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

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

Katy, TX Blog (June 5, 2017) – Seven Lakes High School graduate Caitlin Ricketts is now traveling the world modeling for top name brands

Written by Debbie McDaniel 

As a young girl growing up in Katy, Texas, Caitlin Ricketts only dreamed of the life she’s now living as a model for the Wilhelmina Agency in New York City. “I love being from Katy and I’m so happy I have all of my family still in Katy to come home to,” she says. She grew up in Katy ISD, attending Roosevelt Alexander Elementary School, Beckendorff Junior High School, and Seven Lakes High School. “I have lived in New York City for years now, but Katy will always be my home and a place to bring me back to reality.”

A Big Break
Ricketts was introduced to modeling at a young age. “I started modeling when I was a baby for brands like Foley’s and Palais Royal and stopped when I was about 5 years old. It wasn’t until I was 14 when my older sister Chelsea convinced me to try it out again and go to an open call for Abercrombie.” Ricketts shares how she ended up booking the job, and saw that she loved it. “I realized then how much fun and exciting it was!” The Abercrombie job jump-started her career. “It just took off after that,” she adds. Ricketts went on to sign with the New York agency Wilhelmina Models when she was 16. She moved to NYC and has been there five years now, modeling full time. “Since then, I’ve worked for brands like CoverGirl, which was one of my big dreams, Maybelline, and Garnier, and have had the opportunity to live in so many amazing countries such as South Korea, London, Japan, and Australia,” she says.

Traveling, People, & Projects
She shares that while traveling is one of the most exciting parts of her job, it can also be one of the most challenging. “I’m thankful for the chance to travel the world, and even though it can be hard to be gone for months at a time, I wouldn’t change a thing about it,” says Ricketts, who has been to 26 countries in the last few years. “My next stop is Iceland and I can’t wait.” Another fun part of her career are the people and projects. “I have had the chance to work with so many talented people like Bruce Weber and Bobbi Brown. I also had the pleasure of being a part of so many fun ads for brands such as LeSportsac and Kendra Scott, and magazines like Glamour and Shape.”

A career in modeling may seem glamorous, but Ricketts still embraces the Texas girl she truly is. “I love Tex-Mex, burgers and fries, and of course, some good ole’ Texas barbeque,” she laughs. “I grew up going to the rodeo every year and spent Friday nights dancing with my high school drill team during football season. I still cheer on the Texans from NYC and am a big fan of JJ Watt.”

Ricketts says she treasures her family, and also loves a glass of red wine and an episode of Game of Thrones. A great sense of humor is vital in her life and industry, and she recalls one of her most embarrassing moments. “I embarrass myself daily, but one memory that sticks out the most is when I dropped a shampoo bottle in a store and it busted open. I then ended up slipping in the mess and falling on my face right in front of the checkout line.”

Being looked to as a fashion icon isn’t always easy, but she describes her style as a mix of being very feminine and girly one day, to being very tomboy and gothic the next. “My style is ever-changing,” she adds. Ricketts encourages other young women to embrace their dreams and go after them no matter how big or small they might seem. She says her favorite quote has always been, “Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” KM

CAITLIN SIGHTINGS

  • CoverGirl
  • Glamour Magazine
  • Seventeen Magazine
  • Maybelline
  • Shape Magazine
  • Garnier
  • Kendra Scott
  • Abercrombie
  • LeSportsac
  • Marie Claire Magazine

Katy, TX (June 2, 2017) The drum roll from the Seven Lakes Junior High Band marked the official groundbreaking on Elementary #41, which is set to be built in the fairly new community of Cross Creek Ranch.

This new campus is being made possible in part from savings from the 2014 bond and will serve to address growing enrollment taking place throughout Katy ISD.  The campus features diverse and transformative spaces that will blend learning with technology and opportunities for deepened engagement.

“In this area, we have four elementary schools which have opened up within the last five years and all of them have exceeded maximum capacity,” said Superintendent Lance Hindt.  “Elementary #41 will probably also open up near maximum capacity.”

