Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hubble and Hudson

Another fun day on the town. Today for coffee, my mom and I went to Hubble and Hudson Market. It is an exclusive grocery with very fresh meats, bread, fruits and vegetables. Upstairs they have an eating area if you get a sandwich from the deli, coffee, gelato, or one of their homemade desserts. The Viking cooking school is also upstairs, surrounded by windows so you can eat and watch the classes. The produce is all very fresh, and the meat looks unbelievable. If we were going to be here long enough to cook, I would have bought the blueberry feta sausage and the chicken and apple sausage with some of the unbelievably fresh bread, probably the orange cranberry bread. I bought an Italian seasoning blend and regret not getting a bottle of Hubble and Hudson olive oil. The sample was so fresh and light, and although it was high compared to what I usually buy at Kroger, it was very reasonably priced for the quality.
After we left Hubble and Hudson, we walked to the waterway and passed several nice restaurants. It was a great walk near the Marriott. There is even a trolley that will take you to the shops along the waterway, the mall, The Market, the hotels and condos in the area.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fun Day with Mema and Big Daddy

My parents took the kids to a place calle Incredible Pizza today. My twin sister, Kimberly, and her husband and kids went with them. The kids had a great time. There was so much for them to do and the food was actually good! The hilight of the day was when all the cousins got on the bumper cars at the same time and they took up all the cars. I think Mark and I missed a fun outing!

Lunch Date

Mark and I were able to enjoy the big city together today. My parents took care of our kids and we went to a place called The Market in The Woodlands looking for great Christmas deals. It was lots of fun, and I love bargain hunting. The Market is not the most ideal place to look for bargains since most of the stores are very expensive, but there were lots of neat things to look at that you really don't see other places. Mark was so sweet and doting. He was in the mood to spend money on me, so I got a kick out of that.
For lunch we went to a very nice sushi restaurant. The martinis sounded great so we treated ourselves and it was worth it! The food was superb, and although the appetizer (sea bass salad with apples, cranberries, and slivers of green onion) was a tiny, beautifully arranged, mouth watering treat (emphasis on tiny), we left having eaten enough. We split a sushi sampler that had calfornia rolls and eel, shrimp, salmon, and bass nigiri. Nigiri is a type of sushi that has slices of fish on a mound of rice. We ordered more salmon nigiri as well as a handroll of wasabi infused fish and a handroll of habanero infused fish to give it a try. The wasabi roll was good, but the habenero roll tastes like you would think - what does habanero and sushi have to do with each other? The high quality and creativeness worked with the habanero roll, for it was good, just not outstanding like everything else.
The restaurant had a great atmosphere and great service. The artwork on the walls, which were for sale, were not only affordable, but very good! A side note on the martinis, I ordered a white chocolate martini that was so good, we picked up ingredients on our way home to fix my mom a treat tonight. She really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Traditions

Smile Cousins! Raeley, my daughter, with Lindsay (sister Denise's daughter) and Jordan (sister Suzanna's daughter).
Sarah and Mackenzie's first Christmas to share with us.

Angela (youngest daughter of Kimberly, my twin sister)wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve
One of the things I love about Christmas are a few traditions that I have grown up with on Christmas eve.
My parents, my sisters and their families, and my family all gather for a meal.
Christmas Story and Devotional Time
My dad reads the Christmas story from Luke 2.
My mom reads a story about a child who ponders what it would be like if Jesus had never come. She (mom) always cries at the same spot.
We enjoy an intimate time of talking about Christmas, sometimes someone brings an extra devotional or shares something extra special.
Egg Nog
Then Mom fixes her eggnog - she mixes it with ice cream and sprinkles nutmeg on top. I thought that all eggnog you mixed with ice cream. I didn't know people drank it out of the container until I was in college.
Santa Alert
When it starts getting late, we do a santa alert and quickly get the kids in bed. The santa alert used to be someone hearing a jingle bell from the reindeer. Now we just rely on Norad.
The Record
We pile the kids in bed and play a special Christmas record with the chipmunk song, the story of Santa's workshop, and dogs barking the jingle bell song(The Singing Dogs). It's what we *tried* to fall asleep to every year. Many of my nieces and nephews also got to listen to it, but the record burned in a house fire in 1990. I would love to find that record again, so if any of you have an old copy in your attic, please let me know! My parents only played the record on Christmas eve when we were tucked in our beds. Since I only got to listen to it that one time every year, I would try my hardest to stay awake and listen to the whole thing.
The Mad Dash
Now that my parent's house is smaller, we don't all spend the night together to wake up and also share Christmas morning together, but those were great memories - 8 cousins (my nieces and nephews), my twin sister and I all lining up on the stairs, making the mad dash into the den to see the presents left by Santa.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas in Houston

