Katy Texas

The Online Resource Directory for Katy, Texas

Katy, Texas Blog (June 13, 2017) – Texas Children’s Hospital shares important information on the definition of secondary drowning, dry drowning, and how Katy families can take action if their child is submerged in water.

Recently, a mother posted on her blog, “Delighted Momma,” the story of her almost 2-year-old son developing significant breathing problems after a brief, less than 20 second, submersion in the spa. Because he seemed “totally fine after he had calmed down,” she decided to take him home rather than seeking medical care. Within an hour or so, her son seemed overly tired and began coughing, so she immediately took him to the closest emergency center. A chest x-ray showed that he had likely aspirated some of the water, which caused his lungs to not function normally. Fortunately, he was discharged after a 24-hour observation at a pediatric children’s hospital, but the parental/public interest in “secondary drowning” after her blog went viral remains a significant topic of discussion! What is “secondary drowning”?

“Secondary drowning” is a confusing misnomer that has been used to describe delayed-onset breathing problems in a child who seems to be recovering after a submersion event. When referring to “secondary drowning,” most people are referring to the complications that occur as a result of aspiration of water into the lungs. When a child aspirates any foreign substances, including fresh/salt/chlorinated water or vomit, it can cause progressive injury and inflammation within the lungs. As the lungs become more ineffective and fluid accumulates within the lungs, symptoms such as coughing, fast breathing, increased work of breathing, low oxygen levels, and altered mental status (irritability or lethargy) may quickly occur. Luckily, most healthy children who appear well after a submersion aspirate only small amounts of water, if any, and will recover spontaneously.

What do I do if my child is found under water?

If your child is unconscious, not breathing, and/or without a pulse, immediately give 5 rescue breaths, start effective CPR, and have a bystander call 911. If your child begins to vomit, gently roll your child to his/her side so that he/she does not aspirate the secretions. Also, be sure to keep your child’s neck immobilized in a straight, midline position if any trauma has occurred to your child’s head or neck (i.e., while diving in the shallow end of the pool).

If your child is awake and well-appearing after a submersion, keep your child warm/dry and call your pediatrician for further recommendations. Because most symptoms of non-fatal drowning occur within 6-8 hours from the submersion, it would be important to keep a close eye on your child and watch for breathing difficulties, skin color changes, persistent vomiting, or abnormal behavior. If any of these symptoms occur, you should seek medical care immediately.

What should I expect in the emergency center?

Dependent on the submersion events and your child’s vital signs and examination, your physician will likely order a chest x-ray and possibly some blood tests. If your child’s examination and x-ray and lab results are normal, he/she may be observed in the emergency center until it’s been approximately 6 hours from the submersion. So long as your child continues to appear well while in the emergency center, he/she will likely be discharged home with detailed return precautions.

However, if your child’s examination and/or workup are abnormal, he/she will be admitted for supportive care (i.e., oxygen, breathing treatments, intravenous fluids, etc.) and observation. Children who are very sick with decreased/lack of responsiveness, severe breathing difficulties, or very low oxygen levels are typically admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for increased respiratory support/treatment and close monitoring.

Childhood drowning is quick and quiet!

Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years, with the highest rate of drowning in the 0- to 4-year-old age group. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website, 18 Texas children have already drowned since January 2014. And, at Texas Children’s Hospital, we have seen 67 near-drownings and 6 drownings between April 2013 and April 2014.

The “Delighted Momma” blog has not only brought “secondary drowning” into the spotlight, but also the fact that childhood drownings happen unexpectedly, quickly, and quietly! Lindsay Kujawa was sitting near her child and for “less than five seconds”, turned to speak with a family member, while her child silently slipped under water. Unfortunately, this type of scenario is common, and I cannot tell you the number of times that parents have similarly told me they turned away from their child for “just a second”…to look for another child, converse with a friend, or make a quick meal….prior to finding their child in a pool, bathtub, or bucket/ice chest. Please take the necessary steps to protect your children while they’re in or around water…enclose and cover pools and hot tubs, safety proof your home (shut bathroom doors, safety-lock toilet seats, drain bathtubs, empty ice chests and buckets filled with water), enroll your children in water safety and swim classes, continuously (touch)-supervise or designate a responsible adult to watch over your children, and learn first aid and CPR!

Written by Dr. Katherine Leaming-Van Zandt, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Specialist, Texas Children’s Hospital
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Katy, Texas Blog (June 7, 2017) – Free breakfast and lunch will be provided to all children ages 18 and under at no cost this summer. Dates and locations below.

Breakfast served from 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. | Lunch served from 10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

  • Morton Ranch Elementary 
    June 12-16, 19-22, 25-29, and July 5-7.
  • Mayde Creek Junior High
    June 12-16, 19-22,25-29, and July 5-7.
  • Raines High School
    June 12-15, 19-22,26-29, July 5-7, 10-13.
Courtesy of Katy ISD

Courtesy of the USDA

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Katy, TX Blog (June 1, 2017) – Today is National Donut Day. Go nuts with donuts at these local shops and restaurants:

Shipley Do-Nuts
1135 S. Mason Rd.
20077 Katy Fwy.
27110 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
3811 N. Fry Rd.
Get a free glazed donut with any purchase.


Dunkin’ Donuts
3061 N. Fry Rd.

Free classic donut with the purchase of any beverage.


Tom + Chee
21788 Katy Fwy.

Grilled cheese donut sandwiches are $2 all day.


The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli
815 Plantation Dr.

One free glazed donut with any purchase. One per customer while supplies last.


More Katy, TX Donut Shops

Best Donuts
811 S. Mason Rd.

Daylight Donuts
5160 Franz Rd.
6191 Hwy Blvd.

D’ Lux Donuts & Kolaches
4327 S. Front St., Brookshire

Donuts Delight
23945 Franz Rd.

Donut Shack
21411 Clay Rd.

Fluffy Donuts
6078 N Fry Rd.

Fresh & Best Donuts
1619 S. Fry Rd.

Glaze Doughnuts
5815 Franz Rd.

House of Donuts & Kolaches
3030 Falcon Landing Blvd.

Just Glazed Donuts
6840 S. Mason Rd.

Katy Donuts
23222 Kingsland Blvd.

Mr. Donut & Kolaches
8945 S. Fry Rd.

Riley Donuts
550 Katy Fort Bend Rd.

Simply Splendid Donuts & Kolaches
1797 N. Fry Rd.

Snowflake Donuts
1316 Pin Oak Rd.
1443 FM 1463

Southern Maid Donuts
5508 S. Peek Rd.
5929 FM 1463

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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.

INNER BEAUTY CAMP
Girls will learn about self-confidence, developing a healthy lifestyle, and identifying her greatest strengths. Choose one of two five-day sessions, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


DAYTIME MAKEUP CAMP
This program teaches skin care routines, facial symmetry, use of foundation, highlighter and contour, liquid eyeliner, and much more! Choose one of three five-day sessions, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.


VISUAL POISE CAMP
Lessons will be given in the importance of conversation, posture and walking, social stances and hand positions, the art of writing thank you notes, and more. Skills are tested in a final three-course lunch on the last day of camp. Choose one of two five-day sessions, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


“COLOR ME BEAUTIFUL” FASHION WORKSHOP
Topics include knowledge of clothing styles, necklines, skirt lengths, handbag styles, use of belts, accessorizing, and more. Offering one four-day sessions, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


HEALTH AND NUTRITION CAMP
Emphasizing the balance of body, mind, and soul, this camp covers the importance of body care, antioxidants, making healthy choices, portion size, and more. A healthy lunch is included. Choose one of two two-day sessions, 10 a.m. to 1p.m. KM

BE UNIQUE
5529 FM 359, Richmond
281-394-7004
beuniquetoday.com
GOT A CAMP? List it here.

Visit our Katy Magazine Summer Camp Facebook page! 

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Katy, TX Blog (May 10, 2017) – We’ve got something for every kind of Katy kid!

Written by Kennan Buckner and Katy Magazine’s Editors

Take a look at these area summer camp offerings to find the perfect camp connection for your Katy kid. Regardless of what your child is interested in, there’s a camp available for making summer memories last a lifetime.

 

THE DANCER
Becky’s Academy of Dance
2501 S. Mason Rd.
281-398-9226

beckysonline.com

Becky’s offers day camps for kids kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as dance and drill prep camp for junior high and high school students. Connolly Dance Arts 22760 Westheimer Pkwy. 281-693-1232 connollydancearts.com Dancers kindergarten through sixth grade can attend dance intensives. Dance and drill team prep is also offered for junior high and high school students.


THE MUSICIAN
The Conservatory of Music
23922 Cinco Village Center Blvd. 3719 N. Fry Rd.
832-437-4511 | 832-321-3382
cincoranchmusic.com

Guitar camps are held July 10 through14. Camp A is designed for the camper with no prior knowledge of the guitar for ages 8 to 12. Camp B is for ages 13 to 15. The camps are two hours daily, Mon through Fri. Camp guitar materials and camp T-shirt included in price. Call for details.


THE ARTIST
A Painting Fiesta
16734 Westheimer Lakes N.
832-437-4359
paintingfiesta.com

Campers can choose to attend a full-day or a half-day, but either way they are going to have a great time getting their hands dirty and learning some great painting skills. Snacks and materials are included in the cost.


THE FIT KID

ESN Health
Healthy Kids Camp
2770 FM 1463
281-395-0827
esn-online.com
Kids ages 8 to 12 will participate in daily fitness games, make fun crafts, and assist in preparing healthy snacks in the ESN Healthy Kitchen. Camp runs June 19 through June 22 from 12 to 3 p.m.


THE HORSE WHISPERER
Circle Lake Ranch
1102 Circle Lake Dr.
281-395-4311
circlelakeranch.com

A horseback adventure awaits your animal loving campers ages 6 to 12 at Circle Lake Ranch’s horseback riding lesson camps. Learn riding and horse care. They have an fantastic indoor classroom, too! Camps are held 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. weekdays. The camps run through August. Register early.


THE SCIENTIST
Club SciKidz
700 S. Westgreen Blvd.
CrossPoint Community Church
713-589-8958
houtson.clubscikidz.com

Outstanding week long science and technology day camps for first through eighth graders. Kids love their themed programs like space engineer, emergency medicine, programming, special effects, video game maker, grossology, chemistry concoctions, jurassic, quadcopter aerial robotics, and more.


THE VETERINARIAN
Citizens for Animal Protection
17555 Katy Fwy.
281-497-0591
cap4pets.org

Kids & Kritters camp is the place for future veterinarians in third through sixth grade. Campers will enjoy games and crafts as well as hands-on animal experiences. Enroll early!


THE BILINGUIST
Spanish Learning Castle
5024 E. 5th St.
832-437-6479
spanishlearningcastle.com

A unique Spanish immersion summer camp with themes like safari adventure, dramatic play, and two weeks of under the sea adventure. Camps are offered through July 24 for ages 18 months to 7 years old from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with extended hours available.

Listo Translating Services & More
830 S. Mason Rd. Suite B2-A
713-206-9744
houston-translation.com

A terrific way for kids ages 3 to17 to learn Spanish while enjoying summertime fun. Listo offers three different camps: Children’s Spanish immersion summer camp, bilingual art camp, and summer AP language camp. Visit the website for more information.


THE WORLD TRAVELER
Montessori Kids Universe
2004 S. Mason Rd.
713-344-1640
montessorikidskaty.com

Kids will be able to stamp their passports as they travel around the world this summer. Students kindergarten and up will “visit” several interesting countries exploring the culture through activities and hands-on projects and themed traveling fun.


THE CHURCH GOER
Camp in the City
Multiple Locations in Katy
877-474-6326
pinecove.com

Camp in the City is Pine Cove’s summer day camp programs that are offered at local churches. Kidsentering first through sixth grade will enjoy bungee trampolines, water slides, and climbing walls. Camps held at Grace Fellowship UMC (July 10-14), and The Fellowship (August 7-11).

Vacation Bible School
Multiple Churches in Katy

Numerous churches are having fun, themed camps for school-age kids. These are usually held in the mornings for a few hours a week. Check with your local church.


THE GYMNAST
Katy Kips Gymnastics Club
923 S. Mason Rd.
281-578-5477
katykips.com

Children ages 5 and up will enjoy jumping, bouncing, and tumbling at Katy Kips’ annual summer fun tumbling camp. All day classes are available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Weekly camps held all summer.


THE WATER LOVER
Double T Hideout
Typhoon Texas
832-426-7071
typhoontexas.com/camps

Weekly day camp starts with a swim lesson followed by games and activities galore. Offering both full-day and half-day camps for school-age kids. Camps run through August 11, but space is limited so register early.

Aqua-Tots Swim School – Fast Track Swim Camp
1542 W. Grand Pkwy. S.
(281)769-8630
www.aqua-tots.com

Fast Track Swim Camp gives children a jump start on their swimming because they receive 10 continuous days of swim lessons. Classes are offered at different levels based on the student’s needs. The courses are aimed at children who need to learn to swim or improve their swimming techniques.


THE GIFTED KID
Katy GT Academy
21020 Highland Knolls Dr.
281-646-7360
katygtacademy.org

Offering innovative camps like public speaking, young chefs, debate, chess, mental math, origami, critical writing, and many more, Katy GT Academy has something for every kind of advanced learner.


THE ADVENTURER
British Private Prep School
Multiple Locations in Katy
britishprivateprepschool.com

Make memories at one of British Private Prep’s summer camps. Themes include lights, camera, action; science adventures; and lions, tigers, and bears! Camp is for students kindergarten through age 12. Includes a camp T-shirt and water carrier.
Kids R Kids
Multiple Locations in Katy
kidsrkids.com

Kids R Kids offer a 10-week summer camp series, where kids explore their hidden talents, passions, and interests. Each boy and girl will experience art and cooking, engineering, community service, and everything in between! The full-day program is open to ages 5 through 12.

Primrose Schools
Multiple Locations in Katy
primrosesummer.com

These fun-filled, age-appropriate themed camps for ages 2 through 12 include basketball, flag football, soccer, cheerleading, art, robotics, science, drama, fashion design, and more. Camps will be running all summer.


THE FIELD TRIPPER
Discovery Schoolhouse
4900 Falcon Landing Blvd
281-698-7234
discovery-schoolhouse.com

Programs are offered for children Pre-K through 13 years old which can be attended either three or five days a week. Children will experience field trips, charitable events, arts and crafts, and so much more. Educational activities include learning a new language, participating in a spelling bee, visiting the public library, and reviewing math skills.

Foundations Academy
20817 Westheimer Pkwy.
281-599-1200
cinco.foundations-academy.com

Students will build a time machine and visit cavemen, dinosaurs, gladiators, outer space, and more. Plus field trips, science experiments, team challenges, cooking, and splash pad play will have your kids wanting to go back each day. Camps run through Aug. 18 for kindergarten through sixth grade.

The Goddard School
24025 Cinco Village Center Blvd.
281-392-1912

5220 Ranch Point Dr.
281-392-1200
goddardschool.com

Get ready for some great field trips, STEAM activities, splash days, sports, and games galore. Also, fun mini-camps with cheer, dance, music, and cooking are available. Chose Preschool camp (ages 2 to 5) or Kids Club (K-5th grade.)

Kiddie Academy 
Multiple Locations
kiddieacademy.com

CampVentures, for ages 2 to 12, features age-appropriate programs, plus field trips, special visitors, and more. Day campers will create, explore, construct, design, investigate, and invent!

 


THE NATURE LOVER
Monty Ballard YMCA 
15050 Cinco Park Rd.
281-392-5055
ymcahouston.org

Nestled in a woodsy park-like area, YMCA’s Camp Cinco offers exciting activities like archery, ropes courses, swimming, and more. It’s held at the 200- acre Camp Cinco behind Creech Elementary and features sports fields, a basketball pavilion, misting stations, and a brand new playground. Camp is held from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for campers ages 6 to 15.


THE COUNTRY CLUBBER
Camp Willow Fork
21055 Westheimer Pkwy.
281-579-3508
willowforktennisshop.com

Campers will receive training in tennis, golf, and soccer. Includes a tennis racket, T-shirt, snack, and lunch. There are eight week-long sessions for ages 6 to 12. Camps run through August 4.

Falcon Point Country Club
24503 Falcon Point Dr.
281-392-7888
clubcorp.com/clubs/the-club-at-falcon-point

The Club offers PGA Junior Golf half-day camps that run weekly through August 11. Two full-day camps will be held on June 27-30 and Aug. 8-11. Tennis camps are also offered. Call for details.


Golf Club at Cinco Ranch
23030 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
281-395-7863
golfclubatcincoranch.com

Weekly half-day golf camps run through July 31. School-age kids will learn fundamentals of golf, as well as participate in friendly competitions, games, and more.


THE VOLLEYBALLER
Katy Volleyball Academy Camp
2211 Porter Rd.
281-391-4121
katyvolleyball.com

Get ready for fall tryouts or just hone your volleyball skills with evening camps held four nights a week from 6 to 9 p.m. Various camps for fourth through 12th graders are held through
August 10. Call for details.


THE BASKETBALLER
Stampede Basketball Camp
Camps held at Taylor High School
832-865-8416

A camp for second through eighth graders to learn basketball techniques from top coaches in a fun, positive atmosphere. Camps are held June 5-8 and July 10-13.


THE FOOTBALL PRO
Katy Youth Football
713-331-1907
katyyouthfootball.com

Offering both conditioning camps and tackle camps for first through sixth graders. Camps are held July 11-14 and July 18-21 respectively. Camps are held in the late afternoon and evenings.


THE MARTIAL ARTIST
Tiger Rock Martial Arts Taekwondo
625 S. Mason Rd.
281-829-9300
katytkd.com

5757 Katy-Gaston Rd.
281-202-3713
trmakatysouth.com

Offering martial arts trick camps where students learn flips, twists, kicks, and master the jump track. They also have a camp of champions, and a combat sword camp for juniors and teens (green belt and above). Led by skilled masters, camps run various weeks June through July. Call for details.

 


THE SOCCER STAR
FFPS British Soccer Camp
FFPS Soccer Complex
George Bush Park
800-828-7529 ext. 101
ffps.org

Camp for ages 6 through 16 will be held July 10-14 and will cover dribbling, moves, passing, shooting, and more. Coaches use a positive approach and are British certified.

Pro’s Katy Indoor Soccer
1005 Airline Dr.
832-704-3038
proskaty.com

They have a great summer camp program for ages 6 to 12. Campers will learn the sport of soccer with trainings and scrimmages and play a game or two of dodgeball all while staying cool in their indoor facility. Camp runs June 5 through August 11, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register in person at the facility.

 


THE TRACK & FIELDER
Katy Blazin’ Red Camp
Held at Katy High School
katyblazinred.com

This track and field camp has two sessions Mon. through Thurs. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for kids ages 3 to 12. Choose June 5-29 and/or July 6-16.


THE TENNIS PLAYER
Katy Tennis Academy
Camps held at Beckendorff JH or Seven Lakes HS
832-434-0205
katytennisacademy.com

Weekly camps cover areas like stroke technique, drills, singles and doubles, match play, serving, and more. Beginners, intermediate, and advanced players welcome. Ages 5 through 17. Camps run through Aug. 11.


THE RUGBY KID
Texas Rugby Kids

Multiple Locations
832-600-8412
texasrugbykids.com

Five fun-filled days of non-contact rugby fun for boys and girls,ages 3-14. Weekly camps run Mon- Fri 9 am-noon throughout June and July. Teamwork, physical activity, and coordination for the little ones; skill development, off-season training, agility work and game play for our older ruggers.


THE ROBOTICS KID
American Robotics Academy
700 S. Westgreen Blvd.
(CrossPoint Community Church)
281-599-7626
roboticsacademy.com

Their mission is to excite, inspire, and motivate youth about the fun, importance and impact of robotics technology in today’s world. Their classes teach students to understand “how things work” through hands-on activities that demonstrate the principles of simple and motorized machines. Offering both morning and afternoon camps. Camps run through August 11.


THE ACTOR
Spotlight Acting Academy
The Villagio Town Center
22758 Westheimer Pkwy.
832-913-6884
spotlightactingacademy.com

Offering summer camps, classes, and workshops for ages 3-18 including the Triple Threat Workshop and the Never Grow Up Preschool Camp. Be part of the High School Musical, Jr. performance. Providing excellent theatre instruction through fun activities for thespians of all ages.


THE SMART COOKIE
The Lifelong Learning (LLC) Summer Camp
1701 East Ave
(346) 387-6955
www.texaslifelonglearning.com

Their summer camp specializes in youth and adults ages 12-22 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Weekly activities consist of arts and crafts, cooking shows, field trips, game days, and much more. KM

Got a camp? Email editor@katymagazine.com! Call to confirm individual camp sessions and prices.
Visit our Katy Magazine Summer Camp Facebook page!

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Katy, TX Blogs (May 9, 2017) – Treat the most special woman in your life to a delicious food, fun, and pampering on Mother’s Day. Here is a list of events and specials in Katy, Texas. Don’t forget to tell them you found it on Katy Magazine!

EVENTS

Friday – Sunday, May 12 – 14, 2017 11:00 a.m.
Mother’s Day Combination Special
Los Cucos Mexican Restaurant 

Katy Mills
5303 Bell Patna Dr. 

Historic Katy
5831 Highway Blvd. 

The Mother’s Day special will include four grilled shrimp, one fish filet sauteed with crab, pico, and lemon butter, chicken and beef fajitas, and a small queso with chorizo with rice and beans for $44.99. They will also have Mother’s Day cocktails like blackberry sangria and watermelon margaritas for sale.


Saturday, May 13, 2017 8:45 -9:45 a.m.
Free Mother’s Day Boot Camp
LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch – Central Green Park
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd. 

Join other moms for a free, fun baby boot camp in celebration of Mother’s Day. Bring a stroller, water, and snacks.


Saturday, May 13, 2017 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Mother’s Day Card Crafting
Cane Island
2100 Cane Island Pkwy.

Little ones can make special cards for their moms.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 8:00 a.m.
Whiskey Cake Katy
23139 Grand Cir.

They will open an hour early and offer their usual brunch menu items for Mother’s Day.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
All-You-Can Eat Buffet
Agave Rio Patio Oasis & Restaurant
1135 FM 1463 

Surprise mom with a fun, all-you-can-eat buffet. Price is $55 for adults, and $12 for kids 6 years and up, and includes a salad station, omelet station, scrambled eggs and frittata, bacon, sausage, barbecue carving station, crawfish, shrimp and grits, chicken picatta, and a children’s buffet. There will also be a cash bar. Call 281-665-3337 to make reservations.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Mother’s Day Buffet
Hasta La Pasta 
1450 Grand Pkwy.

They will be serving a special buffet to celebrate Mother’s Day. Call 281-392-0045 for reservations.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Landry’s Seafood House
22215 Katy Fwy. 

They will offer a special menu with brunch favorites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a carving station, a starters bar, seafood and farmhouse favorites, a children’s table, and desserts. Price is $32 adults and $11 for children ages 4 to 10 years old.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 10:30 a.m.
Jimmy Changas Fresh Mex Fun
300 Westgreen Blvd.

In honor of Mother’s Day, they will offer a special Cancun platter complete with lobster tail, shrimp, and beef and chicken fajita for $23.99.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 10:30 a.m.
Mother’s Day Brunch
Omni Houston Hotel at Westside

13210 Katy Fwy.

Mother’s Day plates are $56.95 for adults, $27.95 for children ages 6 through 12.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Mother’s Day Brunch
Alamo Drafthouse – Mason Park
531 S. Mason Rd. 

Treat your mother to a special screening of a movie that leaves everyone divinely and utterly happy, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Their brunch menu will include Danish pastries, creole crab cake, salad, caviar, and panna cotta.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Mother’s Day Special Menu
Antonia’s Cucina Italiana Katy
2001 Katy Mills Blvd.

They will offer a selection of delicious special menu items from appetizers to desserts in celebration of Mother’s Day. Call 281-644-6000.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Orleans Seafood Kitchen
20940 Katy Fwy.

Moms can enjoy a grilled lobster tail with shrimp and scallops served with a summer squash medley and dirty rice for only $23.99.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Mother’s Day Live Music
LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

Trumpeter Preston Smith will perform smooth jazz live from Heritage Square.


Sunday, May 14, 2017 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Perry’s Steakhouse
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

They will offer a three-course Sunday Supper special that includes a salad, a sweet, smoky Perry’s pork chop, and a dessert trio for only $29.95. Make a reservation at PerrysSteakhouse.com.


SPECIALS

BH Hair Studio – Complimentary deep-conditioner, champagne, and sweet treats from Friday, May 12 – Saturday, May 13, 2017. Call 281-395-5010 to book an appointment.

Black Walnut Cafe – Purchase a $25 gift card for mom, and receive a $5 Walnut Bucks card.

Cici’s Pizza – Get a free adult buffet for large, one-topping pizza to go when you purchase at $25 gift card for mom.

Las Mananitas Mexican Restaurant – Their Mother’s Day special will include a free, small margarita and live mariachi music from 1 to 3 p.m.

Tilt Studio – Moms get a free game for every game of mini-golf and mini-bowling purchased.

 

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Katy, Texas (May 2, 2017) – The Katy Flyer was built by American Car & Foundry in 1953 as 44-seat coach No. 5468. It was renamed the Katy Flyer in 1993.

In 1896, the Missouri Kansas & Texas Railroad announced the inauguration of the Katy Flyer, with service between St. Louis, Mo., and southwest Texas. By 1905, “The Fast Train to St. Louis” raced between Galveston, Texas, and St. Louis in about 37 hours. The Flyer carried a boilerbuffet-sleeper for the convenience of those passengers who wished to have their meals served aboard the train. Other passengers were permitted to detrain at Parsons, McAlester or Dallas, Texas, to eat at the company-owned dining station where “the price is only fifty cents and the railway spares no pains or expenses to please the most fastidious.”

By the mid-1920s, the Texas Special and Katy Limited were receiving most of the attention on the Katy. Nevertheless, Nos. 5 and 6 still carried the St. Louis-to-Galveston passengers, handling not fewer than six sleepers, many of them destined for San Antonio, which Katy proclaimed “The Winter Playground of America.” In 1936, for the Texas centennial, the temporarily renamed Katy Centennial Flyer carried tourists to a variety of celebrations on the Katy’s service area.

By the end of World War II, the Katy Flyer was on a downward slide, meal services were cut back, and by 1961 the train name disappeared, with Nos. 5 and 6 offering only coach service. All passenger service ended June 30, 1965. Nonetheless, Katy and its passenger train service played an important role in opening and promoting the Texas Southwest. No Katy train was more prominent in this effort than the Katy Flyer.

Courtesy of Union Pacific 
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Katy, TX (April 20, 2017) –  As the Houston Rockets continue to lead in their playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Academy Sports + Outdoors is taking 20% off all Rockets gear (including clearance items) at the Katy locations on Grand Parkway and FM 1093, as well as other Houston locations. The discount will last until Sunday, April 23, 2017.

Courtesy of Academy Sports + Outdoors
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Katy, TX Blogs (April 19, 2017) – Elena Carlberg and her husband David have been best friends since they met over 20 years ago when she was just 18. Today, she’s mom to their 11 biological children and counting her blessings one by one. Katy Magazine caught up with Elena to compile some of her best advice for other Katy supermoms.

Written by Kennan Buckner

1. Less is More
Since organization has never been one of Elena’s strengths, she relies on minimalism to keep things running smoothly. “I have 13 of everything in the cupboard,” she says. “Thirteen white plates, 13 white bowls, and 13 cups.” And in her hall closet, there are 13 towels. “Each child has enough clothes for two weeks’ worth of school, and that’s all,” she says.

2. Have Humor
Elena is always making her family laugh; whether it’s by talking in her silly Marilyn Monroe voice or encouraging Arya to use her English accent. “I don’t know if I’m funny, or if my husband and kids are just easily amused,” she laughs.

3. Do Something for Yourself
Being a mom doesn’t usually lend itself to time alone. Her guilty pleasure is recording episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful and binge-watching them later. She also plays bunco and has joined her mom in her home décor business. She adds, “I spend a few hours a night designing items after the kids go to bed.”

4. Stay Calm
Elena describes herself as calm, but not quiet. The couple’s laid-back style reflects in their children’s natures, too. “People are usually shocked at how well-behaved our children are, and we quite often get complimented on it.”

5. Work as a Team
When it comes to the nighttime routine, they divide and conquer. “David and I tackle it together and high-five each other when they’re finally all in bed. It’s like completing a marathon,” she says. Her husband’s support doesn’t end there. “When I’m having a rough day, I can always count on him to try to make me feel better,” she adds.

6. Get a Support System
While she would tell her younger self to accept advice, she says not to take to heart every opinion. Elena finds balance by getting support from those who matter most. “I couldn’t do it without my family – especially my mom,” she says. “She’s been through this journey with me every step of the way.”

7. Plan Ahead for Meals
“We order our groceries online and use the pick-up service. This new option has been life-changing for us,” she says. Every night’s dinner has a theme. Monday might be breakfast for dinner and Tuesday is Italian night. The following week, they just change up the menu items but still follow the theme.

8. Everybody Helps
With more kids come more messes, but also more help. Alec and Aidan do laundry and take out the trash. Andrew and Abby are the sweepers, Adam is the duster, and Ashton cleans counters. Addison and Adrian are in charge of getting everything off the floor. “Annie keeps an eye out for me, ensuring everyone is doing their job properly,” says Elena. Annie, who has cerebral palsy, is also in charge of their music and the family agrees that she has amazing taste. They often listen to John Williams, The Beatles, or Prince.

9. Celebrate Victories
“There’s no such thing as a little victory in this house,” Elena says. “Anything that was achieved through hard work gets met with a huge cheering section.” Last year, Andrew came in last place in a race during field day. This year David trained with him, and he placed first. The whole family called to congratulate him. “You’d think he was just elected president,” Elena boasts. “He couldn’t stop smiling for days.”

10. Focus on Relationships
Elena says David uses any spare time to play with or teach the children new things. “David listens intently when the kids talk,” she shares. As a result, the kids shower him with love, devotion, and sincere affection. “When you focus on the individuals you’re around, rather than just the things that need to get done, the result is deeper relationships. What you get out of a relationship is dependent upon what you put into it,” she adds.

11. Count Your Blessings
Counting her blessings comes easily for Elena. “I’ve been blessed with getting to stay home with my kids and having the best role models in my mom, grandma, and aunts,” she says. “I’ve been blessed in having a husband who always puts us before anything else. I’ve also been blessed with 11 of the most kind-hearted, unique, and gracious children in the world.” KM

 

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Katy, TX (March 29, 2017) – Katy Magazine gives a shout-out to all the good news happening in our community.

Compiled by Katy Magazine’s Editors

Katy ISD’s Lunch Angel
An anonymous donor contributed $650 to pay off negative balances for free and reduced lunch students at Mayde Creek Junior High, Cardiff Junior High, Mayde Creek Elementary, and Mayde Creek High School.

Katy Million Meal Pack-A-Thon
Host churches Redeemer Community Church, The Fellowship, and Westland Baptist Church held an event where 626,000 Feed the Hunger meal packages were packed by 2,500 Katy area volunteers.

Katy High School Faculty
Faculty and staff raised $4,450 to donate to The Ballard House.

Santa Cops
Katy ISD’s Santa Cops program helped 674 children and more than 330 families by providing toys and clothing.

Raising Cane’s
The chicken finger restaurant sold white plush puppies to patrons. The sales of the puppies went to help the animals at Special Pals Shelter.

Fort Bend Rancher’s Ball
The ball raised almost $290,000 through the hard work and dedication of Katy residents as well as Commissioner Andy Meyers. The money has been donated to Katy Christian Ministries, Simonton Christian Academy, and Katy Contemporary Arts Museum.