Newly appointed Katy ISD Board of Trustees President Ashley Vann along with other board members also participated in the commemorative event. “The growth you see here in Katy serves as a testimony to the community, the culture and the legacy that we have built here together,” added Vann.

Courtesy of Katy ISD

 

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

Katy, TX Blog (May 30, 2017) – The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. During these months, Texas is more susceptible to powerful and destructive tropical storms and hurricanes. The City of Katy encourages everyone to assemble a disaster supply kit of emergency supplies including:

  • First-aid kit
  • NOAA Weather Radio or battery-operated radio
  • flashlight
  • necessary medications
  • non-perishable food items
  • bottled water

Tips:

  • Follow the City of Katy Office of Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for local updates.
  • Keep an eye out for storm-related hashtags on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-speed on storms as they progress.
  • Review your area’s hurricane evacuation map every year and watch for traffic updates to make the best decisions if an evacuation is needed.
  • Remember the evacuation assistance hotline, 2-1-1.
  • Always obey evacuation orders without hesitation, secure your home before leaving, and take pets with you.

Helpful Links: 

 

Katy, TX Blog (May 23, 2017) – From dining and dancing to shopping and painting, here are some of our favorite places to connect, unwind, or kick up your heels in Katy.

DINNER & DRINKS

LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
281-395-5533 | lacenterra.com
You can’t go wrong having dinner at local favorites like Dish Society or Las Alamedas. Take in social hour at Perry’s Steakhouse Monday through Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., or relax on the patio at World of Beer.

Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar
23139 Grand Circle Blvd.
832-430-2253 | whiskeycakekaty.com
Sorry boys, Wednesdays are all about the ladies. They have half off all wine bottles and glasses and other food and drink specials during their social hours on weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.

Agave Rio Restaurant & Patio Oasis
1138 FM 1463
281-665-3337 | agaverio.com
This tropical patio oasis has an adults-only patio section with live music on weekends. Catch up over wine and yummy appetizers, and make sure to try their Agave Mule signature cocktail. You’ll feel like you’re at a resort!

The Cellar Door
829 S. Mason Rd.
281-599-3303 | cellardoorkaty.com
Jazz it up with a live performance by trumpeter Preston Smith every Sunday night at 6 p.m. They have incredible wine selections and a delectable menu.

Dekker’s Mesquite Grill
8506 Syms St., Fulshear
281-533-0909 | dekkersmesquitegrill.net
Dekker’s has a super spacious outdoor deck that’s perfect for a girls’ gatherings, great food, and happy hour Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.

MidPoint Bar & Eatery
20920 Katy Fwy.
281-829-3749 | midpointbar.com
Fancy a milkshake? This local favorite features “adult” milkshakes in flavors like pineapple upside down, chocolate stout, and salted caramel in addition to an extensive wine and food menu.


MOVIES

Cinemark 19 and XD
1030 West Grand Pkwy. N.
281-371-6008 | cinemark.com
With their new plush comfy recliners, huge screens, and reserved seating options, Cinemark has it all…including cocktails!

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
531 S. Mason Rd.
281-492-6900 | drafthouse.com
Alamo has all of those classic “slumber party” movies like Clueless, Mean Girls, and Pretty in Pink, plus chairside service and a great menu make for an unforgettable evening.


PAINTING

A Painting Fiesta
6734 Westheimer Lakes N. Dr.
832-437-4359 | apaintingfiesta.com
Throw on a smock and enjoy one of their many fun, step-bystep painting classes. You can also decorate your very own wine glass with friends, so BYOB.


DANCING

Arthur Murray Dance Studio
3750 S. Mason Rd.
832-916-5500 | dancelessonshouston.com
Schedule a girlfriends’ group class and have a great time learning salsa, line dancing, and more.


HISTORIC KATY

No Label Brewing Co.
5351 1st St. 281-693-7545 | nolabelbrew.com
Schedule a tour of the brewery to find out how craft beers are made or participate in one of their Paint on Tap events.

KT Antiques
5614 2nd St.
281-391-2299 | ktantiques.net
Venture to historic Katy and check out the vintage treasures at KT Antiques. Fun collectibles, jewelry, decor, dishware, vintage signage, and much more.


