropped my stuff off at her house and then headed back to the airport to pick up May. On the way to the airport, we saw a rainbow that was 180 degrees!

Then we met our Spanish friend May who came all the way from Zaragoza. We're having a blast!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Semana Santa

I’m on an airplane as I type this en route to Charleston, SC, where my best friend Anne lives. We’re going to spend Easter Week together with our dear friend, May, who is flying in from Spain for a girls’ week! I’m so excited to see them--to have a whole week together feels like friendship decadence! The three of us met back in 2002/3 when we were all working together in Spain. We became fast friends, and I’m so thankful that we have maintained our friendships over the past seven years!

In thinking about this trip, it occurred to me that Anne and I have have spent one other Easter week together. It was Holy Week (or Semana Santa, as they say in Spain) of 2003. I was living in Zaragoza, and a group of my American friends/co-workers and I decided to take a trip down to Seville where Semana Santa is celebrated in grand style.

There are processions through the streets with giant floats depicting scenes from the original Holy Week:

Photo found here.

Operatic songs are sung in the open air:

Photo found here.

Women are dressed in their traditional headdresses:

Photo found here.

And then there is the most striking sight of all: the throngs of people walking through the streets in these hooded garments that look to my American eyes precisely like those worn by the Ku Klux Klan.

Photo found here.

It is a most disconcerting thing to see. I never could get used to it. After associating such an image with the most heinous and unsavory of aspect of American culture, it was hard to see it as having any other meaning, regardless of what country I was in.

As I came to learn, Spaniards have worn such garments during Holy Week for centuries. The hooded cloaks are symbols of repentance. I tried to get comfortable with that and to dissociate what I saw around me in the streets of Seville from the symbol of hate that hooded cloaks symbolize here in America.

But it was impossible.

I have always tended to diffuse uncomfortable moments with humor, and Anne still gets the giggles when we reminisce about one particular day of our trip to Seville when I leaned over to her and said, “Hey, Annie, purple Kluxer at six o’clock”.

I am now arrived safely in Charleston, and perched on Anne's kitchen countertop to greet me was this little trinket she bought in Seville those many years ago.

Nothing like a little purple-clad penitent to bring back memories!

Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm pleased to announce that I'm not the only actor in the family! One of the many joys of my trip to San Francisco this past weekend was getting to see my "nephew and niece" perform in their school play. I put them in quotes because they are technically cousins, but because of our age differences, one of my nephews called me "Aunt Tracy" this weekend, and as you already know, I relish my role as aunt in life, and I'm happy to adopt anyone as a niece or nephew who would like me to be their auntie!

My nephew played the role of "Racetrack Higgins", a gambling man with a penchant for cigars (chocolate ones in the case of this school production)! Here he is singing his heart out:

And here is my beautiful niece (center) who played one of the newsies:

The two of them are cousins, and here they are doing a scene together:

I was truly impressed by my nephew's fully developed character. He was really quite impressive to watch on stage:

"Strike! Strike! Strike!"

Way to go you two! I'm proud of you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interesting Timing. What do you make of this?

I've noticed that even when I'm eating what I consider to be a normal diet of foods, my weight continues to creep ever upward. It is very discouraging.

This morning, I came across this article which basically states that the latest research shows that women who don't diet (like me) but just eat a regular diet of foods can slow weight gain (but not necessarily stave it off) if they exercise at a moderately intense level for an hour a day. And that means seven days a week.

When researchers followed more than 34,000 non-dieting women (average age 54.2) over many years, they found that regular physical activity was associated with gaining less weight over time—but only in women who weren't overweight or obese. (That means a BMI of lower than 25, or less than 150 pounds for a 5'5" woman.) And those women had to exercise quite a bit: An average of an hour a day of moderately intense activity—such as a brisk walk—or the equivalent (if you exercise more strenuously, less time is required) during a week was the amount of activity recorded for the normal-weight women who gained less than 5 pounds during the 13-year study. (Just 13.3 percent of women studied fit that bill.)

While it is encouraging that 420 minutes per week of moderately intense exercise will help stave off those extra pounds, I find it mildly heartbreaking that it won't make even the tiniest dent in them, in terms of losing some of them! To do that, I would have to exercise above and beyond those seven hours a week and probably go on a diet, too.

