Katy Texas Community Blog

Browse the Katy topics below for insights, thoughts, and opinions from Katy Area residents and local bloggers. If you're interested in writing a blog for Katy Magazine, email editor@katymagazine.com.

 

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Katy, TX News – Former Katy Tiger Wins 2014 Grey Cup

Katy, TX News (December 16, 2014) - Bo Levi Mitchell, a 2008 graduate of Katy High School, recently led the Calgary Stampeders to a 20-16 win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and took home the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award during the 2014 Grey Cup Canadian Championship Football Game.

Bo Levi Mitchell

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A Letter from Katy ISD Communications Regarding Terra Kubala and Trent Weber

Katy, TX News (December 6, 2014) – The Katy ISD Communications department has issued a letter regarding the tragic deaths of Terra Kubala and Trent Weber:

“Dear Parents and Guardians,

The faculty and staff of Seven Lakes and Cinco Ranch High School are deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of  two students who tragically lost their lives in a vehicle accident over the weekend. We ask that you please join us as we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families as they mourn their loss.

Grief counselors will be on campus on Monday to help our school community deal with this loss. We will be doing everything we can to help your child and our staff through this heartbreaking experience.

Over the next few days, you may wish to encourage your child to express his or her feelings and listen attentively. It will be helpful to recognize the various steps that we all go through in the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s reaction to this loss, please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor or any member of the administrative staff. Thank you for your concern and support during this difficult time.”

Katy ISD

*Katy Magazine would like to express their deepest sympathies for the families of these students, and send wishes for comfort and healing in this time of incredible loss. 

Confessions of a Katy Parent

There are times when you can’t believe you just did that. Katy parents reveal some of their most embarrassing parenting secrets.

Missing Something
“When my twins were infants, I was in a constant state of exhaustion. One day they had their 2-month-old check-up. As usual, I got them ready in the carriers and put them by the garage door so I could grab my purse and get everything loaded in the car. Without even thinking, I jumped in the car and headed out. When I got to the end of the street, I realized I had forgotten something very important – the babies! I drove home as fast as I could and swung open the door. My little ones were fast asleep in the carriers with no idea that mommy had forgotten them.” - M.C. (more…)

Happiness in a Cup: Schakolad Chocolate Factory

Written by Katie Jozwiak

Katy, TX – BRRR!!! This weekend was a chilly one. A whopping 40 degrees of pure Heavenly air with gusty winds perfect for a photo shoot. Did Marty McFly take us to the Arctic or is Katy, Texas experiencing WINTER?! Either way, I was desperate for some warmth. As you will all soon (oh so soon) come to realize, I only have two weaknesses: my sweet husband and delicious chocolate. Comfort never tasted so good. (more…)

Here We Go

Written by Katie Jozwiak

Katy, TX – The arrival of winter brings about various emotions- some are filled with holiday joy, some are filled with frustration at the thought of wearing an extra layer of clothes, while most are just excited about having two months with an excuse to eat calorie rich food and beverages.

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Getting to Know Katy

Katy Fire Department hires a four-legged firefighter

Written by Kirsten Cornell|Photography by Christopher Rodriguez

Katy, TX News - When Lt. Shane Hughes of the Katy Fire Department (KFD) first thought about adding a four-legged team member to their department, a Dalmatian was a natural choice. “Like any family thinking of getting a dog, we had to carefully consider everything that goes along with pet ownership: costs, vet care, who would walk her, etc.,” says Laurie Conrad, firefighter and president of the Katy Fire and EMS Association. “Everyone in the department had to agree before we would proceed.”

KM_F_14_Katy Dalmatian_Katy with firefighter gear 2_photo by Kristofor Rodriguez

Katy is a rescue Dalmatian at the Katy Fire Department

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Parent Support of the 2014 Katy ISD Bond

Katy ISD parents Vince and Pam Zinnante speak out on the Katy 2014 Bond Election

Written by Pam Zinnante

Katy, TX News –  We have lived in Katy for 35 years, and have seen multiple bond issues approved to relieve overcrowding in schools. My husband and I were pleased to vote in favor of the bond that provided relief to the south side of Katy when there was an outcry that Cinco Ranch High School had hit over 3,400 students and would grow to almost 3,800 students by the time Seven Lakes High School was due to open. Within a few years, fast growth indicated the need for yet another high school serving Katy ISD south of I-10, and a community that should not take sides rightly voted in favor of another school and additional improvements and spaces to benefit all students district-wide. (more…)

Cinco Ranch Cougar Band Places Fourth at Area Competition

Cinco Ranch High School Band Competes at the Lone Star Preview

By Lesley Ann Jones

Katy, TX News – The Cinco Ranch High School Cougar Band recently represented Katy ISD at the 2014 Lone Star Preview Marching Band Championship. Held at Woodforest Bank Stadium in The Woodlands, students competed against 14 other bands from across the state for top honors.

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Friday Night Lights

Spotlighting the students who transform Katy’s Friday nights

Written by Ashley Lancaster and Kirsten Cornell | Select Photography by Craig Moseley   

Katy, TX News - The stands fill with fans of all ages donning their school colors and faces painted with their favorite players’ numbers and armed with pom-poms, foam fingers, and signs. Athletes who have trained for years grind their cleats on the soft AstroTurf as they stare down the 120 yards to the goal line. Dozens of anxious students polish their instruments and fluff their plumes as they go over the spirit numbers one more time. It can only mean one thing: It’s Friday night, and the game is about to begin.

KM_F_14_FNL_SLHS_11_ASC_4003_PSE-3388449824-H_photo by Craig Moseley

Mascots are responsible for learning stunts, cheers, and getting the crowd going on Friday Night

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Superhero Survivor

Katyite Joshua Martinez shares the story of his battle with colorectal cancer

Written by Clare Jensen | Photography by Anetrius Wallace

Katy, TX News - People often take their lives and daily activities for granted, discrediting illness as too far removed to affect them. But then one day, they are taken by surprise, and the certainty of having a next breath becomes not quite so certain. This was the case for Katyite Joshua Martinez.

OPENER 2014-07-28 KM Inspiration Joshua Martinez by Anetrius WallaceT

 

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The Digitized Family

A look at the dangers of too much screen time and how Katy families can find the right balance for connecting and socializing with family

Written by Katy Magazine’s Editors

Katy, TX News – Go to any restaurant and you’ll see it: an entire family, silent, all looking down at their devices instead of talking with each other. Some “hip” new restaurants are even offering media-inspired entertainment at the table to keep everyone occupied throughout the meal. As we spend more and more time checking Facebook, Instagram, and playing Candy Crush Saga, we are spending less and less time connecting as a family.
Kids-on-devices

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Katy Area High School’s Head Football Coaches

These local leaders share how they keep their teams energized and motivated to achieve victory on the field, in the classroom, and in life

Written by Kelly Boldt|Photography by Anetrius Wallace

Katy, TX News - Football coaches aren’t just drill sergeants. They are also mentors, counselors, motivators, and strategic planners. Each one of Katy ISD’s head football coaches has a different approach to their team, but a common thread is woven into each of them – their families. They are described as patient, tolerant, and understanding. The most important message is that behind every good coach is an amazing Katy family. Here is a quick glimpse of our Katy area high school coaches (in alphabetical order).

Don Clayton – Cinco Ranch High School

Cinco Ranch head coach Don Clayton loves working with and helping to develop athletes. “It’s not a job; it’s a calling,” explains Clayton, who has been with the Cougars since their first football season in 2000. “I love the way football mirrors real life. You work hard to succeed and also learn along the way that you will get knocked down, but you have to get right back up and get after it again.”

Discipline is also important for Clayton, as is intensity and a high level of commitment from his players and staff. This undertaking is not limited to the field. “We are here to supplement and reinforce what parents do in raising their children,” says Clayton. “We try to be a positive influence to keep them on the right track.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Cinco Ranch HS_Don Clayton (4)_photo by Anetrius Wallace

Coach Clayton has been Cinco Ranch’s head coach since it’s opening in 1999
His wife Rhonda is a teacher at Randolph Elementary

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A Quiet Katy Saturday

Katy Offers a Variety of  Fun Family Activities

By Gabbi Browne

Katy, TX News – With June just about over, and the heat of July gearing up, my family needed a quieter Saturday. We decided not to travel to Houston-area places, as we sometimes do, but to stay closer to home. As most of you reading this know, Katy offers more than enough family activities to fill a weekend. Here’s what we did one morning.

  1. Had breakfast at Torchy’s Tacos in La Centerra. We had only heard good things about this Austin eatery and now we know why. The boys enjoyed eating on the patio near the lake. We then fed the friendly ducks some bread that we had brought with us. How many rocks did we climb to burn off some energy? We lost count.
  2.  We usually try to hit one of the local libraries every few weeks. On this particular day, the Maud Smith Marks Branch was having a book sale. We told the boys that we could all find and buy two books each. Challenge accepted and met! Library book sales usually offer more of a selection than your usual bookstore, and are a lot cheaper.
  3.  The heat of the day was catching up to us. We stopped for about an hour at the splash pad off of Westgreen–so close to the library. To keep it convenient, we usually travel with the boys’ trunks and a tube of sunscreen. Living in Texas, you never know when the need for a cool-down will happen! After toweling off, we headed to one of our favorite dessert spots.
  4.  Ritter’s Frozen Custard also serves hot dogs and Frito pies. I promise we ate our veggies at dinner. Their drive-thru is convenient, but on this particular day, we enjoyed eating outside at their retro tables.

It was time to head home after lunch, and we were able to keep the boys awake until we got there. Naps came quickly after all that fun. Katy is the place to play together as a family for sure.

Helping Children Step Outside of Themselves

By Gabbi Browne

Katy, TX News – Our four boys are attending camp this week. It’s three hours a day at a nearby school. Our oldest has attended this camp before, but it’s the triplets’ first summer. While I am using my solo time well—Costco trips, exercise, laundry, and a dentist trip—I have to be honest that I miss my companions a bit.

I am hoping that the boys will be making some new friends, although they probably won’t be year-long friends. It is meant to be a fun time for all.

Yesterday at pick-up time, the triplets said they liked camp. They had fun playing with the toys in the room. They didn’t enjoy the sand in their shoes.

“How did it get in your shoes,” I asked?

“We played in the sandbox.”

“What can you do to not get sand in your shoes?”

“Not use the sandbox!”

Problem solved? Maybe? (more…)

Praying for Preslee

Katy mom Lara Massey shares her story of living through her worst nightmare, the tragic accident involving her 6-year-old daughter, and how Preslee Nicholson’s journey of recovery has brought hope to many

Written by Lara Massey | Select photography by Sassy Massey Photography

Katy, TX News - Arriving four weeks early, Preslee was born a fighter. After spending her first seven days in NICU, she came home weighing a little less than five pounds. The first few months of her life were just a glimpse of her strength and will to live. When Preslee was 2, her dad and I divorced. He was awarded visitation at various times, mostly during summer vacation for six weeks. In time, I remarried, and in a few short years our family welcomed Kaylee and Jax. Our lives were complete.

Lara Massey has been overwhelmed by the support she and her family have received from her hometown of Katy, and people around the country who have followed their journey
Photo by Melissa Brewer

Summer Days
Friday, July 5, 2013 was normal. Our family spent the day swimming at my parent’s house counting the days until Preslee returned home in two weeks. I knew Preslee would be traveling that day, and I was nervous. She was making a cross-country journey from Texas to Virginia with her dad’s girlfriend to visit family. I talked to her that night and told her I loved her, to be good, and that I would call her in the morning. By then, she would be in Virginia. I went to sleep that night uneasy, I always worry. I kept thinking that if I could just sleep, I’d wake up in the morning and Preslee would be off the road, safe and sound.

The Call
At 6 a.m. my cell phone rang. I heard a voice on the other end asking, “Are you the mother of Preslee Nicholson?” My heart stopped, and I said, “Yes.” The doctor told me that my daughter had been in a terrible accident. The words, “her heart is still beating, but she is non-responsive. She is not breathing on her own and has critical injuries,” kept repeating over and over. (more…)

No Place for Hate

Katy ISD campuses discuss the importance of this anti-bullying campaign

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Anetrius Wallace

Katy, TX News - The No Place for Hate initiative, which launched in schools in 2001 by the Anti-Defamation League, provides educators and students with the resources to ensure that anti-bias and diversity education are an integral part of the school curriculum. “Our campus made the decision to pursue the No Place for Hate campus designation because we felt it was important for all students to feel accepted, valued, and respected for their individual differences,” says Doreen Martinez, assistant principal at Morton Ranch Junior High. “We also wanted to provide an opportunity to bring attention to bullying and help educate students on the negative effects of teasing, ostracism, intimidation, and rumor spreading.”

Morton Ranch Junior High No Place for Hate representatives Betsy Irwin, Doreen Martinez, Amanda Lara, Vanessa Whitehead, Mark McCord, Cindy Lamm, and Jordan Bates

Earning the Designation
The Anti-Defamation League asks that designated campuses hold meetings to discuss the initiative with the students and discuss active ways in which they can participate. “Students sign a resolution of respect and in doing so, they commit to ensuring that our school is a No Place for Hate campus,” explains Cimarron Elementary counselor Elizabeth Kratz. “Children spend most of their time with us, and we are the guiding factor in their lives. We want to make sure they understand differences not only in themselves, but in others as well.”

Stephens Elementary planned a “mix it up” at lunch where students were encouraged to invite students they didn’t know to sit and eat with them. “The goal was to make sure every student was included and felt welcome,” says Stephanie Vaughan, the school’s principal. Their culminating activity to-date has been a school-wide diversity concert, including a repertoire of songs representing different cultures. (more…)

Mission-minded Katy Teens

Local students are giving back to others here at home and around the globe

Written by Holly Leger

Katy, TX News - As a teenager, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of adolescence. But these Katy teens received a reality check after going on mission trips – some around the world, and others in their own hometown. Katy Magazine reached out to these young men and women to hear their inspirational stories.

Parkway Fellowship students on a mission trip in Diepsloot in northern Johannesburg, South Africa
Photo courtesy of Parkway Fellowship

A World Apart
Johannesburg, South Africa may look like any other large, well-to-do city, but as the youth group at Parkway Fellowship discovered, the outskirts of the city are the polar opposite. The teenagers walked through squatter camps, performing door-to-door ministries.

Parkway student pastor Chris Sedgwick says the camps have very small square footage, yet house hundreds of thousands of residents and refugees. “It’s very hard conditions,” Sedgwick says. “It’s a maze of shacks. You have to walk sideways in between houses.” (more…)

Katy Legacies

Four multigenerational families trace their roots back to the community’s first settlers

Written by Ella Hearrean | Select photography by Sara Isola

Katy, TX News - Back when there was only one high school and the Firethorne community was a series of rice fields, four well-known Katy families planted roots in a community that they would spend generations investing in. They have built a legacy that impacts not only their families but future Katyites as well.

The Fussell and Schmidt Families
As a child, Sandy Fussell Schmidt watched the buzz of downtown Katy from her mother’s antique shop. She remembers the excitement when her father, Katy’s first volunteer fire chief, heard the siren. “Anyone who had a business was a volunteer. Men from the hardware store and grocery store would come running out in their aprons.”

Schmidt’s small town roots began in the early 1900s, when both of her grandfathers settled in Katy, one as a rice farmer and one as a grocery store owner. Her family has long since been prominent members of the community. Her mother, Blanche, served as the Chamber of Commerce secretary; her uncle, Durwood Fussell, began what is now Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union from his desk drawer as business manager of Katy ISD. Her uncle Mel Jordan, a lifelong rice farmer and rancher, still calls Katy home, along with 38 of his 51 family members.

The Fussell and Schmidt families are founding members of Katy and many of their descendants still live in the area

The Fussell and Schmidt families are founding members of Katy and many of their descendants still live in the area

Her immediate family is just as deeply rooted. Her husband, Hank, served as fire chief, a city council member, and mayor. Her son, Trey, works at Schmidt Funeral Home, and her daughter, Kris, and son-in-law, Arturo Gonzales, are both doctors in the area. “Everyone has always been active and knows what’s going on with everyone else,” says Schmidt.

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Katy’s Broadway Star

Former Taylor High School student and Broadway veteran, Kearran Giovanni, dishes about her life as a wife, mom, and actress

Written by Kirsten Cornell

Katy, TX News - Growing up in Katy, Kearran Giovanni filled her days with cheering on the Taylor High School Mustangs and driving down Mason Rd. heading to the local movie theater with friends. “I love the hometown feel of Katy,” says Giovanni. “It’s a place that stops in time as far as family values go.”

KM_SU_14_Kearran Giovanni_IMG_1353 Final 9 X 12_Photo by Marta Elena Vassilakis

Kearran Giovanni cheered at Taylor High School, before moving to New York and becoming a successful Broadway actress
Photo by Marta Elena Vassilakis

The Early Years
Giovanni didn’t always picture herself as a flourishing actress. In fact, she had a completely different path in mind. “I had solid plans to attend Rice University and become an ob/gyn,” she says.

Focusing on dance, gymnastics, and cheer, she has fond memories of attending Becky’s Academy of Dance where she did a majority of her training. “I met some of my closest friends in the dance company, and I still go back and visit every time I’m in town,” she adds.

It wasn’t until she attended the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston her senior year that she even entertained the thought of acting. “I didn’t really perform anything ‘theatrical’ until college,” laughs Giovanni, who attended the College of Conservatory Music in Ohio. “I was more focused on dance and gymnastics.” It was in Cincinnati that she discovered her love for musical theatre, and a new path for her life became clear. (more…)

50 Fun Activities for Katy Area Residents

  1. Work on your spike and your baseball swing at Texas One Volleyball.
  2. Attend a horse show at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center.
  3. Join other beginner cyclists at Bike Barn every Saturday morning for a ride through Katy.
  4. Conquer a game of laser tag, try your hand at virtual bowling, or ride the coaster at Tilt Studio.
  5. Let your dog explore the lakes, trees, and fire hydrants in the safe confines of Millie Bush Dog Park.
  6. Learn to swim at any age at Aqua-Tots Swim School.
  7. Challenge yourself in a free Saturday morning community workout at CrossFit Elevate on Katy-Flewellen Rd.
  8. Tee off at Greg Norman’s beautiful Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club.
  9. Enjoy a bag of movie theater popcorn at Cinemark Theater.
  10. Let the kids take advantage of the play area at Drix Restaurant while you enjoy a filet mignon.
  11. Take a tour of the Katy Heritage Society’s historic homes on the first weekend of every month.
  12. Go fishing and feed the ducks at Mary Jo Peckham Park.
  13. Browse the selection of free movies at Katy Branch Library.
  14. Learn how to build your own stream or waterfall at a weekend workshop at Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery.
  15. Find children’s books organized by reading level at The Bookworm Shop in Villagio Town Center. (more…)

Healthy Posture at Work

Several factors contribute to poor posture-most commonly, improper spinal alignment, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.