TEA & TREATS

Leafology Tea Lounge
9006 S. Fry Rd. | 832-913-8707 27131

Cinco Ranch Blvd. | 832-913-6030
leafologytealounge.com
Leafology has elegaant padded booth seating, free wifi, and too many delicious specialty teas, smoothies, and slushies to list. They also have affordable food. A dozen of their famous potstickers costs only $3.59! Hang out as long as you like.

Proud Pie
3522 S. Mason Rd.
281-392-2203 | proudpie.com
For girls with a sweet tooth, Proud Pie serves delicious, amazing pies in flavors like bananas foster, snickerdoodle, state fair caramel apple, and bourbon pecan, to name a few. They sometimes offer Pie Bingo so call ahead!

Cocohodo
1645 Winding Hollow Dr.
832-321-5849 | cocohodo.us
Cocohodo is known for their Korean walnut-shaped pastries, but they also serve specialty crepes and liquid nitrogen ice cream for every palate. KM

Katy, TX Blog (May 22, 2017) – LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch will now be offering shuttle and valet to the public for free.

  • Valet: Thursday – Sunday, 4 – 11 p.m.
  • Shuttle: Daily, 12 – 8 p.m.
Courtesy of LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch 

Visit lacenterra.com.

 

Katy, TX Blogs (May 5, 2017) – “After 26 years in international education, one of the things I have enjoyed the most has been the rich, diverse and rewarding discussions with colleagues around the world. One of the common themes across Nord Anglia Education in recent years has been, how do we educate our students for their future?

Part of that discussion has been increasingly around the design of school buildings and learning environments. How can we expect to develop learning to meet the needs of 21st century learners when the buildings we work in still follow the same ‘industrial’ concepts used for years?

So, imagine being given the opportunity to be part of designing, building and opening a brand new, state-of-the-art, ‘school of the future’. Along with the Nord Anglia Corporate Development team and lead architect, Ed Schmidt, that’s exactly what we just did in Houston.

The basic premise was quite simple, instead of building a school around a standardized model of education and the requirements of teachers and teaching, what happens if you build it around the varied and personal needs of learners and their learning?

The usual concept for school buildings has traditionally been classrooms, each belonging to a teacher, all connected by corridors. Students move from room to room either based on their age or based on the subject they are being taught at that time. Rooms, furniture, displays are usually fixed. Of course, this model matches the traditional, industrialized and standardized model for education that has been in place for many years. In addition, rectangular boxes, joined by straight corridors are cheap and easy to build.

But, the real world does not work in isolation and we know that learners do not learn best in isolated classrooms. Connectivity is everywhere and modern schools must be willing to adapt.

Imagine the conversation with our teachers a few years ago. It went something like:

We are going to have a new campus (lots of cheers).

But, teachers will not have their own classrooms (fewer cheers).

There will not even be offices for individual administrative staff (even fewer cheers).

There will be no teacher’s desks, teacher’s white boards or even fronts to rooms (deafening silence and obvious shock in the room).

I have to give full credit to our staff. They have been incredibly open minded, hardworking and willing to try new ideas. This transition could have been very tough without such a team and they deserve a great deal of the credit.

Our new 275,000 square foot campus opened this summer. Spanning 34 acres and accommodating over 2000 students, the school features an array of facilities and exciting learning areas that enrich the student experience.

General Concepts:

  • The entire campus was designed and built around the varied and personal needs of learners and their learning
  • All learning spaces are variable and flexible
  • Teachers are not assigned to a specific room. Instead the campus is built in ‘neighborhoods’ to which teachers are assigned
  • Each neighborhood has eight learning spaces, with flexible and moveable furniture
  • Learning environments within neighborhoods can be adapted, changed and developed to support teacher and student needs
  • Many teachers allow the students to design the learning environment most appropriate for the learning at that moment
  • The interior is mainly glass, very transparent and very light
  • Each neighborhood has a variety of floor to ceiling collaborative writing walls, interactive projectors as well as large screen TVs
  • All projectors and TVs are connected wirelessly via Apple TVs; this 1:1 environment allows any student to project their work in any place at any time

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that every time I walk around the building the layout is different. The neighborhoods change every hour, depending on the needs of the learners.