Watercrest at Katy
Residents of Watercrest at Katy raised $1,746 to donate to Katy Christian Ministries.

KISSUE
During an evening charity event, the upscale clothing boutique donated 20% of its sales to Clothed by Faith.

Cinco Ranch Giving Circle
The members, made up of Katy area residents, collected $1,521 to donate to Child Advocates of Fort Bend.

Chick-fil-A
Employees brought clothing items to their company party and donated everything to Hope Impacts.

Impress Computers
The company collected teddy bears to donate to the Joe Joe Bear Foundation.

Fulshear Police Department
For every Red, White, & Rescue calendar sold, the police department donated funds to Special Pals Shelter.

Camp Bow Wow
Katy Employees and patrons dropped off pet food, toys, and other needed items for animals in foster care.

Monty Ballard YMCA at Cinco Ranch
The health and fitness club partnered with Cigna to offer free health screenings to help people find out their four health numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and BMI.

BH Hair Studio
The salon gave away free makeovers to five lucky patrons.

Girl Scout Troop 129068
Scouts prepared pancakes, bacon, and eggs for dinner, then served them to residents at The Ballard House.

Katy Triathlon at Firethorne
The event raised more money than expected and is increasing scholarships from $1,500 to $2,000.

Houston Methodist West Hospital
Volunteers from the hospital visited families delivering teddy bears donated by Beckendorff Junior High, tigers from Katy Junior High, and blankets donated by National Charity League Katy Chapter.

 

Have something GOOD to share? Email good@katymagazine.com.
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Katy, Texas (March 22, 2017) – Officer Luis Santiago with the Katy ISD Police Department delivered 20 “Teddy Cop” Bears to some of our students today! Their goal is to give every PPCD, ECAP, YCAP, Lifeskills & TIP child in our school district a Police Officer Teddy Bear … specialized with a uniform and Katy ISD Police Officer badge!

In the first 5 months since the program was started, they raised over $11,000 to purchase 497 bears for students at 23 KISD elementary schools. They still need to purchase about 600 more bears for 14 more of the KISD elementary schools.

We are asking for your help to PAY IT FORWARD! Please consider making a donation for this wonderful program! You may send donations to the NCE front office. We will accept cash or checks (payable to Katy ISD), or you may purchase a gift card from the Build-a-Bear Workshop at Katy Mills Mall where the bears are made.

Here are a few pictures from this morning! More pictures can be seen by visiting the Nottingham Country Elementary School Official Facebook page.

Thank you in advance for your help, and thank you Katy ISD Police Department for the bears!!

Courtesy of Katy ISD

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Katy, TX (March 9, 2017) – Everybody loves a freebie now and then. We’ve tracked down all the places in Katy to get a free product, service, or meal. Take a look!

BIRTHDAY

Applebee’s – Get one free birthday entree.

Arby’s – Diners get a free small shake with any purchase on their birthday.

Auntie Anne’s – One free birthday pretzel.

A&W Restaurants – Get a free root bear float on your big day.

Baskin Robbins – Get one 2.5 oz ice cream scoop on the house for your birthday.

BJ’s Restaurants – Birthday boys and girls get a free pizookie dessert.

Buffalo Wild Wings – Free snack-size wings.

Camp Bow Wow Katy  – All birthday dogs will get a free bath, a “Happy Birthday” bandanna, and a photo on their Facebook page. No credits – baths must be given on your dog’s birthday. (Dogs must pass all camp requirements.) Visit campbowwow.com.

Chuck E. Cheese – Birthdays get 100 free tickets.

CiCi’s Pizza – One free buffet with the purchase of an adult buffet and a regular drink.

Corner Bakery – A free cookie or bakery sweet.

Denny’s – Their Grand Slam Breakfast is free on your birthday.

Fuddrucker’s – $5 off your check, and kids receive free burgers on their birthday.

Great American Cookies – Get a slice of cookie cake at no charge with the purchase of a regular drink.

Grimaldi’s – Get a large, one-topping pizza for free on your birthday.

IHOP – Birthday diners get a free stack of Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity pancakes.

James Coney Island – Enjoy a cheese coney on the house on your birthday.

Jason’s Deli – Receive a $5 discount on your check.

La Madeleine – Get a free pastry on your special day.

Landry’s Seafood House – Choose from a complimentary appetizer or dessert with the purchase of an entree.

Marble Slab Creamery – Receive a free small cup or cone.

Marco’s Pizza – Anyone celebrating a birthday can get a free medium, one-topping pizza.

Nothing Bundt Cakes – Free Bundtlet cake on your birthday.

Olive Garden  – Get a free app or dessert with the purchase of two adult entrees.

Panera Bread – Get any bakery item at no charge on your birthday.

Rainforest Cafe  – Birthdays get a free appetizer with purchase of an entree.

RedBox Movie Rental – Complimentary Blu-Ray or DVD rental.

Red Lobster – Go in on your birthday and receive $5 your check with the purchase of two entrees.

Rita’s Italian Ice – Get a free regular Italian ice on your big day.

Schlotzky’s  – Redeem one free sandwich on your birthday.

Smashburger – Enjoy a hand-spun shake on the house with the purchase of an entree.

Smoothie King – Birthdays can purchase a 20 oz. smoothie for only $2.99.

Starbucks – Free hot or cold drink, bottled beverage, or food item on your birthday.

Taco Cabana – Birthdays get a free flauta plate that includes three chicken flautas, rice, beans, pico de gallo, sour crea,guacamole, and two tortillas.

Texas Roadhouse – Chow down on a free appetizer or sidekick of ribs with the purchase of an entree on your birthday.

Which Wich – Redeem a free small sandwich on your birthday.

Wing Stop – Enjoy a free order of large fries on the house.

Zaxby’s – Birthdays will receive a free Nibbler sandwich.

Zoe’s Kitchen – Enjoy a free entree on your special day.

NOTE: Please visit individual websites for more details – as most offers are valid only through e-mail subscriptions or app downloads. 

TEACHERS/SCHOOLS

Barnes & Noble – Teachers get a 20% discount on qualifying purchases when they are a part of the B&N Educator Program.

Leafology Tea Lounge Katy – Katy ISD teachers and faculty will receive 25% off a menu item when they present a valid ID. Visit leafologytealounge.com.

McDonald’s – Katy ISD teachers and faculty will receive a free small McCafe coffee when they present their school ID during the 2016-2017 school year. (Participating locations – see our blogs page for details.)

Katy Budget Books  – Teachers will receive 20% off in-store pick-up or school delivery when they order new books for their classrooms. They also have a Used Book Credit Account that has been donated to public school teachers for the purchase of used books for the classroom. Visit katybooks.com.

Michael’s – Teachers can get 15% their entire in-store purchase.

Peter Chang Restaurant – Katy ISD teachers and faculty can receive 10-50% off in January and August. Visit peterchangtx.com.

Texas Roadhouse – Teachers can get 10% off their meal every Tuesday with a valid school ID.

Verum Vi CrossFit Katy – Full-time teachers and students receive 10% off of their membership.


MILITARY/FIRST RESPONDERS

24 Hour Fitness – Active, reserve, and retired military and dependents receive 10% off their membership, and free workouts on Memorial Day weekend.

A&W – Active military can present valid military ID for a special discount at their Katy store. Details vary by location.

Aeropostale – Active, retired, and reserve military and their dependents get 20% off their purchase at any store nationwide.

Anne Taylor Loft – The Katy Mills Mall location offers 15% off full-priced items for active, reserved, and retired military and their dependents.

AT&T – Active, reserve, and retired military as well as veterans will receive a 15% government discount with a valid military or VA ID. Veterans must show a copy of your DD214 at all Katy locations.

AutoZone – Offers free shipping for online orders for any FPO or APO address for active, retired, and reserve military. Check with individual Katy stores for additional military discount programs.

Banana Republic – Their Katy Mills location offers 10% off in-store purchases on the first Monday of every month for active, retiree, reserved, veterans, and dependents.

Bass Pro Shop – From the 15th to the 22nd of every month, active, retired, reserve, veterans, and dependents can receive a store-specific discount when they present active military ID or DD214. Discount does not include reels, electronics, firearms, ammunition and reloading equipment, scopes, bows, arrows, taxidermy, gift cards, Tracker boats, Mercury motors, or ATV’s.

Camp Bow Wow – All military personnel receive 10% off all boarding and day camps, and 5% off of retail services. Just show proof of employment for the discount to be applied. (Dogs must pass all camp requirements.) Visit campbowwow.com.

Country Park Portraits– Active military personnel can receive a complimentary portrait session and 8 x 10 photo when they present a military ID.

Eddie Bauer – Active, retired, and reserve military and their families can receive 10 – 15% off in-store purchases. Must ask about veteran discounts at your location.

El Pollo Loco – Military service members receive 15% off of their order.

Goodwill – Offers 30% discounts to first-responders and their families every Friday.

Lowe’s Home Improvement – They offer a 10% military discount to active military, retired veterans, and immediate family. Must present a valid DD214 or other proof of service. Personal purchases only.

Michael’s – Military and immediate family can receive 15% off their entire in-store purchase when they present a valid military ID.

Peter Chang Restaurant – Police officers can get discounts in  April and October, family members of military in the month of May, and firefighters (regular, volunteer, and family) in the month of September. Discounts range from 10 – 50 percent and valid occupation ID is required. Visit peterchangtx.com.

Texas Roadhouse – Military members get 30% off their meal every day.

Verum Vi CrossFit Katy – Police, firefighters, EMT, and active military receive 15% off of their membership. Veterans receive 10% off of their membership.

WellPet Center Veterinary Hospital – Pets of active or veteran military and public service members get 15% off of their service.


SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNTS
Applebee’s – Diners aged 60 and up can get 10 to 15% off their meal at certain locations.

Burger King – Ages 60+ receive 10% off their order plus additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill – AARP members get 15% off their entire meal.

Denny’s – Most locations offer 15% AARP members who are 55 and older.

Dunkin’ Donuts – AARP members get a free donut with the purchase of a large or extra large coffee.

El Pollo Loco – Seniors 60 and over receive 10% off their order.

Fuddrucker’s – Get 10% any senior platter if you are over 55 years old.

IHOP – They offer special pricing on breakfast items for diners over 55.

Office Depot/Office Max – AMAC members get 10% off office products.

Stein Mart – Shoppers over the age of 55 get 20% every Monday.


Please call to verify these deals and offers, as some vary by location or require an app download or coupon to redeem. 
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Katy, TX News (March 8, 2017) – Teachers can get their coffee fix every Monday during the school year at one of these McDonald’s locations.

Seven Meadows
7104 S. Fry Rd.

Cross Creek Ranch
6748 FM 1463, Fulshear

Spring Green
27140 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

Stop by and present a school ID for a free small McCafe coffee.

 

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Katy, TX (March 7, 2017) – Katyites can pack up the family vehicle and embark on a spring break adventure without ever leaving Texas.

Written by Kennan Buckner

Make special memories with your kiddos as you make new friends, both human and animal, at these spring break hot spots. From cooling off by a lake to sipping drinks poolside, vacationers are sure to have fun they’ll never forget at these Texas destinations.

AUSTIN

AUSTIN AQUARIUM
austinaquarium.com
Visit the Austin Aquarium for a close-up with sharks, stingrays, corals, and a giant Pacific octopus. You might even see a mermaid on weekends. Buy tickets online and save $3.

BARTON SPRINGS POOL
austintexas.gov
Inside Zilker Park, you’ll find your own oasis at Barton Springs Pool, fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 70 degrees.

LAKE TRAVIS
ziplaketravis.com
Bring your fishing reels for shoreline fishing and a picnic basket for lunch beside beautiful Lake Travis. Thrill-seekers can visit Austin Outdoor Zipline Adventure to zip through the trees and over

the water. Lodging is also offered.

KM_Feb March_17_Lake Travis Zipline Adventures(2)


CORPUS CHRISTI 

HURRICANE ALLEY WATERPARK
hurricanealleycc.com

After a day at the sandy beach, head over to the Hurricane Alley Waterpark which offers everything from a lazy river and water slides to a kid’s cove with mini slides and a swimup bar offering kid-friendly beverages.

USS LEXINGTON
usslexington.com

Resting in Corpus Christi Bay is the USS Lexington, which served as a carrier during World War II. Take a self-guided tour of the ship or visit the museum, virtual battle stations, or the 3D mega theater.

TEXAS STATE AQUARIUM
texasstateaquarium.org

Touch and feed stingrays at the Texas State Aquarium or make friends with sea turtles at Tortuga Cay. Families will also enjoy the underwater view of a 125,000-gallon exhibit featuring an entire ecosystem. Save $3 on weekday tickets online.

KM_Feb March_17_Texas State Aquarium


DALLAS 

DALLAS ZOO
dallaszoo.com

Trot the globe without ever leaving Texas at the Dallas Zoo. From elephants to penguins, visitors can embark on a fun day of discovery. The children’s area features friendly goats, pigs, and other farm animals.

GREAT WOLF LODGE
greatwolf.com

Go from swimming and splashing back to your wolf denthemed room or premium suite without ever having to get in your car. The Great Wolf Lodge offers endless indoor water fun, character appearances, dining, shopping, spas, and more – all under one giant roof.

LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER
dallasfw.legolanddiscoverycenter.com

A LEGO lover’s dream, this one-of-a-kind experience offers a LEGO factory tour, 4D cinema, and adventures like the Merlin’s apprentice and kingdom quest rides. Visitors can also build and test their own LEGO car or explore the Star Wars miniland model display.

Coffee Shop exterior


GALVESTON 

BOLIVAR PENINSULA
bolivarpeninsulatexas.com

Ride the Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry from the mainland to Bolivar peninsula. The free trip, which sails 2.7 miles, lasts about 18 minutes. Then visit the peninsula’s lighthouse built in 1852. It’s survived the 1900 and 1915 storms and Hurricane Ike.

MOODY GARDENS
moodygardens.com

Have an educational adventure while exploring Moody Gardens. The Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, Discovery Museum, and 3D and 4D theaters immerse visitors in a tropical paradise. Adventurers can also try the five-tier ropes course or zip line over Palm Beach.

SCHLITTERBAHN
schlitterbahn.com

Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark opens March 4 and features indoor family fun on the Boogie Bahn surf ride or amid the 70,000 square feet of slides, pools, kids’ area, and secluded beaches. Open daily March 11 to 19 for spring break.

KM_Feb March_17_Travel Spring Break Destinations_Sclitterbahn (3)


SAN ANTONIO

THE ALAMO
thealamo.org

Visit the Lone Star State’s historical landmark where the first stone for the Spanish mission was laid in 1744. It’s open year-round and entrance is free. Last July, archaeologists discovered an adobe wall about 23 inches below the flagstone surface.

RIVERWALK
thesanantonioriverwalk.com

Shopping, dining, art, and river taxi rides await along the San Antonio Riverwalk. Visitors can walk the Riverwalk all the way from the hip Pearl District to the Shops at Rivercenter, Tower of Americas, and the Mission Reach.

SEAWORLD
seaworldparks.com

Meet Jack Hanna during the family favorite “Wild Days” taking place March 4 to 26 when SeaWorld brings you brand new shows, rides, and attractions. Or get up close with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions during an interactive swim at Discovery Point. KM

KM_Feb March_17_San Antonio Riverwalk(2)

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Katy, TX (March 6, 2017) – Katy Magazine has compiled a list of Easter Sunday services and family events for 2017.

Easter_Sunday_03

EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES 

Church services in Katy, Texas on Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bridgepoint Bible Church
13277 Katy Fwy., Houston

Services will begin at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. There will be an Easter egg hunt for children immediately following the 11 a.m. service. Visit bridgepointbible.org.


Central Baptist Church
2855 Greenhouse Rd., Houston

There will be an Easter drama performance in lieu of a service at 11 a.m. Visit cbchou.org.


Higher Dimension Church
5819 10th St.

There will be services at 8, 9:15, 10:30, and 12:30 on Easter Sunday. Visit higherd.net.


Kingsland Baptist Church
20555 Kingsland Blvd.

They will have a 7 a.m. sunrise service, and services at 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m. There will also be a Saturday service at 3, 5, and 7 p.m., and a Spanish service at 6:15 p.m. in the Courts. Visit kingsland.org.


Second Baptist Church – West Campus
19449 Katy Fwy.

Join the SBC family for 9:30 and 11 a.m. services. Visit second.org.


Bethel Bible Fellowship
25335 Fulshear Gaston Rd., Richmond
9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

The Church at Cane Island
Katy High School
6331 Highway Blvd.
9:30 a.m.

Church of the Holy Apostles
1225 W. Grand Pkwy. S.
8 and 10:30 a.m.

CrossPoint Community Church
700 S. Westgreen Blvd.
9 and 11 a.m.

Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church
1530 Norwalk Dr.
8, 9:45 and 11:30 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.

The Fellowship
22765 Westheimer Pkwy.
8:45, 10:05, and 11:25 a.m.

First Baptist Church of Katy
600 Pin Oak Rd.
8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

First United Methodist Church
5601 5th St.
8:30, 9:45, and 11 a.m.

Grace Anglican Community
24968 Katy Ranch Rd.
9:30 a.m.

Grace Community Fellowship
Exley Elementary
21800 Westheimer Pkwy.
10:45 a.m.

Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church
2655 S. Mason Rd.
8:45 and 10:45 a.m.

Grand Lakes Presbyterian Church
6035 S. Fry Rd.
9, 10, and 11 a.m.

Holy Covenant Methodist Church
22111 Morton Rd.
8:30 and 11 a.m.

St. Edith Stein Catholic Service
3311 N. Fry Rd.
9 and 11 a.m., and 6 p.m.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd.
8 and 11:30 a.m.

St. Peter’s United Methodist Church 
20775 Kingsland Blvd.
6:30, 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m.

The Waters Church
2710 N. Mason Rd.
9:15 and 11 a.m.

Westland Baptist Church
1407 W. Grand Pkwy S.
8:30, 9:45, and 11 a.m. (11 a.m. service will have a deaf interpreter)


EASTER EVENTS

A list of family-friendly Easter events in Katy, Texas

Saturday – Sunday, April 15 – 16, 2017 10:00  a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Easter Extravaganza

Blessington Farms
510 Chisolm Trail, Wallis

Families can enjoy a day of Easter fun with egg hunts, playing in Farm Funland, and picking strawberries. Visit blessingtonfarms.com.


Friday, April 14, 2017 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Hop Into Spring with the Easter Bunny
LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.

Families can take a photo with the Easter Bunny while enjoying musical performances, games, and more. Visit lacenterra.com.


Friday, April 14, 2017 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Journey to the Cross and Personal Lord’s Supper Family Walk-Through

Kingsland Baptist Church
20555 Kingsland Blvd.

The Journey to the Cross walk through is a brief, come-and-go experience for preschool and children’s families to gain a better understanding of the events that led to Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. Interactive stations will encourage discussion and participation for the entire family, located in the Crawford Center. The Lord’s Supper is a powerful way to remember Christ’s sacrifice. Guides will be provided to walk families through an intimate time of reflection, located in the Worship Center. Visit kingsland.org.


Friday, April 14, 2017 6:30 p.m.
Bethel Bible Fellowship
25335 Fulshear Gaston Rd., Richmond

Join them as they remember Christ’s sacrifice on Good Friday. Childcare will be provided for ages 4 and under.


Saturday, April 15, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Easter Festival
Central Baptist Church
2855 Greenhouse Rd.

Enjoy the Easter festival with family and friends. They will have games, food, candy, a petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, and much more.


Saturday, April 15, 2017 10:00 a.m.
EGG-Stravaganza Easter Show and Egg Hunt
The Fellowship
22765 Westheimer Pkwy.

Children and parents alike will enjoy award-winning ventriloquist, story-teller, and musician Dennis Lee. Kids can visit with the Easter Bunny and the Chick-fil-A Cow. Admission is free, but tickets must be reserved online at thefellowship.org.


Saturday, April 15, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. or 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Easter at the Ranch
Smith Ranch
25440 Beckendorff Rd.
Kids can run, play, and hop until their hearts content with a special day of fun at this 40-acre ranch. Hunts will be divided by age. Visit smithranchkaty.com.


Saturday, April 15, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Cypress Custom Pools
14119 Grant Rd., Cypress

They will have an Easter egg hunt, games, and food for everyone. Visitors will have the opportunity to look around the design center and see two demonstration pools. There will be door prizes so make sure to invite the whole family.


Saturday, April 15, 2017 5:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Fun Glow Run & Flashlight Egg Hunt
Jordan Ranch
30722 Sonora Ridge Dr., Brookshire

You don’t want to miss this nighttime Easter adventure. Families can participate in a 3-mile run, walk, or bike ride through the neighborhood. After the race, children and teens can participate in an egg hunt by flashlight. Proceeds benefit the March of Dimes Foundation.


Sunday, April, 16, 2017 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Easter Brunch
Sammy’s Steakhouse
7035 W. Grand Pkwy. S.

Specialty drinks and a custom brunch menu for those with a reservation. Call 281-762-0866.


Sunday, April 16, 2017 11:00 a.m.
Easter Celebration
The Church at Cane Island
6331 Highway Blvd.

There will be a fun, day filled with Easter egg hunts, crafts, music, and more.


Sunday, April 16, 2017 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.
Glow-in-the-Dark Hunt
TILT Studio
5000 Katy Mills Cir.

Get your glow on with two Easter egg hunts! Kids ages 2 to 6 will pick an egg from display in the Black Light Mini-Golf course at 12:30 p.m., while kids ages 7 to 11 will hunt in the Black Light laser tag arena at 1 p.m. Visit tiltstudio.com.


 

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Katy, TX News (March 2, 2017) – Are you and your family headed out to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year? We have great news! You can get carnival ticket packs for half-price if you order by Saturday, March 4, 2017.

$10 Carnival Pack ($34 Value)

  • 1 Fun Card with 22 tickets for rides and games
  • 4 refreshment coupons
  • one free game coupon
  • $5 off show merchandise

$50 Carnival Pack ($133.50 Value)

  • 2 fun cards with a total of 150 tickets for rides and games
  • 9 refreshment coupons
  • 2 free game coupons
  • 2 free rides (Ferris wheel or fun house)
  • $5 off show merchandise

$20 Carnival Food Card ($30 Value)

Half-Price Carnival Packs may be used during the WCBBQ from March 2 – 4, 2017, and a show from March 7 – 26, 2017. Order online at rodeohouston.com/carnivaltickets.

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Katy’s 2019 Kids Birthday Party Places Guide

Here are some fun, unusual, and  traditional birthday parties that has something for every kind of Katy kid. Enjoy this list of the coolest and most creative places to throw a kids birthday party in Katy. 

KATY MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2019

by Jennifer Skelton and Katy Magazine Editors

FUNTASTIK LABS

615 S. Mason Rd. 281-819-6363

Inspiring Science, Arts, Robotics & Escape Room birthdays in fully furnished labs loaded with fun hands-on experiments and activities. Science Lab, Canvas Painting, Robotics parties. They provide everything you need and do all the clean up.

IRACE

24984 Katy Ranch Rd.

281 394-5083

Two levels of Kart racing, NASCAR Simulators, Bowling, iBlast, Hologate Virtual Reality, Arcade Games, Garage Bar and Restaurant. Awesome Party Suites are available.

USA NINJA

22564 Franz Rd.

281 394-1986

A full physical fitness program for today’s youth ages 4-17. Every obstacle course includes corresponding conditioning and flexibility stations. The desired result of this program is to improve children’s strength, flexibility and all-around athleticism.

iFLy   

9540 Katy Fwy.

281 942-4359

Indoor skydiving is the perfect activity for Katy daredevils. iFly offers birthday parties to corporate events and everything in between. It’s a fun activity for kids of all ages and we have a feeling skydiving could become families with kids new hobby, right here in Katy!

Cinemark 19
1030 W Grand Pkwy N,

281-371-6008
Parties include a party room and movie. Upgrade to a private movie screening with 20+ guests.  Each child receives a Movie Snack Pack. Contact the Theater Manager to schedule.

The Crazy Canvas

You Choose Your Location

(281) 253-3294

Now mobile with no permanent studio location, The Crazy Canvas brings the party to you. Kids paint parties are $30/guest for a 2-hour party which includes 30 minutes for cake, presents and painting supplies for an 8×10″, 12×12″ or 16×20″ canvas paint class and you select the painting to be instructed.

Katy Inflatable

2482 South Mason Road, Katy

281-574-3033

Katy’s only private Inflatable Birthday Party Place and bounce facilities in Katy. Custom designed 16,500 ft facility designed with safety and functionality in mind. Use their online reservation system to book and confirm birthday party packages online.

 

Alternate Reality Escape Rooms
21788 Katy Fwy,

281-394-7848

Choose from 3 rooms…Bunker 57, Piece Meal, and Steampunk. For children 12 & up and parents can book a game room for up to 20 people for $150 per hour.

Jo-Ann Stores
1219 N Fry Rd,

281-599-3091

Craft birthday classes include 2-hours of an instructor led craft class for children 5 – 12 years old. Parties also include a gift for the birthday child and invitations. Parents can bring snacks, cake, drink and decorations.

 Dear Marlowe Photography

Board & Brush Creative Studio
1315 W Grand Pkwy S,

281-914-5358

The wood sign party includes a staff member to guide them during the 2 hours of studio time. Parents can bring in cake, snacks and drinks. Geared towards children ages 6-15 years old.

Katy Go Karts, Mini Golf & Batting Cages
2482 S Mason Rd,

281-574-3045

Packages can include a combination of a round of golf, batting cage and/or go cart . You will have an outdoor table for 2 hours and we provide plates and eating utensils. Pizza can be added for an additional charge. Parents supply cake/cupcake and drinks.

Glowzone
830 Katy Fort Bend Rd,

281-383-9380
There are five uniquely themed party rooms to choose from like private access to Nerf Cannons, XBox Gamer Room, Interactive Dance Floor and Just Dance 15, and a customizable dance floor. Seat 20 – 25.

Pros Katy Indoor Soccer
1005 Airline Dr Suite B,

832-704-3038

Rent this facility for 2-3 hours playing games such as soccer, dodge ball, and kickball with a game director. Facility provides paper good. Parent supplies food and other decorations

Painting with a Twist
20020 S Fry Rd,

281-578-8862

During your 2 hour party, an Instructor will guide your children (6+ years) to create a painting chosen by you. Parent provides the food and decorations.

TopGolf Katy 
1030 Memorial Brook Ln.

281 406-3176

TopGolf has Interactive golf games for all ages and skill levels that are a nice change from traditional arcade games. Two hours of Topgolf game play and selection from kids menu options for birthday party packages.

TILT Studio  

5000 Katy Mills Cir.

281 644-2340

A one stop entertainment guarantee inside Katy Mills Mall, with arcade games, mini golf, and laser tag, four party packages to choose from including party host and food.

 Stephanie Durango

Paloma Trails
10655 Katy Hockley Rd,

713-715-9363

Choose between 3 birthday packages each includes time with a pony/horse. Parents provide food and decorations.

Smith Ranch
25440 Beckendorff Rd,

281-371-3318

Two party options includes waterslide/bounce house, pizza, drinks, pavilion, invitations, paper products, balloon bouquet and gift bags. Add-ons include paddle boating, pony ride, hayride, petting zoo, snow cones and cotton candy. Parent supplies the cake and decorations.

 Jamie Mills

The Storybook Cottage  
5814 1st St,

281-574-5707

Four tea party options. Everything provided. Parties for children 4 & up.

Typhoon Texas Waterpark

555 S Katy Fort Bend Rd,

832-426-7071

Base birthday includes pizza, drinks, birthday shirt and reserved space at the Birthday Barn. Add-ons include goodie bags, cupcakes, cabana, fast pass, VIP host and souvenir bottle.

Vortexic Martial Arts
3760 S Mason Rd.

832-819-4862
Choose between the Ki-Hap, Ninja, and Samurai parties that includes an 1.5 hour basic training in Tae Kwan Do by a certified black belt instructor. Parents provide food, drink, and decorations. The guest of honor will enjoy cutting their cake with a samurai sword and having the unique opportunity to break a real board in front of their friends.

We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym
2020 Katy Hockley Cut Off Rd #2D,

281-665-1440

ALL kids are welcome to this gym that was built with a focus on sensory swings, climbing structures, tunnels, crash pit, etc. Special needs children are welcome and host will assist you that is specially trained. Parties can include pizza, cake, party favors and crafts.

More Birthday Party Places in Katy 

Altitude Trampoline Park

24952 Katy Ranch Rd

281-394-9227

Build-A-Bear Workshop

5000 Katy Mills Circle

346-307-8192

Chuck E. Cheese

2002 Gulfmont Dr,

281-644-4949

Giggles and Fun

20117 Park Row,

281-492-2000

Hooray Indoor Playground

3750 S Mason Rd,

346-387-6635

Inflatable Katy

2482 S Mason Rd,

281-574-3033

Jumpstreet

5000 Katy Mills Cir,

281-347-3911

Kingdom & Wheels

25757 Westheimer Pkwy,

832-437-7039

Main Event

24401 Katy Freeway,

281-394-480

Mason Road Skate Center

535 Applewhite Dr,

281-392-9555

Monkey Joe’s

511-A S Mason Rd,

832-321-4420

My Gym Katy

414 W Grand Pkwy,

832-437-8940

The Little Gym

23010A Highland Knolls,

281-347-1400

Times Square Entertainment

402 W Grand Pkwy S,

281-395-8555

Westwood Gymnastics & Dance

23333 Taswell Dr,

281-347-2000

Katy BIRTHDAY Cuties

Stephanie Durango

Jacob By Jb Photography – Time Captured

Fazzarna Rabbi

Rebecca Navarette Lucero

Jaime Lannou Shipley

 Alexandra Marie Herrera

Michelle Daniel

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Katy, TX (February 13, 2017) – Valentine’s Day has become a holiday filled with lots of candy and treats. Try to take the focus away from all of the candy this year by making some delicious and healthy treats with your children instead! Red fruits like strawberries, cherries, pomegranates and raspberries are natural ingredients for Valentine’s Day treats. Frozen fruits are a good substitute if you can’t find a fresh alternative and will work in many of the recipes below.

Here are some recipes you and your children can make and enjoy at home:

  • Yogurt Granola Parfaits* – Making a yogurt granola parfait is a great way to start the day! Use a variety of red fruits for a pretty, layered Valentine’s Day look.
  • Fruity Greek Yogurt Popsicles – These simple cool treats can be made quickly and are a family favorite in my house.
  • Wild Berry Blast Smoothie Bowl – Looking for a fun twist on smoothies? Try a smoothie bowl – there are so many different pairings to choose from! The linked blog post includes a free e-book filled with fun, kid-friendly smoothie bowl recipes, as well as adult coloring pages. How fun is that?!
  • Mini Heart-Shaped Lemon Chia Cheesecakes – I love mini desserts since they are perfectly portioned, and this fun recipe is no exception!

Have your children help make these treats to “share the love” with family and friends:

  • Chocolate Cherry Avocado Muffins – This is still one of my favorite muffin recipes! The muffins are delicious, and they contain several heart-healthy ingredients.
  • Apple Peanut Butter Pops* – These are a fun alternative to cake pops and, when cut into a heart shape, can serve as the perfect Valentine treat. Use soy butter or sunflower butter in place of the peanut butter if nut allergies are a concern.
  • Heart-Shaped Graham Crackers – Have you ever tried to make your own graham crackers?
    It is easier than you might think. Spread with cream cheese and strawberry slices for a fun snack.
  • Sweet and Salty Pretzels* – Chocolate-dipped pretzels are simple and fun to make. They are a great way to balance a little sugar with a slightly healthier option. Wrap them in a festive goody bag to share with friends!