How to sit properly:

• Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.

• Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.

• Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.

• Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.

• Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.

• Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.

• Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Understanding correct posture and remembering to maintain correct posture during a long work day are two very different things. There are software programs that pop up a reminder to stretch or stand at certain time intervals or you could simply set an hourly timer on your phone or watch, even a post it note saying “sit up straight” is enough to give you that mental cue to remind you to take a short break and assess your posture, even small changes like these can make a huge difference in the health of your spine over the years. And of course…get adjusted regularly!

Dr. Craig Nemow, D.C. Chiro Dynamics

Family Time in the Car

By Gabbi Browne

Road Trips Old Style
Katy, TX News – Summer is officially here, and many families are planning road trips. Katy is a great starting point for drivable daytrips. What to do to help make those drive times more enjoyable? Here are some simple things parents can do to help avoid the sounds of agony from the backseat.

  1. We have happily discovered children’s audio books at our local library. We check out around five every other week we go to the library. You can really find a lot online and some at your local bookstores. One rule is that no one gets the books to read along, we just have to listen to the CD. Now, if you have one child who can handle the book with care, go for it. With four boys though, it’s easier to just listen. I feel like DVDs have their place for really long trips, but a few audio books mixed in are good for the brain.
  2. Dad’s musical CD pick is a fun way to introduce our children to good music that we enjoy. Raffi and The Wiggles are fine, but after a few times, we need some of our music too. By having a few CDs of our choosing in the front, we can select which songs are all right for our kiddos. For example, we just introduced our children to Johnny Cash’s song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” I thought “A Boy Named Sue” would be a fun song too, but my husband reminded me that at the end it includes a word that is inappropriate for them. So, we were able to pick some songs and leave others for a later time. The boys love it when Dad takes over the music. (more…)

Thunderbird Cadets Volunteer at the Cajun Invasion Festival at Katy Mills Mall

By Cadet Staff Sergeant Faith

From start to finish, food to fun, and work to rides, Thunderbird cadets had a great time volunteering at the Cajun Invasion Festival at Katy Mills Mall. May 16 – 18 was a bright and sunny weekend, perfect for the carnival. Thunderbird Composite Squadron was invited by Katy Mills Head of Security to assist as a response team, perform trash pick up, and patrol the inner and outer perimeters of the festival. “We looked at it like a mission,” said Senior Member 1st Lieutenant Torre LoDolce, who was in charge of the cadets for the weekend. Cadets were split into teams and given radios to communicate. A tent was set up as headquarters. It served as a place for visitors to come and ask questions about the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Many people, as well as vendors, were very impressed by the cadets performance around the carnival and came to inquire about CAP. Members of CAP always have opportunities to participate in events and activities similar to the Cajun Invasion Festival because volunteer service is one of the most important core values for the organization. The festival offered a great opportunity to explain as well as demonstrate what CAP is all about.

Thunderbird cadets

Many Cadets and Seniors volunteered throughout the weekend so that the work was distributed evenly. Everyone had a chance to enjoy the rides and games. There were several live performances including  Kimberly Caldwell, Katy native. She was the seventh place finalist on American Idol. As she invited children up to the stage, cadets  Zach Lexa and Truitt LoDolce jumped into the group. The two jammed out on stage with the pop star.

Every cadet enjoyed volunteering at the festival. “It was a fun experience,” said Cadet Technical Sergeant Zach Lexa. “Sure we cleaned up, but we had fun doing it.” Katy Mills Mall was pleased with Thunderbird’s performance and welcomes them back.

End of School Year Reflections

Summertime is a good time to face challenges of the school year

The last 180 days have been a whirlwind for many families. We are the parents of four boys. Our oldest just completed kindergarten. Our heads are still spinning over how much our little boy has grown in such a short amount of time. I think it’s important to take some time this summer to reflect a bit on what changes may have occurred in our children. Celebrate and encourage the good, and think of some ways to tackle the challenges that also reared their ugly head.

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Katy Treasures

Katy Treasures: Must-see stops in Katy

You don’t have to live here very long to find out that Katy is full of fun and surprises for the whole family. Here are some of the most popular Katy destinations for local residents.

George Bush Park & Millie Bush Bark Park
16756 Westheimer Pkwy.
281-496-2177
The sixth-largest city park in the nation boasts 12 miles of walking, biking, and equestrian trails winding around picturesque Buffalo Bayou. For the dog lover, there is also a 15-acre dog park where pups can run without a leash and splash in one of three puppy ponds.

Katy Budget Books
2450 Fry Rd.
281-578-7770
For more than 25 years, this independent bookstore has offered Katyites a huge selection of new and used books as well as gifts, accessories, book clubs, special book release events for kids, author signings, school book list fulfillment, and more.

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Julian Salinas Continues to have Rolling Success

The mother of Julian Salinas, a young bowler formerly featured in Katy Magazine’s summer 2011 Notes and News section, recently updated us on her son’s current endeavors.

As a fifth grader at Hubenak Elementary, Salinas is staying busy both academically and through outside extracurricular activities. Over the past few years, Salinas has continued to practice, compete, and improve his bowling game, helping him become one of the top ranked bowlers in his age bracket in Texas. Salinas currently bowls with three different leagues – COYSL Youth League at Times Square Entertainment in Katy, SSS Sport League at Copperfield, and HS Travel League with the regional high school bowlers in Katy/Houston.

Through bowling, Salinas has won awards and over $2500 in scholarships that will go towards his college fund. During summer he will compete against the best bowlers in the country in the USBC Junior Gold Championships in Buffalo, NY.

Healthy Families: Parent Talk

Katy parents share tips on common topics we all face.

Need Advice? Have helpful tips to share? This section is where Katy parents help other parents with great advice and tips for common kid issues and childhood dilemmas.

Written by Kirsten Cornell

 How do you handle a toddler’s tantrum in a public place?

Prepare Ahead of Time
“I always try to address this before we go to a public place. For instance, if you throw a fit while we are in Target, we will leave without getting anything. Make sure you follow through. Park that basket and promptly leave. If it happens in a restaurant, I will go sit in the car with them for a time out and a nice long talk.” – Meredith Gilbert

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The Importance of Grandparents

Katy families share their thoughts on “The Importance of Grandparents.” Four ways they enrich the lives of their grandchildren.

Written by Heather Lowrie | Select photography by Sara Isola

A grandparent inspires, educates, and loves unconditionally. This special relationship is created in love and forged by family ties that can’t be broken. Carl and Norma Lenz remember how they felt when they got the wonderful news that they would be grandparents. “An overwhelming feeling of excitement and awe came over us,” says Norma. “That was shortly followed by an awareness of the responsibility to be the best grandparents we knew how to be.” (more…)

The Top Prom Picks of 2014

Click Here For Our Prom Resource Guide!

Click Here For Our Prom Resource Guide!

What’s in. What’s hot. What’s fun!

Gowns
• Bright Colors
• Bold Patterns
• Mermaid-style
• Hi-low Skirts
• Beaded Bodices
• Flowing Skirts
• Short Gowns

Hairstyles
• Side Ponytails
• Messy Braids
• Loose Updos
• Sleek Waves
• Tousled Buns
• Fishtail Braids
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Together Time in Katy, TX

Experts say the same-sex parent is the most important role model in a child’s life. Here are some great together-time tips and local ideas for making the most of your mother-daughter or father-son relationship.

Written by Kirsten Cornell

Mother & Daughter

1. Sign up for a jewelry making class together at Multiplicity in historic Katy.
2. Get dressed up and have a tea party with some winter melon black tea from Kim’s Tea House.
3. Get your hair done together at Pari’s Gallery, BH Hair Studio, or Simply Irresistible.
4. Pick up two copies of the same book at Katy Budget Books for a mom-and-me book club.
5. Get a cookie at Nestle Tollhouse Café at LaCenterra then hit Justice for some cute clothes.
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The School Scoop

Beck’s Student Discovery Contest
Julia Yang recently won Beck Junior High’s first Student Directory Cover Contest. The theme was “Just Think.” As part of her prize, Yang received a Beck Junior High hoodie and a decal. Pictured is Yang with principal Carra Fleming.

Beck's Discovery Contest

Beck’s Discovery Contest

Rachel’s Challenge at Beckendorff JH
Larry Scott, the uncle of Rachel Scott who was the first student killed at Columbine High School in 1999, shared with Beckendorff Junior High students about the program Rachel’s Challenge. The challenge is based on five ideas: look for the best in others, dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness, and start a chain reaction. Pictured are PTA vice president of programs, Amber Willingham; Larry Scott; principal Mindy Dickerson; and PTA president Ashley Vann.

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10 Katy Family Fun Zones!

Katy is a mecca for family fun. Whether you are shopping with friends, tackling your next game of laser tag, or just want to enjoy the sunshine at the park, these activities will help your family create special memories.

Written by Katrina Katsarelis and Christen Wilson

Times Square Entertainment
Spend an evening at Times Square for some bowling, laser tag, pizza, billiards, food, and arcades. This fun-filled atmosphere provides a great assortment of activities to enjoy. Package pricing varies, and updated specials are available online.
timessquaretx.com

Family Fave Eateries
Grab a bite to eat at your fun, local, kid-friendly restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings for Trivia Night or Jimmy Changas to enjoy their kids’ play area. Head out to eat all-you-can-eat pizza at DoubleDave’s Pizzaworks or trot on over to Clay’s Restaurant for award-winning burgers that your family is sure to love.

Katy Mills
Grab your shoes for a night of shopping, jumping, fishing, and exploring. Katy Mills has a ton of options for your family night out. Visit Jump Street, Bass Pro Shop for some fishing, rent a Segway, walk through the Rain Forest, or visit the cafe. Tiltoffers more than 200 video and redemption games for your family to enjoy.
simon.com/mall/katy-mills

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Katy Texas Birthday Party Fun!

Everyone knows Katy is a great place for kids, and that is especially true when it comes to planning a fabulous birthday party for your Katy cutie. Make party planning a family affair by involving the birthday boy or girl in the process, allowing them to pick a theme, a party game, or a special snack to serve. We’ve compiled a list of a few great venues in the Katy area to help you find the perfect party place for your child.

AMF West Houston Bowl
19936 Saums Rd.
281-578-9292 amf.com

Chuck E. Cheese
2002 Gulfmont Dr.
281-644-4950 chuckecheese.com

Dewberry Farm
FM 362 and Morrison Rd. Brookshire
866-908-3276 dewberryfarm.com

Houston Fun Plex
13700 Beechnut St. Houston
281-530-7777 houstonfunplex.com

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Summer Camps 2014

Katy is definitely the place to be this summer and with camps covering activities from A to Z, your cuties are sure to have a blast. From fun field trips to playing sports, Katy Magazine is giving you a sneak peek at some of the many kid-friendly day camps in the Katy area.

Written by Christen Wilson

American Robotics
Academy Robotics Summer Camp 281-599-7626 roboticsacademy.com
Weekly camps are offered June 9 through August 15. Students ages 6 and up will learn basic engineering design concepts through hands-on activities

Athena Learning Center of Katy-Cinco Ranch
Writer’s Workshop Camp 24210 Westheimer Pkwy., #900 832-588-2651 katytx.athenalearningcenters.com
Students will benefit from one-on-one writing coaching and practice critical thinking and writing skills. Camps run for four, eight, and 12 week camps, ages fifth through 12th are welcome.

British Private Prep
Multiple locations 281-394-7737 bpps.gs
Here’s an enriching day camp for kids ages 5 through 12. Campers enjoy up to four field trips each week, from movies to skating, with experienced teachers to ensure your child’s continued learning, even while they’re out having fun.

Circle Lake Ranch
Horse Camp 1102 Circle Lake Dr. 281-395-4311 circlelakeranch.com
Summer is just around the corner and Circle Lake Ranch is gearing up for their Horse Day Camps! Students take daily riding lessons in shaded covered arena and do horse-related arts and crafts in he camp house.

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Easter Services & Celebrations

Katy, TX News – With Easter right around the corner, many of you may be looking for a way to join in community to celebrate such an important holiday. Katy has many options to choose from when it comes to attending an Easter service. At Katy Magazine, we want to wish all of you a happy Easter!

Bear Creek Baptist Church
April 19 at 6 p.m.
April 20 at 9, 10:15, and 11:30 a.m.
5901 N. Fry Rd.
bearcreekchurch.tv

CrossPoint Community
April 18 at 5 and 7 p.m.
April 19 at 5 p.m.
April 20 at 9:30 and 11 a.m.
700 Westgreen Blvd.
crosspt.org

Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community
April 19 at 5:30 p.m.
April 20 at 8, 9:45, 11:30 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.
1530 Norwalk Dr.
epiphanycatholic.org 

The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch
April 18 at 4:30 and 6 p.m. Good Friday Service
April 20 at 8:30, 10, and 11:30 a.m.
22765 Westheimer Pkwy.
thefellowship.org

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Katy Cowgirls

Donned in tiaras and cowboy boots, the Katy Cowgirls celebrate over 70 years of tradition

Written by Ella Hearrean | Photography courtesy of Katy Cowgirls

Katy, TX News – Carla Fisher was in fifth grade when she watched the Katy Cowgirls perform for the first time and told her parents, “I want to do that.” Eight years later, as a senior line captain of the mounted drill team, the Katy High School junior says, “I’ve learned leadership skills, gained friendships, and I feel proud carrying the flag during parades and performances.”

Katy Cowgirls Carla Fisher, Addy Alucema, Gretta Brong, and Jennica Davis

Representing the Community
This year, the organization of Katy ISD student horse-riding performers marks over 70 years of representing their hometown and school district at community events. Its 27 riders, whose ages range from 8 to 17 years, don their trademark tiaras and hats and present choreographed patterns at events like the Katy Rice Harvest Festival and Special Children’s Day. The culmination of their hard work is the annual presentation of the flags at the Katy Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Anita Mancini, director of the Katy Cowgirls for the past 11 years, attributes the success of the group to the diligence of its members. “These girls are the cream of the crop. Most are in advanced academic classes and are involved in other school and social activities, but they are dedicated to their horses and to each other. They are learning to be leaders.”

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Texas Sized Family

Lena and David Carlberg share how they manage their daily routine with 10 children

Written by Holly Leger | Photography by Sara Isola

Katy, TX News - “Alyssa, Annie, Aidan, Alec, Andrew, Adam, Ashton, Abigail, Addison, Adrian…” No you’re not listening to a nursery rhyme; that is breakfast roll call at the Carlberg home. Lena Carlberg still finds it hard to believe sometimes. “I didn’t plan it that way,” she laughs. “I wasn’t ever going to have 10 kids.” She and her husband, David, are proud parents of six boys and four girls, ranging in age from 1 to 16 years old.

Planning A Family
David and Lena met in 1996 while working at the Olive Garden. A couple of years later, they began dating. Soon both wanted a family, but had slightly opposing views on the matter. Lena’s mother came from a family of seven. Lena and her two brothers have fond memories of being surrounded by their cousins at family gatherings. “I remember crying and begging my mom to have more [kids],” Lena says.

Lena and David Carlberg with their children, Adrian, Annie, Alyssa, Addison, Abigail, Alec, Aidan, Ashton, Adam, and Andrew

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Speaking Up For Autism

Nine-year-old Kaylee Fowler becomes an ambassador for her spectrum mates by raising over $65,000 for Autism Speaks

Written by Clare Jensen | Photography by Lara Massey

Katy, TX News – Kaylee Fowler calls herself a bookworm, ballerina, scientist, inventor, chef, comedian, and child of the Lord. For the second year in a row, she was the top fundraiser for the Autism Speaks walk in Houston raising over $65,000 in 2013. Her team, God’s Little Lambs, seeks to help local families in need by raising autism awareness. Kaylee’s fundraising efforts were inspired by a desire to increase understanding for her “spectrum mates” – because she has autism as well.

Kaylee Fowler brings awareness to those diagnosed with Asperger’s by raising funds for Austism Speaks

Autism Spectrum
Autism is often characterized by repetitive behavior, difficulty with communication, and challenges in social interactions. Within the spectrum of autism, Kaylee has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a highly functioning form of autism.

One of her special qualities is that she focuses on specific interests so intensely that she learns expert level details before continuing to another topic. For example, at the age of 3, she became consumed with maps, and methodically proceeded to learn everything she could about geography, from continents to capitals. Once she learns something, it is imprinted in her memory for an extended period of time, often verbatim from her original understanding. Kaylee’s extensive vocabulary has allowed her to read full-length novels since the age of 4 or 5.

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Literary and Fine Arts Festival & Parade

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Cinco Ranch Branch Library

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Adventure Photo and Design

The Katy community has always held the importance of education and literacy in high esteem. Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers is no exception. “Literacy helps develop critical life skills,” says Meyers. “It expands life experiences, allows our youth to explore other cultures and worlds, learn about our history and  how our nation was founded, exposes them to the great thinkers throughout history, and provides them adventure and excitement.”

Partnering with Katy Contemporary Arts Museum, Katy Magazine, LaCenterra, The Sweet Boutique, and Fort Bend County libraries, Meyers created the Literary and Fine Arts Festival and Parade, colliding with the 10th anniversary of Cinco Ranch Branch Library. “Promoting literacy and fine arts is essential to enjoying life to the fullest,” he says.

Commisioner Andy Meyers believes in the importance of literacy and fine arts among students in Katy

Commissioner Andy Meyers believes in the importance of literacy and fine arts among
students in Katy

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Golden Beginnings

Rescuing, rehabilitating, and renewing hope for golden retrievers

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Juliana Evans

Katy, Texas News – Shari Anderson had always loved dogs, and she found herself wanting a golden retriever puppy. Happily, she answered an ad in the newspaper claiming to have several of the family-friendly breed available. When she arrived at the destination, she was horrified to find several golden and Labrador retrievers being kept in desolate conditions in an unventilated tin barn. “I purchased my puppy and left as quickly as I could, but could not stop thinking about the dogs left behind,” Anderson recalls.