And truthfully, as I observe my normal routine, I believe that to be true. Here's the thing, though: I don't really want to go on a diet. Diets don't really work in terms of keeping weight off. That requires a lifestyle change, and my current lifestyle isn't excessive in terms of what I eat.

It seems like nature's way is for a woman to gain weight over time, and it is emotionally exhausting to be engaged in a never ending fight that it seems like I'm destined to lose.

For now, all I can seem to muster is to enjoy my food (which is hard to do when I'm feeling constantly anxious about it sticking to my hips and tummy), to try to eat a balanced diet, and to get out and exercise for the health benefits (ie. a healthy heart) even if I'm not losing weight in the process.

I'd love to hear thoughts from any of you women out there. I'm discouraged.

Note: I'm 100% aware that my body won't change if I don't change. I'm willing to make a change, but it's going to have to be something that I can maintain over time. Right now, I'm thinking that might mean going on a morning and an evening walk, to increase my amount of exercise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Newest Member of the Family

My cousin and his beautiful wife recently gave birth to this little sweetheart! I got to meet her this weekend while I was in California, and let me tell you...she is a little bundle of precious preciousness!

Does anything melt your heart like a beaming father delighting in his new baby?! I also love generational pictures like this one!

Even though the new baby and I are officially first cousins once removed, her mom was calling me "Aunt Tracy", and of course, I love the title! I never had any idea how happy I would be as an auntie. It's one of my favorite roles in life!

*sigh* I love my family!

Friday, March 19, 2010


One thing I've discovered about myself during my adulthood is this: I am a very sweet person, but the moment a person begins to manipulate or pressure me, a vengeful warrior (who typically is enjoying a lazy slumber somewhere in my interior world) emerges with her arrow drawn back in the bow, fit and ready for battle.

Brian and I have been taking ballroom dance classes together, and last night after our lesson, our teacher explained to us that next week we would need to decide what the next package of classes would be that we should buy. It was a sloppy sales job and the details were very unclear. Finally, I just told our instructor that I am a straightforward person and she could just tell us plainly what to expect. She explained that private classes would cost $100 each, but if we bought them clumped together, say in a package of 10 classes, they would only cost $90 each. I asked if we could buy them in smaller clumps, say in a package of 4 classes, and she responded by asking me, "Why wouldn't you want to invest in 10 classes at once, knowing that you'll need at least that many to meet your goals for learning?"

Well, I don't know how that question would have felt to you if you were on the receiving end of it, but to me it felt like pressure. Hello! Ten classes at $90 each is $900! That is a lot of money!

Immediately, my inner warrior emerged, and I found myself looking down a drawn arrow and my instructor was on the other end. "Why shouldn't I pay for my classes in increments of four at a time? I prefer to buy things in smaller packages. We could have a baby soon and things could change!" I became irritated that I was being asked to justify to her how and why I would choose to spend our money.

And you know what? Our instructor got the message. She continued in her sales pitch, but it took on a more respectful tone.

For all of my life, I have been a very sensitive soul. When I was younger, I would get trod upon emotionally because even though someone might say something harsh to me, I often didn't have the gumption or quickness to say anything back. As an adult, though, things have changed. I learned a great principle in a self-defense class that I think transfers well to interpersonal conflict: if a potential attacker starts talking at you harshly to intimidate you, you are supposed to match his/her tone and volume. This shows that you have strength and often the attacker will back down, because they look for an easy target. In interpersonal conflict, I've found that if someone becomes aggressive with their words and I then match their tone, it quickly levels the playing field and the conversation very quickly takes on a better tone because the other person realizes that I am not a someone to be trifled with.

Last night, after we left the dance studio, Brian told me that he hates to see me get upset, but I assured him that even though it is a significant departure from the sweet me that he lives with on a daily basis, I really like the warrior part of my personality.

In doing research for baby names, I ended up researching my own name and its meaning. I found on BabyNamer.com that "its source is Treasaigh, an Irish Gaelic name meaning 'Warlike'".

Love it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Texan Right of Passage

You're not a true Texan until you partake of the deliciousness that is Blue Bell Ice Cream. It has been a Texas tradition for over 100 years and is made in Brenham, TX. Apparently, it is now available in 19 states and has become the third best selling ice cream in the country.