*Based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, certain foods like nuts, seeds, hard pretzels, etc. may pose choking or allergy risks for children under the age of 4. Please consult your child’s pediatrician before serving these foods to children under age 4.

Courtesy of Primrose Schools 
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Katy, TX (January 10, 2017) It’s no secret that young children are full of natural energy, and it’s often more difficult getting them to sit still than be active. But did you know that the amount of time children spend daily being physically active is decreasing? Despite children’s active nature, it’s still important for parents to encourage and support their physical development starting from birth. Research shows that children who develop basic motor skills through physical activity are more likely to become healthy, active adults, and there is increasing evidence that daily physical activity helps children perform better academically and avoid anxiety and depression in their teenage years.

 “At Primrose Schools, we believe children’s physical development is as important as their intellectual, creative and social-emotional growth,” says Lou Ann McLaughlin, Franchise Owner of Primrose School of Woodcreek Reserve. “Through our exclusive Balanced Learning® approach, we’re able to help children build important physical skills as they’re developmentally ready through a combination of purposeful free play and meaningful, age-appropriate activities.”

As part of the Balanced Learning approach, children at Primrose School engage in physical activity each day through the Thumbs Up!® program. Through Thumbs Up!, children practice proper techniques for movement, balance and motor skills through fun exercises like running, hopping, throwing, catching, bouncing and more. Thumbs Up! balances structured, teacher-guided games and skill development with free play, which helps children develop physically and psychologically. Studies show that children exert themselves more during free play and learn essential life skills like decision-making, problem-solving, creativity and self-control as they exercise their curiosity and explore their environment. Even infants develop physical coordination and build early motor skills through group play, games and exercise.

Thumbs Up! activities are brought to life by the Primrose School teaching staff, who participate in all activities and encourage children throughout the lessons. The Primrose approach to physical development also follows the highest professional standards and guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice developed by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the Council for Physical Education for Children (COPEC).

“Study after study shows us that developing healthy habits in young children leads to active, healthy adults,” says Lou Ann McLaughlin. “By building the right foundation, all children can develop the fundamental physical skills needed for lifelong health. We love partnering with parents and working together to create excitement for physical activity in young children, because we know we are planting the seeds for a brighter future.”

For more helpful parenting tips and information, visit our blog at www.PrimroseSchools.com/blog and sign up for the Pointers for Parents newsletter.

Courtesy of Primrose School of Woodcreek Reserve
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Katy, TX – December 27, 2016 Deciding where to celebrate New Year’s Eve can be stressful, but if you go to one of these amazing places, you can’t go wrong. We have put together the best places to dine, stay, and ring in the new year with your family, a date, or group of friends.

PARTY AND STAY THE NIGHT

The Crystal Ballroom
909 Texas St., Houston
Enjoy a night of dancing and a midnight crystal ball drop. There will be live music by Empire 6, a DJ, premium bars, and a breakfast buffet at 1 a.m. Visit crystalballnye.com.

Hotel Sorella – City Centre
800 Sorella Ct., Houston
Check in at Hotel Sorella, enjoy live music, a balloon drop, and champagne at the Monnalisa bar. Roxy Roca will light up the night with a live performance. Call 713-973-1600 for New Year’s Eve packages or visit hotelsorella-citycentre.com.

Hotel Zaza
5701 Main St., Houston
Zaza-style fun from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets are $75 and include entrance to the party, entertainment, and a champagne toast. Room packages are also available. Visit hotelzaza.com.

The Hyatt Regency Houston
1200 Louisiana St., Houston
Have a blast at Houston’s longest-running New Year’s Eve party! With a giant balloon drop, a live DJ, and a champagne toast, you won’t be disappointed. Visit houston.regency.hyatt.com.

Omni Houston Hotel
13210 Katy Fwy., Houston
Four Riverway, Houston
Join the Omni Houston Hotel for an unforgettable evening of dancing and bubbly to ring in 2017. This includes an overnight stay, champagne toast, balloon drop, party favors, photo booth, and DJ all just steps from your hotel room door. Call 713-871-8181.

EVENING OUT

Artisans Restaurant
3201 Louisiana St., Houston
If you haven’t tried the French cuisine at Artisan’s, New Year’s Eve is a great time to explore a new eatery. The restaurant offers reservations from 5 to 10 p.m. for $120 per person. Visit artisansrestaurant.com.

Club Amnesia
406 W. Grand Pkwy. S.
Ring in the New year at Katy’s new night club for their first New Year’s bash! Visit amnesiakaty.com.

Fireworks Dinner Cruise
Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah
Cruise the night away on Clear Lake and Galveston Bay while enjoying fireworks, dining, and dancing. Visit boardwalkfantasea.com.

The H-Town Countdown
Silver Street, 2000 Edwards St., Houston
Complete with a New Year’s Eve champagne toast, open premium bar, and a balloon drop, this event is one of the most anticipated in Houston. With two DJs from 104.1 KRBE, this party will be taken to a new level. Visit htownnye.com.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille offers diners New Year’s Eve entertainment and a set menu. Make a reservation for 5:30 p.m. and earlier for $59.95 per person. Any reservations after 5:30 p.m. are $79.95 per person. Visit perryssteakhouse.com.

Ray’s Grill
8502 FM 359, Fulshear
Enjoy fresh seafood, organic vegetables, and more dining options at this popular, unique neighborhood grill. Visit raysgrill.com.

Topgolf
1030 Memorial Brook Blvd., Houston
Experience a night of neon featuring live entertainment, a chef-inspired menu, and plenty of music and dancing to ring in the New Year! General bay reservations are $225 and VIP bay reservations are $450. Visit topgolf.com.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY

New Year’s Eve Historical Bash
George Ranch Historical Park
10215 FM 762 Rd., Richmond
Prepare for the countdown to 2017 with a historical mask-making and noisemaking craft. At noon, a countdown will be held at the 1830’s Jones Stock Farm followed by a special New Year’s Eve meal at 12:30 p.m. Visit georgeranch.org.

Rockin’ New Year’s Noon Bash
Children’s Museum of Houston
1500 Binz St., Houston
This is Houston’s longest-running New Year’s Eve celebration for kids. The bash rings in the New Year at noon with a parade and countdown to the shimmering ball drop. Visit cmhouston.org.

Sharkey’s New Year’s Eve Party
The Downtown Aquarium
410 Bagby St., Houston
Celebrate the new year with a buffet, balloon drop, contests, and giveaways for the kids. Reservations are required. Visit aquariumrestaurants.com.

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Katy, TX – November 17, 2016

Taylor FFA started the Ag Olympics for all the Katy ISD high school FFA students back in 2010 when they had just a handful of students participate. This year the event has grown to 355 FFA students from all 7 Katy high schools competing against each other in fun Ag related games, hence calling Ag Olympics. The teams are made up of students from each school and compete for points at each of the 10 different games.

taylor-katyisd-ag-olympics-2016

The games range from Greasy Pumpkin Relay and Ice-Bucket Musical Chairs to Balloon Stomp and Tire Flipping Relay! And the Grand-finally is boys and girls from each school competing in the Tug-O-War into the mud! Cinco Ranch got 1st place betting 2nd place Taylor by only 1/2 a point and Seven Lakes won 3rd place. This is a great event for all of the Katy FFA Students to get to know each other and have a friendly completion with lots of laughing and getting dirty!

img_7935 img_1595

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Katy, TX – November 14, 2016
Written by Kirsten Cornell

Sneak away from the hustle and bustle and re-energize at these countryside getaways.

Canyon Lakeview Resort
872 Ledgerock Dr. | Canyon Lake, TX
canyonlakeviewresort.com
km_oct-nov_16_travel_aircrop2_canyon-lakeview-resortChoose from cathedral cabins with panoramic views of Canyon Lake from every deck or lodge suites while staying at Canyon Lakeview Resort. Accommodations are equipped with deck tables, chairs, and BBQ grills for you to enjoy all the lake has to offer. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to add to their itinerary with guided tours, rafting, tubing, hike and bike trails, as well as visits to the local winery. If you feel like taking the whole crew out for some fun in the sun, stop by one of several boat rentals and pick your vessel for the day, or your entire trip.

Flying L Ranch
566 Flying L Dr. | Bandera, TX
flyingl.com

km_oct-nov_16_travel_riding_edited_flying-l-ranchSlides, a lazy river, a wave pool, obstacle course – and that’s just in Lone Star Lagoon. You’ll have more than enough to keep you busy. In addition to the waterpark, Flying L has tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, horseshoe pits, shuffleboard, playgrounds, hiking trails, fishing, western magic shows, s’mores roasts, sing-a-longs, and more. They also have an award-winning, 18-hole championship golf course on site. If you want to venture out, zip lining, Los Maples, Bear Springs Nature Preserve, Enchanted Springs Ranch, and Hill Country Wineries are all under an hour away.

 

 

 

Gruene Mansion Inn
1275 Gruene Rd. | New Braunfels, TX

gruenemansioninn.com km_oct-nov_16_travel_gmi_lights_2x3_highres_gruene-mansion-inn
Nestled on the Guadalupe River, Gruene Mansion Inn reflects Victorian rustic elegance. e rooms lend to the ambiance with names like hayloft, reside lodge, river tree lodge, and Sunday haus. From private cottages to rooms overlooking the iconic Gristmill, guests will appreciate the authentic atmosphere coupled with luxury accommodations. Located in the heart of downtown Gruene, mansion guests have access to shopping, restaurants, dancing, and Rockin’ R River Rides which is open seasonally. Heading up there for a special weekend? Have a surprise basket of goodies delivered to your room.

km_oct-nov_16_travel_waffles_hoffman-hausHoffman Haus
608 East Creek St. | Fredericksburg, TX

hoffmanhaus.com
Whether you choose stay in the Ivy with its French doors leading out to a private covered porch to enjoy your morning coffee, or the Evening Star which resembles an 1840s log cabin complete with an overstuffed sofa and limestone replace, you’ll be cradled in comfort at Hofman Haus. A complimentary breakfast is delivered to your room via picnic basket featuring such culinary treats as mushroom quiche, white chocolate and cranberry scones, sweet potato waffles, and lemon-blueberry muffins. Not sure of what to do while you’re there? Don’t worry. Hoffman Haus provides suggested itineraries for the historic, active, shopaholic, and romantic traveler.

Horseshoe Bay Resort
200 Hi Cir. N. | Horseshoe Bay, TX

hsbresort.com
Any resort with its own mascot is bound to offer a great time, and Horseshoe Bay Resort has Manny the Macaw who interacts with guests every day and loves to have his photo taken. In the Bay’s Whitewater activity center, you will find bicycles, Razor scooters, recreation equipment, arts and crafts, and even a snack bar which also serves adult beverages for parents. Don’t miss out on a variety of lake and marina activities including kayaking, paddle boarding, or going out on a pontoon boat. If relaxation is what you’re looking for, the resort offers a full-service spa and salon where you can schedule treatments, relax in the eucalyptus infused steam rooms, or soak in the whirlpool.

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort
9800 Hyatt Resort Dr. | San Antonio, TX

hillcountry.regency.hyatt.com

SANHC_AustynVictoriaBynon_060514

Tucked away on 300 acres of a family ranch, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort offers resort-style luxury with a countryside backdrop. Float down the lazy river, rock on the porch, tee off on the 27-hole golf course, join a game of water volleyball, lounge at a poolside cabana, or even rush down the 22-foot water slide. Located just miles from SeaWorld San Antonio, Fiesta Texas, Pearl Street, and the San Antonio River Walk, there are plenty of tourist attractions for you to visit as well.

Log Country Cove
617 Log Country Cove | Burnet, TX
logcountrycove.com
From the intimate Maegan Breann, also known as the honeymoon cabin, to Belle Oaks which sleeps up to 14 people, Log Country Cove can make room for your caravan. Some of the larger cabins also feature in-house entertainment including foosball tables, horseshoes, poker tables, swing sets – not to mention great views of the Colorado River. If you are looking for a family retreat, Big Timber Lodge makes a statement and sleeps up to 35 people. In addition to a party room, outside decks, and surround sound outdoors, this cabin also boasts grills, a gourmet kitchen, at screen TVs, paddle boards, and canoes to keep you entertained.

Rough Creek Lodge & Resort
5165 County Rd. 2013 | Glen Rose, TX

roughcreek.com
Imagine stepping out from your cabin and watching deer grazing in the nearby trees. That’s the scenic atmosphere at Rough Creek Lodge & Resort. Guests can stay in the main lodge, cabins, or even vacation rental homes. Stop by the petting corral to visit miniature goats, horses, and rabbits, or feed your adventurous side with zip lining and rock climbing. If lounging is more your thing, relax poolside, fly a kite, take a hayride, or book some time at the spa. Don’t forget that there are several museums, parks, live music, and Dinosaur Valley nearby.

Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort
1 Resort Way | Boerne, TX

tapatioresort.com
km_oct-nov_16_travel_spa_salt_cave_tapatio-springs-hc-resortResort amenities include golf, a spa, dining, and live music events on site. Guests looking for a unique experience can book the George Strait suite. With a private entry near the golf course, living room and entertainment area, a wet bar, hill country views, and George Strait memorabilia, it’s truly suited for an ultimate getaway. For the adventure junkie, try adding hunting, fishing, or playing at Joshua Creek Ranch to your itinerary. If it’s romance you’re after, saddle up for an equestrian ride, taste regional wines, indulge in a couple’s massage, or book some time at the salt cave.

Travaasa Austin
13500 FM Rd. 2769 | Austin, TX

travaasa.com/austin
km_oct-nov_16_travel_329_activities_mechanical_bull_300dpi_travaasa-austinAs soon as you arrive at Travaasa Austin you are encircled by cypress trees, live oaks, and rolling hills. Explore your cultural side with cooking demos, wine tastings, harmonica lessons, and reside chats. You can choose from an inclusive or a la carte experience adding on amenities such as chef prepared meals, spa treatments, and private fitness classes. These aren’t your ordinary classes. Sure you can sign up for Pilates, but you can also strengthen your core during the mechanical bull workout. When in Texas. KM

 

Photos courtesy of resorts
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Katy, Texas – August 26, 2016 – One of the area’s newest master-planned communities, Katy’s Cane Island, will host Apple Fest, a month-long celebration of the most widely grown fruit symbolic of education, great-tasting sweets and fall family fun.

apple

Free and open to the public every weekend in October, Apple Fest will present all-things apple, from candied apples and pie-eating contests to apple cider and apple ale tastings.  Both Apple Fest celebrations will feature food trucks, DJ music along with apple-themed games and bounce houses for the kids.

Visitors to the Apple Fest weekend celebrations in Cane Island also can enter a drawing for the chance to win a new Apple Watch.

Hours for Apple Fest in Cane Island are Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays, noon – 6 p.m.

While Apple Fest festivities will be held in the community’s new resort-style Amenity Village, Cane Island also offers the opportunity for families to tour model homes by Houston’s leading homebuilders, each fully furnished and expertly decorated.

Go to www.applefesthouston.com for a complete schedule of events. To reach Cane Island, take the new Cane Island Parkway exit off Interstate 10 minutes west of the Grand Parkway.  Head north on Cane Island Parkway and take the temporary detour into the community.

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Katy, Texas – March 25, 2016
The new World Theater at 1012 South Mason Road, is fast becoming the place to be, the place to see and be seen.  Actors, singers and dancers have flocked to auditions and look forward to being seen in the upcoming World Theater musical productions. Local artists as well, have had their paintings and drawings seen in the World Theater Art Exhibition Hall. Audiences have already enjoyed “Katy’s Got Talent,” and “The Golden Buddha Jazz Orchestra.” Now Katy residents and beyond, look forward to seeing “Jacque Brel is Alive & Well and Living in Paris.”

jacques brel in paris  

David Bowie has named Jacques Brel’s original album one of his favorite albums of all time. “Jacque Brel” is one  of the longest running Off-Broadway shows. Burton Wolfe, the musical’s Artistic Director, says, “This is one of my favorite heart-felt musicals because the music and lyrics are filled with passion and are all about the feelings and experiences we all go through in life.”

The outstanding “Jacque Brel is Alive & Well and Living in Paris” cast of performers includes: May Delsantos Alidon, Andres Cosme, Meagan Gisler, Mary Lieberman, Matthew Martinez, Dwayne Sepcich Jr., and Stephen Ye. Brenden Winkfield is  both performer and choreographer; Laura Bettis is the Music Director, Lawrence Wong is the World Theater Producer and Director of Operations, and Burton Wolfe, the musical’s Artistic Director. Performances are scheduled for two weekends: Friday April 8th, Saturday, April 9th, at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, April 15, Saturday, April 16th, 8:00 p.m.

jacques brel logo

In addition, World Theater Art Gallery is calling for artists to enter their artworks for the “Alive & Well” Art Exhibit.  Selected artworks will be displayed at the World Theater Gallery for the month of April. Information for entry can be found at www.worldtheater.us.

Come on down to Katy’s new World Theater, “The place to be, the place to see and be seen.” Feel free to call 832-552-5115 for future events and information.

Courtesy of World Theatre
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The Countdown to NYE fun in Katy and Houston starts now. Check out our picks for the best places to stay, dine, and ring in 2016.

Written by Brittany Bluford & Ashley Lancaster 

The hardest part about New Year’s Eve is deciding where to go. When the clock strikes midnight, make a memory at one of these awesome places.

STAY THE NIGHT

Embassy Suites
1515 Dallas St., Houston
All day
Embassy Suites is just steps away from Discovery Green, Houston Rockets Toyota Center, and Houston Astros Minute Maid Park. Spend New Year’s Eve in a spacious room close to the sparkling downtown attractions. Visit embassysuites3.hilton.com.

Holiday Inn
1112 Eldridge Pkwy., Houston
5 p.m.
If you’re exhausted from the concert, reworks, and New Year’s Eve party at the Holiday Inn Energy Corridor, skip the ride home and book a room. Room rates are available at a discounted price with the purchase of a ticket. Visit ihg.com.

Hotel Sorella – CityCentre
800 Sorella Ct., Houston
5 p.m.
Check in at Hotel Sorella, enjoy live music, a balloon drop, and champagne at the Monnalisa bar party. Call 713-973-1600 for New Year’s Eve packages or visit hotelsorella-citycentre.com.

La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa
600 La Torretta Blvd., Montgomery
All Day
Hang out with your honey at the Energie Lounge for dinner and drinks before the clock strikes midnight. There will be a stunning display of reworks over the lake.
Visit latorrettalakeresort.com.

Omni Houston Hotel
13210 Katy Fwy., Houston
All Day
Enjoy a buffet dinner reception, live entertainment, midnight toast, balloon drop, midnight snacks, a parting gift, drink coupons, and a bottle of sparkling wine. Packages starting at $339. Visit omnihotels.com/hotels/houston-westside/specials/new-years-eve-party.

EVENING OUT

Artisan’s Restaurant
3201 Louisiana St., Houston
If you haven’t tried the French cuisine at Artisan’s, New Year’s Eve is a great time to explore a new eatery. The restaurant offers reservations from 5 to 10 p.m. for $120 per person. Visit artisansrestaurant.com.

Fireworks Dinner Cruise
Kemah Boardwalk Suite G., Kemah
9 p.m.
Cruise the night away on Clear Lake and Galveston Bay while enjoying reworks, dining, and dancing. Visit boardwalkfantasea.com.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille
23501 Cinco ranch Blvd.
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille offers diners New Year’s Eve entertainment and a set menu. Make a reservation for 5:30 p.m. and earlier for $59.95 per person. Any reservations after 5:30p.m. are $79.95 per person.Visit perryssteakhouse.com.

Ray’s Grill
8502 FM 359 S., Fulshear
Enjoy fresh seafood, organic vegetables, and more dining options at this popular, unique neighborhood grill. Visit raysgrill.com.

Topgolf Houston
1030 Memorial Brook Blvd., Houston
281-406-3176
9 p.m. 

Join Topgolf for New Year’s Eve celebration from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with bay reservations starting at $75. They will have a DJ, cocktails, and of course fun and games. For pricing, bay reservations, and general admission prices, visit http://topgolf.com/us/nights/.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY

New Year’s Noon Bash
Children’s Museum of Houston
1500 Binz St., Houston
12 p.m.
Head out for this famous celebration of the last day of 2015! There will be tons of games, prizes, entertainment, and a mid-day balloon drop. Visit cmhouston.org.

New Year’s Eve Run
CityCentre
800 Town and Country Blvd., Houston
7 p.m.
CityCentre is known for its restaurants, retail shops, and attractions. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks and a DJ are added to the list of attractions. Visit citycentrehouston.com/events.

Sharky’s New Year’s Eve
The Downtown aquarium
410 Bagby St., Houston
All Day
Celebrate the new year with a buffet, balloon drop, contests, and giveaways for the kids. Reservations are required. Visit aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumhouston. KM

BRITTANY BLUFORD is a freelance writer who loves to travel locally and internationally.

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Katy, Texas – November 25, 2015

Your guide to enjoying Katy’s most tantalizing social-hour specials

1 KM_Oct Nov_15_dining guide_Los Cucos Manuel Rodriguez, Mgr. - Photo by Shanna Kenney (5)

Happy hour is a time to relax and unwind after a hard day or kick back with friends and enjoy a drink or two. But happy hour is not just about the drinks. There are a lot of delectable snacks and appetizers to try, making happy hour even happier. No more pretzels and peanuts – these snacks are sure to spoil your appetite for dinner.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
20536 Katy Fwy. | 281-769-1850
At BJ’s happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday, 9 to 11 p.m. This fall, happy hour is also extended to anytime during a pro football game. In addition to drink specials, there are lots of great specials on snacks and appetizers. BJ’s offers mini deep dish pizza, prepared with their signature five-cheese blend for only $6. An order of four sliders with grilled onions, lettuce, and pickles is only $5 during happy hour.

Bonefish Grill's bang bang shrimp
Bonefish Grill’s bang bang shrimp

Bonefish Grill
2643 Commercial Center Blvd. | 281-394-5099
Stop by Bonefish Grill in LaCenterra and enjoy $1 off draft beer and $3.50 wines daily from 4 to 6:30 p.m. They also offer specials on their signature cocktails including the fresh pear martini, with freshly muddled pears and garnished with an edible flower. Enjoy a taste of the season with the fall apple martini, including soaked apples, a touch of honey, and topped with cinnamon sprinkle. On Wednesday nights you can try their famous bang bang shrimp, tossed in a creamy spicy sauce, all night for only $6.

Chuy’s
21300 Katy Fwy. | 832-772-1277
Stop by Chuy’s for happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and enjoy their famous, free, fully-loaded nacho car. General manager Mark Novak says, “Our nacho car is the back end of a 1956 Chevy Bellaire, piled high with nacho chips, queso, beans, and ground sirloin.” You can help yourself to a plate of nachos at the bar anytime during happy hour. Another great option is the deluxe quesadillas with chicken fajita meat, cheese, green chilies, and onions or the appetizer plate, which includes the deluxe quesadillas along with chicken flautas, chile con queso, guacamole, and sour cream.

Hasta La Pasta
1450 W. Grand Pkwy. S. | 281-392-0045
Stop by for happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. Kimberly Gattis owns and runs Hasta La Pasta with her husband Eric. “We have $1.99 house wine, domestic beer, frozen margaritas, bellinis, and house-made sangria during happy hour,” Gattis says. She suggests any of their $5.99 appetizers to go with your bevvies. “We have bruschetta, toasted ravioli, calamari, fried zucchini, and sausage with peppers,” Gattis says. The calamari is lightly breaded, fried, and served with artichokes. The fried zucchini comes with pomodoro and ranch sauces.

Perrys Chateaubriand
Perry’s Steakhouse

Landry’s Seafood
22215 Katy Fwy. | 281-392-0452
Kyle Simms, general manager at Landry’s in Katy, says, “We have happy hour seven days a week, 11a.m. to 7 p.m., with drink specials on beer, wine, and cocktails.” The food prices are pretty special too. Simms adds, “We have tiers of appetizers like the battered onion strings and jalapenos, served with ranch dressing for dipping at just $4.” For shrimp lovers there are the fire cracker shrimp poppers, tempura fried in a sweet chili glaze or stuffed shrimp brochette, large bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with seafood, jack cheese, and jalapenos, which can be had for only $7 during happy hour. “Another must-try app is the fried crab balls,” Simms says. “They’re great with cocktail sauce and served with a side of onion strings for $5.”

Los Cucos
5831 Highway Blvd. | 281-391-9466
Los Cucos manager Luis Toro proudly recommends the family appetizer platter at happy hour. “It’s a big variety of bite-sized snack foods, with enough for everyone to share,” says Toro. The platter comes with chicken flautas, stuffed jalapenos, beef fajita nachos, chicken quesadillas, and chile con queso. Happy hour at Los Cucos is all day Monday and Tuesday, and from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Happy hour food specials are served Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m. and include chicken taquitos, shrimp cocktail, and ceviche served with chips.

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Perry’s Steakhouse

23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd. | 281-347-3600
Monday through Friday Perry’s Steakhouse offers specials on their social hour menu from 4 to 6:30 p.m. With delicious select appetizers and signature cocktails for half the price, your experience at Perry’s is bound to be blissful. Try their delicious escargot or pork chop bites for $7.95 each, with a cucumber blueberry martini for $6.

KM_Oct Nov_15_dining guide_17803198 cj new choke dip june 2015hh or app_Saltgrass

Saltgrass Steakhouse 
21855 Katy Fwy. | 281-647-9400
“Saltgrass Steakhouse has a happy hour that is incomparable,” says corporate beverage manager Brian Webb. “We offer a large selection of local and imported beers for less than $3 and several premium wines for under $5. At Saltgrass, you can enjoy value drinks without having to compromise quality.” To go with your libations, Webb recommends the range rattlers. “We take jumbo jalapenos and stuff them with jack cheese and whole shrimp, then we fry it to a golden brown.“ Another popular choice is the creamy, satisfying spinach and artichoke dip, served with crisp tortilla chips and salsa. Both are available for only $6 in the bar area during happy hour, Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.

Texas Borders Bar & Grill
20940 Katy Fwy. | 281-578-8785
See ad on page 182
At Texas Borders Bar & Grill, happy hour runs all day on Monday and from 3 to 7 p.m. the rest of the week. “We have some awesome apps and different specials for every day of the week,” says Kellie Messer. The Texas Borders hot bites are only $3 during happy hour. Choose from fried pickles, onion rings, or cheese sticks with marinara. “For bigger appetites we have $6 buffalo chicken, a cheeseburger, or pulled pork sliders served with fries,” Messer says. Another great choice is the mini crab meat quesadilla with pico.

TGI Friday’s
Any time can be happy hour at TGI Friday’s with their new endless choice of appetizers. You can get endless refills on your choice of appetizers for only $12 or, for $10, you can have endless refills of one favorite appetizer. There are new selections on the menu as well including spicy sriracha chicken potato skins loaded with asiago-queso, and French onion dumplings filled with caramelized onions and topped with melted Swiss cheese. Pair that with one of their famous smoothies like the mango passion smoothie with organic agave, passion fruit, and mango purees. KM

More Great Happy Hours in Katy
Black Walnut Café – $4 mimosas, and other cocktails, $3 fried pickles, and $4 quesadillas M-F, 7 – 10:30 a.m. and 3 – 6:30 p.m. Jimmy Changa’s – $2.50 draft beer, $9 Tex-Mex egg rolls, M-F, 12 – 6 p.m.
Johnny Carino’s –
$2 off appetizers and pizza, M-F, 3 – 7 p.m.
Kublai Khan –
$5 sushi rolls, M-F, 3 – 6 p.m.
Las Mañanitas –
$3.50 margaritas, $7.50 shrimp nachos, M-F, 3-7 p.m.

CHERRI NORTHCUTT enjoys dining out with friends and family in Katy. Her favorite happy hour snacks always include nachos.

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Katy, Texas – October 26,2015

As the fall season arrives, Katyites can enjoy spending more time outdoors in the cooler weather. From pumpkin patches to Howl-O-Ween, these nearby festivals will get you into the spirit of the season.

KM-Oct Nov_15_fall Festivals_ Renaissance Festival 3

Texas Renaissance Festival
October 11 – November 29 (weekends)
Todd Mission, Texas
texrenfest.com

Be prepared to see people dressed up as pirates, fairies, lords and ladies, kings, queens, and more and don’t be too shy to dress up yourself. Music can be heard throughout and stage performances are available with free seating. Try a variety of cultural foods found at every corner. There will be Renaissance-inspired craft making, amusement rides, and shops at the festival. Admission is free for kids under 4 and kids ages 12 and under on Sundays. Kids 12 and under are $14 and adult admission is $26.


KM Oct Nov 15_ Fall Festivals_ Ifest
iFest Live
November 7
Sugar Land Town Square | Sugar Land, Texas
sugarlandtx.gov

A variety of cultural diversity will be seen, shared, and celebrated at this lively festival. Different cultures will have showcase booths, and attendees can visit each booth to learn about the different cultures. Student groups and local organizations will provide musical and dance performances. International cuisine will be available. Admission is free.
KM Oct Nov 15_ Fall Festivals_ Childrens Fest
Children’s Festival Woodlands
November 14 – 15
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The Woodlands, Texas
woodlandscenter.org

In past years, attendees have enjoyed performances from Choo-Choo Soul, Junie B. Jones, sing-a-long with Barney, Kidz Bob kids, and more. Mascots such as Scooby Doo, Clutch from Houston Rockets, and more have also made an appearance. Outdoor activities like kite making and flying, parachute races, panning for gold, rock walls, and bumper boats will keep the kids busy. Admission is $8 for adults purchased in advance or $10 at the gate. Admission is free for children 2 years old and under.
KM Oct Nov 15_ Fall Festivals_ Via Colori_Artist Carol Wells_Photographer Liem Bui
Via Colori
November 21 – 22
Downtown at Hermann Square
centerhearingandspeech.org

Take the whole family to see unique street paintings created with pastel chalks. For a $10 donation, you can create your own street painting. Kids will be able to enjoy chalk games such as hop-scotch, four square, and tic-tac-throw. A scavenger hunt and an activity to construct musical instruments are some fun activities to look forward to. Rain or shine, the event will still go on. Food vendors will be available. Admission is free. KM

WENDY TENG is a freelance writer with an MHA degree. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, volunteering, and trying new restaurants. Children can enjoy activities at the Pumpkin Patch and Scarecrow Festival at the Oil Ranch

Don’t forget to share your fun festival pics with us! Tag @KatyMagazine on Instagram. You may even find yourselves on our next InstaFaves page!

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LaCenterra102

Here is the Central Green schedule in La Centerra for the month of August. Bring your family and friends for some local fun!

 1-Tai Chi (8:30am)

4- Tai Chi 9am

7-Summer Concert Series (7pm) Chris Brade – Chris Brade’s shows are a mix of classic and current country and a whirlwind of energy and soul. He has opened shows for Mark Chesnutt, Alan Jackson,Roger Creager, Kevin Fowler, Johnny Lee, and the Bellamy Brothers, and plays a wide range of venues, from casinos, fairs and festivals everywhere, to the classic nightclubs.

8-Tai Chi (8:30am)

8-August 8 Paul Blart Mall Cop-PG – Starring Kevin James, Keir O’Donnell, Jayma Mays, and Raini Rodriguez. A regular guy who is a security guard defeats a criminal gang on his segway.

11- Tai Chi 9am

13- Kaia Yoga 630pm

14-Summer Concert Series (7pm)

15-Tai Chi (8:30am)

15- August 15 The New Annie-PG – A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.