Looking for help to save these poor animals, Anderson discovered that there was no organization dedicated to retrievers in Houston or the surrounding areas. Securing the assistance of the Golden Retriever Club of Houston and rescue groups out of Austin, she was able to see all of the puppy mill residents saved. Due to poor care and neglect, many of the dogs, including Anderson’s puppy Comet, experienced severe health issues. What looked like the end of the story for these pups was ultimately the inspiration for Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue (GBGRR).

GBGRR rescues an average of 150 to 250 golden retrievers each year

GBGRR rescues an average
of 150 to 250 golden
retrievers each year

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Suzette’s Students

Dedicated Cinco Ranch Junior High teacher Suzette Steward is named Teacher of the Year on Live with Kelly and Michael

Written by Susan Perini | Select photography by Melissa Crowder

Katy, Texas News – When Lisa Clements nominated Suzette Steward for the National Teacher of the Year Award from the daytime talk show Live with Kelly and Michael, she wrote, “You just have to meet her. [Suzette] has more energy, passion, and love for kids than you will find in any other human being.”

Clements should know. She is the mom of one of the many children whose lives have been impacted by Steward’s passion and dedication during her years teaching in Katy ISD.

Suzette Steward, a special education teacher at Cinco Ranch Junior High, was named as the National Teacher of the Year on Live with Kelly and Michael

Suzette Steward, a special education
teacher at Cinco Ranch Junior High, was
named as the National Teacher of the
Year on Live with Kelly and Michael

 

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Caraline Miller: Out of the Ashes

Morton Ranch student Caraline Miller survived brain cancer and child abuse, but chooses to be victorious, not a victim

Written by Zilah Miller | Select photography by Juliana Evans

Katy, Texas News – After moving from Katy to Chicago in 1998, my 2-year-old daughter Caraline and I encountered more than a change in climate. Six months after settling into our new home, I knew something was amiss. My jolly, active little toddler began to sleep 12 to 18 hours a day. When awake, nothing she ate stayed down.

Misdiagnosis Mix Up
The first occurrence landed us in the emergency room with a diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning. After two days, we were back at the ER with Caraline complaining that her neck hurt. A spinal tap revealed no meningitis, and this time, the doctor diagnosed her with stomach flu. Another two days passed, and I took her to our primary care doctor. I told him that Caraline rode her wheeled horse down the staircase in December, tumbling all the way down, and asked if the neck pain and vomiting could be related to the fall. Our doctor ordered a CT scan.

Zilah and Caraline Miller stand strong

Zilah and Caraline Miller stand strong

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A City of Churches

Katy’s legacy of strong churches continues today through the unity and service of local congregations

Written by Meagan Clanahan and Susanna Donald | Select photography by Nicole Prosser

Katy, Texas News – In Katy’s earliest days, dozens of different cultures and religious heritages influenced the budding community. When a group of settlers led the charge to put aside religious differences in the name of Christian unity in 1898, Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Apostolics, Methodists, and others came together to form the Union Sunday School. The Methodist Episcopal Church (now First United Methodist Church Katy) and Zion Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church) were also formed that year, and Katy’s first church building opened in 1904. From those humble beginnings, Katy’s legacy as “a city of churches” was born.

Crosspoint Community Church Photo by Nicole Prosser

Crosspoint Community Church

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5 Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

Encouragement from local Katy area experts for having a successful, healthy weight loss journey

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photos property of Katy Magazine

Katy, Texas News – In the midst of a culture obsessed with weight and physical attractiveness, it’s no wonder there’s a growing trend of fad diets and infomercials showcasing any number of do-it-at-home workout programs and exercise equipment. From the cabbage soup or lemonade diet to more founded routines such as Paleolithic and gluten-free, it’s no surprise that more Americans than ever struggle with weight loss. Katy Magazine sat down with local experts on the subject, to find out practical ways to maintain a healthier lifestyle and incorporate fitness into your daily life.

KM_F_13_health_shutterstock_100847368

1. Plan of Action
Deciding to live a healthier lifestyle is one that involves your entire mindset. “You have to ask yourself ‘Why do I truly want to lose weight?’ The answer will give you motivation,” advises Carl Comeaux, owner of Premier Personal Training. “People who are motivated take action.” Create an action plan that implements new habits including a regular exercise routine and proper nutrition. “Keep it simple. Don’t think about the marathon before you take your first step toward exercising on a consistent basis,” adds Comeaux. Obstacles are inevitable – put strategies in place that will help you overcome them.

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Obra D. Tompkins Opens

 

An inside look at Katy’s newest high school, number 7

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Select photos courtesy of Obra D. Tompkins High School

Katy, Texas News – With student enrollment nearing 65,000 in Katy ISD, the need arose for a seventh comprehensive high school. General population growth is predicted to grow exponentially in west Katy, so the board selected a prime location off of Gaston Rd., amidst several master-planned communities.

OTHS is proud to welcome their first class of Katy students this fall

OTHS is proud
to welcome their
first class of Katy
students this fall

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Eternal Food Ministry: Feeding Mouths and Hearts

More than 17,000 pounds of food distributed to families in need in the Katy area

Written by Kenzie Stanfield | Select photography by Marissa Hugonnett

Katy, Texas News – Once a month at a community park you will see volunteers gather with boxes and brightly colored bags. To the untrained eye it may look a little like a party, but for many in need in the community it’s food distribution Saturday.

Reaching the Hungry
The Eternal Food Ministry (EFM) is a faith-based, non-profit, mobile food pantry that serves a large portion of West Houston, including parts of Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller counties. According to Pastor John Taylor, evangelist and mission leader for EFM, “The primary goal is to reach the hungry and food-insecure with necessary food supplies through soliciting, collecting, and packaging of food for distribution.”

EFM is heavily dependent on local volunteers

EFM is heavily dependent
on local volunteers

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4,000 Pieces

Autistic teen, Grant Manier, transforms scrap paper into stunning works of Eco-Art

Written by Meagan Clanahan

Katy, Texas News – From magazines to wrapping paper and tissue boxes to puzzle pieces, 18-year-old Grant Manier sees more than just paper. He sees a medium that can be brought to life through hours of work fashioned into amazing collages. He is now one of the country’s most exciting emerging artists with statewide accolades. Even more amazing, he’s done it all with a diagnosis that most would consider a disability.

Grant is grateful for the opportunity to have his work displayed at galas, conferences, and public events Photo by Manier family

Grant is grateful for the
opportunity to have his work
displayed at galas, conferences,
and public events
Photo by Manier family

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Marriage for Keeps in Katy

KATY, Texas (KM) – They’ve survived deployments, financial devastation, cancer, the death of a child, and more. Through it all, they have leaned on one another and vowed to stay together. None of these Katy couples think their relationship is out of the ordinary, but between them they have 146 combined years of unconditional love.

Written by Meagan Clanahan | Select photography by Lindsey Shelburne

ADAM AND BAILEY LANIER
To Iraq and Back
Adam and Bailey Lanier first became friends in junior high school and eventually became high school sweethearts. Although they temporarily separated during their college years, they remained close friends. It was during that time that Adam, a U.S. Marine, was first deployed to Iraq. “It’s hard getting off the phone with someone and not knowing if and when you will talk to them again,” says Bailey. “So when we talked or emailed, it was only about the good stuff.”

 

Bailey is incredibly proud of her husband, and high school sweetheart, Adam Lanier, who served as a Marine in Afghanistan

Bailey is incredibly proud of her husband, and high school sweetheart, Adam Lanier, who served as a Marine in Afghanistan

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The Twin Connection in Katy, Texas

We’re taking a closer look at the bond shared between identical twins through the eyes of local Katyites

Written by Kirsten Cornell Photography by Lindsey Shelburne

KATY, Texas (KM) –  As the crowd cheered and the dust settled, 8-year-old Christie Mewis took to the plate and readied her bat wanting to win another hometown softball game. Back in the dugout, her twin sister Carol suddenly grabbed her cheek, jumped to her feet, and shrieked, “Ouch!” Seconds later, Christie was struck in the eye by the pitch.

The connection between twins is unique and undeniable. There have been stories about twins feeling emotional and physical pain even though they were separated by miles, states, or even oceans. They enjoy a type of closeness beyond what most siblings experience. “We get closer each year that passes,” shares Christie. “I appreciate that she always there for me. No matter the situation or the time of day, I can always depend on her support.”

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A Guide To Finding a Pediatrician in Katy, Texas

Written by Leigh Ann Mitchell

KATY, Texas (KM) – Choosing a pediatrician that you and your child connect with is an important first step in raising a healthy, happy child. Whether you’re expecting your first baby or it’s time for a a change, here are a few words of wisdom from Katy moms and pediatricians.

Asking the Important Questions

Many parents interview potential pediatricians to ensure a good fit. “I don’t think there are a lot of ‘don’ts’ when interviewing a pediatrician,” explains Dr. Farah Mamedov from Katy’s Steeplechase Pediatrics. “You are choosing a medical home for your child, so you have to be comfortable with the doctor and the clinic.” Dr. Mamedov emphasizes making sure you ‘like’ your new doctor, and asking questions to see if you agree on important parenting topics like breastfeeding, discipline, antibiotics, and more.

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Whole Foods is a Fun Outing

I am always looking for great places to take my children. Local places are even better. Let’s explore Katy, have fun, and save on gas–what’s not to love? Our latest venture took us to the new Whole Foods on Fry Road.

We went one quiet weekday morning and spent an hour. It may not sound like a big deal, but to keep three almost-three-year-olds in a supermarket cart for an hour is a major success. Here’s how we did it. Maybe you can try it with your family, too.

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One Way to Make It Fun!

Do you know a child who likes to practice skills learned in school? What?! Your child doesn’t beg to do workbook pages or practice handwriting or the piano each afternoon after a long day at school? Mine either; I mean, some days he likes to, but not many days of the week. Not enough to please his teacher with awesome skills. But, do you know a child who loves treasure hunts? Most, you say? You’re right. And I have found a sneaky and easy way to reinforce school skills without complaint.

First, you’ll need to do a little pre-work yourself. Find out what your child is learning in school and find out what he really is into. You probably know the latter already. (more…)

No Chocolate? No Problem!

It’s about a week before before Valentine’s Day? Are you worried about how to celebrate with your family? Okay, maybe “worried” is not the correct word. How about, are you looking for some creative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children? Your children who probably already will get candy from their friends? Enough candy to open a second Wonka store? Here are some ideas that I hope you will find useful as we head to Feb. 14. (more…)

Take It Easy(ier)

I know it’s January, and that means the making of resolutions and the reorganizing of priorities. I follow some blogs of busy moms, and it seems to me that a major theme this new year is to not beat yourself up trying to be perfect. I think it’s good advice; after all, no one is perfect. But with the advent of Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and other sites, it’s difficult to not compare yourself and your lack of accomplishments with others. 

As I said, looking at just ordinary blogs that my friends are writing, it is tough to see the pictures of the delicious meals, involved desserts, stylish home furnishings, and crafts for their kids without feeling a bit overwhelmed. “What have I done today,” I ask myself? I fed my family, but it wasn’t nearly as tasty as that blog meal. I cleaned the house, but don’t invite Martha Stewart over. I found a few educational crafts on Pinterest that I printed out, but right now they’re sitting in a growing pile while my boys and I play trains.
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Celebrating 100 Years

My grandmother recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She's been a Katy resident for the past 15 years, but she's lived in New York, California, and Florida. She is a product of her generation: She's never learned how to drive. She left school and began working for a living to support her family after she graduated the eighth grade. Then, she quit her nurse's aide position when she got married.

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Grace Fellowship Students Give Back During Mission Trip

Written by Ashley Bendickson

In a culture that often shouts the message, “Me first,” Grace Fellowship Junior High students chose to spend summer counteracting that message by spending a week putting others first. About 70 junior high students and leaders recently volunteered whole-heartedly in Houston. Throughout the week they spent there, students served in a variety of capacities. Most of this was done by partnering with many local ongoing ministries that serve “the least and the lost” of Houston on a regular basis. Some groups spent mornings serving food to the homeless, making hundreds of sandwiches to distribute for free lunches, and others spent time learning from the kind people at an Alzheimer’s facility. It was a joy for students and leaders alike to meet many people that love and serve the Lord in this city.  

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Pre-K, Here We Come!

With our oldest boy beginning pre-kindergarten this fall, my husband and I have a lot of jitters. I think that these feelings are totally normal, although they're certainly not fun to have.

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MOPS at FBC Katy Accepting Registration for New School Year

By Harmony Keel and Angie Aviki, co-coordinators for FBC Katy MOPs

We are currently having registration for our fall 2012 Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) semester at First Baptist Church (FBC) Katy. The fee for the fall semester is $70 for early registration before July 29, or $75 for registration between July 30 and Aug. 31. Registration includes childcare and specialized Veggie Tales curriculum for birth to 5 years old, and we welcome homeschool-aged children, as well. Those who register prior to Aug. 31 will receive an FBC Katy Moppets T-shirt for each “Moppets” registered child.
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It’s Apparent You’re a Parent

One of my favorite comic strip creators, Bill Keane, often showed that he knew what life with children was really like. His strip, The Family Circus, centered on a couple with four young children. He titled these particular strips, “It’s Apparent You’re a Parent” and showed things like the husband finding a toy in his pocket while at work and the wife correcting someone’s bad language.
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Out and About This Summer

Family-Friendly Ways to Stay Cool in Katy

Feeling the heat already? I know we are these days. Trust me, though, you can leave the comfort of the air conditioning for just a little while and take advantage of the “cooler” side of Katy.

1. Grab a handful of dollar bills and head to Katy Mills Mall. You can ride the carousel and the train, of course, but older kids will enjoy the trampoline jump, rock climbing, and the chance to walk on water while in the human hamster ball. The children’s play zone is also an attraction. For something a little different, each child can select a lunch item from the food court, and then everyone can share potluck-style.

2. While you’re reading this blog here, check out the awesome list of area libraries on KatyMagazine.com. Try to go to each library’s story time or teen activity during the summer. Discuss with your children which book was their favorite to read. Can they find any other books by the same author that they can check out?

3. Splash pads are an easy way to stay cool, but still let you get some fresh air. Cullen Park and Nottingham Park both offer awesome splash adventures. Bring a towel, water to stay hydrated, and your inner child. You know you’ll want to get soaked, too!

4. Katy Budget Books, Odyssey Comics, and the Bookworm Shoppe are all excellent places to pick up summer reading material. Kids need to be encouraged to read for fun, in addition to reading for school. Parents who model reading to their children will have to struggle less with getting their kiddos to happily open a book (or comic).

5. Don’t forget about bowling. I have to admit, I haven’t taken my sons there, yet, but every time I drive past Times Square, I feel the need to put on funny-looking shoes and take a peek inside. They’ll be old enough to really enjoy an awesome indoor game before too long, right?

So, I know I left some fun, local activities out. Please let us know where you and your family go to cool off during the sizzling summer days in Katy.

Tales from a Failed Food Channel Fan

Like many of you, I watch a lot of cooking shows. I love the professionally-edited ones on Food Network and the artsy ones on the Cooking Channel, and I even catch a few on the weekends on PBS. Even though I don’t necessarily use too many of the recipes from these chefs, I always feel inspired to rev up my cooking repertoire when I see them.
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Gratitude Is My Attitude

Remembering to be thankful for the people and moments that make life wonderful

Even though it is nowhere near Thanksgiving, I decided to try to make May another month where I try to be grateful for the people and events of my life. We all know life is busy, but so far, I have found that taking the time to be mindful of the richness already in my life helps me to not take it for granted or pine for something more.
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The Kindness of Katy Strangers

Pleasantly surprised by Katyites’ kind words and good deeds during a family shopping trip

As I’ve written before, my husband and I don’t travel to many places with all of the children. The park and the mall are safe places, since there are a lot of wide, open spaces for the triplets and their older brother to act like children without bothering many people.

However, one gloomy day we needed to go to Target. We wanted to get out of the house, since the weather had been rainy for days in a row. We buckled everyone in and headed out. We went to the Super Target near LaCenterra. We could get some groceries and baby items and look quickly at the toy aisle.
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Five Happy Sights This Weekend

The family and I ventured out this past weekend. The weather was beautiful and the house was feeling cramped, so we buckled up the four boys and went to Mary Jo Peckham Park. We enjoyed ourselves and saw many, many others doing the same. Here are five happy sights I wanted to share with you:

1. Fishing Families – It is evident that fishing is a popular Katy pastime. While we have not tried this, yet, it was great to see bonding going on at the side of the pond. With the mild temperatures, sharing stories while waiting for a nibble is a cool family experience.

2. Putting Fun – My husband and I love miniature golf. We are surely going to try this at Peckham Park in the near future. As I was pointing out to the boys the huge goldfish and catfish in the tank near the golf course, I witnessed about three different groups playing golf. Games must have been going well, since I heard a dad or two laughing and even one singing to their children as they played.

3. Exercise Fanatics – I don’t mind walking in the park, but I am not one to actually allow strangers to see me do calisthenics. I must admit, though, it was obvious that those who were doing push-ups and ab work near the jogging trail have been working out frequently. If you don’t mind hungry ducks getting in your way, the jogging path is an excellent place to work off some calories.

4. Dog Park Barks – My almost-2-year-olds loved getting pushed to the dog park fence and saying, “Dog, dog,” as a variety of canines ran past. A few dogs even stopped for a second to say hello to us. Forget watching people, the dog park is where it’s at!

5. Playground Laughs – When you’re with kids and you’re at the park, the playground has to be a stop. Our boys loved daddy and mommy pushing them in the swings and running around as one of them. We loved it, too.

I hope to see you at the park before triple-digit temperatures make the movie theater and mall the place to be. What is your happy scene around Katy? We’d love to hear from you! Email editor@katymagazine.com.

Multiples Kids Means Getting Multiple Questions

How we deal with all the questions that come along with having multiples

My husband and I are blessed to have four sons. The oldest is four, and the triplets are almost 2 years old. Because of the amount of work, we don’t really go out together many places yet. We haven’t tackled a restaurant. The park is for us – lots of wide open spaces to run, laugh, and occasionally cry when your brother pushes you over.