We have arrived for a Christmas in Houston. We picked Jordan up from the LCB Louisianna Center for the Blind, where she is attending their training program, a six to nine month program. We shoved her into our already sardine-liked packed vehicle halfway through the drive to Houston. When we arrived at Mema's and BigDaddy's (my mom and dad's house) we noticed they won 3rd place in the yard contest. It is significantly warmer here, but it feels like being home for Christmas. After we had been here for a while, Cameron whispered to me "Mom, are Angela and Evelyn hiding upstairs for me?" Angela and Evelyn are her cousins, my twin sister's two youngest daughters. She and Angela are two weeks apart. She was so excited, she couldn't wait to see them! She was a jabberbox, with a huge grin all night. All the kids love the attention my parents show them and I am so blessed by their relationship.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Busy Holiday Stuffing

Phew! the race is on to get Christmas baking wrapped up - literally, and to get packed. Pray I'll keep my cool - I am STRESSED! I'm glad my kids are big helps! I don't know why I decided to make caramel popcorn this year. I am so tired of popcorn with all the boyscout popcorn we sold.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I am in shock. I called Phillips Garden Center to check on the landscaping plans we are having drawn up for our back yard. The sweet lady, Michelle, who was working on them, was tragically killed in a car accident on Saturday on Hwy 78. It was in the newspaper this weekend. She has a young son and a daughter a little older than Cameron. Another death of a young woman. It has made me stop and think. I plan on savoring the little things and making each hug last a little longer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trainers and their diets

Funny story - we have a new trainer. He came to the Christmas party yet he had worked for us maybe four hours on Friday, his first day. At dinner he passed up the appetizers before the meal. We cajoled him to partake of the strawberry butter and bread yet he still declined and Mark asked him about his diet. It's the typical trainer diet; a little more extreme and not as much protein as we would have thought. Talking eating habits is a topic of interest to trainers, so no, my husband was not out of place asking this (to those of you not in fitness circles.

You can imagine my surprise when he was at the dessert bar and turned around with SIX brownies on his plate. After I picked my mouth up off the floor, I asked him if he wanted any toppings on all those brownies - oh where were my manners? I really did say ALL. No, plain was fine. He doesn't do dairy! I was once again tickled when I saw him later with TWO thick pieces of pound cake. Once again plain (to alleviate guilt?) Guy, next time just eat the bread! He took it all in stride. I'm still laughing!

Christmas Staff Party

Saturday night was our Christmas Staff Party. It went great! We had a good turn out, and it's neat because we have some staff that drove 3 1/2 hours to have dinner with us!
We went to Romies for dinner, which is a small restaurant that serves gourmet southern cooking. It has awesome food! When we go there for dinner, our favorite - and I mean favorite entree is their ribs. It is a special, they don't have them as a staple on the menu. The menu (notice I'm starting with food first!):
Ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes and green bean bundles
Shrimp and grits.
They served a broth over the shrimp and grits, which is the first time I've had that before. It is different enough that I had a hard time comparing it to Harvey's new menu item of shrimp and grits with andouille sausage. My goal was to see which was better, but they were just too different for me to pick. The ribeye was great, too. It was one of those nights where I was so disappointed when I was full, the time to stop eating came too quickly. Before the meal we ordered artichoke dip and crab dip, which were both tasty as well.
OK, back to the party. Mark and I got there early and invited the staff to meet us at the bar early for drinks, and a few staff came. It was a nice, intimate time of conversation before we moved to the table which was too large to talk to everyone. Every year we joke about playing musical chairs halfway through dinner. Next year I might very well do a Chinese fire drill!
Dessert and awards were at our house after the meal. I had planned on having a dessert bar with brownies and pound cake and toppings. The toppings were homemade chocolate syrup, caramel sauce (Smuckers), Cool Whip and homemade whipped cream, pineapple topping, cherry pie filling, almonds, vanilla bean ice cream, and a cherry for the top. I envisioned creativity and lots of people smothering their desserts making killer brownies that would make TGI Fridays envious. So I was disappointed when I saw brownie after plain brownie. Oh well, everything else went great.

Awards ceremony - as many of you know, we had virtually a complete staff turnover this summer. All of our staff were different at this Christmas party. So, no one knew we gave awards to everyone. We could, at this point, make up traditions and no one would know any different! This year we threw in a huge bonus for the salesperson of the year. I won't bore you with the other categories. They all focused on sales and club culture. That was my favorite part of the night. Susan (our partner) and Mark and I have already thought of a few fun things to add next year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Cutout Cookies

Stars, Chirstmas trees, angels, candy cane cookie cutters. Lots of sprinkles, m&ms, green icing, and the not-quite-red pink icing. Floured noses, sticky hands,and powdered sugar snow mountains. Throw in friends and sugar highs, messy tables, and very messy floors. We are thankful for good friends.

If I can just scrape hard enough, maybe these cookies will come off! Mom, watch the timer. You're too busy talking!

Ever since the first year I was married, I would get together with friends and we would divide and conquer holiday baking. It became a tradition and I always smile when I use my candy thermometer because Amy C. gave it to me in honor of our failed divinity. My kids are older and they love helping in the kitchen now. We had a blast baking cookies with our good friends, the Huffmans.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Memory Of

In Memory of Emily Horn

Today was the funeral of Emily Horn, wife of Bear Horn, and mom to 2 week old Tripp and 6 year old Garrett. Please keep their families in your prayers. It was unexpected and very sad.

