Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's Noon Party Great for Kids

If you're looking for a way to ring in the New Year with your kids, it can be challenging. Who really wants to keep the kids up that late and get them stirred up so they can't sleep until 3 am? The Children's Museum of Houston offers a family-friendly event each year called the New Years Noon Celebration.

We loved this last year. Read the post & see a few photos at http://kidsactivityqueen.blogspot.com/2006_12_31_archive.html. If you're planning to be in Houston, add this to your calendar. Kids can make noise makers to use later on & create a "parade float" to where in the indoor parade. A kid-friendly band takes center stage to get families jazzed up about the New Year and then the countdown begins at 11:45 AM. Yes, this is held during the day on New Year's Eve. At the strike of noon, confetti colors the air and noise rings out. Little K was a bit awe-struck for the first minute but then quickly decided that the confetti was cool. This event gets a big thumbs up from our family. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Until the next nap time...

Day 1 & 2 of Chicago Trip

Day 1 of our trip to Bloomington, IL. for my husband's grandfather's funeral was an adventure. The security personnel took my face lotion so I'm quite sure I'll look like an unravelled mummy by the time the trip concludes. Otherwise, our flight went smoothly. (Thank the Lord!) Five of our family members deplaned, got our luggage and headed to the Avis rental center, where two cars were supposed to be ready for us. We had to boogie because it was 12:30 pm and we had a 2-2.5 hour drive from Chicago to Bloomington. The visitation was scheduled for 4 pm. This should work out fine.

Ha! Only one of two cars was available so we patiently waited for AN HOUR before the second car showed up. No, I'm not exaggerating. As soon as we packed three of us into this 2nd car, a 3rd car showed up for us. I couldn't believe it. It was 1:30 pm so we had to haul it to make the 4 pm visitation. Luckily, the roads were clear. Trent & his sister "Susu" sat upfront, while I napped for 2 hours in the back seat. Way to be supportive, Megan!

When we finally arrived in Bloomington, we checked into our hotel rooms and changed clothes. It was just after 4 pm but what could we do? We booked it over to the funeral home for the rest of the vistation.

I think I must have an odd view of things. No surprise there, I suppose. Visitations/wakes are peculiar customs to me. My husband pointed out that many of the visitors had not seen each other in a long time. They were reconnecting and laughing -- a nice thing, of course. The oddity to me (at all visitations/wakes, NOT just this one) is that while everyone reconnects, it's almost as if the honoree is ignored. It's as if it's so painful to acknowledge the passing of this special person that we look everywhere else. I only wish I could make my family members feel better but this mourning process is a difficult one for most people.

After Grandpa's visitation, we headed to Friar Tuck's, a liquor store, and traveled to a rural part of Bloomington for a family dinner. This was an enjoyable time and, as Susu pointed out, a great opportunity to get to know cousins, aunts and others again. While we wish it wasn't under these circumstances, we had a good time laughing and telling stories on each other.

Everyone turned in for the night but after our return to the hotel, Susu, Trent & I had a night cap. This morning, the hotel parking lot was covered in snow. It's really pretty but we all know that today will be a difficult one. With Grandpa serving in WW II, a military burial is expected. The cold air will chill us further. I try to remind myself that Grandpa is in a better place. It's so tough to see the grief on others' faces and not be able to console them. I pray that some good things, good reconnections are remembered from this trip.

Please keep Trent's family in your thoughts & prayers. We return to Houston tomorrow to close out the New Year. Thanks to my parents for watching Little K and to Colyn for house-sitting & kitty-sitting. Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Difficult Discussion of a Funeral

We had a wonderful Christmas holiday with both my parents & sister as well as my husband Trent's parents & sister. Little K was a delight, opening gifts while wearing a green dress my own mother made me years ago. It's interesting how time develops.

The tough news we received on Christmas Day was that Trent's grandfather passed away just outside Chicago. We'll soon travel to pay our respects and help out however we can. Unfortunately, Little K never met Grandpa so it's difficult to explain to her. I must admit that it's not the first time the thought of this has crossed my mind. My 84-year-old PaPa recently emailed me to say:

"After all, your dad's mom is 94 and your mom's parents are both 84. And, although they are all in good health considering their ages, they are all still past their prime.

How do you explain to a child, say one Little K's age (2.5 years), that a grandparent has died? Do you take them to the viewing and/or funeral ? If so why? And if not, why not?"

So many of us will sooner or later face this challenging discussion. How would you handle it? I simply told Little K this morning that Mommy & Daddy would be taking a trip on an airplane. When she asked if she was going, I told her, no, that instead she gets to visit Grand & PaPa, plus go to the family ranch. Oddly, that answer seemed to suffice her ... for now. Whether she asks more questions over the next few days or the next few years, I'd like to be prepared and give her the information that will best help her.

If you have advice, please post your thoughts to this blog or email me your suggestions. Please keep us in your thoughts & prayers. Thanks.

Many wishes for a rewarding & positive New Year! Until the next nap time...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Strange Smudges Decorate My House

Today is the last day of nursery school before the Christmas break. As Little K ate her breakfast before school, I scurried around the house, picking up, starting the laundry, the usual drill. Oddly, I kept finding pink smudges around our home. It looked like a little person had gotten into some pink nail polish and spread it throughout the house. I found the marks on the guest bathroom sink handle, the pantry door, the kitchen counter... but not on Little K's nails. Hmmm. With a quick wipe, the marks disappeared.

Ah ha! It was that candy cande that Little K had last night. That's a new spin on "the mark of Zorro!"

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

3 Safety Tips for Healthy Eating

A special thanks to AllergyKids for providing this great information.

1) Eat Organic Popcorn: Because new insecticidal proteins have recently been added to corn, consider switching to organic corn products to avoid eating insecticide with that next batch of popcorn!

By law, conventional corn and corn products like popcorn and high fructose corn syrup are actually allowed to have insecticidal proteins engineered into them (while, by law, organic corn can not contain these insecticidal proteins).

These new proteins were recently introduced to ensure corn’s profitability for ethanol crops, though no human trials were ever conducted to test their safety. Given that the Europeans don’t even allow their cattle and livestock to eat this new corn, we probably shouldn’t be feeding it to our little ones!

2) Drink "Clean" Milk: If you don’t have a milk allergy (symptoms include eczema, chronic ear infections, bronchial-like coughs, acne), then look for milk labeled "rBGH-free" which does not contain the recent addition of chemically engineered milk proteins and hormones.

Most milk in the US contains a synthetic milk protein genetically created from the growth hormone of a cow. This protein, rBGH, is injected into American cows, but not allowed in milk in Europe, Australia and around the world because of its health risks.

To avoid rBGH, look for milk cartons that say "rBGH-free" in order to avoid exposing your family to these hidden chemical milk proteins.

3) Drink Filtered Water: Drinking filtered water helps to eliminate and reduce your family’s exposure to bug sprays, hidden allergens, chemicals and pesticides that have recently found their way into our water supply.

Reducing your exposure to chemicals and toxins is a great way to help strengthen your family’s digestive tract where autoimmune conditions like food allergies can originate.

Want to go a step further? Install a water filter on your kitchen sink over the holidays. Just visit your local home improvement store to learn how easy it is to do!

Until the next nap time...

