Monday, March 31, 2008

Bluebonnets in Bloom

We had a great weekend filled with birthday parties and R&R. Kangaroo Kids proved to be a good choice. The inflatables were new and clean. The employees were quite helpful. Some of the guests noticed a strange odor at the end of the party. (I seriously thought someone needed a new diaper.) My husband said he thinks a sewer pipe broke. Any ways, I'm sure that will be corrected so check out Kangaroo Kids off Hwy 290 and Tidwell, behind the Party City, for free play or a party of your own.

After school today, Little K and I checked out the bluebonnets. There is a great field full of the Texas state flower. Just head to Loop 610 north and exit TC Jester East. You can park in the Boy Scouts parking lot and just walk across to the bluebonnets. It's beautiful. Spring is here. Yeah!

Until the next nap time...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hannah Montana's Impression

What's your impression of Hannah Montana? A better question is: what's your child's impression of Hannah Montana? My thoughts?

I just read an interesting article on the marketing behind Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. The You Tube clip of Miley and her friend Mandy was like a flashback to middle school. Jumping on beds, dancing, singing and hugging your girlfriends. The friendships are genuine and straight-forward. It's a great reminder to adults that true friendships don't have to be complicated. While the You Tube clip is a bit long for my tastes, it was a good peak into the lives of tweens. Like the article's author, I appreciate the fact that Hannah & Miley are not rebellious, negative characters. Despite her success, Hannah/Miley has remained a good, positive role model for young girls. THANK YOU. Of special note is the fact that this You Tube clip is of Miley recent trip to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Cool, huh?

I still haven't gotten over the irreverent attitude of the kids on "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" that plays on the Disney channel. Good grief. It's a bunch of rich kids who boss around the adults and haven't a clue about how to earn a dollar. Luckily, my daughter didn't instantly like the show, so I've found other things to do when that (albeit popular) show is on. The actors in this show may be good, wholesome people. I don't know. I just wish they'd play stronger characters. Take a tip from Miley Cyrus.

Now I've got to buckle my seat belt and prepare for the ride. (smile) Whether or not I like the girlie screams and dance moves of Miley Cyrus, Little K will like enjoy them. At least Miley is a role model whom I can live with.

Until the next nap time...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Busy Month of March

For some reason, the spring is always a busy time of year. March is just flown by. From friends' birthday parties to Rodeo to ranch trips and Easter, we've had a busy month. I flipped through some of my photos from March and was surprised at how much we've done. (I think this photo of my mom and Little K decorating Easter eggs is pretty cute.) And hey, we still have one more weekend in March to do a bit more.

I spoke to a girlfriend this morning who was cracking up because her first grader decided to shave half of her eyebrow off. Apparently, once she started shaving her brow, she went into shock because my friend found her razor mysteriously on the bathroom floor. Her daughter didn't mention anything but her "new look" was quite apparent. The dad didn't find it so humorous and is worried that her eyebrow won't grow back. I think it's hillarious... with someone else's kid. Oh the things we have to look forward to.

Until the next nap time...

Farmers' Market Kids' Day

WHAT: Urban Harvest's Bayou City Farmers' Market will hold its third annual Kids' Market Day on Saturday, March 29, 2008. Kids' Market Day offers children of all ages the opportunity to see where their food really comes from. Kids participating in school gardening programs will bring their produce to sell at the farmers' market. Vendors will bring animals and equipment from their farms to show kids what farming is really like. Kid-friendly activities will include seed planting, face painting, and egg dyeing using natural colors. Live music and a cooking demonstration will also be featured.

The Bayou City Farmers' Market is a project of Urban Harvest. URBAN HARVEST is a nonprofit organization that helps build communities from the ground up by promoting sustainable land use and horticultural practices to grow food and reduce hunger. Its farmers' market project helps educate the public about the benefits of eating local produce in season and provides the local agricultural community with a direct outlet for their products.

For more information, visit our website The Bayou City Farmers' Market provides a venue for over thirty local vendors to sell their products directly to the public. The offerings include vegetables, fruits, pastured eggs, goats' milk cheeses, grass-fed beef and lamb, honey and beeswax products, fair trade organic coffee, prepared foods and baked goods, healthy snacks, fresh flowers, fresh herbs, pastured chicken, and more.

WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 2008, 8 am to noon

Japan Festival in Houston: April 5-6

This annual event in Hermann Park's beautiful Japanese Garden draws more than 20,000 people. The Japan Festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Japan with two stages showcasing music, traditional and folk dance and martial arts, as well as demonstrations of ebana flower arrangement, tea ceremony, origami and bonsai.