Architectural Learning Concept

In his book ‘From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments,’ David Thornburg talks about the need to create a balance in spaces such as caves, campfires, watering holes and mountain tops. Each has a particular learning function, from quiet reflection to research, discussion, collaboration and presentation.

Similarly, every area in our school purposefully has possibilities.

The center of the building is the Agora, the Greek ‘Market Place’ where anyone can come to share ideas, research and collaborate. This is the heart of the building, from where you can see the whole school in motion. The glass allows visibility in to all learning spaces and sometimes I just like to sit here and observe.

At any time in the Agora you will see younger children reading, older students researching, a class being taught, teachers lesson planning and a few parents chatting over a coffee, all at the same time. You will also see several administrators working, since this has become the chosen ‘office space’ for the leadership team. It’s a great place to be easily found.

Impact

While we need more time and a larger study to measure the full impact of the new learning environment, some things have been immediate and obvious. We have had many visitors come in the new facility since it opened and everyone seems to have the same feedback: students in all year groups are highly engaged and move around the building with a high level of purpose and ownership of their learning.

This is very clear to all of us who work in the building on a daily basis. We need to study it in more detail, but we believe it has a lot to do with the fact that the entire building is built for learners; it is their school. In this school, learning is not something that is done to students. Instead, it is something that we empower our students to embrace and nurture, encouraging them to take responsibility for their individual growth on every level.

I have to say that this project has surpassed our expectations in many areas. We learned so much from our NAE colleagues around the world and from visiting other schools, so we would like to warmly invite anyone who is in the area to come and take a look. We never get tired of showing people around.”

 

Courtesy of Andrew Derry, BISH Principal

Katy, TX (May 5, 2017) – Polling locations for the City of Katy mayoral and city council election.

Election Day
Saturday, May 6, 2017 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Ward A
Katy City Hall
901 Ave. c

Ward B 
Katy Municipal Courthouse
5432 Franz Rd.

Click here to see the most current City of Katy Ward map.

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 

Katy, TX News (April 19, 2017) – The dates for early voting and election day for the 2017 Katy ISD Board election have been announced. The Board is comprised of seven members who are elected at-large to fill available positions. In accordance with the provisions of the Texas Education Code, a person may not be elected as a trustee of Katy ISD unless the person is a qualified voter.

An individual seeking election as a member of the Board of Trustees must have been a resident of the state for 12 months and a resident of the District six months prior to the last date on which the candidate could file to be listed on the ballot. The following persons have filed as candidates for the upcoming election.

Dates, candidate information, polling information, and more below.

EARLY VOTING DATES & LOCATIONS

Monday, April 24, 2017 – Tuesday, May 2, 2017 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Cinco Ranch High School
    23440 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
  • Morton Ranch High School
    21000 Franz Rd.
  • Seven Lakes High School
    9251 S. Fry Rd.
  • Taylor High School
    20700 Kingsland Blvd.
  • Leonard Merrell Center
    Rooms 143 – 144
    6301 S. Stadium Ln.

ELECTION DAY POLLING LOCATIONS

Election Day is Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Precinct 1 – Seven Lakes High School
    9251 S. Fry Rd.
  • Precinct 2 – Cinco Ranch High School
    23440 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
  • Precinct 3 – Katy City Hall
    901 Avenue C.
  • Precinct 4 – Katy Municipal Court Building
    5432 Franz Rd.
  • Precinct 5 – Hayes Elementary
    21203 Park Timbers Ln.
  • Precinct 6 – Taylor High School
    20700 Kingsland Blvd.
  • Precinct 7 – Maurice Wolfe Elementary
    502 Addicks-Howell
  • Precinct 8 – Morton Ranch High School
    21000 Franz Rd.
  • Precinct 9 – Mayde Creek Junior High
    2700 Greenhouse Rd.
  • Precinct 10 – Bear Creek Elementary
    4815 Hickory Downs
  • Precinct 11 – Pattison Elementary
    19910 Stonelodge Dr.
  • Precinct 12 – Shafer Elementary
    5150 Ranch Point Dr.
  • Precinct 13 – Beck Junior High
    5200 S. Fry Rd.