Holiday Cooking & Breakfast with Elmo


Cooking during the holidays is a big part of many families' agenda. Don't let this stress you out. Encourage the kids to help you. We get together with my parents, sister and cousin for the "Annual Bake Off," when we bake our favorite holiday treats and wrap them up to give to friends and co-workers. Little K loved frosting the cookies with her relatives. She also proved to be a great taster -- the ever important job. Don't let cooking stress you out. It can be a great bonding opportunity. You'll have to clean up regardless, so enjoy your time together.
Looking for a fun holiday treat this weekend? Enjoy breakfast with Elmo. Breakfast is served on Saturday, December 22 from 7:30 am - 9am at the Health Museum, located at 1515 Hermann Drive at the corner of Hermann and La Branch. This breakfast has been organized in conjunction with the museum's current exhibition, "Sesame Street Presents: The Body" so you'll be able to sneak in the educational aspects, too.
Elmo will also be visiting the museum on Mondays at 2 pm and 3 pm (excluding Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve); on Thursdays at 3 pm and 4 pm; on Saturdays at noon and 2 pm and on Sundays at 1:15 pm and 2:15 pm. For more information, call 713.521.1515 or visit http://www.thehealthmuseum.org/.
Happy Holidays! Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tracking Santa

HOW NORAD TRACKS SANTA
As it has done for more than 50 years, NORAD will track Santa Claus at http://www.noradsanta.org/ on Dec. 24. The site will feature 24 key stops that St. Nick makes on his journey around the world. The video and audio reports start on Dec. 24 at 4 a.m. ET and are updated regularly until 4:00 a.m. ET on Dec. 25. Go to the site now for fun interactive activities.

Until the next nap time...

Not to Be Preachy But... The Real Meaning of Christmas

In preparing for today’s devotional at my MOPS, I searched through a book & the MOPS web site to find the perfect thing to say. The search actually pointed out what was going on right before me.

I’ve hurried to send out Christmas cards, bake goodies for today but also for my clients. I still need to get goodies for my neighbors. I’ve bought & wrapped all our gifts. I’ve even planned out how much time we’ll spend with my in-laws versus my parents. With all this preparation complete, why am I still stressed?

Then, my thoughts turn to my 2.5 year old daughter. When asked what she wants for Christmas, she doesn’t really know what to say. After prompting, she finally decides the “Mickey Mouse dog that barks.” (That’s code for Pluto.) But Kylie will tell you nothing else. She simply doesn’t want anything else.

However, I’ve found it inspiring to see her head downstairs each morning and look into our nativity scene. She looks with wonder into the empty manger & announces “No Baby Jesus yet.” While somewhat humorous, shouldn’t we all be so eager to experience the birth of Christ?

This Christmas season, I hope each of you will be able to look beyond the presents, bows and appointments. I hope you’ll eagerly await the true meaning of Christmas and find comfort and peace in that anticipation. As for me, I’m still working on it.
Until the next nap time...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wonderland in Westchase: Dec. 13 5:30-8:30 pm


Interested in caroling this season? The Mothers of Preschoolers in the Heights invite you to join us as we sing Christmas carols to the folks at The Hampton at Pinegate assisted living facility on Wednesday, 12/12 at 2 pm. We will definitely bring smiles to these people's faces. The Hampton at Pinegate is located at 2121 Pinegate Dr., Houston, TX. 77008.
Looking for a fun holiday activity in the evening? Check out this Wonderland in Westchase event, organized by the West Houston Chamber of Commerce. For more information on Wonderland in Westchase, please visit http://www.hwcoc.org/en/cev/?410.
Until the next nap time...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Words to Christmas Songs

If you're like any of my family members, you'll understand the need for a Web site with the words to traditional Christmas songs. Although we sing these songs every year, we always forget a word or phrase. Other times, we make up words to the songs and don't realize we're doing it.

That's why I like the Web site http://www.41051.com/xmaslyrics/, which has numerous traditional Christmas songs and the words. I couldn't copy and paste them directly from these Web pages so I right clicked on the page, selected View Source and then did a copy and paste of the lyrics. Finally, I deleted the
which came over from the html coding. Now I have all the words to those songs.

If only the site could improve my singing voice.

Until the next nap time...

Tips for Santa Visit & Helping Local Kids

For those of you thinking of getting photos taken with Santa this year, the Santa at Memorial City Mall had some good advice. First, he said not to carry the children up to him, but rather let them walk or push them up in the stroller. They sometimes fight the Santa experience because they are being transferred from a parent's arms. Santa also said he’s been told that a lot of moms show their kids a Santa movie a couple of times leading up to the visit so that the kids actually recognize him and he seems more familiar. He suggested the Tim Allen "Santa Claus" movie. On the other hand, "Bad Santa" with Billy Bob might not be a good idea.

Here's another great way to help local children and get your car washed!
Precinct One Constable's Office and our area Deputies are doing their annual "CRUISE FOR SMILES" TOY DRIVE. This benefits deserving Precinct One area children. Here are several ways you can participate and donate unwrapped toys.

Wed. Dec. 12 8 am - 6pm Dr Gleem Car Wash located at 3103 Ella Blvd

For a toy or $10 donation, you get a car wash and a complimentary BBQ sandwich. (Additionally, you can preorder BB Brisket and ribs for $20 per slab or brisket. Call Chief JC Mosier or Christine Kendrick 713 7555200).

Tues. Dec. 18 and Wed. Dec. 19, Santa will visit the Garden Oaks neighborhood Gazebo Park, off of 42nd Street, near Shepherd. Toys can be dropped off there when you stop by to see Santa.

Happy Holidays! Until the next nap time...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

St. Nicholas Stopped By


Me and my bright ideas... Yes, St. Nicholas visited Little K last night. She was thrilled to find her little shoes filled with money, a lollipop and candy. I explained this morning that she could choose one candy to have after she got dressed for school. (Pat on the back, Mommy. That's smart.) After careful thought, my daughter chose the largest candy. (Yes, she is also smart.)

Little K quickly got dressed and then we opened her first candy from St. Nicholas. (The last few years, we forgot.) It was a gorgeous citrus candy that barely fit into her palm. I had saved it for a special occasion when I received it a few weeks ago at some event. I thought Little K would like it. (If it's not chocolate, I'm not interested. Sorry.)

Little K's eyes grew big as she delicately licked the citrus candy. Then, she made the oddest face. She licked it again. Hmmm. Maybe she wasn't expecting a citrus taste, I thought.

"Ewww, yuck, Mommy," she said. "I don't like it."

I smelled the candy with the anticipation of orange fragrances. It does in fact smell weird. In fact, it smells like soap! What? How in the world did I mistake soap for candy? Whatever! On St. Nicholas Day, you're not supposed to get your mouth washed out with soap by your sneaky (well maybe dingy) mother.

Little K picked out another candy & didn't think anything else about it... luckily. Next year, I hope St. Nicholas brings traditional candy.

FROSTY THE SNOWMAN
Friday, Dec 7, 7-8 PM Central
Don't miss a full hour of the holiday season's favorite dancing snowman in FROSTY THE SNOWMAN and FROSTY RETURNS on CBS.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dec. 6 = St. Nicholas Day

My mom just called with a fun reminder. December 6 is St. Nicholas Day! So, parents, encourage your kids to put one pair of their shoes beside their bed tonight and wait for St. Nicholas. You may have to help him, but St. Nicholas comes in the middle of the night and fills good children's shoes with goodies. As a kid, I used to get everything from money to candy or markers... anything that can fit into kids' shoes.