18- Tai Chi 9am

21 Summer Concert Series (7pm)

22- Tai Chi (8:30am)

22- August 22 Princess and the Frog-G – With a modern twist on a classic tale, this animated comedy is set in the great city of New Orleans. Featuring a beautiful girl named Tiana, a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again, and a fateful kiss that leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.

25- Tai Chi 9am

27- Kaia Yoga 630pm

28 – School of Rock Back to School Bash 7pm

29 – Tai Chi 830am

29- August 29 Avengers-PG-13 – Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

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Are you ready to make new friends, try new things, and make this year the best ever? Registration for Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is now open for 2015-2016! Please visit us during one of the following walk-in registration sessions, or contact WOWrecruiter2@gmail.com for more information.

Saturday, August 22, 2-4 PM
St Paul’s Episcopal (1936 Drexel Dr., Katy, TX 77493)
or
Cinco Ranch Lake House (25202 Springwood Lake Dr., Katy, TX 77494)

 Tuesday, August 25, 6-8 PM
Redeemer Community Church (24201 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Katy, TX 77494)

 Wednesday, August 26, 10am-12 PM
Living Word Lutheran Church (3700 Mason Rd., Katy, TX 77450)

 Thursday, August 27, 2-4 PM
Katy Branch Library (5414 Franz Rd., Katy, TX 77493)

 Thursday, August 27, 5-7 PM
St Peter’s United Methodist Church (20775 Kingsland Blvd., Katy, TX 77450)

 Saturday, August 29, 1-3 PM
Cross Creek Ranch Community Center (6450 Cross Creek Bend Ln., Fulshear, TX 77441)

 Monday, August 31, 4:30-6 PM
Westland Baptist Church (1407 W. Grand Parkway S., Katy, TX 77494)

 Tuesday, September 1, 4-5 PM
Fielder Gazebo (Fielder Elementary, 2100 Greenway Village Dr., Katy, TX 77494)

Troop Round-Up
Round Up with your new troop parents to organize your troop for the year.
Saturday, September 12, 2-4 PM
Crosspoint Christian Church (700 Westgreen Blvd, Katy, TX 77450)

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Shopping for the perfect Father’s Day gift? Check out all of these awesome specials going on in the Katy area!

fday

  • Academy Sports & Outdoors 1800 N. Mason Rd. Katy, TX 281-646-5200
    Great gifts for dads at low prices! Special prices on fishing gear, kayaks, Yeti brands, grills and smokers, and much more!
  • Ace Hardware 1720 S. Mason Rd. Katy, TX 281-392-5200
    Get $20 off select heavy duty power tools!
  • Acme Arts 3130 N. Fry Rd. Ste. 1100, Katy, TX 281-901-0918
    Father’s Day Sale from June 15 to June 28! 25% off all orders online or in store! Coupon code:  Y5PQMWVM4O0R
  • Bass Pro Shop (Katy Mills Mall) 5000 Katy Mills Cir., Katy, TX 281-644-2200
    The ultimate one-stop shop for dads! Huge Father’s Day sale ends 6/21/15. Special prices on fishing, hunting, shooting, boating, camping, men’s clothing, and much more!
  • Best Buy 20290 Katy Fwy. Katy, TX 281-398-2938
    Get him a gift he’ll drool over this Father’s Day! Great sales on the hottest electronics as well as feature-packed appliances.
  • D’Amico’s Italian Market (LaCenterra) 2643 Commercial Center Blvd. Ste. B350, Katy, TX 281-769-9682
    Treat Dad to the freshest Italian in town! Open every Sunday!
  • Elements Massage Katy (LaCenterra) 2643 Commercial Center Blvd. Ste. B340, Katy, TX 281-394-7119
    The best massage for the best dad, guaranteed! $49 special intro offer – 1 hour massage session
  • Katy Budget Books 2450 Fry Rd. Houston, TX 281-578-7770
    KBB will construct a special display of great gift suggestions for Father’s Day including both books and gift items! We encourage you to use the existing coupon running in their current Katy Magazine ad!
  • Lowe’s 19935 Katy Fwy. Houston, TX 281-492-7980
    Save 17% until 6/8/15 when you purchase a Char-Broil Advantage 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill!
  • Men’s Wearhouse 1120 Fry Rd. Houston, TX 281-578-7817
    Get fathers’ favorites here! Special pricing on polos, suits, and shoes!
  • Perfumania (Katy Mills Mall) 5000 Katy Mills Cir., Katy, TX 281-644-4030
    Buy one get one $14.99 on select fragrance gift singles and gift sets!
  • Texas Borders Bar & Grill 20940 Katy Fwy. Katy, TX 281-578-8785
    Treat dads to free chips and salsa, plus cheap Street Tacos and beer!
  • Tommy Hilfiger (Katy Mills Mall) 5000 Katy Mills Cir., Katy, TX 281-644-5888
    Get 30-50% off all men’s apparel!
  • Traditions Window Décor Katy, TX 713-635-9330
    Free Hidden Tilt upgrade on orders placed in June!

Know of any great Father’s Day specials in Katy? Email us at editor@katymagazine.com!

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Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Andy Newman/CCL

Snorkeling among the coral reefs, lounging at the Blue Iguana, hiking through the Mayan Ruins, or attending Broadway-style productions are just a few of the activities patrons aboard the Carnival Freedom excitedly participate in. With voyages averaging as little as $79 a day, families can enjoy five-star vacations at affordable rates. Carnival Freedom The newest ship in Carnival’s fleet to begin sailing from Galveston, the Freedom recently underwent millions of dollars in renovations and boasts more amenities than ever before. “Carnival Freedom is the most significant Fun Ship 2.0 upgrade project we’ve undertaken outside of Carnival Sunshine,” says Jennifer de la Cruz, vice president of public relations. “Carnival Freedom is one of the premier ships in our fleet.”

Kids on Board
With a specific emphasis on entertainment and youth programming, kids and teens will find unlimited activities aboard the Freedom. Their newest revamp of the onboard program, Camp Ocean, divides children ages 2 through 11 into age-appropriate groups and fills their days with tailored activities including crafts, dance parties, scavenger hunts, relays, and more. Teens ages 15 to 17 can oen be found in Club O2, a hangout specifically designed with their age group in mind. “We were noticing a huge drop off in this age group from Camp Carnival, and received feedback that they felt like the program was geared toward the younger passengers,” says Vance Gulliksen, public relations manager. “So we developed Club O2 just for teens.” Carnival Freedom Club O2 participants watch movies, listen to music, play sports and video games, join karaoke jam sessions, and attend a pool party or two. Carnival also sets up teen-only shore excursions so they can enjoy the sights at port with their new friends.

Suess at Sea
Carnival’s newest partnership is with the Cat in the Hat himself. Watch your child’s favorite book characters come to life during activities such as the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and friends, Seuss-a-Palooza story time, Seuss-a-Palooza parade, and Dr. Seuss Bookville, which is exclusive to the Carnival Freedom and Vista. Carnival Freedom Take your kiddo to Bookville and sit among Horton, the Lorax, and Sam I Am on Whoville-worthy furniture as you read from Dr. Seuss classics. Make it a point to attend the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast and see the dining room clothed in striped hats, red table cloths, and Seussical décor. A special menu is prepared including Truffula tree pancakes, Horton’s French toast, Fox in Socks steak and eggs, and of course, green eggs and ham. Cat in the Hat and friends also make appearances and take photos with guests. Those who are young at heart will enjoy this colorful and fun-filled event.

Decadent Dining
One thing cruisers often rave about is the food, and Carnival Freedom is no exception. In addition to their dining rooms and lido buffets, the ship is equipped with multiple dining options. Food Network personality Guy Fieri teams up to bring passengers the best grilled burgers on the high seas. Piled high with toppings and grilled poolside with tantalizing seasonings, Guy’s Burger Joint is a must-try.

Carnival Freedom

The Taste Bar is a unique station found along the promenade deck. Pick up a complimentary appetizer before dinner for a taste of something different with a rotating theme each day. Make a reservation at least one evening of your cruise to dine at the Sun King Steakhouse. At only $35 a person, the culinary creations brought to you by gourmet chefs will tickle your taste buds. Choose from buttery lobster bisque, flaky crab cakes, tender filet mignon, or flavor-filled lobster ravioli. The possibilities and combinations are endless.

Destination Wanderlust
The Freedom offers six- and seven-day voyages throughout the Caribbean. Add stamps to your passport from exotic locations such as Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Honduras, and Jamaica.

Stingray4

Take the guesswork out of choosing port entertainment by utilizing Carnival to book your shore excursions. Filter by experiences, age, activity, duration, and price to pick the best option for your family. Explore secret rivers, catamaran to coral reefs for snorkeling tours of the crystal clear waters, grab a hammock on the white sand beaches, hike through Mayan Ruins, or fly across zip lines with breathtaking views. No matter where your interests lie, there’s something for everyone aboard the Carnival Freedom. KM

KIRSTEN CORNELL and her husband thoroughly enjoyed Carnival Freedom’s maiden Galveston voyage and visited every possible dining option at least once.

For more cruising ideas, visit carnival.com.

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A handful of dedicated Katy High School students eagerly await the rush of teachers and staff to come. The time is 10:15 AM. With tables decorated, and salad, desserts and 30 pizza boxes set out, KHS Student Council is ready to host their second annual Teacher Luncheon.

  IMG_8560

The previous year, a simple pizza lunch was served solely to teachers and hailed as the first time the entirety of the teachers had been fed students.

IMG_8556

This year they upped the ante. Teachers, office staff, paraprofessionals, custodians, nurses, cafeteria workers, KHS parent volunteers and other faculty were invited to attend the “Teacher Luncheon”. Every staff member here has a hand in the students’ education and deserve to be honored.

IMG_8554

Starting in January, the preparation began as KHS Student Council Members Kat Rogers, Kaitlin Miller, Olivia Williams, Marie Ann Barron, and Piper Harris ventured to local businesses in request of donations. Most impressive was the collective 75 pizzas donated by Pizza Shoppe, Cici’s, and Pizza Inn.

IMG954822-2

KHS Student Council’s exponential growth and success since its meagre state three years previous has been through a multitude of projects around Katy High School and the Katy Community. Eager to continue its vision and tradition, Katy students look forward to partnering with even more local businesses and projects to keep Katy beautiful.

IMG_8558

 

Courtesy of:
Kaitlin Miller
Class of 2015
KHS Student Council Vice President

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School officials and politicians are normally at the helm of discussions on the state of education, but Houston Community College is providing an opportunity for Katy moms to chime in. In an informal and filmed discussion, HCC gathered Katy mom bloggers and social media influencers to discuss their concerns and possible solutions to pressing issues in areas of education such as standardized testing and college affordability. The college gave the women a platform to voice their opinions and will dedicate an entire week allowing the community to chime in.

Their discussion will be aired on the college’s social media channels from May 4 until Mother’s Day, May 10. The social media community at-large will also be able to interact with this discussion by adding their thoughts to the HCC  posts or using the hashtag #KatyMomsChat.

“Engaging with our communities is important,” said Dr. Zachary Hodges, HCC Northwest president. “In education, we need more external voices to contribute to the internal work in our classrooms. So, we’re hoping that the #Katymomschat project will give us new ideas to enhance the learning environment for our students. Katy has a rich learning environment and continues to be a great partner in our education efforts.”

Since 1979, HCC has provided education and opportunity to Katy residents. Almost 4,000 Katy Independent School District students attend HCC. A booming dual credit program in Katy ISD enables students to earn college credit while still in high school at a discounted tuition rate. As with all communities that the college serves, HCC has a strong connection to Katy and is active in groups such as the Katy Chamber of Commerce, Katy ARTreach, Katy Visual & Performing Arts Center, Katy ISD and the Katy Economic Development Council.

“Education is a very important topic that gets me excited,” said Rebecca Fox, Katy ISD board member. “Parents have a lot of opinions on what kind of education their child is getting and to be able to discuss those topics with other passionate moms is incredible. Houston Community College is an important piece in figuring out that puzzle and has been instrumental in giving families options.”

Katy is representative of the skyrocketing growth that continues across the Houston-area. Katy ISD is the second fastest growing district in the state and is adding nearly 3,000 new students each year. Over 70,000 students are currently enrolled in Katy ISD and that number is expected to soar to nearly 95,000 by 2023. The school district is nearly three times the size of Washington, D.C. and experiencing a population boom as more people move in. New housing construction reflects that trend as the number of students added to the district because of subdivisions being actively built has grown by 81 percent since 2013.

Courtesy of: HCC and Katy Moms Chat, you can visit their website: hccs.edu/katymomschat

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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

Their program continues to grow and has a number of former players playing college lacrosse. Currently their program has three former players playing lacrosse at the college level. They also have a number of girls who have continued to play at the club level at their college.

Courtney Brown– Liberty University, Division I, 2013 class

Katy Brown– Concordia University, Division III, 2013 class

Lacey Bowersox– Southwestern University, Division II, 2014 class

Bethany Moore – Texas Tech University, Club lacrosse, 2014 class

Mallory Claypool – University of Texas, Club lacrosse, 2014 class

Courtesy of: Katy Cavaliers Boys & Girls Lacrosse Club 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Suite H-120, Box 278, Katy, Texas 77494.  www.katycavalierlacrosse.org

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Dear Editor,

I married a beautiful lady here in Katy, last December. She encouraged me to write poetry, after my brain surgery a year ago, to keep my mind (what’s left of it) sharp. So I began to try & then began to post what I wrote on my Facebook page.

I call them T.P.O.T.D, which stands for “The Poem Of The Day” in abbreviation. I refer to my postings as “Fruit from the Poet’s Tree” and today’s plucking was inspired by how much I’ve come to love Katy. I was born in Austin & still maintain a house there. I tell Roxanna (my sweet, amazing bride) that it’s now our vacation home, since we are in Katy the vast majority of our time.

I’ll always love Austin too, but never wrote a poem about it. That brings me to why I am writing “a letter to the editor”. Below is my T.P.O.T.D. I hope this doesn’t waste your time. I appreciate your efforts to publish a fine magazine, which I always enjoy reading.

My T.P.O.T.D.:

 

rr town

Katy Was a Rail-Road Town
Back when folks were
“West-ward HOO & Bound!”
looking for a future & a
brand new town to found.
And I certainly should mention:
’twas the Missouri Kansas Texas extension,
called then by the old brand of
“Union Pacific – Southern Branch”
It went passing along & thru quite a few
farms to market &/or ranch,
soon, that name got grounded
& dropped out of contention,
in favor of a line that became simply known
as the M.K.T. Folks in Texas just liked the way
that “M.K.T.” sounded.
Yes, most of them would agree.

As the Metro-plex of Houston grew
& Katy, Texas was still brand new,
just how fast Katy would grow?
Who knew?
But it sure would not be slow.

As the railroad started laying tracks back in 1895,
The town that James Oliver Thomas was busy
laying out, began to come alive!
Giving it the name of Katy,
He knew that it would thrive,
long before that first M.K.T. railroad train
was scheduled to arrive.
Expecting vast prosperity, folks began to come.
either by the new locomotives,
or in wagon-trains came some.

The original depot station
still stands & holds the memory
of the founders, then filled with elation,
That made Katy come to be.
So, if in the vicinity,
stop in so you can see
the beauty long ago
brought here by the M.K.T.
_______________________________
Yours Truly, George Knaak

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Growing up in Katy was one of the best things my parents could have done for me. I was raised a Winborn Eagle, A Katy Tiger, and a member of girl scouts, KYF, and more. Although I didn’t get to fulfill my dream of being a Katy Tiger, I was still able to appreciate everything Katy had to offer. However, besides a great education and amazing town experiences from little league games to the Katy Rice Harvest Festival, my most favorite treasures are my friends.

College station
Diane Winborn Eagles to Texas A&M Aggies
(Left to Right: Ashley McElmurry ’15, Brecklyn Gordon ’15, and Stephanie Ellis ’15)

At the age of four years old, my parents enrolled me in Williamsburg Country Day School and it was there that I met some of my best friends. Soon after, I began my six years at Diane Winborn Elementary, and met some of the best friends that I still have today.

Growing up in Katy made it easy to grow with these friends. We all did girl scouts and attended local town events. We joined the community and participated in almost everything together, even leaving home. Fast forward through high school, and we have arrived at June 2011. We all graduated from High School and were ready to leave Katy. Most of us went to the same place, the place I have called home for the past four years.

One by one, we all traveled to College Station. Some of us went straight to Texas A&M and some of us enrolled at Blinn in hopes to one day be an Aggie. With all these people here, the transition was supposed to be easy. However, I found myself missing home. I started going home a lot, and taking advantage of all of my childhood experiences. I went and rode the rides at the Rice Harvest Festival, sat at Starbucks in La Centerra, and walked around Katy Mills Mall as if I was 13 again. Although this was fun and all, I knew I had to let go, and fully immerse myself in this Aggie town. Lucky for me, I still had a few of my best friends left with me to make these past couple of years easier.

As my roommate and hometown best friend was receiving her ring the other day, it dawned on me that I had to do something I have never done before. I needed to stop and appreciate everything my hometown has done for me. It brought me friends for life and as we all realize that we are permanently connected through the Aggie Network, we acknowledge the fact that we are connected from our hometown roots as well.

Now as a senior in college, I can say that it is time to come home. When I graduated high school I thought I was ready to leave my little home called Katy, Texas. Now, as a more wise soon to be college graduate I can say that I finally appreciate home. So from Katy to College Station, and back home again I go.

By Ashley McElmurry

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Katy artist Kathleen Wedemeyer makes it her business to turn other people’s trash into treasure and inspires with her messages of hope and faith

Written by Tassie Hewitt | Select Photography by Country Park Portraits

KM_DecJan_14_people of passion_Wedemeyer, Kathleen-115_photo by Country Park Portraits
Wedemeyer learned how to weld to better hone her skills

What started as a hobby 25 years ago for crafty Katy resident, Kathleen Wedemeyer, turned into her livelihood and passion, as demand for her handmade antique vintage creations took her artwork out of local craft shows and into homes across the country. She dutifully named her brand, Hope and Glory.

Hope and Glory
The artist, who makes an art out of turning junk into gems, admits to being creative from a young age. “I remember going through trash cans at the house and wondering what I could make out of stuff,” she says. She once sold Christmas ornaments made out of dried okra to supplement her family income. “I can almost pick up a stick off the ground and make something out of it.”

Wedemeyer, who has a background in commercial art, scavenges thrift stores for old silver and jewelry for use in her work. The frugal artist, who professes to being cheap at heart, transforms antique ceiling tile and discarded bead board into the collection of crosses, architectural angels, collages, and frames, for which she is so well known.

“I love metal,” she says. Wedemeyer studied welding so she could expand the scope of her work. “I love rusty metal that tells a story because it’s been through the process of time.

KM_DecJan_14_people of passion_Wedemeyer, Kathleen-136_photo by Country Park Portraits
What started as a creative outlet, has now grown into her own business, Hope and Glory

Where the Heart Is
Katy became home to Wedemeyer after her business grew and her old neighborhood’s deed restrictions stifled her creativity. She needed space to spread out and allow storage for her growing collection of materials. “I bought a big trailer full of ceiling tin one time, and I was thinking, ‘How am I going to get that home?’” she says. “So then, I just bought the trailer, too.”

The artist, whose one-acre backyard in Old Katy is home to chickens and dogs, vintage bikes, and a ’70s travel trailer, grew up in southeast Houston, but does not regret her move to Katy 15 years ago. “Old Katy still feels like a small town,” she says. “I love this house. It has character.”

Wedemeyer’s 2,000 square-foot workshop, located behind her historic home, is crammed with bits and scraps and pieces of her finds. The workshop was built by her architect husband, Ron. It’s where she spends at least three days a week creating the artwork she hopes will inspire purchasers. It is also where her husband taught her to use power tools, a skill that launched her business in a whole new direction.

KM_DecJan_14_people of passion_Wedemeyer, Kathleen-041_photo by Country Park Portraits
Wedemeyer uses various metal components and architectural antiques to create her pieces

 

Finding Inspiration
Wedemeyer finds inspiration for her work everywhere. “There are times I will hear a message at church and thatwill become a banner one of my angels is holding,” she says. “There are dark things in life, and people need hope.”

In 2011, the owners of Creative Co-OP discovered Wedemeyer’s artwork and asked permission to reproduce some of her more popular pieces. As a result, Hope and Glory licensed creations can be found in stores throughout the country, as well as online. “I even have little crosses at Buc-ee’s, now,” Wedemeyer laughs. “It was a nice opportunity to take some things off my plate so I could go on to create new things.” Despite her accomplishments, Wedemeyer says it is important not to judge success in purely economic terms. “There have been many shows I went to and didn’t make a penny, and yet I met a new best friend,” she says. Her artwork is more about the message than the money. “I love the power of words to inspire people. I hope to glorify God in what I do. He is the master artist, and we’re all His masterpieces.”

KM_DecJan_14_people of passion_Wedemeyer, Kathleen-232_photo by Country Park Portraits
“I love rusty metal that tells a story because it’s been through the process of time.”

Giving Back
When she is not creating or selling her artwork, Wedemeyer finds time to share her enthusiasm for art with the community. She teaches Power Tools 101 in her workshop where she empowers women with the courage and skills to master the sander, drill press, and nail gun. She hosts art workshops and retreats and belongs to the Rowdy Art Sisters art club where members meet to trade techniques and stir up each other’s creativity. She has a passion for mentoring other artistic women. Above all, Wedemeyer cherishes the oneof-a-kind in art and in life and has the ability to find beauty in anything. “I think every person you meet has a treasure inside,” she says. “I love mining for treasure.” KM

KM_DecJan_14_people of passion_1_submitted by Kathleen Wedemeyer
Local artist Kathleen
Wedemeyer is passionate about sharing her creative gifts through her pieces and by teaching others

TASSIE HEWITT is a freelance writer who believes in angels and the power of words.

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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

A – Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make a list before you visit each school of things you would like to know about. For Katy mom Ashley Lancaster whose son has a life-threatening illness,
she had two main questions entering into her evaluation process. “‘What is your sick child policy?’ and ‘What is your hand-washing policy, and is it enforced?’” Evaluate what is most important and valuable to your family, whether it’s health-related, education-oriented, or a matter of proximity.

KM_DecJan_14_Preschool Feature_TST_6515_submitted by Katy ECEC
Katy ECEC emphasizes developmentally appropriate hands-on experiences

“Open communication with parents, management, and staff helps to foster a healthy and beneficial learning environment,” says Kamilla Saidova, owner of The Learning Experience. Also, ask for referrals from other parents. They have already done the research or may have
children currently enrolled in programs. Find out what they’ve appreciated most about their school’s curriculum, teachers, and overall environment.

Do your research. Preschool accreditation can be easily verified through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and most schools also allow you to view sample curriculum. Do you want a more hands-on approach to learning, or would you prefer a structured academic schedule? “Our motto sums it up: Learning for fun. Learning for life. I would like all parents to know that at The Goddard School, learning is fun,” says Asli Remlinger, owner of The Goddard School in Katy.

B-Balance
Look for programs that offer a good mix of learning, playing, activities, and extracurricular opportunities. Schools that are too focused on just learning or just playing are usually not the best fit for children. “Primrose classrooms are furnished with developmentally appropriate furniture, fixtures, and equipment,” says marketing director of Primrose School of Cinco Ranch Starla Fitch. “Our units of learning and our character development program, alongside a culturally diverse staff and student population, helps create a positive, productive, and cultural learning environment.”

Once you have narrowed down your choices and come up with two or three places you are interested in, schedule a time to visit each preschool. You can learn a lot about a setting by the way staff approach introductory visits with you and your child. During your visit ask yourself questions such as, “Do I feel welcome here? Does my child seem interested in what they have to offer? Do the children in the setting seem happy? How do the adults and children interact? Is the setting clean and safe?”

KM_DecJan_14_Preschool Feature_SLC 5_submitted by Spanish Learning Castle
Spanish Learning Castle learn best with total language immersion

“Spanish Learning Castle is a school setting where their child is safe, and he or she, feels at home. Parents are confident knowing that their child is being attended to every minute of the day while learning and having fun. Recently, a parent told us that this is the reason she enrolled her child at our school,” says Ramon Marin of Spanish Learning Castle.

C-Connection
Find a preschool you feel is in line with your child’s needs and fits your family’s philosophies. Remember to ask how the preschool stays in close communication with parents and updates them on their child’s progress. “An emphasis is placed on parent communication to foster the connection between school and home, creating continuity in the child’s educational experience,” says Fitch.

Spend at least one hour in the classroom of your top three choices. This will not only allow you to see teachers and students interact, but determine if their education philosophy supports your family’s values. “We have a loving, family atmosphere that exists between the staff, kids, and extended families,” says Steve Sandweiss, owner of Tiger Land Child Care Center.

Connect with your child’s teachers. They will be the ones interacting with your child every day and their new primary source for knowledge. Find out if the teachers are available for quick side chats at drop-off and pick-up. Do they offer their email addresses to parents? And if so, how quickly will they get back to you? “Besides Goddard’s play-based curriculum, the school realizes the importance of the home and school connection between parents and teachers,” says Remlinger. “The teachers differentiate instruction for each child. They also modify or enrich goals as needed for the success of children.”

Many schools also send home newsletters to update parents on classroom activities. Find out if these will tell you menu plans for the week, what projects are being completed, and other school-wide news.

Choosing the best preschool for your child does not have to be an overwhelming task. Successful parents go into the process aware, informed, and ready to ask questions. Being prepared will make the process efficient, effective, and meaningful for you and your child. KM

FREDA IHEDIWA is freelance writer, and teacher at Hancock Elementary. She is proud to call Katy home.

* See the full feature in Katy Magazine December/January 2014 for tips on how to prepare your child for preschool and a list of common preschool philosophies in the Katy area.

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Katy, TX – The word is out! At 12 midnight, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo released the long-anticipated 2015 concert lineup. Many are saying this is the best performance schedule in rodeo history. With chart-topping artists from various genres, this year’s rodeo is sure to be a hit for everyone.

Performing artists include Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, John Legend, Fall Out Boy, Tim McGraw, Ariana Grande, Billy Currington, Blake Shelton, Pitbull, Brad Paisley, and Zac Brown Band.

For a full list of entertainers, and for ticket information, visit www.rodeohouston.com/concerts.

Happy Rodeo Season, Katy!

 

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Written by Katie Jozwiak

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

Chocolate is great for the impatient – how else could you get instant reprieve from feeling down? Wait two hours for lasagna, I don’t think so. My experiences have taught me that most things in life can be fixed – or at least made significantly better – with chocolate. Its versatility is quite remarkable, I must say. Bite it, melt it, mix it, bake it, freeze it, drink it, you name it, it can do it. It’s like the world’s greatest friend. Plus, chocolate comes from cocoa beans, the fruit of the cacao, so it’s basically the healthiest food you can eat.

Seeing that the average women’s suggested daily fruit intake is about two cups, I decided to get one of mine from Schakolad Chocolate Factory. It is conveniently located on Fry Rd. so I didn’t have to venture far into the tundra to claim my prize. When I arrived I was greeted directly by the store’s owner who is super nice. She let me sample some enchanting hot chocolate and it was then I knew… I had not yet begun living until that precise moment. All other hot chocolate had failed me. What I had once considered a meaningful relationship I then learned that it was all just façade keeping me from my true destiny. After tasting true love, how could I ever go back? How could I revert back to a corporate, water-based, over-priced mixture they called hot chocolate? Ludicrous. I’ve tasted and seen, and there’s no going back. This chocolate boutique had stolen my heart in the form of a $2.50 cup of melted artisan chocolate that was made fresh the minute I came shivering in the door. After consuming my cup of happiness, I was told that they actually serve their hot chocolate year round… could my day get any better? I will definitely be going back and I hope to see you there!

pic 1 pic 2

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Written by Katie Jozwiak

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

I am a human who qualifies in the third category. What can I say? I love food. I appreciate the hard work and artistic creativity that gets put into fine dining. Out of a world of possibilities, sweet treats have a special place in my heart, as does my hometown. Katy, Texas is filled with restaurants, cafes, bistros, all sorts of quaint little spaces that serve delicious treats… and this is their story.

(Stay tuned for a winter filled with accounts of mouth-watering sweets.)story

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Katy Fire Department hires a four-legged firefighter

Written by Kirsten Cornell|Photography by Christopher Rodriguez

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

KM_F_14_Katy Dalmatian_Katy with firefighter gear 2_photo by Kristofor Rodriguez
Katy is a rescue Dalmatian at the Katy Fire Department

Rescuing Katy
After considering their options, KFD decided they preferred giving a rescue dog a good home. Beth White of Dalmatian
Rescue of Colorado put them in touch with Jeanne, a woman who was fostering a Dalmatian in League City. Lt. Hughes
met with Jeanne and the foster dog to evaluate her demeanor and evaluate whether or not she would make a good fit.

“A few days later, Jeanne brought her to the station for a site visit,” Conrad recalls. “We fell in love with her immediately, and I believe the feeling was mutual.” They appropriately named their new team member, Katy. She was reportedly rescued from an animal hoarder and had only been in foster care a few days before coming to live at KFD. “She was very thin, but otherwise in good health,” says Conrad. “We knew when we rescued a dog that we would have to give her plenty of time and space to settle in.”

Other than being a little protective of her toys at first, Katy adjusted very quickly. “It almost seemed like she had never had her own toys and wanted to protect them. When we gave them to her, she ran and hid them in her kennel,” says Conrad. With the safety and security of constant love and attention, Katy now feels right at home – and her toys can be found all over the station.

KM_F_14_Katy Dalmatian_Katy Fire Dept. C shift pose in front of a antique Chevelot Firetruck 2_photo by Kristofor Rodriguez
Katy Fire Department works 24 hours on three shifts with Katy being assigned two handlers per shift to ensure consistency

Training as a Firedog
Katy is an official City of Katy employee, has a photo ID just like the rest of her team members, and her training number is D01. Although she has not been to a working fire yet, she Katy Fire Department works 24 hours on three shifts with Katy being assigned two handlers per shift to ensure consistencyhas been on the fire truck during her training exercises and has done very well. “She will eventually be responding to all calls. She loves to be on-the-go and anywhere we are,” adds Conrad.

Katy lives at the fire station, and although she has her own space, has been known to sneak into a few dorm rooms. During shift changes, she makes the rounds, greeting each member of the on-coming shift and saying goodbye to the off-going shift. “She seems to have an awareness that we come and go and which people belong together,” Conrad laughs.

Mac Macintosh, a trainer with 48 years of experience who has also worked with Katy Police Department canines, has donated his time and service to work with Katy and her handlers. He notes that Katy is very intelligent, a quick learner, and eager to please.

Spotting Katy
Katy’s primary role will be in public relations. She will be a key component at events and station tours, and will
ultimately demonstrate fire safety techniques such as, “stop, drop, and roll.” “We hope that she will make a great impression on kids,” Conrad adds. Katy will be making several public appearances in the community, especially at schools, and KFD is excited to be able to utilize her in this capacity. “She is energetic but very even-tempered, perfectly suited for interacting with the public,” says Conrad.

If you take a tour of the station, you’re sure to spot Katy greeting guests or chasing her favorite toy, a stuffed green avocado, and generally loving her new home. “KFD is truly like a family and Katy completes our family,” says Conrad. “She is our companion, but she also has a job to do. We love our jobs, and we think Katy does, too.” KM

Kirsten Cornell is the lead associate editor at Katy Magazine. She is the daughter of a firefighter, but they regrettably did not have a Dalmatian.