Click here to locate your precinct based on county boundaries.


CANDIDATES & POSITIONS

Position 3 Candidates 

  • Candice Perkins
  • Ashley Diehl Vann
  • Dr. David Velasquez

Position 4 Candidates

  • Courtney Doyle
  • Carlos Young

Position 5 Candidates

  • Henry Dibrell
  • William E. “Bill” Lacy

Courtesy of Katy ISD. Visit katyisd.org for more information .

Katy, TX (April 13, 2017) – One of the most commonly used modalities in stretching routines is the foam roller, which mimic a therapist’s myofascial release techniques and has been shown to increase range of motion, reduce soreness, improve tissue recovery and decrease the overall effects of stress placed on the body. Rollers come in several different lengths, densities and surface structures.

When to Use

Foam rolling should be done before dynamic or static stretching exercises to increase body temperature and improve the tissue’s ability to lengthen during a stretch.

How to Use

When using the foam roller before exercise, roll eight to 10 times at a moderate pace along the muscle and follow with dynamic stretching. When using post-exercise, slowly roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Hold on that targeted area for 20 to 30 seconds until discomfort is reduced. If discomfort becomes intolerable, back off the area.

Common Areas

The most common troubled areas cyclists experience are the iliotibial bands (IT bands), hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip adductors, calves and the back. These areas are very susceptible to tightness, which can lead to injury. With rigorous training programs and competitions it is vital that these areas are addressed to decrease the chances of injury and potentially increase performance.

Precautions

Individuals who have been medically diagnosed or are experiencing symptoms related to osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, varicose veins or pregnancy, or who are unsure about their condition, should consult a physician before beginning to apply soft-tissue therapy.

 

Courtesy of Memorial Hermann Hospital 

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.

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

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. 

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)

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.

Katy, TX News (March 2, 2017) – When it comes to working toward a successful business, Sam Zavary says the key is planning, planning, planning.

That was the message of the Exclusive Furniture CEO’s presentation Thursday night at the University of Houston-Victoria Katy Campus. Zavary shared his knowledge with UHV students, alumni, faculty and staff, and community members as part of the UHV School of Business Administration Distinguished Speaker Series.

“The Distinguished Speaker Series gives UHV students access to some of the wisdom and personal experiences of leaders in the business world,” said Farhang Niroomand, dean of the UHV School of Business Administration. “Sam Zavary’s presentation was full of insight and advice that reinforces many of the concepts taught in our classrooms. We are grateful for his participation in the series.”

Zavary began selling furniture 18 years ago in a 2,000-square-foot store. Now, the company has access to 250,000 square feet of space, including warehousing and seven Exclusive Furniture locations throughout Houston.

The CEO took a more interactive approach to his presentation than many previous speakers. Instead of a long lecture, he opened with a 10-minute presentation, then took questions from the large audience.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to have personal interaction with someone who was just like them 18 years ago,” said Jifu Wang, associate dean of the UHV School of Business Administration. “Students can learn the theory of how to be successful in the classroom and even get some experience through simulations, but it’s important for them to see these high-caliber, successful stories in person.”

In addition to planning, Zavary emphasized the importance of communication and training. Poor communication can lead to all kinds of problems for businesses, he said. And because the market constantly is changing, it is vital that employees go through training that reflects those changes.

“My employees undergo training every day,” he said. “It is what makes us different from our competitors.”

At the end of the discussion, Zavary referred to the changing attitude many people have toward shopping and making major purchases. Today, more and more customers are interested in buying everything from clothes to furniture online instead of going to a store. If retail businesses want to remain successful, they must find a way to integrate those changes into their business models, he said.