We have ventured out to the new HEB by Katy Mills Mall and to the mall. Perhaps you’ve seen us shopping for groceries. He’s pushing the big four-seater stroller. I’m with the oldest son in the cart. We are really going as fast as we can. We don’t mean to block the entire aisle. We have a lot of fun zooming around the store pretending to chase each other. (more…)

Help a Warrior Out

Katy mom shares the importance of becoming a bone marrow donor

Guest Blog by Kelly Schuler

I had no idea how important it is to become a bone marrow donor until my daughter Lucy was diagnosed with Leukemia at 2 years old. She is a fighter and is winning her battle! Currently in remission, Lucy will continue to undergo chemotherapy for another year. The intensive two-and-a-half years of treatment will be enough to keep this dreadful cancer away. Although Lucy has received numerous blood transfusions, a bone marrow transfusion is not required. Many of our fellow young cancer warriors however are not so fortunate. Lucy has several friends on the same battlefield whose only hope of survival is to replace their cancer-ridden bone marrow with healthy marrow via a donor. (more…)

Get a Grip on the Holiday Crazies

How One Katy Mom is Managing Her Stress this Season

I love those commercials for the mops and dusting cloths that attract dust and dirt. It’s almost like all you have to do is take the thing out of the box and the dust in your house will just magically cling to it. If only the crazies in my life would do something similar. I could get rid of them all at one fell swoop.

It is that time of year again. Errands, shopping, cleaning, traveling, cooking, entertaining, attending parties, wrapping, and the multiple other holiday stresses are beginning to weigh heavily on families. The traffic down Fry Road alone is enough to drive me batty. Don’t these other drivers know that I just want to go home? I promise I’m not trying to get ahead of them at the local Hallmark! (more…)

Head Out to the Farm with the Family

Finding Holiday Fun Close to Katy

After hearing about Dewberry Farms for years, I finally have a child old enough to begin to enjoy it. My husband, our 4-year-old, and I headed out to Brookshire last week. It was Black Friday, but instead of dodging the crowds of mad shoppers, we spent a good two hours in the country. It was wonderful.

You’ll have to check out Dewberry’s website for complete hours and prices. We went on a day that was free admission. It would have cost the three of us around $35 just to enter, and I thought that was a bit steep, especially since just about everything you do there also costs a token–usually three tokens. Each token costs $1. (more…)

A Blink of an Eye

Reflecting on how quickly Katy changes

This is my birthday month, and it was time to actually go and visit the local DPS to renew my driver’s license in person. It’s always such a pleasure to go. A slice of the variety that makes up our city! Last renewal, I went to the Katy branch. I’m sure I’m not the only one who really misses the Katy location that closed last year. Leave it to our city to have the friendliest and quickest DMV! Oh well…

I don’t want to go on about the actual renewing process. I want to share how quickly our own lives go by. In the few short years since I got my license, I got married, moved to Katy, had four children, changed jobs, made new friends, lost old friends, and had a host of other experiences of daily life. (more…)

A Blueberry Muffin

A visit with Grandma

My grandmother is recovering from pneumonia in a group care home nearby. She is 99 years old. To put it in perspective, she was born the year of the tragic voyage of the Titanic! Unlike this great ship, however, Grandma seems unsinkable. She has faced the death of her husband at an early age, some falls, a broken hip, and various other ailments. She truly is a remarkable, healthy individual!

Today was the first day I could go and see her since she left CHRISTUS Hospital. I didn’t want to bring the babies, so it took a while to have a day free. I caught her as she was finishing group exercise. One thing about getting older is that you don’t seem to really care what you look like. About 10 residents were using pool noodles to stretch up and down and touch their toes. It would probably embarrass me to do that in public, but she didn’t think twice about it. (more…)

Quilt for Practice

It was brunch time on a Sunday. I had just eaten lunch and was ready to start my hunt for my quilt materials. I’m building a brand new house in Katy that is going to have zero window coverings when I move in, so to save every little bit for the down payment, I decided to make my own curtains. Besides raising bunnies and Riflery in 4H, I also did sewing so I figured I could probably tap into the old brain and see what I could remember.

To brush up my rusty skills, I decided to start on a project like a quilt – I got the idea from the TXDot signs on the highway that were advertising the Quilt Show downtown earlier this fall. (I’m telling you, advertising works no matter how you do it.) (more…)

Football Hurrahs?

Father/son bonding doesn’t go exactly as planned

It was a 6 p.m. game at Rhodes Stadium. My husband was truly excited about taking our four-year-old son to one of his first football games. Our son was excited too. The two of them teased me about all the junk food they would eat while I stayed home with the babies. As they left, I heard my husband talking about what they would see.

Forty minutes later, they were on their way home already. It seems that our son just didn’t seem interested in learning about the game. They didn’t even eat anything while there. He just wanted to walk up the steps and watch some of the plays.

Needless to say, my husband was disappointed. (more…)

Helping Hands

Offering friends support in small ways can make a big difference

I’m writing this before the crack of dawn today. Why? Our household has been invaded by the virus of the month. You may have run across it – it’s the one that causes super-high temperatures, mostly in the middle of the night. It lasts a good three days for your children to feel better, which means parents are not sleeping. Now multiply that by the number of kiddos in your house, and you’ve got one tough virus and little rest. Our particular case has lasted about two weeks so far. Our oldest boy just got it a few days ago. (more…)

A Day Without School…Yay?

The other day the boys were all home from the Mothers’ Day Out program they attend twice a week. I had seen the marking on the calendar and was watching it approach with, I have to admit, some fear and trembling. A school holiday – yay!

Of course I love spending quality time with my four children, and I know that some parents spend each day with their children. I wasn’t complaining, it was just that I was worried about keeping the babies happy while showing some personal interest in the 4-year-old’s activities. Everyone likes to be held or directly played with which is impossible for one parent to do for the entire day. I just knew that someone was going to begin to cry or act up in order to get my attention. Our oldest boy is also beginning to stretch the limits of his independence. I know the parents reading this know exactly what I mean. (more…)

Using Our Senses to Welcome Fall

Five simple ways to mark the change of seasons

I know it’s still in the 90’s here in Katy, so it doesn’t feel like fall at all. Even though I am a realist, I am also an impossible romantic when it comes to this season. ‘Autumnal is one of my favorite words. Apple cider and wagon rides fill my imagination. My son is learning about our senses and each season definitely has its own smells, sounds, and tastes, so I will focus this post on some family activities based upon our senses. (more…)

The Morning Triathlon

Running the Race Against the Clock Every Morning

Two weeks into having all four boys at a Mothers’ Day Out program has brought some big challenges to my life, especially in the morning. I am running around like a mad woman. I’m sure all moms understand and can add their own experiences to the morning routine. It’s calm, and then all of a sudden it’s time to get up and begin the Morning Triathlon!

The first event in this never ending triathlon is breakfast. Today, my oldest son was fine eating a bowl of cereal. Yesterday, it was a bagel and only a bagel. If I had offered cereal, the tears would have started. Tomorrow, the exact same cereal will not work. The babies are fine with anything I offer, bless their little stomachs! But with babies, I need to be with them with a spoon, so the second event in the Morning Triathlon gets off to a late start. (more…)

Little Boy’s First Football Game

Enjoying Katy ISD Sports at a Young Age

It’s an understatement to say that football is big here in Texas. Football has never been that important to me. Even in high school and college, I didn’t mind skipping a game to do something else. I didn’t grow up in Texas, and maybe that has something to do with it! Our sons are Texans, and our oldest is beginning to watch sports with my husband. Of course, the questions range from, “Dad, what ball is that?” to “Are they supposed to be hitting each other?”

So much to learn! (more…)

Adjusting to a New School Year

Finding a Balanced Schedule as Katy Kids Head Back to School

I planned on getting this blog written this morning, before the four boys woke up. But it is already nearing the afternoon, and I’m just sitting down to do it. It’s the beginning of a new school year. Everyone in Katy knows it, too. Parents, of course, are busier now than just a few weeks ago. The commute on Fry, Greenhouse, and I-10 is much heavier than in the summer months. I’m sure the stores are seeing higher customer traffic on the weekends now that high school kids can’t run errands during the week.

In the Browne household, I am trying to implement a morning schedule that will get us out the door on time and with little stress. Ha-ha–it hasn’t happened exactly right, yet, which is why I am just sitting down now! (more…)

Don’t Hold Back the Good

Sharing Good News is Important

If you found a gas station selling gas for $1 a gallon, wouldn’t you call your family and friends to tell them? Likewise, if you got a promotion or won the lottery, you’d probably be on the phone with your closest loved ones sharing the good news.

I know bad news is all around us. I’m sure you’d agree that if you watch the news – local or national – that bad news gets reported all the time. I rarely hear the good, and if I do, it’s usually some kind of special award or series that the station is giving out. (more…)

The Heat Makes for Some Creative Moves

Finding Ways to Get in Exercise, Despite the Summer Temperatures

As I write this it’s nearing 8 p.m., and it feels as if the temperature is still in the 80’s. So much for my goal to get outdoors and exercise more. To beat the heat, I either have to go outside when it’s still dark or brave the high temperature after the children are in bed. Common sense tells me that both choices are unwise.

I try to be creative, and no doubt you’ve see some of these ideas before. But here are five of my favorite indoor exercise ideas. (more…)

The Struggle for Quiet

Finding a Moment Alone in the Busy Days of Raising a Family

It happened again this morning. The triplets were in their highchairs, our four-year-old was happily fed and playing with some car toys, and my husband and I were planning for a pleasant breakfast. Then everything changed in what seemed an instant.

“I have to go potty,” said one. I looked at the babies and they had somehow managed to eat every Puff off their tray and were demanding more food – NOW! The kettle began to whistle, and I forgot what I was getting out of the pantry. Craziness in the Browne household strikes again! (more…)

Find That Last Blessing

Celebrating the Little Things

As a mother of four boys, I am used to having a less-than-perfectly-clean house. These hot days of triple digit temperatures don’t help keep a house clean. I can’t really send my boys outside to play, so we make do inside with books, blocks, cars, and videos.

Yesterday, I was so proud of myself for enlisting my oldest boy in a quick cleaning job. Singing the “clean up song,” we rapidly made headway into our living room, I mean, playroom. Perhaps you have such a room in your house. (more…)

Summer Swim League

Katy Mother Gets Ready for Summer Tradition

Guest post by: Usha L. Machiraju

This is my sixth trip back to the car, I have the list of things that need to be packed, and I am franticly checking them off as they go into the trunk.  Towels – check. Food two small coolers for the kids and a big one for us – check. Swim suits, caps and goggles – check. Folding chairs and a beach umbrella – check . Plenty of water and sunscreen – check.  No, we are not going to the beach. We are going to another swim meet! (more…)

Katy Heritage Park

When you visit Katy, Texas don’t miss Katy Heritage Park

If you’ve never been to Katy Heritage Park in historic Katy Texas, it’s a must see for anyone interested in learning a bit about Katy history.

PUBLIC TOURS THE FIRST WEEKEND OF EACH MONTH
On the first weekend of every month the Katy Heritage Park is open for free public tours. Docents are on hand the first Saturday of each month from 10 am to 1  pm, and first Sunday of the month from 1 to 4 PM. Guests can tour the historic homes and buildings, free of charge, and see what life was like for Katy residents in the early 1900s. (more…)

Snacking Healthy

Must-Haves for the Pantry

Reaching for a snack is a constant for my kids, especially after school and after dinner.  Today’s kids are snacking more and getting much less exercise than kids five, ten, even 20 or more years ago.  Traditionally, families ate during mealtimes only, and they were more physically active in their overall lives.  In today’s America, however, far too many sugar-filled and salt-laden processed foods line our grocery aisles, and then find their way into our pantries at home – and we’re not spending the added “food energy” in our bodies as fast as we’re adding it.

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Enjoying Fresh, Springtime Recipes in Katy

Lisa’s Fresh Bean Relish

This springtime relish is easy, fresh, and full of natural fiber.  Thanks to Lisa (Juan’s co-worker), our family enjoys this quick dish often with grilled chicken or as a side to fish.  It turns out best with all the ingredients rinsed and completely drained, and then refrigerated overnight.  It’s one of those dishes that just gets better with time.

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Adventures in Dining

Experiencing New Culture in Katy

Recently, I added some new culture to my family’s diet with some delicious Afghani food.  My dear friend Ghizal and I both packed up our little ones (both 3 years old and best buds.) along for a ride to the Middle Eastern specialty store in Houston.  What a learning experience.  I was surprised at the selection available in organic and specialty health products, though I shouldn’t be.  The culture I was experiencing supports a strong Mediterranean-type diet, with such a fresh appeal.  The amount of aromatic spices and savory sauces and dips available was delightful.  I was like a kid in the candy store, and I plan to go back very soon.

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The Best Weekend Ever

My kids are so happy to be off for the holiday today – with the extra stress of cramming for the upcoming TAKS test at school, today came just in time. The weather is so perfect here in Katy today, warm and toasty, but with a cool breeze blowing through. So we started our three day weekend off right, out in the garden and front yard, adding colorful impatiens to our growing collection of spring beauties. Then we planted the rest of our herbs, adding dill, cilantro, and basil to our “edibles” garden. After some fun in the early morning sun, we started breakfast.

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Cooking Healthy in Katy

Eight Pantry Must-Haves

To cook healthy for your Katy family, your pantry must be stocked with healthy ingredients. Here is a quick list of the items you’ll turn to as you begin to cook healthier dishes for your family. Having them on hand makes last-minute decisions for dinner better choices. If the only thing available to grab and fix is wholesome, the likelihood of “falling off the health wagon” is decreased.

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The Benefits of Coffee

How to Enjoy a Healthier Daily Cup of Joe

Coffee has gotten a bad rap in recent years, and with good reason.  The coffee that the bulk of Americans are drinking is loaded with additives, sugar and other unnatural ingredients which are harmful to our health.  This post is in no way meant to tout the consumption of the coffee drinks that have become the popular mainstay of the morning routine, but rather to offer a redemptive take on the benefits of the pure form of the dark liquid given to us by nature!

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Becoming a Healthy Katy Family

Survival Tips For Transition

When the decision has been made to get healthier as a Katy family, the look of your food shelves must change, little by little!  In order for the family to eat healthy, the available selection must be healthy.  There are several items I suggest you stock in your pantry for both cooking needs and quick snacks.  One thing that is so important to remember that during the exchange of previous foods to healthier picks: it takes time for your family to adjust.

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Six Ingredient Chicken Cacciatore

This Easy Recipe is Sure to Please Any Katy Family

You can cook gourmet dishes in little time, with little effort, offering your family something full and healthy for dinner. Since spaghetti sauces are loaded with sugar, I have resorted to using crushed tomatoes with a small amount of tomato paste stirred in, along with your fave Italian seasonings (garlic, thyme and oregano always work for Italian.) to make quick and easy semi-homemade sauce. This dish is easy, will please your picky eaters and is healthy. Enjoy!

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Spring Break Experience

A Trip to the Rodeo Makes for a Memorable Day

Going on an outing as a family can be so fulfilling, and establish fond memories for your children for years to come.  We took a fun day trip with our kids over Spring Break, to the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show.  It was like a springtime mini-vacation, as we got out of the house for a day, and drove the half hour to the Houston event.

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Lettuce Wraps by Bess

A Quick and Healthy Alternative to a Restaurant Favorite

Always on the lookout for quick and healthy, I have reinvented Chili’s famous lettuce wraps and made my own version at home. I think this one is much easier and definitely does without all the sugar-filled sauces you’ll find at the restaurant. Try them for yourself, and let me know what you think.

This recipe is just about as easy as it gets for a healthy, filling, and quick dinner. All you need is a nice head of green lettuce (any type BUT iceberg), sliced grilled chicken, carrots, onion (purple or green are best), sliced almonds, and crispy rice noodles. You can add any extra ingredients that you might have a hankering for, like I did with bacon pieces in this picture below. Yellow or red bell peppers are also a strong addition, adding more than a naturally sweet taste and vibrant splash of color. They are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.

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Outside Fun in Katy This Spring

Enjoying Weather, Nature and Making Memories

Getting outside in Katy this spring has been easy, due to the gorgeous weather and lack of offensive insects. As the grass and trees are turning green and coming alive again, the instinctual internal urge in some of us to get out and get dirty has taken over. Both Juan and I are nature lovers, and I guess the kids inherited our love (or adapted to it.) They are outside everyday now, leaving the long, dark days of winter behind them.

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Bess’s Famous Banana Walnut Bread

This has been a family favorite of mine for years, and the perfect amount of sweetness and moist texture of this recipe will make it a new family favorite of yours.  This recipe also makes 12 muffins, soft on the inside and chewy on the outside!

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Need More Carotene? Eat More Green!

Tips and Tricks to Get More Fresh Produce Into Your Diet This Spring

Fresh spring veggies are colorful, appetizing, and vital to our overall health. The nutrients and vitamins found in vegetables not only give our bodies the nourishment they need, they also work to combat the toxins in our systems. For instance, dark greens like mustard and collard greens, kale, and green leafy lettuce contain high levels of vitamins B6 and C, fiber, calcium, carotenes, manganese, and copper, just to name a few benefits. Green vegetables, especially leafy greens, give us cancer-fighting benefits. This is mostly due to their high content of antioxidant compounds including vitamins C and E, carotenes, and a high content of glucosinolates.*

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Ultimate Grilling Tips for Your Katy Barbeque

Time to Fire Up the Grill and Barbecue pit as Temperatures Rise

Now that it’s warming up outside, the Katy family is migrating into the backyard more, and its time to pull out the grill.  Are you in the mood for healthy family dinners that are easy to prepare and even easier on the tummy?  Juicy, tender meats aren’t the only whole foods that are good to grill; veggies, bread, and even fruit are delicious additions to the grillin’ family.

Here are some tips to ease you into warm weather dinnertime on the back porch.  Less time and effort spent on dinner equals more time to be active with the kids and spouse on these great days.

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Top Five Ways to Save Money on Groceries

Tips and Tricks for Making Your Budget go Further

There are a few good pointers to remember when shopping for today’s Katy family.  Some of these tips you’ve heard before, yet some may be new to you.  Applying even one of these money-saving ideas to your own family’s grocery budget will stretch your dollars, and that’s a good thing.

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5 Things To Do With Your Kids and Spend Less Money

Great Ideas for Spring Break Activities

In this economy, the frugal Katy parent is constantly on the lookout for ways to save bucks.  The good news is that there are plenty of fun activities to do with your kids that don’t cost much, or even any, money.  Here are five of them – enjoy these bonding and memory-making ideas with your kids without putting a hurt on your checkbook.

