Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ten Things I Miss About Texas

When we said our good-byes to my family as we began our move to Texas,
I turned into a sobbing, sniffling, blubbering, 7-months pregnant mess.
I almost never cry, and somehow between the hormones and the emotions of it all,
I was quite a sight to behold in front of a lot of extended family members.
I still haven't gotten over the embarrassment of it,
but I did learn to love Texas, and now that we're back in our home state,
I'm realizing some things I really miss about it.

10-The Reptiles
It may sound strange, but it was pretty fun to catch lizards in the house
and hear the frogs croaking at night.
One day we opened the front door and there was a turtle sitting right there!
The Houston reptiles definitely have their appeal for little boys!

9-No State Taxes
It was so nice each year to go through my TurboTax process and, as I wrapped up federal taxes,
click on state taxes and receive the congratulatory message that since Texas didn't have state taxes,
I was done!
Did I mention Texas has no tax on food, either?
Some complain about the property taxes, but...since we didn't own a house...we just got the good end of the deal.

photo from TripAdvisor
8-Gringo's Mexican Kitchen
One of Sam's sisters sent us a gift card to this local restaurant for Christmas the first year we were there, and we quickly realized why it is a community favorite!
Not only is the Tex-Mex food amazing (just thinking about the pulled pork enchiladas makes my mouth water),
but the whole community seems to come together around Gringo's.
It is the home to baby showers, birthdays, girls' nights, and countless other occasions.
We were so fortunate to receive periodic gift cards to this awesome place so we could enjoy it,
even on a grad-school budget. :)

7-Splash Pads
Yes, I know Utah has splash pads, but Texas...they know how to do splash pads.
We especially miss having one a block away!
(Pretty sure the splash pads kept me sane during the terrible summers.)

6-Cultural Opportunities in Houston
We lived just a 15-20 minute drive from many wonderful places in downtown Houston.
We loved visiting the many museums (Texas has a thing for museums),
Miller Outdoor Theater was amazing,
and Discovery Green always had exciting things happening.
To name a few.
I'm so glad we had so many visits from family members
that gave us increased motivation to see the sights Houston has to offer.

5-Blue Bell Ice Cream
It just wouldn't be Texas without Blue Bell.
And the factory tour was well worth the couple of hours it took to get there!
Ah, good ol' Blue Bell...
Natural Vanilla Bean, please.

4-Cheap Food
Admittedly, the grocery store where I did most of my shopping was a bit...questionable.
But goodness!
Food prices there were so low!
After a couple of years I overcame the discomfort I felt,
and we have so many great stories of funny things people said to me as I did my shopping there.
(My three boys and I kind of stuck out, especially when we were buying copious amounts of produce to can.)
Like when the man surveyed my cart with 150 pears in it and drawled,
"Whoa! Dats a lotta apples!"
Every time I go grocery shopping I miss all that cheap produce.

3-Our House
It was cozy, but those tight quarters were packed with amenities that I miss.
Granite countertops, slate bathrooms, travertine tile floors, a beautiful balcony, and perhaps most of all the granite sink!
The miracles that led us to that little townhouse were amazing in and of themselves,
and each time I looked around I felt so spoiled.
That house is filled with memories of some of the formative years of our marriage and our lives, and I will always be grateful we had that peaceful little haven to experience them in.

photo from Pearland Reporter News
2-The Community
I am fully convinced that our city was the absolute best place we could have chosen to live in the Houston area. At least on our end of town, people gladly declared their belief in God
and their moral values.
The Pledge of Allegiance was still said in schools,
there were no qualms about wishing one another a "Merry Christmas" at the grocery store,
and religious bumper stickers and churches were everywhere to be found.
The mayor attended every Eagle Court of Honor he could,
and was so beloved by the citizens that he had been the mayor for many, many years
and once again won the election at 90+ years just before we moved.

1-The People
Without a doubt, the best part of living in Texas was the wonderful people we associated with on a regular basis.
Our ward (church congregation) became like our family, I loved my piano students,
Sam worked with great people,
and even while running errands I was amazed at the kindness people showed to me.
Yes, Texans are sometimes outspoken and blunt.
But it is that very quality that makes one feel connected, because people aren't afraid to start a conversation.
And we did start a lot of conversations, whether because people were commenting on three little boys 4 and under or because my boys were making awkward comments to strangers.
Everywhere we went, people stopped me and visited with me,
told me stories about their families,
commented on my own family,
and typically left me with a wonderful, southern, "God Bless You!"
I love Texans!!!

So, yes.
It took a few years, but Texas really did become home,
and I guess I even developed a bit of that ever-popular "Texas Pride."
And while we're thrilled to be here in Utah,
I think there will always be a part of my heart in Texas.

Join me tomorrow to learn about ten things I love about Utah!

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