Now that my shoes are bigger, I wish St. Nicholas would fill my shoes. That's the trouble with growing up. :-)

Until the next nap time...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coupons Help Save Big for Holiday

I haven't tried any of these but if anyone does, let me know if its legitimate. Thanks to Tara for passing on these holiday hints.Online Discounts: Alloy Coupon Code: ALYGIFT (20% off entire order til Dec. 3, 2007)
American Eagle Outfitters Coupon Code: 64152219 (15% off from Nov. 27 - Dec. 11, 2007)
Armani Exchange Coupon Code: STYLE20 ($20 off $100 from ? - ? )
Banana Republic Coupon Code: BRHOLIDAY (20% off from Nov 27 – Dec 24, 2007)
Bare Escentuals Coupon Code: BEFAMILY (20% off from Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Barnes & Noble Coupon Code: T4N3B6W (25% off Single Item on Nov 27 – Dec 10, 2007)
Bath and Bodyworks Coupon Code: VELVET10 ($10 off $30 from Nov. 27 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Bed Bath Store Coupon Code: holiday07 ($15 off $75 from Nov. 28 - Dec. 10, 2007)
BeBe Sport Coupon Code: FAMILY25 (25% off from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
CCO - Closeout Catalog Outlet Coupon Code: CC10040 (extra 30% off your most expensive item - ends midnight Thursday, 11/29/07)
CCO - Closeout Catalog Outlet Coupon Code: CC10042 (extra 30% off your most expensive item - ends midnight Tuesday, 12/04/07)
Children's Place Coupon Code: FFTAHPVAC7 (30% off from Dec. 2 & Dec. 3, 2007)
Cloud Veil Coupon Code: 7LJ400 (45% off from ? - ? )
Crazy8 Coupon Code: C8ONLINE (20% off from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Designer Linens Outlet Coupon Code: FRIENDS77 (50% off from Nov 27 – Dec 3, 2007)
Disney Store Coupon Code: HOLIDAY25 (25% off from Nov 27 – Dec 2, 2007)
***Eastbay Coupon Code: EMEB72GC (20% off Giftcards from Nov 17 – Dec 20, 2007)
GameStop Coupon Code: AFF25 (25% off Used Games from ? – ? )
Golf Smith Coupon Code: FFD07 (UP TO 30% off from Nov. 28 - Dec. 4, 2007)
Exclusions, here's the original postGuess Factory Stores Coupon Code: FNF30F (30% off from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Hasbro Toy Shop Coupon Code: FRIENDS20 (20% off from Dec 2 - Dec. 9, 2007)
Illuminations Coupon Code: 999201329 (20% off from Nov. 27 - Nov. 30, 2007)
J. Jill Coupon Code: FFNV25 (25% off on Nov 27 – Dec 2, 2007)
JC Penny Coupon Code: CHAMPION (20% off from Dec. 9, 2007)
Joann.com Coupon Code: NOVA740 (40% off 1 Regularly-Priced Item from Nov. 28 - Nov. 30, 2007)
Levis Store Coupon Code: LOJVWYJ9 (20% off $75 from Nov 30 – Dec 2, 2007)
Limited Too Just click link for savings (25% off from Nov 27 – Dec 9, 2007)
Linen & Things Coupon Code: 223823997733 (20% off from Nov 30 – Dec 31, 2007)
Liz Claiborne Coupon Code: FRIEND40 (40% off from Nov. 30 - Dec. 3, 2007)
Macy's Coupon Code: MACYSFRIEND or MACYSFF or CFF117 (20% off from Nov 28 – Dec 03, 2007)
MetroStyle Coupon Code: MSTYLE50 (50% off Single Item from Nov. 28 - Dec. 31, 2007)
New York & Company Coupon Code: 9897 ($30 off $75 from Nov 27 – Dec 3, 2007)
Nike Coupon Code: 2PCTH7A (20% off $125 from Nov 27 – Dec 24, 2007)
***Overstock Coupon Code: 73989 (10% off $45 from ? - ? )
***Ralph Lauren Coupon Code: HOL2007 (30% off 11/10 - 12/10)
Red Envelope Coupon Code: AMX25WISH ($50 off $200 from ? – ? )restaurant.com Coupon Code: THANKS (60% off from Nov. 28 - Nov. 30, 2007)
Sephora Coupon Code: FF2007 (20% off from Nov. 28 - Dec 31, 2007)
***Sharper Image Just cick link for savings ($10 off $100 from Nov 27 – Jan 31, 2008)
Snap Fish Coupon Code: FRIENDS07 (25% off on Nov 27 – Dec 25, 2007)
Speedo Coupon Code: FRIENDS4 (25% off on Nov 27 – Nov 30, 2007)
Sports Authority Coupon Code: TSASAVE25 (25% off on 11/29-12/2)
Timberland Coupon Code: 3421273 (40% off from Nov 30 – Dec 2, 2007)
Toys 'r' us Coupon Code: TRUFRIENDFAMILY (15% off $150 from Nov 27 – Dec 1, 2007)
Ulta Coupon Code: 84447 (20% off Single Item from Nov 27 – Dec 1, 2007)
Victoria's Secret Coupon Code: FA78113 or FA78449 ($15 off $100, $30 off $150, $75 off $250, & $150 off $500 from Nov. 28 - Dec. 20, 2007)
Victoria's Secret Coupon Code: WARM25 (25% off Single Sweater from Nov. 28 - Dec. 1, 2007)
Warner Bros Coupon Code: HGFFWB (20% off from Nov 27 – Nov 30, 2007 )
WinkFlash Coupon Code: G3F8E7W4 (40% off from Nov 28 – Dec 15, 2007 )
Yankee Candle Just cick link for savings ($10 off $25 from Nov 27 - Dec. 22, 2007)
Zales Coupon Code: SAVE50FRIEND ($50 off $200 [works on 199.99] from Nov 28 & Nov 29, 2007 ) PRINTABLE INSTORE COUPON
Barnes & Noble (10% off on Nov 27 – Dec 3, 2007)
Bath and Bodyworks ($10 off $30 from Nov. 27 - Dec. 1, 2007)
BeBe Sport (25% off from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
BestBuy ($20 off $175 from Nov. 27 - Dec. 1, 2007)
Borders or Waldenbooks (20% off from Nov 27 – Dec 6, 2007)
Crazy8/Gymboree (20% off from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Foot Locker (30% up to $100 or 30% + 10% over $100 from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Champs (30% up to $100 or 30% + 10% over $100 from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
FootAction (30% up to $100 or 30% + 10% over $100 from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
Gordmans (20% off Single Item from Nov 27 – Dec 9, 2007)
Guess Factory Stores (30% off from Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2007)
H&M (25% off from Dec. 7 - Dec. 9, 2007)
J. Jill (25% off from Nov 27 – Dec 2, 2007)
JC Penny (20% off on Dec. 9, 2007)
Kirklands (25% off Single Item from Nov 27 – Dec 31, 2007)
The Limited ($30 off $100 from Nov 26 – Dec 2, 2007)
Limited Too (25% off from Nov 27 – Dec 9, 2007)
Linen & Things (20% off from Nov. 27 - Dec. 31, 2007)
Loehmanns (15% off Reduced Item & 20% off Clearance Item from Nov 27 – Dec 31, 2007)
Lord & Taylor (15% off from Nov. 9 - Dec. 24, 2007)Macy's (pdf)(20% off from Nov 28 – Dec 03, 2007)
New York & Company ($30 off $75 from Nov 27 – Dec 3, 2007)
Niketown, Nike Women, Nike Outlet - Front / Back 30% off 11/29 - 12/2 YMMV
oshKosh ($10 off $50 from Nov 26 – Dec 11, 2007)
Radio Shack (Various Deals Dec 1, 2007 from 7am - 9am)
Sharper Image ($10 off $100 from Nov 27 – Jan 31, 2008)
Staples (12% off from Dec. 2 - Dec. 8, 2007)
Ulta (20% off Single Item from Nov 27 – Dec 1, 2007)
Yankee Candle ($10 off $25 from Nov 27 - Dec. 22, 2007)

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Birthday and Ailing Christmas Tree

Happy Birthday to me! Little K may be more excited about it than me. Trust me, that's hard to believe. I love birthdays. I made it another year -- Yeah! And there's so much more to accomplish. For me, it's like a more positive, slightly more sober New Year's Day. Cheers!

