Thursday, August 27, 2009

If I'd Known Then

While reading a magazine article the other day, I was led to check out If I'd Know Then by Ellyn Spragins from the library.

Apparently there are 2 different books in this series. The first is What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self and the second, If I'd Known Then: Women in their 2os and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves. Both books profiles the letters of highly accomplished women that includes counsel or encouragement addressed to their younger selves.

The interesting thing is their letters reveal even accomplished women have struggles—the same fears, concerns and shortcomings as anyone else. And in many cases they are still struggling...not wanting to conform to what the world wants them to be and a reminder that living life should be a playing in the sandbox, not wading through quicksand.

What would your teenage or early 20s have looked like if you had found a letter tucked under the mattress from an older-you? Maybe a few hints about friendships to treasure and relationships to steer clear of...advice about what really mattered and what didn't merit a single thought or worry?

At the ripe old age of 36, I'm not sure my wisdom is very profound...would it have really eased the heartache or fears of a younger-me?

I can't be certain....but I think that I'd have jumped at the opportunity to know these things a bit earlier in my life:

*Wherever you are, Be ALL there....don't dwell in the past or yearn for the future

*Don't allow insecurities to rule your thoughts

*Judgment and assumptions are dangerous territory.... Seek truth in all things

*Want what you have...true contentment brings incredible peace

Do I have all these mastered?

Seriously? Um..not a chance.

But my desire to leads me to the One that can make all those things a reality. You see, there was a greater story written long before me. I think He can handle whatever I bring to Him. He's certainly BIG enough.

What about you? If you could write a letter to a younger-you..what would you include?

Come on all you lurkers...don't leave me flapping in the wind all by myself here. You can even comment anonymously.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back To School 2009

Here we are again, Lord.

Their backpacks are loaded and their faces are scrubbed

and their lunch accounts are full.

And I know you'll walk with them, Lord.

You always do.

But a mom still has to ask.

Will You walk with them?

Will You whisper to them what they need to hear,

when I'm not there to whisper it?

Will You please, oh please, cover their school

with the protection only You can give,

and will You keep harm far away?

Will You make their minds strong and ready to learn?

Will You help them understand that hard work

honors the One who created them?

Will You guide their teachers, giving them patience and wisdom and creativity and more patience?

Will You bless them for their efforts?

Will You love all those children there,

the ones whose lunch accounts aren't full,

the ones who feel alone?

Will You teach my children to be kind and unselfish

and to love those who are different from them?

Will You point them back toward home

just as soon as you can?

Lord, I give them to You today and every day,

trusting them to Your care.


***A Mother's Prayer on The First Day of School, received via email from a dear friend. Thanks M! Blessings to R & J today.

A New Party In Town

The planning of a birthday party can sometimes take the actual fun right out of that party....Especially if you have already tackled all the major ideas like gymnastics, inflatable rentals, pool parties and laser tag.

And if someone asks if you've considered having the party at your own house.... You have my permission to tell them to go sell crazy somewhere else because you are all filled up at your house.

Yes, I did just say that outloud.

How 'bout a mobile video game experience?

What is that you say? A mobile man-cave of sorts?

Yessirreee! might just be what you are looking for.

CurbGames features the most popular video games from Nintendo Wii, X-Box 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. 3 mobile theaters are available, each developed to provide up to 24 multi-player stations.

And not to worry...they do have rating systems for what games are featured in the mobile theater that will pull up in front of your casa.

Inside CurbGames you will find an air conditioned "limo style" luxury Mobile Video Game Theater with 4 50" plasma TVs and 16 linked multi-player stations.

Outside you will find 2 50" plasma TVs with an additional 8 linked multi-player stations, all equipped with the latest fully interactive games such as Halo 3, Rock Band, Call of Duty, Guitar Hero 3, Wii Sports, Mario Brothers, Sonic and much more.

Something tells me this isn't going to just be for kids....once the men get wind of this, 40th birthday parties will take on a whole new look.

And we thought rollerskating parties were big stuff back in the day.

Ooops, I just showed my age.

Check out They are available for birthday parties, team parties, corporate events, family gatherings or neighborhood events.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Niftee 50ees Turns Back Time

Have you ever driven near 249 and Spring Cypress on a Saturday night and happened to see a Classic Street Rod or a 60's Muscle Car driving past?

