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.

 

Summer Boredom Busting

By Katrina Katsarelis

How to keep your Katy kid occupied during their summer break

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

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

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Summer Camps for Girls in Katy, TX

By Ashley Lancaster

Katy, TX Blog (May 10, 2017) – Unique Summer Camps for girls ages 12 – 15 in Katy, Texas

Written by Katrina Katsarelis

Be Unique is a new program offering Teen Camps designed to empower girls to recognize their unique qualities, increase self-confidence, and develop a mature Christian perspective. All camps include the guidance in creating a sophisticated and well-rounded young lady who is confident within herself, secure in her environment, and has a positive direction for her life. Call for dates. Space is limited.

(more…)

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Summer Dessert Fun

By Katy Magazine

A Katy family makes a beach scene to compliment dinner

My four year old daughter and I decided to make May special and to count down the days until school is out.  I wanted to keep it healthy, low-cost, and low-stress, since the end of the year has enough stress of its own.

We decided to do a healthy(ish) dessert each week that somehow makes us think of summertime.  Last week, we made beach scenes.  We used graham cracker crumbs, low-fat vanilla pudding, and marshmallows to create the beach.

In each clear cup, we lined the bottom with graham crackers to look like sand.  We had to make sure to put enough of the graham cracker crumbs along the bottom, because once the pudding is poured in, they can get hidden from the side of the cup if there aren’t enough. 

Next, we stirred blue food coloring in to the vanilla pudding to create the water.  We used a box mix of French Vanilla pudding and stirred the blue food coloring into the milk before whisking it together.  Apparently French (more…)

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Summer Learning

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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

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

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Summer Movie Camp

By Katy Magazine

Movie Time for Katy kids

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

By Katy Magazine

Katy Mother Gets Ready for Summer Tradition

Guest post by: Usha L. Machiraju

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

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Switching Spots

By Katy Magazine

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

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

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

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Take It Easy(ier)

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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

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Taking Care of Me So I Can…

By Katrina Katsarelis

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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Taking your child to worship

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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

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

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

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TAKS Exit Level Retest Scheduled for March 2017

By Ashley Lancaster

Katy, TX – January 4, 2017  Students who have not received a high school diploma because they did not meet the passing standard on sections of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Exit Level will have the opportunity to retake the necessary subject area tests in March, 2017.  The TEAMS and TAAS tests are no longer being offered; however, individuals eligible to take TEAMS or TAAS will take the appropriate part of the TAKS Exit Level English language arts and/or mathematics tests.

(more…)

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Tales from a Failed Food Channel Fan

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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Texas Children’s West Campus FAQ’s on Norovirus

By Ashley Lancaster

Katy, TX (March 10, 2017) – Has the “stomach bug” hit your household? It might be the highly contagious Norovirus. Read on for some information and tips from Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes acute gastroenteritis. Following introduction of rotavirus vaccination, norovirus has become the most common cause of gastroenteritis in adults and children. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection that can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It happens when a person’s stomach and intestines get infected with a virus. Both adults and children can get viral gastroenteritis. The Center for Disease Control estimates norovirus to be responsible for 19-21 million illnesses, including 50,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations as well as 570 to 800 child deaths every year in the U.S. alone. Anyone can get infected with norovirus and become sick.

(more…)

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Texas Sized Family

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

Written by Holly Leger | Photography by Sara Isola

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

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

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

(more…)

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The ABC’s and 123’s of Choosing a Quality Preschool in Katy, Texas

By Katrina Katsarelis

A Katy parent’s guide to the basics of selecting the right preschool for your family

Written by Freda Ihediwa and Katy Magazine’s Editors

Selecting a preschool is not an easy task, especially with the overwhelming amount of quality preschools to choose from in the Katy area. Each one has its own unique qualities, and parents diligently seek a preschool that matches their family’s educational beliefs and values. Communication and research are key components when selecting a preschool that will accommodate your needs. Here are the basic ABC’s and 123’s of selecting the best fit for you and your child.

Primrose Preschool from drive

Primrose partners with parents to assist children with developing a love for learning

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The Adventures of Baby Beckham in Katy, Texas

By Katrina Katsarelis

Katyites Steven and Stephanie Poss’ premature son Beckham faces a life-threatening “medical mystery” and survives

Written by Stephanie Poss | Select photography by Kristen Richards

It’s been said, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” The greatest news in the world was that our family of three would be growing to a family of four. Beckham Neil Poss was due to arrive in mid-October 2013. As any expecting parents, my husband Steven and I could not be happier. We immediately started preparing his room and our daughter for the change of not being an only child anymore. During pregnancy, I threw up so much I ended up on complete bed rest. I went into preterm labor in early August, and we began shots to help build his lungs and trying to stop the labor.

KM Feb March 15_Stephanie and Beckham Poss by Kristen Richards 18 copy

On August 24 Beckham arrived, weighing just over five pounds. Beckham was quickly rushed to the NICU. When a child is born, you want to hold and cuddle them, but a NICU mom can’t. Each day he improved. As parents, we lived for the few times we got to hold Beckham. We struggled to not feel helpless. One month after being born, he was released to go home. He was strong enough, or so we thought.

(more…)

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The Aquarium

By Katy Magazine

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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The Best Weekend Ever

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

(more…)

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

By Katy Magazine

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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The Digitized Family

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

Written by Katy Magazine’s Editors

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

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The Evolution of a Hobby

By Katrina Katsarelis

Katy moms no longer need the craft stores to be crafty

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

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

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The Family Dinner

By Katrina Katsarelis

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 Joys of Scrapbooking

By Katrina Katsarelis

How do you preserve your Katy family memories?

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

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

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The Katy Lady Cavaliers Lacrosse program’s 2015 Senior class have signed/announced where they will be attending college!