Katy the Firedog visits Katy Magazine (6)
Katy Magazine had the pleasure of meeting Katy Fire Department’s newest team member

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Spotlighting the students who transform Katy’s Friday nights

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

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

KM_F_14_FNL_SLHS_11_ASC_4003_PSE-3388449824-H_photo by Craig Moseley
Mascots are responsible for learning stunts, cheers, and getting the crowd going on Friday Night

KATY’S FOOTBALL TEAMS
A Winning Mindset
While every football program has its own strategies, the coaches and players at each school will tell you that preparing to take on an opponent takes more than just physical strength. “The coaches will begin preparing right after the previous game by watching video of what our next opponent does and how they do it,” says Don Clayton, athletic director and head coach at Cinco Ranch High School. “The players will do the mental work in meetings and video sessions, as well as on their own with study of the scouting report and with opponent video that is available to them.”

Physical preparation is accomplished during weekly practices, which averages about eight hours per week. While as many as 450 students try out for football each season, only about 85 will end up playing varsity under the stadium lights on a Friday night, something that each player looks forward to. According to Taylor Jiral, team captain and student at Cinco Ranch High School, Fridays
are synonymous with football. “All I can think about is the game. After school we go straight to the meeting room and prepare as a team for our games. We get in the zone and focused for the task ahead of us.”

Taylor Mustang Eddie Schwarz is looking forward to competing with this teammates and winning this season. “We will be making new traditions this year with Coach Herrmann and the coaching staff. I can’t wait to go all out for them and for all of our supporters.”

KM_F_13__football_photo Craig Moseley_khs_asc_3562_4katymag
Traditions run deep in Katy ISD football, and fans look forward to games each season

AWARD-WINNING BANDS
Sounds of School Pride
In the moment before kick-off, it wouldn’t be a football game if there were no drum roll or music to lift the spirits of the fans in the stands and players on the field. That is why the high school band plays such a huge role in encouraging the athletes and keeping the crowd on their feet.

“The band is one of the integral components of the football game that helps cultivate the environment and
create excitement in the stands,” says Michael Ary, newly appointed band director at Taylor High School. Without the dedication and hard work of the band programs, like the eight-hour practices during the weeks before school and regular practices throughout the week, Friday nights at
Rhodes Stadium wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

“Our Katy fans are really spirited,” adds Katy Tiger Nathaniel Hebert. “They make up chants and scream them during the game. They know all of the spirit songs.”

KM_F_14_FNL_SLHS_11_DSC_7153_7x17_pse-3388450573-H_photo by Craig Moseley
Half-time wouldn’t be the same without the carefully choreographed performances of the band and drill team

SPIRIT LEADERS
Rallying the Community
The cheerleaders, mascots, and drill team members boost school spirit with more than their presence at a game. They help rally the community to support their team. “They are responsible for so much more than just sideline cheering,” says Seven Lakes cheer coach Amy Weaston. “We go to Red Ribbon Week, pep rallies, store grand openings, public relations appearances, birthday parties, and homecoming decorating – anything that reminds the public of who we are and what school we represent.”

This involvment in the community is what keeps people filling the stands to root for their school on a Friday night. The drill team members are in charge of decorating players’ lockers to boost morale during the week and practice their half-time routine for hours each day, right up until the moments before they perform.

Darby Boyd, dance instructor and drill team director at Taylor High School, shares what it’s like to watch her team perform on game night. “I love seeing a dance evlove from initial conception, then to teaching it, casting it, and finally perfecting it. It all comes to fruition in the moments the Pacesetters are on the field,” she says. “I am always nervously excited and incredibly proud.”

Student participation is the lifeblood of the crowd, and you can feel their excitement build throughout the game. “We will have a new student section this year nicknamed ‘the Jungle’ that we are really excited about,” explains Ryver Kirk, a cheer captain on the Katy High School varsity squad.

“The THS crowd always loves the chants where we have them repeat after us, getting louder and louder,” says Taylor High School varsity cheerleader Nicole Phillips. “They also seem to love the cheers that include our stunts, which take a lot of practice. And I can’t go without saying they love tumbling. All of our varsity cheerleaders are great tumblers.”

Chloe Rasch - Cinco Ranch HS 3
Varsity squads spend time each week preparing spirit signs and cheers for the game

IN THE STANDS
All for the Fans
Each group plays an important role in encouraging school spirit, but without the fans there would be no one to rally. Lorraine Eberly, cheer coach at Morton Ranch High School, remembers one fan in particular who touched her heart. “There is a little girl named Brittany that comes to every Morton Ranch game. She wears a cheer uniform and sits in the top section, brings posters and noise makers, and leads the 50 yard line crowd during the whole game. She comes down at every game to say, ‘Hi.’ How much sweeter can it get than that?” It’s safe to say that even Katy’s littlest fans love their football.

“I love being on the field and cheering for my team and the people who come out to support us,” adds Mayde Creek spirit
officer Amanda Sprague. “I couldn’t ask for a better squad. They are my family.”

Without the combined efforts of each group and the dedicated fans, Friday night football wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. Katy High School head football coach and athletic coordinator Gary Joseph sums it up when he says, “It takes the coaches, players, school, athletic administration, teachers, student body, band, drill team, cheerleaders, parents, fans, and loyal supporters to have a successful program.” KM

ASHLEY LANCASTER is the Editorial Assistant at Katy Magazine and loves to watch her youngest brother and cousin play football for Katy High School.

Kirsten Cornell is the lead associate editor of Katy Magazine and she’s excited about wearing her spirit shirts to Friday football games this season.

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Katy Offers a Variety of  Fun Family Activities

By Gabbi Browne

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

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

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

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  1. Work on your spike and your baseball swing at Texas One Volleyball.
  2. Attend a horse show at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center.
  3. Join other beginner cyclists at Bike Barn every Saturday morning for a ride through Katy.
  4. Conquer a game of laser tag, try your hand at virtual bowling, or ride the coaster at Tilt Studio.
  5. Let your dog explore the lakes, trees, and fire hydrants in the safe confines of Millie Bush Dog Park.
  6. Learn to swim at any age at Aqua-Tots Swim School.
  7. Challenge yourself in a free Saturday morning community workout at CrossFit Elevate on Katy-Flewellen Rd.
  8. Tee off at Greg Norman’s beautiful Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club.
  9. Enjoy a bag of movie theater popcorn at Cinemark Theater.
  10. Let the kids take advantage of the play area at Drix Restaurant while you enjoy a filet mignon.
  11. Take a tour of the Katy Heritage Society’s historic homes on the first weekend of every month.
  12. Go fishing and feed the ducks at Mary Jo Peckham Park.
  13. Browse the selection of free movies at Katy Branch Library.
  14. Learn how to build your own stream or waterfall at a weekend workshop at Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery.
  15. Find children’s books organized by reading level at The Bookworm Shop in Villagio Town Center.
  16. Check out the vintage John Deere tractors at the Katy Heritage Museum.
  17. Lace up at Mason Road Skate Center.
  18. Interact with your newborn, toddler, or preschooler at one of Cinco Ranch Library’s story times.
  19. Learn to sweep across the dance floor with a partner at Fred Astaire dance studio.
  20. Take a tour of your local Katy fire department firehouse.
  21. Dig up a valuable at Red Bird Antiques in Fulshear.
  22. Exchange used clothing for cash or store credit at Blackbird Trading Company and Plato’s Closet.
  23. Reminisce over vintage candy at the Sweet Tooth Shoppe in Fulshear.
  24. Watch a show at Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center.
  25. Play pool and laser tag at Times Square Entertainment.
  26. Flip and tumble in a free introductory class at The Little Gym.
  27. Develop martial arts skills as a family at Tiger-Rock Martial Arts of Katy or Hwarang Tigers Taekwondo.
  28. Brush off your boots and receive free line dance lessons at Midnight Rodeo every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
  29. Slip a love note in your child’s lunch with supplies from Paper Lane Stationery & Gifts.
  30. Volunteer at Krause Children’s Center, a residential treatment center for abused and neglected children.
  31. Sip a glass of wine and channel your inner Picasso in a painting class at Pinot’s Palette.
  32. Browse over thousands of books, new and used at Katy Budget Books.
  33. Take in live Latin music and sultry moves every Friday and Saturday night at Babaloo International Café and Bar.
  34. Order a custom creation at The Sweet Boutique Bakery.
  35. Treat your family to half-priced happy hour drinks at Sonic from 2 to 4 p.m.
  36. Bring a framed photograph of your dog and receive a free appetizer at Chuy’s.
  37. Take a cake decorating class at Hobby Lobby.
  38. Try on formal dresses at The Silver Hanger.
  39. Pay for the drive-thru order behind you at Chick-fil-a.
  40. Plant flowers from Houston Garden Center.
  41. Let BH Hair Studio smooth your tresses with the Coppola Keratin Complex treatment.
  42. Sip a Strawberries Wild smoothie at Jamba Juice in LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch.
  43. Catch up with a friend over ale and a movie at Alamo Draft House.
  44. Make your own caramel apples, or find instant gratification at The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Katy Mills Mall.
  45. Eat your weight in self-serve frozen yogurt and toppings at Orange Leaf.
  46. Admire the changing leaves on the trails in Stephen F. Austin State Park in Sealy.
  47. Treat your nails to a manicure at Pari’s Gallery Hair Salon and Day Spa.
  48. Warm up at with a bowl of pho, a Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup, at Pho Saigon on Mason Rd.
  49. Check out the fashion and gift items at Texas National Outfitters.
  50. Visit Katy Contemporary Arts Museum for some inspiration.

Please verify business specials and promos by visiting their websites; they may have changed after our print date.

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By Gabbi Browne

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

  1. We have happily discovered children’s audio books at our local library. We check out around five every other week we go to the library. You can really find a lot online and some at your local bookstores. One rule is that no one gets the books to read along, we just have to listen to the CD. Now, if you have one child who can handle the book with care, go for it. With four boys though, it’s easier to just listen. I feel like DVDs have their place for really long trips, but a few audio books mixed in are good for the brain.
  2. Dad’s musical CD pick is a fun way to introduce our children to good music that we enjoy. Raffi and The Wiggles are fine, but after a few times, we need some of our music too. By having a few CDs of our choosing in the front, we can select which songs are all right for our kiddos. For example, we just introduced our children to Johnny Cash’s song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” I thought “A Boy Named Sue” would be a fun song too, but my husband reminded me that at the end it includes a word that is inappropriate for them. So, we were able to pick some songs and leave others for a later time. The boys love it when Dad takes over the music.
  3. Telling a story in parts. One child starts a story by only telling two lines. Then, the other passengers take turns furthering the tale. It is a creative way to spend some miles, and I think it helps children be able to put words on ideas, which is always helpful when in the middle of a tantrum.
  4. Quiet Travel Bags have been a really big hit on the Internet these days. I’ve seen bags that you can make at home on Pinterest and Facebook. Of course, you can always buy some magnetic games for older children to play in the car, but the travel bags that have caught my eye are when you plan ahead and wrap a few activities to be opened at various points of the trip. You can wrap a chapter book, or a travel game, a magazine, a coloring book, a sticker book, or some candy. At the first bathroom break, everyone opens one bag. When you cross the state line, another bag gets opened. After ten minutes of quiet time, another bag gets opened, and so on. It’s quite ingenious.
  5. Lastly, let a road trip be as fun as possible. There will be tantrums, sibling arguments, and maybe even some yelling going on. Try to take a deep breath, realize at the outset that no family’s trip is absolutely perfect, and try to enjoy each other’s company. These are memories in the making, not just the destination, but the journey.
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Katy Treasures: Must-see stops in Katy

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

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

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

Katy Heritage Park
6001 George Bush Dr.
281-395-1124
If you’re interested in the history of Katy, Katy Heritage Park offers free tours of gorgeous historic homes and buildings preserved by the Katy Heritage Society. The park also boasts one-of-a-kind Katy exhibits at the Wright Museum, and is a popular site for local photographers looking for interesting backdrops. Call 281-391-2550 for hours and tour availability.

Katy Mills Mall
5000 Katy Mills Cir.
281-644-5015
Whether you’re hunting a bargain or looking for great entertainment, the Katy Mills Mall is the place to go. This enormous indoor shopping destination features more than 175 stores and outlets as well as multiple dining options and entertainment venues for the whole family.

LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
281-395-5533
Located in the heart of Cinco Ranch, this pedestrian-style shopping experience showcases more than 50 retailers, restaurants, and office spaces. LaCenterra also hosts seasonal events including an annual Fourth of July celebration, visits from Santa, and Mondays with Mommy in the square. It’s newest anchor, Trader Joe’s, is also opening in 2014.

Click for More Must-See Places in Katy!
Click for More Must-See Places in Katy!
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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.
6. Paint ceramics at Plaster Fun House and Ceramics.
7. Get dolled up and go to the Santikos Palladium.
8. Head to a local nail salon for mommy-daughter mani-pedi’s.
9. Order matching pajamas from pajamagram.com and have a mommy-daughter movie night.
10. Go to lunch at D’Amico’s Italian Market Café followed by a movie at Cinemark.

Father & Son

1. Play a round of blacklight miniature golf or laser tag at Tilt Studio.
2.
Hit Midway in historic Katy for some of the best barbecue in town.
3.
Take aim at sporting clays at American Shooting Centers.
4.
Head to Houston Fun Plex for bumper cars, rides, arcade games, and endless play.
5.
Go to Mary Jo Peckham Park or other local pond for a day of fishing.
6.
Enjoy a game of billiards or bowling at Times Square Entertainment.
7.
Practice your golf swing and enjoy some food at TopGolf.
8.
Visit Texas One Athletics and book their batting cage for a half hour of practice.
9.
Go to Katy Mills’ Jump Street for boundless bouncing and fun.
10.
Find your way to Steak ‘n Shake and have a pancake eating contest with their all-you-can-eat pancake special.

Click Here For Our Article With More Ideas Of How To Spend Time Together
Click Here For Our Article With More Ideas Of How To Spend Time Together

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

Written by Katrina Katsarelis and Christen Wilson

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

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

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

Mary Jo Peckham Park
Create memories that your children are sure to cherish for a lifetime. Mary Jo Peckham Park has activities for everyone in your family such as fishing, putt-putt, disc golf, lighted biking and walking trails, playgrounds, gazebos, and indoor exercise.
pct3.hctx.net/parks/maryjopeckham.aspx

Santikos Palladium
This venue provides families with many fun happenings. Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. enjoy “Mommy Matinees,” which have brighter lighting, lower sound, stroller parking, and more. Children under age 3 are free.
santikos.com

Inflatable Katy
This fun house is custom-designed with 16,500 ft. of space for three playrooms, one standard room, and free air hockey. Mini golf, batting cages, and a Eurobungy are right next door if you’d rather take the fun outside. There are six batting cages with dual pitching machines able to accommodate up to four players at one time for baseball or softball hitters.
inflatablekaty.com

Villagio Town Center
Escape to this Tuscan-like Village to your favorite restaurant or yogurt store. Find a seat in the courtyard and enjoy live music or walk around enjoy the picturesque view of the fountain and clock tower. Enjoy reading at the Bookworm Shop if you’re ready to find some good books for everyone in your family.
villagiotowncenter.com

LaCenterra & Central Green
Enjoy the spring weather with some outdoor shopping at LaCenterra. Grab a smoothie or snack at one of the many restaurant options and relax on their new green space, Central Green. In the summer months, Central Green will host movies, concerts, and other family fun activities.
lacenterra.com

Cinemark
Head to the movies at Cinemark for some buttery popcorn and sweet ice cream, enjoy a movie, and hit up the arcade afterwards. If you want to dine before you catch your flick, grab a burger at Red Robin.
cinemark.com

Main Event
Enjoy a night of laser tag, bowling, ice cream, billiards, shuffleboard, and gravity ropes to keep your family adventurous and on their toes. La Bella’s Pizza offers pies with unlimited toppings and multiple sizing options. For dessert, try a slushy or gelato.
mainevent.com

Know of more Katy fun zones? Email us! editor@katymagazine.com

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

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

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

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

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

Inflatable Katy
2482 S. Mason Rd.
281-574-3033 inflatablekaty.com

Jump Street
5000 Katy Mills Cir.
281-347-3911 gotjump.com/katy

The Little Gym of Katy
23010A Highland Knolls
281-347-1400 tlgkatytx.com

Main Event Entertainment
24401 Katy Fwy.
281-394-4800 mainevent.com/locations/katy-tx

Mason Road Skate Center
535 Applewhite Dr.
281-392-9555 masonroadskatecenter.com

Multiplicity
1306 Ave. A
832-437-2442 multiplicity.co

Pigtails & Crewcuts
5131 S. Fry Rd., #500
281-492-6061 pigtailsandcrewcuts.com/katy

Pump it Up
923 S. Mason Rd.
281-829-5777

Smith Ranch
25440 Beckendorff Rd.
281-371-3318 smithranchkaty.com

Snip-Its
6501 S. Fry Rd., #200
281-574-1555 snipits.com

Splatterhouse Paintball
1004 FM 359 S. Brookshire
713-515-1238 splatterhousepaintball.com

The Storybook Cottage
5814 First St.
281-574-5707 thestorybookcottage.com

Texas One Volleyball
6400 block of FM 723 Richmond
281-232-5693 texasonevolleyball.org

Tiger-Rock Martial Arts of Katy
625 S. Mason Rd.
281-829-9300 katytkd.com

Tilt Studio
5000 Katy Mills Circle
281-644-2340 tiltstudio.com

Times Square Entertainment
402 W. Grand Pkwy.
281-395-8550 timessquaretx.com

Know another birthday party place? Email us! editor@katymagazine.com

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Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Cinco Ranch Branch Library

Written by Kirsten Cornell | Photography by Adventure Photo and Design

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

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

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

Art and Composition Competition
Students in who attend schools in precinct 3 are able to enter both art and literary competitions. Winners for the art show, which serves students kindergarten through 12the grade,  will be announced for selections such as best in show, judges’ choice, and individual place ribbons. In addition, best in show winners will also receive a monetary award of $500. “An event such as this helps bring the community together to enjoy and officially recognize our talented young people,” says Meyers.

Literary composition contestants, kindergarten through eighth grade, will have the opportunity to write about what Cinco Ranch Branch Library has meant to them or a favorite memory. “We are creative beings,” explains Meyers. “As such, participating in fine arts allows us to exercise our own creativity and enjoy the creativity of others.”

April 4 6 - 9 p.m. Cinco Ranch Branch Library
April 4
6 – 9 p.m.
Cinco Ranch Branch Library

A Parade of Characters
Kindergartners through third-grade students from any Katy ISD school can participate in the character parade on April 4. “Little ones will have so much fun dressing up as their favorite book character and marching in a parade through LaCenterra,” says Lori Ann Belin, community relations manager for Commissioner Meyer’s office. A first-place trophy and second- and third-place ribbons will be awarded for cutest characters.

“My favorite book as a kid was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain,” recalls Meyers. “Probably because I identified with Huckleberry, an adventurous, mischievous young boy who took life as it came to him and marveled at the wonders and people he encountered.”

The character parade will end at the festival where patrons will find games, a photo booth, fire trucks, a multitude of vendor booths, sweet treats, and door prizes that will be given throughout the event.

Start planning your costume now, and join the fun while supporting Katy ISD students. “We have such extraordinarily talented youth,” says Meyers. “We need to encourage [them] to continue developing their creative skills.” KM

KIRSTEN CORNELL is the lead associate editor of Katy Magazine. Her favorite childhood book character was the unpredictable, Amelia Bedelia.

For more info, contact 281-238-1400

 

 

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

Written by Meagan Clanahan | Select photography by Lindsey Shelburne

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

 

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

The couple married after Adam returned in 2008, only to face another deployment – this time to Afghanistan. “We were newlyweds, and I didn’t have my husband,” Bailey remembers. “My dad passed away a few months before. It was tough.” after a year apart, Adam returned home safely, and Bailey describes that moment as the best feeling of her life besides he birth of her son. “Just seeing him marching in formation and the excitement in the air, then being swept up in his arms, it as just amazing,” says Bailey.

These days, the Laniers appreciate the little things they missed while Adam was serving our ountry. “Things like holding hands, going to Target on a Saturday, playing board games – we love all of those things because we are together,” says Bailey. Their son Wyatt was born in 2012, and the Laniers are adjusting as a family of three. “We know marriage takes work, especially after kids,” says Bailey. “We intentionally put our marriage first.”

MICHAEL AND SHEREE JONES
Through Unimaginable Loss
After noticing each other in a nightclub where he was the DJ, Michael finally scored Sheree’s number by telling her it was the only way he would play her requested song. They were engaged just three weeks after that. Now 32 years later, they complete each other’s sentences and consider themselves best friends. “We have the utmost love, respect, and adoration for each other,” says Michael. “There are not enough hours in the day to be with her.”

 

Mike and Sheree Jones have continued to keep their marriage strong despite financial devastation and the tragic loss of their son
Mike and Sheree Jones have continued to keep their marriage strong despite financial devastation and the tragic loss of their son

It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. After running a successful business together in the 80s, the economy tanked, along with their store and life savings. Michael worked in the transportation industry before entering college at age 40 to pursue his dream of being an engineer. Sheree supported the family as a flight attendant, and together they raised two children, Jessica and Chad. With his wife’s encouragement, Michael graduated from the University of Houston with top marks at the age of 50.

Tragically, in 2009 they lost their son Chad in a devastating motorcycle accident (which was featured in Katy Magazine spring 2011). Much of their time together is now devoted to raising awareness for organ donation through donate 4 Life and Organ Donor Hall of Fame in celebration of Chad and his own life-giving donations. As it always has been, communication remains a key in their marriage. “I can tell him when I am having a ‘bad Chad day,’ and he can do the same,” Sheree says. “Luckily, we never have those days at the same time, so we can truly support each other through the hard ones.” Above all else, they value what they said over 32 years ago. “We are in this in sickness and health,” says Michael. “Till death do us part. I just hope I go before her.”

TERRY AND SUSAN SOWELL
Healing Together
When Susan moved to Katy at 24 years old, the last thing on her mind was finding a husband. More than anything, she was looking for a way to grow in her relationship with God after a dysfunctional and tragic childhood. That passion led her to a Sunday night Bible study at Kingsland Baptist Church – the same Bible study Terry was attending for almost the same reasons. After a few casual encounters, they both knew God brought them together.

After experiencing God's healing love through their spouse, Terry and Susan Sowell now mentor other young married couples
After experiencing God’s healing love through their spouse, Terry and Susan Sowell now mentor other young married couples

The first year was rocky. “I didn’t have the first clue how to be a wife,” Susan says. “I was still healing from my previous hurts and I had to get to a place where I knew my value was in God. I spent that first year in therapy,” she explains. Terry could have just walked away, but he was so committed to the marriage – so good to me.” Together they have spent the last 23 years not only working to break the generational cycle of darkness and dysfunction they both experienced, but also ministering to and mentoring other couples. “We tell them if God rescued us, he can rescue anybody,” she says. “We both had so much brokenness.”

Terry and Susan find joy in the everyday things, whether it’s two-stepping around their living room late at night, fishing together, or going for a walk. “We truly are each other’s best friends and we have a great romantic relationship,” says Susan. “He thinks I am beautiful and adores me, and I adore him. He is the man God used to show me the love of Christ.”

DIRK AND KATHY SMIT
Through Sickness and Health
Dirk and Kathy Smit recently commemorated 40 years of marriage. They’ve come a long way from their college days, when Dirk first caught Kathy’s attention by pouring a bucket of cold water over her head. Early years of marriage found them living in a miner’s shack on a dairy farm, and since then they’ve lived in 15 other places while raising four children.

After 40 years of marriage, multiple moves, and ongoing bouts with cancer, Dirk and Kathy Smit still adore one another
After 40 years of marriage, multiple moves, and ongoing bouts with cancer, Dirk and Kathy Smit still adore one another

 

Dirk recalls thinking early on, “We’re married, so magically everything will just work out.” As he matured, something his grandpa said finally made sense to him: “Marriage is 100/100, not 50/50.” Kathy also remembers her “ah-hah” moment. “I finally came to the realization that Dirk couldn’t be my god to make me happy. I had to find my own worth in God first.” This change in perspective helped smooth the path as they faced two frightening cancer diagnoses: Kathy at 38 with colon cancer and Dirk in 2006 with two different forms of NonHodgkin’s Lymphoma. While Kathy’s cancer has never returned, Dirk continues his battle. He successfully underwent chemotherapy in 2007 and 2008, but still requires frequent check-ups and may require more chemo in the future. “I couldn’t have gotten through it or come this far without Kathy,” he states. “She comforted me. She was my advocate.”

The Smits have learned that life is a precious gift. “We want to make it more fun, have more joy, and deepen our bond with each other and with God,” Kathy says. Dirk agrees, “We know that God gives you the grace to get through whatever season,” he says. “True peace comes from grabbing that grace.” It also comes from grabbing his wife’s hand as they gaze adoringly at each other, just like newlyweds, only 40 years later.

RON AND LINDA RICHARDS
Beating the Odds
Thirty-six years ago, not many would have predicted Ron and Linda Richards would have made it this far. Married at 16, they have defied probability and have found immeasurable joy in their union. However, their life together has not been without tragedy. When their daughter Chrysta was 2 years old and Linda was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, the couple was in a terrible car accident. Ron suffered serious injuries, but the most heartbreaking loss was that of their unborn son. Another miscarriage followed. They finally welcomed their son Erik in 1991.

 

Married at 16, soulmates Ron and Linda Richards have defied the odds despite suffering indescribable loss
Married at 16, soulmates Ron and Linda Richards have defied the odds despite suffering indescribable loss

Through those dark times and the years that followed, Linda says, “We’ve always been able to talk about everything. Ron is my rock and best friend.” In a time where spouses may not always communicate about everything, they believe honesty and transparency are the keys to a successful marriage. “We work together on everything and consult each other on everything,” Linda says. It doesn’t hurt that Ron is wonderfully agreeable, even tagging along during her shopping adventures.

“We both found our soulmates young,” Linda says. “It hasn’t always been easy. But the good times have been so much more prevalent than the bad.”

MEAGAN CLANAHAN married her soulmate 10 years ago and found inspiration in each one of these extraordinary couples’ love stories.

http://www.katymagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/katy-texas-marriage-for-keeps-in-katy-katy-tx.pdf

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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.”

A Special Bond in Katy, Texas
For 9-year-old twin sisters Amorie and Mackenzy Meadows, being in tune with each other and their feelings is nothing new. “Once when Amorie was in Meixco and I was in Texas, I knew she did not feel well and was crying so I asked my mom to call and check on her. I was about 4 years old,” recalls Mackenzy.  “She was so sure that something was wrong so I called and sure enough, she was crying,” confirms mother Bethany Geiman. “It was strange because she had not spoken to her at all that day yet she knew.”

Mackenzy (purple) and Amorie Meadows at their home in Katy by Lindsey Shelburne-2Amoire and Mackenzy Meadows

Deanna Wygal, mother of 13-year-old twins Devin and Dylan, remembers an instance when she was downstairs with Devin watching a TV program about twin telepathy which prompted her to ask him if he knew what Dylan was thinking who was upstairs. When he replied no, she asked him what he was thinking about. “He told me ‘donuts’ and we just laughed about it,” Deanna says. A few minutes later when Dylan headed downstairs they told him about the program and asked him what Devin had been thinking about. “He just said I was crazy,” laughs Deanna. “When I asked him to just guess he replied, ‘I don’t know mom, donuts.’ Devin’s eyes just went wide, donuts was such a random word and had no meaning to Devin.” Devin had been sitting with his mom the entire time and had no contact with his brother prior to the conversation.

DevonandDylanatCincoRanchHighSchoolbyLindseyShelburneofLindseyLouisePhotography-6Devin and Dylan Wygal

Some twins often experience Idioglossia or “twin talk”, as it’s commonly referred to. A seemingly secret language understood only by the twins themselves. “When we were younger, we made up code words and a secret language just to pick on my mom,” shares Carol Franklin with a laugh. “The more confused she got, the more fun we had with it.” Even when mirror twins Carol and Christie tried to let their mom in on their conversation, she still found it difficult to understand and was unable to participate.

“We are always on the same brain wave,” shares Christie. “We can tell what each other wants to do or say without speaking a word. It is actually weird sometimes – I can just give her a head nod and she knows exactly what I’m talking about.” Carol agrees saying that with simple eye contact, she can understand exactly what Christie is feeling in that exact moment. “Now we have a sort of unspoken twin language. We can read each other from a pause in conversation, a tiny sigh, or a sarcastic comment. It drives my husband crazy when we’re together,” she says.

Carol Franklin and Christie Mewis at LaCenterra by Lindsey Shelburne-19Carol and Christie

Deanna also remembers when her boys were younger, they would babble back and forth seemingly in intense conversation understanding perfectly what the other was saying. “They are very close and we can see that they have a special bond,” she shares.

Double the Fun in Katy, Texas
In addition to double the toys and a person to share closets with, identical twins relish the fact that they always have a pal they can count on nearby. “I always have someone to hang out with, we are best friends,” shares Dylan. Both students at Cinco Ranch Junior High School, the boys enjoy football, basketball, fishing, paintball, share the same tastes in music, and run with the same circle of friends.

“Being a twin is awesome. There are more clothes, more candy, and less work,” says Mackenzy. “We both love to play outside, visit our grandparents, and play with our baby brother Coby,” Amorie adds.

Being look-alikes can certainly pose its advantages, especially when it comes to sharing in a good-natured prank. “We tricked our teachers one year on April Fool’s Day by switching classes,” Dylan says with a grin. “They didn’t even notice until they were told what we had done.”

For Christie and Carol, their hands-down favorite thing about being a twin was being born with their best friend already in place. “I always have a partner in crime,” shares Christie. “She always has my back and is my number one protector.” Besides having someone she could depend on, Carol appreciates the fact that her sister drove her to be a better person. “She pushed me to go outside of my comfort zone and to accomplish things that I was scared of doing.”

Challenging Comparisons
Being treated as an individual often poses a challenge twins. People often compare them and lose sight of the fact that they are not a match set, but a pair of individuals defining their own paths.  “Many times, I would have to really sit back and contemplate if I wanted to do something because I really wanted to, or because Christie did,” says Carol.

“It can be difficult when one of us does better at something than the other,” says Devin. “And when people compare us,” adds Dylan.

Carol remembers being asked questions such as Are you the pretty one or the ugly one? Are you the smart one or the dumb one? Are you the good twin or the evil twin? “I would politely answer that I was the smart, good twin,” she says. “Christie would say that she was the pretty smart, evil, athletically gifted twin.”

Competition amongst them, while somewhat healthy, often proved stressful at times. “We turned everything into a competition,” says Carol, admitting that they still do although it is much friendlier now.  “It helped us excel in sports but it was also very tiring. No matter what I accomplished, I always felt like she outperformed me, it was difficult to handle at times.”

“As a twin it is a challenge to make sure that we are both happy and equal,” shares Christie. “Although I always know that she would be happy for me, I also want her to feel like we have the same opportunities to be successful in our lives.”

Unbreakable Bond in Katy, Texas
Beyond the built-in playmate and despite double the clothing to put away on laundry day, all agree that growing up as twin is a unique experience providing tremendous benefit. “We appreciate that we are always there for each other,” Devin and Dylan agree. “If one of us is having a bad day or has a problem, we are always there to help each other get through it.”

“My sister is willing to stop whatever she is doing in my time of need. But I most appreciate the fact that just lets me be me,” says Carol. “I am always there to defend her, protect her, cheer for her, and love her.”

“I can always make her laugh when she is having a bad day,” Christie says with a smile. “And she would drive around the world and back just to make sure that I am happy.”