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A Peek at Spring in Southeast Texas

From Enjoying Fresh Foods to Being Surrounded by Nature, Katy is Ready for a New Season

We were an excited bunch when the temperatures started rising a little over a week ago, and hit the toasty 70s here in southeast Texas.  We didn’t need a weatherman to tell us that we could go outside and move our winterized bodies, warming ourselves in the fresh air and spring breeze.  In the last few days, we’ve danced at the park, planted our first spring flowers and veggies, and started the grillin’ get-togethers.  The Blancos are a family that lives outside, and this is our favorite time of year.

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5 Easy Household Habits to Establish Now to Prevent More Work Later

Keeping It Clean In Katy

The key to keeping a house clean is not to perform a large cleaning job every so often.  It is doing a little, all the time, and is well worth the “trouble.”  If stains, dirt, and other offenders are left to build up over time, the cleanup becomes overwhelming and unpleasant.  Here are five easy tips to try at home:

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Everyday Exercise in Katy

Fun Ways to Burn Calories This Spring

With spring hinting at us around the corner here in Katy, the neighborhoods are beginning to look alive again.  People are out in their yards, cleaning up the garden beds, and washing the cars.  All of these activities are necessary to keep our hearts pumping, blood moving, and calories burning.

Did you know that gardening and yard work count as exercise?  So does washing the car, cleaning the house, and rough-housing with your kids.  Yes, according to the experts at Diet.com and Harvard Medical School, here are the calories you can burn by doing these everyday activities:

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Chocolate – Is It Really Good For Us?

Discovering the Health Benefits of a Favorite Sweet

When my family and I first embarked on our sugar-freeing journey a few weeks ago, we thought we were kissing all goodies goodbye.  Most “junk food” sweets contain over 20 grams of sugar per serving, and since our new daily quota is 15 grams of sugar, we can no longer dabble in the confections of our former sugar-filled days.  How relieved we were to find that we can still have chocolate, and some baked goodies, without the guilt and shame of “cheating” ourselves.

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Maggie’s Easy Breezy Low-Sugar Shrimp Cocktail

Enjoy This Simple Recipe and Kick Off Spring

One of the things I love most about living in Katy is the wide array of cultures we have located right here!  We have met and made friends with people from all over: Colombia, Brazil, Phillippines, Mexico, Venezuela, Africa, Haiti, Peru, India, Afghanistan…We love learning about their culture, as well as sharing with them what we love about ours.  One of the things I love best about my friend’s cultures is tasting their delightful foods!  Here is a recipe for you to enjoy at home – to you, from Colombia.

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Our Miracle Puppy

A Thoughtful Katy Resident Makes a Family’s Day!

We call Lacey our miracle puppy.  Our family has loved this dog since the summer of 2009, and she is officially a member of the Blanco family.  She was a treasure to find and has been a blessing to keep, but those aren’t the real reasons she’s our miracle.

Last month, she was not wearing a collar and nametag, and she did the inevitable.  She ran out while one of us was putting out the trash, and none of us noticed.  We didn’t notice the rest of the night that she was gone, either.  We didn’t even notice the next morning (a Saturday) until Daddy asked us where she was.  After calling for her and whistling (which usually brings her bounding to us within a few seconds) we began to realize with horror that she was gone.  I began to panic as I realized the reality of the situation.  It had been a hard freeze the night before, and I hadn’t even noticed my puppy was gone!  Because she was not wearing a tag, if someone did find her, they couldn’t call!

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Take 20 Minutes to Get Rid of 9 Household Things – and Not Regret It!

Tip to De-clutter Your Home

It is time, Katy families, for more organization and less mess!  It’s time to move out the “stuff” that is just taking up valuable room, and clear the clutter for a more effective home.  How to do it, you ask?  Here are 9 things you can get rid of by throwing or giving away, and not feel guilty about it.  Your pantry and closets will thank you for it when you’re done.  Take twenty minutes now and clear some clutter!

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My Family’s Healthy Pursuit

An Update on New Year’s Resolutions

The last three weeks of being on a low-sugar lifestyle change have been eye-opening, to say the least!  Saying no to the old way of eating (mindlessly, mostly) and bringing in the new way (completely, constantly mindful) is not easy.  It’s even more difficult when feeding four snack-addicted youngsters, and to further complicate the transition, we’re doing it all on a tight budget!  Well, at least we’re figuring out that it can be done.

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How to get Your Katy Kids to Help With Chores

Five Whine-Busting Secrets Revealed!

For most of us moms, chores are something we dread.  I haven’t met a Katy mom yet who looks forward to folding laundry, washing dishes, or cleaning the bathrooms.  If you’re that mom, you can stop reading this article, you don’t need to waste your time!  This piece is for those moms who do their best to clean up the messes, take care of the daily routine tasks, but often find themselves alone in the process.  If this is you, read on, there is hope for help!

Here are five easy ways to get your kids to help with the cleanup of everyday living – after all, who made the messes, dirtied the clothes, and left the peanut butter jar out anyway?

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Five Ways to De-Clutter Your Kitchen Countertops in 15 Minutes or Less!

Making the Most of your Family’s Favorite Room

If your house is anything like ours, the kitchen is the family gathering place in the home.  It is the conference room, eatery, comfort space, and homework central all rolled into one room.  Although this is a good thing for familial relationships, it can often become a problem area for clutter and mess.  Here are five simple ways to de-clutter the space, and restore order and function back to your Katy kitchen.

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Achieving FOCUS in Your Home Business

Four Tips on How To Manage Your Work Duties

As I write this, my pre-teen son is hassling me for a snack – he just arrived home from school with an empty stomach, and caught me in the middle of “work.”  Working at home is an on-going challenge to the life balance for sure, especially when there are children living in that same home.  It is specifically difficult to stay focused on the job at hand and the direction of a business when said children are present and hungry!

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Takeaways from 2010

Lessons Learned, Memories Made and New Dreams Cast

In all of the excitement of the New Year and all the looking ahead we do, I wonder if we sometimes forget to look back.  Not for long, I mean, but just a glimpse, almost like a life review.  I’ve done that this year; maybe because it was such a good, full year in 2010, and I don’t want to close the proverbial door on it until I’ve grasped every bit of what I was supposed to take away from it.

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New Health, New Habits!

Breaking the Cycle Can Help You Feel Good

Frankly, I am shocked at my “progress” with this brand new health and lifestyle change my family and I have implemented this year.  I emphasize the word progress because the scale doesn’t say anything different than last year’s weight yet.  The clothes I yearn to try on without popping the front button off don’t fit me – yet.  No, nothing has visibly changed as of now.  On the outside, that is.  Inside, however, there is change – and it’s good!

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Creating a Productive Home Office Workspace

Six Simple Ideas

For those of us who work from home, whether part or full-time, the quality of our workspace has a real impact on productivity.  We can make do with a card table in the corner of the living room for a while, or pop open the laptop on the kitchen table to “clock in.”  If you plan on working from home for a substantial period of time, however, establishing a pleasant and professional workspace is a must.  Here are some simple ideas to create a permanent workspace that produces creativity and consistency.

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5 Easy Steps to Eliminate Those Perpetual Paper Piles in the Home Office

Katyite Offers Tips to Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning

It’s a new year again, and time for a fresh start in your home office.  Take a look around your work area: is it clean and organized?  Or, like many other home offices, is it in dire need of streamlining?  What many career professionals working from home have found is that it is not as hard to keep systems, like a paper flow filing system, in place.  It is the initial setup that can be overwhelming.  Here are some easy steps to take to tackle the daily influx of paper and mail that inevitably stack up at the end of the day.  Once you implement these five tips, you’ll eliminate the stress and mess that come with the piles, and have a system in place for a smooth working year of paper-pile freedom.

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Six Simple Ideas for Making Memories this Katy Holiday!

Create New Traditions This Holiday Season

Is all this talk of traditions, warm family holidays and fun activities with your kids this Christmas getting you in the spirit of the season?  Or is it causing your spirits to get flustered and overwhelmed, adding more to your already-jam-packed holiday calendar?  Well, don’t stress, here are 6 very simple ideas that are fun, memorable and affordable.  You can easily squeeze them in and around everything else going on, especially once school is out and tests, homework and lunch preparation is over for a couple of weeks!

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Why Keep Holiday Family Traditions?

Help Create Special Memories with Loved Ones This Holiday Season

Growing up, my family didn’t have too many traditions, especially around the holidays.  I can remember a couple that were special, and they were observed when the funds were available, but my childhood was not full of warm traditions.  Part of the reason was the strict religious beliefs my parents held, and part was my mother’s stand that “things shouldn’t hold value.”

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11 Ways to Entertain the Kids in Katy This Winter (And Not Overspend!)

Katy Mom Offers up Some of Her Family’s Favorite Activities

Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean the kids have to stay shut up in the house, whining about “nothing to do!”  Instead of sending them with a toothbrush to clean the tile grout at their first complaint of boredom, why not beat them to it with these 11 activity ideas?

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Our Journey to Bethlehem

A Katy Family Christmas Experience

This weekend, the Blanco family experienced Christmas in a new way.  We went to Current – A Christian Church in Katy Saturday night, which hosted a live Biblical experience, called “Journey to Bethlehem.”  From the time we entered that church, we were treated like part of the production, and we loved it.  We were placed in the “Abraham family” and ushered outside into the frigid air after refreshments and a brief overview.  Soon the reality of what Mary and Joseph and all the other Israelites experienced on their way to be “counted” in Bethlehem began to sink in.  The girls and I held hands nervously, but with a twinge of excitement, as we experienced firsthand the evening of a traveling Jew from our various hometowns to Roman-led Bethlehem.

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Katy’s 30th Annual Rice Harvest Festival is Here

Katy families prepare for one of the biggest and best festivals around

It’s that time of year again – time for the annual Rice Harvest Festival – and it’s all thanks to Katy’s rice farming history. The Katy area’s 15 operating rice farms begin harvesting their 9,500 acres in late July or early August, with the rice making its way to the Rice Dryers in east Katy. The American Rice Growers Association, which operates one of three commercial dryers in the Katy area, only dries the rice from these Katy area farmers. They also grade rice from other rice farmers outside the Katy area, who have their own dryers. The Association sells their rice along with Katy area’s rice to ARI, to be milled into the nation’s premium long grain rice.

This year marks the Rice Harvest Festival’s 30th anniversary. Previous Festivals have drawn 40,000 to 50,000 people for the weekend long event, with the proceeds benefitting 60 non-profit organizations. Several local participants will be returning this year to ensure great food, enjoyable activities, and fun and informative booths. Look for  KISD High School Project Graduation and the Katy Volunteer Fire Department, as well as local organizations like VFW, Elks, and the Knights of Columbus. Volunteers from local schools and churches help man many of the booths. (more…)

Ride the Trains at Zube Park

Katy families can pack a lunch and hop on the train

Zube (pronounced: zoo-bee) Park in west Harris County, just north of Katy, is a 14 acre green space with all the amenities one would expect to find in  a family-oriented recreational area: Play grounds, picnic tables, grills, pavilions, hiking trails, restrooms and soccer fields. But there is one more hidden treasure that is becoming increasingly popular with families – the 1/8 scale Cypress Creek and Southern Railroad, operated by the Houston Area Live Steamers (HALS). (more…)

Letters From Home

Katyites need to remember that a handwritten note says so much more

When was the last time you wrote a letter by hand? When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? In this age of e-mails, texting, and IM-ing, getting messages to people quickly seems so much easier and more convenient than drawn-out letters written longhand. The hi-tech age seems to have signaled the end of  handwritten letters filled with heartfelt words. Yet there are times in everyone’s life when receiving one of these letters makes a profound difference. (more…)

Star Wars: Now my kids’ generation

‘May the force be with you’ Katy parents

In the past six months, not a day has gone by that I haven’t uttered the words, “Star Wars.” I am sure that there are several Katy moms with the same situation: 6-year-old son completely immersed in the Star Wars galaxy of light sabers, rebels, Imperial troops, and the force.

When my son was in kindergarten, he started to ask me questions like, “What is Star Wars?” and “Who is Darth Vader?” My dismissive response was, “Oh, it’s a movie that was popular when I was a kid.” Of course, I knew he was getting information from the kids at school, and my son does not rest until he can put the pieces together. At the end of the school year, I decided that I don’t want to keep explaining the story anymore because I was sure I was getting some of the details wrong, especially since I was messed up by the original trilogy/new prequel backwards storyline. (more…)

Jury Duty

Katy residents should look at jury duty in a different light

A few weeks ago I received a jury summons. I should have known it was coming. For one thing, I haven’t been called in over 4 years. For another, My husband and both of my grown children have been summoned in the last 3 months. It was only a matter of time before mine arrived in the mailbox.  I live in the Harris County portion of Katy, which means a no-expenses-paid day trip into beautiful, downtown Houston. Lucky me!

At first, I was more than just a little annoyed. It meant rearranging my entire schedule and my life. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I had to make other arrangements for getting my granddaughter to school (one of my jobs since she and our daughter moved in with us). Grumble, grumble. Then, because I didn’t relish the thought of driving and parking in downtown Houston, I had to learn the bus schedule and bus stop locations downtown. It also meant finding my way from the bus stop to Jury Assembly Room and from each of the separate court houses to the return bus stop. Grumble, grumble. (more…)

The Evolution of a Hobby

Katy moms no longer need the craft stores to be crafty

In 1996, I became a card maker using rubber stamps.  My friend Sharon taught me how to use stamps to make beautiful cards.  She had thousands of stamps, and I’m not exaggerating.  I slowly built up my own collection of stamps along with embossing pens and powder, markers, ink pads, adhesives, and cardstock.  It then became necessary to buy a drafting table and a rolling cart to store the materials for my new hobby.  I also needed a room for my crafts, so my study became the “craft room.”  I have to admit that since I started this hobby, I have bought roughly five cards in the last 14 years.  I justified my crafting expenses by the money I saved from not buying cards.  Well, that’s what I told my husband anyway.

My friend Christine was also a stamper (as we fellow crafters called ourselves), but she was also a scrapbooker.  She tried to convince me to become a scrapbooker like many ladies in the Katy area.  I kept thinking of the expenses that scrapbooking would incur; I would have to buy even more supplies like a die cut machine, special 12×12 papers, embellishments, ribbon, organization bins, albums, and on and on… (more…)

What Age is Old Enough for that Gadget?

How to decide whether or not to give into your Katy teen’s pleaing

Of course, my husband and I had to hear about the cell phone many months before we actually deemed it a need instead of just a want, and gave in and bought it.  My twelve-year-old son, Jovanni, is in a little hurry to grow up.  Are all kids like this now?  They want Facebook profiles (he hasn’t won that argument yet!), laptops, cell phones, ipads… I was happy with a notebook and pen at his age.  That’s all that was readily available when I was his age!  (Oh, did I just date myself?)

What to do?  Well, my advice, even if you don’t want it, is to NOT give in to all the requests, whines, or demands for the newest, most expensive “thing” on the gadget market.  Ask yourself, is this something my child really needs right now?  Is peer pressure a factor in their pressing “need” for this item?  Would this purchase create more problems for society situations (i.e. bullying, sexual predators, etc.)?  If so, then maybe, just maybe, it is not the best purchase idea for your child at this time. (more…)

Community Education Classes Sponsored by KISD

Katy residents can earn a degree “From the school of hard knocks!”

If you haven’t already received your pamphlet in the mail, be on the lookout for the Fall 2010 Community Education classes list from the Katy Independent School District.  This idea is new to me, being from a small rural area previously, and I like it!  A large assortment of interesting topics are available to local residents, either online or in person.  The classes are held locally at assorted KISD campuses.  From foreign languages to finance, painting to sewing, guitar lessons to zumba dance classes, there seems to be a little of everything offered!  Take your pick, and if you are age sixteen and above, sign up for one of these classes.  Fees are different for every class, as some require more materials than others. 

Have you ever wanted to learn how to arrange flowers?  There is a class for that!  Always wanted to try your hand at shooting a bow and arrow?  Take the archery class!  The topic list is almost endless, covering sign language for babies, conversational arabic, real estate investing, how to organize your life, oil painting, gardening, how to get published, and photography!  There is even a class for learning how to make your home more energy efficient (Home Energy Efficiency 101)!  (more…)

Back to School, Back to Schedule!

Katy parents say ‘Goodbye’ summer and ‘Hello’ school

We had every good intention of getting up at six o’clock a.m. this week, in preparation for the new school year, but those good intentions went out the same window that our good summer intentions of re-slathering the sunscreen every hour and a half went out of!  My twelve-year-old son had to wake me up at eight o’clock a.m. this morning, so we obviously haven’t been wasting our time practicing for up and at ‘em!  Shoulda,  woulda,  coulda…  Ok, I have set the alarm for a good old-fashioned try at it tomorrow morning, 6:00 a.m.  It’s that time of year again!

Almost gone are the lazy summer days of freedom and too much sun.  So many friends over and too much swimming.  So little chores to do, so much sleep to get!  Almost gone are the days of hanging out with friends until too late, since the kids don’t have to be anywhere anyway!  Almost gone are the endless popsicles, ice cream truck runs, and late night neighborhood walks. (more…)

Family Fun at Bear Creek Park

Katy families can enjoy an afternoon of fun and relaxation

Bear Creek Park is a great way to have fun with friends and family, especially on weekends and when the weather is beautiful.  The park provides over 2,000 acres of picnic areas, walking and nature trails, and playgrounds.

Most of the sports venues (baseball and soccer) are used by sports teams that have signed up for the spaces in advance. However, when not in use by teams, families have been known to play their own games in these fields.

Picnic areas are spread out far enough apart that hundreds of families and large gatherings can share the park without tripping over each other. They include picnic tables, grills, garbage cans, restroom facilities, and wide-open, grassy areas for spreading out blankets – or for simply running around. (more…)

Love Languages at Play

Using the concept of Love Languages in your Katy home

My husband and I read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, early in our marriage.  We found it to be of such importance that I went on and read The Five Love Languages of Children, by Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell.

The premise of both books is that love is understood differently by different people.  If I love my husband with acts of service, he will receive the love more deeply than if I love him with quality time.

I highly recommend the books for anyone who is interested in finding out your love language.  The book lists 5 basic, general love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.

When life is busy being lived, it isn’t always easy for me to know exactly how to translate the overarching idea of ‘quality time’ into my structured week.  I know my spouse responds to love through gifts, but that doesn’t always mean I know which trinket to grab while I’m grocery shopping. (more…)

Mickey Mouse Treats

Healthy rice cereal treats for your Katy cuties!