But every Texan knows, "Blue Bell's the BEST ice cream in the country!"

Below is a news story if you'd like to learn more:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She's an "E" on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Last week was my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jilly!

These are the only three photos I took of her on her birthday, and if they aren't proof of her extroverted personality, I'm not sure what more evidence I can provide. Also? She's halfway through her pregnancy, which means that not only is she the life of the party, but she's also adorably petite as she wins friends and influences people!

I think it's time for some therapy, because I'm starting to have that jealous feeling I did in high school when she was the head cheerleader, and I had to quit the tennis team because I wasn't good enough to make the varsity team my senior year. ;)

Seriously, though, sometimes I just have to laugh because I am the tallest person in my immediate family. My Mom, Dad and sister? All of them are tiny little pocket people! And I'm the Amazon Queen of the family. In case you need proof of this, I went to my sister's house yesterday after an audition to hang out with her and Sam. All I had with me was the dress and high heels I was wearing, and I needed something more comfy. Jilly lent me a t-shirt and pair of sweats she wears when she's pregnant...the pants fit me perfectly...just a little short in the length!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Gal and Her Doggy

Last week, my mother-in-law and her beloved Dakota were here for a visit, and I couldn't resist taking their pictures.

Isn't Dakota the World's Cutest Dog?
(besides your dog, of course)!

He's very sweet and knows some tricks, too--
like how to "give you five"!


Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I can hardly believe we've been in our house for about a year now! It's funny--of all the rooms in our house that I've documented on this blog in terms of my progress with nesting, our home office has definitely received the most attention. The rest of our house is more traditional/Pottery Barn-esque, but our study was a blank canvas of all white walls, and I wanted it to be a colorful room, full of life with modern lines. (Click HERE and HERE and HERE to see the various stages of nesting!)

For several months now, I have been wanting to do a wall of black and white family photos in black frames. A couple weeks ago, my friend Jenn visited from Los Angeles, and she encouraged me to go out and buy the frames, so we went to Aaron Brothers and picked out several frames in various sizes, and then I went to town deciding on which photos I wanted to enlarge.

My Mom came over yesterday, she suggested that I buy the "Family" sign, which I love! I ended up enlarging a couple of my favorite wedding photos taken by Jen Disney. She's based in Orange County, CA and does excellent work. I also chose some of my other favorites of our family members...

...like this one of my Mom in her wedding dress!

Family is such a sweet blessing, and having their photos up and about on our walls is a sweet reminder of the precious gift that they are to us!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Restraint is HOT!

Last weekend, some friends got together for a girls' night to watch the BBC/A&E five hour version of Pride and Prejudice.

Image found here.

What a great film! I'm amazed at how relevant some of the themes of this movie still are today, and how wonderfully rich the characters and story are.

My friend Catherine and I stared at the screen transfixed by Mr. Darcy's delicious gentlemanliness. Now that was a man of integrity! He was honest, a man of his word, one who could own his failures and apologize for them, and still be someone who stood strong for the things he believed were right.

Watching the movie was so different from watching the romantic comedies of today. We have grown so accustomed to seeing every other character fall into bed together that we've become desensitized to it. I was struck when watching Pride and Prejudice that the steamiest thing to happen between the protagonists was their first kiss after they were married!

As I pondered the thing that made Mr. Darcy so darn sexy, it was simply that he had stellar character.

When Brian and I were engaged, we were amused at how often people were taken completely by surprise when they would find out that we weren't living together. It was just assumed by so many people that we would be cohabiting. And really, why would people think differently? That has become the norm in our culture.

I'll never forget Brian telling me why "saving it" for marriage was so important to him (and yes, it was important to me, too): "This is my one opportunity to prove to you that I have self-control. You are the love of my life, and by abstaining now, you will know that after we are married, I have the self-control to save my love for only you."

I loved that logic. It wasn't self-righteous--it was totally selfless and affirming of me! My man was determined to love me with restraint in order to reveal his character, and to me that was HOT, HOT, HOT!

As Lizzie Bennett might say, "Indeed, I have married exceedingly well!"