Chances are they are either going or coming from the Niftee 50ees Classic Drive-in.

The Niftee 50ees Classic Drive-In is held each Saturday from 6-10 pm in the Kroger Shopping Center located at Spring Cypress and Champion Forest.

This is no small show....on any given Saturday, north of 100 classic cars can be found parked in this shopping center.

The show is geared toward models earlier than 1979.....classic Street Rods, 50's Cruisers, 60s & 70's Muscle Cars. You will be stunned at the selection and the amount of people that mill around during those 4 hours. These types of cars draw quite a crowd. It's a well known fact...avoid shopping at the Spring Cypress/Champion Forest Kroger on Saturday night if you can avoid it.

Grab an early dinner at Schilleci's (read some of their fabulous reviews here)and then take your time walking through rows and rows of amazing pieces of history. Feel free to bring your camera. And don't hesitate to ask the owners questions...they LOVE to talk about their cars.

Don't miss out on this local treasure! Their 2009 season ends right before Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free Poster offer from Walgreens

Do you have a favorite pic from this summer that would be perfect as an 11x14 poster?

You are in luck.

Log on to today and use the code FREEPOSTER when checking out. You'll pay just $1.99 shipping and get a fabulous larger-than-life memory from the summer.

Code is only good for get to it!

Psstt.....Walgreens is giving away free stuff all week! Take a peek:

Wednesday - FREE Photo Clings (you save $9.99, pay $5.99 shipping)
Thursday - FREE 20 4x6 prints (you save $3.80, pick up in-store)
Friday - $0.99 Scrapbook Page 8x10 (you save $4.00, pick up in-store)
Saturday - 50% off Everyday Photo Books (you save $5.00 for 20 pgs, $1.99 shipping)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sneak Attack

As parents, we are always trying to stay one step ahead of potential danger lurking.

When a facebook post regarding internet filters appeared on my wall last week...I thought this would be a great thing to share.

But an internet filter isn't just to protect the kids in your house...let me explain.

A few years ago, a friend of mine shared with me a children's photograpy website called Chubby Foot Designs. When I went to check it out...I typed in Chubby Feet designs and let's just say that a lot of chubby showed up....but it was large ladies with not a stitch of clothes on.


I think I literally let out a primal scream of fear, shut down the site and immediately did several viral scrubs on my computer. I was so convinced this foul site had implanted their nastiness on my computer that I felt the need to warn the Best Buy guys, when taking my computer in for service over a year later, that if they found pictures of naked chubby women to please, for the love, remove them and that I DID NOT PUT THEM ON THERE. They assured me that had pretty much seen it all. And proceeded to laugh their heads off at the possibility of me having chubby girl nudey pictures on my computer.

Boy, would have I loved a filter right about then. Did I mention I also had another lovely site called Hot Lolita's imbedded on my computer?


And you thought this would be a boring post about internet filters.

This is not your typical Monday post, Ladies.

A website called Top Ten Reviews has done the research on internet filters so you don't have to....To read reviews of 10 highly-rate internet filter software choices go here.

Two others that have been mentioned in the responses are I Am Big Brother and Covenant Eyes..but I'll be honest and say I've heard mixed reviews regarding the later choice.

After 12+ comments on that particular post, the filter most recommended is YOU. Keep your
kid's computer in a public place like the kitchen, as much as you can.

So there you have it. Check the meat and spit out the bones, if you will..but at least give it a glance for future use.

And stay away from

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Impressions

The day is upon us. The day when you meet the person who will spend time with your precious angel from the Lord for 5+ hours a day, Monday-Friday, or some variation. Meet the Teacher is about a week away.

We waited and waited for those letters to come in the mailbox. That little piece of paper brought a range of emotions: happiness, frustration, disappointment, uncertainty. Will this teacher really be able to appreciate how smart, funny and special this child is?

Nothing like a new school year to get you on your knees. God knew who your child's teacher would be this year and know without a doubt, He has a plan for them. Remind me of that when I open my boys' teacher letters. Thank you in advance for reminding me, It is going to be SO fine...whatever the letters says.