 

KIRSTEN HAM is the associate editor for Katy Magazine and has always been fascinated by twins, especially her fraternal twin cousins, Rebekah and Courtney.

www.katymagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/katy-texas-the-twin-connection-katy-tx.pdf

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

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

1.) Go in the morning–Whole Foods, like most supermarkets, are busiest on weekend mornings. People-watching can be fun for children, but being stuck in aisle after aisle is not. So, go when you’ll have a lot of space to yourselves. Mornings are also a better choice because of number two on the list.

2.) Sample the food. This is iffy for a lot of parents. Do you trust the food that’s unsupervised? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I just can’t bring myself to give my children the food on the bottom of the sample display. That’s why we go early in the morning. Less touched food means safer. Which leads to number three.

3.) Whole Foods has a free fruit stand for children. If the samples look picked-through, or if your kids want a bigger treat, swing by the front desk. We enjoyed two bananas and a clementine. I steered clear of the apples since I wasn’t sure if they were washed. You can always bring your own snacks, too. You know your own children’s likes.

4.) I like it when a place is really child-friendly. Whole Foods shows they are by having lots of tables inside and out where families can sit and enjoy the food they buy at the buffet or sandwich or pizza counter. And how cool is it that there are also a few child-size tables so everyone feels welcome?

5.) Feel free to use a supermarket outing to help teach things like healthy choices, which price is higher, shapes and colors, bigger/smaller portions, or how many of this item do we need to buy to serve our family? It’s also another great chance to practice meeting people like the workers behind the fish, meat, pizza, flower counters.

I hope you utilize Whole Foods to enjoy a morning out with your children. I am sure some of these same things can be done at most other markets. Where do you go with your children to have some fun (and maybe get an errand done at the same time?) We’d love to hear from you.

 

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

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

Second, get a small prize for the end of the treasure hunt. You can’t have a hunt without treasure. I use small things so that my son doesn’t get disappointed when the treasure is not huge. A Hot Wheels car, a fun looking note pad and pencil, a reward for an ice cream cone, or a coupon allowing him to stay up past his bedtime all have been hits. If your child likes something in particular, chances are you can find something inexpensive at Target or Amazon that deals with that interest.

Next, write up some notes that will guide your child through the hunt. For example, we usually start at the table where I have put a half-finished puzzle. The clue says, “Finish this puzzle, then go to the place where all the bath towels are.” My son needs to work on fine motor skills, so a puzzle is perfect. But, if I would have just asked him to do a puzzle, he would have politely declined. Putting it in as a treasure hunt makes it fun.

At the towel closet, he will find a piece of paper or little chalkboard where he has to write his name three times. After that, he heads to his bedroom for a few rounds of a matching game I have laid out. Then it’s on to something physical, just so he doesn’t think it’s all work. One clue would be to choose one song off his favorite CD and dance to it, or to do ten jumping jacks, or to line up ten cars into a color pattern. Sometimes he gets to choose one page of a skills workbook to do. Maybe he’ll have to string some beads or cut and paste. Whatever it is,it has to be brief, and it has to be mixed up with some goofiness.

At the end, he will be led to the treasure. And he will ask the next night to do it again. One other aspect of our treasure hunts is that Dad does it with him. It is a time for them to bond, and that is the treasure I get out of it!

So, how do you reinforce some important school skills? Any hints or tips that have worked for you are always appreciated. Let’s help our children and have fun while we’re at it; we’d love to hear from you.

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

  1. Head to Mary Jo Peckham Park. Spend the day, or at least several hours. Picnic, play mini-golf, walk, bring the bikes in the car to ride around the park. Pack some bread for the ducks and some bubbles for the kids. Make the car ride to the park all about how family members show their love to one another. It’s an attitude of gratitude.
  2. Ritter’s Frozen Custard is a wonderful place to take the family for a sweet treat. Besides custard, they offer frozen ice and shakes. Share a banana split with the kids, or be adventurous and have everyone order someone else’s treat. You may end up with something new, but it will be delicious–trust me!
  3. Cut out some hearts–or even use regular Post-It notes. On each one, write something you love about your child and then stick them all on your child’s door so he sees them when he wakes up. Plan to spend some time going over the notes. Keep these as mementos.
  4. Meals are important. You can make a “red” meal – spaghetti with meatballs, red jello, strawberries and cream. Or, make pancakes and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make the meal special.

What are your plans? Share with us so we can prepare!

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Family-Friendly Ways to Stay Cool in Katy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.
My husband is a sweetheart – especially when it comes to my attempts at being Katy’s version of the Pioneer Woman or the chefs on those challenge shows. How do they decorate cakes taller than me in a few hours? How does she make a week of meals out of one day of cooking? How does he know when to flip those burgers on the grill and still keep them juicy? I shout out these questions, and my husband listens as all responsible husbands do.

“Where are the pineapple pork chops?” he asks when I set before him grilled cheese and tomato soup. “Didn’t work out right,” I answer.

“Oh. Well, I like anything you make me. Thank you for a lovely dinner.” And he means it! One time I bought some frozen tilapia to use in a Bobby Flay recipe. Somehow, my fish ended up tasting, quite literally, like dirt. I couldn’t serve them. (It was reminiscent of the time I tried to make the Barefoot Contessa’s Irish Soda Bread one March. More flour ended up on the floor and on me than in the dough. He told me the bread was just delicious.)

Anyway, I thought of those quick-thinking chefs on Chopped and ran to the pantry, opened up some black beans, and began heating some frozen peppers. I prayed we still had some tortillas left (we did!) and then magically microwaved cheese over nachos. My husband loved that just as much as he would have loved Bobby’s tilapia.

So, it doesn’t matter if you can make 10 meals out of one or if you can manage to homeschool, blog, take wonderful photographs, write cookbooks, and still get a scrumptious dinner out each day. I think as long as you can manage to get a dinner on the table most days, your family will appreciate you. Of course, we keep plenty of take-out menus on hand for days when even a home-cooked dinner is too much to ask for!

Do you enjoy or revile cooking shows? We’d love to hear from you about your Katy cooking adventures!

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

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

Here are my current top five things for which to be grateful. Perhaps your list is similar? We’d love to know!

1.    Children’s laughter. As our triplets turn 2 and become more aware of their surroundings, we hear a lot of laughter. They enjoy interacting with us and with their big brother, who of course, loves to add to all the fun. I have read in some articles that harried moms and dads can defuse a negative behavior by doing something funny for the child to laugh at. I have tried this and it usually works.

2.    Family. I try to call or email members of my family each day. It can sometimes be a long conversation, but it’s usually a shorter, “How are you?” type of communication. Family helps me stay grounded, and after being around children most of the day, even if they are laughing, I often need some adult conversation.

3.    Food. My husband recently volunteered at the Houston Food Bank. He was astonished to learn that most of the people they serve are working families who just can’t afford enough food for the month. I work hard to use up every grocery item and cringe when something goes bad before I can use it.

4.    Quiet time. This is one that I have recently learned to appreciate more. With young children, it is also one that I have had to create for myself. I now wake up at least an hour earlier than they usually do just to see my husband off to work and then to have a little time to prepare for the day. When I wake up just a few minutes before the children, I find that my morning is rushed and I am grouchy.

5.    Katy, Texas. I love living here! From the beautiful parks to the great restaurants, I appreciate that we decided to move here. There isn’t much that Katy doesn’t have: Great grocery stores and shopping are just the tip of what the city has to offer. My husband and I love Alamo Drafthouse and mini golf. My mom can have a spa day right here in Katy, and great hospitals are just up the road. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Please add to my list. What can you be grateful for this month – and all year long?

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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.
My husband maneuvered the quad stroller through the aisles, while I pushed the nearly overflowing cart. Any parent can tell you how much space baby wipes, Pediasure, and diapers can quickly take up in an ordinary cart. The babies drew all kinds of nice looks. They were having a swell time. Older brother got a toy. All were happy – including the adults.

What struck us about this trip out were two strangers whom we met. That’s what this blog is about: you Katyites! I wanted to let you know that kindness in our city is alive and well. The first person was the cashier. He was a teenager just doing his job. As he scanned our items, he asked my husband about the boys. The usual – ages, names, how much work is involved with multiples and a 4-year-old. Then he said, “I’ve seen a lot of kids here. Yours are the best behaved.”

I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe this young man says this to everyone. But it made our day, since we had been so hesitant to “bother” people and cause a scene in public. It’s hard work to load everyone up and get a simple shopping trip done. His words were gold.

As we were leaving, the rain began – more of a downpour, really. My husband took the shopping cart and older brother and ran to the van. I followed once I saw he had the doors open. I put the babies in through the back and buckled them in, folded the stroller, and shut the back. My husband took care of the groceries and buckling in the other.

We were drenched, but at least we were almost in the car. All of a sudden, a kind woman yelled out to us from her car. The diapers! We had left the box of diapers on the bottom of the cart. Thirty some odd dollars and some very useful diapers could have been left behind to be either destroyed by rain or stolen and sold back by another, not so helpful, stranger.

We thanked the woman profusely. She said, “I was watching you two move so fast, I couldn’t let you forget the diapers in the rain.” Now it’s your turn, Katy readers. Share with us the kindness you have observed or been on the generous end of. It really made our day and gave us confidence that we can take our beautiful family out without too much doubt! Email editor@katymagazine.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finding Holiday Fun Close to Katy

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

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

I was really happy to go to such a different place so close to home. We read about animals a lot at home, and here our son was able to pet a goat, feed ducks, and see real live geese that come right up to you if you let them.

Our boy who resists eating vegetables had a blast (okay, we all did) rolling around in The Corn Crib, a barn that is full of corn kernels and toy trucks to play in. We all were excited to play on a farm-like playground that was designated for small children only. Older kids found another fort-like area on which to spend some time.

We rode bikes, watched our son use up some of that energy that only young children seem to have as he jumped on bouncy pillows – similar to a bouncy house, but only the bottom part. My husband and son rode Texas’ longest barrel train twice (that was free, by the way.). We couldn’t get him to try the tall slide that was built into the side of a pretty big hill. He promised next year he would try. There are a lot of other things to do at the Farm. It is a lovely, country place.

Dewberry Farms also sells Christmas trees. We had intended to take the tractor hayride out to the fields to choose one but everyone was getting tired and hungry, so we will plan better next year and do that first.

I am certain that families can have a blast and a real bonding experience just about anywhere. I was just glad that we finally drove a bit past Katy Mills Mall and found a haven of educational, innocent, family fun. We will make it our annual trip.

Have you found a place that is a real gem for families? Please share your experiences so we all can benefit.

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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.

Sight
We don’t really get to enjoy fall colors in our area, and with the drought and fires, even east Texas may be hurting for fall foliage this year. If you want changing trees, you have to get creative. Easy leaf templates can be found online. Print some out on orange, yellow, and red construction paper. Talk with your children about kinds of leaves and the trees they come from. Which state has the largest tree population? What kind of trees does Texas have? Use your leaf cut-outs as decorations for your table or write the names of people you want to remember to be thankful for during this season.

Smell
This is an easy and fun sense to celebrate. The fall is made for apples, pears, dates, and kale (yes, for the healthier bunch!). Head over to Katy Budget Books for a cookbook and have some fun with your family concocting some delicious smells. Make 2011 the year to experiment with different recipes. Besides food, I smelled (before I saw) some of those cinnamon brooms that are around stores. Even though it’s 98 degrees today doesn’t mean you can’t smell autumnal!

Taste
This goes along with smelling, of course, but also you can take it a step further and invite some people who really need cheering up. This season is centered around family meals. If you know of a co-worker, a neighbor, or a teacher who is alone right now, invite them over for a day of baking or for cider and football. Adult friends can savor fall wines and enjoy food and wine pairings.

Hearing
Don’t you hear the sound of the fall leaves crunching and the cool winds blowing? No? How about hearing the sounds of fall at the Katy Rice Harvest Festival or the various bazaars around our community? Bingo games, auctions, music, the sound of pumpkins growing…perfect!

Touch

As I said before, this season is one of family and friends. Make it a point to reach out to those who may hate this season. Those who have lost a loved one or whose financial circumstances prevent celebrations are especially in need of compassion – and not just on Thanksgiving Day. Letting others know we care is a lesson we should pass on to our children. The more they see us doing it, the more likely they will grow up into caring, sensitive, and helping adults.

What did I miss? How can you be creative this wonderful season? Let us know!

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Enjoying Katy ISD Sports at a Young Age

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

So much to learn!

My husband and I have decided that it is time our four-year-old sports fan attend some games around Katy. Forget the Texans, they plan to head out to local high schools to watch some practices and, of course, to Rhodes Stadium. My husband is researching school colors and players so that he can share details about each game. I am looking forward to seeing the bands and the drill teams.

Meanwhile, our son is also concerned with what food they’ll find at the games and whether Mom will let him eat hot dogs and popcorn. On my side, hot dogs and popcorn have always been on that scary “Forbidden Foods” list that doctors give out. I wasn’t going to let our children eat them until they were maybe 10!

Now that games our part of our weekly fun, I hope that our son learns to understand and appreciate football and the hard work that coaches, parents, and players put into it. I say appreciate the game because Mom’s not sure if she’s going to let him ever play it!

Do you have Katy football fun planned for your fall? Share some stories with us about how your family prepares for the big game.

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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!

Like many other parents these days, my husband and I feel like we should give our children every opportunity that we can to explore and excel in as many sports as possible.  They need the exercise and who knows if they get really good at it, it might help them enroll in or maybe even get a scholar ship to a good college.  We have two girls aged 8 and 10 who are completely averse to any type of physical activity and do not have an ounce of competitive spirit between them.  They are straight-A students who play the piano beautifully, but they really needed to be involved in a team sport.

We tried soccer, the one on one practices were fine, but whenever they saw the opposing team running towards them for the ball our two girls would run off the field screaming for their lives.  We tried tennis and gave that up too when we watched them unsuccessfully dodge the tennis ball.  And so came and went a few other sports.

But this summer we enrolled them on a swim team.  They both know how to swim, no one is coming at them or after them and there are no balls involved, so how hard can that be?  The pool where the team practices is not far from our house, we can ride our bikes there so we set out for our first practice in high spirits. And we were not disappointed!

Both my daughters thought it was fun and a lot of the other kids were from their school so it felt like play time.  But when they realized that they had to swim for 45 minutes to an hour every day and do as many as 40 to 50 laps, the whining and the complaining started.  First they protested then their bodies protested.  Sore muscles, summer feet, water in the ears and everything that goes with being in a community pool for prolonged hours.  And that’s just the kids; we as parents had to learn a lot of things too.

I am not sure about the other swim teams out there, but the one we were part of has swimmers of all calibers, in every age group.  There were some kids who were first timers, and there were some who have been competing since the age of 5.  Here are some of the things parents of first timers must know: your kids are not going off to the junior Olympics after two seasons of a summer swim league, in fact your kids might not even get to swim in every event at a swim meet. Don’t get frustrated.

What you can do is to take your kids to every practice and every meet, and encourage them in every way possible.  The practices are gruesome; you do not get to sleep in when school is over.  And the swim meets were a revelation of their own; they last for hours and are chaotic at best.  By the end of the season, we are nowhere near our goal of a college scholar ship, but our kids are better swimmers, they had lots of fun, made many new friends and learned how to be part of a team.

Swimming seems to be a risk free and fun sport, so why not enroll in long term team?  When both our kids tried out and made it into such a team, I proudly told the new coach that they swam in a summer league and she said “Oh, compared to this that is like play time.”  We are in for a very long year!

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Experiencing New Culture in Katy

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

The prices were comparable, and in some cases, better than the general market’s.  I found the tofu I had been searching for, grabbed some wonderful Tzitziki sauce, and overindulged in teas, spices, and olives.  The pita bread I bought fresh from the in-house bakery was so chewy and delightful, that a day later, the kids have almost finished it.  I’m definitely going to get more of that next time, and bake it gently to make pita chips for the kids.

Later at home, Ghizal helped me cook yet another native Afghani dish, her ground turkey meatballs, as I provided a healthy and delicious Middle Eastern dinner for my family.  For sides, I made brown basmati rice in chicken broth and popped a fresh frozen bag of veggies in the microwave, adding some cumin and lemon pepper to them for great pizzazz in just minutes.  Frozen veggies are such a smart choice, as the vitamins and minerals in them are well-preserved from the freezing process.

I noticed recently something that has been resonating in me the more Ghizal and I get to know each other.  No matter what the obvious and fascinating differences in our cultures, the more we realize we are also alike.  The Hispanic and the Middle Eastern cultures are so similar in traditions, flavors, values, and other areas.  It is a fun experience to learn more about each other, and what we value most.  She is even teaching me some Dari, her native language.

All cultures are valuable, with something wonderful to instill in others, and I am learning this all over again firsthand.  What other culture are you currently experiencing (or desire to), and how do you embrace those moments?

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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.

Breakfast on the weekends at our house is always a big deal, since there is time to not only create, but enjoy, a fuller spread than on rushed weekday mornings. As I prepared yet another version of my healthy iced coffee for us, and started flipping low-sugar pancakes, my seven year old daughter GiGi exclaimed, “Mom, this is the best weekend ever!â”

She has been looking forward to this weekend for many reasons (she knows there will be an egg hunt on Sunday), but the simplest reason has already been the most rewarding for her – I promised her iced coffee. She asked for it all week, but I just didn’t think it would be right to send her off to first grade, hopped up on full strength coffee. So I told her to wait until the weekend, and now we’re here, and her craving is satisfied. Her proclamation of the “best weekend” is also tied to the fact that she doesn’t love school right now, so she realized this morning that she’s already having this much fun, and – it isn’t even Saturday yet.

That is what I love about kids, and the way they see life – all it takes sometimes is pancakes and iced coffee to make their day. The best things in life really are free when you’re seven. These are the things that really matter, aren’t they?

The Blanco kids enjoy a special treat on their day off from school - iced coffee.
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A Trip to the Rodeo Makes for a Memorable Day

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

At the Rodeo, we experienced the carnival, animal displays and petting zoos.  We got to feed baby goats, hug chickens, and watch a new baby chick hatch right in front of our eyes.  We got to plant sunflower seeds (which are now happily sprouting here in our home garden.) and hold squiggling worms, and even accidently stepped in pig poop.  We saw brand new pink baby pigs scramble to get food from mama pig.  We got to watch new, gangly-legged black lambs nudge each other to get up and romp.  Hugging the neck of a real-live llama was fun, then giggling as a chicken and a baby goat both climbed up on its back, plopping down for a nap.

It was a stimulating day, and as we loved on the overly-loved animals in the petting zoo, our stomachs started rumbling.  It didn’t help that the scents of barbeque, tacos, hamburgers, pizza, and other awesome fair food were in the air.  We had sausage on a stick, nachos, corndogs, and brisket.  Yummy, so, so fun to get unhealthy for a day.

Jovanni was on a winning streak at the carnival’s game booths, bringing home assorted stuffed critters and cheap plastic toys.  He scaled the climbing wall quickly, then repelled down again, all grins.  The girls rode the pink elephants, their hair blowing wild around their smiling faces.  Sophi started out strong on the jungle gym, but eventually had to be carried, petrified, by the nice ticket man across the rope-held bridge.  Too much fun.

Exhausted, we happily collapsed later that night in our own beds back home.  Time well spent on memories and experiences.

Did you visit the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show this year? What funny or interesting things did you experience?

The petting zoo was a favorite spot.
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Enjoying Weather, Nature and Making Memories

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

Riding their bicycles, catching frogs, blowing bubbles, playing with sidewalk chalk, and helping us garden are the activities of the day now. The hillbillies that my kids are, bare feet and comfortable is the dress code. I’m soaking it up. My fondest childhood memories are wrapped around similar activities with my parents at the farm in Illinois. We caught frogs, too, and ran wild in the green grass, dug in the dirt with my gardening mama, and re-entered a warmer world every spring, just free to be.

So this weekend, when I rallied the family lawn crew to help cut, trim, sweep, and plant, the kids squealed in delight and argued over who got to do what. We were all out there, our man Daddy pushing the mower and manning the trimmer. Jovanni was master yard cleanup foreman, and the girls just giggled and swept. Even Sophi had fun helping.

It is fun to see last year’s bulbs reappear as fresh new spears of potential color. The new flowers are settling in, and their blooms are vibrant pinks, purples, and oranges as they have begun liking their new home. The grass is thick and beautiful, and the new avocado and lime trees are sprouting new growth and even blooming. The hyacinth is the queen beauty, showing off her big, tropical pink-orange blooms.

Between the kids and the plants, I guess you could say we’re all one big, growing family.

What are you and your family doing outside in Katy this spring? We would love to hear your ideas on fun and rewarding outside family activities.

Rallying the family to help out with lawn chores is a great way to enjoy springtime weather.
Signs of spring are popping up all over Katy!
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Time to Fire Up the Grill and Barbecue pit as Temperatures Rise

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

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

1.  Prep is the key. Yep, you can grill just about anything, but for the best results, remember that preparation, marinating, and timing are very important.  For meats like steaks, chops, and ribs – rubs and seasoning mixes are the best.  Thicker steaks, though, should be marinated in liquid to help retain the natural juices.  Chicken is best when marinated for an hour or so to help hold in the moisture and tenderness.  Veggies, like asparagus, zucchini, and kabobs, can be basted in olive oil, or lemon butter.  Fish is best buttered or oiled, as well, with herb seasonings like lemon pepper and fresh rosemary.  It’s a personal taste preference, ultimately, so experiment with the methods until you find the ways you like it.

2.  Creativity gone wild. One of the reasons I love grilling is because you can cook everything on there.  Get creative, research fun recipe combinations, and realize that there is no limit for what you can grill to eat.  Succulent fruits are all the rage now, and my family and I love pineapple grilled with fish or chicken, or even an Asian-inspired marinated steak.  Peaches, apples, and even bananas can be grilled as well.  Kabobs are so much fun, mixing healthy, ripe veggies with some chunks of chicken or pork.

3.  Cleanup is minimal. In addition to keeping the heat outside of the house, grilling cleanup is so easy.  Using things like aluminum foil and pans placed right on the grill surface will also add to the ease of clearing away the dinner dishes.  Use oil sprays straight on the grill surface before placing the meat or veggies for less stickiness.  Family members will be volunteering to be cleanup crew when you barbeque.

4.  Burn not, want not. One of the dreaded results of the family grillout is the great BURN.  To achieve cooked meat without a black, crispy shell, watch the temperature on the grill.  If you are using a charcoal burning grill, try not to use lighter fluid to light the fire, as this will leave your food with more marinating than you bargained for.  Wait until the fire has burned low to no visible flames, and more of an ember glow.  The gas grills (my personal favorite.) are a little less maintenance, and don’t leave unpleasant reminders of the resident pyromaniac’s latest achievement.  The only drawback with them is to plan ahead of time to have propane on hand – there is nothing like plopping the succulent, raw chicken on a grill that burns out halfway through.

5.  The more, the merrier. Food, that is.  A really great grilling tip is to take advantage of having the heat already on, and grill an few extra chicken breasts to store in the fridge for those midweek soups and salads.  We do this every week, and my husband uses them for a quick wrap or salad for work lunches.  The grilled taste keeps the chicken tasting fresh all week, even for picky leftovers people like us.

Did any of these tips help you get motivated to take advantage of the gorgeous spring weather and get outside for an evening in your Katy neighborhood?  I hope so.  Let me know what tips work well for you in your culinary skills at the grill.

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Great Ideas for Spring Break Activities

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

1. Have an experience with nature. Every member of the family can enjoy some aspect of getting out into nature, you will find.  It is refreshing to the soul and body to leave stress, technology, and the hustle of home behind for a couple of hours and just enjoy the breeze through the trees, sound of the birds, and warmth of the sunshine on your skin.  It costs absolutely nothing to take the kids to park, and next to nothing to drive to the nearest State Park.  The experiences and memories for your family, though, will be priceless.

2. Take a road trip. Remember when you were a kid, and the best part of any road trip you took with your family was the anticipation?  That fact hasn’t changed for today’s kids, and to take even a day trip a couple of hours away is exciting and rewarding for the family.  It’s as much fun to a kid to have restroom stops and buy snacks as it is to actually get there.  Once, when we had just moved to Texas, we took a day road trip just to explore this area we now called home.  The trip itself was the destination.  We picked wildflowers, ate ice cream in a quaint neighboring town, and stopped at Whataburger for our dinner.  The kids still talk about that road trip, and the only cost was gas and food.

3. Go camping as a family. If you already have most of the necessary equipment, this is the lowest cost mini-vacation you can get.  Even though you might not be too excited about the thought of packing enough necessities for your entire family to “survive” a day or two in the wilderness, you will be glad once you are there that you did the work.  That’s the only investment in camping – the labor.  The memories you will take away from the experience will be forever imprinted on your kids’ hearts.  Pretty good return, huh?.

4. Do a project together. Kids love to put things together, make things by hand, and experience new things.  Why not do it together?  The bonding that comes from creating something together is powerful and so fun.  Dads, put a model airplane together with your son.  Moms, scrapbook a family album with your daughter.  Better yet, parents –plant a small garden and nurture something living with your kids.  The appreciation your kids will gain for you and your time investment will last forever.

5. Go on a treasure hunt together. This is one of our favorites – go to yard sales or thrift stores together on a “treasure hunt.”  Choose what you are on the hunt for, like books, collectibles, or games, and get excited with your kids when they find their $1 treasure.  It’s a lot of fun, and just costs a dollar.

These are just a few simple ideas to encourage quality time spent with your kids, without breaking the budget.  Do you have other easy ideas for doing something fun in Katy with your kids on the cheap?  Tell us, we’d love to learn more about this.

The Blanco kids enjoy time outdoors.
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A Thoughtful Katy Resident Makes a Family’s Day!

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

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

I was in tears by the time my son Jovanni and I were driving the neighborhood in the mini-van.  I was an emotional mess, due to my sadness, panic, and tremendous guilt that I hadn’t even noticed she was missing the night before.  After a few moments of trying to console me, my mature son straightened up in the passenger seat and declared, “OK, Mom, you can cry.  I’m gonna pray that God helps us find her.”

That’s exactly what he did.  He prayed a heartfelt, passionate prayer in full belief that God would honor his request.  Then he told me, “Mom, let’s go back home, I feel like she’s close to our house.”  I kept quiet, but obediently turned the van around, all while mentally picturing my Yorkie, dead, in one of the neighborhood bayous.

Jovanni and his sister Isabella took off on their bikes, stopping and knocking on every door close to our house, while I made a “wanted” poster with my puppy’s picture on it.  I began to tape it up to the street poles, stop signs, and mail boxes in our neighborhood.  Three cul-de-sacs down from our house, as I was taping up a sign, I heard a shrill bark form the garage of the house right in front of me.  Could that be Lacey?  No, I must be imagining it!  I called out, and whistled.  Now she really started making noise!

That kind lady had put Lacey up for the frozen night in her garage, but now willingly gave her back to me.  I took my shaken puppy home, and yelled for Jovanni and Isabella to come see.  The prodigal puppy was found, and as we tousled and played with our baby again, I gazed with pride on my son.  He looked at me, grinning, and now I cried healthy tears in appreciation for a son who acted in faith.

Moments like these bring a fresh appreciation to us for the privilege of living here in Katy.  Our neighbors are the best, and even though I don’t know that lady’s name, I thank her for being that thoughtful to protect our puppy from the freeze.  It’s good to live in a Katy neighborhood!

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Katy families can pack a lunch and hop on the train

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

The HALS railroad attracts train enthusiasts of all ages who come out to take the railroad’s 6 mile long journey, an excursion lasting about 15 minutes. They even have a specially designed car to accommodate a standard width wheelchair. HALS opens its train rides to the public on the third Saturday of every month, starting in March and running through November, weather permitting. The next Public Run days are Saturday, October 16 and Saturday, November 20 from 9:00 AM through 1:00PM. Special tours can also be arranged by contacting the club. Train rides are free, however, donations are always welcome.

Zube Park, itself is opened from 8:00 AM to dusk, so pack your picnic and make a day of it. To get to Zube Park, drive north on Katy Hockley Cutoff. The Park is located at 17400 Roberts Road just north of Highway 290 in Hockley. (Katy Hockley Cutoff changes names to Roberts Road at 290).

For More Information:
Houston Area Live Steamers
http://www.hals.org

            or write:

Houston Area Live Steamers, Inc.
P. O. Box 215
Hockley, TX 77447-0215

Map to Zube Park:
http://www.hals.org/map.html

Parks Administration  Office:
(281) 496-2177

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‘May the force be with you’ Katy parents

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

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

We began watching Star Wars in order – The Phantom Menace first. Yes, I know…lovely choice for a 6-year-old (and a 4-year-old daughter who has to do everything her big brother does). I watched the whole thing with them, fast forwarding through the scary parts. My kids did not even know that Darth Maul and Qui-Gon had a duel of fates because I did not want to contend with the nightmares that would ensure after watching the red guy with stripes on his face slice Obi Wan with his double light saber. Podracing with Anakin was the best part of the movie. My kids were sucked in by the force – they begged to watch the next one.

So, we watched Attack of the Clones where the conspiracy becomes imminent. The entire family was jumping in our seats at the end of the movie when Master Yoda took off his robe and engaged Dooku in a light saber duel. The Revenge of the Sith was the most scary as the dark side of the force wins through order 66. Anakin becomes Darth Vader as declared by Palpatine, and Padmae gives birth to Luke and Leia before she dies. Finally, after watching I, II, and III, the original trilogy (IV, V, and VI) makes sense. After many afternoons of watching Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, a little bit at a time, my kids immediately said, “Can we start over?!”

Since that time, I have bought Star Wars shirts, Legos, books, light sabers, and figures. My kids con my parents into taking them to Toys R Us to buy more figures! I have downloaded Star Wars music on iTunes. I bought their Halloween costumes in July – Darth Vader and Princess Leia. I raided Katy Budget Books one day with this request: “Please show me where you keep all the Star Wars books.” We found every one of them that day. I’ve enjoyed my kids’ enthusiasm for these movies. The former English teacher in me approves of the archetypal characters and themes as well as the allusions to mythology and the Bible. I also believe that the filmmaking and storytelling are genius. Just like the other obsessions (i.e., Elmo, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Transformers), I know this one will end sometime. In the meantime, I like watching my kids be kids.

Katy moms and dads: What are your kids into these days? Do you have little Storm Troopers in your home? Are you a 1, 2, or 3+ light saber family?

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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…

After resisting for many years, I finally  did it. I became a scrapbooker, much to the delight of Hobby Lobby and Michael’s.  No matter how many supplies I owned, it became an obsession to want more supplies.  I was thrilled with my “new” hobby.  I chose to create chronological albums of my children’s lives that include each month of the year.  After two years of being an official scrapbooker, I became disillusioned by the overwhelming effort it was to make a single page.   For example, if I wanted to make a page of our visit to the zoo, then it would require all (but not limited to) the following: a couple of 12×12 papers of animal print, cardstock, alpha chipboard or alpha die cuts, animal stickers, a cute phrase sticker or rub on, ribbon to match the paper, adhesive for the ribbon, glue dots, fun embellishments, and printed pictures.  Then I would need space and free time.  Scrapbooking wasn’t for me anymore, especially with my two little kids who needed my attention.  I admire all the ladies who are hard-core-weekend retreat-going-scrapbooking enthusiasts.  I marvel at their patience.

I became overjoyed when I discovered digital scrapbooking.  I researched the best software online and then bought it for about $25.  It is very user friendly, and I can now make a beautiful page in just a fraction of the time and cost of the hand made pages.  I entered the world of digital scrapbooking blogs. There are so many women out there with a passion for digital scrapbooking, and they love to share their digital embellishments, papers, and alphas (digikits).  When I say share, I mean it’s FREE to download.  Do a search for free digikits, and you will find that it is endless.  Be careful though…it’s addictive.  Once I have made a page, I save it as a JPG, and then upload it onto one of the many digital printing websites. One 12×12 page typically costs $1.99 to print; I print 20+ pages at a time, and then I wait for the delivery in my mail box.  When I hold my pages in my hands, I am so happy.  I have given away or thrown away most of my supplies.  My craft room has become a study again, and I now need only my pictures on my external hard drive and my laptop to “craft.” 

