Skip to main content

Happy Fall Y'all

Over the past year I've noticed a lot of fun and interesting things about Texas.  Call it culture shock or assimilation, but here's an outsider's view of my new home. Obviously I like saying "y'all," and I find it quite handy. From the vocabulary to the climate, from the school traditions to the local hotspots, I'm enjoying this new land even if I poke a little fun at some of the quirks.

One of my favorite things about Texas is the people.  They are nice. The general default mode is to show kindness, warmth and hospitality. People go out of their way to help each other. I've seen this over and over again. The foundation of this town is built on people who are genuinely decent and friendly. 

I love the west Texas drawl (or is it east Texas?).  At the elementary school, the sweet secretary lady is the nicest. When my son delivered something to his sister one day, she said, "Thank you baby," in a motherly, sweet way. He couldn't get upset at being called a baby, because it was a term of endearment. 

Another cool thing I love: it's accepted to say grace before a meal in a restaurant. If you're saying a prayer for the food, the waitress waits politely out of respect. Somewhere between the words themselves and the southern charm behind them, I really like the language here.

It's hot and humid. But there's all this amazing stuff that grows outside. I like the flowers and trees and plants.  One day at the nursery, back in August when it was like 1000° outside, I learned about making a flower pot arrangement.  Okay, it wasn't that hot. (But why did I stop to buy mulch during the hottest part of the day?) The nursery people were really nice and gave me a free bottle of water, because everybody was glistening. Okay, that's a nice way of saying we were all drenched in sweat. The average heat index for August was about 107° and most places are cooled to about 77° F, so the 30° difference makes coming inside feel like you stepped inside a fridge (note to self: bring a sweater along).  Yay for air conditioning! September is better than August for this reason:  It's only 20° hotter outside, so we're making progress. Yay for fall!

The man at the nursery taught an important thing about making an eye-catching arrangement:  Thriller, Filler and Spiller.  Look for something tall (thriller), something to fill in the spaces (filler), and something to spill over (spiller).  Here's my tribute to autumn, with zinnias, decorative peppers, and sweet potato vine.

Local traditions and restaurants:
There are things unique to this area:  bluebonnets, Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger (pronounced Waterburger, not sure why), Fuzzy's Tacos. The TexMex food here is awesome. I love having good guacamole in my life. In fact, I think I need to do more research by eating all the great food here. So far my favorite restaurant is Marty B's.  It's ten minutes from my house, the food, the service, the queso and guacamole are all great. My personal favorite is the Texican Tamale Cake. If I'm sharing with Amber, we dump the side of pinto beans and sub in the mac and cheese. That's a home run. Some of these uniquely Texas things are not only iconic, but sources of great pride and joy to young and old, long time residents and newcomers like me.

Texas pride is huge.  There are trucks built especially tough and labeled, "Texas edition." People pay more money for this nicety, and I have no idea whether or not it's a better truck.  But no other state in the union would do this.  Can you imagine paying extra for a New Hampshire edition of your vehicle? 

I'm pleased to report that during the summer, the kids and I made it to Buc-ees once.  This is a gas station destination.  They have 100 pumps, lots of land, and seriously cool stuff inside. We tasted a bunch of varieties of jerky from the nice man at the beef jerky counter, we bought slushees for the kids, we even spent a while browsing the cool merchandise. It's like a mix between Cabela's and Hobby Lobby.  I bought this awesome souvenir to put on top of my fridge. What's relevant here is not the souvenir itself, but the fact that I bought it at a gas station.

School traditions: 
Let's talk for a minute about the Texas pledge. Last year when the kids first told me about it, I was stunned. I didn't know a state could have its own pledge.

Every day the kids say the pledge of allegiance to the flag of The United States of America, and then another pledge to the Texas flag. It goes like this: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible." It's a fine tradition, just heads' up to all you Texans:  they don't do this in other states.