Revel in the rich cultural heritage of Japan by celebrating all things Japanese at the 15th Annual Houston Japan Festival. Once a year, Houstonians enjoy this spectacular event at Hermann Park that transforms the Japanese Garden and surrounding area into an authentic Japanese village. The Japan Festival commemorates the rich legacy of Japan with a mixture of food, crafts and entertainment - including Japanese art, music, dance, technology and martial arts.

Two of Japan's premiere music traditions will be featured -- the spiritually healing music of Taisho-Koto and Tsugaru Shamisen, a genre of folk music that derives its name from the quaint three-stringed redwood lute that gives it a unique sound. Three accomplished shamisen players will perform Tsugaru Shamisen. The Taisho-Koto concerts will feature Wakanakai, a noted group from Houston's sister city of Chiba, Japan. The theme of this year's Festival is Japan: The Past, Present and Future.

Admission is free.
Saturday, April 5 through Sunday, April 6 10 am - 6 pm
Japanese Garden in Hermann Park at 6201 A Golf Course Drive> Houston, TX 77030
Fannin St. & Sunset Blvd. (nearest intersection)
Easy access from the Metro stop "HermannPark/RiceU"
Phone: 713.963.0121
URL: <>

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Slow Dance

As some of you know, I've been going through a series of tests to figure out what's wrong with me. That's about as simple as I can put it. MRIs, vision tests and a future EKG are showing nothing physical, which is fantastic. The difficult part is dealing with what's wrong: my outlook on things. As a type A perfectionist, it's tough to be a working mom. Everything is just not going to be perfect so I'm pushing myself to learn to let go a bit and enjoy life. You're likely thinking Boy, tough life. Enjoy life more? The truth is: I've grown up thinking that the more productive I am, the better I am as a person. The more achievements & the more tasks I check off my to do list, the better off.

What a rude awakening I've had! I suppose I shouldn't say "rude" because, while challenging, it's refreshing. I share these thoughts because most moms I talk to say they don't make time for themselves and that's also been a part of my problem. But here's a thought: there's a reason why during a change in cabin pressure on an airplane, you're instructed to first put the oxygen mask on yourself, and then your child. If you don't take care of yourself first, you'll have nothing left to give your loved ones. If you hurry through life checking off your To Do list, you might not see the blessings right in front of you.

I just finished an amazing book called The 4-Hour Work Week and wanted to share the following poem found on page 284 called "Slow Dance":

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?

When you ask: How are you?
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
do you lie in bed

With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time
To call and say "Hi"?

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower.

Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Hope this poem has inspired you, too. Enjoy your day. Until the next nap time...

Kangaroo Kids on the Review List

We had a wonderful Easter break & hope you all did, too. This weekend we'll be checking out Kangaroo Kids, an inflatable party room like Pump It Up. We've visited it about a month ago when it first opened and liked it. this time, we're going to give its entertainment offerings a try. I'll post a review next week.

If you are curious about any new venues for kids, please email me to let me know which place you're curious about. Thanks.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fun Kids Activities in Central Houston

Here are some fun ideas of things to do with kids in Houston for FREE. These tips came from the West University MOPS group. Thank you for sharing your ideas!

"The Cookie Jar Bakery on Westheimer. Here is their website Sadly, they have cut back on their hours and are no longer open on Sundays. This placed saved me during the summer months when it was too hot to do anything outside. They had a story time and then did an art project and decorated one cookie for free. They also had themed classes for $10 or $15. One was dinosaurs, another trains and back to school. Sophia really loved it and this place was very kid friendly. It had a train table and a children's table and chalk to keep the children entertained while you had your coffee. I just called and they said they no longer have the classes but if you have a small group of children they still do cookie decorating. You will just need to call ahead of time.

"Another free and fun activity that has not gone away is the Kroger here on Westpark and Buffalo Speedway. At any time you can get a free balloon in the floral dept. and a free cookie for your child at the bakery but on Saturdays from 3-5 there is a guy who comes in and plays music - right inside of the store next to the Starbucks - Sophia and I dance/watch and my husband shops. On Sundays - at the same time (I think, you might have to call and check to make sure) there is a clown who does balloon animals and face painting. All for free, although they do accept tips. It is not always the same clown so if you are thinking of hiring a clown for a birthday party this is a good way to see them work.

"Last free indoor activity I know of is the piano man at Nordstroms. Free balloon in the shoe department on the third floor and free music on the first floor next to the woman's shoe department. If he sees you have a child he will start playing children's music and you can stay as long as you like."

