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.

 

Navigating Contention

Can one Katy mom find peace amongst the chaos?

Snuggled cozily in bed, I opened my eyes and watched the sun pour through my bedroom window. The day was gorgeous. I stretched my arms high above my head, flexed my feet and let out a great, slow yawn. It was Saturday and I looked forward to a fun-filled day with my darling children. As my mind mulled over the possibilities of the day, I was suddenly pulled from my musings. My great notions suddenly began to dissipate as I heard shrieking from upstairs.

“Mom, Bryan won’t stay out of my rooooom! Make him leave!”
“Mom, Braden pushed meeeee! Ow! Stop it Braden! You’re hurting me!”
“Stop it Bryan! Those are myyyyyy games. You can’t play with them!” (more…)

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Spring Cleaning Helps to Prepare for Baby

 How a Katy Mom-To-Be is Embracing “Nesting”

With our daughter arriving this July and summer now at our doorsteps I decided to really make the most of spring-cleaning this year. The last month my husband and I have been cleaning house and organizing all of our stuff. Yes, of course I wanted to jump into the cute baby decorations but I quickly saw that first you have to get organized before you can any fun with the cute stuff.

Honestly though, once we got started it wasn’t that horrible. I even tackled my overflowing file cabinet. As someone with an at home business I keep files on everything from our bills to my projects. Now that my file cabinet is organized and has some order to it I’m finding that I can now save time on many daily tasks. Paying bills, sorting mail and other undesirable tasks are handled much quicker and easier now. I also am able to be more productive (more…)

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Mother’s Day the Creative Way

What one Katy family does to celebrate

Mickey Mouse cupcakes

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have always seemed a bit daunting to my two siblings and me.  We love our parents so much and cherish the opportunity to show them this, but we have a bit of trouble coming up with a new, creative, meaningful way to express ourselves each year.  We don’t just want to give a gift to Mom on Mother’s Day, we want it to be a perfect gift that clearly represents how wonderful she is to us.

After several years of searching the creative vaults of our minds, my sister, brother, and I had a stroke of genius.  My mother and father want nothing (more…)

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Celebrating Mother’s Day

Teaching our Katy cutie the value of a thoughtful gift

My husband and I decided when my daughter was very young that we wanted to use Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as an opportunity to teach her about thoughtful gifts.  We wanted to teach her to give gifts that are special because she thought of the person she was giving the gift to.  We were hopeful that we could teach her that cost isn’t as important as thought.

To that end, we agreed that the most meaningful gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day would be gifts that she picked out herself.  One year, we took her to the Dollar Store and let her pick out anything she thought her Mommy (more…)

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Doggie Outings

Dog Parks in Katy

We are always trying to find different parks for dogs for our dog Max to exercise and have fun with other doggies. Our dog Max awaits anxiously at the door to be taken to the dog park in Katy. He immediately knows when we get his leash and he starts jumping to get it on.
Katy has several dog parks in the area that caters to the doggies. We have taken our dog to Millie Bush Bark Park on 16756 Westhiemer Parkway and he really loves it. We always see different kinds of dogs there big and small. They also have a section for the larger dogs so the smaller dogs don’t get scared of the much bigger ones there in the park. The park has fire hydrants, water fountains, doggie showers, a lake, pick up bags and a walking trail with shade trees. (more…)
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Cling To Family In Troubled Times

A Katy family turns to one another for support

Rain pelted the windshield as I cautiously attempted to drive home. It had been raining when we had arrived at our church for the Fourth of July activity, but now as I tried to make the trek home, I found that the roads were covered and the drains were obviously not able to drain the water as fast as it was accumulating. I said a silent prayer and wondered if I would be able to see through the great torrents of water that were rushing from the sky.

Since all of the roads were covered with water, it was impossible to discern how deep the water was in any given spot. I hesitated and wondered if we should pull to the side of the road to wait out the storm. After some thought, I felt I would be safe to proceed. Suddenly,the van stalled. I tried to start the car again, and again, but alas, it would not start. The engine had flooded and we were in serious danger. I peered out of the window and saw that the van was surrounded by water. It looked like the van was floating in a giant river. The normally gentle stream adjacent to the road, had risen and had flooded the ground on which we were driving. We were caught in a flash flood.

Within moments, I decided my children and I needed to get out of the car before it was swept away. As I opened the van door, water began to rush inside. My three children were not yet strong swimmers, thus, I held onto them with all my strength so they wouldn’t be swept away. Exerting all of the energy I could muster, I waded through waist-deep water until we reached higher ground. I collapsed onto the grass, exhausted, and drenched to the bone.

I have often thought back to this experience and have thought about how grateful I am that our family was able to pass through this storm safely, and without harm. Life is much like that stormy day. Sometimes life surprises us with floods, storms, and difficulties of all kinds. How grateful I am for a family to cling to during life’s troubled times.

In time of test, family is best. -Burmese Proverb

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Glamour for Mom

A little change goes a long way for one Katy mom

Since my hair is naturally curly, I have found that it is easiest to let my hair do it’s own thing. After showering, I simply work some gel through my hair and, voila, I’m ready to go!

A friend whom I have known since college said to me one day, “My husband and I were remarking that you look the same as you did in college. Even your hair is the same!” At first I thought her remark was a compliment implying that I hadn’t aged, but then, I wondered. How many people who haven’t changed their hairstyle in fifteen years look all that good? (more…)

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Podcasting Saves My Sanity

How one Katy mom uses technology to “get away” for a while

As a stay-at-home mom, I like to be available to my children.  But there comes a point at which I need a mental break in order to keep going.  This has become especially true now that my oldest daughter has given up naptimes.  She still reads or plays quietly in her room, but silence in our house is a thing of the past.

I’ve found that podcasting can really save my sanity.  During “rest time”, I don’t want to hear every little bump that my daughter is making.  However, I don’t feel comfortable tuning her out by cranking up the tunes to drown her out completely.  My solution: Podcasting!  (more…)

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Katy ISD Posts Summer Reading List for 2010

Check out what your Katy kid should be reading this summer!

Katy Library

It’s out! Hot off the presses, the summer reading list for 2010 is officially posted on the Katy ISD website. Students can get a  jump start on their summer reading by checking out the reading lists for the grade level they will enter in the fall.

So why should they read during the summer? Summer is supposed to be for relaxing, taking vacations, and having fun,. That’s true, but part of the adventures of summer can include the adventures found in good book. We’re not talking about making them read because they “have to” learn something for school. The books on these lists are chosen to foster enjoyment of (more…)

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Deceptively Delicious

Using Jessica Seinfeld’s Cookbook in our Katy home

I put Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, on my wish list the year it came out.  I received it as a Christmas gift and immediately began cooking from it.  Her premise is that we can puree vegetables and include them in recipes to boost the nutrition of a meal.  The idea is that as children eat the muffins you serve them or the chicken nuggets you’ve made for dinner, they are also getting a serving of vegetables, which they may not otherwise have eaten.

When I first began using the book, I was already pureeing foods for my first-born.  She was in the baby food stage, and so I’d chop and steam and puree (more…)

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Ah…Boys

One Katy mother shares her experience from growing up in a house full of girls to raising a family of mostly boys

I was raised in a family with three sisters, a composed mother and a soft-spoken father.  Memories of my childhood consist of piano lessons, ballet lessons, creating musical productions with my sisters, and all things beautiful.  I remember collecting flowers, pressing them and making stationary with them.  I cherished family meal time and basked in the warmth of my fellow family members.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t all perfect, but that’s how I like to remember it. (more…)

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Save Hundreds of Dollars by Doing One Simple Thing

Little mistakes can cost your Katy family hundreds each year!

Yesterday I went to the grocery store for my weekly shopping trip.  I piled the cart with fruits, vegetables, cereal, milk, bread, and the necessary ingredients for a week’s worth of meals.   As I unloaded my grocery cart and watched the cost add up, I was shocked!  My total came to $188.64.  Reluctantly, I scanned my credit card and signed my name on the credit-card machine.  I couldn’t believe how much I was spending on groceries!  I knew the cost would go up as my children grew, but boy, the cost never ceased to amaze me! (more…)

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An Abundance Mentality

How one Katy family inspires others in the community

Some time ago, my husband and I met a family who had a significant impact on our lives. This remarkable family taught me how one can live with what I like to call “An Abundance Mentality”.  They inspired me to live life to its fullest in spite of circumstance.     

I met the Smith family the first day we visited our new church.  We had recently moved, and had not yet met anyone.  Upon entering, Shannon Smith walked up to me and introduced herself.  Shannon promptly asked if she could help me in any way.  Not knowing her, I was at first reluctant to ask, but I desperately needed some help with my younger children while we unloaded the moving truck. I decided to go ahead and ask if she could help (more…)

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Scavenger Hunt at the Park

Making your kid’s playdate at the park even better!

Avery, holding up her completed scavenger hunt

My daughter, Avery, has been a part of a playgroup since she was 3 months old.  Which I realize means it was really more of my playgroup than hers.  But, having grown up with the other children in her playgroup, three years later she is fabulous friends with each of the children.

We take turns planning events for our group of nearly-four-year-olds.  Ordinarily, we choose a park and provide the snack during the week we hostess.  If the weather is bad, we’ll either open up our homes or meet at a bounce warehouse or play area at a restaurant.

This week, our friend Miss Stephanie and her son Tyler played hostess and host.  We met at Mary Jo Peckham park, which in itself makes for a wonderful playdate.  However, Stephanie also provided the children with a scavenger hunt.  She gave each child a paper with words and pictures listing items to find: squirrels, trees, fish, flowers, leaves… As each child found something on the list, they’d get a sticker to put in a box next to the (more…)

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Hospitalization Makes You Humble

A Katy Mom shares her triplet experience

Although my triplet boys were born last week and I am out of the hospital, they must remain in the NICU for an unknown period of time.
 
This is obviously difficult and emotional, but I wanted to blog about how this is a immediately humbling event in our family’s life. It has taught my husband and me that we are not an island unto ourselves. We cannot do everything.  We must rely on the kindness of friends.
 
I won’t be able to drive for at least the next week. Who will take my toddler to school? How will I get downtown to be with the Trips? Will my husband have to take time off of work? (more…)
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West Houston Airport Flies High with Air Show

The Katy community shares in the flight experience

A popular community event flew into Katy’s West Houston Airport the last weekend of April. The CAP Wings Over Houston Air Show was staged

Visitors got to get up close and personal with the planes.

 through the voluntary endeavors of the Commemorative Air Force in conjunction with West Houston Airport and Gulf Coast Wing. The organizations displayed US modern military, WWII, and  Korean War era aircraft, and even a Soviet fighter plane.

History buffs and airplane fans alike explored the WWII museum in one of the hangers, examined the planes up close, and then watched as many of the aircraft flew in formation overhead. A few of the spectators who bought tickets were offered the chance of a lifetime to ride in one of these historic airplanes. (more…)

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Social Media Can Save Your Family Money

Katy families should take advantage of  free internet resources

We’ve all been there. It’s the weekend or summer day and you are looking for something fun for the whole family to do without costing the bank. Sometimes saving money can be so easy and informative. We are fortunate to live in a world run by the Internet. Businesses can reach out to their target markets and for free. 

Your family can use the success of social media to save money and not miss out on great events. By following local event venues you can easily stay up to date on events and programs but you can in many cases gain access to great coupons and offers. I have seen several cases where a company has posted a special offer to their Twitter followers where you can get two admission tickets for the price of one. That can be helpful when planning family outings.

 Businesses are doing the same thing with their Facebook accounts. Following a business that you like on Facebook is another way to let your voice be heard. Many companies seek out information from their Facebook friends. We do it at the Katy Magazine (follow us @ http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Katy-TX/KATY-MAGAZINE-Katy-Texas/ .) There are many times that we are looking for a particular type of person to interview and we will put out a request.

With summer quickly approaching many favorite event venues and local activity centers are going to be preparing for social media summer campaigns. This is the time for you to put in a little time at your computer that could result in great savings.

Sit down with your family and think of some of your favorite places to go around town. Then visit sites such as http://www.houstonmuseumdistrict.org/ and pick out some places that you haven’t been but would like to try. Take a few moments and search for the places on your list on Twitter and Facebook. Commit to follow them.

That’s all you have to do. Then while you follow your family and friends online each day don’t forget to pay attention to any great offers or events that pop up on your newsfeeds. Take advantage of the savings and offers thanks to social media and enjoy your time together as a family! If you’ve had a great savings experience by following a venue through their social media please share. Also, feel free to post links to businesses Twitter and Facebook pages if you find them to be helpful.

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Sick Kids!

Having sick Katy kids can be a hard experience

My oldest daughter and I spent the morning at the doctor’s office.  She woke up in the night with croup and a high fever, and needed cuddling and to be rocked most of the night.

Although she is four, and we have been through many illnesses, it is still such a painful, disappointing experience every time she gets sick.  For one, it is so hard to watch your baby feeling so ill.  It hurts to not be able to do anything for her.  One of the worst feelings in the world.

Add to that sleep deprivation from being up with the sick child all night.  And the need to clear your schedule, make an appointment, drop some cash on a doctor visit and a prescription… it is just a miserable experience. (more…)

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Caramel Brownies

 An all-time Katy family favorite… perfect for any occasion!

Whenever I need to sign up to bring a dessert to an event, I know just what to make.  My mom has been making caramel brownies my whole life, and when I started making them for my own functions and get togethers, people loved them.  They were even re-named “Ridiculous Brownies” because of how ridiculously rich and good they were.  We use the same basic recipe as the one found online when you do a search for “caramel brownie recipe”, but I like to think of it as a family recipe.

The recipe calls for: (more…)

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Bathroom Art

Being a Katy mom is full of surprises! 

Simple things seem to make life wonderful.  That’s why I decided to try this new, really cool toothpaste.  I was honestly excited to brush my teeth.  Yes, I had spent a little extra on it, but, goodness, I was a mother of four.  It was okay to splurge on myself.  I deserved it.  The first morning I used it was like magic.  My breath was as fresh as it had ever been.  I liked spoiling myself!