Since I decided several years ago NOT to work on my birthday, I'll be running errands. Ugh! This morning, I went to a ribbon cutting for the local Chamber of Commerce and lined up an initial meeting with a prospective client. (Yes, that does actually count as work.) Just had lunch with a girlfriend, now I'm heading to a local boutique shop to drop off 12 copies of my book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids. Yeah! I have a few more errands to run for Christmas gifts, then I'll pick up Little K for some Mommy & Kylie time.

Tonight, we're staying home for fajitas. After the holiday weekend, I'd just rather stay home. We're also planning to go buy another artificial Christmas tree since my husband Trent plugged in our old tree that is pre-strung with lights, only to discover that half the lights don't even work. He was so frustrated that he immediately picked up the tree, took it outside and landed it in the trash can. My sister Colyn & I roared! We'll set up the NEW tree tonight and BOY, am I ready for the holidays. I love Christmas! Yes, we certainly have plenty to be thankful for! If only we could all capture the excitement seen through my daughter. I'll try.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gear Up for Thanksgiving

It's that time again. It may be hot & humid in Houston but everyone seems to be preparing for the Thankgiving feast. I just read this article "Hints From Heloise: How to handle everything at the holidays", published in the Dallas Morning News and thought I'd share it. Heloise does it again with tips on taking good holiday photos, preparing a turkey and enjoying it all.

Happy Turkey Holiday to you all!

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ordinary Moments Are Special


I take a lot of photos of our family. I love my digital camera & I love my collection of sunshine & smiles, petting zoos & adventures, new ideas & learned facial expressions. The challenge when I look through hundreds of photos is that I’m rarely pictured there with Little K and often her Daddy. I’m the one behind the scenes or in this case behind the camera. It’s important for someone to play that role but every once in a while you want to see yourself front & center. Notice that I say “you want to see yourself front & center.” I don’t think it really matters what others see.

I did share these thoughts with my husband on a recent trip to Galveston & he understood. Every now & then my hubby would grab the camera & take a few shots. There were some cute ones, no doubt, & I appreciated his effort.

Then, there was the snapshot. My favorite snapshot. Little K & I cuddled on the sofa, pretended that we were sleeping until we both giggled like the silly girls we are. No make up, just PJs. Our hair dos are a mess. And we’re wrapped up in the moment of holding each other & laughing together. The rest of the world could go on by itself. We were only focused on that moment.

Isn’t that how life with your children should be? So even when you’re usually the person behind the scenes, take in that moment & know that you are so important to your child. You make them feel whole & they do the same for you. Every moment counts – whether you’re experiencing an over-orchestrated play date or snuggle time on the sofa. That ordinary moment may actually be the exact moment you need to see. For me, just cuddling with my daughter feels like one of the greatest reasons I became a parent, no, a mommy.

Until the next nap time…

Monday, November 12, 2007

Turning A Tough Day Around

This morning, I got dressed quickly before Little K awoke, hoping I'd have "it all pulled together" before she awoke. Hmmm, I'm missing a rather important button on that blouse and don't think my client would appreciate the "Gweneth Paltrow" look as my husband called it. I tried removing a button from the very bottom of the shirt since that part would be tucked in. No luck finding the seam ripper. I resorted to scissors, a shisk-ka-bab skewer and finally a knife which sawed the threads of. I almost cut off my pinkie.

I quickly put some Egg Beaters on the stove and then sewed my button. What's that smell? Oh, my eggs burning. Then, my eggs burning on the stove top and running down the oven door.

So it's going to be one of those days, is it? I asked aloud.

I eat my burned eggs as my husband wipes up the stove... well, he sort of did. As I'm pouring Little K's milk, I hear her calling for me. I head upstairs to get her dressed for nursery school even though her nose is running and her voice is hoarse. Allergies?

As we're getting dressed, I realize my new button is actually much smaller than the ones above and below it. I really don't even care today. It's Monday.

As I rush through my day of client appointments and ignorant recent college grads that are sure they know more than Einstein (don't even ask them about me!), I remember one verse I recently saw:

"Every day offers a chance to choose either anger or understanding, bitterness or acceptance, darkness or light. And the choices we make reveal the stuff we're made of."

I like that. I'm heading to pick up Little K & then we'll go "eat some shrimpers" at my parents' house while my grandparents are still in town. After all, I don't think I need to attempt cooking again today.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Veterans Day Parade in Houston

I really think Veterans Day is an important holiday. My (maternal side) Grammy and PaPa Don both served as Marines in World War II. The stories they tell and the photos they share are moving. Whether or not one of your relatives is a veteran, there is a lot to learn and respect from these individuals. I hope you will show your children how to respect those currently serving in the military and those with previous service. How? Head to the Veterans Day Parade this weekend.

Veterans Day Parade & Ceremony Info: Sunday, November 11, 2007
11 am Ceremony, 500 Smith, Hermann Square at City Hall, Downtown Houston
Moment of Silence, In Memory of the Eleventh Hour, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Month Signing of the WWI Armistice

1:00 pm Flyover and Parade, Smith at Texas
Special Guests of Honor include: Vietnam Veterans of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Gold Star Mothers, Col. William Duncan

2:00 pm Houston Freedom Fest
Veterans Concert with Mass Choir and Orchestra, Military Equipment Displays, Wellness Booths - PTSD Emphasis, Grammy Award Winner Lee Greenwood, Texas A & M Singing Cadets, gospel artist Barbara Tucker, Words from Generals and Veterans

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lap Sit Story Time in November

Babies – ages 3 months to 24 months – and their caregivers will enjoy the November Lap Sit Story Time session at the West University Library. Each Wednesday – starting November 7 through November 28 – at 10:30 AM, we will sing songs, chant nursery rhymes, bounce and clap for about 20 minutes. Afterward, there will be playtime with the soft toys. That’s a good time to meet new people, visit and possibly set up play dates.

Call the West University Branch Library at 713 668-8273 for more information. The Library is located at 6108 Auden.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fun Fine Arts for Kids

Looking for a fun activity to do with your youngster in November and/or December? Check out the Creative Connections classes -- Creative classes that provide developmentally appropriate educational and Fun Fine Arts curriculum! Active, Artistic, Enriching and Educational! The finest in fine arts education!

Turkey Time Workshops by Creative Connections

Friday, November 16th.
10-11-St. John the Divine-Ages 1-3 with a parent

Saturday,November 17th.
3:30-4:30-Fundamentally music- PreK-Elementary

Rockin' Reindeer Workshops
Friday,December 14th.
10-11am-St.John the Divine-Ages 1-3 with a parent*
*An additional workshop can be added on Saturday.
Contact Casey if you are interested in a Saturday option!