Thanks again for these great tips, especially during Spring Break and as summer approaches. I hope everyone has a family-filled, restful Easter holiday. Many blessings to you & yours.

Until the next nap time...

Easter Prep

Yesterday afternoon, we went to Northwest Mall for our annual photo with the Easter Bunny. No lines at all, but the least expensive photo package was $20 for four photos. At least that then enabled me to take photos with my own camera. Ta da!

Last night, we made Easter cookies (yep, that's on my diet!) and had a ball. We're really looking forward to the Easter break.

Enjoy your Easter holiday. We are all lucky indeed. Until the next nap time...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Animal Lover

I'm a sucker for animals.

How is it that a cat that I've known for less than 24 hours can get me to sob? Well, I took the kitty to CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection) this afternoon. The kitty was so sick that they suggested putting her to sleep. At about 3 months old, the kitten had a severe upper respiratory problem that caused her face to swell so that she could barely see. She also had mange and some other weird things going on. She hadn't eaten anything. If you read my earlier blog entry about this cat, you may be thinking Gosh, this does not sound like the same cat. Well, I'm such an animal lover that I just saw this sweet kitty and wanted it all to be okay. Instead, I'll go pick up Little K from school soon and then we're going to play outside with all 5 of our kitties... and be thankful that they are healthy.

Until the next nap time...

PS - I can't stress enough the importance of getting your cats spayed or neutered. Even if they're not your cats, you can get them fixed at SNAP on Durham (near I10) for little investment and as soon as they're healed, release the cats outdoors. You can take this small step to correct the problem of cats being neglected and over-populating. Okay. Off my soap box now.

Kitten Needs Loving Home

Last night, my husband found this cute kitten in the street. Apparently, the house across the street went through a landscaping makeover and turned up a kitten. Trent picked up the cat to move it out of the street, but then the cat followed my husband everywhere. The cat sat on our front porch crying so we gave it some water and cat food. Since we already have 5 cats, we can't keep this one. (My cousin Jon calls me "Cat Woman.") Unfortunately, I think it might be sick so we need a good home for him/her soon.
Until the next nap time...

Learning About Livestock

We had a great time at the Livestock Show on Saturday. Little K says her favorite was the pony ride and playing with her cousin Brent. I liked the pigs with their big snouts. Amazingly, Little K did not take a nap so she was exhausted by 6 pm.
Until the next nap time...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Test Results Normal

YEAH! I just (finally!) heard back from the doctor's office. The MRI results were normal. No strange things growing in that brain of mind. As I expected/hoped, I've just been overly stressed... but now I can just work on relaxing a bit, prioritizing commitments & enjoying life. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers.

Can you hear my sigh of relief? AHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Until the next nap time...

I'm Irish. How About You?

Fortunately, I'm Irish. Unfortunately, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Monday this year. Bummer. Oh well. I'm sad to say that the St. Patrick's Day Parade has been publicized little this year & I'm not sure why. I've checked the City of Houston's event site numerous times to finding out when this celebration will be. At least now the St. Pat's Parade is listed but there is no link to more detailed information.

Since the holiday falls on Monday, the parade will be held on Saturday (not Monday as listed in the Houston Kids Calendar -- sorry. The City didn't help any on this!) It starts at noon at Minute Maid Park and wraps up around 3 pm. If you're Irish or if you are tired of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (dare I say it!), darn your greens and head out for a good time.

Here's the route: Start on Texas at Hamilton, procceds west on Texas, turns south on Caroline, west on Mc Kinney, north on San Jacinto to end at Prairie.

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Is Spring Here to Stay?

I just received a copy of my article on fun things to do with kids this spring... including Spring Break. The article ran in the March 2008 issue of The Buzz magazine. Be sure to check it out so you know loads of spring activities.

Also, I'd like to extend a warm thank you to the MOPS group at Second Baptist (main campus) for welcoming me to its meeting last night. My book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids & I received such a warm welcome that I ran out of books at the event last night. Wow! I just finished delivering the additional orders this afternoon & hope everyone finds the information helpful for their families. With sunny weather like today, it's hard to imagine that just yesterday it was stormy. Perhaps spring is here to stay.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ranch Hand

We all got some much needed rest at our family ranch this weekend. Saturday was a bit windy & chilly, but the sky was cloudless so it was hard to resist being outside. While Little K played with my mom and sister, Trent & I shot skeet. It was my first time but a highlight of my weekend.

Little K found lots of cool rocks and looked for critters. What a ranch hand she is! After playing on the playground and cruising around in the golf cart, we went to Martha's Bloomers to find a blackberry tree. As you can see, Little K discovered a beautiful butterfly (decoration) and we picked up 2 thornless blackberry trees and 2 tomato plants. We love our trips to Martha's Bloomers for their wonderful garden ideas.