I wasn’t the only one who was excited about my new toothpaste.  He must have known how much it meant to me, because he waited until I was on the phone to make his move.  My toddler snuck into my bathroom, located the new toothpaste and commenced the experiment.  He smeared it all over the tub, counters, sinks and floors.

When I discovered my new toothpaste was already used up, I set out to get my next luxury.  Lipstick!  I was in need of a new color.  I had worn the old color for a long time and was ready for a change. The search began for the perfect new lipstick.  Finally, I found the perfect color.  It was called Burgundy Wine.  I bought it and stashed it in my purse. 

Again, the undercover rascal lay in wait.  This time, he waited until I was in the shower.  How did he know it was in my purse?  While drying my hair, little Braden walked in my bathroom.  I immediately noticed his hands and panicked.  Was it blood on his hands?  I threw the blow dryer down and rushed to him.  Upon closer examination, I discovered it was lipstick.  My brand new, beautiful, perfect lipstick covered him.  A smile crept over his face. 

“Where is it?”  I demanded.  “Where did you put it?”

He led me to the powder room and pointed.  The white pedestal sink was now a red pedestal sink.  And, there, lying on the toilet was my new lipstick…now only a stub.  There was nothing left. Ah…the joys of motherhood!

Do you have any zany motherhood stories to share?  Please do!

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Several Reasons to Love Living In Katy, Texas

“You’ll love this place!”

Fabulous Schools– Most people admit that an excellent school district is what brought them to Katy.  The Katy ISD school district is indeed impressive.   Most of the elementary, junior high, and high schools within Katy ISD are rated exemplary.  There is tremendous parent involvement within the district, and students within Katy ISD become accustomed to a rigorous academic environment.

Extra-Curricular Choices-There is no shortage of choices when it comes to extra-curricular activities in Katy.  Sports offered in Katy include Roller Hockey, Basketball, Bowling, Dodge ball, Fencing, Football, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Volleyball, and Baseball.  There are also many excellent dance studios, martial arts studios and art, theater and music studios.     (more…)

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Katy Heritage Society Works for Historic Landmark Recognition for Local Cemetery

Katy is rich with history, including local cemetaries

Just North of I-10, lies an unpretentious cemetery. The modest plot of land

Katy's Antioch Baptist Church

 was originally owned by Adam Stockdick who donated it  in 1915 to the Colored Baptist church — now called Antioch Baptist Church. It contains the graves of some of Katy’s early settlers, several farm workers, war veterans, and workers for the MKT Railroad.

Katy Community Cemetery (KCC) is located on Stockdick Road, between F.M. 1463 and Danover Street. It is fenced in on three sides and neatly maintained by the church. Antioch Baptist church members have done a great deal of work on determining where many of the grave sites are and identifying several of the people known to be buried there. A list of names has been compiled, but the names on the graves don’t always match the list. Some of the recorded names and some of the unmarked graves have not been located so far. Moreover, some of the names on the graves are not on the list. (more…)

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Spring In Katy – Beautiful!

Your Katy garden will enjoy this time of year

Humidity can be a good thing, in a small amount.  As April is progressing here in Katy, that small amount is growing!  As a gardener and nature lover, I love it!  The lettuce is already forming small bunches, and I’m salivating at the thought of homegrown salad! My parsley, basil, chives and dill are turning into miniature herb fields, and the okra, peppers and tomatoes are all growing nicely.  The flowers here…don’t get me started!  My gladiolas are about to burst into bloom at any moment, the deep pink impatiens have become weeds, and the geraniums in red, white and pink are brilliant in the front yard.

So, humidity and I get along just fine.  Without the rain, moisture and mist, my garden and flower babies wouldn’t look the same.  Trust me, I’ve lived without it!  The roadsides in town are amazing, lit up with rose and violet colored azaleas, which grow like roses here.  Further out of town, into the countryside (my favorite place!), the wildflowers grow in abundance, like a flag spread over the meadows. (more…)

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Training Systems

There are many different fitness options in Katy, how do you choose?

Many people often wonder what are the best ways to get in better physical condition. I am one of those people and with some research I have found  3 methods of training that seem to work fairly well and they are –

3. High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T)- This training system offers great balance between scientific theory and intense physical effort.The theory for this paricular system is intense short busrt of effort and muscular tension whether it be with cardiovascular training or weight training followed by longer but effective rest periods. The other method is a complete contradiction of the previous idea, but just as effective.This method involves long, strenuous and intense muscular movements followed by shorter resting periods. While the second method is intended more for athletes or weight lifters with intermediate to advanced levels of fitness, both are effective and with proper technique and form mastering both routines will come easily. (more…)

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Standardized testing in the Katy area

Should this type of test be required for our Katy kids?

Annual standardized testing throughout the United States is common and to some degree a necessity; however,  it could be debated that in many states including Texas it is an unnecesary necessity.
The structure of the students annual agenda is based around not only the semester exams but the standardized tests. The Texas ASSESMENT of Knowledge and Skills  or TAKS for short requires five weeks out of every school year for students to prepare, which includes the pre-TAKS and TAKS itself. That five weeks,while miniscule to many, is an actual necessity to many students.
In a state such as Texas where grade point average and class rank could essentially reward a student full scholorships to top schools (University of (more…)
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Helping with Bedrest

How you can help a fellow Katyite in their time of need

It’s been five days since my doctor has assigned me to bedrest for pre-term labor. Today my mother graciously brought me a laptop–I had been close to losing my mind in the hospital.
 
My husband and I are eagerly expecting triplet boys. We’re at Week 29, so we are happy that the boys are almost here. We also have a toddler who is almost three. My being out of commission has really put a strain on our daily schedules.
 
Our friends and family have really come through for us. It has been a humbling and blessed experience to see how much we are in others’ thoughts. How can you help a friend in need? (more…)
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Using the power of reward cards to save money for baby

A Katy mother-to-be starts saving before the arrival of baby 

I use to be one of those people that despised having extra cards in my wallet. However, expecting a baby quickly changes you! Now that I’m 6 months pregnant I’m quickly becoming a collector of coupons and reward cards as a way to save money.

At the local Katy Babies R Us my rewards card helps me earn points towards savings and alerts me via email on great coupon specials. Thanks to paying attention to such coupons my husband and I were able to save 20% on our crib. This was a significant savings and with a baby on the way every little bit helps. (more…)

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The Cinco Ranch Stars Dance Team’s Annual Spring Show is this weekend

Come support one of the Katy area’s many Fine Arts programs

My four year old daughter loves dancing.  She is in a dance class, watches So You Think You Can Dance every season, and generally believes all dancers are princesses. 

So, the Cinco Ranch High School Stars Dance Team’s Annual Spring Show is perfect for us.  Each year, I let my little dancing princess choose an extra special outfit and we gear up for the big night of dancing.  She gets so excited to see all of the performances. 

There are a variety of dances put on by each grade level within the Cougar Stars, each squad of girls, and some really special performances by the mothers, fathers, and Cougar Men of CRHS.  There are solos, small group (more…)

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My Time – A Powerful Parenting Tool

How one Katy mom shares her time with her children

When I first became a mom, I devoured every parenting book I could get my hands on.  I wanted to be the best mom I could be.  I wanted to parent correctly!  The more I read, the more amazed I was at the abundance of parenting theories.  From sleep to discipline to diet, there was no shortage of advice on how to raise happy, well-adjusted children.  So, I began my long journey through motherhood, daily testing the theories I had read about.  At times I felt really good about my parenting…the methods were working!  But, it seemed that just as I mastered a particular parenting technique, my child changed and I found I needed to adjust my style.  There is one parenting technique, however, that serves as a powerful tool at every stage of child rearing.  That tool is my time. (more…)

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Outdoors!

Favorite Katy locations and activities for enjoying the weather as a family

We have enjoyed the fair weather this last month or so and have spent most of our time outside.  My two daughters have gotten their fill of indoor activities… in my opinion, winter (even in Katy) goes on two months longer than it is welcome. 

Angela, along with her daughter Avery, enjoy a bike ride around Katy

Over the past month, with the weather being as nice as it is, almost every play date and get together has involved some sort of outdoor activity.  Some of my favorites include…

*Walking around the large lakes at Cinco Ranch Blvd and Spring Green.  This is a family favorite, and we will sometimes pack a lunch and eat out on the grass.

*Playing outside at La Centera.  And what trip to La Centera is complete without a treat from one of the several shops around?  The girls love to get ice cream or cookies, I love the Starbucks and Jamba Juice.

*Visiting the parks in each of our friends’ neighborhoods. 

*Geocaching in and around Katy (for more, go to www.geocaching.com).  Geocaching is like a global scavenger hunt, with locations given in GPS.  We use my iPhone and my 4 year old has a blast helping us discover the hidden capsules.

*Local Katy parks are a real hit.  Mary Jo Peckham, the ‘train park’ nearby it, George Bush park – we love making the park rounds! (more…)

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Celebrate Earth Day with your family

The Houston and Katy areas offer many fun (and sometimes free!)options for families.

Earth Day would be great time to take your children to a local Katy park. You can search for the one nearest you right here on the Katy Magazine site http://www.katymagazine.com/parks.htm. Fly a kite, take a walk, enjoy the beautiful Katy weather before things get too hot!

If you want to tie in a little more education into your Earth Day celebration the short drive into Houston can provide you with many options. Today you can celebrate Earth Day at a most appropriate venue, the Houston Weather Museum. From 10am-4pm the museum will celebrate the Earth and the museum’s birthday. Admission is free. For more information visit http://www.wxresearch.com/earth/index.html.

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is also always a great place to go to be close to nature. It also is free! Enjoy walking the trails and coming face to face with wildlife. The Arboretum also has many great programs that you can learn about on their site at http://www.houstonarboretum.org/

If you want to celebrate Earth Day this year in the comforts of air conditioning Disney is debuting their documentary, Oceans in theatres today. This is a great way to show your children some of nature’s masterpieces! You can read more about this at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765128/.

Even with these options if you want to stay home there is always a way to incorporate a love for nature in what you do. Channel surf the National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet stations. There is bound to be something on that will peak your family’s interest.

Earth Day is a great time to have family discussion about what you love most about the Earth and how you can help to make a difference. Discuss the importance of conserving electricity by turning off the lights in rooms when you leave them. Come up with a family recycling plan or decide to help through volunteering. If your family is doing something fun and unique for Earth Day please share it in a comment!

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Yo Gabba Gabba

One Katy Mom shares how she uses her kids’ TV favorite as a parenting tool

What is it about these guys?

I skipped the Barney craze and luckily missed out completely on the Teletubbies.  I did some babysitting and so I knew of them, but I never had a deep understanding of these children’s television icons.

I am getting paid back tenfold via Yo Gabba Gabba. 

In today’s media driven society, there are so many more choices out there for television for children.  And, with as much as we limit tv time in our house, we’ve been through a few crazes: Sesame Street, The Wiggles, The Doodlebops… and most recently, Yo Gabba Gabba. (more…)

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Down Days

Creating space to play and be together with your Katy family

I got a phone call from a friend of mine the other day.  “Angela!  You will never believe how much fun we just had!”  She and her 4 year old son were running an errand at Katy Mills Mall when they discovered a sidewalk full of caterpillars.  She happened to have a container in the car, so the two of them spent the next 30 minutes collecting caterpillars to take home and nurture together.  It was a moment of unplanned fun, and it reminded both my friend and I that so much of our time has become scheduled.

I stay home with my two girls, but we have activities planned most days.  With pre-school, The Little Gym, ballet and playgroup, we are very rarely home and almost always have a schedule and a plan wherever we go. (more…)

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Art in Houston

Fine arts facilities and programs are in full bloom in and around Katy

Art is prevelant in the city of Houston and to no surprise alive and well in Katy as well. There are so many oppurtunities in Katy to experience the colorful and creative atmosphere of our city. In terms of the physical arts,
Katy as well as Houston offer quality art exhibits such as The Museum Of Fine Arts in Houston, The Houston Contemperary Art Exhibit, Forbidden Gardens ect.
Musically there is a seemingly endless amount of mucisians and
bands that are not only talented but hungry for success which equates to some awesome performances. Houston itself is home to the HGO(Houston Grand Opera) and the HTD( Houston Theatre District). These operatic powerhouses offer performances that will leave you speechless. (more…)
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Date Night, Katy Style

Tips on creating a fun date night for you and your significant other in Katy

It’s not easy for parents to get out on a date night, but it is possible–and necessary. Planning is key. My husband and I love to get out of the house for a little while at least once a month. At times we have to cut out of work early or go in late to make use of our son being in school. We will go out for a leisurely breakfast or brunch. If we leave work after lunch, we can usually find a movie or have fun just getting out to some stores without the responsibility of watching our two-year-old.
 
But, when we can manage going out at night, we usually head to Alamo Drafthouse (531 S. Mason Rd., 77450). Here, it’s like a one-stop date night venue. First of all, the Alamo’s policy of no children under six years of age really makes a romantic difference. (I’ll tell you later about their great Baby Days, though!) All children under the age of 18 must be with parents. Nice, huh? (more…)
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Raising Yin and Yang

The intricacies of raising two Katy kids that are as different as night and day

My first daughter, Avery, is what most would call strong-willed.  She is emotional and excitable, which make her fun to be around… most of the time.  Anyone who has been in our lives at all will vouch for the fact that when Avery is in her element, feeling wholly loved and supported, she is a gem.  However, when something goes wrong or when she is asked to obey and she doesn’t want to… well, everyone knows about it.  (more…)

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Fresh Fruit in Katy

Making the perfect selection of fruit for your Katy family

I was shopping in one of my local grocery store and saw so many fresh fruit out ready to be bought. As I walked by several of them they smelled so sweet that tempted me to grab one and put it close to my nose and enjoyed that wonderful smell of fresh fruit. I saw mango’s, oranges, strawberries, grapes, apples and cantaloupes. Upon selecting the fruit I would put it close to my nose and see if it had that sweet smell. I would also check the tenderness and color of the fruit. I always wonder if the fruit would be sweeter if I would go to a farmers market instead of the grocery store. (more…)

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Exercise for Fun- Exercise for a Lifetime

Katy has many work-out options to fit your budget and your interests

No one likes spending time doing activities they find disagreeable, even if the activities are good for them.   So, what is the best way to ensure you will exercise throughout your life?  The answer is finding a form of exercise that you love.  Once you find a kind of exercise that is fun, you will be hooked and exercise will become a pleasure.