Saturday, December 15th.
3:30-4:30-Fundamentally music-PreK-Elementary

Dance,Act,Play,Paint and more!
$20 per child. Sign up for both for workshops for $35
Advanced Registration and payment required 24 hours before event.

Mail payment to:
Casey Casteel
P.O. Box 37401Houston, Texas 77237-0401
Or pay onlline at http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001wr8ETkpccpHbeiex2Nj8-diQPhFYdrLonln3SeswFYKZp8BMDWANj0jofrbLZs9ITN2B1E9sloK1algWHyOY2Cs09xwCuaDG7llJjaxnO93xBwq0Nr1v5LDTxWVamASsBKARS_0P69pGcktGGhwqBQ==

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween with Great Grandmother


Today, we celebrated Halloween early with my Grandmother at the nursing home. I was pleasantly surprised at how the staff worked hard to bring very young children together with their grandparents and great grandparents. Little K loved the dancing and the treats (while we weeded out the candies with peanuts!). We enjoyed a cloudless day in the mid 70s and got some warm sunshine on our faces. Ahhhh.


My Grandmother carefully watched a couple of older men chatting and standing in the middle of the party. Then Grandmother leaned over to us and said, "Looks like they're running for office the way they're standing there." Ha! At 93, she still cracks me up!


If you're looking for some Halloween fun, check out the Children's Museum of Houston.


BASK IN OUR MONSTER MASH BASH!Creepy Creatures WonderWeek and Halloween Party; Open until 8 p.m. on Oct. 31!


Discover what lurks in the dark during our Halloween Creepy Creatures Wonder Week, now through October 31. Dare to trick-or-treat through the haunting hallways of our spine-tingling Mansion each day, plus check out these thrilling activities!


Bat-Mobile: Fly this menacing creature and learn why it’s simply misunderstood!


Spider Web Head: This itsy bitsy spider won’t crawl up the water spout... but up your head to be worn as a hat!


Frankenbugs: Go mad in our Witchy Workshop building a creature whose eyes flash only when its antenna moves!


Creepy Crawly Prints: Celebrate all things creepy and crawly by creating prints of ghostly images of nocturnal creatures on Ultra Violet sensitive paper!


Slimy Grimy: Experiment with mixtures to create the grossest Slime Recipe.


Howl at the moon while you bask in our Monster Mash Bash—Houston’s ultimate Halloween party for kids, on October 31 when we’ll remain open until 8 p.m.!


Grimace and Hamburglar Special Appearances: October 27, 1 – 3 p.m.; October 28, Noon – 1 p.m.; and October 31, 3 – 5 p.m.


Singer-Guitarist Leah White: Monsters creeping on the stage will join this popular children's artist as she performs some of her popular tunes. October 27: 2 p.m.


Mad Science Lab: Chemists from the American Chemical Society will celebrate National Chemistry Week with a Halloween twist. October 27: 1 – 3 p.m.


Ronald McDonald® Magic Show: Be shocked when you get taunted as you try to decipher “just how did he do that?” in this enchanting performance.October 27, 4 p.m.; October 28, 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.; and October 31, 5:30 p.m.


DJ Beetlejuice: Let the ghoul times roll as you dance to the hauntingly hip tunes of DJ Beetlejuice. Be sure to come dressed in your most boo-tiful or frightfully freaky costume!October 27, noon – 2 p.m.; October 28, 1 – 3 p.m.; October 31, 3 – 8 p.m.


Halloween Costume Contest: Come show off your Halloween costume on Halloween night! Each participant will receive a certificate and a prize. Winners will receive special prizes! October 31, Registration: 5 - 6:30 p.m.; Contest: 7 p.m.


Have a great time whereever you are! Until the next nap time

Friday, October 26, 2007

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

PaPa sent this to me & I couldn't resist sharing it with all the parents out there. Happy Fall!

YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING (Written by a former child)
A message every adult should read, because children are watching you and doing as you do, not as you say.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking , I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, 'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'

LITTLE EYES SEE A LOT! Each of us (parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher or friend) influence the life of a child. How will you touch the life of someone today?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pumpkin Pickin'


Today, we went to DiOrio Farm -- a fruit & vegetable market -- in Navasota, TX. to pick out our pumpkins. Cousin Brent came along to help us find just the right one. He also helped in tickling. Say "Cheese!"

Friday, October 19, 2007

Skin the Rabbit

As a kid, whenever my mom helped me take off my shirt to get re-dressed, she'd say "Skin the Rabbit" and pull off my shirt. A few months ago, my Uncle Sean asked if I do that with Little K since Uncle Sean does that with his own daughter. Then, we talked about how groce the meaning of those words are.

To make matters worse (or more comical), Little K now enjoys picking which animal will be "skinned" that day. This morning, it was indeed a rabbit. Last night, it was the monkey, Curious George. Ewwww.

What do you say to get your kids undressed?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cookie Starts with C



Since my husband had to work most of Saturday (boo!) & then conquering chores in the backyard, Little K and I found ourselves quite busy indoors. We both donned our aprons and made chocolate chip & pecan cookies for some friends. I have quite the helper. Not only can she cook but Little K makes an excellent TASTER!




It was a fun mommy & child activity. If only we had not shipped all those cookies off to our friends!




Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Trials of the Pacifier Princess


So yesterday, I was trying to get Little K dressed for nursery school. With her wet diaper off, she pranced around on her bed while I tried to find the leg holes in her clean Princess Pull-up.


Suddenly, Little K announces, "Uh, oh. I dropped my paci." My 2.5 year old's pacifier had fallen between the wall & her bed, promptly to the floor under the bed. (Yes, I realize that a 2.5 year old shouldn't have a pacifier any more but I'm choosing my battles these days. I promise she won't go to college with a pacifier.)


The next thing I know Little K has jumped off her bed & crawled under the bed to reach for the missing paci. When I looked down to see her, all I could find was a bare bottom! I laughed so hard & then she laughed too. I sprinted for my camera but upon my return to her room, the rump was gone -- replaced by a smiling girl with her pacifiers. Lucily for you, you're not being mooned by Little K right now.


Until the next nap time...

Fun Links for Moms

Here's a link to a hillarious performance by a mom singing her own rendition of the William Tell Overture, including the numerous expressions of moms in a day. It cracks me up.
http://wayne.harlows.us/video/Moms_William_Tell_Overture.wmv

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to share a clever site to help remind you of self examines. The site borrows credible information from the Susan G. Komen Foundation & delivers the info in a fun way.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Technological Advancements Surprise Me -- & Ramona Quimby Returns

Last night, I was fixing dinner while my daughter watched a "Dora the Explorer" video. Since my husband called me to say he'd be home late from work, I had to cancel my plans for the neighborhood Moms' Night Out. Boo! Any how, I'm baking the turkey breast & fixing the vegetables when I glance to the TV. I've heard this video numerous times as it played in our car's DVD player on road trips to the ranch or beach. Amazingly, I'd never SEEN the video but could recite parts of it by heart.

Oh. That's what Dora & Boots are doing. I had it pictured entirely different.

How funny our worlds are with technological advancements!

Here's a great activity for families with children 5 years & older. Hope you all can check it out. We're still a bit young. However, I remember in first grade loving Ramona Quimby books.