By Katrina Katsarelis

Nikki Wood– University of Montevallo in Alabama and will play Division II lacrosse on a scholarship.

Samantha Farrell– University of Montevallo in Alabama and will play Division II lacrosse on a scholarship.

Marisa Braden– University of Texas, Club lacrosse

Tobi Dipelou– University of Oklahoma, Club lacrosse

(more…)

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The Kindness of Katy Strangers

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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

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

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The Little Gym Parent-Child Classes

By Katy Magazine

My Katy kid loves The Little Gym…

And so do I!

Kate on the bars at The Little Gym

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

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The Many Uses of Corn Starch

By Katy Magazine

Finding creative fun around your Katy household

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

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

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

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The Morning Triathlon

By Katrina Katsarelis

Running the Race Against the Clock Every Morning

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

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

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The Reading Countess Chair

By Katy Magazine

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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The Real Taylor Thi

By Ashley Lancaster

Katy, TX (February 6, 2017) – With a brand new music video, “The Real Me,” out and an EP on the horizon, this Seven Lakes High School senior is headed for stardom.

Written by Ashley Lancaster

Ever since attending her first concert with her father, Greg Conklin, at the age of 4, Taylor Thi has been consumed with a passion for performing and songwriting. “We saw James [Vernon] Taylor, and I was so amazed by all the cheering that I turned to my dad and asked him why everyone was making noise. He said, ‘See that man up there? They’re clapping for him.’ Ever since then I’ve wanted to be a singer.”

KM_Dec Jan_17_Taylor Thi_Taylor_Brown6380_photo by David Gaona

Photo by David Gaona

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The Ripple Effect

By Katrina Katsarelis

Spreading Love to the Katy Community

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

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

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The School Scoop

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

Beck's Discovery Contest

Beck’s Discovery Contest

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

(more…)

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The Struggle for Quiet

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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

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

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The Top Prom Picks of 2014

By Katrina Katsarelis
Click Here For Our Prom Resource Guide!

Click Here For Our Prom Resource Guide!

What’s in. What’s hot. What’s fun!

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

Hairstyles
• Side Ponytails
• Messy Braids
• Loose Updos
• Sleek Waves
• Tousled Buns
• Fishtail Braids
(more…)

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The Twin Connection in Katy, Texas

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

Written by Kirsten Cornell Photography by Lindsey Shelburne

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

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

(more…)

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The Upheavals of Hurricane Season

By Katrina Katsarelis

Are Katyites prepared for a possible storm?

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

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

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The Value of Work

By Katrina Katsarelis

How do you teach your Katy kids about helping?

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

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

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

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The Year of the Indian Paintbrush?

By Katy Magazine

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

By Katrina Katsarelis

By Cadet Staff Sergeant Faith

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

Thunderbird cadets

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

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

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Today, I Appreciate My Mom

By Katy Magazine

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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Together Time in Katy, TX

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

Written by Kirsten Cornell

Mother & Daughter

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

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Top 5 Fever Myths and Facts

By Katrina Katsarelis

Katy, Tx – November 9, 2016    Written by Dr. Erica Wang, Texas Children’s Pediatrics – Grand Parkway

For many parents, fever is one of the most concerning and alarming symptoms a child can have. There are many scary fever myths out there – and it’s time to set the record straight! To many pediatricians, fever is considered a good sign that the body is mounting a response to an infection.

(more…)

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Tough Talks for Katy Families

By Katrina Katsarelis

Five difficult conversations parents need to have with their kids, and how to know when to have them

Written by Kirsten Cornell and Katrina Katsarelis

Talking to our kids is usually an enjoyable experience, but there are some topics that make many parents uneasy. Should you be the one to bring up these topics or wait for your child to approach the subject? Here are some of the most common tough talks as well as tips from the experts to help guide you.

(more…)

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Twitter can save you money while finding fun family events

By Katy Magazine

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

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

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

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

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Using Our Senses to Welcome Fall

By Katrina Katsarelis

Five simple ways to mark the change of seasons

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

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Using the power of reward cards to save money for baby

By Katy Magazine

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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Vacation Bible School

By Katrina Katsarelis

The Perfect Summer Choice for Katy families

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

By Katy Magazine

A Katy Family Makes Summer Desserts  Fun

Watermelon Basket

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

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

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

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

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Welcome Back, Katy

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

Merrell Center - Katy ISD Administration Building

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

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

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

By Katy Magazine

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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What Age is Old Enough for that Gadget?

By Katrina Katsarelis

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

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

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

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Why Keep Holiday Family Traditions?

By Katrina Katsarelis

Help Create Special Memories with Loved Ones This Holiday Season

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

(more…)

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Why Young Children Bite and How to Help

By Katrina Katsarelis

Katy, TX – December 12, 2016  Children who bite others cause a great deal of concern for the parents. The parents of the child who has been bitten are also usually very concerned about infection. Biting is an unacceptable behavior that needs to be stopped at an early age to prevent it from happening again.

(more…)

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Yo Gabba Gabba

By Katy Magazine

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

By Katy Magazine

Katyites are lucky to find free times in Houston Museum District

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

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

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

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You Know You’re a Katy Texas Mom If….

By Katrina Katsarelis

Here are some surefire ways to tell if you’re a true Katy, Texas mom!

 By Katrina Katsarelis, Katy Magazine Editor-in-Chief

1. You’ve taken your family photo at Katy Heritage Park.

1 KM_SU_14_event calendar_KM_Katy Heritage Park_Jose, Nikolas, Alex, and Jennifer Rios by KB Photography_Katy Heritage Park

 

2. You got talked into dropping your junior high kid off at the Katy Mills Mall one time and you never did it again.

katy mills mall 2

  (more…)

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