My favorite form of exercise is dancing.  I enjoyed ballet and ballroom dance when I was younger and find that I work hardest when the form of exercise is somewhat creative.  I was thrilled when we moved to Katy and found that several of the local fitness centers offered cardio dance classes.  If you pay for a membership to Lifetime Fitness or the YMCA, for example, the fitness classes are included in the membership cost.  I have loved attending Latin Dance, Hip-hop and Zumba classes.  They are great cardio workouts and they make me feel like a teenager again. (more…)

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A Lesson In The Park

One Katy mom discovers the philosopy of motherhood

Some of my greatest learning moments have occurred as I have talked with other women about motherhood and life in general. Often, these conversations happen spontaneously. Sometimes, they occur at times most unexpected. Years ago in a neighborhood park, I learned a lesson on motherhood.

Children really seem to be in their element when they are given the freedom to run and play to their heart’s content. On one particular day, the weather was perfect and we decided to pack a lunch to eat at the neighborhood park that was close to our home. The land on which the park was situated was really quite beautiful with rolling hills and large, majestic trees. A walking trail surrounded the entire park and the flowers and shrubs were abundant in their variety. (more…)

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The Aquarium

One Katy family’s favorite place for the big celebrations in life

My daughter loves birthdays.  She loves her own (of course), her friends (the parties!), and especially birthdays of family members.  Our extended

Avery and Kate enjoy watching the fish swim around the tank

 family’s tradition is to go out to eat for any adult birthday, as a large family unit.  We used to try to head to places like Fogo de Chao or Perry’s Steakhouse, but as the children get older (and as there are more of them!), anywhere we go needs to be kid-friendly.

Enter our new family favorite: The Downtown Aquarium.  The food is still fancy enough to warrant a birthday celebration, and the children have so much to do that the event is at least as special for them as it is for the birthday celebrant. 

Before heading in to eat, we enjoy the shark tunnel train ride.  As we’re seated and making our dinner selections, the children can walk around the huge aquarium and pick out their favorites (this past time is was the green eels).  It’s not hard to keep the children entertained as we wait for our food with the cast amount of fish, sea horses, sharks, and eels to scope out.

The food is always amazing, and my youngest daughter especially loves the shrimp and chicken plate for children.  (more…)

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Progressive Dinner

Making eating out in Katy an event

This weekend, we had the opportunity to double date and go on a progressive dinner.  The premise was that we would go out and enjoy appetizer, main course, and dessert at three different Katy restaurants, thereby making an entire evening out of eating dinner.

We have never done a progressive dinner before, and neither had our friends.  But, being good sports, they agreed to give it a go.

We began at Perry’s Steakhouse in the bar section.  We enjoyed drinks and an appetizer at a leisurely pace.  Perry’s is a favorite of ours, but the price tag keeps us from being able to do dinner there most of the time.  Having drinks and appetizers was a fun way to get the experience and the fabulous food without such a high bill. (more…)

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Mother Code

Katy Mothers Helping Mothers

April 14, 2010 – Katy, Texas – This week, while waiting in the airport to board my plane, I noticed a mother approach the ticket counter with a young toddler and an infant in her arms.  She struggled to carry her belongings, and her two children through the throngs of people gathered to board.  Floods of memories came to my mind as I remembered myself in the very same situation.  I remembered the looks and smiles of those around me.  I remembered I yearned for an additional arm.  As I watched the mother carefully move to the boarding ramp, I remembered the numerous kind women who offered assistance when I needed it most.

On this trip, I was traveling by myself, but, I could recall many other trips with my babies and toddlers that had been quite stressful. On one particular occasion, a sweet middle-aged woman shared a row with me.  As I juggled cheerios, bottles, and Sippy cups, she was an angel.  She helped me the entire flight and turned a very difficult time into a manageable, happy time. (more…)

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Houston Zoo’s Zoobilee

One Katy family’s first trip to the annual celebration did not disappoint

This is the first year that we are members of the Houston Zoo.  On a recent trip, we calculated how many times we visit the zoo, and becoming a member suddenly made financial sense.

A couple of bears at the Houston Zoo showing off for their spectators.

My girls are ages 18 months and 3 ½ years, so it is especially nice not to worry about how much each zoo trip costs.  Some trips, the girls are ready to stay all day, but on other occasions, 2 or 3 hours is all they can make it before we have to head home.  I never worry about if the trip will be an all day event or a quick stop now that we’re members, since we don’t pay per visit.

One of the perks of being a member of the Houston Zoo is Zoobilee, an annual event for members only.  Two nights a year (this past Thursday and Friday were the chosen nights this year), the zoo closes to the public at 4:30 and from 5:00 until 8:00 pm, members roam the zoo, filling their “passports” with stamps of chosen animals, watching the animals come out to play at night, and even getting to touch a snake and an enormous rabbit.  There were dancers dressed as animals (a crocodile, zebra, lioness, and even giraffes on stilts!), snacks, and carousel rides.  (more…)

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Thomas Park

Having a picnic in a Katy park can be a small, family affair

Have you ever planned a family picnic, only to find other families with the same idea thronging to the park you have chosen? Have you ever wished you could find someplace a bit smaller? Less crowded? More private? There is such a place, right in the heart of Katy.

The tri-country marker in Thomas Park.

Thomas Park is a charming little recreational area at the end of 3rd Street, just off Avenue D.  This quaint green space boasts large trees, a play ground, a gazebo, picnic tables, park benches and paved walkways. It is spacious enough to contain everything including a restroom facility, yet small enough to feel like you have your own personal green space.

At one end of the park, the key attraction is the Tri-County Marker designating the junction where Katy’s three counties meet: Waller (to the North), Fort Bend (Southwest), and Harris (East) Counties.  The original marker is a triangular, concrete pillar, whittled to a nub by time and weather.  The county names engraved into each of the pillar’s three sides are equally worn by time and weather, making them difficult to read. The pillar is now permanently affixed atop a triangular base of concrete, surrounded on all sides by bricks and marble plaques engraved with each of the County (more…)

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For Newcomers to the Katy Area

For anyone new to Katy and the Houston area, these few tips can make getting around town seem less intimidating.

April 13, 2010 – Katy, Texas – Have you investigated navigating the City of Houston? Chances are, you took one look at the road maps and decided that, if it wasn’t close to home, you’d have to do without. Here are a few tips for navigating Katy’s largest neighbor without becoming overwhelmed.

Kingsland Park & Ride serves the majority of Katy commuters.

If you absolutely must drive, here are a few highway basics. The major crossroads are: I-10 running East/West, and both I-45 and U.S. 59 which go North/South. The Hardy Toll Road runs North/ South from Spring to downtown. The Westpark Toll Road runs East/West from Highway 99 to I-610. There are two loops around Houston: the inner loop (I-610) and the outer loop (Beltway, or the Sam Houston Tollway). Further out, State Highway 6 travels most of the way around Houston and Highway 99 will eventually go around the city. For more specific street directions, it’s best to look up the information before you leave and always carry a map.

If you don’t want to drive, you have the options of taking a taxi or a bus. Either option is reasonably affordable. Houston has a fleet of over 200 taxis in service. A small fare of $6 makes getting around Houston’s business district a snap. As you’ve  probably guessed, longer distances command higher fares. The maximum fare is roughly in the vicinity of 75 dollars. The (more…)

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How the New Health Care Law Affects You

New Health Care Law Hits Katy

It has been an interesting time for Katy residents as the Health Care and Reconciliation Act bills recently became law. Below is a list of provisions in the new legislation that all Katy residents should know.  The following items will be implemented throughout 2010. 

To be implemented immediately:

  • Employers with 50+ employees must provide breast feeding breaks to new mothers.
  • Small Business Tax Credit (for businesses with less than 50 employees) of up to 35% of employer’s contribution to health insurance. 
  • Medicare Part D rebate of $250 after you spend $2,830 in total drug spending to help fill the  “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage.
  • Adoption Tax Credit and Adoption Assistance increase of $1,000.
  • Temporary credit to organizations for investing in new therapies to prevent, diagnose and treat acute and chronic diseases.
  • Tax relief for health care professionals who work in underserved or shortage areas and have state student loans.
  • Establishes a National Health Care Workforce Commission for Health Care professionals.
  • All new health plans must provide coverage for preventative care without co-pays.
  • Requires group health plans to cover dependent children up to 26 years old.
  • Requires Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to States to create health insurance consumer assistance to receive and respond to inquiries and complaints regarding health insurance coverage.
  • Requires better screening of health care providers to reduce fraud.
  • Creates a federal council to promote healthy policies.
  • Extends Medicare payment protections for small rural hospitals.
  • Establishes a private, non-profit institute to identify national priorities and provide for research to compare the effectiveness of health treatments and strategies.
  • Offers an option to allow States to cover parents and childless adults up to 133% of the poverty level.
  • Creates new requirements of non-profit hospitals.
  • Expands and improves low-interest student loan programs, scholarships and loan repayments for health students and professions.
  • Requires BCBS organizations to have a medical loss ratio of 85% or higher to receive special tax benefits.
  • Insurers cannot cancel policies to avoid paying medical bills if a person gets sick.
  • No more lifetime limits on benefits.
  • Creates a grant program to help the States in requiring health insurance companies to submit justification for all requested premium increases.

To be implemented July 1

  • Eligible people cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
  • Indoor Tanning Services will be taxed an additional 10%.
  • Creates a temporary reinsurance program that helps companies provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55-64 to help with the expense of the coverage.
  • Requires the HHS to create a website for people and small businesses to find affordable state health insurance.  It will also give information regarding reinsurance for early retirees and small business tax credits.
  • Creates an investment fund for prevention and public health programs.

To be implemented by October 1

  • Insurance companies cannot cancel coverage when a person gets sick.
  • No lifetime limits on benefits.
  • Requires new group health plans to provide an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.
  • Children cannot be denied for pre-existing conditions in employer and individual plans. (Will be effective for all plans by 2014.)

My future posts will describe what the law provides from 2011 – 2020.

So how does this new law affect you and your family?  Are you happy about the new health care bill or does it cause you great concern.  Let me know what you think.  Email me at lmcland@mclandhr.com  I am running an unofficial survey and will publish the findings in a future blog.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Katy Neighborhoods with HOA’s

The Benefits vs. Regulations of living under s Katy Home Owner’s Association

My family and I have never experienced living in a neighborhood with HOA’s before Katy, Texas.  Meaning the fees or the benefits.  There are plenty of benefits, and I had to overcome my frustration with the fact that I could not have chickens in the backyard (“Even if they are kept inside an enclosure?” I asked the representative on the phone in disbelief, while she practically snorted “Absolutely NOT!”) before I could stop to appreciate the strengths of HOA’s!  Well, after I got over my initial trepidation with this new idea, I decided to explore what I could do in my backyard.  Or at the park, the gym, the pool, and all the other beautiful amenities that we, after $700 a year, bought rights to!

“So I can’t have more than two in-laws at the pool with us?”  I asked the clubhouse receptionist, as she gave me the “tour.”  This time I think my jaw was dropping, because she looked at me funny with her head tilted, as she slowly nodded, “That’s right, maam.”  So I need to call up those friends and family members that I promised could come over and swim for the Fourth of July party!  Other plans are now necessary. (more…)

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Spring Picture Books

One Katyite’s top 5 favorite spring time picture books

My mother and I both went back to school and got our Masters in Library Science.  That means, among other things, that my children have a double dose of avid readers gifting them with books upon books.  And they love it!

With the beautiful weather outside and the promise of longer evenings, there are a few favorite books I like to read with my children during this season especially.  Some are oldies but goodies, while others are recent discoveries. 

*The Aminal by Lorna Balian – This is a fun little story about a boy who finds an aminal.  The children spend the rest of the book picturing what this aminal might look like, and in the end, all are surprised by the friendly creature. (more…)

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Reading with Children

One Katy mother shares her tips on getting your child to appreciate reading

We all know how important reading is for children. Children who are readers score higher on standardized tests, show a love for literacy, and are usually clearer writers and spellers. There are even studies that show that reading to a child still in the womb is a calming and beneficial practice. Parents of toddlers and pre-readers know the joy children exhibit as they wander through a bookstore or library and choose a book of their very own. My son loves to climb into any family member’s lap and simply say, “Read to me.” Books are one of his favorite hobbies, and I think it’s mainly because both his parents enjoy reading and reading to him.
 
So, how do you get your child to enjoy reading? Here are some simple ways parents can involve their families in literacy. (more…)
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Two Free Christian Concerts – And You’re Invited!

Katy church offers family-friendly entertainment

Life Church of Katy is an excited host to two different musical events coming up in April.  The first is guest Rick Pino this Saturday, the 10th of April and is being held at 7PM in the fellowship hall at Life, which is located at 2610 Greenbusch Rd. in Katy.  For information on Rick and his musical ministry, you can visit his website at www.RickPino.com. 

He usually charges for these events, but has “connections” within the congregation at Life Church and is giving away his gift on Saturday!  So come join him and Life in this awesome evening!

 The next event is Kim Walker on Saturday the 24th, at 7PM and Sunday the 25th at 10:30 AM, where she will lead worship for the regular morning service.  Again, this event is FREE to attend, and Kim has a powerful ministry in worship.  See her detailed information on her website at www.kimwalkermusic.com.  She is also known for her role in the revival in youth ministry today.  Her home base is Bethel Church in Redding, California, where she is an integral part of the ministry there. (more…)

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30 Minutes Alone

One on one time in a busy Katy household is hard to come by, but it is possible!

My children, ages 18 months and 3 ½ years, are very busy.  They (luckily) love playing together and most often keep each other pretty well entertained.  We’ve reached a point where I can even spend 5 minutes tending to a household chore while the children play nearby.  We’re in the eye of the storm: my baby has not yet hit her terrible twos, and my oldest daughter understands how to share to some extent.  It is wonderful.