"Ramona Quimby" is now playing at the Main Street Theater.
Overview: When her father loses her job, Ramona Quimby learns that being grown up is hard work. But, as her sister Beezus says, “being a kid and trying to become a grown up is even harder.” For more then 30 years, kids of all ages have delighted in the hilarious antics of Ramona and the Klickitat street gang in Beverly Cleary's beloved Newbery Honor book series.

Location: Main Street Theater - Chelsea Market 4617 Montrose Blvd.
Dates: Public Performances Friday, October 12 at 7 pm
Saturdays at 1 pm and 4 pm October 13, 20, 27 and November 3 and 10, 2007

School Groups
Monday - Friday October 2 – November 9, 2007 9:30 am, 11 am and 12:30 pm

Recommended for Kindergarten (5 years) and up
Children under the age of 3 not allowed in the theater
Visit http://www.mainstreettheater.com/youththeater/ramona.html for more info or to purchase tickets.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Venting About Family

Loads of people vent about their families but not quite in this way.

Last Friday night, we ate dinner at a neighbor's house and a third family joined us. We began chatting about the growth & revitalization of our neighborhood as well as the new homes going up. Then, one girlfriend said that another neighborhood (I'll call him Ron because that's his name!) said this lot down the street from me was going up for sale soon.

"Which one," I asked.

"Oh, it's your Grandmother's lot," the gal said.

"Uh, no. It's not going up for sale," I said.

The conversation quickly moved on to other people's lots.

My Grandmother's lot isn't going up for sale because she's still alive! It seems that some people are watching time pass by in hopes of getting their hands on her property. Hey, Ron. Bug off! Where the heck is your grandmother living these days? Sorry. That was ugly. But this is not the first time he's asked when she's "moving on" or "how's her health?"

I'm appalled by the lack of respect for the elderly & the inconsiderate nature of strangers. I doubt our dining friend even realized she had hurt my feelings but this is my family you're talking about. I relish the fact that I am surrounded literally by family members in Houston. Family means so much to me. And the woman who held me in some of the most troubling times deserves more respect than that. Puts a new spin on "venting about your family," huh?

Until the next nap time...

Fall Fun in Houston's October

Fall is coming. I'm reminded every time I look at all the leaves in my pool. If you'd rather have fun than help clean out my pool, there are loads of fun things happening in Houston this October.
Cornelius Nurseries Fall Harvest Festival will be held Saturday, October 6 and is an enjoyable way to pick up some fall d├ęcor for your house and yard, while your youngsters decorate their very own pumpkins. This low-stress activity is perfect as a come and go event, encouraging people to get in the mood for fall. Bring your camera for plenty of photo opportunities with scarecrows, pumpkins and haystacks. Little K loved it last year & so did her parents.

If you like speed and strength, get ready for the Wings Over Houston Airshow, October 6-7 at Ellington Field. Flight enthusiasts revel in the daredevil acts and military prowess on display here. Welcome the Canadian Forces Snowbirds as they delight audiences with their seven- and nine-plane close formations, tight turns and head-on passes. Hold your breath as the Air National Guard F-16s haul it above your head with extreme force. From skydivers to World War II fighting planes, this show provides an amazing history lesson in a thrilling environment.

Dewberry Farm in Brookshire has an amazing 12-acre pumpkin patch so your little helpers can pick out their own pumpkins. Then tackle the huge slides, hay stacks and more. A new feature this year is the Pumpkin Light Parade. This nighttime hayride through Halloween Hollow will thrill both kids and adults as popular cartoon characters, movie stars and other critters come to life in a spectacular display of more than 300 carved pumpkins. Mark your calendar for a Saturday night at Dewberry Farm.

If it's still too hot for you outside, here's another option. Starting in October, the Health Museum welcomes Sesame Street Presents: The Body, a kid-friendly way to explore how the body works. Tackle fitness with Grover’s obstacle course or irritate a giant nose to see how a sneeze occurs. This traveling exhibit combines music, dance, physical adventures and more to teach how people’s (and lovable Sesame Street characters’) bodies work. Before the holidays are upon us, learn how to keep your body healthy at this hands-on exhibition. Check out the traveling exhibitions section of the Web site at http://www.mhms.org/.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, October 01, 2007

What's in a Name?

First, congratulations to Shannon W on the birth of her second child - a girl. Yeah! Also, thanks for the prompting to blog away.

I laughed several years ago when a friend of my mom's proudly announced that he had purchased the URLs of his kids' first names. (Think http://www.megan.com/ or http://www.yourfirstname.com/). This very proud father of two adult children was paying annual fees to reserve the rights to those URLs just in case his kids ever wanted to use them. It seemed like a waste of money to me.

Flash forward to last week when I'm curious about the URL for my own daughter. Have you ever searched for the Web site of your child's first name? Little K has a somewhat unique name. It's not popular like Jennifer or Amy. Maybe I could reserve the URL for her. After I carefully type the URL into the browser, I hold my breath as a lot of Flash animation appears. It's an online portfolio for a former pop singer who also apparently did/does some acting and modeling. Okay, you're thinking, it seems pretty harmless.

(If you know my daughter's name, you really should check out the URL.) The photos are a little more revealing than I'd like associated with my daughter. Maybe I should try to buy the URL from the current owner. Ugh. I felt disappointed... until I realized how crazy I was being. I actually was falling for that trap.

What's in a name? For me, when I hear Little K's name, it brings a proud smile to my face because her name translates to an amazing young girl with an independent spirit. In the end, I don't really care what the URL says. I know my girl. But I had to laugh at my reaction as a mother. Who'd have thought 10 years ago when I was first conquering email that I'd be doing this stuff? What funny creatures we are!

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kids' Effect on Parents

So I'm strolling through the sunny streets of downtown Houston, heading to the parking garage. I'm in a cheerful mood because I'm leaving a calm day at one of my clients' offices. It's almost Friday & the weather is gorgeous.

I'm navigating the Walk, Don't Walk signs and hear several cars honking loudly at someone or other across the intersection. I look to make sure it's not me & luckily it's not.

"HONK!" I blurt out in my chipper mood.

Oh my gosh. Did I really just scream that?
Everyone is looking at me, thinking: "Well, she looks relatively normal but obviously something is wrong with that poor woman."

Remember parents: just because you can act like a fool with your child, yell "Honk!"back at cars & then laugh DOES NOT MEAN OTHER ADULTS GET IT. THEY DON'T REALIZE IT'S FUNNY!

If I ever hear an adult "honk" at someone else, I'll happily smile at them, tell them I get it & then "Honk" at them. Oh, it's another way that I'm being trained by my 2 year old.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall Fun & Another Family Fave Restaurant

If you're looking for fun fall activities, be sure to check out "Fall into Fun" in The Buzz Magazine's latest issue. In this article, I share a bunch of exciting adventures to help your family explore autumn in Houston. Enjoy!

And if you're searching for a new kid-friendly restaurant, my friend Lesley reminded me of a great spot. There are a few Barnaby's restaurants in Houston. I love the Petaluma salad! Yummy! (I don't want to know how many calories are packed into a "salad".) Like Lesley, I like the decor and the fact that Little K can chat in her regular voice without distracting any of the other patrons. The kids' menu is great with the biggest corn dog I've ever seen as well as mac 'n cheese, etc. Be sure to leave room for their delicious desserts like brownies & fresh baked cookies. Don't have room for dessert? Just grab a free candy on your way out.