“The point about the importance of integrating online sales and social media is an important one for today’s students,” Wang said. “At its core, business is about getting results, and we train our students to create solutions to the changes in customers’ preferences and shifts in the business environment.”

In addition to Zavary’s presentation, the winners of the December 2016 undergraduate and graduate Case Conferences were recognized during the event. The first-, second- and third-place teams and honorable mentions were given plaques and honored for their achievement.

Since 2011, the UHV School of Business Administration Distinguished Speaker Series has brought in area executives to discuss contemporary business issues. Past speakers have included Mike Rydin, Heavy Construction System Specialist CEO; Helen Sharkey, a former consultant with Dynegy; Ben Keating, president and owner of Keating Auto Group and Viper Exchange Racing; and Roger Dartt, DeLorean Motor Co. president.

Katy, TX News (March 1, 2017) – Katy ISD is sharing information about the State, district and your child’s campus as part of our obligations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). An information letter, along with a copy of the 2015-16 Federal Report Cards for the State, district and individual campuses are available for review online at tea.texas.gov.

An optional notification letter in English and Spanish is available if you choose to use this method of communicating. This is not a requirement. It is not necessary to send the Federal Report Card home with students.

Katy, TX (February 16, 2017) –  Bring on the balloons, hot dogs, and bouncy houses – it’s party planning time! These Katy venues take the work off of you and allow more time for memories and fun. Whether you’re after an artistic experience or a superhero laser tag thrill, you’re sure to find something that will put the icing on the cake!

Compiled by Katy Magazine’s Editors

Altitude Trampoline Park
altitudekaty.com
Packages range from $170 to $430

Chuck E. Cheese
chuckecheese.com
Prices range from $14 to $23.99 per child

Cinemark 19 and XD
cinemark.com
Private screenings start at $100 plus ticket

Connolly Dance Arts
connollydancearts.com
Packages start at $250

The Crazy Canvas
thecrazycanvas.com
Packages start at $25 per child

The Dancer’s Closet Katy
thedancersclosetkaty.com
Parties are $350

Frozen Ropes
frozenropes.com/katy
Packages start at $250

Giggles and Fun
gigglesandfun.com
Packages start at $300

iFly Houston
iflyworld.com
Packages start at $1,028

Inflatable Katy
inflatablekaty.com
Packages start at $350

Jumpstreet
gotjump.com/katy
Packages start at $5 per person

Katy Kips Gymnastics Club
katykips.com
Packages start at $275

Life Time Fitness
lifetimefitness.com
Packages start at $225

Main Event
mainevent.com
Packages start at $14.95 per person

Mason Road Skate Center
masonroadskatecenter.com
Packages start at $144.95

Monkey Joe’s Katy
monkeyjoes.com
Packages start at $209

Monty Ballard YMCA at Cinco Ranch
ymcahouston.org/katy
Packages start at $250

My Gym Katy
mygym.com/katy
Packages start at $200

Oil Ranch
oilranch.com
Packages start at $340

Potter’s Brush
pottersbrush.com
Packages start at $6 per person

Pump It Up
pumpitupparty.com/katy-tx
Packages start at $199

Santikos Palladium AVX
santikos.com
Packages start at $15 per person

Segway Outback
segwayoutback.com
Packages start at $415

Smith Ranch
smithranchkaty.com
Packages start at $325

The Storybook Cottage
thestorybookcottage.com
Packages start at $260

Sweet Three Nail Lounge
sweetthreenaillounge.com
Average price is $25 per person

Tilt Studio
tiltstudio.com
Packages start at $279

Times Square Entertainment
timessquaretx.com
Parties start at $15 per person

Topgolf
topgolf.com
Average price is $25 per person

Typhoon Texas Waterpark
typhoontexas.com
Packages start at $325

Vortexic Martial Arts
vortexic.com
Party packages start at $150

Westwood Gymnastics & Dance
westwoodgym.com
Packages start at $180

Katy, TX (February 16, 2017) –  Time is running out to submit your nomination for the naming of the second stadium! This new facility will join Rhodes Stadium in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Student Activities Complex this fall.

The deadline for nominations is tomorrow, February 17 at 4 p.m.