Yet in this blissful break, it is also important to me that I remember my favorite poem of all time.  It is called “Song for a Fifth Child” by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, and while I never plan to have a fifth child to recite the poem to, I love the heart of the message: “The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.  So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.” (more…)

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Katy Senior Prom

Katy kids get ready for Senior Prom

I recently went to Katy Mills Mall and noticed so many young ladies and young men shopping for their upcoming prom. There were alot of young ladies that were shopping with excitement for that special dress that they would be wearing for prom and not to mention those special accessories as well. Many of them debating whether to have a knee length dress or a long length dress. Many of the girls showed themselves different colors of dresses and wanted to know each others opinion. Many of the young men looked for that perfect suit to fit for that special night as well those perfect shoes. This was going to be a special night with so many memories to be remembered for their entire life. (more…)
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Horses on the Brain!

Katy has many resources for the horse lover in you

My family and I have joked since we moved here that Texas is the only place where you see goats in the front yards and horses in the back!  Being the country girl that I am at heart, I love that fact!  I have always loved horses, and my siblings and I were lucky enough to experience them growing up.  So I decided to do some research online about what Katy has to offer our kids as far as horseback riding lessons, and I found some interesting information. 

Here are several locations that offer lessons for children (and adults, if you are interested in experiencing time with these incredible animals for yourself!)  Circle Lake Ranch is located only one minute from I-10 on FM 1463, and they offer many services, from the basic horseback riding lessons to western and english riding styles.  They start at age seven to adult, and charge $200 monthly, for 50 minutes of riding, and 10 minutes of tack knowledge.  They also offer summer day camps, beginning in June, for $350 a week.  You can check out all the details for yourself at their website at circlelakeranch.com, or call 281-395-4311. (more…)

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Katy’s Fair (Usually!) Weather

 How do you make your Katy garden grow?

As an avid gardner who had struggled with the oppressive heat and lack of natural moisture back in Arizona, I have to admit I was relieved to be coming to live in Katy where it is green and wet!  I looked up the statistics online before we even arrived here last fall, and was the thrilled with the promise of a lack of cold weather and bounty of rain.  I told friends that I would be able to “throw the seeds in the ground, and they’ll just grow!”  OK, I’ll admit, I’ve doubted those numbers a lot recently, as this area went through record-breaking cold weather, rainfall, and even heat this past six months!   Needless to say, I’ll tell you that it hasn’t been quite that easy to garden here!  It is, however, not a disappointment to me at all.

I tried a couple of different options this year for planting, just to see how it would go.  I planted seeds inside, in the seedling trays you can find at Wal-mart.  I also planted the same seeds outside by the first week in March.  (I planted bulbs, like the onions, garlic and flowers, earlier, around the beginning of February.)  Interestingly, the outside seeds are doing better as far as strength and tolerance.  The inside seeds grew larger plants, but not as hardy to the weather.  Of course, the typical hardier plants are doing fine (more…)

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Ah…The Majesty of Spring!

As summer approaches, this Katy mom knows how to plan

As the chill of winter melts into spring, there seems to be a certain feeling of excitement in the air.  Color emerges from every yard as the grass turns green and the trees and shrubs blossom with new growth.  Families can be seen working in their yards- trimming bushes, clearing fallen leaves, spreading mulch, planting flowers- creating a natural work of art.  Flowers fill the medians as care is taken to beautifully adorn the city of Katy. 

Yes, spring has arrived.  Cool breezes float gently into homes as air conditioning is postponed for a brief time.  We have the desire to sort closets, clean out the garage, dust the blinds, and get rid of some of the clutter.  The inside, as well as the outside of our homes, emerges, new and improved.  Birds sing happily and create a symphony of melodious harmony, and we try to savor every last minute of the cool, temperate weather. (more…)

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Sugar Overload

One Katyite is rewriting holiday traditions to include less sugar and more nutrition 

When holidays roll around, the pull towards the kitchen gets stronger.  My desire to bake to make every occasion special is so deep rooted that I have had the hardest time breaking the trend.

I should stop and present this disclaimer: I’m not against sugar intake.  On the contrary, I love all things sugar.  But at some point, when the kitchen is overflowing with candy and my daughter brings home cupcakes from Nana’s house, the need to bake sugar cookies just because it’s a holiday deserves an honest assessment.

This Easter, I realized that we, as a family, are on sugar overload without me adding to the baking mix.  I knew this cognitively, but there was a powerful inner force that kept bringing me back to the kitchen, over and over again, reaching for the mixer.  “But baking a bunny cake is tradition,” I’d tell myself.  Or, “Sugar cookies at every holiday is so much fun!  I want my kids to have fun, don’t I?” (more…)

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A Trip to the West Houston Airport

Beat the Summer heat with this unique trip without leaving the Katy area

My two and half year-old son loves all things motor! He has a large collection of Matchbox and Hot Wheel cars, a few trains, and some airplanes to play with at home. When we go outside, he is always looking up to find planes or helicopters.

My husband and I recently took him to the West Houston Airport (18000 Groschke Rd. 77084). You may not have even known this little gem was right here in Katy! It was a huge hit with all of us.

It’s a real, working airport. When we go, we are treated to planes taking off, landing, and parking. It’s fun for our son to see the different colors and sizes of the planes. Once we saw a dog getting out of the plane, and he thought that was a real hoot! (more…)

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Taking Care of Me So I Can…

When you are running on low, this Katy mom knows how to relax

For the most part, I tend to be a fairly up-beat person. In fact, most days I wake up with a sense of anticipation for the day ahead. The one exception, however, is when I am sick. I learned early on in motherhood that gone are the days when someone waits on me hand and foot when I am under the weather. In fact, it seems fair to say that mothers simply aren’t allowed to be sick. There is no such thing as taking a sick day, calling in sick, or taking a leave of absence. For, there is always a fire to put out, a heart to cheer, a kitchen to be cleaned, a meal to prepare, and an extra-curricular activity to attend.
 
So, when one day, I found myself sick with a horrible case of the flu, I was grumpy. My muscles ached, I had no energy, and of course, my husband had to work late. By the time I was giving the children a bath, reading to them and tucking them in bed, I felt absolutely horrible. I feared I was feeling what it must be like to get old. Every step hurt. My neck and shoulders throbbed, and I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. Suddenly, I felt angry. (more…)
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Mommy Rock Star – Helping at School

There are many volunteers opportunities in Katy

Several days ago, I went to my child’s elementary school for a class party.  Upon entering the classroom, I felt like a rock star!  When the children saw me, they all began saying, “Hi, Mrs. Lewis!  I remember you!  How are you?”  You see, I had been their Junior Achievement teacher, so I had taught five short Junior Achievement lessons in their classroom.  I had loved every minute!  As I walked into the classroom, I felt honored that they knew me and felt even happier as I watched my son swell with pride.  I have really enjoyed helping in the Katy School District.

I am amazed at the parent support in the Katy schools.  I have never seen more parents who are willing to donate time and energy to making the schools better.    Some parents spend hours and hours volunteering at the schools as room mothers, PTA board members, lunchroom helpers, library volunteers, workday helpers, party planners, and organizers of special programs such as PATHS, Ranger Science, and Junior Achievement.   No wonder the schools are so good in Katy!  The parent support is unmatched!  I have just started to become acquainted with all the volunteer opportunities, but, boy is it fun!     (more…)

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Good Neighbors Make Good People

Living in a great neighborhood makes one family greatful that they in Katy

While building our new home in Katy, we frequently visited the building site to watch the progress of our home.  It seemed as if every time we came to the home, neighbors greeted us and extended a warm welcome to the neighborhood.  Being new to a city is sometimes difficult and I have been grateful for the friendly folk of Katy, Texas.  Neighborly neighbors really make one feel at home. 

Since settling into our home, I have learned from the examples of many great neighbors.  I believe that being a good neighbor truly makes you a better person.  Looking out for the needs of others takes the focus from self and helps us to learn and grow.  Let me share some of the kind acts performed by my fabulous neighbors.

Upon moving into our new home, several neighbors stopped by to exchange phone numbers with us.  They introduced themselves and let me know that they were friends that I could turn to if a need arose.  It was a great comfort knowing that if I found myself in a bind, I had some kind and willing neighbors who could step in and help. (more…)

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The Year of the Indian Paintbrush?

Searching for good bluebonnet photo locations in and around Katy

Avery, 2 1/2 years, and Katie Beth, 6 months, at their blue bonnet photo shoot last year.

We took a road trip to Austin last weekend.  It was a quick trip with very little time to stop and smell the roses (or to stop and take photos with the bluebonnets).  But while we were driving, I made it my personal mission to scout bluebonnet spots along I10.

I was surprised to see many, many Indian Paintbrushes but very few patches of bluebonnets.  They were out along the side of the road, but not in any real numbers.  It wasn’t until 2 hours outside of Katy on I10 that I started noticing fields of bluebonnets and cars pulled over to take pictures. 

I love taking annual pictures in the bluebonnets with my children.  But a 2 hour trip seems a bit excessive just to snap a few shots.

Two years ago, we loaded my then 19 month old daughter into the car and drove up and down roads for about an hour before giving up and heading back for home.  That year, we captured no bluebonnet shots.  Just an adorable little girl in the grass.

Last year we had much better luck.  Twice we stumbled upon amazing bluebonnets – as far as the eye could see.  We snapped some of my favorite photos of my girls (now two of them!) and enjoyed a picnic dinner in the spring sun. (more…)

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Where I’ll Be on Wednesday Night

Katy Baskin-Robbins is hosting a 31 Cent Scoop Night

My family loves to go out for ice cream.  We have two daughters, and to save money, we usually buy one kids cone and then half it between two bowls for them to share.  But this Wednesday, April 28th at Baskin-Robbins, they will each enjoy their very own scoop of ice cream.  Baskin-Robbins stores across the nation are hosting a 31 Cent Scoop Night.  They will donate $100,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and reduce the price of a scoop of ice cream to 31 cents from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm this Wednesday night.  Some locations will also provide customers with the opportunity to give back to local fire departments as well.  For our family, ice cream and supporting a great cause is a winning combination.  It’s no question where we’ll be on Wednesday night! (more…)

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Today, I Appreciate My Mom

Having Katy kids of my own really does help me see how much my mom did for me

Today, I stand in the kitchen surrounded by sugar cookies.  They’re out of the oven, half-iced, and cooked unevenly because I’m still learning to roll dough correctly (after 29 years!)
All of the baking and rolling and icing makes me think of my mom.  It’s too true that we don’t fully appreciate our own moms until we ourselves are moms.  
My mom used to make sugar cookies at every major holiday: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter… she’d bake them and then let us help ice them and add the eyes and decorations as we saw fit.  When I was a kid, it looked like this:
(Skipping in from careless play)
Mom: I have cookies, you want to ice them?
Me: Yes!
I never realized that “I have cookies” meant she’d spent the last 2-4 hours mixing, rolling, cleaning… I never stopped to think that she had a million other things going on.  It was just cookie day.  Man, I love that lady.
This got me thinking about other things.  Like the fact that if I brought home 1 or 14 friends, she’d order pizza for us or hand out candy bars like a vending machine or have fresh baked brownies.  Like the fact that I had more experiences in my youth than most people have their whole lives.  Like the fact that she constantly had a new art project, a new science experiment, or a new pet for us to use as we learned through play.  And she did it all for us, all without ever having anyone fully realize the depth of love and effort she was pouring into us, every single day.
I take being a mom more seriously than any other job I’ve ever had.  I love it, I throw myself into it.  If only I can give my girls what my mom gave me.
Today, I appreciate my mom.
What about you?  What is it that you appreciate about your mom?  Post a comment below.
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Easter Fest with a Little Extra Excitement

The Waters Church’s Annual Easter Fest had fun and surprises for Katy families

Avery on a pony ride at Easter Fest 2010.

We attended the 2nd Annual Easter Fest event last night at a local church, The Waters Church, located on 2710 North Mason Road #145 in Katy.  We arrived slightly early since my children are young and would need to head home to sleep before the event was over.

When we arrived, everything was being set up: no less than 4 bouncy houses, a pony ride, a balloon artist, a petting zoo, popcorn, hot dogs, and 2 brand new 2010 fire engines (one with a ladder)!  Chuck E. Cheese was there as well, and for the lucky early birds, he had cotton candy that he was handing out.  Within the first 30 minutes, we had already enjoyed our hot dog dinner, 2 of the jump houses, and were waiting for a turn on the pony rides.  After watching my 3 ½ year old ride a pony and marveling at how big she is getting, we headed to the balloon artist for our own personal Easter Fest tradition: a pink and purple butterfly balloon.  My daughters were in carnival heaven! (more…)

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Sport Activities In Katy

Katy Mom enjoys seeing her children having fun

I love the different kinds of sports that Katy offers for our children. There are so many choices that our children can pick from that they even want to do all of them. My son has selected t-ball and this is his first year in the sport. He has become a real pro at it. He anxiously awaits for his practices that he even tells me not to forget. I find this very amusing because he stares at his schedule and even the calendar just to make sure we don’t miss it. When we went to select his items for t-ball he was very excited that he wanted every item in the store.
Our first day of practice was real fun. He learned how to put on a baseball glove, hold the bat, hit the ball, pitch the ball, and even throw the ball to his teammates. I was on the bench being the cheerleader of the team. I even wanted to go out there and run with them. My camera will be full of pictures of his many special moments with his team to last for a lifetime. The practice went by so fast because of all the fun they were having that my son didn’t (more…)
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Cell Phone Introduction

Katy Mom wants to know what age is appropriate

I have a 6yr old  and 11yr old and they both been asking me when will they get their own cell phones. I have been debating what age should I start giving them cell phones. I didn’t give my 15 yr old a cell phone until he was 13yrs. Did I start too early or too late? I decided to give him one because of all the extra curricular activities he was in. The one thing that I am concerned about is too much phone usage. Are we ready to hear those rings and what about those text messages? What cell phone plan would benefit them? Should I get them on a texting plan? Also what phone would be best? These are some of many questions that come to mind.
 
I have seen children as young as 9yrs of age with cell phones in their hands. A cell phone can always be handy in an emergency when needed especially if they have to stay after school or attend extra curricular activities. This has came in very handy for me with my 15yr old.  (more…)
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Books Aplenty, Books Galore!

Parenting books are everywhere!  Which ones do you recommend for this Katy parent?