So, busy Katy moms — If you want to preserve your kids ‘memories (or your own) in a special way but don’t want to spend a fortune on supplies, then consider digital scrapbooking.  Do you have any questions about digital scrapbooking? What are your thoughts about it? Post your comments below.

                                                                                                

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

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

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

This is a great idea, and very affordable.  The average class cost is about $50-$70, and they last as long as one evening to several weeks.  If you would rather learn at your own pace and without the social stimulation, sign up for an online class, and still reap the wonderful reward of knowledge.  These classes are not offered for college credits, but they do further your “degree from the school of hard knocks!”

For further information, you can contact the Community Education Program of Katy ISD at 281-396-6365 or in person at 6301 South Stadium Lane in the KISD Educational Support Center on Monday-Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

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Katy families can enjoy an afternoon of fun and relaxation

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

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

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

There are eight pavilions that can be reserved in advance for large parties. These covered picnic areas include multiple picnic tables, a large barbecue pit, electrical outlets, and a water hose connection. To rent for the entire day, the park administration asks for a $125 check in advance when reserving the space. The money is fully refundable provided the person reserving the space cleans up afterward and providing no damage is left behind. To reserve one of the pavilions, contact Kacie Davis at the Parks Administration Office. The phone number is 281-496-2177 or send an e-mail to Pct3Parks@hctx.net.

Bear Creek Park is open to the public daily from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. It’s located at 3535 War Memorial Drive, but is also accessible from Highway 6, and Clay Road.

To find out more about the park click here. Click here to see a map of the Park.

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Healthy rice cereal treats for your Katy cuties!

Mickey Mouse Treats

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

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

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

Next, I melted Bark chocolate and dipped Mickey’s ears in the chocolate.  I smoothed the line dividing his face from his ears with a spoon and added a drop of chocolate for his nose.  With the remaining chocolate, I drizzled the treat balls.

The Mickey Mouse rice cereal treats were a huge hit at our get-together and with my daughters.  My four-year-old believes anything is possible: she’s asked me next to make a dessert that looks like the Disney Princesses.  I’m not sure how exactly I plan to do that, but she’s thrown down the gauntlet and I plan to respond somehow.

What about you?  What creative things have you done with rice cereal treats?  Post a comment below!

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

An American Alligator at Brazos Bend State Park

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

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

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

The George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park is open every day from 8AM until 10PM. Entrance fees run $5 per person for everyone 13 years or older. Twelve and under are free. From Katy Freeway/I-10, head south on State Highway 99/ Grand Parkway. When SH99 crosses Highway 59 in Sugarland, it changes names to Highway 1462 west. From there, just follow the brown State Park signs until you get there. It’s nearly 30 miles, but well worth the drive.

The Park has a number of online features to check out before you head out:

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A trip to ancient China is only minutes away from Katy

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

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

The biggest and best part of the museum is a recreation of the a 1:2 scale model of the Terra Cotta Army protecting Emperor Qin’s tomb. The original Terra Cotta Army that it was modeled after was discovered in 1973 by a farmer digging a well.

Forbidden Gardens is opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:oo AM until 3:00PM. Ticket prices vary by age: 0-2 years are free, 3-5 years tickets cost $3, kids 6-12 years and senior citizens pay $5 each, and adults are charged $10. Although, for groups of 20 or more, the admission price is reduced to $5 each.

From downtown Katy, take I-10 East (inbound) and exit State highway 99 / Grand Parkway. Turn North until it dead ends into Franz Road.  Turn left on Franz and Forbidden Gardens will be immediately on your right. For more information call at (281) 347-8000 or email at  askus@forbidden-gardens.com. Special tour information can be obtained by e-mailing at  tc@forbidden-gardens.com.

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 (Mostly) sugarless crafting for Katy kids

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

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

One major change this year is that both of my girls are old enough to participate in family crafts. We will be making a large banner for our home on butcher paper. We’ll take the paper outdoors (to the grass) and soak cotton balls in washable paint. The children will throw the cotton balls onto the paper so that they will land with a splat and give a fireworks appearance.

We also plan to make sparklers out of wired star garland (found at the local craft stores) and the cardboard portion of coat hangers. We will stick some garland out of the end of the coat hanger tube and then tape it into place with blue painter’s tape. Follow up with some painting on the cardboard, and we’ve got fireless sparklers.

Our last family craft is making our place mats. If they turn out, I plan to laminate them and use them year after year. My four year old loves to tear paper, so we will make torn-paper American flags. We’ll rip the paper and then glue it in lines across the paper to mimic an American flag.

What about you? How are you celebrating the Fourth of July? Post a comment below!

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

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

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

Warehouse Pool Supply will again be sponsoring the fireworks display at Katy Mills all this year, as the company has for the last two years. The company has given another grant of $15,000 to ensure the fireworks will go off as usual this fourth. Community donations have added and additional $7,000 to the fireworks kitty.

For anyone wishing to make a donation to make this an even bigger display send your donations in checks or cash to:

“Katy Freedom Celebration”
City of Katy
5718 Second Street
Katy, TX 77493 

If you have any questions, send an e-mail to cshafer@cityofkaty.com or call 281-391-4711.

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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.   

As children entered our home, we began a scrapbook for each of them.  I was happy when digital cameras became the norm because we could design and print scrapbook pages on the computer.  I found it saved time if, for family event pages, I made one and simply made a copy for each family member.   I am not a crafty person, so I have tried to keep the books simple and manageable.  

At the end of the school year, I felt happy as our family gathered in the living room to update the scrapbooks.  I noticed the air of pride that emanated from each of my children as they flipped through pages and memories from the past.   So, no matter how many years have gone by, scrapbooks are always doable…and very well worth the effort! 

How do you preserve family memories?  Please share a comment.

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

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

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

Looking to introduce some education into your summer activities then consider visiting one of the wonderful museums in the Houston Museum District. You can read up on all of the museums at the museum district website. Several of the museums are free all the time and many others have special free admission days and times.

Katy is home to one of the most unique museum experiences. The Forbidden Gardens in Katy offers families the chance to learn about the historic past of China and it’s culture. This would be really fun now considering the hit movie Karate Kid that is currently out in theatres. What a great way to incorporate some fun and education!

Houston continues to provide us with many summer options in the fine arts area as well. Music and performance lovers should check out the Miller Outdoor Theatre. They are always hosting great events and it’s always free! If you want assigned, covered seating for any of the performances you can pick up tickets between 10:30 and 1:00 pm on ticketed show days at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office.

Wanting something a little more low key? Katy has so many public parks that are wonderful for walks, runs, picnics and more. Discovery Green in Downtown Houston is also a beautiful place for a stroll. They also host many free events.

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is also a wonderful place to go for a walk and to experience nature.

Whatever you are looking for, Katy and Houston has it and at prices that won’t empty your wallets. What is your favorite Katy summer activity? Share it with us below in a comment.

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A free summer Bible study at The Waters Church in Katy

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

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

This upcoming Tuesday, we will be viewing the second session of the nine session series.  The DVD series is a recording of when Beth Moore taught her Inheritance talks in front of a live audience just last year. 

The first session was incredible.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Although I love Beth Moore’s teachings, I didn’t know how it would translate onto a screen rather than live or via a book.  However, the message was projected onto a large screen and was easy to watch, and the time flew by as I soaked in every word Moore said.  I’ve thought back to the video many times over the past two weeks, and I am really looking forward to the next session.

If you are looking for a Bible study this summer, or have never had a chance to try one out, this is a great one.  There is no homework, book to buy, or purchase of any kind required, and since we meet only every other week, it is very low stress.  While all nine sessions fit together to create the whole message, even just attending one or two sessions would be worth it, in my opinion.  The series is among my favorite that Beth Moore has presented.  It is funny, touching, and challenging.

Do you have a study series on the Bible or Life-Improvement that you are involved in?  Post a comment below!

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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 cool to make and the Scripture stories are chosen to lead each child to realize they are special in the eyes of God and therefore can do things to help others. 
If you are concerned about any “extra” information a particular denomination may give your child, I suggest you volunteer to spend the week helping out at the VBS or talk with the director of the program before signing up. 
The church I am involved with sticks closely to the pre-packaged VBS program. They rely on parents to be the first educators of their children so if parents want to add something, they can do that at home.
Do you have any experience with VBS? Have you volunteered at such a program? I’d love to hear about your involvement in these important weeks for your children!
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Katy resident offers suggestions from local event options to keeping things at home           

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

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

Sam Houston Race Park will be celebrating Father’s Day, this Sunday with live racing, great food and lawn mower races. Some lucky Dads will b selected for the Father’s Day lawn mower race!

Our local Katy Alamo Drafthouse will be showing Mr. Mom in honor of Father’s day this Sunday as well. And don’t forget to check into your favorite local restaurants. Most offer specials on what Dad would like.

You can also stay at home. Lounge in the pool, cookout, make it a family day! Visit the local grocery stores for great specials on cookout essentials. To get some ideas you can also get some ideas from websites like Williams-Sonoma.

Below I’ve posted some links with more info on these ideas. If you have more suggestions on Father’s Day activities please leave a comment below.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/ 

http://www.shrp.com/ 

http://www.cmhouston.org/ 

http://www.drafthouse.com/

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Family Fun that’s close to Katy

Avery, helping her Aunt Amanda pick a blueberry.

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

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

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

Each year on the Saturday before Father’s Day, my family gathers at my sister’s house to caravan to Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm.  We spend about an hour picking blueberries, with my children sampling them off of the bushes as fast as they can pick them.  The blueberries we are able to get into the bucket, we take to the front and pay for and then split between us.  We love the experience, although incredibly hot, and we love that we’re teaching our girls what fresh blueberries look like and how they grow.

After an hour in the heat, with our loot in hand, we always celebrate with a snow cone and a great nap on the way home for the kids.

Since our personal family tradition is to go the weekend of Father’s Day, this comes with an added perk: breakfast in bed for Daddy with fresh blueberries and blueberry muffins from scratch!

What about you?  Do you have a favorite site for fresh fruit picking?  Post a comment below!

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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 Houston Museum District? Many of which are always free! Some have special free times during the week. See info below.

Always Free:

  • Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum
  • Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
  • Holocaust Museum Houston
  • Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
  • Houston Center for Photography
  • The Jung Center of Houston
  • Lawndale Art Center
  • The Menil Collection
  • Rice University Art Gallery
  • The Rothko Chapel

Special Free Times: General Admission Only

  • Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – FREE Monday 10 am – 5 pm
  • Children’s Museum of Houston – FREE Thursday 5 – 8 pm
  • The Health Museum – FREE Thursday 2 – 5 pm
  • The John C. Freeman Weather Museum – FREE Thursday 12 – 4 pm
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science – FREE Tuesday after 2 pm
  • Houston Zoo – FREE Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Columbus Day, New Years Day & the Friday after Thanksgiving
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – FREE Thursday 10 am – 9 pm

So if you do your homework, you can introduce your family to something new while saving money this summer. To learn more about these museums visit http://www.houstonmuseumdistrict.org/. If you have a favorite museum in the Houston Museum District please share your comments.

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

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

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

The second thing is to give her a few of those plastic produce bags. She gets to pick out a few of the fruits and vegetables she would like to eat around our house. For things I know we need, I’ll tell her how many, like 3 apples, 5 bananas, two peaches. I’ll tell her about how full to fill the bag of green beans or carrots.

The third thing I did was to giver coupons, the ones with the most easily recognizable pictures. If they require a certain number or size, I tell her that “this coupon says to buy 2” or “that coupon says to buy the big container.” And she’s allowed to choose whose cart it goes in, hers or mine. We have started the ritual for putting things in her cart. If she’s putting in “squishy” things (eggs, bread, grapes, bananas) the go into the top tier of her basket, and everything non-breakable or non squishable goes in the bottom tier.

She does a great job, too. I was wondering though what other ideas people have come up with to have kids help with the groceries.  What has anyone else tried?

P.S. Yes, we have come home with 1 or 2 … or 4…extra items that weren’t on the list. Thankfully they weren’t expensive.

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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 solid, but when allowed to drip out of your hands, it somehow is liquid again.  Some people call it ‘oobleck’ from Dr. Suess’s book, some call it ‘Gak’ after the commercially available stuff.  It doesn’t matter much what we call it, my kids love to fling it, grab it, and slime it on our counters and tables.  We add a few drops of food coloring and sometimes mix the colors of oobleck to see what happens.

Next up: sidewalk paint.  Equal parts corn starch and water with several drops of food coloring create sidewalk chalk that is bright, easy to use, and also ok for little ones who might decide to taste it.  I would advise testing the colors first to make sure they wash away easily; the blue paint took a few weeks to rinse away completely last time we made it.  (Idea originally from www.skiptomylou.blogspot.com)

My last secret corn starch weapon is bath paints.  I use eco-friendly liquid dish detergent (about 1/3 cup) and roughly 1 tablespoon of corn starch.  Of course, the food coloring makes all of the fun this time as well.  I let the girls mix their own colors and then they hop in the tub and paint each other, the tub, and often my hands and arms as well.  We keep the paint out of the grouted areas and primarily on the basin of the tub just in case, but that never seems to spoil the fun.   (Idea originally from www.pepperpaints.com)

Corn starch adds a whole lot of fun to our home.  On days where the clock seems to stop, I know it’s time to pull out my secret weapon and unleash the creativity of my girls upon the slow day.   Corn starch to the rescue!

How do you spend long days at home?  Post a comment below!

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Bookworm Heaven In Katy 

Katy has so many libraries within the city that are open different hours of the day. I never knew Katy was filled with so many libraries within the city or near the city until I started to look for some with different hours of the day. This summer the library will be full of children and adults getting those exciting books to read as well enjoying their summer activities within the facility. Check out each library for their times and days of fun activities that are not only for children but as well for adults. Cyfair ISD and Katy ISD has also put out their summer reading list for our children but some of the libraries have them as well. Oh and the best part is that its in an air condition place! So start saving on your electricity bill this summer.
 
Here are some libraries that I have found near Katy or in the city:
Katy Branch is located off 5414 Franz Rd
Katy Texas 77493
281-391-3509
Hours: Sun: Closed, Mon: 10-7, Tues: 10-7, Wed: 1-8, Thurs: 10-6, Fri: 1-6, Sat 10-5
 
Cinco Ranch Branch is located off 2620 Commercial Center Rd
Katy Texas 77494
281-395-1311
Hours: Sun: Closed, Mon: 12-9, Tues: 10-9, Wed:10-6, Thurs: 10-9, Fri: 12-5, Sat: 10-5
 
Maud Marks Branch is located off 1815 Westgreen Blvd
Katy Texas 77450
281-492-8592
Hours: Sun: Closed, Mon: 1-9, Tues: 10-9, Wed: 10-6, Thurs: 10-6, Fri: 1-6, Sat: 10-5
 
Katherine Tyra Branch (Bear Creek) is located off 16719 Clay Rd
Houston Texas 77084
281-550-0885
Hours: Sun 1-5, Mon: 1-8, Tues: 10-6, Wed: 10-8, Thurs: 10-6, Fri: 1-6, Sat: 10-5
 
Cyfair College Branch is located off 9191 Barker Cypress
Cypress Texas 77433
281-290-3210
Hours: Sun: 1-6, Mon: 7-10, Tues: 7-10, Wed: 7-10, Thurs: 7-10, Fri: 8-6, Sat: 8-6
What other fun places have you found in the city or close by that is indoors for the family to enjoy?
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A Katy Mom-to-Be reflects back on a favorite childhood pool activity

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

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

When it’s time to swim take out the Tupperware bowls and hold them upside down to slide out the giant ice cube. Be sure to support the ice that will be sliding out so that you don’t drop your new pool toy. We would then take them to our pool in the backyard.

You would be amazed at how much fun swimming and pushing around a giant ice cube can be! It may sound silly but it always brought some cool fun to the pool for my younger brother and I. This is just more proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on pool toys to have fun in the pool. Sometimes it is the simplest ideas that will stick with your children. That is how it was for my brother and I. Now as my daughter’s birth quickly approaches my husband and I love to talk about what kind of parents we want to be. One thing I know for sure that we want to do is to introduce our daughter to the little joys of life. In most cases you don’t have to look far to find the fun in a situation. The giant ice cube pool toy idea is a great example of this.

Do you have great ideas for summer fun? Maybe some that you remember from your childhood? Share it with us in a comment!

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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.
 
AMC will have showings on Tuesdays at 10am with doors opening at 9:30am. Their showings will be a $1 on Tuesdays with a kids pack for $4. You can advance purchase as well online through their website and see current showings. Movie listings are from Shrek the Third, Imagine That, Monsters vs Aliens, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape to Africa, Hotel For Dogs, Kung Fu Panda, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and a Surprise Mystery Title.
 
So grab those little ones and head off to the movies. Oh and the best part it is affordable too. I hope to see many of you at the movies this summer.
What other summer outings do you have planned for your children?
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The Layla Grace Foundation’s first fundraiser held close to Katy

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

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

Layla Grace Marsh passed away on March 9, 2010.  Her courageous parents began the Layla Grace Children’s Cancer Research Foundation in her name.   The foundation is Layla’s legacy and supports families of children with cancer and research to end childhood cancer for good.

The Layla Grace Foundation is holding their first fundraiser this upcoming Sunday, June 13th from 12-4 pm at the Northwest Forest Conference Center 12715 Telge Rd. Cypress, TX 77429.  The event is called A Taste of Cy-Fair. 

The event is not far from Katy, and promises to be a fun event for all ages.  There are children’s events including face painting, a moon walk, clowns, and craft stations.  There will be over 40 local restaurants offering free food and drinks.  There will also be live music, shopping, and a silent auction and raffle going on as well.

Tickets are on sale now via the website (www.atasteofcyfair.com) and are $25 for a family of four, $10 per adult, $5 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under 5 years of age.  Tickets will be sold at the event but prices go up, so my family plans to purchase the tickets online.

All proceeds from the fair will benefit the Layla Grace Children’s Cancer Research Foundation.

My family plans to go to the event so that we can both support the foundation and enjoy a great day together. 

What about you?  What plans do you have for the upcoming weekend?  Post a comment below!

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Make summer in Katy more fun with cool themed picnics

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

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

How about a Teddy Bear’s Picnic? This probably one for the girls. Both the teddy bear’s and the girls dress up. The picnic table – or the kitchen table – get the table cloth and tea set treatment. The tea party could also be set up on a nice blanket or two. The “tea set” could be plastic or one you won’t worry about if something gets broken. Foods include cheese and fruit cut into cubes with party toothpicks, “tea” of your choice, and finger sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, or other kid favorites) cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Music can be classical music to set the mood for the trip to the tea party or kids music – starting with the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, of course.

Evening picnics are fun too, especially with a flashlight hike afterwards looking for nighttime critters. If it rains, turn it into a drive-in theater picnic. Attire  is summer clothes and sandals or sneakers. Either in the garage or in the living room, arrange chairs and a couch into rows as if everyone’s sitting in the car. Set up a television with the movie of choice. Food can include hot dogs or chili dogs, fries or chips, beverages in cups with ice and straws, and popcorn.

What other picnic themes can be done inside or outside? Find some picnic themes for boys only and picnics for older kids in junior and senior high.

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The taste of summer in Katy, TX

Watermelon jello

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

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

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

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

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

My solution was to put the watermelon halves into large cereal bowls (luckily for me, they were a perfect fit) – no harm done.

The Jello took roughly 4 hours to firm up, so we let it sit overnight and carved it when we had some friends over.  The Jello is roughly the consistency of Jello Jigglers and stayed firmly attached to the watermelon rind.  It was a striking dessert, and tasted wonderful as well.

My daughters got a kick out of eating something that looked so much like watermelon but that was a sweet dessert instead.  It was so easy and inexpensive that I think we’ll use this idea for our Fourth of July cookout as well.

I’m thinking of so many ways this dessert can be extended: I think I will try it with apples in the fall and plan to keep it in mind for other opportunities.

Give this dessert a try and post a comment below!

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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.” 

Slowly he looked up at me and said, “Ok.  What do you want me to do?”

For the next hour, we worked side by side washing dishes, dusting, straightening, and talking.  I asked him about his school work, his friends, and his hopes for the summer.  Time flew by because we weren’t focused on the work, but each other. 

As we stood back and admired our clean home, I said, “Thanks for all of your hard work.  Did you like helping me clean the house?”

He responded, “I like earning money, but I guess sometimes, I will just help because you need it.  I can see that you are happy, and that makes me feel good.” 

I smiled at him and thought, Yes- a moment of triumph!  The value of work is indeed priceless!

How do you teach your children the value of hard work?  Please post a comment.

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

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

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

Before your hiking journey pick up water and a doggy bag. After the hike return to the party for food provided by Freebirds World Burrito and Smartwater.  There will also be music and prices. For more information on the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center visit their website.

We are fortunate to live in a metropolis that offers so many great parks. You have plenty of options and many are free to celebrate National Trails Day. Hermann Park Downtown has some wonderful walking trails. Also downtown you will find Discovery Green. This Saturday Discovery Green is offering two great free events for families to enjoy with their children. Listen to the Young Harmonies Houston at 12pm. Learn about insects and other bugs with Jungle Jim from 1-2pm.

If you want a more local park look around your community and I’m sure you won’t have to look far. In the Katy area enjoy a stroll around LaCenterra. Every Saturday you can find great produce at their farmers market.

Pack a picnic basket and go out to your local school’s playground. Fly a kite. Really your options are endless. So get your family together. Get the kids away from that Xbox and spend the day outside or hiking a trail this Saturday for the National Trails Day.

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How do you foster Katy family closeness?

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

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

While growing up, my family created some fun traditions.  We decided it was necessary to decide on a family dance, family word and a family dialect.  We have always loved to laugh together and enjoy  re-telling funny stories from years gone by.  Family get-togethers also include gathering around the piano and singing together. 

I wonder what it will be like when my children are all grown and have families of their own.  Will my children be as close to each other as I am to my siblings?  I hope I am fostering closeness in our home and that they will be each other’s best friends.  So, Alaska, here we come!  I can hardly wait!

How do you foster family closeness?  Please share!

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Katy cyclists have rules of the road

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

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

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

Finally our kids should also know the proper hand signals, so they can let drivers know what they intend to do:

  • Left Arm Straight Out: means the rider is turning left.
  • Left Arm Bent Upward: means the rider is turning right
  • Right Arm Straight Out: also means a right turn.
  • Left Arm Bent Down: means the rider is stopping.

There are a few more tips about “Bike Safety” at the Kids Health website at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/bike_safety.html.

Also check out the Katy Police Department. The Department offers free bike safety coloring books at the police station. There is also a “Bicycle Registration Form” available on their website at: http://www.katypd.com/Bicycle%20Safety/Bicycle%20Registration%20Form.htm.

Fill out the form and take it into the police station with pictures of your children’s bikes. What other bicycling safety tips do you know of? Are there special rules for your family that others might find helpful?

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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 followers. This Friday, June 4 if you follow them on Twitter you can join them for a special night with a private viewing of the Hubble IMAX 3D and a special performance by the Houston Symphony at their first ever Tweetup event.

 Guests will get to enjoy the show and the performance at a special discounted price. Plus there will be light bites and drinks for all to enjoy while you mix and mingle with fellow Twitterers. They will also have access to Twitter so guests can tweet before and after the events. For more information on this event you can visit the Facebook evite http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=106708386041974&ref=mf or follow either the Houston Museum of Natural Science @hmns or the Houston Symphony @housymphony both on Twitter.

It just takes a little bit of time to set yourself up to follow the things that interests you and your family. Follow them on Twitter and take a few minutes each day to glance over what they are tweeting. You never know when you may find a great coupon or a special event that will make for a fun family event this summer.

If you follow any Katy/Houston area venues that you feel others should follow as well please tell us about it in a comment!

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Katy Families can enjoy the beautiful outdoors with cool family time

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

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

Looking for some new ideas to brighten up your picnic basket cuisine? Look online for recipes. The Food Network is always a great place to start, http://www.foodnetwork.com/. Another one of my quick recipe finding sites is Williams-Sonoma, http://www.williams-sonoma.com/. Just click to recipes and you will be amazed at what you can find.

If the weather gets to warm for you don’t forget to get in the pool! Either your own or go find a community pool for some splashing fun. If you want to go out don’t forget to visit http://www.lacenterra.com/ to see what is happening on their event calendar. Today and tomorrow nights you can find live music at the Baker Street Pub. Be creative and look around our town Katy. There is always something fun to do.

If you do go with the picnic idea take pictures to immortalize your family outing and enjoy the time together. With summer camps and activities summer time quickly can become just another hectic season where families do not get to spend as much time together as they should. Take this opportunity and enjoy the time together. What is your family doing this holiday weekend? Share it with us in a comment!

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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.

Indoor activities might include arts and crafts around the kitchen table with modeling clay, tempera paints, paper grocery bags or whatever you have on hand that lends itself to cutting and gluing and painting. How about dress-up day – especially for the younger kids – complete with a tea party or a living room fort made from kitchen chairs and old sheets. There is always a trip to the library for story time, or just to check out books for reading late into the night – by flashlight, of course. The best part of this is it only costs the time it takes to go to the library. The books cost nothing and you get to return the books after the kids are done reading them.

There are so many outdoor games and activities, the list could go on for days.  Any kind of game involving a ball is sure to be a hit. How about 4-square, volleyball or kickball? Fun without a ball might mean getting into the swing of a hoolahoop  or flying high with a Frisbee or  kite. Better yet, how about games that involve water? When my kids were young they always liked tossing water balloons or playing squirt gun tag. One of their favorites, besides a trip to the community pool,  was playing in the sprinkler. If you’re worried about paying high water bills or concerned about water conservation (we are starting the summer with a rainfall deficit, after all) then include the kids in helping to conserve water. Let one keep track of the time they play in the sprinkler, another gets to turn the sprinkler on, and another gets to turn the sprinkler off.

I’ll be helping to take care of my granddaughter over the summer. If anyone has some other ideas, for keeping a 5 year old entertained over the summer, I’m all ears.

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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 told the girls that watermelon carving would be the very first thing on our list of things to do in the morning (thinking one of us would be rushing out to the store after bed).

Once the girls were in bed, we found the watermelon. In our ice chest. In
the garage. It looked fine to us, so we put it aside to wait for the official watermelon carving this morning.

After breakfast, as we began to carve, we noticed a few… let’s call them
“extra ripe” sections of the watermelon. Which made for a bit of a
challenge carving the basket with a heart that my daughter had chosen.

A few toothpicks later, we had a watermelon basket with fruit salad for
“dessert” and two very happy children.

I love this project idea and know that the next go-round will be much
smoother. Maybe we’ll make it again soon.

What about you? Have you carved watermelons before? How did it go? Post a comment below!

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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. For Kate, her love for The Little Gym is much more obvious: she loves the bells. She loves the bubbles. She loves the balls. She loves the parachute. She loves the exploring time, the forward rolls and straddle rolls, the high bars the obstacle courses. She loves her teacher and she loves the routines and being able to anticipate what comes next.

 I knew that we would love The Little Gym but it just wasn’t in the budget.  So, for Kate’s 1 year (and now her 2 year) birthday, we asked family members for money to pay for this activity rather than for toys.  Since she has a big sister who enjoys most of the same things she does, she is not lacking for toys.  Plus, as much as she enjoys The Little Gym, I think she’d happily trade a new doll for a class at The Little Gym any day!

What about you?  Do you have a favorite activity of your week?  Post a comment below!

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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 school year. My sisters and I knew that each day, we were required to complete a given number of pages in our workbooks, read, and help with chores around the home.  Extra-curricular activities to help us discover and develop our talents were also an integral part of our summer schedule.  Our summer learning prepared us for the rigors of the following school year, and, because we were prepared, we enjoyed school. 

Now that I have a houseful of children of my own, I have tried to carry on the tradition of summer learning.  It is fun to guide the learning of my children during the summer months and it keeps them busy and happy.  Prior to school dismissal, I make a summer schedule that we can use as a guide. For several hours each morning, we learn together. In addition to writing, reading and math, we enjoy going on field trips to local museums, frequenting the library, exercising together and cooking.  Our summer learning moments are some of the best memories I have!

How do you foster learning in your home?  Please share a comment.

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A favorite  activity for young Katy kids

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

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

Once the children got hungry, we sat out at the tables provided and ate our sack lunch.  Some days, we’ll stop at Mission Burrito or Panera Bread for lunch, but today we were going the low-cost route.  Once lunch and a little more splashing were over, it was time for my daughter’s favorite activity at LaCenterra: ice cream!  There are so many wonderful options for sweet treats: Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Tollhouse Cookie Company and Cold Stone Creamery.  One kid-sized cone per child (blue bubble gum flavored ice cream… yum!) and a Coke for me completed the morning’s fun.  There’s nothing like a morning of sun, water, and energy exerting to guarantee great naps for the kids and some down time for me.  All the way around, LaCenterra offers us with an amazing day.

LaCenterra does ask that while splashing in their water, children wear shirts, pants, and shoes.

Once the weather gets too hot for Mama to comfortably sit and watch the girls splash at LaCenterra, we’ll make it an evening activity.  Some of my favorite pictures and several of the best family memories come from summers spent at LaCenterra.

What about you?  Do your children love LaCenterra?  Where do you go for splashing fun?  Post a comment below!

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A Katy Family Beats the Heat and Learns Something New 

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

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

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

We also took advantage of the special going on with the Hubble 3D IMAX and the Burke Baker Planetarium show, Life in the Universe.  With this coupon (http://www.hmnsmedia.org/Campaigns/Coupon/Hubble.html ) you can get into Life in the Universe for only $5 with a purchase to the Hubble 3D IMAX. I find anything in the planetarium to be education and relaxing. You have to love those chairs! The Hubble 3D IMAX was wonderful! In the 40 minute show you can learn about the challenges and triumphs that NASA has faced to maintain the telescope that provides us with the best view of the universe. These two shows are a must see for anyone who loves space and the hope of finding life out there.

My favorite part of our day was the Archaeopteryx exhibit. What probably made this our favorite were the museum volunteers. Always talk to the volunteers. They are assigned to that exhibit because they have something to add to it. Another, great feature in this exhibit is that you can take pictures! The majority of special exhibits forbid this so it was nice to be able to capture the memory of this walk through evolutionary history.

The Houston Science Museum is always a family favorite for me. It is a great way to beat the summer heat and have fun while learning something new. And if you think that this is something that your family could enjoy at least twice a year then become members. That’s what my husband and I did. After two visits we found that it paid for itself and you get special offers, special member only invitations and discounts in the gift shop. Are you a fan for a museum in our Houston Museum District? Share your experience in a comment!

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A Katy family brings back some of the classics

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

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

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

Right now, we are watching the 1969 movie Hello Dolly with Barbara Streisand.   My daughter loves it!  There is so much dancing and singing, and even my husband is willingly watching the story as it unfolds.  It has inspired me, and so in the next several weeks, we’ve decided to try out some other favorites from our childhoods:

*The Wizard of Oz

*The Sound of Music

*The Never Ending Story

*The Karate Kid

*Mary Poppins

We don’t watch movies often (we have a pretty strict television watching policy), and therefore the cartoons have dominated any time we are in front of the tv.  The girls have been perfectly happy watching The Princess and the Frog on repeat.  While I do love that movie, I’m not always as excited about the same movie the 10th time its been played.  This is an exciting moment for my husband and I… we’re going to get to introduce Avery to parts of cultural history, be entertained and reminded of our youth, and enjoy a special time with the whole family.