As a mom, I especially like to hear Lesley's review of Barnaby's & what she liked best:
"We went to Barnaby's for take out and while we were waiting, a waiter brought Iain a package of crayons and a coloring sheet. He smiled so big! There is so much cool stuff painted on the walls and ceiling for him look at but the best part is that they take the time to pay attention to what is most important to me as a Mom...my little one's happiness. Next time we will be dining in! It is definitely on the top of our list of 'Iain Friendly Restaurants'."

Thanks, Lesley, for sharing another great eaterie with our Houston parents! Let me know your favorite restaurants (that aren't included in my book already) & you'll be registered to win a Houston Texans football just in time for a great season! Hope to hear from you.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Independence Strikes Again

"Be careful what you pray for. You just might get it." You've likely heard that expression & I'm living proof. Well, actually my daughter is living proof.

On Sunday, we went to church and attended the 10 am children's mass. I've always loved to see the kids get so excited about putting their tithe in the big basket on the altar at the designated time. My 2.5 year old daughter is no different. She carefully walked up to the altar, dropped the envelope in and then looked around... for quite awhile. When I could actually feel heat perculating on my neck from the glares I was getting, I stooped into the aisle & motioned for Little K to return to our church pew in the back of the church. (It can provide a quick escape which is sometimes necessary.)

Finally, I began to creep up the aisle but Little K was not interested in my motioning. In fact, it was time for the rest of mass to continue but this little girl just stood at the steps of the altar, enjoying her good view. Whoosh! The next thing I know my husband sprints to the front of the church and picks up Little K, who cried and reached out to our pastor. I turned beet red. The pastor, on the other hand, kindly waved good-bye to my strong-willed daughter who was carried out of church.

After a brief time when I could gather myself together & the snickers from fellow church goers had subsided, the mass continued. You haven't heard the best part though.

At the conclusion of mass, I held my daughter who said she just wanted to hug Father Clint. The pastor stood up and mentioned that little girl who had stood at the foot of the altar. People turned to look at me, my husband & my daughter. My temperature was rising again. Father Clint said sweetly that we should all be so eager to bring forth our gift and stand before God. My eyes welled with tears because I knew he was right.

After our pastor walked down the aisle to finish mass, Little K tore away from me & ran right into his arms. It was truly a moving sight.

Several people jeered our family after mass & I told them my real feelings. As parents, we are supposed to teach our child about God and appropriate behavior. I also know that when I was pregnant with Little K, I prayed that God would give me an independent child. When she grew into middle school & high school years, her independence would help her not be swayed by peer pressure, I thought. And of course, God listened. I just didn't realize that God can make our little ones independent from day one.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, September 14, 2007

10 Proven Strategies For Strengthening Your Family!

Is the quality of family life important to you? According to a recent Harris poll, the majority of working men and women place the highest value on a work schedule providing plenty of time for family. We sure don't need to look very far to discover the challenges families are facing today. The good news is there are quick and easy ways to strengthen your family and promote each other's personal growth.

Here are 10 positive key strategies that you can use today to improve and strengthen your family now... and for years to come.

1. Make Family Your First Priority. Strong families spend lots of quality time together. We've all heard the well-known quote, "How do kids spell love? T-I-M-E!" Strong families spend lots of positive time working on family projects and playing together. And they enjoy being together too.

2. Appreciate One Other. Strong families appreciate each other's unique qualities and contributions and express their feelings openly. Make a commitment to compliment each other at least once each day.

3. Foster Communication. Strong families listen to each other, respect each other's opinions, and avoid interrupting. One of the most valuable ways to foster communication is by having at least one meal together each day. During the meal, make it a point to engage everyone on their daily experiences, discoveries, challenges and goals.

4. Strengthen Commitment. Strong families work together to solve their problems. They may not always agree, but they are willing and able to bring things out into the open and to talk about them.

5. Create Traditions. Strong families stay connected -- another reason for having at least one meal together each day. Also, give your children the gift of friendship with their cousins, aunts and uncles by keeping in touch regularly. You'll be giving them happy memories and friendships to last a lifetime.

6. Set Rules and Expectations. Strong families set and put into practice clear guidelines and limitations. Family members take responsibility for their actions.

7. Support Each Other. Strong families support one another during challenging times. When family members feel valued by one another, they know they have someone they can turn to for support.

8. Identify Your Family's Strengths. Have each family member write down something he/she likes about each family member (animals included!) Put them up on a bulletin board or refrigerator magnets for everyone to see.

9. Set Achievable Family Goals. Setting and achieving family goals, even if they are small, cultivates success and creates unity. Set goals together whether it's saving for a family trip, a car or a new home. The ideas are endless.

10. Strong Families Love Unconditionally. Strong families love with unconditional acceptance that builds strong heart and faith connections.

Special thanks to the Rockwell Team in Ohio for sharing these great tips that are helpful no matter where you live.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's in the Genes

I know my daughter is related to my mom.

Well, of course she is, you're probably thinking. Besides that direct connection between my daughter & her Grandmother called Mommy, there are other clues... typically humorous ones. Like yesterday, when I walked into Little K's bedroom to put her to bed for the evening. I couldn't help but notice that my daughter had added a bit of artistic flair to her room by rearranging the furniture.

"I moved my table and chairs, Mommy," Little K proudly announced.

Yes, yes you did.

Did I mention that her Grandmother is an interior designer? Did I mention that when bored, my mom rearranges the furniture, which causes quite a raucous act when my dad walks through the house half a sleep at night? Well, my mom also changes her hair color when she's bored. Help me to control myself if Little K colors her hair with anything. I'm telling you, it's in the genes.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Anniversary


This is a picture of my daughter, Little K, two & a half years ago. She was just four days old in this photo. Like most parents, I was so proud to bring her home. Little K had made a detour to the Infant ICU so I was very glad to bring her home.

On the anniversary of 9/11, I've struggled to blog. My husband called this morning to tell me to tune into the radio station 96.5 for his surprise interview. Trent gave an emotional reply to the DJ's question: "Is 9/11 just another date on the calendar now?" As my husband drove down Westheimer and looked up at Williams Tower on this sunny morning, he recalled (for a lot of listeners, I'll add) his memories but more importantly his strong desire to teach our own daughter about the victims of 9/11 as well as those brave men & women who have sacrificed their lives in hopes of preventing another tragedy.

As Little K & I listened to my husband's tearful interview, my own eyes welled with tears. My 2.5 year old couldn't grasp the gravity of the discussion. In response, I simply knelt down beside her, hugged & kissed her, & told her that her parents love her so much. She cheerfully walked away to find another toy as I recalled my own experience on 9/11/01 & how I couldn't even forecast the joy I'd have as a parent today.

Thank you to all the survivors & soldiers who have fought to enable my parenthood. Thank you one and all.

How are you explaining the anniversary of 9/11 to your children? Or are you?

Until the next nap time...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering the Home Within the House

I've been thinking a lot about the theme for our Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. It's "The Home Factor: begin here… go there."

When you think of home, you may think of the outside of a particular building – perhaps of the home you grew up in or maybe the house you now live in. Then, if you're like me, your mind quickly follows the deeper meaning of "home". It’s the people in your family, their interests, their coloring pages on the refrigerator & fingerprints -- BIG & small spread throughout your house.

Your home is where you’re comfortable, where you are your true self. Home is where we nestle our kids into bed & help them pray, leading by example. But it’s also where we parents pray about our own struggles, vulnerabilities & deepest hopes. As moms, we see ourselves & our homes in a unique way. A lot of times we burden ourselves with so many concerns about our family members & household chores. We become so worried about our household chores that we forget the deeper meaning of HOME. Then when we walk out the door of our homes, we feel like we must be pulled together, perfect for everyone else to see... without flaws & anxieties.