Moving on to an interesting high school phenomenon: Homecoming mums are like a corsage on steroids. I've never seen anything like it. The girls are given a "corsage" that is almost as big as the student, so big that they use rope to wear it as a necklace. And yes, I will encourage my boys to participate in this tradition at least once while they're in high school.

Lastly, I must mention Friday night lights. Yes, Texas high school football is a real thing. It's a community event every week during the fall. The whole town goes to the game because they know somebody in it. Believe me, I worked concessions at a home game last week, and I saw them all as I sold hot dogs and nachos. Why? Because I have a son in the Marcus marching band. All the overpriced food at the stadium puts money right back into football, band and the Marquettes. Marching band deserves a post of its own at some point, but let me say this: of all the things that are bigger and better in Texas, I've just barely scratched the surface of the high school marching band program. The depth and complexity, the level of parent commitment, the enormous amount of time and sweat the students put in, it's incredible. Pictured below is the horn section in their hot weather uniform.
photo credit Sam Rogers

Fall in Texas is different from other places, and I've grown to respect the people here.  They are great. The culture includes supporting kids in school, whether in marching band or in making mums for homecoming. The autumn weather is more pleasant so people are actually outside again, and the sense of unity born of working together, whether eating good food or saying the Texas pledge, is really incredible. Happy fall y'all.


  1. When I was in high school I loved to study maps. One day I decided I was going to move to Beaumont, TX. That was my dream for a long time. After I got married, I traveled with Brandon and we visited Beaumont. It was then I realized it wasn't the place for me, but we fell in love with so much more of Texas. We decided someday we might live in Fredericksburg. It's a charming place in hill country. When Brandon got sick of his job in Wyoming, he applied with a company in New Braunfels. I thought my dream was going to come true, but then he didn't get the job and I bawled my eyes out. Now, I could live most places, but Texas has always had a special place in my heart. I'm happy you're getting to experience it.

    I'm not in Texas, but our charter school has their own pledge they recite after the pledge of allegiance. It gives me chills listening to them say it. It goes like this:

    I am a Paradigm Patriot.
    I am a free soul with the capacity to learn and grow.
    I am a scholar and a servant leader.
    I have gifts that make me unique and powerful.
    I engage in the great conversation of ideas.
    I can overcome hard things and persist in my learning no matter how challenging.
    I take responsibility for my actions.
    I live in gratitude.
    I honor the nobility in every person.
    I seek the true, the good, and the beautiful.
    I accept my shared responsibility to create a free society and a better world.

    1. I didn't know you'd wanted to live in TX. I'll have to look for Fredericksburg, I've heard good things about hill country. Here's an idea: come visit me, get your fix of all things Texas, and then you can weigh in on the DFW area.

      That's a cool pledge. I bet the students are united and motivated by it. So glad you said hi. I'm still figuring out how to add comments to posts, but I love it when I see any comment from you. Thanks Candi.

    2. I just might take you up on that offer! I've been to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, but never Dallas -- and that's the city my brother was named after [my dad served his mission in TX]. But now you've got me wanting to come in the fall. I've never been a huge sports freak (as you may know), but I have fond memories of my high school days spent at the ball games. I love Texas' "Friday Night Lights" atmosphere. Man, I comment way too much, but I'm excited about the prospect of checking out the DFW area. I think next fall I'm gonna hit you up and see if your offer still stands.

    3. I love your comments. I'm just sorry it takes me like two weeks to find them on here. YES. For sure. I love this plan. Bring Brandon and y'all can stay at my house.

  2. Oh this makes me homesick! I love that I got to grow up in Texas (San Antonio) and raise my kids there. We have family now in the Houston area and visits aren't long enough or frequent enough for this girl!! So glad you are embracing so many of the good things of Texas! Texas is lucky to have the Nelson's!!