Mickey Mouse Treats

My family just got back from a stay at Disney World, and my children are all about Mickey and the princesses these days.  So, when it came time to whip up a dessert for a get-together, the decision was easy: Mickey Mouse rice cereal treats.  I was envisioning something like the classic Mickey ice cream sticks covered in chocolate, but I could not find a cookie cutter of the traditional Mickey face anywhere in town.

Instead, I did find a full body cookie cutter of Mickey, looking to the side.  Because our hearts were set on making this dessert, my daughter, age 4, and I decided it was good enough for our purposes.

I made the rice cereal treats and spread them as thin as possible over a jelly roll pan covered in wax paper and cooking spray.  After the treats cooled just enough to be easy to manage but not so much that they were set, I began cutting Mickey’s head out of the side.  Since it was a whole body cookie cutter, I had to form the base of his head once the treat was cut.  With the leftover treats, I rolled small balls and set them aside. (more…)

Progressive Dinner Part 2

 Trying a Katy Progressive Dinner on a less-expensive scale

We love the idea of a progressive dinner, whereby we travel to three different restaurants throughout the course of our meal.  Appetizer and drinks, main dish, and dessert are all eaten at different venues, making the night last a bit longer and allowing for some variety within the meal.

Our first progressive dinner date, we did on a bigger scale, budget-wise.  Then, we ate appetizers at Perry’s Steakhouse, dinner at Three Olives, and dessert at Hasta la Pasta.  While it was wonderful, we were curious: can we do it again, this time being more budget-conscience?

We decided to make the entire event hassle free by choosing a location that has it all: La Centerra.  We were able to enjoy three courses at three different locations, all on foot. (more…)

Welcome Back, Katy

The First Day of School is Right Around the Corner for Katy ISD Students

Merrell Center - Katy ISD Administration Building

The 2010-1011 school year starts is only a month away, which means school supplies, clothes, and for some of us, registering children in new schools. For students new Katy ISD and returning students, parents need to make sure you’ve got everything ready for the new school year.

According to the Katy ISD registration site at http://www.katyisd.org/parents/Pages/Registration.aspx, to register students new to the district, or new to kindergarten, middle, or high school, parents will need the following documents:

  • Proof of residence (like a recent utility bill or house/apartment rental agreement)
  • Official birth certificate or other  proof of the student’s identity
  • Immunization Records
  • Report card or transcript from the previous school
  • Withdrawal sheet from the previous school
  • Social Security card
  • Application for Determination of a Minor’s Residence (if the student lives with someone besides a parent) (more…)

Family Fun at Brazos Bend State Park

Enjoy the sites and sounds of nature just minutes from Katy, Texas

An American Alligator at Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park, bordering the Brazos River in fort Bend County, boasts 5,000 acres with seven lakes and more than 20 miles of Hike and Bike trails. The Park is a wildlife sanctuary where families can observe egrets and herons, ducks of all kinds, rabbits and raccoons,  turtles, snakes and alligators in their natural habitat. National Geographic Traveler Magazine rated Brazos Bend one of the top ten State Parks in the Nation.

Bring your bikes and your hiking shoes for witnessing the wildlife – and for the exercise and fun. The park sells no food, but has plenty of picnic tables and grills, as well as space for picnic blankets. Even on a busy weekend you can find a spot without being too close to neighboring picnickers, unless you want to be close. So pack up your ice chests with enough food for lunch and dinner and enjoy fine outdoor dining with your kids.

Other activities include pier fishing in any of the seven lakes, a nature center and museum (open every Saturday and Sunday, or weekdays by appointment), camping, and for astronomy buffs, the George Observatory and Challenger Learning Center. The Observatory is open to the public on Saturdays with viewing after dusk. Tickets to view the telescopes in all the three domes go on sale at 5PM and cost $5 per person. Viewing through the telescopes on the deck, though, are free of charge. (more…)

Forbidden Gardens

A trip to ancient China is only minutes away from Katy

Have you ever wanted to check out some Ancient Chinese Artifacts or learn a little about Chinese history? You don’t have to go all the way to China to find it. Forbidden Garden is a 40 Acre Museum of Chinese history right in our own backyard.

Here you and your family can learn about China from its beginnings under Emperor Qin (pronounced Chin). Miniature dioramas relate the life of the Forbidden City where Chinese Emperors lived with their families. Other exhibits recount the building of the Great Wall, show building construction techniques, and display weapons and armor used by Chinese warriors in their battles against the Mongols. (more…)

The Ripple Effect

Spreading Love to the Katy Community

As a child, I enjoyed tossing rocks into the water and watching the ripples that emerged from the displacement of water.  I marveled at the widespread impact of a small pebble.  Small ripples became larger ripples that spread further and further away from the center.  I have often imagined that we, like pebbles, can have a significant impact on those around us.  The pebble analogy has been a reminder of the impact of my words and actions on others.  

This past weekend, while attending a seminar, I learned additional information about water ripples.  The ripples of water that come back to the pebble are much stronger than the ripples that go out.  If our lives are indeed like a pebble in water, that which we emit will eventually come back to us with added strength.  As I sat pondering this scientific property, I was sobered by the thought of it.  What had I emitted to others?  Was I spreading happiness, positive emotion and goodwill, or was I spreading ill-will and negativity?  (more…)

Fourth of July Activities

 (Mostly) sugarless crafting for Katy kids

 This year, our big annual family vacation starts quickly after the Fourth of July. Preparations are in full swing and keeping us very busy, so we are not planning a major party or event for Independence Day. A low-key barbeque, sparklers, and a few crafts are plenty to keep our 2 and 4 year olds busy and happy.

 Cutting back on the sugary treats in our house means no red, white, and blue jell-o or sugar cookies. Homemade ice cream, made with reduced fat ingredients, may still make it to the table, but we are proudly bidding farewell to the majority of our patriotic sweets. Instead, the children will help me make fruit-and-lowfat vanilla yogurt parfaits. We may make it extra fun and throw a little red and blue food coloring into our yogurt. (more…)

Preparing for Baby to Come Home

Welcoming Home a New Katy Cutie

Our toddler son has been  hearing all about his triplet brothers in the NICU ever since their birth nine very long weeks ago. Now that one is ready to come home in a few days, the rush to get every single last-minute thing done has swung into full-gear.

Every parent who has brought home a sibling knows that Child Number One experiences a wide range of emotions. Although our situation is a bit different than most families’, here are a few things we did to better prepare our son. In the weeks ahead, I’m sure I’ll know if they made a big difference or not.

First, we did our best to include Son Number One (SNO) in some decions regarding his brothers. My husband and I let him make the final decision on the color of paint for the boys’ room. Of course, we had already chosen three finalists from which he could choose. SNO also helped pick out special (more…)

Independence Day in Katy

The City of Katy is preparing for its 21st Freedom Celebration Fireworks display

Fireworks will go off starting at dark – about 9:00 PM – at Katy Mills Mall on July Fourth. Fireworks will be shot off from the east side of the mall, between the mall and Katy Fort Bend Road.

The success of the fireworks displays has been due to the contributions of Katy area business and citizens. However two years ago, the fireworks nearly didn’t light up the sky because of a slump in financial support from local business and because Rice Festival proceeds weren’t being applied to the Fireworks funds that year. Until a local business, Warehouse Pool Supply, stepped up and helped make up the deficit in funds. The Chamber of Commerce has agreed to raise the Rice Harvest Festival ticket prices for 2010 so that a portion of the proceeds can be applied to the 2011 Fourth of July Fireworks display. (more…)

The Joys of Scrapbooking

How do you preserve your Katy family memories?

When I was a young girl, I remember being very proud of one of my possessions- my scrapbook.  My mother had started a scrapbook for me when I was a baby and had added to it as the years passed.  It wasn’t fancy.  It was simply a compilation of pictures, letters, certificates, and drawings…in essence, all of my good memories.    By the time I went to college, I had three large notebooks filled with my life’s history. During college, I remember flipping through pages of my treasured scrapbooks on many occasions.  The scrapbooks have always seemed to be a powerful reminder of what matters most.  

When I got married, my mother gave me six empty scrapbooks and supplies to start on scrapbooks for my husband and family to be.  My husband jumped aboard the scrapbook wagon.  He began the long process of gathering any and all memorabilia he could find.  It was a treat to walk down his life’s path with him as we compiled his scrapbooks.  With much time and effort, he too had scrapbooks that detailed his life. (more…)

Mothers Aren’t Perfect

What lessons have your Katy kids taught you? 

This morning, I raced around the house knowing that the day was full.    I peered at the clock and noticed that I had five minutes to eat breakfast before I had to rush to the car and set off.  I hurriedly poured a bowl of cereal and did what I tell my children not to do.  I began to eat, standing up in the kitchen, and tried to quickly devour my Cheerios.  Just as I took my first bite, my youngest child ran up to me and began to explain what was on his mind.  In animated speech, he flung his arms up and, while doing so, hit my cereal bowl.  Cereal and milk covered my face, hair and clothes.  I was absolutely drenched with my breakfast!   In exasperation, I let out a shriek of shock and frustration. 

Now I was really pressed for time!  I raced to the laundry room, took my milk-covered clothes off and ran to the bathroom to wash off my face and hair.  I knew I would definitely be late and I felt frustrated!  As much as I had (more…)

First Day of Summer is here!

Katyites don’t have to look far for Summer fun!

Welcome to the first day of summer even though the Katy heat has made us feel like it’s been summer for sometime now. If you still are looking for some fun summer activities don’t worry. Katy/Houston has plenty!

For all you swimming types both Splashtown and Schlitterbahn Galveston Island are offering great summer specials and events. Be sure to visit both of their websites for information and details. If you think that your family may enjoy one of these parks multiple times this summer then consider a summer pass. If you love water parks those are a great deal.

Looking to introduce some education into your summer activities then consider visiting one of the wonderful museums in the Houston Museum District. You can read up on all of the museums at the museum district (more…)

Beth Moore’s Inheritance

A free summer Bible study at The Waters Church in Katy

This summer, The Waters Church is offering a free Bible study session through its women’s ministry, Sisterhood.  The Bible Study consists of an hour long teaching session, on DVD, given by Beth Moore.  Following that, there is a time for discussion among the women in attendance. 

The group of women meets every other Tuesday night at The Waters Church, located at 2710 North Mason Road, # 145 in Katy.  This Tuesday, June 22nd, is an “on” week, or a week we are meeting.  For more information, or for directions, visit www.iamthewaters.com.

This upcoming Tuesday, we will be viewing the second session of the nine session series.  The DVD series is a recording of when Beth Moore taught her (more…)

Vacation Bible School

The Perfect Summer Choice for Katy families

Many local churches offer Vacation Bible School during the summer, and I know that these half-day programs are big helps to families. In the heat of the summer, when school is out, kiddos can get an extra helping of Scripture and faith and have fun making new friends, too.
I know people do the “VBS shuffle” during these months: the Catholic church down the road offers a week of VBS this week, and then they send their child to the Baptist church up the road next week. The VBS publishers make their programs generic so that the children receive a basic reminder that God made them and loves them and is there for them in their lives. The crafts are (more…)

Modern Day Manners

How do you teach your Katy kids good manners?

Let me first say that I am not writing this because my children have fabulous manners.  In fact, when I recently received a call from my son’s elementary teacher, informing me that my son was over-doing it on the bodily noises, I paused to consider whether I was being effective in my teaching of good manners.  So, I don’t have all the answers, but I am a believer that good manners are not old-fashioned and that they definitely still apply.  I think children and adults alike would benefit in reviewing and renewing polite behavior.   Here are some of my mental ramblings on good manners:

The words please, thank you, excuse me, and I’m sorry are magical words in human interaction.  It is amazing how polite words can diffuse tense situations and help calm emotion.  On the playground, in the doctor’s office, (more…)

Creating Your Own Tropical Paradise

Keeping your Katy yard looking good throughout the summer months

When our family moved to Katy, I was excited to experiment with the many varieties of tropical plants that I had never been able to plant in our previous yards in the Midwest.   I frequented Home Depot and Houston Garden Center to find the perfect trees, shrubs and flowers for our new Katy home.    Within months of moving into our home, I had planted a plethora of palms, fruit trees, crepe myrtles, magnolias and dozens of shrubs.   I was excited to watch my tropical yard flourish.  Needless to say, within a year’s time, quite a few of my tropical beauties had died.  I had always had a green thumb, so I wondered where I had gone wrong.

I soon learned that due to the clay-based soil, trees, shrubs, and flowers are not happy unless they are planted in raised beds where they have adequate (more…)

Father’s Day is almost here!

Katy resident offers suggestions from local event options to keeping things at home           

The Katy/Houston area is full of options to celebrate the Dad in your life with. It all depends on what you are looking for. Does your family want to go out to eat or stay home for a cookout? Maybe you’re looking for a fun event to attend?

The Children’s Museum of Houston is celebrating Father’s Day all week with special activities at Daddy Daze! Make a card, learn about Daddy’s in nature and so much more at the popular museum.

Sam Houston Race Park will be celebrating Father’s Day, this Sunday with live racing, great food and lawn mower races. Some lucky Dads will b (more…)

Listening With Your Eyes

Show Your Katy kids that You Care

While attending a family reunion last week, I observed my three-year old niece, Allison, in my sister’s arms.  Many of our family members were talking with each other, and I overheard my niece say to her mother, “Mommy, look at me!  Mommy, I am talking to you!”  She then touched both of my sister’s cheeks and made my sister look her straight in the eyes.  Allison then said, “Now…I want to talk to you.  Are you listening to me?”

Once my niece had her mother’s eye contact, she was content.  She then said, “I want to tell you something.  I saw a bird flying over there.”  She beamed that she had been able to share with her mother what she had found so wondrous.  Since witnessing this small interaction, I have become more aware of the necessity of giving eye contact so others know we are truly listening.  (more…)

Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm

Family Fun that’s close to Katy

Avery, helping her Aunt Amanda pick a blueberry.

This weekend, we will be participating in a three-year family tradition: picking our own blueberries off of the bush at Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm.  It is located in Conroe, a short drive from my sister’s home in Spring.  From Katy, it is roughly an hour’s drive, but well worth the trip.

Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm (www.moorheadsblueberryfarm.com) is open to the public for blueberry picking from late May until mid July, with changes each year based on how the year’s weather has affected berry growth and ripening.   They do not charge admission and blueberries cost $1.50 a pound, payable by cash or check only.  They are open from 7 am until 9 pm every day each week, but recommend coming either early or late due to the heat.

The past two years, by the middle of June, the blueberry picking has been slight due to extreme heat the first year and a long winter the second year.  However, on the website this year, the forecast for berries looks good!  The latest update says that there are still plenty of berries and we are thrilled to have our first year of a heavy harvest. (more…)

Immunization Check-Up

Are your Katy kid’s immunizations up-to-date and ready for the new school year?

If not, the summer months are the perfect time to take care of their immunization needs. Pull out their immunization cards and check them for what shots may be needed.

Any child who is in need of a vaccination and all children moving into the Texas from another state will need proof of current immunizations being given before being allowed to attend school in the fall. If a child is a little behind in receiving immunizations, that child will be allowed a 30 day grace period for immunizations that cannot be given all at once. For instance, if the child needs two doses of the polio vaccine, they can’t be given at the (more…)

You don’t have to Spend Money to Entertain Your Family this Summer

Katyites are lucky to find free times in Houston Museum District

You don’t have to spend money to entertain your family and introduce them to something new. You just have to know where to look. The Houston Museum District is home to some of the best museums in our nation. We as Katyites are lucky to be close enough to enjoy such opportunities but not too close that we feel like we are in the big city of Houston itself.

Just because your kids are not in school doesn’t mean that they can’t learn something this summer. If you play this right they won’t even think that they are learning because they will be having so much fun!

Of course, we know about the major museums in the district such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Children’s Museum. But did you know that there are 18 museums in the (more…)

Living Between Adoration and Frustration

Life in Katy with a toddler and a pre-schooler

I am constantly amazed by my girls.  Yesterday, I went in to wake up my four-year old from her nap and just sat and stared at her.  On a daily basis, I appreciate the obvious things about her: her sense of humor, her creative mind, the way she spins in circles when she feels beautiful.  But yesterday, sitting on her bed watching her breathe in and out, I was struck by the little things.  How her hands have grown.  How this amazing creation coexists with me every day of my life.  How I can know the exact outline of her face and still be surprised when I really look closely at how perfectly she was formed.

I sat there, watching my daughter sleep, thinking about how not 2 hours earlier I was praying for more patience to deal with the latest act of defiance.  With both of my daughters, four-year-old Avery and 18-month Kate, I feel like I spend my time living between adoration and frustration.  The same little creature that throws temper tantrums is the one I was (more…)

Kids at the Grocery Store

 A few tips on making shopping more enjoyable with your Katy kids

I have recently begun taking my Granddaughter to the grocery store with me. And, much as I did with my children when they were young, I gave her jobs to do that made her feel like she was part of the shopping. This had the same effect with her as it did with my kids – it kept her from whining and complaining the entire shopping trip.

What was the trick that kept her happy and me sane? Well there were three things really. The first thing I did was to let her have her own cart; one of the smaller two-tiered carts at HEB. They are short enough for her to see over (she’s 5 years old), and even fully loaded, they’re light enough for her to push around. She also gets to unload her groceries onto the conveyer belt when we get to the grocery stand. (more…)

Local bookstores offer great summer events

Turn to Katy bookstores to have fun and escape summer heat

While most people look to event venues for summer entertainment don’t forget to think outside the box. Local bookstores often host signings and events. For anyone who loves to read or wants to share that love with someone else this is a great opportunity to get autographed books and meet with authors. And it is a budget event! It only costs the cost of the book.

Katy bookstore, Katy Budget Books (www.katybooks.com ) often hosts book signings. This is a great opportunity to share the love of reading with your family.

Murder By the Book (www.murderbooks.com) off of Bissonnet is also a popular place to follow for great events involving thriller, crime and (more…)

The Many Uses of Corn Starch

Finding creative fun around your Katy household

Corn starch is great for cooking, I suppose.  I think it is supposed to be used to thicken soups or something.  I don’t use it much in the kitchen, because, admittedly, cooking is not one of my strengths.

However, I keep plenty of corn starch in the pantry at all times.  Some days drag on with two busy children, and the days that seem the longest are the ones that we aren’t able to leave the house because we’re waiting to be fever free for 24 hours or because I’ve somehow misplaced the keys to the car… again.