I love to read.  I have to limit myself to the amount of “for pleasure” reading that I do because I tend to get so involved with the book that I neglect my house, my children and my husband until the last word on the last page.  I’ve found that self-help books are a bit easier to pull myself away from; the information takes a while to digest and if I read too much too quickly I tend to forget what I’ve read.  

I have a pile of no less than 8 books and magazines sitting next to my bedside right now, and all of them are self-help, books for better living, or parenting related.  I am in the middle of all 8 of them, and I really do love them all.   

When it comes to parenting books, there are the highly touted (and highly controversial) baby sleep books, but I am talking about so much more than that.  I love anything inspirational, funny, or helpful about raising children or activities I can do with my children.  What follows is a list of my favorite 10 parenting books and magazines from my reading over the last year or so. (more…)

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Spring Fun for Young Children

Exploring Katy’s budget and family friendly fun

Spring is traditionally a time for rebirth. Buds are slowly appearing on my crepe myrtle in the backyard, we’re beginning to hear baby birds in the chimney, and bugs are back.
 
Use these opportunities to share the season with your child. Here are three activities you can do with toddlers and young children. None should cost more than $5.00. You could always gather some friends with young children and share the cost. Everyone can then benefit and you have some adult time with your friends, too!
 
1.) Katy has several parks that lend themselves to exploring! Grab a paper lunch bag and head out! In the car, talk about what kind of nature items everyone might find. Then go out and see what everyone collects. Grass, leaves, rocks, twigs, sand, even a safe insect or two may find a way into the bag. Make a collage of the found items, sans bugs!
 
2.) During Hurricane Ike, we were blessed to have fair weather–at least in the beginning of the power outage. My husband, son, and I ate outdoors just to escape the stuffy house. Use our mild weather to help little ones learn and experience the art of the picnic. Go to your backyard, throw down a heavy quilt, and enjoy a simple meal. Invite a few pals over, and this will be a lot of fun.
 
3.) Everytime my son comes home from school with a little project, I marvel at how creative his teacher is. I wonder if I could do something similar. Then I walk through a educational store like MindBuilders (870 S. Mason Rd., Suite 126, 77450) or Learning Express (5556 South Peek Road, 77450) and the ideas start flowing. What can you come up with from seeing their displays?
         
How about these simple ideas to get you started? Buy a packet of animal stickers. Use your child’s crayons to draw a jungle scene. Have your child stick the animals onto the drawing. You can do the same with flower or vegetable stickers– you draw an empty garden, and your child decides where the stickers go on the paper.
 
How do you interest your young child in the season? I’d love to hear your insights.
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Mommy’s To-Do List

Some simple steps to become a stress-less Katy mom

Is it just me, or has this week been particualarly busy?  Not that this week is much different from any other week…I do thrive on a fast-paced life and enjoy the activities that comprise my existence. However, throw in some sick children, random stresses, and some additional activities, and it suddenly becomes too much.

Featured Katy Magazine blogger, Megan Lewis, knows what it takes to stress less.

The life of a mother is unbelievably busy. It doesn’t matter whether a woman has one child or ten, her time is filled. So filled, in fact, that she sometimes forgets to take care of herself. 

There are days that feel like I am running a marathon. I wake up running, and don’t stop until I drop into bed at night. These are magical, fun and beautiful times, but boy, it takes all of my strength to keep up!

I find that in the midst of being a homemaker, wife and mother, I often put my own needs on the back burner. And, despite having a husband who is willing to do anything to help me, I find that many days, after I have met the needs of each of my children, I feel completely depleted.

So one day, I decided to make a “To-Do List”. It is a mommy-preservation list that I vow to do my best to heed. I don’t always take care of myself as I should, but, the list exists and I know when I try to do the things on the list, I am a better woman for doing so. Here is the list: (more…)

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Laughter – The Perfect Medicine

One Katy wife shares her secret for a happy marriage

I knew I had found Mr. Right when, after a fun evening together, my date asked if he could give me a kiss.  As I nodded and prepared for our first awkward kiss, my date then proceeded to pull a bag of Hershey Kisses from his pocket.  He didn’t kiss me that night, but we had a good laugh!  I fell in love with this funny man and today, after nearly sixteen years of marriage, laughing is still one of our favorite shared pastimes.  Laughter is truly the perfect medicine.  It is not only fun and free, but there are many physical, mental and social benefits.

Physical Benefits
A good, hearty laugh can actually relieve stress and cause the body to relax for up to forty-five minutes.  Laughter boosts the immune system, decreases pain, and can prevent disease.   

Mental Benefits
Laughter adds joy to life, improves one’s mood, eases anxiety and fear and boosts resilience.

Social Benefits
Shared laughter is the best form of laughter.  Laughter is contagious and is infectious to all.  Laughing with others strengthens relationships, decreases conflict and promotes bonding. (more…)

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It’s a Boy!

One Katyite has found a way to ‘give back’ on a global scale

Movies like Hotel Rwanda and Slumdog Millionaire have always been an issue for me.  On the one hand, I’m glad truth finds it way into pop culture, but on the other, I spend a lot of time wondering what truth is really worth when there is little I can do about problems so huge. 

I’ve known of Compassion International my whole life but it has never been very real to me.  I mean, it sort of seemed like a “good” thing to do.  

But suddenly all I could think of was movies like Hotel Rwanda and The Constant Gardener and even dear ole Jack Bauer in 24: Redemption.  I mean, there is so, so much pain in the world and here I am, somehow, just by coincidence, born into the wealthiest nation in the world.  I mean, who am I that I was born into such wealth?  I could just as easily have been living among the millions and millions all over the world who starve to death and die of things like diarrhea because they drink bad water.  

The way Compassion International works is you pay a set fee per month to sponsor one child in a third world country.  The monthly fee provides this child with food, clean water, medical care, and an education.  The sponsor and the sponsored child exchange letters as well.  There are other charity organizations out there that do amazing things for children as well.  This just happened to be the organization I was most familiar with. (more…)

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KVPAC’s Art for All Festival

 One Katyite looks back on a great day with her family at the festival   

This weekend we were looking for something special to do to spend time with our 3 ½ year old daughter, Avery.  Since we’re fans of Katy Magazine on Facebook, we saw a few of the posts about the KVPAC Arts for All Festival sponsored by Katy Magazine.  Avery is just now getting old enough to appreciate everything a festival like this has to offer, so we decided to take her.

Avery making a coffee filter butterfly at one of the booths at the KVPAC Arts For All! Festival.

We spent about 3 hours at La Centerra, walking around and enjoying the booths.  We visited the Katy Magazine booth and Avery had a great time dancing to the 60’s themed music, but was too shy to get her photo taken.  Hopefully she’ll be ready by next year!  We watched a performance of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by KVPAC, enjoyed a live band, and participated in many “projects”, as Avery likes to call them.

The entire square of La Centerra was bustling with activity and booths.  Children were singing karaoke, playing games and petting some lovable dogs.  There was even a bounce house for jumping! 

When we first arrived, we did a lap around the booths to take it all in.  After Avery warmed up to the excitement and after she realized that each booth had something special for her to see or do, she really came alive.  She was able to make a coffee filter butterfly, a marble-rolled painting, a shaker egg, and a stone tile decoration, among other things.  She was having so much fun that after every project, she’d look up at me and beg, “I’m not ready to go yet!  Just one more project… please!”  We were an hour late getting home for nap time, but spending such a special day with my daughter was completely worth it!  I cannot wait for next year’s Art for All Festival!

What about you?  Did you get a chance to get out and experience the Art for All Festival?  What was your family’s favorite activity?

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Do We Have Enough Bread?

One Katy mothers shares her favorite summer hot spot.

March 29, 2010 – Katy, Texas – One of Katy’s hidden gems is Mary Jo Peckham Park (5597 Gardenia St., 77493). Parents of children of all ages and developmental abilities will find it a joy to visit before the weather gets too hot. Bring some bread with you if you’d like to have some huge ducks come close. My two year-old son gets excited when we go to the pond area. Besides the ducks, we usually see some cranes and sometimes even large goldfish and turtles. My son is delighted to see people fishing, since he has not had that experience, yet. Around the pond is a lighted walking/biking trail. There really is something for everyone!
 
The park is also home to a miniature golf course that is child-friendly and a large playground. This is the location of the community center which houses an indoor pool and exercise facility. Harris County residents can take part in these activities for free!
 
One of the best things about this park for our family is that a short walk or drive down the road is the new “train” playground which is a hit with all children. This playground is a reward for my son–he loves to climb the rope, plastic, and metal structures, slide quickly down the metal slide with multiple tracks, as well as hide out in the tube slide. Children will love to hear the different tones of the bells and try to climb the tall rope structure. The park offers swings for children and infants of all physical abilities, and the bathrooms are clean! Older children will appreciate the large basketball court right behind the train park.
 
This is where you can find us on a summer morning or evening. I hope Katy residents will make use of this free, family-friendly place. Where does your family like to go on a lazy summer day? I would love to hear from you.
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Meal Swap

One Katyite mom has found a way to relieve dinner stress

I believe in the power of family meals every night.   I do not particularly care for processed foods, nor do I always have the time to make something fresh and fabulous each night.

So, if I am generally opposed to easy-to-prepare processed foods but I don’t have time to cook healthful meals, what do I do? 

I meal swap.

Meal swapping is an idea that a few friends and I came up with to better answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?”  Each month, I prepare 2 home cooked meals to share.  I triple the recipe and feed one portion to my family that night.  The other two portions I package up in freezer safe containers, label the top of the container with the name of the meal and the last minute preparation instructions, and put it in my freezer.  (more…)

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Affordable Tutoring In Katy

Katy Mom finding ways of tutoring her children

I have three children ages 7, 11, 15 they are in elementary, middle, and high school. I find it sometimes very hard to have one on one tutoring with them. They all learn differently and sometimes I try to find other ways to help them. I have took advantage of tutoring classes at some of the schools morning, afternoon or even during classes, neighbors in our area, phone tutoring, and even computer tutoring. Some schools even have saturdays as an extra day of tutoring. I just wish I could find a tutoring facility that would not be so costly. I have three children and I am always trying to find affordable tutoring for them.
Having children in different ages and levels of learning can sometimes become overwhelming. I have called different tutoring facilities but have found it to be very costly. I have heard good things about the tutoring facilities out here in Katy but have not had the pleasure of trying them yet. I have read the reviews of some of them. I find reviews very helpful but it’s nothing like your own experience with them. Oh and let’s not forget about our children that have extra curricular activities on certain days. When can we find time to tutor during these times?
 I have applied at least one hour for each of them for tutoring but I always ask myself what about the parents that have to work? I have alot of friends that are single moms and have long hours at work. So what about them when can they help their child in reference to tutoring? Can our children tutor with friends or relatives? Also can it be more affordable? So my parents of Katy what other ways of tutoring have you found it easy for your children? I would love to hear from you.
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A Recipe For Rearing Happy Children

A Katy mom shares her experiences in motherhood

March 26, 2010 – Katy, Texas – Sitting at the kitchen table, I mulled over possible meals for the week. I flipped through the pages of a cookbook and read through various recipes as I started on my shopping list. I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked at my youngest child, Braden, as he began to describe in detail a building he had just made out of blocks. He tugged at my arm pleading for me to go and admire his creation. Dropping my pen by my cookbooks, I ran with him up the stairs to inspect his work. He anxiously awaited my reaction to his masterpiece. His building was indeed impressive and I told him exactly how amazed I was at his engineering skills. He smiled, gave me a hug and resumed his work.

I walked down the stairs and continued my list. Within seconds, my oldest child, Brandon, walked to the table and asked if I would help him plan his school schedule for the following year. He excitedly spoke of the many courses that were available at Seven Lakes High School.  I looked at the class descriptions and for the next half an hour we planned his perfect schedule. With a grin, he left the kitchen to commence another activity.

Hm…I thought…soup sounds good for Wednesday. “Mom?” I heard a voice call. It was my daughter, Melissa. “I need you to help me with my math.  Do you know what the formula is to find the area of a circle?” I smiled since I did remember this particular formula.

“It is Pi R Squared.” I replied. She looked at me with admiration and asked if I would watch her work out the next few problems. As she successfully completed her work, she thanked me and left the kitchen.

The children love pizza. Perhaps we can make home-made pizza Friday night. “Mom! Come out to the trampoline!” My son, Bryan, breathlessly exclaimed. “I want to show you my back-flip. You won’t believe it!” He reached for my hand and began to pull me to the back door.

As I watched Bryan jump contentedly on the trampoline, a mental picture came to mind. I pictured my children continually in orbit around me. At this point in their lives anyway, I was the gravitas pull that gave them bearing.  As I thought about this image, I marveled at how important it was for me, as their mother, to provide consistent support and stability to each one of them.

Though I had been working on a meal recipe list, I felt as though I had stumbled upon a more significant recipe…a recipe for rearing happy children.  And, I realized that the recipe started with me.  I suppose I have my work cut out for me!  What are some ways in which you show love and support to your children?  Post a comment below.

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The Family Dinner

One Katy Mom Shares the Benefits of Family Meals

March 25, 2010–Katy, TX — One of my most cherished memories from my childhood is family mealtime.  After a busy day of school, lessons, chores and homework, it was refreshing to pause for a brief moment to connect with each other.  I remember the savory aromas that called to each one of us to come.  Sitting around the dinner table, we laughed, talked and each shared highlights from the day.  To this day my parents, sisters and I remain very close.  I know that some of this closeness is due to our daily connection point…the family meal.  Now that I am married and have a family of my own, I have tried to carry on the tradition of family mealtime.

Scientific studies show there are numerous benefits to family mealtime.  One recent study showed that working parents who were able to eat dinner with their families expressed greater job satisfaction.  Other studies showed that children who have regular family meals eat more healthfully, and get better grades.  Family mealtime is a practice that truly benefits children and parents alike.  In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is difficult to coordinate schedules and even to find a time when the entire family is home.   So how does a family create a habit of positive family mealtime?