I do it to myself but I wouldn't judge another parent for showing up to a meeting or nursery school with or without make-up on, frazzled and hormonal. (Yes, I have not forgotten those days just after child birth.) If you haven't found a parenting group near you, I suggest you look for one. If you work outside the home, there are many groups that meet in the evening & provide child care. For stay at home parents, there are also plenty of day-time groups.

Go just as you are & you’ll gain wonderful friendships and support from parents similar to you. You'll also be relieved when other parents echo your sentiments in child-rearing. It's just a wonderful support group & a place to call home without the laundry to complete. My MOPS group has also allowed me to see the best parts of my house... my family that makes a home.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Groovy Baby!

I haven't checked this out yet, but here's a fun family activity that is now in Houston!

Baby Loves Disco transforms Houston's hottest club into a child-proof disco as children (6 months to 7 years) and parents looking for a break from the routine playground circuit let loose for an afternoon dance party featuring real music spun by real DJs blending classic disco. Plus, families will find bubble machines, a chill-out area, diaper changing stations, a full spread of healthy snacks AND optional cocktails for non-driving parents. Saturday afternoon is the new Saturday night.

Purchase tickets at http://www.babylovesdisco.com/. Check it out September 29* & October 27 from 2-5 pm at Rich's Houston located in midtown at 2401 San Jacinto Street. Tickets are $12 for all walking humans (non-walkers free!).
*BLD USA Dance Contest - Best Little Dancer in America Contest!

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blessings of Children & Godchildren




For those of you wondering why I haven't been blogging, I apologize. I'm not a slacker. Work has been super busy & we just returned from a short trip to Denver to see good friends and (of special note) my Godson and my new Goddaughter. Besides the wonderful lack of humidity in Denver, I've been thinking of some of the things I've taken away from the trip.

- Children never cease to amaze me. They come in all shapes, sizes & personalities, yet they're all so adaptable.

- Kids really just need family members who love them. With two of my Godchildren being adopted, it's awesome to see how well they acclimate to new families & never miss a beat. When a child falls down, he/she cries for Mommy & Daddy without any concern about where they technically came from or who their biological parents are.

- Almost every parent truly tries to raise their children the best way they know how. We all make different decisions but tackle family life with quite similar goals.

- Lastly, I think my own daughter could just feel my love for my Godchildren & so she wants to love them too. Again, children never cease to amaze me. I hope you are equally blessed with your own children & Godchildren.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Enriching Fine Arts Classes

I just found out about a new organization called Creative Connections. After many years of teaching as a fine arts and classroom teacher, this lady has taken her plans and class ideas and transformed them into her own classes and company.

There are two studio hosts: Fundamentally Music Studios(2 locations) and Synchronized kneads pilates studio

Classes will be offered in:
  • Parent and child music and movement,
  • Creative Movement,
  • Dance,
  • Drama and
  • Visual Art
Age ranges: Newborn-Fifth grade
Locations include: Bellaire, Upper Kirby, Woodway at Augusta

Want to try out the classes without any obligation? FREE demos of these classes are running:
Monday, August 20 & 27 at Synchronized kneads pilates studio
Tuesday, August 21 & 28, plus Sept. 4 at the Kirby Fundamentally Music studio
Wednesday, August 22 & 29, plus Sept. 5 at the Belllaire Fundamentally Music studio

This is a great time to try out the classes with no obligation. Check out these in educational, FUN and enriching fine arts classes.

Until the next nap time...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fresh Fruit & Veges Galore at Farmers Market


Despite the heat, we headed to Farmers Market this morning. I've struggled the last few weeks to get good apples. We prefer the really crisp ones. If my husband bites into an apple & it's soft, he immediately throws the whole apple away. In my mind, I really need the crisp apples & two local grocers could not answer my call.

Farmers Market to the rescue. For $15, we loaded up on lots of fresh fruits and veges. (We go through at least 6 oranges & apples every day.) Little K was delighted when the vendors cut her a fresh slice of watermelon at no charge. My sister Colyn seemed to keep Little K charged by handing her juicy mini-tomatoes, strawberries & grapes. It made lunch super easy.

Head out early to Farmers Market to beat the heat. Strollers are welcome. Kids young & old will enjoy.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I'm so excited about this weekend. We have very little planned so I've put relaxation on the agenda. (Hopefully, that will allow me to get over the lovely sore throat that I'm now battling.) If you're looking for fun this weekend, I suggest heading to an Astros game.

This Saturday, the Astros play against the Milwaukee Brewers at 6:05 pm at Minute Maid Park. What's more is that the Astros are hosting Faith and Family Night, which will include a life testimony by first baseman Lance Berkman, a one-hour concert by Christian musician Jeremy Camp, an appearance by the Vege Tales. It's sure to be a fun-filled day at Minute Maid Park.

On Sunday, at 1:05 pm, we'll be enjoying the Astros game. Not only am I a HUGE Astros fan, but his game will celebrate second baseman Craig Biggio's outstanding career and his 3,000 hits record. Take me out to the ballgame.

On another note, if you're looking for some tips on how to avoid overspending during back to school time, check out this "Back to School Savings Strategy." I found it really helpful.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sisters Day & National Night Out

So I'm running a bit behind schedule today but I'm still running.

Today is Sisters Day. I still haven't had a chance to email a simple eCard to my one & only sister Colyn but since she's on her way over to my house now, I suppose I can wish her a great Sisters Day in person. I am, by the way, going to be feeding her, too. Why?

This evening also marks National Neighbors Night Out, which is a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors so that you can count on them in a pinch. If you don't know about a gathering in your neck of the woods, don't let that stop you. Put some hot dogs or burgers on the grill & invite your neighbors to join you. We're hosting our party from 6:30-8 pm because a little one in our house needs to be bed by 7:30 pm. We'll push our luck again tonight. Really though, this is a great way to encourage the true spirit of community. Reach out, if you can.

Enjoy! Until the next nap time...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

Being a parent can be really stressful at times. Sometimes, the more you read, the more confused you get on which advice to follow. That's why I like Jon Gordon's simple advice on being positive, energetic & enthusiastic in his new book The Energy Bus. I won't mislead you by saying that I have his tips down pat but I reach for his book almost daily for regular reminders. (Page 108 is a great motivator.)

To deal with stress, Jon suggests realizing & saying "I'm too blessed to be stressed." It sounds silly & overly simplified but it does put the focus of living on great things. In a recent seminar, Jon asked us if we wake in the morning saying "Good God, it's morning" or "Good morning, God"? From the start of your day, realizing that each of us is so blessed turns your focal point in a positive direction. Why does "I'm too blessed to be stressed" work? According to Jon: "The reason why this simple, powerful saying works so well is because it is physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. It's the way our brains are wired. When we focus on gratitude and blessings we can't be focusing on the stresses in our life. Instead of flooding our body and brains with stress hormones that age and drain us, we fuel our mind and body with emotions that make us feel great and help us overcome the daily challenges that so often sabotage our joy and happiness."

So the next time you are stressing about picking up the kids from school, preparing dinner, accomplishing everything on your to do list at home or office or both, just stop. Breathe in and think of 5 things you're blessed with: kids, spouse, a job, your health & the opportunity to tackle life in yet another day. You'll be amazed at how your children will respond. I certainly have.

Until the next nap time...