Enter corn starch.  Equal parts corn starch and water will make that fabulous stuff that is neither a solid nor a liquid.  When you pick it up, it becomes a (more…)

Discovery Green

A great place to enjoy the summer while staying close to Katy

Discovery Green, located downtown, is one of the most inclusive free places to enjoy summertime in Houston.  It includes two large water features, similar to any local neighborhood splash park… except much, much larger, and a playground area as well.  Additionally, there are little remote controlled boats to rent and a snack bar/cafeteria and restrooms.

Visit www.discoverygreen.com for directions and more details, such as fun events held each weekend (and often during the week as well).

Discovery Park was opened in 2008, and I only recently discovered it last October while I was downtown for a conference.  Even when it was too cold for the water parks to be open, the playground area was an obvious draw for (more…)

Katy Farmer’s Market

Fresh Produce In Katy

I am so happy to find out that we have a fresh produce market in Katy. This Market is located at 5026 E. Third St. in Old Katy. It’s hours are from 10am – 6pm Wednesdays through Mondays and closed on Tuesdays. They will not only have fresh produce but as well organic produce too. The Market is stocked with honey, dry beans, and herbs and many more to come. The Market will eventually grow bigger in time but until then I have enjoyed seeing all the produce it has stocked. Produce will vary depending on the season so make sure to go and see the different produce they have before it is gone.
 
I still remember when my parents would take me to a farmer’s market to go and get fresh produce. We would leave early to get the best picks and leave out of there with bags full. We loved going there and would spend the whole (more…)

Katy Area Libraries

Bookworm Heaven In Katy 

Katy has so many libraries within the city that are open different hours of the day. I never knew Katy was filled with so many libraries within the city or near the city until I started to look for some with different hours of the day. This summer the library will be full of children and adults getting those exciting books to read as well enjoying their summer activities within the facility. Check out each library for their times and days of fun activities that are not only for children but as well for adults. Cyfair ISD and Katy ISD has also put out their summer reading list for our children but some of the libraries have them as well. Oh and the best part is that its in an air condition place! So start saving on your electricity bill this summer.
 
Here are some libraries that I have found near Katy or in the city: (more…)

Staying Hydrated?

The Results of a Katyite’s water-only experiment

Last week, I posted a blog about my one big temptation: sugary drinks.  Whether it is Kool-Aid, Coke, or sweet tea, I just love to drink anything with lots of sugar and lots of calories.

For years, this has been my primary health weakness, but in the last several months, my love for sugary drinks has gotten a little out of hand. 

And so a week ago, I decided to try a little experiment.  I cut out all drinks except one coffee in the morning (I couldn’t let go of sugar AND caffeine in one week!), and committed to drinking water only for the past week.  The hope was that after a week of healthful drinking, I’d be a transformed individual; I would see the err of my healthless drinking and desire only water from here on out. (more…)

Cool to the Pool this Summer

A Katy Mom-to-Be reflects back on a favorite childhood pool activity

With our baby due this already very hot summer I find myself thinking back to a fun pool activity from my childhood. And it’s the perfect example of how the simplest things can bring the most fun. So what is this cool idea? It’s simple, it’s cool, it’s giant ice cubes!

On hot summer days my parents use to take large Tupperware bowls, fill them with water and freeze them. In more recent years when my brother and I would talk about how much we loved those summer days with the giant ice cubes my parents told us that they would put the water-filled bowls in the freezer the night before. So it does take a little planning but the good news is that it won’t go bad. If your swim day gets rained out don’t fret!

When it’s time to swim take out the Tupperware bowls and hold them upside down to slide out the giant ice cube. Be sure to support the ice that will be (more…)

Child Identification Cards

Katy makes it easy to help ensure the safety of your child

Make sure your child is protected by getting a Child Identification Card

The Katy Police Department offers a service to help locate lost or abducted children. The Kid ID  program provides parents with a photo ID card for their children. But this is no ordinary photo ID card.

Sergeant J. L. Field, the police officer in charge of the program for Katy Police Department, says that this card is connected to a national database, which can be accessed by any police department in the U.S. Once all identifying information about your child is collected, it is sent to the KidID.org along with the card information.

My daughter and I had my granddaughter go through the ID card process at the main police department. It took all of 20 minutes. During the process, Sgt. Field took two photos of my granddaughter – one facing the camera and a profile photo. He also took a photo of my daughter (granddaughter’s mom) facing the camera. Mom’s photo and the profile photo do not appear on the card, but are attached to the profile which is uploaded to the KidID.org data bank. (more…)

Taking your child to worship

How to make worship time not only bearable, but faith-filled, with your Katy kids

If you’re like me, taking your young child to church is not always a prayerful experience—except it increases the likelihood that YOU’RE praying that your child will behave! Not what the whole church-going experience should be like, I think.

Our son is almost three, and he is barely able to sit and watch a half hour video at home. It takes some work to guide him in his church experience. Distractions abound—from the people sitting around us to the hymnals in front of us.

How many toys—if any—do we take with us? Do the books we bring need to be religious in subject? Should we bring food for a Mass that takes only an hour? If he does begin to get fussy, do we grin and bear it or take him to the back? Won’t that teach him to misbehave in the first place? These are the questions we struggle with. (more…)

Summer Movie Camp

Movie Time for Katy kids

Many of our children in Katy are looking for ways to cool off this summer and what better way to do it by going to the movies. Cinemark and AMC theaters will be having Movie Camp this summer. Cinemark is located at 1030 W. Grand Parkway N. AMC is located in Katy Mills Mall at 5000 Katy Mills Circle. The best part is that it will be affordable. Movies will be a $1 and showings are done on certain days of the week in the morning at 10am. They will also have a kids or movie pack for the kids on the days of the movie for a discounted price.
 
Cinemark will have showings on Wednesdays/Thursdays at 10am with a $1 off discount on a movie snack pack. You can buy tickets in advance for 10 shows for $5 or $1 each showing per show. Moves listings are from Madagascar, Shrek the Third, Monsters vs Aliens, Kung Fu Panda, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Planet 51, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Open Season. Check the listings online for current showings. (more…)

A Taste of Cy-Fair

The Layla Grace Foundation’s first fundraiser held close to Katy

Little Layla Grace Marsh touched the lives of thousands with her short life.  Layla Grace was diagnosed with cancer when she was 16 months old.  Layla, along with her family of mother Shanna, father Ryan, and sisters Claire and Jenna, fought a courageous fight against the disease. 

During Layla’s battle with cancer, Shanna and Ryan began to use social media, such as twitter, facebook, and a blog, www.laylagrace.org, to share information with her family and friends and to invite people to support Layla through prayer.  Because her tweets and blog posts were so real, and because Layla has a contagious smile, the last several months of Layla’s life found her twitter with 45,000 followers (and still growing!) (more…)

Indoor / Outdoor Picnics

Make summer in Katy more fun with cool themed picnics

You’ve planned the perfect summer picnic with your kids.. Food, drinks, games – the works. They each invited a friend or two to make a party out of it You no sooner get the picnic packed up in the car, when – Crash! Rumble, rumble. The picnic is called on account of rain. Let’s face it, we’ve had a rash of pop-up storms in this first week of June. So what happens when the planned picnic gets rained out? Plan a themed picnic that can be eaten indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather.

For a Beach Picnic, everyone dresses in bathing suits (with cover ups if desired) and either flip-flops or swim shoes. For the decor, spread out beach towels on the sand or on the living room floor. Food can be packed in the ice chest or individual sand-bucket “picnic baskets”. Pack the buckets with anything you and your kids like to eat at the beach. Include some mood music for the drive to the beach, or the drive to the living room beach. This could be kids summertime music, the Beach Boys, or sounds of the beach including seagulls and waves. (more…)

Watermelon Jello

The taste of summer in Katy, TX

Watermelon jello

This week for our summer dessert, my girls and I made watermelon Jello.  To be more exact, we made strawberry Jello in a watermelon rind.

I first found the idea at www.theidearoom.blogspot.com, a blog I check on occasion.  It’s simple and fun, and Jello is healthier by way of desserts than most of the things I make, so I included it in the summer dessert line-up for my family.

The basic idea is to cut a watermelon down the middle and clean it out.  Once the watermelon has been removed (and feasted on!), it is time to make the Jello.

To fill both halves of my ‘personal’ sized watermelon, I used 3 large boxes of strawberry Jello and 4 ¼ cups of boiling water.  I whisked them together for 2 minutes and then poured them carefully into the watermelon halves.

It should be noted here that watermelons are round, which means they roll.  And pouring boiling water into a round, rolling watermelon rind is not exactly something I’d recommend doing any time, and especially not with little helpers underfoot.  This I discovered the hard way. (more…)

Learning the Hard Way

A Katyite Struggles to find the differences between Life’s Necessities and Life’s Extras  

The day began like any other—the warm Katy sun gently brightening our bedroom. Its beams lightly danced across the alarm clock that was just about to go off at a leisurely hour. Our son was still sleeping happily in his own bed. The lovely smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted—okay, so I’m lying through my teeth.

Here’s how it happened: our diabetic cat (see a previous blog) still feels the need to eat throughout the night. His next vet appointment is in a few days. So, after being rudely awakened at various hours of the night, here he was again early in the morning. Our toddler son was also at our bedside with his new exclamation, “I need food.” Wonderful.

The day’s agenda loomed in my mind: “Doctor appointment at 9:30; haircut at 10:30, and then to work. Oh, is there a way to visit the triplets in the NICU today? We’re going out of town, we can’t visit tomorrow, we need to go. (more…)

A Love of Learning

With the world becoming more technologically advanced, are your Katy kids getting the education they need?

Technological advances allow for a wealth of knowledge to be readily available.  Any inquiry that arises from the young questioning mind can easily be researched on the internet and explored.  What a great asset this technology is as we try to teach our children.

It would seem plausible that children would be smarter than ever before since information is literally at their fingertips.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.  So much is available, that often the wrong types of information and technology squash the young, fertile mind.

I recently read an article in Time magazine on children and media consumption.  The article stated that children ages 8 to 18 are consuming more media than ever before.  A survey showed that children and teens are (more…)

The Value of Work

How do you teach your Katy kids about helping?

I recently asked my seven-year old to help me with some housework.  Immediately, he peered at me and said, “How much are you going to pay me?”  I could tell by his tone, that he was weighing whether or not it was worth doing the job by how much he would be compensated.  To his question, I replied, “I am not going to pay you anything.  Sometimes we work just to be helpful.  Work is fun, and often it is most fun when we do it without expecting anything in return.”

My response had clearly surprised him.  He sat and thought for a minute and then said, “So, you aren’t going to pay me to do these jobs?” 

“No.”  I said.  “Today, you are simply going to help me because you are a member of the Lewis family, and there is work that needs to be done.”  (more…)

Gym Day

Using our Katy community offerings to our club’s advantage

My daughter decided to do ballet as her extra-curricular activity this year, but she loves bouncing around in the gym.   Luckily for her, our mothering club, AMOK (All Moms of Katy) and Westwood Gym teamed up to offer Gym Day once a month.

Through AMOK, my daughter is given the chance each month to participate in a 45 minute gym class.  Our club has worked out an arrangement with Westwood Gym that allows children in the club to pay a small fee and participate in gym classes without any other sort of contract.

My daughter and her friends (ages 3 and 4) love Gym Day!  It is actually my daughter, Avery’s favorite day of the month.  The coaches are friendly, fun, and obviously well trained.  (more…)

Houston Weather Museum offers Free Thursdays this month for Hurricane preparedness

How Katy Families can get ready for this year’s season

Yesterday launched the first day of Hurricane season. If your family wants to learn more about how to be prepared in a hurricane or how these massive storms form then the Houston Weather Museum is the place for you. During the month of June Thursdays are free for all museum guests. Talk to meteorologists and learn about the function and history of hurricanes in the gulf. And there are prizes involved as well. All visitors can enter to win a hurricane kit and weather radio donated by Midland Radio.

“Believe it or not we need hurricanes, states meteorologist and The Weather Museum Executive Director Jill Hasling. “The hurricane is one mechanism by which nature releases the tremendous buildup of heat in the tropics. Hurricanes also are the mechanism to bring tropical moisture into the farm lands of the central United States and often breaking droughts.” Hurricanes are useful and don’t need to be feared. As long as your family is prepared then you will be ready. There are many ways to get ready for such a (more…)

What are you doing for National Trails Day this Saturday?

The options are endless for Katy families. Get out this Saturday in Katy and/or the Greater Houston area

National Trails Day is June 5, this Saturday and is targeted at getting people outside, on trails and walking or hiking. The Houston area offers many picturesque settings for just this occasion.

If you love your dog then take them with you and enjoy some great food at the Houston Arboretum and Nature’s Center’s Annual Tails on Trails. The arboretum, one of Houston’s best trails, invites dogs on leashes and their owners for an afternoon of hiking the arboretum trails that wind along an 155 acre of lush lands and a vast variety of wildlife.

Before your hiking journey pick up water and a doggy bag. After the hike return to the party for food provided by Freebirds World Burrito and Smartwater.  There will also be music and prices. For more information on (more…)

Staying Hydrated

A Katyite’s Attempt at Drinking Enough Water

I rank among the middle of the crowd when we’re talking about health.  My family and I eat healthy meals for the most part, we don’t stock our kitchen with processed foods, and we are careful to keep trans fats out and saturated fats to a healthy level.

However, when it comes to staying hydrated, I really struggle to be healthy.

I’ve spent most of my life detesting water.  It’s just so… boring.  And tasteless.  And unattractive.

In order to get myself to drink water, I’ve tried many different tactics: for a while, I only allowed myself something delicious to drink (like a cola or tea) after I’d had a full glass of water first.  I’ve tried adding lemon to my water, and I’ve even tried using a shot of Kool-Aid to make water more appealing. (more…)

Family Together

How do you foster Katy family closeness?

In a little over a week, I will be attending a family reunion.  We have decided to go on an Alaskan Cruise- the most exciting and elaborate reunion we have ever had.  As much as I am excited to go on the cruise, what really excites me is the uniting of loved ones for an entire week.  I have three sisters, whom I adore, and I can’t wait to be with them.  I am enamored with my nieces and nephews as well, and I know the cousins may have the best time of all.  In addition to my sisters and their families, I have wonderful parents, an amazing grandmother and a fabulous aunt who will be joining us on the cruise.

When it comes right down to it, I think that the relationships we have are our most prized possessions.  I for one, wouldn’t trade my family for anything!  As I think about family, I think of the many vicissitudes of life.  We have all had struggles from time to time, and we have helped each other through the difficult times.  Though life is ever changing, family can and should be our rock that we lean on when times get tough.  (more…)

Safe Biking

Katy cyclists have rules of the road

It’s been a beautiful spring, with endless days of sunshine. The summer promises more of the same fabulous bike riding weather. Before the kids hop on their bikes and ride off into the sunshine,  it’s time for one of those periodic bike safety chats. Accidents happen, and none of us wants to be the parent sitting with their kids in the emergency room with a bike related injury.

First, since head injuries are the most serious, bikers should always protect their head by wearing a helmet. The helmet should meet safety regulations, be the right size, and be worn properly. Next keep the kids’ bikes in good shape. A chain that keeps slipping off or breaks that don’t work is a recipe for problems.

Kids should know the safety rules of the road. They should always keep an eye out for cars. A driver might not see your child until it’s too late, but if they are in the habit of being aware of cars, they can prevent accidents. The next one may not see so obvious. They should watch out for people so they don’t have an accident with a walker or another child playing in the yard. Parents should set and enforce the rules for where their children can ride bicycles, but in general it’s best if children under 10 keep to the sidewalks. (more…)

Twitter can save you money while finding fun family events

How a Katy writer/mom-to-be uses Twitter to find fun while working from home

Twitter is an easy way to follow the information that you want without too much effort. Businesses are seeing this growing trend and using it to build their followers. I’m an at home freelance journalist so I follow many businesses and people on Twitter to help find topics and what is of public interest. But recently I discovered that what began as a business tactic is quickly becoming an avenue for finding family fun!

In my writing I cover a lot of events so I follow all the popular Katy and Houston area event venues. By doing so I’ve found that most of them offer special coupons and specials for their Twitter followers!

The Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Symphony are taking this a step further by hosting a special event for their Twitter (more…)

The Upheavals of Hurricane Season

Are Katyites prepared for a possible storm?

The beginning of hurricane season brings with it many stressors. Two of the biggest are the hassles of hurricane preparedness and the worries of helping young children understand and cope with what’s happening. So how can parents make this easier for themselves and their children? By getting the kids involved in the process.

First, have your children help compile 2 lists: the first contains hurricane supplies that your family will need, the second contains the nonperishable foods your family would like to eat. Next, send the children on a hurricane scavenger hunt around the house. Let them see how many of the items they can find on the hurricane supply list. After that, let them help you check the supplies to see what needs replacing (like batteries) and what still needs items are missing from the list (i.e. radio, first aid kit). After all, even small children can check flashlight batteries and light bulbs to see if they need replacing. Do the same with the hurricane food list. (more…)

Bake and Take

A fun ladies’ night out in Katy

Last night, I participated in my first ever Bake and Take.  The concept was first presented to me by a friend, and it sounded like so much fun that we decided to organize a Bake and Take with our church, The Waters Church (www.iamthewaters.com).

A Bake and Take is like a cookie swap – except all of the baking takes place together! 

We gathered with around 15 ladies from our church and created ten amazing dessert recipes.  There was a station with the needed ingredients, recipe and kitchen appliances and utensils laid out for each of the ten recipes.  As women arrived, they chose a station and worked in twos, threes and fours to complete the recipe.  Some recipes did not need to bake, and those that did shared the oven without issue.  (When I was first thinking through this type (more…)

Training for a 5K

A Katyite shares the reason she runs 

Angela and her husband at the Space Center 5K last year

I have never been the type of person who likes to run.  In fact, up until last year, I despised running.  It was something I did merely for the health value, but I am not like those people who enjoy running for the sake of running.

However, once we had our second child, we decided it was time to let our gym membership go to save money.   For a while, I didn’t exercise much.  But, for me, exercise is about knowing I’m doing what I can to stay healthy, to have strong lungs and a strong heart so that I can be my best for my children.