When our Houston ground soaks up all this rain, our family is going to plant these in a sunny spot in our back yard. I think Little K will really enjoy watching the plants grow. PaPa Don will be proud that we're at last trying again to grow a garden. (In 2004, the local squirrels ate my tomato plant while I was in Australia. It looked like my husband took the weed-wacker to it, but he promises it was the squirrels. I'm hoping that our vast array of outside kitties will prevent the squirrels from snacking on our plants.) We'll keep you posted.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Watching the Rain

Explaining the loud booms of a thunderstorm isn't easy. As a child, I wasn't scared of thunderstorms. In the midst of a thunderstorm, my mom would sit down with me on the covered area by our front door. We'd watch the rain and talk about the clouds. While it was educational, I remember the time as being special -- snuggling with Mom and watching the rain drops.

With all the rain yesterday, I recreated this memory with Little K. As you'll see in the picture, we opened up our front door and watched the rain drops. Little K was delighted to catch a few drops on her hand. We shared her Life cereal for a snack and snuggled. When the thunder would boom, we simply replied: "We hear you clouds." Then, we talked about how the rain provides a drink to all the grass & flowers. It was fun.

Next up: tent making. My dad used to make tents for me out of all the blankets in the house. I can't imagine why my mom put up with it but it was fun. Little K and I created a smaller version of the tent with just one blanket yesterday. It doesn't look like much in this photo but it was so cool to climb inside our tent and peak outside at the trees. When my husband came home from work, Little K and I hid in the tent. Finally, Trent found us... our giggles gave us away. Imagination at its finest.
Until the next nap time...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

MRI Update

Yes, I will return your phone call. Thank you for your thoughts & prayers.

Okay, I had the MRI done this morning. I was fine until I realized that I'd also have an IV for the "with contrast" MRI, meaning they inject dye into my body to make the contrast. So.... I had the "without contrast MRI" first, which lasted 30 minutes. Luckily, I'm honing my visualization skills by imagining I'm on a nice beach in Mexico rather than in this tomb-like MRI. That loud noise? It's just the waiter shaking my margarita. (smile)

After 30 minutes, the machine rolled me out. The technician hooked me up to the IV to get the dye in. The scary part -- besides the whole needle issue -- was that he asked if I'd ever had this done before. Uh, no. "Okay," he said. "The dye is going to work its way through your body through all your capillaries. If anything hurts, let me know." Wow. That's comforting. Really.

After the needle being jerked around in my arm, I didn't feel anything. The machine pulled me back into the tomb & the "with contrast MRI" took another 10 minutes. I think I fell asleep at some point, so obviously it was not a big deal.

Unfortunately, the technician wouldn't let me see the scans and said I'd hear from my doctor next week. The process? A radiologist reviews the scans and makes a report, which is then turned over to my doctor. So much for seeing what's in my head. This exercise is just to make sure there are no tumors or anything growing in my brain. I've been so stressed out lately so I know all this is due to stress but it's better to be safe than sorry. I'll update you when I hear the news. Please cross your fingers & say at least a prayer. Thanks.

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Managing Stress Amongst the To Do List & Twizzlers

So my daughter loves Twizzlers. For those of you who know me well, it's no surprise. In high school, my friend Jenny and I used to power through a family pack of Twizzlers at the blink of an eye. Yesterday, Little K got one Twizzler for going to the bathroom on the big girl potty. I asked her if I could have one small bite as I helped her get into her PJs. She grew quiet. While I had my head down, focusing on getting her feet into the PJ pants, Little K quickly shoved the whole Twizzler into her mouth. I looked up when I heard giggling. A red licorice mouth was before me, grinning. So much for sharing.

Tomorrow I'm having an MRI to make sure there's not a tumor in my head. Don't worry. There's not. After a meltdown a few weeks ago, I went to my doctor. The docs are sure it's stress-induced but want to cross off the other physical potentials before just dealing with the stress! HA! If only it was that easy. Any ways, I'm not looking forward to the hour-long MRI but I am looking forward to getting out of there & moving on to a simpler lifestyle. I've been reading this book called Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life and have been floored at how the people in the book have experienced stress loads and symptoms just like mine. It's so interesting how I just happened to start reading this book now, even though I've had it for 1.5 year. Hmmmm....

More updates tomorrow. I told my friend Amy S. that I'l crack up if the doctors marvel at my pea-sized brain tomorrow. HA!

Until the next nap time...