Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why you should still move to Houston

Just in case you thought I was hatin' on Houston and its uncomfortable commute, I thought I'd share the following stats with you, courtesy of (.gov means it's true):
  • If Houston were an independent nation, it would rank as the world's 30th largest economy.
  • Houston's overall after-taxes living costs are 12 percent below the nationwide average, largely due to housing costs that are 26 percent below the average.
  • Houston has more than 11,000 restaurants to choose from.
  • Houston has a Theater District second only to New York City with its concentration of seats in one geographic area.
  • Houston is one of five U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.
  • More than 90 languages are spoken throughout the Houston area.
  • Houston is home to the largest rodeo in the world.
  • Houston has among the youngest populations in the nation.
  • Houston is home to the largest medical center in the world.
  • Only 21 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross area product.
  • Only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters.
So sure, sometimes it's humid and hot, but we've got lots of good reasons to call this place home.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A two-month test

I don't think I ever mentioned it here, but at the last minute, we did sell Ryan's car. (Last minute as in, they handed us the cash, we handed them the keys, and then we hopped into our moving truck and drove to Texas.) I also probably didn't mention the fact that while buying our old car, they asked about renting our old townhouse and working at my old office building--I was sure a social security number/credit score exchange was next--but that's a topic for another post.

This post is about downsizing.

We went from being a two-car, two-person family in an 18-square-mile city to being a one-car (still two-person) family in a city that can take several hours to cross. (That's 8,778 square miles--bigger than the entire state of New Jersey. I know.)

It wasn't our plan to stay a one-car family. The Houston burbs aren't exactly a friend of public transportation and neither are the hot and humid summers. Plus, as the Salazar family saying goes, everything in Houston is "about 30 minutes away." We had planned to move to Houston and start Ryan's initiation into Texas/construction culture by getting him a nice big truck. And then reality settled in.

All of a sudden, there would be car payments. Twice the insurance. A couple tanks of gas a week, most of it spent in gridlocked traffic. Another car contributing to that traffic.

It's not that we can't afford it. But we're starting to wonder if we'd rather take a trip once a year than have an extra car to sit in the garage when we need it.

So our experiment begins. Starting this week, Ryan will be carpooling to work a couple times a week. The days that I have the car, I'll do our grocery shopping and errand running. My perfectly lovely (and accommodating--thank you!) mom and sister are humoring our strange little plans by offering rides on their way to Costco and other places.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure we can/should do it. Two months, sure. (We've pretty much been doing this since October, though this will be Ryan's first experience with the park 'n' ride.) But two years? More? Once we have a couple kids?? In a city like Houston, I just don't know.

Do any of you have downsizing experience in a city? Particularly in cities where the only buses that come by the house take you to the local elementary?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Since we're stuck inside

Walking with dad

A friend of mine introduced me to this awesome website. Have you seen it? Talented artists from all over post their art, and then, using their illustrations as inspiration, you create picture books. The pic above is from one of my favorites, PascalCampion.

You can create as many as you want and save them to your own profile. Plus, and you probably knew this was coming, it's FREE!

Here's my friend's profile with some of the cute books she's created. They also have a fun story contest each month, where you can win a Kindle e-reader and a $50 e-book gift card! My friend Tara won last month!

Anyway, if you're looking for something to keep your kids busy or for your own creative outlet--check it out! And if you do, send me your story. I'd love to read it :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Also, it's cold here

On the one hand, we've been having rolling power outages all day to conserve/spread energy around Houston, and it's been in the 20s all day, and with humidity it's colder, and Ryan's going to have to drive to work tomorrow on frozen roads with broken traffic lights and a couple million people who don't know what to do when ice meets tire.

On the other hand, I'm not in Chicago or Denver like my brothers and their families, where they live with millions of people who DO know how to travel on ice and snow but CAN'T because of the ridiculous amounts of ice/snow and the ridiculous speed at which said ice/snow is falling/torpedoing through the sky. Plus it's at least 20, sometimes 30-40 degrees colder there than it is here.

So... I'm probably not gonna get any sympathy here, am I?

Oh fine. I'll just put on another sweatshirt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The time has come

Remember when a certain movie was filmed practically in my backyard?

Oh yes. That's right. It's finally coming atcha. Though I'm sorry to say, it doesn't look like this movie will be set in space like we originally thought/hoped.

Even without the space element, still just as bizarre as I imagined it would be. Coming to a theater near you, but probably not for long...