Since I’m not a runner, and since my husband and I stay very busy, I knew that there would have to be something bigger than just “today I should run” to keep me on track.  So, last year around this time, I searched the internet for 5K runs in the Houston area and found one at Space Center Houston that is held each July.  I decided to train for it, and found online guides to becoming 5K ready in 6-8 weeks. (more…)

Bring Back the Family Picnic this Memorial Day Weekend

Katy Families can enjoy the beautiful outdoors with cool family time

This Memorial Day Weekend don’t stress about finding the right Houston area event for you and your family. You can stay right here in Katy and have lots of family fun time and for little cost. Unfortunately, since I’m seven months pregnant I’m avoiding the outdoors like the swine flu but this great weather is the perfect time for families to get out. Get your kids away from the video game systems and computers and outside!

Pack a picnic basket. Get the family involved in making sandwiches that they will like, chips and cookies, etc. Take an old blanket and pick a local park or school playground for your picnic location. Plan ahead some fun activities. Take a football to throw, a kite to fly or a board game. But don’t forget the sunblock!!

Looking for some new ideas to brighten up your picnic basket cuisine? Look online for recipes. The Food Network is always a great place to start, http://www.foodnetwork.com/. Another one of my quick recipe finding (more…)

A Church in Katy Pays Dollar Pound for Pound

Katy Area Church Prays for Pastor to be a Loser

Last Sunday morning, The Waters Church (www.iamthewaters.com) did something bold.  During announcements, Finance Pastor Andrew Sunderman stood before the congregation and presented an opportunity.

The opportunity is for families within the church to support and pray for Assimilation Pastor Brad Graves as he begins his journey towards health.  For many years, Graves has struggled with maintaining a healthy weight.  On Sunday, Sunderman said, “I love Brad so much, and his struggle tears me up inside.  I want Brad to be here, ministering to us, for many many years to come.  And this is our opportunity to love him and challenge him towards becoming a wholly healthy Brad.”

The Waters Church has issued Brad Graves this challenge: lose as much weight as he can towards his final goal during the next six months and keep it off for a year.  Members of the church are given the opportunity to pledge an amount of money per pound.  This money will go towards funding a very (more…)

A Few Lessons Learned From My Husband

 Love Lessons from a Katy Couple

Megan Lewis and her husband

Marriage has indeed made me a better person.  Not that I wasn’t a decent person before I got married, but, marriage tends to highlight areas that can be improved.  Any time two people from different backgrounds come together and form a life together, there are bound to be adjustments that need to be made.  I have learned many lessons as my husband and I have journeyed down the road of life together.  As different as we are, we seem to bring out the best in each other.   Here are a few of the lessons learned:

Forgive Quickly and Move On- My natural reaction to conflict was to become quiet and withdraw.  I learned, however, that when I do this, it prolongs the conflict.  The faster I forgive and forget, the faster we return to peace.  Then, we can happily move on.

Make Time for Play- I am a driven, goal-oriented person.  If it weren’t for my husband, I might never stop to smell the roses.  My husband has helped me prioritize fun in my life.  Our whole family has benefitted from this!

Ask For Help- How many times do we as women expect that our husbands will read our minds?  I have learned that my husband wants me to be happy.  All I need to do is communicate what I need, and he is happy to help or do what I want!  Isn’t that terrific?  He is a great husband.  I simply need to ask and my request is granted. (more…)

AMOK (All Moms of Katy)

Finding a club for moms in Katy makes all the difference for this Katyite

I’ve stayed at home with my girls since my oldest was born almost 4 years ago.  And throughout my journey in mothering, I’ve been a part of one mothering club or another in the Katy area. 

I am very thankful for a friend who drug me to meetings in the very beginning.  I was still bleary eyed, smelling of spit up, and bloated from delivery when my girlfriend began calling and asking me to join her as we scoped out local mothering clubs.  It felt a bit unnecessary at the time (my baby not being but 5 weeks old), but her encouragement, and the subsequent relationships I formed from joining a mothering club, made all of the difference in the world.

In the beginning, being a part of a club (in my case, I chose All Moms of Katy “AMOK”) helped me with the common feelings of new moms: feeling alone, (more…)

Pets Add So Much to Our Lives

It is important to properly take care of our Katy animals

I just returned from a bittersweet visit to my veterinarian. Our nine-year-old cat, Geordi (all you fans of Star Trek will know where his name came from!) was noticeably ill. Over the course of just a few weeks, he began to empty his food and water bowls several times throughout the day and increase the use of the litter box. Besides the obvious changes, Geordi seemed normal. I mean, cats sleep a lot anyway, and he came out for tickles and he still purred. But we knew he needed to go see Dr. Wendy at Mayde Creek Animal Hospital.
 
Good thing we did. Geordi is a diabetic. Dr. Wendy did blood tests, and his glucose number was in the 500s. The normal range for cats is in the 100s. The point of this blog is not to discuss feline diabetes, but I hope to remind us all about how much our pets are a part of our lives. I drove to the vet thinking that I would not be coming home with Geordi. I really thought I would have to have him put to sleep. He had been a companion of mine since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001; he was rescued as a kitten from the flood waters and passed along to me by a friend. (more…)

Adamson Ballet School Recital

Closing out our first year of dance classes in Katy

Avery in her recital costume and make up

My daughter has been a self-proclaimed dancer since before she was two.  She loves to twirl and twist to music, and is especially fond of mimicking the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance.  When she turned three (at the beginning of this school year), I enrolled her in Creative Dance at Adamson Ballet School. 

This past weekend, a year’s worth of dance classes culminated in a 2 minute performance on stage.  And my daughter could not have been more elated by the whole experience.

Adamson Ballet School has classes ranging from my daughter’s 3 year old Creative Dance class all the way up through Pointe and Senior-Level Ballet classes.  Sitting in the recital as a mother of the youngest dancers there, I felt very emotional and connected to the experience.  In the same performance that my daughter makes her dancing debut, several other moms are saying goodbye to this chapter of their life. 

The opening performance was done by Pointe students to a beautiful orchestra arrangement of Coldplay songs.  It was moving, stirring, and poignant for me to sit there with my 3 year old, watching the beginning and the end.

My daughter’s class was later in the show, and my eyes filled with just as many tears… there was a good deal of comic relief when my daughter (or any number of her classmates) forgot their steps, but there was something that (more…)

Summer Boredom Busting

How to keep your Katy kid occupied during their summer break

Only a few more days until the end of the school year. How long will the excitement of being off for the summer last before it dwindles into that all-too-familiar “mo-o-o-om, I’m bored” whining? A little planning ahead can yield a laundry list of boredom-busting pastimes sure to keep most kids occupied at something other than plopping in front of the TV or video game.

If your family is planning a vacation, why not add “vacation memory box” creating to the planning process. (Think shoe box here). Have each child decorate their own box however they see fit. At the end of the vacation, they can collect together all of the trinkets, postcards, photographs and other memorabilia they acquired on vacation and place them in their memory box. Have them tuck the boxes away for the next rainy day. The memory boxes can be pulled out time and again, providing them with hours of enjoyment recollecting the fun they had on that trip – long after the trip has ended. (more…)

Watermelon Basket

A Katy Family Makes Summer Desserts  Fun

Watermelon Basket

This May, we decided to make a summery dessert each week to celebrate the season. I wanted to keep the desserts healthy and fun, and so week one we made a pudding ocean scene <http://www.katymagazine.com/summer-dessert-fun/ >.  This week, my daughter got very excited about watermelon carving, and so our dessert of the week was a watermelon basket with fruit salad. If she knows that watermelon and fruit salad aren’t exactly desserts… she’s not complaining!

This was one of those family projects that seemed to go wrong at every turn.
Luckily, our daughters didn’t seem to care and we were able to pull it
together in the end.

First, I bought the watermelon and all the fruit early last week and
promised my daughter the watermelon basket “this week”. Then our week got unusually busy (the last week of school and extra evening meetings for my husband and I), so our watermelon carving kept getting pushed back.

Last night, we were determined to carve the watermelon. I helped my
daughter find a few examples online <http://www.watermelon.org/watermelon_carving.asp >of what she
wanted to carve, I cut up the other fruits, and when my husband got home, we were all ready to go. Except no one could find the watermelon.  It wasn’t in the fridge, it wasn’t in the pantry, it wasn’t in my car. We assumed I must’ve forgotten to load it from the grocery store early last week and so we (more…)

The Little Gym Parent-Child Classes

My Katy kid loves The Little Gym…

And so do I!

Kate on the bars at The Little Gym

I love The Little Gym because my 18 month old daughter Kate’s face lights up when we walk through the doors. There are so many reasons that I love this place… and so many reasons that it has become my favorite hour of the week.  It’s because it is a special hour designed for us to spend together, just the two of us.  With a big sister at home, Kate spends most of her time following us around to “big kid” activities.  Even when I am careful to focus on Kate, she doesn’t have the space to come alive while under the shadow of a very loving – and helpful – sister.  At The Little Gym, Kate works on independence and self-esteem but it is also time for us to spend bonding.  When we have a chance to interact, I am able to capture those moments between she and I and cling to them (and to her) with so much gratitude.  During the times Kate is participating in more independent activities, I am able to step back and marvel at the things she knows and how she interacts with other children her age.  These are things I long to know about my second-born but don’t always have the ability to observe while facilitating life for both of my children.  The  activities are so uniquely crafted to Kate’s age and the focus is so much about the experience and the process, rather than the actual skills and where she is on the developmental scale. (more…)

Katy Restaurants with Sandboxes or Play Structures

Favorite Eats for Katy Families

I had a wonderful, leisurely lunch with some girlfriends today.  I know this sounds like an oxymoron since I have an 18 month old, but with all of our toddlers in tow, we sat at the table and chatted and enjoyed chips and salsa.

How did we do this?  We situated ourselves at a table near the sandbox at El Jarrito on Highland Knolls Drive.  The children enjoyed chips and their bean salsa, inexpensive kid’s meals, and an enormous sandbox while we ate at our own pace.

Usually, taking either of my children to a restaurant is a challenge.  Unless we go to Rainforest Café, it is unusual for them to stay entertained the entire time we’re there.  However, around the time my oldest daughter turned two, I discovered the magical world of sandboxes at restaurants.  Now, when my (more…)

Not My Stress

A Katy Parent shares her struggles with stress

The school year is drawing to a close and it seems that life is as busy and chaotic as ever!  As a parent, sometimes life can be stressful and at times, more than we can handle.  One day, I had an “aha” moment when I learned that I didn’t need to absorb the stress of my loved ones.  As I think about it now, I can remember the pit in my stomach, the rapid breathing, and the threatening headaches as my children shared their stress.  “Mom, I’m supposed to bring a red folder to school.  I’ll get in trouble if I don’t have it!  Mom, did you wash my soccer shirt? I need it right now!  Mom, I failed my English test today.  Mom, can you bring me my lunch?  I think I left it in the kitchen.”

My, oh my, how my body would tense with the incessant stress!  And, when things turned out badly, I blamed myself.  It didn’t matter that it was my daughter who had left her lunch, or my son who hadn’t studied for his test, it (more…)

Changing With Your Children

Parenting your Katy kids is a learning process

I remember talking to my mother one day when my children were very young.  I was tired and I told her how happy I would be when my children were older.  “Motherhood will be so much easier!”  I said.  Wise as she was, she said, “No, it won’t be easier, in fact, it may be harder!”  At the time, this didn’t sit well with me, and I wondered what could possibly be harder than late night feedings, colic, and temper tantrums. 

Now, as my older children are entering their teenage years, I know what she was talking about.  The physical demands of young children are indeed exhausting!  But, the emotional demands of older children are just as, or more exhausting.  I am just entering this stage of life, but, I am learning that I need to change as they change.  I can’t be the same mother to them that I was when they were little. (more…)

Summer Learning

The importance of keeping good learning habits for you Katy kids during school’s  ”off-season”

Studies show that kids lose knowledge over the summer.  Kindergarteners, for instance, generally slide backward about two reading levels from June to August.  So, for a student who is already struggling scholastically, summer can be quite a set back.    With more time and fewer commitments, learning can be a great component to a successful summer.  Our children will be far ahead of the game if we continue to foster learning during the summer break.

As a young girl, I don’t remember ever uttering the phrase, “I’m bored.”  I believe this is due to the fact that I wasn’t bored.  My mother was very good at keeping her children productive.  Every summer we purchased workbooks that covered the material we would be learning the following (more…)

Music for Children

Can early exposure ensure a love for music throughout your Katy kid’s life? 

My toddler son amazes me with how interested he is in all types of music. Neither my husband nor I play an instrument, but we play various records and CDs in the home and in the car. Our son hears everything from Raffi and Mozart to Jimi Hendrix and Santana. We are careful that the choices we make are age-appropriate. We are more interested in the music than the lyrics. Our son will sit and listen intently to guitar solos and violin concertos. We’re saving AC/DC for later.
We began playing classical music to him when he was still in utero. I don’t know if the studies are correct that show a correlation between music in the womb and a child’s intelligence. It couldn’t hurt, we figured, to play good music when we knew he could hear it. I do feel that our playing such music then helped him appreciate it now. (more…)

Switching Spots

This Katy couple walks a mile in each other’s shoes

Yesterday, I had a funeral in Austin that I needed to attend.  My husband willingly took a personal day from his office job and stepped into the role of Mr. Mom.  I usually stay at home and manage the children’s activities during the day, but for this occasion, we very much had our roles reversed.

While I was away all day, my husband, Jordan, was wholly responsible for attending the Mommy And Me swim class for our 18 month old, Kate.  Not only did he have to manage swimming with Kate, but our older daughter, Avery (3 ½ years old) was sitting on the bench coloring and watching, so he had to be aware of her as well.  After swim, he changed both he and our (more…)

Mosquito Season is Here!

Tips on how to survive Katy’s tiny torturers

Standing water is a breeding ground for pesky mosquitos

It’s May. It’s warm. It’s humid. And it just rained – boat loads! Not quite a frog strangler, perhaps, but certainly a gully-washer. All that water is now breeding amd hatching grounds for mosquitoes over the next few weeks; 55 species of the insects live in the Houston area alone. 

Floodwater Mosquitoes lay their eggs in soil, where they wait for the flooding rains we saw over the weekend. Those eggs will now hatch. The good news is that flood water mosquitoes don’t carry the West Nile virus. The bad news is that the other kind of mosquitoes – the culex mosquitoes that lay their eggs in standing water – do carry West Nile Virus.  Any containers like garbage cans, old tires, and storm sewers that go stagnant after the rains, are breeding grounds for the culex. The end of may and beginning of June is typically when the first cases of West Nile start popping up.

The good news is that the city of Katy provides mosquito spraying services twice a week beginning in May, but the City needs your help. Mosquito larvae need  still water for five or more days to mature into adult biting mosquitoes. These numbers can be reduced by removing sources of standing water in residential areas. (more…)

Splashing Fun at LaCenterra

A favorite  activity for young Katy kids

This morning, I loaded my girls up with a sack lunch, a few dollars, and 2 towels.  Then we headed to LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch and met some playgroup friends for a little fun in the sun.

This is a favorite May activity for us.  It’s finally warm enough to warrant running through the water sprays, but isn’t yet so hot that I need to be in the water as well.  My daughters, Avery, 4 years, and Kate, 18 months, loved standing over a water hole until it squirts up on them.  Later, they giggled as they walked straight through a row of streaming water. 

Once the children got hungry, we sat out at the tables provided and ate our sack lunch.  Some days, we’ll stop at Mission Burrito or Panera Bread for lunch, but today we were going the low-cost route.  Once lunch and a little more splashing were over, it was time for my daughter’s favorite activity at LaCenterra: ice cream!  There are so many wonderful options for sweet (more…)

Schedule your trip to the Houston Science Museum

A Katy Family Beats the Heat and Learns Something New 

Natalie and her husband, Stephen, pose with a fossil on display at the museum

A great place to visit this summer, if your looking for a Katy/Houston area staycation or just a fun weekend outing is the Houston Museum of Natural Science. They are currently showing several great exhibits; The Science of Wonder: Magic, Faberge: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars, Archaeopteryx: Icon of Evolution and those are just the special exhibits.

My family set out to see the Magic and Archaeopteryx exhibits. The Magic exhibit is filled with history of some of your favorite magicians from Houdini to Penn and Teller and who inspired them. The best part is that if you time your visit right (see showtimes http://www.hmns.org/exhibits/special_exhibits/magic/live_magic_shows.asp) you can see live magic shows by some of today’s best magicians. We saw Richard Hatch who seemed to be well trained in the traditional classics like the Chinese rings and close-up slide of hand.

We also took advantage of the special going on with the Hubble 3D IMAX and the Burke Baker Planetarium show, Life in the Universe.  With this coupon (http://www.hmnsmedia.org/Campaigns/Coupon/Hubble.html ) you can (more…)

West I-10 Fire Department Offers CPR Classes

Free life-saving techniques are available right here in Katy

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a vital skill that is easily learned. It has been proven that providing CPR before the Fire Department or EMS arrive is a valuable part of the process of calling 911. It could, in fact, be the deciding factor in saving someone’s life.

West I-10 Fire Department

Having CPR skills have a few benefits such as the reassure that you can help a friend or family member should they need it. Being able to understand how you can help 911operators when you’ve called them for assistance is also encouraging. It’s been 25 years since I took a CPR class, it was good to have that CPR skills review and to learn the new guidelines – a few things have changed in the last 25 years. (more…)

Favorite Movies

A Katy family brings back some of the classics

My daughter was sick last night, and so we declared today a movie marathon day.  With the rain and her recovering stomach, it is the perfect day to cuddle up in front of the tv and enjoy family favorites.

We are avid Disney fans, and have most of the movies they have released from the vault since my oldest daughter was born in 2006.  We also have the traditional child faves, such as Sesame Street, Curious George, and the Shrek movies.

This morning, though, we decided to offer my daughter Avery some “new” options: classic favorites from my childhood and my husband’s childhood.

Right now, we are watching the 1969 movie Hello Dolly with Barbara (more…)

Adventures in homeschooling in Katy

Weighing the options for your Katy kid

I was homeschooled as a child, from 3rd grade to my High School Graduation, and although there were many great lessons I took away from that experience, I promised myself up until recently that I would never home school my own children.  I had been very lonely as a homeschooler, and quite isolated.  I didn’t want to inflict the same treatment on my own brood.  That’s what I thought, anyway!

A couple of months ago, through a series of events and changes, my husband and I pulled my 6th grade son from public school and I began the grand adventure of homeschooling a Junior High kid.  Wow!  What a job!  Now, two months in, I am just finding my feet as a “home school” mom.  All my grandeur fantasies of field trips to the ocean and science experiments with (more…)

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