Bear is the son of Doug Horn, and my boys go hunting on Doug's land. Doug and my father in law Mitchell grew up together and they are a special family to us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday scared of the storm

Cameron was scared last night during the storm, so she slept in the boy's room and sweethearted Jonathan climbed down from his loft bed and slept on the floor next to her, no sleeping bag, just his blanket and pillow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Computer Crash!

Well, my computer crashed. I'll post when I can. I guess I'll have to keep my thoughts in my head. Scary. My car is still in the shop, too. This marks week three. And Mark is going out of town. No car, stuck at home with four kids, no computer, Christmas activites and shopping, very scary! Well, I'm off to run errands while I have a car. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bible Story of sacrifice

I learned something today, not unusual, but you know when you think you know something well, and you get comfortable with it, familiar with it, and you don't really think too hard? I was reading a bible story to my kids this morning from Luke. It was about Jesus' time in the wilderness when he was fasting. That is an amazing story to me because it paints such a vivid picture in mind and my soul. I can feel the longings he must have for food, the physical exhaustion, the discomfort. It's a wonder he could still think and not be delirious. Then the Devil approaches him and paints even more pictures in my mind, full and overflowing with images. He tempts Jesus on three levels - physical(food), emotional - power(the world and wealth), and spiritual(jumping off the tabernacle). What if Jesus had jumped off of the Tabernacle? What would be the significance? We know he is going to be performing miracles constantly now that his ministry is beginning. Would that be so bad? Overlook the obvious fact that He would have sinned by not trusting God but tested Him instead, it just seems to lack in severity and drama when compared to the other temptations. But consider this point - what if Jesus had jumped and been seen to overcome death by the many people present? Would he have then been put to death as our sacrifice? He might not have. It was not the right time for his immortality to be revealed. God's timing is important, and it is perfect.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Cameron was setting up the children's Nativity. I was asking her who each person was. She was so excited when she saw the piece she had been waiting for, baby Jesus. He was with his mom and dad. I asked their names and she said Mary and Moses!

A great week of school, but....

We have had a good school week this week. We started a new unit, Rome, and it covers the nativity. How cool is that?!! We are motivated to truck on through even though it is the Christmas season and there is so much other stuff to do. I mean, who wants to study the nativity in January? Well, I just drank a hot cup of coffee and ate a piece of delicious pumpkin pie from a friend, and I was reflecting on our good week (despite Monday being a little rough, if you remember that post!) and I noticed how messy our house was. Here are some photos for all you homeschooling moms out there to soothe your souls and relieve your guilt. The long table was where we did school today, because the usual table(see black table in picture) was still messy from yesturday. That's 6 loads of laundry on the couch and surrounding areas. I'm sure you all recognize the sink.
I think it's going to be a long night! This is the juggling act.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Best Friends

Cameron and Allie

Kids are fun!

Cameron has been romping around after lunch throwing a paper airplane she made. She said, "This is so fun, mom, I think I'm invected to it!" I said, "You mean addicted?" She said "Yeah, I am having so much fun I think I am addicted of it!" How cute!

Last night the kids ran an errand with Mark and first Robert rushed in and quickly asked "Is Raeley here yet?" I said yes and as the door immediately shut, the front door opened and Jonathan asked "Is Raeley here yet?" I had just enough time to say yes, when he, too quickly shut the door. Almost immediately as that door shut that the garage door opened and Robert stormed in. "MMM, something smells good in here!" We hear the front door open and Jonathan storms in. "MMM, something smells good in here!" I couldn't help laughing. Mark walks in and I tell him the story and he said when the boys came back out, they both waved at him the exact same way and then ran inside, one right after the other!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I just posted my menu and thought, I wonder if this will actually come to pass as I had planned. I wonder if we should post at the end of the week what we actually cook. I'm just in a mood. Speaking of food, my nephew Ryan, kinda mentioned me in his blog. Not really, but every year at Thanksgiving with my side of the family, I make two things, sweet potato casserole and orange stuff - as Ryan called it. He mentioned the orange stuff in his blog. If I don't make it, his mom does. One year I even found them hiding in the kitchen fighting over it!

I had one of those days today. I thought it was going to be a great school day. I had actually prepared the entire week - copies of everything already done, all items for activities on hand, read all the lessons! Even started making pages for a lapbook. That much planning rarely happens with me. Well, it being the first day after a vacation, the kids were all out of sorts. Restless, low attention, I think still on a sugar high. I also didn't start our "together" school until 10:30 am because I wanted to get a little bit of work out of the way. The kids were supposed to do their independent work, but given their state of mind, they needed me in the room constantly. Even lunch was a chore today. Well, we are going to end on a good note. I'm going to play a board game with them before they go to bed.

Menu Monday

Monday - Greek leftovers again!
Tuesday - Pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes and apples, english peas
Wednesday - Turkey (not leftovers!) with rice, veggies, and fruit salad
Thursday - sandwiches
Friday - spagetti