Since Avery is still pretty young (almost 4 years old), we know these movies may be hit or miss for now.  But my hope is to keep a mental file of these movies and try them throughout the years until she is ready for each of them to make the impact on her that they made on us.

I am certain I’ve forgotten true favorites from growing up, and I don’t want to miss the experience of sharing classics with my children.  Is there a movie you loved as a child that you now love to watch with your family?  Post a comment below!

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Visit the Katy Fiesta Market

Baby elephant, Baylor, was recently born at the Houston Zoo. Photo by Brian Hill.

Looking for something fun to do this summer with your family? Make plans to go to the Houston Zoo. There is always fun and excitement to be found at the Houston Zoo and when you plan your trip in advance you can save money. Visit the Katy Fiesta’s courtesy booth (or any Fiesta) for discount tickets to the Houston Zoo. Just one extra stop can save you money! Also, if you ride the METRO and you plan to purchase your tickets at the gate present your METRO pass and you will save a dollar on each ticket. Every little bit can help!

This month has brought major zoo news along with the Houston summer weather! After a pregnancy lasting almost 23 months Shanti, an Asian elephant delivered a healthy, 348-pound baby boy named Baylor. Now the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat is currently closed to the public until the elephant care team has seen signs that Baylor is settling into his new home. But you can follow the scoop on their website http://www.houstonzoo.org/.

You can always find your staple favorites at the Houston Zoo. From birds to primates, fish and cheetahs and so much more there is always something wild going that the family will love! Beginning Memorial Day weekend the Houston Zoo is opening a Dinosaur exhibit. Summer is always a great time to see what is going on at Houston hot spots. Take a few minutes to look at the websites of the Houston area museums. You can access them all easily at the following site http://www.houstonmuseumdistrict.org/.

Be sure to look at what’s going on a check out look into discount and special offer opportunities. By looking into things in advance you save money and make sure you don’t miss out something fun! Have fun this Summer by making some plans! Have you found any great deals at Katy/Houston area hot spots? Share what you found in a comment below.

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An oasis of nature close to Katy

Avery and Hannah fishing with nets at the santuary

Yesterday, our playgroup took a field trip to the Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary.  It is literally a nature oasis in the middle of the Memorial area.  When we pulled in to the parking lot for Memorial Drive Methodist Church, the sign – and certainly the area – were not obvious.  But once we got our bearings and found the entrance to the Nature Sanctuary, we were amazed at what hides just beyond the road on Memorial Drive.

Yesterday, our children participated in a learning time, a craft, and many fun outdoor activities.  This was the last day of that particular program, but there are many more opportunities at the Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary, which you can explore by visiting http://outside.in/memorial-houston-tx/edith-l-moore-nature-sanctuary. 

The focus was on pond life while we were there, and my 3 ½ year old daughter had the opportunity to listen to information about pond life, observe many different types of pond critters, and paint a ceramic turtle and frog. 

After she finished painting, we were lead to a small pond with a low dock.  Each child was given a net and allowed to catch fish with it.  It was exciting for my daughter to get up close and personal with a crawfish and several smaller fish. 

After painting and fishing, my daughter got to pet a box turtle and a walking stick insect.  She was somewhat timid, but the nature guides were patient and gentle and once we finished, my daughter beamed with pride over what she had done.

Once the official class was over, we walked around the Nature Sanctuary, following paths through the woods and over bridges.  We saw an enormous frog and several turtle heads poking up from the water.

As we were leaving, we crossed a large bridge over a river about 10 feet below.  We stopped to look over the bridge and saw an enormous snake swimming aggressively all in the river.  From way up on our bridge, we felt very safe, and my daughter and her friends had a wonderful time observing such an exciting creature in its natural habitat. 

All in all, it was a wonderful trip.  I had no idea such an abundance of wildlife and nature was hiding just behind Memorial Drive.  We will certainly return!

Do you know of any hidden gems like the Edith Moore Nature Sanctuary?  Post a comment below!


www.averyandkate.blogspot.com

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Just one of the many sports enjoyed by our Katy community

Ah, baseball.  What a sport!  The smell of a new glove, the whish of the air as the bat is swung, and the screams and whoops of the excited moms as their sons bring home trophies!  My twelve-year-old son Jovanni, is playing with the Orioles in the Katy Pony League this spring, and although they just finished up a great season, they placed well enough to participate in the playoffs!

Tonight was their first playoff game, and it was a tight one!  Not in the score, but in the play by play.  It was too much fun to cheer for our team as they rose from 0-0 up to the fourth inning all the way to 9-1 by the bottom of the sixth!  They took the win, and will play again on Tuesday against the undefeated White Sox.  The Orioles came in second to the White Sox this season, so that will be the game to watch! 

It is so exciting to watch the kids; as their determination rises, their success follows.  The ball cracks as it connects with the bat, and it is thrilling to see the sphere fly through the air, holding our breath as the outfielder goes for the catch!  Will he catch it?  The batter doesn’t know yet, he threw that bat down and took off running towards first base as soon as the ball made contact!

My son, being the rookie on the team, doesn’t connect as often as the rest of his team, but it’s not for the lack of trying!  So today, as he was going up to bat, with a runner on third, I told him, “Hey Jovie, if you were ever gonna get a hit, now would be that time!”  Sure enough, “CRACK!” and off he ran!  He got tagged out at first, but the third base runner made it home, and he gave me that run I asked for!

Can’t wait for Tuesday’s game!  Is your child in baseball this year?  What has your experience been?  I would love to hear it.

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Katy students gather for a community performance

This weekend, 250 Katy teenagers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will join together to give a musical performance at Morton Ranch High School.  Performances are Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are free and can be ordered at www.katystakeyouth.org.  Once a ticket has been reserved online, an electronic ticket will be sent to your email address.  The youth will perform a musical cantata (a musical composition for voices and orchestra based on a religious text) called >From Cumorah’s Hill by Steven Kapp Perry and Brad Wilcox.  The songs are inspirational in nature and the script is based on real life situations. 

The most powerful component of the performance is the large number of youth who have participated in the production.  They have been rehearsing for three months and have memorized the entire score.  As I spoke with the youth, many confessed they didn’t know they could sing prior to this event.  Much of the vocal music in the score is composed in four-part harmony- not easy for an inexperienced singer.  Others are heavily involved in the music programs at their High Schools and will be featured as soloists.      Many also said they have enjoyed interacting with other teenagers from all over Katy.    At the end of each rehearsal, the youth were given time to talk, eat refreshments and mingle- this admittedly was a motivator for some!  The sound produced by this large group is beautiful. 

If you ever wonder about the youth of tomorrow, I highly suggest attending this concert.  Not only is it an impressive performance, but the youth, themselves are impressive!  I listened to a rehearsal this past Sunday, and I promise, it is not a show to be missed.

What other events are teenagers around town involved in?  Please post a comment.

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A Katyite shares one of her favorite recipes

This fresh, citrus-filled dessert has become a popular request item among my friends and family, and is easy and fun to make.  Whether for a picnic meal, to add to a delicious buffet of springtime dishes, or just alone with a fragrant cup of coffee, this bar dessert is a real winner!  The original recipe is from the Good Housekeeping – Great Home Cooking Cookbook.   I’ve just adjusted a couple of details after perfecting the bars to our taste!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups plus 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup cold butter
2 large lemons, or 3 small ones
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 13” by 9” pan with aluminum foil, lightly grease foil. 

In medium bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour with the powdered sugar.  With pastry blender or two knives used scissor-fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan.  Press it firmly evenly around the bottom of pan. 

Bake until lightly browned, about 17-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, from lemons, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 1/3 cup juice.  In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low.  Add granulated sugar, remaining flour, baking powder, salt and lemon peel and juice.  Beat, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula, until blended.  Pour over warm crust. 

Bake until filling is just set and golden around edges, about 17-19 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack. Dust powdered sugar over warm filling.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack. 

When cool, remove lemon bars from pan by lifting edges of foil and place on cutting board.  Cut lengthwise into 3 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 12 pieces. 

After you make these, let me know how they taste!  Enjoy the lemon goodness!

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Simple steps to ensure your Katy Cutie has a fun and safe summer

As summer approaches, it is important to check our homes and yards to prepare for a safe summer.  Pediatricians admit that during the summer months, children are at an increased risk for accidents and injuries.  With more leisure time, children are likely to be adventuresome and active…both positive traits when they are closely monitored.  Most accidents and injuries can be prevented when potential threats are addressed.

Indoor-

While we as mothers are in spring cleaning mode, we should also review our homes for safety.   Are medicines and cleaning supplies out of our children’s reach?  Do outlets have safety covers?  Are knives and other sharp objects put away?  Are plastic bags stored safely? If toddlers or babies are in the house, are stairs gated and sharp edges on furniture covered?    

Outdoor-

Insects and spiders love the weather in Katy and seem to thrive in our yards.  Insect repellant and pest control treatment are important preventative measures to manage potential injury. When a child gets a bite, redness, pain, itching and swelling are normal reactions.  If, however, the child becomes clammy, has difficulty breathing, or begins to vomit, he should be taken to the emergency room. 

Children should stay far away from operating lawn mowers.  A small rock or twig can be projected a great distance when hit by the lawn mower blade.  Children shouldn’t play in parked cars, or by barbeque pits, grills and smokers.   

As children fill their summer days with rollerblading, and bike riding, we as parents can help them stay safe by insisting on the use of protective wear.  In nine out of ten fatal bike accidents, the child was not wearing a bike helmet. It is also important to be vigilant at the playground.  Slides are the most dangerous of playground equipment with children burning themselves or falling off.

Due to warm weather year round, pools in Katy are abundant.  Nearly every neighborhood has a pool, and many homeowners need simply walk into their backyards to take a nice, refreshing dip in the pool.  As fun as pools are, they are also very dangerous.  Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children.  Even if children know how to swim, it is very important that, near water, parents are 100% vigilant.  Most drownings occur in residential pools- in the victims own pool.  About three-quarters of children under age 5 who drown were not expected to be at or even near a pool; more than half of them were thought to be safely inside the house.

Children are bound to get hurt at one time or another.   But, when we take preventative measures, we can at least rest assured that we have done our best to keep them safe.

What have I left out?  Please share additional safety precautions.

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Here are some tips for your Katy family when the weather puts a damper on your outdoor camping trips 

Have you ever planned a camp-out and had the weather decide not to co-operate? What’s a family to do when their camp-out gets rained out? How about a camp-in instead? Better yet, let your kids invite a friend over and make it a pajama party.

To set up for the camp-in, first clear some space in the living room or family room. Then spread out those sleeping bags (one for each kid) and hang a few strings of outdoor party lights for a little ambience. Next, either attach glow-in-the-dark stars all over the ceiling – in constellation patterns, of course – or set up a star field projector if you have one. Put out a star-gazer book to help the kids identify the constellations. To enhance the feel of a camping trip, set up a CD player with a few forest sound effects disks with crickets, frogs, and the like.

Kids get to put out lanterns and flashlights next to their sleeping bags – for when it gets dark – and wear their craziest pajamas. After all this is a pajama party. Play some camping games like guessing the identity of a hidden object or a game of “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?” (Replace the button with a forest object like an acorn or a stone.) Have the kids tell each other some amazing camp fire stories. If the kids are old enough to handle it, make it a Ghost Story contest, with prizes for: scariest story, best story told by one person, best story told by  two or three people, or funniest ghost story.

Can’t cook those hot dogs over a fire because of the rain? No problem. Cook them over a hot microwave. The same goes for the s’mores. Keep that  ice chest handy and full of cold drinks and fruit (or other healthy snacks).

So the only thing left is to figure out where to get those ghost stories for the kids to tell each other. There are a few books available in any book store. There are also several websites that have ghost stories posted:

Another website that contains stories, games, songs and other camping activities is Ultimate Camp Resource at:  http://www.ultimatecampresource.com/

By the way this camp-in makes for a great sleepover birthday party as well. The best part is there are no mosquitoes! What other rainy day ideas are out there? What about birthday party ideas that don’t cost tons of money and can be easily organized?

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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.
We have also visited the Katy Dog Park on 5414 Franz Rd next to the Katy library. This park has a walking trail, water spigot, benches, pick up bags and a pond. This park is even located close to Mary Jo Peckman Park and the baseball fields. In this park all the doggies are together in the park playing and running all around.
There is also another dog park going into Houston close to Katy called Bill Archer Dog Park 3210 Hwy 6 north of I10. This park has agility playground equipment, walking trails, pick up bags, doggie showers, water fountains, areas for small and large dogs, and something so special a dog bone shaped pond. This will make any doggie go crazy and ready to jump in.
All of these parks are all fenced in so no worry for your pet to run off. It is even a nice way to meet and greet people with different kinds of dogs. My dog Max is always looking forward to go and play with his doggie friends. Have you been to any of these dog parks? Has your dog met any new doggie friends? Please post your comments below.
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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 corresponding word and picture.  After they found three of each item, they got a treasure… bubbles!

We had such a great time and it really allowed the kids to appreciate nature.  The kids all huddled together to stare down at an ant hill, raced on the path to the pier to check for fish in the lake, and yelled with delight when they discovered three ducks at once!  The children loved being a part of a structured activity together and finished it up with bubbles, playing together on the park’s play structures, and snack.

It was so much fun and such an easy idea that I plan to use it much more often.  Perhaps on walks around our neighborhood as we wait for Daddy to get home, or when I know we’ll be stuck in a doctor’s office for a long wait, or even on car rides… the possibilities are endless!

How about you?  Do you have any great ideas to make a day at the park even more enriching?  Post a comment below!

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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.

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has its West Houston Squadron based at the West Houston Airport on Groschke Road. The group operates its museum out of one of the airport’s hangers, which they open for special events like this weekend’s air show. They give private tours by appointment as well. The CAF also refurbishes period aircraft and takes part in flyovers for Veteran’s memorial services and sporting events in and around Houston. The organization is self-supporting and privately finances all of its activities.

Do you know of any other airplane related activities that are family friendly? What inexpensive airport pastimes can you suggest?

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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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“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.    

Friendly People-Having moved ten times in the past sixteen years, I must say that Katy ranks at the top of my friendly people cities.  In Katy, Texas, people smile, extend helping hands and make you feel as if you are finally home.

Family-Oriented-Katy is a bedroom community, and due to the strong school system, families move here in droves.  If you refer to the Katy Texas events page on the Katy Magazine website, you will find many family-oriented activities year round.

Strong Economy– Job growth and stability in the housing market are two factors that put Houston, Texas at the top of many national economic forecast lists.  In Katy, the purchase of a home is still a good investment because the economy remains stable. 

Good City Planning-In spite of the amazing growth in population, the Katy City Government is very adept at looking forward and projecting infrastructure needs.   Road expansion, housing development, and school construction remain ahead of the growth.   

Affordable Housing-Compared to any other major metropolitan area, Houston Texas boasts very affordable home prices.  I was amazed at the many choices in builders, location, and style of homes available in Katy.

The list goes on and on.  How glad I am to live in such a beautiful, safe, affordable, and friendly city.  No wonder everyone is so happy in Katy!  What do you like about Katy?  Post a comment below.

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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.

The critters are also coming out, saying hello to a new year, a new season of warmth and growth.  Some are wanted, some are not…like the young cottonmouth we found in our backyard last week!  The birds sound like life to me, with their tweeting, whistles and sometimes, songs.  They are little pests, as in stealing the first fruits from my strawberry plants!  I love them and the perky spirit they bring, though, just the same.

All the babies signify that the winter is through, new birth is here!  Driving home just a couple of days ago, the kids and I saw four little calves romping in the field together, leaping and frolicking while their mothers grazed calmly nearby!  We’ve seen more foals this spring in Texas, in front yards and on neighboring ranches, than we have in a lifetime elsewhere.  Baby ducks, baby chicks – they’re everywhere.  Watching babies never gets old!

New life – that’s what spring means to me, and I appreciate every minute of the season.  Is spring a favorite time of year for you?  Do you have any spring babies to talk about?  We’d love to hear your spring story!

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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!

*Refilling our sand and water table.  And for an extra twist, we make one side warm, soapy water and the other cold, clean water.

*Sidewalk chalking and sidewalk painting.  To make the sidewalk paint, we mix 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of corn starch and then add food coloring.  It’s so much fun and washes right off (except for our blue food coloring… oops).

*Biking together.  The girls enjoy the ride and my husband and I love getting exercise and family time all at once.  We’ve gotten really brave and biked to a casual dinner or to the store before, but even a trip around our neighborhood is nice.

What about you?  How do you take advantage of the warm weather? Post a comment!
Thanks so much,
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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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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.
Annual festivals such as the Japanese Festival are great socializing
events and are just plain fun for the entire family. There is even an annual chalk art festival which is essentially a two and a half block canvas for some great artists.
The idea that so much art can be based in one city is not
surprising as Houston and Katy are home to some of the regions most appreciated art institutes and programs.  Houston programs include the Art League of Houston and the Art Institute of Houston. Katy offers the Katy Visual & Performing Arts Center as well as the Imagine Art Studios and many more. Education of the arts generates revenue for artistic based tournaments and competitions which gives students of the arts in school and outside of the educational system the oppurtunity to produce artwork for scholorship money. The Texas Art Education Association sponsors on of the most recognized competitons in the Visual Arts Scholastc Event.
With so much attention towards the arts it is obvious why many travel to Houston in order to further their artistic pursuits. In the comments tell
me what is your favorite artistic endeavor and where do you think Houston( and Katy) ranks among the top artistic
cities in America?
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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 names. The plaques, as with the sides of the pillar, face the direction of their respective counties.

The park is named after Oliver Thomas, one of Katy’s founding fathers. Thomas moved with his family from Mississippi to help settle this growing farming community along the MKT Railroad. In 1885, Thomas purchased 320 acres of land. He created the initial plan which became the original

The playground, gazebo and picnic tables at Thomas Park.

 blueprint for the City of Katy. His plan included two parks, one which became Mary Jo Peckham Park, and the other which became the town square. Thomas Park was donate in 1907 by one of his heirs, J. O. Thomas, L C. Luckel, and R. M. Cash.

Do you know of any other small picnic areas suitable for family fun in or near Katy?

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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.

Please note that there is no childcare provided for these events, but young children are welcome to attend with their parents.  If you would like complete directions, or any other info on these or other events at Life Church of Katy, you may do so at www.lifechurchkaty.com. 

Do you have any events coming up at your community church that are open to the public?  Let me know, and we can inform the community about them!

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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.

Another source that looks fascinating is the Blue Ribbon Meadows non-profit off Breckendorff Rd. in Katy.  Riding lessons are for everyone, again, (they didn’t specify minimum age) and cost $45 an hour for group, $50 an hour for private lessons.  This place is a neat find, as they offer horses for adoption, for a fee of only $200.  They have many horses available right now that need good homes.  Many other services, such as full boarding starting at $500 monthly, are available.  You can view all the great experiences and services ready for your enjoyment at blueribbonmeadows.com or call Barbara Jacobs (Owner, Head Trainer) at 281-371-3004.

A couple of other places were also listed online, Riding High Stable which is in Katy, and ran by Brent Workman.  Lessons start at age 5, and he can be reached at 832-528-2161 and ridinghighstables.com.  Last but not least, Bright Star Stables in Brookshire, which is only a few short miles from Katy, and can be found at brightstarstables.com or reached at 281-375-8400.  Jenee Pulliam was listed as contact.

Hopefully this has been inspiring to you, as horses and children make a great combination!  Lessons aren’t just a hobby, they teach children responsibility, a healthy respect for these great animals, and give them something to look forward to each week!  Is there a local place that I didn’t cover in this post?  Please feel free to comment on it for our other readers!  Do you have a comment on any of these places listed?  Let us know your personal experiences and how you would rate it!

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 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 from both seed groups, such as the pepper and tomato plants.  It helps, I’m sure, that our yard has an automatic sprinkler system to water my “babies.”  So far, so good, yet I know I have many battles ahead of me with the heat, birds and bugs to deal with as Spring grows on.

What do you think about this past year’s record breaking weather; has it wreaked havoc on your garden?  Did you lose any longstanding favorites to the freezes, or did your plants come out of the storm still kicking?  Am I in for more surprises, or is the weather usually fairly normal around here?  I would love your feedback!

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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.

What is it about spring that gives us the desire to create, explore, renew and prioritize?  Is it the warmer weather?  Is it the knowledge that summer is around the corner?  Is there something in the air that motivates us?  Well, frankly, I don’t know what it is, but there is something magical about spring that causes us to act.  It is a time to pause, take note of all the beautiful and sublime, and then work to make things better.

So, while we have the added energy to clean, sort, and decorate, let us also take time to prioritize the fun activities that we can enjoy in the spring.  It is a great time to take the children to the park, go for a bike ride, take a family walk, pack a picnic lunch, plan a barbeque with the neighbors, shop at an outdoor shopping center, and visit the zoo (just to name a few).    

Happy Spring to all!  I will be looking at your beautiful yards as I drive around town and will be admiring the beautiful city of Katy in all of its spring glory!

What are your favorite spring activities?  Have you started your spring cleaning?  What tips do you have for making the most of spring?  Post a comment below.

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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!

The airport is open 24 hours. The interior is comfortable and provides information about flight lessons and airplanes for sale. There is an unmanned bookstore which we like to peruse for some used books. Of course, there are toy planes and flight paraphernalia for sale. Children will love it.

We usually walk upstairs to best observe the planes. I have to warn you that there is no elevator. The second floor is about 25 steps up, and this pregnant lady was not up to the challenge! I waited downstairs in a comfy chair while my husband took our budding pilot upstairs.

This would be a fun and air-conditioned stop for you and your family as you’re looking for activities to do these days. You can make it a learning experience even more by researching some types of planes and mapping out flight paths. Younger children can identify colors, shapes, and numbers on the planes. Everyone will enjoy watching them land and take off!

Have you ever been to the West Houston Airport? Where do you like to take your family as the weather heats up? I’d love to hear from you.

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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.

This year, I haven’t yet tried our other two lucky spots from last year: 290 on the way to Brenham and a few hot spots in Fulshear, just off of 1093.  Our plan is to load the girls up on Saturday and try out these two locations.  It’d be wonderful to find some bluebonnets close to home.  I have a feeling that if it comes down to a two hour trip out to Austin for pictures or skipping the shots, we’ll end up skipping the shots.  My girls’ patience only lasts so long.

I’m also curious if the excess of Indian Paintbrushes and lack of bluebonnets has something to do with the long winter.  It will be interesting to see if the Indian Paintbrushes are more numerous than the bluebonnets in our favorite spots as well.  I’ll have to make sure to dress the girls in something that will look good with blue or red flowers.

Does anyone have a sure fire spot that they’ve visited this year?  How were the bluebonnets?  Were there many Indian Paintbrushes?

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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!

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to keeping the memory of fallen firefighters alive and assisting the families of those who have lost their lives fighting fires.  For more information, visit www.firehero.org.

With the warmer weather and the promise of summer right around the corner, and ice cream night is perfectly timed.  (Although, we would probably head out for 31 cent ice cream scoops in the middle of a cold front.  We love ice cream!) 

There are two Baskin-Robbins store locations in Katy: one at 6920 South Fry Road (Suite A) and one at 1560 South Mason Road (Suite B).  For more information, visit http://www.baskinrobbins.com/spotlight/31CentScoopNight.aspx.  So come on out for reduced cost ice cream and to support a great cause!

Our family enjoys participating in charity events in and around Katy.  Do you know of something we might be interested in?  Post a comment below!

Where I’ll Be on Wednesday Night

Subtitle: Baskin-Robbins is hosting a 31 Cent Scoop Night

Filed Under: Katy Scene

Text:

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!

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to keeping the memory of fallen firefighters alive and assisting the families of those who have lost their lives fighting fires.  For more information, visit www.firehero.org.

With the warmer weather and the promise of summer right around the corner, and ice cream night is perfectly timed.  (Although, we would probably head out for 31 cent ice cream scoops in the middle of a cold front.  We love ice cream!) 

There are two Baskin-Robbins store locations in Katy: one at 6920 South Fry Road (Suite A) and one at 1560 South Mason Road (Suite B).  For more information, visit http://www.baskinrobbins.com/spotlight/31CentScoopNight.aspx.  So come on out for reduced cost ice cream and to support a great cause!

Our family enjoys participating in charity events in and around Katy.  Do you know of something we might be interested in?  Post a comment below!

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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!

One exciting element that I am certain the church will not want to add to their annual tradition of Easter Fest is their Lead Pastor’s trip to the ER.  Apparently, right before the festival began, Lead Pastor Clint Paschall was doing tricks on his skate board and fell pretty hard on his arm.  He didn’t seem to show much evidence of being in pain throughout the first hour or so of the festival.  He was on the microphone and chatting with people as if everything was fine, but apparently he was in a good deal of pain.  At some point in the evening, he headed to the hospital, and, as it turns out, has a broken arm. 

Even without the lead pastor, the festival was a lot of fun and seemed to be a great success.  We plan on being back again next year for our annual pink-and-purple butterfly balloon and jumping house fun.

What about you?  Were you able to make it out to Easter Fest?  If not, what Easter activities have you enjoyed or are you looking forward to?

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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.

Life, with all of its ups and downs must be laughed about.  I must confess that some of the most embarrassing moments have turned into some of the most humorous, due to my husband, who loves to laugh.  I am reminded of one particular time when our entire family showed up Sunday morning at another family’s home for breakfast.  We found it odd that they came to the door in their pajamas, but walked in and thanked them profusely for the invitation.  After about a half an hour of conversation, we realized that they weren’t the family that had invited us.  Being new to the neighborhood, we had confused them with another family, who had the same last name.  Though it was an embarrassing situation for both families, we have laughed about this incident time and time again.

Another time, my husband awoke early for work and, trying not to disturb me, left the lights out while grabbing his shoes.  Later that day, he discovered he was wearing two completely different shoes.  I will never forget the look on his face as I delivered one shoe to his office.

Some of the best humor is had in reflecting on past humorous experiences.  Finding humor every day creates a never ending bank of fun from which one can withdraw at any time.  So, go ahead, laugh!  And, while your add it, infect someone else! 

What humorous situations have you found yourself in?  Please share below!

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 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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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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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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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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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. 

By the time we had fully prepared for our adventure, it was close to lunch time.  I hurriedly ran into the kitchen to pack a lunch to take with us so that our empty stomachs wouldn’t rush us.  Lunch prepared, tires pumped, water bottles affixed, and helmets on, we were ready to set off.

I led the pack as we mounted our bikes and started on our journey.  We rounded the bend in our street and started on the bike trail.  I inhaled the clean air and smiled as I glanced back at my children. Flocks of birds flew overhead and we listened to their melodious strains. I peered at the majestic oak trees that served as a canopy over the road and was overwhelmed by the calm of the afternoon.  Critters dashed from tree to tree, and cautiously watched as our family passed. A gentle breeze swept through the trees and my hair danced in the wind as we raced onward.

We soon found the perfect spot for our picnic.  We propped our bicycles up against some trees and gathered together to talk and share lunch.  Spreading a blanket on the ground, we divided the sandwiches, chips, grapes, cookies and drinks.  We had all worked up an appetite, so the food seemed to taste particularly good.  The children were happy, there wasn’t a hint of contention, and we were truly enjoying our time together. 

That evening, several of my children remarked that it had been one of the best days they had ever had.  I thought about the money we had spent on eating out, family vacations and fun toys.  I was amazed that our casual day of biking had been one of their favorite activities.  I suppose some the simplest family outings prove to be the most meaningful!  What are some of your family’s favorite activities?   Post a comment below.

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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 than 22,000 children took a ride at the ponies.
  • Below are a few highlights of the food consumed at the rodeo:
    • 100,000 funnel cakes
    • 91,000 turkey legs
    • 33,000 ears of corn
    • 30,000 caramel and candied apples
    • 15,000 pounds of sugar for cotton candy
    • 10,000 pounds of strawberries
    • 7,500 chocolate-covered cheesecakes on a stick
    • 6,500 orders of chicken-fried bacon
    • 6,000 cans of whipped cream
    • 4,500 chocolate covered strawberries

Attendance highlights

  • The 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo entertained a record 2,144,077 visitors for general attendance (for all activities on the grounds). The previous general attendance record was set in 2009 with a total of 1,890,332 visitors. This is the first time the Show has reached the 2 million mark for general attendance.
  • The single-day general attendance record was set Sunday, March 14, on Go Tejano Day, with 141,273 visitors. The previous record was set in 2009 with 135,548 visitors.
  • RodeoHoustonâ„¢ paid attendance totaled a record 1,264,074 fans enjoying action-packed rodeo and superstars in concert. The previous record was set during the 2003 Show with a total of 1,215,913 RodeoHouston fans.
  • The March 14, 2010, RodeoHouston performance celebrating Go Tejano Day and featuring rodeo action and concerts by Pesado and El Trono De Mexico, broke the Show’s single day all-time Rodeo attendance record with a paid attendance of 74,222. The previous record of 74,147 was set during the 2009 Go Tejano Day with performances by Ramon Ayala and Alacranes Musical.
  • A record eight RodeoHouston performances were considered sellouts (approximately 70,000 tickets sold).
  • Six RodeoHouston performances landed in the list of the Show’s top 20 paid Rodeo attendance records:
    • 1st: March 14, 2010 — Pesado and El Trono De Mexico –74,222
    • 5th: March 18, 2010 — Black Eyed Peas – 73,073
    • 7th: March 20, 2010 — Brooks & Dunn, The Last Rodeo Tour – 72,977
    • 8th: March 21, 2010 — Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez – 72,883
    • 15th: March 5, 2010 — Mary J. Blige – 72,150
    • 19th: March 7, 2010 — Jonas Brothers with special guest Demi Lovato – 72,013
  • A record 221,229 people visited the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest to help kick off the Show, topping last year’s attendance record of 217,640.
  • More than 220,000 visitors rode the Rodeo Express shuttle buses from four locations.
  • The Show hosted 2,001 international guests from 51 countries.
  • More than 75,000 children received a hands-on agricultural education through a school tour or field trip in Capital One Bank AGventure. Nearly 80,000 people experienced the Fun on the Farm exhibit.
  • Heritage Partners for the 2010 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo were Reliant Energy, Coca-Cola, Ford, Miller Lite and BP America.

For complete results and highlights, visit the Show’s Web site at www.rodeohouston.com

Did you have a great time at this year’s rodeo? Share the highlights of your visit by posting a comment below.

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 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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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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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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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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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)
  • 12:00 noon Ag Magic Show at Kids Country Stage
  • 1 p.m. Carnival (closes at midnight) at Radio Disney Road Crew at Kids Country
  • 2 p.m. Radio Disney Road Crew at Kids Country
  • 3 p.m. Ag Magic Show at Kids Country Stage
  • 4 p.m. Fables of the Wild West at Kids Country Stage
  • 5 p.m. Ag Magic Show at Kids Country Stage
  • 6 p.m. Shelley Anderson at Kids Country Stage
  • The Hideout opens at Reliant Park
  • 6:45 p.m. RODEOHOUSTON BP Super Series V – Championship Round; Keith Urban (following Rodeo performance) at Reliant Stadium
  • 7:30 p.m. Champion Wine Garden Educational Seminar:
  • Argentina Roundup ($30 pre-registration required) at Champion Wine Garden
  • 10:15 p.m. Two Tons of Steel at The Hideout

For more information, visit http://www.hlsr.com.

Hey Katyites! Did you have fun at the rodeo?  Send us your story and we’ll post it here! Email editor@katymagazine.com

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Katy Family Fun

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