My mom-in-law is the Queen of Susus. What are 'susus' you ask? Susus are little gifts that she finds and sends for no reason, just to say she was thinking of you. As a former teacher, I am very careful what I give or bring to the classroom of my boys' teachers. And as one would guess, I usually steer clear of bath products, coffee mugs, stuffed animals and wooden jewelry because I received a lot of it when I taught. So heartfelt, but still too much bath gel isn't a blessing. BUT, when my friends, Leigh Ann & Julie, let me in on their Meet the Teacher susu secret, I had to share.

Gourmet Apples and More is a little shop right in front of Champion Forest Baptist Church that sells chocolate-covered creations. They have chocolate-covered rice krispie treats, pretzels and as you would guess, apples! But these aren't just any chocolate-covered apples, they are works of art. To give you an idea, they have Plain Jane (dipped in caramel and then dipped in chocolate), Rocky Road and Heath Bar. The apples on their website are the large variety which run $14ish and the smaller size are $6ish. And when I spoke to the sweet man who was answering phones today, he said they will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. They open for the season on Monday and will be open from 10-6 daily. Bless his heart, he had been receiving phone calls from several spirited ladies that day, frustrated that the store had not been open for the private school meet the teacher events.

So as summer draws to a close and you have a bit more spring in your step, remember to bless those sweet teachers as they begin this new school year. Nothing says love like chocolate!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Freeze Frame

Back in December, I spoke of a Christmas Miracle.

You see, we took a family picture this year. I had good hair and all the people smiled.

And the heavens rejoiced.

Um....not really.

But I sure did...because I have 3 males in my home that do not find any joy in fancy picture taking.

It just is what it is.

But back in December, I had only scratched the surface when I described the many talents of our photographer, Audree Garcia. I didn't even mention the very cool 12x18 'interest and activities' collages she creates.

It's pretty great, right?

I'll be accepting donations to put towards the widening of his bedroom door frame, to accommodate his big head.

Oh, I kid.

I didn't order an afghan with his picture on it or anything.....

I love her creativity! She brings a unique edge to each collage she creates. Don't think it's just limited to boys or even sports...she can create collages for dance, cheerleading, scouts, drama/theater...heck, she can probably even do one for the speed stacker in your house.

There's really no limits! Make a through-the-years collage or the-best-so-far collage. Think of the hairdos and hair-don'ts that might appear on one of those babies!

What a perfect way to make time stand still.

You can visit her site here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Operation Backpack

You have one more week to participate in Operation Backpack!

YMCA’s across the Greater Houston area are gearing up to provide school supplies for children in our communities. The children you help through this project will be filled with hope, joy and excitement as they start the school year. Your investment will provide these children the opportunity to start school with the tools to be successful.

It's so easy! While you are taking care of your regular shopping, pick up an extra backpack and school supplies for a kiddo in our area that may not have the resources to begin school with the needed supplies.

Many willing hearts are needed to assist with this project. Help the YMCA make a difference in the life of a child. Donate a backpack filled with school supplies and change a life!

**JC Penny, Target and Walmart have lots of choices at such great could even donate several backpacks!

Deadline is August 16th

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Snapfish Photo Adventure

It's August... summer camps, activities and vacations are winding down and you feel like you just might be the poster child for Sunsweet prunes if you don't cut back on the pool time.


Very soon.

Help is here.

Snapfish Photo Adventure

Snapfish has partnered with Leap Frog to bring you and your kids a fun photo adventure everyone will enjoy. It's easy to get started, just choose one of their four adventure themes (beach, fun around the house, camping or theme parks & fairs) and let your kids get snapping.

And it's easy to win prizes! Complete all 7 challenges per theme and get 50% off any size collage poster. Finish four themes and get a FREE 5" x 7" photo book!

The fun only lasts until August 31 so get started today. This photo op could be in your future!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Houston Restaurants Week 2009

Are you a foodie?

Get ready to be dazzled.

It's time for Houston Restaurant Week 2009.

From August 10th-23rd, you have a chance to dine out to help fight hunger in Houston. The opportunity to enjoy a three course gourmet meal for $35 per person (not including beverages, tax or gratuity) awaits you. Participating restaurants will donate $5 from each special meal sold to the Houston Food Bank. This is a wonderful opportunity for diners to try new restaurants or re-visit old favorites while helping to fight hunger in Houston.