First, make family mealtime a priority.  Set a goal for two or more family meals per week and work to increase the frequency.  Try to plan and schedule around family mealtime.  Though not always an easy task, most days you will find it is possible. (more…)

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The Reading Countess Chair

A Katyite remembers where her love of reading originated

March 25, 2010 – Katy, Texas – I recently struck upon a picture of a “reading countess chair” while searching for comfortable seating for my classroom library. My heart did a little skip and a jump as I thought back to how I crafted my blog name, “Reading Countess.” As the only granddaughter for sixteen years, I was treated like royalty by my beloved grandfather. He was the only one in my family who called me “Contessa,” a play on my “real name”, and he went out of his way to treat me like a member of the royal court. Much to my brother’s chagrin, I received preferential treatment by Granddaddy time and time again during my childhood. When we misbehaved, it was my brother and not I who was sent outside to pick the weeds. I was even given “fresh water baths” when I was really young. My grandfather carted buckets of water from the kitchen to fill the bathtub so that I would not be forced to take a bath using the pungent sulfur water from the rest of the farmhouse’s plumbing system.   (more…)

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Healthy Year ‘Round

How Katyites stay healthy through spring, summer and year ’round

March 25, 2010 – Katy, Texas – Why drive when you can walk- Many individuals in the  Katy area fortunately work in close vicinity to their homes yet feel the need to drive. Instead of wasting unnecessary gas money on a daily basis save a few dollars and lose a few calories by walking.

Exercise, even walking to start the day has been proven to ignite a greater level of productivity in many individuals. Although sidewalks seen to be non-existent in some Katy communities there is an abundance of great parks and walking trails that are open every day of the year .So if you are looking for a great way to stay active and alert simply walk.

No Gym, No Problem- As much as the local gym may seem appealing because of the innovative equipment and great environment it is not the only option. Jogging, biking, swimming, hiking and other outdoor activities are some of the best and most fun ways of staying active and offer a great cardiovascular workout.

(more…)

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Reading Lasts a Lifetime

Making Reading and important part of your Katy Cutie’s Life

March 25, 2010 – Katy, Texas – One of my favorite quotes is, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” (Emilie Buchwald). As a reading teacher, I know all too well the absolute importance that habitual reading (a minimum of twenty minutes spent reading each day outside of school) plays in the development of a child’s emotional and academic growth. Studies show that children who are exposed regularly to the joys of literature from a young age consistently rank in the top percentile when they are at the secondary level. Not only are vocabulary development and comprehension skills stronger than those of their peers, but knowledge gained through voracious reading then applies to all areas of the curriculum.

But what can a parent do when reading is a chore for a youngster? Read aloud, say the experts. Careful selection of high interest books can be a wonderful way to “reel” a reader into the joy of books. Young  children typically enjoy repetitive books or books that contain rhymes. For an older child, selecting books that have sequels can sometimes entice a reader to want to continue a saga. (more…)

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Katy’s Easter Events for Children

Many Activities going on in Katy for children of all ages

March 24, 2010- Katy, TX — It’s that time a year where we as parents are looking for things to do with our children for Easter. There are several places that will be holding events for a little or no fee in Katy. I always try to make it to as many events as I can especially if they are free. Our children love to do these activities and these are also memories to last for a lifetime. Here are some events that will be going on in Katy just make sure to put it on your calendar so you won’t forget.

Katy Mills Mall will be having the Easter bunny in the mall from March 13- April 3 located in neighborhood six near American Outfitters store. If you are a Kidgits member then you can enjoy decorating a bucket for your eggs, a visit from the Easter bunny himself at Rainforest Cafe from 8am to 10am and an egg hunt. Don’t worry if your not a member you can join that same day for a small fee.

Bass Pro Shop will also be holding fun activities for the children as well. They will be having a free picture with the Easter bunny and crafts from March 27- April 4 starting at noon. There will also be a egg hunt on March 27- April 4 for the children to enjoy with the exception of April 1 that day the Easter bunny will be off so he can give eggs to children around the world.

VFW Park will be having a Easter event for children with a petting zoo, face painting, photo with the Easter bunny for a small fee. This event will take place on March 26 starting at 4:30pm with a egg hunt for all ages. Egg hunts will be separated by ages so make sure to bring your basket to fill them up with all those wonderful eggs. Ages from 2yrs-3yrs will be at 5:30pm, 4yrs-5yrs will be at 5:45pm, 6yrs-8yrs will be at 6pm and if you your little one has a pet she or he can take them to the City Dog Park not to far from the VFW park.

The City Dog Park for a small fee will be holding a doggie costume contest at 5:30pm with a doggie egg hunt at 6:00pm. This will be lots of fun for your pet to get that evening walk but fun as well for your little ones.

Please give us you input on your past experiences for any of these events. When I am looking for some type of event to do in Katy I look to Katy Magazine. I have made Katy Magazine my number one event locator.

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Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s On Its Way!

Enjoying Community Activities in Katy This Easter Season

March 24, 2010 – Katy, Texas – I love spring.  I love the comfortable weather and the flowers.  But I especially love Easter.

I have such fond memories of Easters past.  My family partook in so many of the Easter traditions: egg hunts, church on Sunday morning, confetti eggs, dying hard boiled eggs… the list goes on and on.  Now that I have two children of my own, I feel giddy about the opportunity to pass these traditions down to them.  And pass them down I will.

Avery enjoying the bounce house at last year's Easter Fest.

But my new favorite tradition started last year.  The Waters Church at 2710 N. Mason Road (Suite #145) hosts an annual Easter Fest in the parking lot of the church.  Our family went last year, and we were amazed at how much there was for our children to enjoy.

A lot of community outreach programs focus on Easter egg hunts this time of year, and we plan to be a part of many of those as well.  But The Waters Easter Fest is more like a carnival than the traditional Easter egg hunt event.  Last year, my oldest daughter got to have a pony ride, get her face painted, jump in bouncy houses, enjoy a petting zoo, and eat hot dogs for dinner at Easter Fest. 

I’m looking forward to Easter Fest this upcoming Wednesday, March 31st from 6:30-8:30 pm.  I’m sure many of the attractions from last year will be back, and this year I know my 3 year old daughter is really looking forward to the fire truck and a visit from Chuck E. Cheese.   

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Ketchup is Not a Vegetable

Encouraging your Katy Toddler’s Healthy Eating Habits

March 24, 2010 – Katy, Texas – My first child, Madeleine, was an eater. From the day she tasted rice cereal at 4 months old, that child ate just about anything we put on her plate. Or her soft-bite Gerber spoon, as the case may be.  One of our favorite stories about Madeleine:  As a two-year-old, she threw a tantrum at McDonald’s because they didn’t serve broccoli.  The wide-eyed cashier couldn’t believe what she was seeing.  Now that she is eight, broccoli is still one of her favorite foods. 

Featured Katy blog writer, Lerin Wheeless, give her daughter, Lucy, her first teething biscuit.

Bragging about that McDonald’s meltdown, I was sure I’d done something right. My friends complained about their picky toddlers, while mine was eating everything from green beans to salad.  I doled out the unsolicited advice at every opportunity.  I had the simple answer: all they had to do was to serve a variety of foods and not make any alternate meals.  Their problem would be solved, I assured them!  Kids will eat whatever you put in front of them, as long as you don’t allow junk food, right?

Not necessarily.  God put me in my place with my next two picky eaters.  The only vegetable Ben (3) will eat? Ketchup.  Yes, I know that ketchup is not a vegetable, but he treats it like a side dish.  Rather than dipping food in it, he eats it from the spoon!  This always triggers my gagt reflex, so we only give him a little with his meat.

I’ve tried everything.  I’ve tried begging, bribing, threatening, punishing, and sticker charts.  What I’ve learned from these fruitless and frustrating efforts is, what your child chews and swallows and keeps down is ultimately up to them!  (more…)

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Big Dogs vs Small Dogs

Finding the right pet for your Katy family

March 24, 2010 – Katy, TX – There has been a debate of whether to adopt a small dog or a big dog in our family. We have visited various shelter’s out in Katy and have seen so many beautiful dogs that we wish we could adopt all of them. We have to put the pros and cons toward adopting a big or small pet. We had visited a nearby park and had seen so many different sizes of dogs. We were amazed that some doggies identify their owners. We did noticed that the majority of the men like bigger dogs and the ladies like smaller dogs. Why is that I wonder? We also have to ask ourselves what about vet visits? Routine maintenance? Food? There is so many questions involved in adopting a bigger dog to a smaller dog. We also have seen smaller dogs being carried in retail stores in their dog carriers some even fit in our purse.  I have even seen dog strollers in stores with dogs in them. If we were to have a bigger dog there would be no dog carrier or dog stroller in the store this would be impossible because of the size of the dog. I have also seen vet bills, routine maintenance and food for smaller dogs cheaper than for bigger dogs. Having a bigger dog protects your home of intruders they can hear those loud barks that tend to put people on alert. Smaller dogs don’t do that barking that tends to intimidate intruders instead they find it amusing. What about a bed or a kennel for the dog? Will our dog be comfortable in our home if it is big or small? I would guess it would depend on the size

of the home as well as a backyard for the dog. There is one important thing that we do know is that whatever size we choose it will be part of our family for a long time.

So my fellow Katy readers to adopt a small dog or adopt a big dog that is the question?

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Getting “Good” at Date Night

Featured blog writer, Angela McClinton and her husband. KPhoto by Kristin King Photography

How one Katy couple Makes the Most of their Time Together

March 23, 2010 – Katy, Texas – Before we were married, my husband and I heard the same bit of advice over and over: “Don’t ever stop dating.  Don’t ever feel guilty for spending time and money on dates.  Be purposeful about dating each other.” 

We’ve taken that advice to heart.  Who doesn’t love to be instructed to do something fun like dating?  Before we had children, we picked one night out of every week (it was Sundays for us) and went somewhere together.  Once our children were born, date night became a once-a-month thing.   Dating monthly is less often than we were challenged to, but nevertheless, it is one of my favorite family traditions. 

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that not every date is romantic-movie spectacular.  Sometimes we’re so worn out that a movie is all we care to do.  And after a long week with two young children, we might not be feeling creative so we’ll eat out and head back home to catch up on our DVR’ed shows.  (more…)

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Don’t Let Cell Phones Control You

How Katy Parents Can Manage Cell Phones And Teens

March 23, 2010 – Katy, Texas – Sign Up Features- Many cell phones and cell phone providers offer features such as texting,video, and camera options. The privacy of the child is always at risk when they are allowed certain freedoms they don’t exactly know how to manage. As a parent, instead of offering your child the unlimited cell phone plan, request the text and call only plan or call only plan. The child’s privacy is protected to a greater degree and you’ll be saving more on a monthly basis.

Check The Cell Phone Daily– Although as parents you may feel the need to warrant a certain leniency towards your children, when it comes to a child’s public protection sometimes what seems like a “breach in privacy” is nothing but a parent being a parent. Checking the child’s cell phone for suspicious texts or videos or pictures at times can be a viable option when it comes to evaluating whether or not the child is responsible with something you as a parent had purchased.

Helping With The Purchasing Of Mobile Phones– Most children after a certain age will independently choose to buy products. The parent should always be with the child in the purchasing of any product that seems controversial. The child most likely is not business savvy and will need assistance in determining what features, rates and plans are economically and personally reasonable.

Prepaid Phones- Many retail stores sell prepaid mobile phones that feature text and call only options. These phones are inexpensive and are easy enough for teens to buy ($50-$70 per phone) without parental concern for their child’s well being.

Although this focuses on children transitioning into the teenage years, these tips can be used to help any parent with a child of any age.  When it comes to privacy and protection, as a parent you are in control not vice versa. 

Do you have any tips on managing your child’s cell phone?  Please comment below.

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Preschool At Home

Early Education for Katy kids on a Budget

With the current state of the economy, we’ve been looking for ways to pull in extra money and cut our budget.  I’ve been working as a photographer on the weekends to help make ends meet, but it has been at the cost of time together as a family.  And the house?  Oh, boy… please don’t come over without giving me at least 6 hours notice!

Photo by Lerin Wheeless

Katy ISD offers half-day preschool for certain children.  Their eligibility can be based on having English as a second language, an active military parent, or federal income guidelines.  We were a little disappointed to find out that we make just $30 per paycheck too much to qualify!

My first thought was to take on more photography work to pay for preschool.  We figured out how many sessions I would need to book each weekend to cover the cost.  I was one of the crazy moms standing in line way too early in the morning on registration day with a baby and two toddlers in tow, just to make sure we secured our spot!  I paid the registration fees and filled out the paperwork for Bella (4) and Ben (3) to start in the Fall. 

However, as the weeks have gone by, we are reevaluating our decision.  After all, $700/month for preschool would mean quite a few photo sessions!  If I have them in school during the week and am working every evening and weekend… when will I get to be their mother?

One tearful family meeting later, we’ve made a decision… next year, we’re doing preschool at home!  I feel a tremendous burden off of my shoulders.  To prepare our children for the wonderful Katy ISD school system, we’re planning a daily schedule of learning activities.  One of my majors at NSU was Early Childhood Education, and with two siblings so close in age, this could be lots of fun.

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Reflections of a Katy Mother

How one Katy mom discovers the simple joys

March 22, 2010 –Katy, TX — Rays of sunlight gracefully shimmered through the kitchen window as our family sat eating our breakfast.  It was Spring Break and we were all excited for the week that lay ahead. How were we going to spend our time?  What did we want to do first?  I listened as each child shared ideas for the coming days.

As we cleared the breakfast dishes, we decided to first start with a family bike ride through the beautiful nature preserve adjacent to our subdivision.  Since the winter had been unusually cold, it had been some time since we had ventured on a bike excursion.  Racing to the garage, we commenced untangling handle bars and bike pedals in order to give each bike a quick tune-up.  As we had suspected, several bikes needed air in the tires and all of the bikes needed a good washing.

My two youngest boys offered their brawn as they gleefully “fixed” the bikes with the tire pump.  I located some old rags and a bucket and we washed the winter dust from the metal frames.  The children chattered happily as they proudly prepped their bikes for our family bike ride. 

(more…)

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Rodeo Fun Facts and Stats

Record numbers and attendance at this year’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Line dancing at the Houston Rodeo

Another successful rodeo season has come to an end, shattering attendance records and breaking several junior market auction records along the way, all while providing great entertainment at a value price, showcasing Texas agriculture, and promoting Western heritage.. Following are highlights from the 2010 Show.