    1. Hi Debbie! Thanks for saying hi. I love how you were so enthusiastic as we were leaving Lehi and coming to TX. This is me wishing you more time with family in Houston. AND thanks for your kind words, it means a lot!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Be There at the Crossroads

  Last week I was looking through an old box, searching for letters that Norm and I wrote to each other before we got married. I didn't find the letters but instead found an old journal from 1987. Look below and see my handwriting when I was a ten year old girl living in San Diego. We’d just moved there from Grand Junction, and I talked about missing our cat, about making new friends, going to Disneyland with my dad and my brother. It was really fun to read through this old journal. I'm glad I wrote that stuff down!  In the middle of these memories from 1987, I was also searching for a quote about mothers and their great influence on their kids. And the quote was something like “be there at the crossroads” when your children are coming and going. Turns out that the quote I was searching for also came from the late 80's. A brilliant church leader and prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson, talked to the women and spent time encouraging and reminding us why motherhood is impor

2021 Christmas Card

December 2021  Dear Friends and Family, We love you and and miss y'all that are far away in WA and UT and other places!! This year we skipped our tradition of sending a Thanksgiving card and opted for a virtual Christmas card instead. It saved a ton of stamps and envelopes, but I definitely miss the glitter and sparkle. We hope you can feel our love even through a simple email or blog post. One tradition we couldn't skip was our gratitude tree, where the little leaves are a list of blessings. We are so thankful for God's goodness and mercy every day. Here's the highlight reel:  Cade graduated, made lots of Domino's pizza, read probably a thousand books, and is currently living in Provo, UT as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's heading to Helsinki, Finland in January. We are so proud of him and his hard work, we miss him but are excited for his opportunity to learn and serve. Shad spent a zillion hours with Marcus Ban

Golden Anniversary

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. CONGRATULATIONS! Fifty years. An anniversary like this is remarkable for a few reasons: to stay together that long, to both be alive and well, and to still like each other after all these years. Let's take a quick trip down memory lane first.  My mom and dad met at a college dance.  When my dad proposed, he was working at a ski area, and she was skiing that day. My dad taught me to ski when I was a girl, and he taught me to love the mountains. My mom taught me to love the ocean. Marriage is a funny thing. In our culture we make a big deal about the wedding and plan expensive parties and receptions. But the real work begins AFTER the ceremony. Anytime my father-in-law talks about attending a "Wedding Deception," I have to laugh and cringe at his dry wit. I learned many great life lessons from my parents through the years. My mom taught me to serve, saying, "You love the people you serve."

Hair and random thoughts from a Brunette

Recently I've thought quite seriously about doing this to my hair. It might be so fun to have purple/blue highlights! I never dyed my hair in high school or college. Then when I was 37 the first few grey hairs appeared, ironically enough while I was pregnant. I've spent the last handful of years adding lots of blonde highlights.  Now my hair has a respectable amount of silver. It's kind of annoying. I'm learning to say farewell to being a brunette, because that young girl with the dark hair has grown up. Last month for Christmas, one of my favorite gifts that I GAVE to my little daughter was kinda fun. I spent like 20+ minutes at Target deliberating on which Barbies to buy. Finally I chose this group of friends for their amazing variety in hair!!  And I love each for different reasons. The dogwalking blonde is fun because my daughter really wishes we had a dog. The other three have accessories to be an astronomer, a teacher, etc. Ultimately, each Barbie is different fro


"How are you feeling about your son leaving soon?" has been my favorite question lately. My answer is kinda mixed. During July and August I was surprised and excited. Then on September 14 he flew to and from San Francisco by himself for a day. The purpose was a quick visit to the Finnish consulate for a visa. He had fantastic instructions to get from the airport to the BART to the consulate, but waiting for the interview took longer than planned. Leaving the consulate he had less than an hour until his flight was supposed to take off. That included a 32 minute tram ride, printing a boarding pass, airport security, etc. In all honesty, he should have missed that flight home. But he didn't. Call it a miracle or a test of faith, or whatever you want to call it. But for my boy who loves to be punctual, boarding a flight 7 minutes before take-off was pretty intense. Long story short, I think we all realized a few things that day. There are so.many.details I can't control,