Need a sampling of restaurants participating? Here's a few....

Americas - Post Oak
Amerigo's Grille
Brenner's Steakhouse
Cadillac Bar Houston
The Capital Grille
Carmelo's Ristorante
Crapitto's Cucina Italiana
Crave Sushi
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Denis' Seafood House
Downtown Aquarium
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
The Glass Wall
La Griglia
The Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant - Galleria Area Houston
McCormick & Schmick's "Fresh" Seafood Restaurant
Mo's…A Place for Steaks
NOE Restaurant (at The Omni Houston Hotel)
Ouisie's Table
Pappas Bros. Steak House
Perry's Steakhouse & Grille
Post Oak Grill - Uptown
RA Sushi - Town & Country
Rainbow Lodge
The Remington Restaurant
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Smith & Wollensky
Strip House
Sullivan's Steakhouse
Vic & Anthony's
Willie G's Seafood & Steaks

Click here to check out the menus of many participating restaurants.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Best Kept Beach Secret

When someone gets wind of a beach vacation to Florida, some of the assumed destinations are Destin, Ft. Myers or even Panama Beach.

I'm here to tell you that we discovered the best kept secret of Florida.


This county road, of sorts, holds the most beautifully quaint beach communities you have ever laid eyes on.

How could we have NEVER even heard of this place?

I had asked for assistance sifting through all of the VRBO listings and a sweet church-friend helped us narrow our search.

Our particular choice this time around was Seacrest, but we also visited Seaside, Alys Beach, Seagrove and Rosemary Beach...which was literally a 5 minute walk. Rosemary Beach is kinda like Seacrest's Siamese's hard to tell where one stops and the other starts. What's Rosemary Beach like? Mayberry-Meets-The Hamptons, if you will.

Our beach house was smack in the middle of a darn-cute community called Seacrest North. This area is North of 30-A, which means you are not staying ocean-front. Not a problem for us as the beach was a short 5 minute walk or 3 minutes by shuttle.

Yes, you read that correctly. We had golf cart shuttle that would pick us and all our gear up and deposit us so close to the beach we could see sand and smell suntan lotion.

I'd be lying if our Beverly-Hillbilly-gear-carryin'-selves didn't love that part.

The sand is incredible- white and soft. The water? Clear as a pool. We could see stingrays from a distance and schools of fish swimming by. W always had the net ready for fish, shells or the occasional purple jellyfish.

The waves were great for boogie boarding and faux-surfing. Photo compliments of the continuous shooting feature on our Nikon D-40. You did not let me down....

The other kickin' part of where we stayed was access to a 12,000 square foot pool.

Did I mention it was open from 9am until 11 pm? And that there was a huge greenbelt area right beside the pool area for the boys to play wiffle ball each day with their new Fat Bat BFFs from Tennessee and Alabama? Those boys' accents were heart-slaying. They were absolutely darlin'.

The Seacrest North Community has a bazillion multi-colored houses that sleep anywhere from 5-10+ people. You'll see kids riding their bikes or scooters all over the area and down to the restaurants.

Restaurants, you say? You know this foodie had to discuss the food we found while we were there.

We were delighted to find outstanding Mexican Food our first night at Mi Cocina and the locals' favorite, Cowgirl Kitchen, was delish as well. We blazed a trail along 30-A and had dinner at The Shrimp Shack in Seaside and the Village Market Cafe in Seagrove. They've been serving deep-fried love since 1949. Be still my southern-fried heart!

Need a sugar fix? The Sugar Shak is the place to be from 10am-10pm. There is line out the door starting at 6:30 every night. Ice cream and vintage candy fill every inch of that place. It's sugar heaven on-a-stick. The chatter while waiting in line that week was of Obama passing a bill that outlawed the making of candy cigarettes. The Sugar Shak encouraged you to get yours while supplies lasted.

Need donuts? A quick to visit Charlie's Donut Truck is a must. It's just down the road, in Alys Beach. Be aware..the donuts are HUGE and there is a line there too.

I know 2 boys who will travel back to Seacrest, Florida in a heartbeat.

And a family that will never forget the summer they discovered 30-A.