Fun Rodeo Stats

  • More than 1,500 kids participated in Mutton Bustin’ in the Kids Country Arena, and more than 280 participated in Mutton Bustin’ in Reliant Stadium.
  • In the birthing center, 73 piglets, 22 lambs and 17 calves were born during the Show. In the poultry exhibit, more than 1,000 chicks were hatched.
  • More than 300,000 stuffed animals were won in the carnival. (more…)
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10 Tips for Getting Noticed at Work

Ideas for Making Yourself an Invaluable Employee

KATY WORKLIFE –Katy, Texas– March 22, 2010–  In today’s competitive job market, new employees are always looking for ways to stand out and get ahead in the workplace.    Follow these tips and you will make yourself invaluable in the workplace.

  1. Bring Solutions, Not Problems. Bosses like it when you have already mulled it over and can recommend a solution. Also, be willing to help implement the solution.
  2. Provide Exceptional Customer Service. Come up with innovative ways to provide superior customer service and demonstrate it daily.
  3. Avoid Clockwatching. Employers notice who stays a little longer to finish the project and who  races out the door at 5:00 sharp.
  4. Be a Giver.  Ask yourself ‘how can I be of service to someone at work today?’ Try a random act of kindness, acknowledge someone’s hard work, or offer to take on a new project.
  5. Maintain Flexibility. Workplaces are constantly changing and nothing is ever set in stone. Employees who learn to roll with it are more valuable than ones who are too set in their ways. Never have a ‘that’s not my job’ attitude.
  6. Be a Great Communicator. Convey your expectations to others, respond to emails politely, and resolve lingering disputes in a professional manner. Bottom line – get your needs met by using positive communication skills. At the core of almost all workplace problems is miscommunication. (more…)
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Welcoming Baby Number Two

From our Katy family to yours–a few hints to make bringing home the new baby as seamless as possible

March 22, 2010 –Katy, TX –Being pregnant with my second child was considerably less blissful than my being pregnant the first time around.  Sure, I was sick more often the second time around (and those “slight” pains associated with Braxton Hicks were more intense), but  the thing that really plagued me, the unavoidable reality that haunted my thoughts at night, was the idea that I’d somehow have to find a way to split my love and loyalties between two children.

Big sister, Avery, holding newborn baby sister, Kate.

I adore my first child, Avery.  And while I was pregnant, I knew I would adore my second, Kate, as well.  And what new mother hasn’t heard the age old advice, “Once the second child is born you’ll understand how your heart can just swell to love both children equally.”?  Still, I had my doubts.

Besides my own doubts, I’d heard from friends that welcoming a second child into the world is significantly more challenging than the first.  The exhaustion and post-partum hormones are still in place, but added to that is the ongoing needs of your first.  I’m not one to take a challenge lying down, so I did some poking around for ideas on easing the transition from one child to two.

(more…)

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Katy’s Public Libraries

 A Free Gift To Our Katy Community

March 19, 2010 –Katy, TX –In the news the past six months, hints that the doors to public libraries throughout our great nation will be closed due to budgetary shortfalls have sent alarm bells among concerned citizens. The entire state of Florida and the great city of Philadelphia, ironically where the Declaration of Independence was signed, have met with difficult choices when faced with skyrocketing budget demands. Thankfully, our own libraries are not in the same predicament and are indeed well stocked and maintain convenient hours of operation.

Mural at Muad Marks Library in Katy

In the Katy area, citizens have a multitude of public libraries to choose from. Harris County Public Library boasts three convenient branches to residents of Katy: Katherine Tyra, Katy and Maud Marks. Fort Bend County Library is proud to offer residents of Katy services through their Cinco Ranch Library.

All libraries in our community host a wealth of services for young and old alike. For the youth, parents can enjoy toddler or preschool story time, or bring their school aged children to an after school art class. Santa has even been known to show up for some milk and cookies with the kids around the holidays. For the older participant, book clubs for teens and adults are held monthly. ESL, tax help, computer, and interest clubs such as knitting and money management even meet at our libraries. Once a month, our libraries also host a used book sale. Visitors can find a plethora of titles for a portion of the regular price, and the profits from the sale go directly back into the libraries. The libraries are always a busy place during the summer months when special programs are put on once a week for the school aged set. And don’t forget about all of the materials visitors can borrow from the library! Where else can you find books, magazines, movies, audio tapes, and free computer use all for the price of a (free) library card?

In a time when our country is facing difficult financial choices, remember that our public libraries are still a free resource. Stop by a local branch today and check it out! Who knows? You might discover a new hobby or find a book you can’t put down!

*Have you stopped into a public library branch recently? What were you looking for? How often do you visit?

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Making Memories

One Katy mom makes memories with her boys at Mason Road Skate Center

March 22, 2010 –Katy, TX –My boys had been playing hard outside all spring break soaking up the gorgeous weather, and so when they asked if I could take them to the local skating rink yesterday I was surprised. “Don’t you want to enjoy this amazing seventy degree weather before it starts to get too hot outside?” I asked them. But they persisted, and so we loaded up and started off, stopping to load up some friends in the back. As we drove, I rolled the windows down and popped open the sunroof; determined to soak up the short-lived spring weather as much as possible. I was still grumbling to myself when we entered the building, thinking how we were wasting the day inside.

As soon as we stepped foot into the skating rink, though, I was immediately transported back in time. It’s funny how some things simply never change. Flooding my senses was the overpowering smell of a locker room-or was that the rented roller skates? Be that as it may, I paid our entrance fee and the boys began to slip on their skates to the sounds of Beyonce’ booming in our ears.

This was not our first foray to the local rink before. We’ve visited on rainy summer afternoons and for numerous birthday parties throughout the years. But I was always either skating with the boys to encourage them to let go of the wall, or walking our youngest son around the rink while he fearfully held onto me for dear life. This was the first time ever that I wasn’t doing either! My boys had matured enough to whiz around the rink without any encouragement or aid from me. Sitting down at one of the many tables lined up, I settled down with a book, peeking over it every so often to cheer them on.

I remember fondly the many hours I spent at the local skating rink as a young girl.  The dimmed lights, the looming disco ball in the center of the rink casting glittery shadows on the skaters below, and the pounding music are all woven into my memory forever. Wearing my favorite blue velour bellbottom pants with the word “BOOGIE” emblazoned in rhinestones on the back pocket made me feel like a roller skating goddess.  As I sat and watched my boys glide effortlessly around and around, it occurred to me how some things in life really never change.

True, the music my boys were grooving to was not The Bee Gees or Diana Summer of my youth. They were instead mouthing the words to The Black Eyed Peas and groaning when Justin Bieber’s voice was piped in. But the pure joy on their sweaty faces, the preteen girls obsessed with their appearance looking to each other for reassurance, and the smell of the greasy food offered up made me smile in recognition. I remember this. And I hope my boys will, too. This was not a day wasted inside. This was a day for making memories.

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Katy Birthday Parties

At Home or out in the Katy community? Where’s the best place to have a birthday party?

March 19, 2010 –Katy, TX –I’m a big fan of having my kids’ birthday parties somewhere other than our home. After a particularly messy 8th birthday party at home complete with chocolate cake smashed into the carpet, I made a decision that birthday parties are best away from home.   The clean up is so much easier and the packages they offer are so convenient for moms and dads. Some of the most fun and memorable parties my kids have had were…

Times Square Entertainment – There are so many things kids can do and the party hosts are awesome. They follow you around and take care of every detail. This is best for kids age 8 through teens. Bowling, games, laser tag and pizza is fun for boys and girls.

Mason Road Skating – There is nothing like their money machine! What kid doesn’t want to stand in a money machine and catch flying dollar bills. A lifetime memory!

Laser Quest – Tweens and teens really like this place. It’s dark and kind of mysterious and they have a few party rooms to choose from. It’s on Westheimer, but not too far down, just past West Oaks Mall.

Pump it Up – I’ve had younger kids parties there and one for my 10 year old Both were a big hit. Jumping around on large inflatables is a blast for all ages, even for the adults!

Do you know a great Katy party place? Post your comment here!

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Hopping Off the Wheel

Spring Break ‘Staycation’ Means  Bonding Time for Katy Families

Over the years, my boys have been the proud and loving owners of two gerbils and a hamster (thankfully at different times). While the hamster was relatively placid and generally roamed around his cage placidly, we delighted in watching the antics of the gerbils for hours. It seemed that they were never still. If they weren’t climbing up on the various apparatus we purchased for them, they could be found running on the little wheel that went around and around but never went anywhere. We would laugh at them and think them silly for being perpetually “on the wheel.”

Since we have been on Spring Break, I feel as though I, too, have been “on the wheel” and have thankfully hopped off of it. It might be for just a brief week, but this week has proven to be a spirit renewer in ways I never envisioned. We have had a glorious “staycation.” Although we have not travelled anywhere exotic, the time off has proven to be priceless. My boys have enjoyed the quiet days spent playing outside in the temperate weather, going to various parks, fishing with friends, roller skating and riding their bikes, catching a movie, staying up later at night and sleeping in during the day, and taking a trip to the local library. We even all crammed into our car around bedtime and went for ice cream-the boys clad in their pajamas. Personally, I have read more books and have spent leisurely time mulling over writing and thinking than I ever have during the school week. We would never have been able to enjoy all of our relaxing, family bonding time during the hustle and bustle of the school week. Between the rigorous schedule of school and all the after school activities my boys participate in, finding time to “just chill” can be difficult. But hopping off the wheel has been crucial for us as a family.

What have been your experiences with Spring Break? Are you a working parent? If so, do you find it challenging to take time off to be with your child(ren)? What activities or places have you enjoyed together during this time off?

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Anyone found a great weight loss plan?

Katy Mom is Looking for Tips and Tricks to get ‘Pre-Kids’ Body Back

I used to work out all the time, eat pretty healthy and therefore, fit nicely into my size 4 clothes. Then I had kids. Now-a-days you are lucky if you see me in a short sleeve shirt because I’m so embarrassed of my fat, jiggly arms!  I loved our cold winter for the sheer reason that I could stay covered up all day long! What in the world is the deal with me?!

I am one of those women, the ones that have kids and they gain a ton of weight, their hair is never the same and can never get rid of that ugly pooch at the bottom of my stomach that looks like something you should knead, punch and roll out. And then there are the “others”. I hate these women…ok not really, just despise the fact that their bodies don’t change after giving birth AT ALL!  And with such little effort on their part!!  I had a friend that was back into her size 2 jeans 4 weeks after giving birth to her first son, and after each birth of her 3 kids! And she didn’t diet or exercise!  WHAT?!  How is that possible?  I used to kill myself in the gym after each of my son’s births, I did the Atkins diet, the Slimfast Diet, the Starvation Soup Diet, the Medifast Diet (oh! I starved on that one!)  and oh so many more. Each one was too hard to stay on, got bored with it, or didn’t see much progress so I quit. I’m sure my love of wine and Italian food had NOTHING to do with my lack of progress.

Anyone out there found something that really works?  That won’t require me to count points, weigh food, take a pill that sends me into cardiac arrest, or eat boxed lasagna that has so many preservatives in it that its shelf life extends into my 4 year old’s golden years?!  Post your comments below.

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AJ Bass Performing at Kosmos March 26

Singer Songwriter AJ Bass to Perform at Kosmos Coffee Shop in Katy

From songwriting to performance to production, AJ has been in and around the music industry for over 15 years.  From 1994 to1996, he was one of the audio techs for the band “Moriah” (later morphed into “Life Of Riley”) where he also performed as a featured vocalist during their concerts.  As the Worship Pastor of Grace Fellowship UMC for the past 13 years (1996 to present), he has performed with and provided sound support for countless bands, worship teams, and solo artists.  AJ has overseen the production of 5 Grace Fellowship CD Projects and has co-written songs with the likes of Jimmy Needham, Wayne Kerr, and Cassidy Campbell (“Life Of Riley”).  In addition, he has helped to encourage and shape numerous vocalists and instrumentalists over the years as a result of his interaction with adult, youth, and children’s worship teams and ensembles.  All of this experience has fostered within AJ a passion for musical excellence, band and artist development, and for helping musical groups and performers who might otherwise be “overlooked” get the opportunity to reach their full potential in the industry.  “I come in contact with musicians that have what it takes to be the next ‘Chris Tomlin’ or ‘Natalie Grant’ all of the time, and I would love to help those artists realize their greatest aspirations!”  See AJ Bass at Kosmos Coffee located at 22765 Westheimer Parkway (Peek Entrance Across from YMCA).  The performance will be Friday, March 26 at 7 PM.

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Adopt a Pet for St. Patrick’s Day

Lexi with her kitty

Houston SPCA Cat Adoption Specials –Not Just for the Irish!

The luck of the Irish shines down on the frisky felines of the Houston SPCA as we welcome St. Patrick’s Day and the beginning of Spring.  During the weekend of March 19th through the 21st, all cats are 2 fur 1!!! In addition, the Houston SPCA Leprechauns have made the executive decision that all cats with green eyes that are over the age of six months or have a green Shamrock on their kennel will be half off the normal adoption fee.  This means every approved adopter can take home at least two lucky animals for the price of one or just one for half price. Either way, it all adds up to giving a homeless animal a second chance at life.

With a little help from the dedicated staff at the Houston SPCA all of our very special felines will receive the following as a part of their adoption fee:

• A health evaluation; initial vaccinations; rabies vaccinations for felines three months and older

• Spay / neuter surgery

• Deworming; feline leukemia testing

• Microchipping with free lifetime registration; and of course a friend for life!

(more…)

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Katy Area Proms Around the Corner

 

Photo by Katy Magazine

Katy Seniors Gear Up for this Special NightFor four years students wait anxiously for the wonder that is their senior prom. The first school to experience this memorable event: Mayde Creek. They plan to revel in the magic on April 17, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Next is Katy, scheduled for April 24, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 12 p.m. at Brisco Hall. Their theme is an ode to the late Michael Jackson, Remember the Times, with the colors red and black.

The following day holds Seven Lake’s prom, April 25, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 12 p.m. They will dance the night away at the Intercontinental Hotel.