The Invisible Woman

Today I'm thinking about my mom. She spent a lot of years building and serving and lifting. She poured love and time and energy into her children, in a never-ending pattern. She did a hundred things that we still haven't noticed. I wonder if there's a coming of age that happens for a young mom, when she begins to realize how much work it is to BE a mom. Then maybe about two dozen years into this parenting thing, she begins to see  more stuff she missed. Then another realization comes when her oldest is almost grown. I'm still learning to see my mom and appreciate her as a person. But how can you see somebody who's been invisible? This morning I was talking with a good friend, another mom like me. She's younger and in a different season of mothering, yet we both can relate to sometimes feeling lonely. Sometimes we need evidence of progress, or at least a friendly word from a girlfriend. Maybe sometimes we just need somebody to notice and say thanks. Years ago I h

How Controlling Are You?

Life is like Mario Kart. In the early levels, you're driving through Moo Moo Meadows and the grass is green and there's cows and fields and it's lovely. There's an occasional banana peel that gets tossed in the path, and sometimes the cows walk in the road so you try not to hit them. But overall the driving is pretty mellow.  Then later after you've unlocked other levels, there's stuff like Bowser's Castle. It's a maze with lava on both sides of the path, there's fire and brimstone all around, there's stone columns that try to smash you at random intervals. Just to know where to go and how to steer and stay on the path is complicated. Some stages of life are like Moo Moo Meadows. The details are easy-peasy and you just keep moving right along. And then there are years like Bowser's Castle where it's pretty intense and you pray a lot because the fire around you is pretty hot and you're trying not to fall in the lava pit.  During years

Companions - Notes on Home MTC

November 18, 2021 Most people know that missionaries run around in pairs. Some of my neighbors have seen this version of a companionship lately. Let me explain. During Covid, the church did a pivot and changed the missionary training experience from in-person to virtual. During this process they realized there were a few cool benefits that were worth continuing even after the pandemic. So the new version of missionary training begins  at home  with an Elder or Sister doing full-time training with a companion online. Then they transition to  in person  after a few weeks.  My oldest son began on November 8 with training at home. When they are in class or working together, they are meeting and making friends with other missionaries in their district. My son's cohort has four young women and four other young men, for a total of nine kids all going to Finland in January. BUT when they're not actively working or studying together,  I'm his companion . All of the places I'd no

Twenty + One Month

You know how life gets kinda messy sometimes? My version of messy looks like this: Four kids including a teenager learning to drive; a kindergartner learning to get herself ready in the morning; a senior learning about adulting; a middle schooler learning to ride her bike to electives every other day, a mortgage husband's career VIRTUAL PLUS church service pandemic, civil unrest, election year my own personal need for friends and connection even when my schedule looks like a revolving door Our big anniversary was last month and we were lucky enough to celebrate together this past weekend. We managed to sneak away for 24 hours. First I need to give credit where credit is due. There was a very generous friend who volunteered to parent the children during our 'Nelson marriage offsite.' And there was a generous benefactor who donated Marriott points to spring for the fancy room. I won't mention either party by name, but thanks to their generosity we had a great time. I'

It doesn't matter where you live, but how...

Thoughts on Houses This is my first post from Texas.  The blog lives on.  August was a whirlwind, September we started settling in, and now it's October.  Most of the boxes are unpacked.  Just last week I found the box that had cookbooks in it, and that makes me pretty happy.  I still haven't made whole wheat bread or cookies since we got here, but maybe I'll do that soon. We spent a lot of time this summer thinking about houses, getting ready to sell our house in Traverse Mountain (in Lehi, on the northern edge of Utah County), and brainstorming on what we'd need in a house in Texas. On the way to Texas, we drove south through Colorado and spent the night at Mesa Verde.  We found the Far View Lodge inside the park and stayed up high on the mesa.  The night sky was pitch black away from the city lights, and the weather was at least ten degrees cooler up high.  I loved it.  The next morning we learned a lot about the Native Americans who lived there.  A man ga