On May 1, 2010, Taylor will enjoy the splendor at the Houston Club from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Then Morton Ranch High School’s prom will take place at the Omni Hotel on May 8, 2010 from 7 p.m. – 12 p.m. The class song is Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There” and the theme encompassing the dance is Fairyland, with emphasis on the colors pink, white, and silver.

Cinco Ranch’s theme is Take My Breath Away, with the colors black, white, and aqua. They will be holding the dance at Omni River Way on May 15, 2010 from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. Olivia Davis, a senior student at Cinco, says “I’m so excited to buy a prom dress! I feel like a Barbie.”

© Katy Magazine 2010, photo and story

Do you have a funny prom story? Post it in the comments below.

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Rodeo Fun in Houston

Photo courtesy of RodeoHouston

Schedule of Events for Tuesday

It’s going to be another fun-filled day at RodeoHouston. Here’s what’s coming up for tomorrow. Don’t miss Keith Urban in concert immediately following the BP Super Sereis V – Championship Round.

Here is a schedule of events for March 16

  • 8 a.m. Quarter Horse Show: Roping Events at Reliant Arena
  • Lowline Angus Cattle Show at Reliant Center – Main Arena (east side)
  • Miniature Hereford Cattle Show at Reliant Center – Main Arena (west side)
  • 10 a.m. Ag Magic Show at Kids Country Stage
  • 11 a.m. Kids Country Carnival (closes at midnight) at Kids Country Shelley Anderson at Kids Country Stage
  • 11:30 a.m. Bravado Cattle Show at Reliant Center – Main Arena (east side) (more…)
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Resume Tips for Katy Job Seekers

Are you making mistakes sending out resumes?

How can you get your resume to outshine everyone else’s and make it to the top of the potential employer’s pile? Try these tips for finding a professional level job in Katy or West Houston.

Individualize. Never email blast the same resume to several employers at once in the same email. Chances are they’re just going to hit the delete button.

Customize. Send your resume to each job personally and customize the objective line, subject line of the email, and introductory email/letter to fit the job you’re applying for. It may take five minutes of your time, but in the end, employers will be more likely to consider you.

Use buzzwords. Use power keywords in your resume that match the items in the job description. (But only if you have experience in these areas.)

Be email savvy. Create an email account with your name through Gmail or Yahoo and check it frequently. Never send your resume from an email address such as hotchic77@aol.com or tatoodude12@sbcglobal.net. Sorry, but aol and hotmail accounts are not very impressive to employers.

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Cute Baby Rooms for Katy Bundles of Joy

Beautiful Baby rooms

Photo by Marisa Hugonnett

How to Create the Perfect Katy Nursery

Nursery planning typically kicks into gear once you know if you are having a boy or a girl. Then, you can choose a fun theme that ties in all elements of the room and sets the stage for a great beginning. Katy mom, Jessica Huntoon had an important consideration in mind when deciding on a nursery theme for her first daughter, Hanna. “I wanted a theme that could grow with her,” explains Huntoon. Her plan was successful. Hanna is now in kindergarten and her nursery theme of butterflies and dragonflies is still prevalent in her new big girl room. Really, the nursery theme is for the parents and not the baby. By picking something that they can grow with, the theme will hopefully be loved by the baby, too, and become something they enjoy. “Now Hanna loves butterflies and just pretty bugs,” Huntoon says.

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Katy Cyclists Prepare for BP MS150 Ride to Austin on April 17

Balin served both as a rider and as ride marshall

Katyites Get Ready for the Ride of a Lifetime

Last April, 13,000 cyclists came together to ride 182 miles from Houston to Austin in the BP MS 150 to raise over $17 million for those living with MS, and they will do it all over again this year on April 17. Many riders are from the Katy area including our own Katy Area Economic Development President, Lance LaCour, who is in training for the arduous journey.

Committed Katy Cyclists

Currently, more than 400,000 Americans are living with MS, according to Gena Hyde of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is a debilitating disease that affects each person uniquely. “There is no known cause, and so there is yet to be a known cure,” Hyde explains. Perhaps this is why Katy cyclists commit year after year to ride the 182 miles from Houston to Austin and to raise $400 or more for the National MS Society.

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Katy Folk Life Festival Coming to Katy April 10

The Katy Folklife festival is April 10 at The Outdoor Learning Center

Katy Kids Step Back in Time Once a Year at the Outdoor Learning Center

With horses and goats walking around, blacksmiths working in their shops, and children making corn husk dolls, Katy ISD’s Folk Life Festival has brought Texas’ pioneer history to life for the past 25 years. Katy ISD’s Outdoor Learning Center will once again transform itself into scenes of Texas in the 1800’s on April 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a slew of pioneer activities planned. Kids can observe honey bee keeping, blacksmith demonstrations, horseshoeing, and a soldier reenactment, where en yell out, “Fire in the hole,” as gunshots resound.

Folk Life Festival Event

The festival will be held on Saturday, April 10 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at The Outdoor Learning Center. The OLC is located west of the Katy ISD Administrative Building at 6301 S. Stadium Lane  The cost is $1 per person. (more…)

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Working in Katy, Texas

CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital is one of the top employers in Katy

A Talented Workforce in an Ideal Location

Besides being a great place to live, the Katy Area is also a wonderful place to work. The community offers employers a growing, energized, and world class talent and workforce base with high educational attainment.  A majority of existing employers rate the Katy Area workforce as available, high quality, productive, and available at a reasonable cost.

Katy Workforce Stats

  • 1,564,567 civilians employed*
  • Average Unemployment Rate, 3.86%*
  • Manufacturing Employment: 167,213*
  • Engineering, Research, and Accounting workers: 105,928*
  • High Workforce Participation Rate in Katy ISD: 70.17%
* within a 30 mile radius
Source: Nielsen Claritas, a division of The Nielsen Company (US), LLC 2008  This information may not be redistributed.

Suburban Atmosphere

The Katy Area, a rapid population growth center located west of Houston, enjoys the benefits of being part of the Houston Metro area. Katy offers a (more…)

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10 Reasons to Love Katy, Texas

From outstanding public schools to affordable housing, from a family-friendly environment to a thriving economy, it’s easy to see why Katy, Texas was named the #2 Boomtown by Business Week

With an excellent school system, a thriving economy, and an abundance of sports teams, recreational venues, and family friendly activities, it’s not hard to see why Katy is one of the fastest growing communities in the greater Houston area. Although there are hundreds of reasons why Katy is a wonderful place to live, here are out top ten.

1. Exceptional Schools

Katy Independent School District (Katy ISD) is considered one of the best school districts in the greater Houston area. Katy ISD currently has 52 schools with aggressive expansion plans to meet the growing population of students, which is currently more than 55,000. All of Katy schools offer outstanding facilities and equipment for teachers and students alike, including a highly advanced technology program that includes computers in each classroom and stationary and wireless labs in every school. Students in grades K-12 are exposed to a wide variety of extracurricular activities, from sports to drama and music.

The district operates the Kenneth D. Welch Outdoor Learning Center, 35 acres of land kept in its natural state. Students at all grade levels are able to participate in hands-on science and social studies activities, including living history and science classrooms, a museum, and a barn with a blacksmith shop. Domestic fowl and animals, nature trails, and a pond stocked with fish are just a few examples of how Katy ISD is using its natural resources and surroundings to provide a quality educational experience for its students.

2. A Thriving Economy

While many cities around the country are struggling with today’s economy, Katy is fortunate enough to have world-class business leaders such as BP America, Conoco Phillips, Igloo, Mustang Engineering, and Shell Oil North America headquartered in the area. There’s also a high level of employee productivity. While the energy services sector boasts some of the biggest names in the industry, it’s important not to forget about the other strong economic sectors, including wholesale trade, plastics and advanced materials, service, and retail. According to the Katy Area Economic Development Council, in 2008 over two million people were employed within a 30 mile radius of Katy with an average unemployment rate of only 4%. Proximity to Houston and the Energy Corridor is positioning the Katy area to rapidly develop into one of the region’s premier business growth centers.

3. Outstanding Neighborhoods

From large, open floor plans to small efficiency apartments, there’s definitely a home to fit your lifestyle. Patio homes are available, as are master-planned estate homes in gated communities. Katy has a great mix of older neighborhoods with houses built in the 1980s, while other neighborhoods are still under development. Many newer subdivisions offer numerous amenities including community pools, tennis courts, parks, hike and bike trails, and workout facilities. Pricing begins below the $100,000s and can go well above $1 million in the more exclusive communities. Whether moderately priced or a grand estate – you will find a home to love in Katy.

4. Fun and Flavorful Dining

No matter what your taste, you can find food that will please your palate in Katy. New restaurants are popping up all over, yet there are restaurants that the locals have been enjoying for years. On-the-go families can enjoy the convenience of fast-food, but don’t forget the ethnic restaurants and old-fashioned Texas barbecue joints. Mid-level family restaurants offer a variety of delicious cuisine, while more upscale venues make special evenings out even more enjoyable. Check out our dining guide and katymagazine.com for more information on tasty Katy cuisine.

5. Shop ‘Til You Drop

From department stores to boutiques, you can find it in Katy. Katy Mills Mall showcases popular brands in retail and outlet shopping, while LaCenterra and the nearby Villagio feature a more upscale shopping experience. The Old Katy area is home to many smaller shops (many off the beaten path) that offer more personalized options.

Another advantage that Katyites enjoy is the close proximity to malls and outlets in Cy-Fair, Houston, and Sugar Land areas. The Houston Galleria offers a shopping adventure in an upscale, three-story complex. Houston Premium Outlets, the Conroe Outlet, and the VF Outlet in Hempstead all offer great discounts. Trader’s Village off of Eldridge is an adventure in flea markets, festivals and great bargains. And First Colony Mall in Sugar Land offers over 160 wonderful stores and eateries.

6. Parks and Leisure

Because we have typically mild weather during the winter, there are even more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. While most subdivisions have their own playgrounds, there are numerous public parks in Katy. Katy is known for its family-friendly recreation such as hiking, biking, golf, and nature walks. Families can also enjoy fishing, playgrounds, and picnic areas. Dog owners will love the Katy Bark Park with acres of green grass, a wading pool, and doggie showers. Youth and adult sports leagues are available year round. Some of the most popular are soccer, football, baseball, tennis and swimming, among several others.

7. A Sense of Security

Because Katy is a tri-county area, dipping into Harris, Waller, and Fort Bend Counties, there’s never a need to worry about safety. Katy has its own police force and several fire stations with emergency medical services strategically placed throughout the area. Constables patrol most neighborhoods, and Sheriff’s Deputies from all counties are quick to respond to emergency situations. The school district also has it’s own police force to ensure that all campuses provide a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff. All of this protection helps keep Katyites safe and sound. The secure, home-town feel in the midst of big-city conveniences is another plus for Katy.

8. Kid-Focused Fun

Birthday parties, swimming, bowling, gymnastics and dance lessons are just a few of the fun activities for Katy kids. Inspiring and educational lessons abound in Katy, from, art lessons and music classes to martial arts and horseback riding. Whatever your youngster’s interests may be, Katy has the studios and facilities especially geared toward the development of young minds and bodies. A variety of camps and child-care programs are also available during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Read ahead – our Lessons and Activities directory offers lots of entertaining and educational opportunities.

9. A Caring Community

No matter how desirable an area may appear to be, it just wouldn’t be complete without an abundance of friendly faces. In Katy, southern hospitality still exists. You’ll meet wonderful neighbors, friendly bank tellers, dedicated teachers, and highly qualified doctors. Over the years Katy has attracted the best in healthcare practitioners and hospitals, and the job opportunities in these fields continue to grow. Construction is already underway for Texas Children’s, St. Luke’s, and The Methodist Hospital, and Christus St. Catherine’s and Katy Memorial Hermann are established facilities available for emergency care and medical procedures. Additionally, specialized and highly qualified medical practices from urgent care to long-term care keep Katy patients close to home. See our medical guide for a list of health care providers.

10. Location is Everything

For living, working, playing, and learning, when you are talking convenience, Katy has it all – and then some! People choose to live here in part because of its proximity to Houston without having to deal with the hustle and bustle of city life. Katy provides work opportunities in many fields including retail, education, and medicine. And the Katyites who commute to work can just jump on the Westpark Tollway or the HOV lanes on I-10. The METRO Park & Ride system has two nearby locations serving Katy residents, making that trek into Houston just a bit more convenient. During non-rush hours or weekends, getting into the heart of Houston is less than a 30 minute ride.

© 2009 Katy Magazine

Tell us why you love living in Katy, Texas! Post your comment or email editor@katymagazine.com

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From Fat to Fit

A personal trainer will help hold you accountable

Katy Residents Find Ways to Shed the Pounds

Monica Romero has plenty of reasons to celebrate these days. Once considered morbidly obese, the mother of two has drastically reduced her weight by 60 pounds. Although she has not reached her goal weight yet, she has made a commitment to herself and is on track to becoming a healthier mom, wife, and daughter.

Romero is not alone in her weight loss pursuits. Obesity is now one of the biggest health issues in the United States. It’s no secret that the dietary habits of Americans are spinning out-of-control. Luckily, there are solutions for everyone.

Surgical Solutions

Romero’s success is a result of the Lap-Band procedure. Laparoscopic adjustable banding and gastric bypass are the two most popular surgical options available for the morbidly obese, which includes those with a BMI of 40 or higher, or a BMI above 35 with an obesity-related disease such as diabetes, hypertension, or sleep apnea. “Studies have shown that diets and exercise alone fail up to 98% of the time in the morbidly obese population,”states Dr. Bradley Waggoner, of Cypress Bariatric and General Surgery. “My interest in weight loss surgery is not primarily cosmetic, but is for the patient to lose the appropriate amount of weight so that they may live a longer and healthier life.”

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Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital Earns Gold Seal of Approval

Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital has earned the Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers and has also been designated as a primary stroke center by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The hospital is the first in Katy to receive the Gold Seal of Approval. The DSHS designation program seeks to establish a framework for developing a voluntary, statewide emergency treatment system for stroke victims, and will allow victims to be rapidly transported to and treated in appropriate stroke-treatment facilities. Strokes are the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in America. There are over 4 million Americans living with the consequences of a stroke. Every year, about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes.

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