For specific facility naming guidelines check out the Katy ISD Board Policy CW (Local).  To submit a name for the Katy ISD second stadium, please use the Nomination for Naming a New School or Facility Form which can be submitted:

  • Personal delivery to Education Support Complex (ESC)
    Communications Department
    6301 S. Stadium Lane
    Katy, TX  77494

To learn more about the facility naming process visit the Katy ISD School or Facility Naming webpage.

Courtesy of Katy ISD

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

Written by Ashley Lancaster

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

KM_Dec Jan_17_Taylor Thi_Taylor_Brown6380_photo by David Gaona
Photo by David Gaona

Drawing Inspiration
Although she began formally training at the age of 15, she considers her sixth-grade performance her official debut. “I performed ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna at the Beckendorff Junior High pop concert,” she says. And she has been strategically placing herself in local gigs in order to build a following ever since.

“The rush of adrenaline is unexplainable; you can walk on stage and be whoever you want to be. You can be confident, a completely different person and just let loose,” she adds. “You forget everything and just feel free in that moment.” Thi spends hours at a time writing notes and lyrics. “Every song I write has a special meaning to me because I never want to write about something I don’t mean or feel.”

KM_Dec Jan_17_Taylor Thi_3_photo by David Gaona

Wildest Dreams
The young songwriter finds strength to pursue her dreams close to home. “My family has always been my biggest supporters no matter what. I’m extremely family-oriented and they are the ones I show all my music to first. Everything I do, they see or get to hear before I announce or release anything,” she says.

Thi comes from a family not afraid to pursue their wildest dreams, and credits her father for giving her the courage to try. “He was from a small town, lived on a farm, and grew up being told by everyone he knew that he would never achieve his dream of being a pilot. He has now been a pilot for 41 years. Every time someone tries to tear me down, I think about my dad, and I know I’ll prove them wrong.”

Thi recently directed her own music video for her original song, “The Real Me,” which received over 20,000 views on YouTube. “It was such an amazing experience,” she says.

Armed with a notebook full of material, Thi plans to continue working on singles and eventually produce her first EP. But her future plans also include receiving an education. “I would love to go to college for audio engineering or songwriting,” she adds. “I’m still deciding, but I’m positive I’ll be around music no matter what.” KM

Katy, TX (January 23, 2017) – Two teachers at British International School in Katy, Texas did exceptionally well at the Houston Marathon earlier this month. Mr. Tim Barnett (primary, year six) placed second in his age category and third place overall with a race time of 39:20 and Mr. Ben Brown (primary, year one) placed second in his category at the Choco Loco 10K.

 

Houston Marathon

 

Katy, TX January 17, 2017

Models don’t just live in Milan, Paris, or New York. There are stunning and talented models who were raised or live right here in Katy.

Written by Lacey Kupfer Wulf 

Modeling is not an easy profession. It comes with harsh criticism, working long hours in uncomfortable clothing or weather, and demanding bosses. These five beautiful girls and women share how to look past the hard stuff and revel in the spotlight of being a top model.

Legendary Model
Tatiana LaBello, formerly Tatiana Anderson, is a model with ambition. By age 9, she had over 150 trophies in modeling, beauty pageants, dance, pep squad, cheerleading, and baton twirling. She even taught aerobics classes in Katy at age 14. After graduating from Katy High School, LaBello became a professional cheerleader for three major sports teams: the NFL Denver Broncos, the NBA Houston Rockets, and the USFL Houston Gamblers; wrote a fitness book, and received many fitness pageant titles.

 

KM Dec Jan 16_Katys Top Models_Tatianna Anderson (16)
Photography by Michael Helms

Her greatest claim to fame, however, is being the host of ESPN’s top-rated fitness show Kiana’s Flex Appeal. She  also hosted a lifestyle show with Robin Leach on CBS and was interviewed on extra, Inside Edition, and appeared in episodes of Friends, Baywatch, and She Spies. Now, as a healthy lifestyle coach and owner of LaBello Lifestyle, she has relocated to Houston to be closer to family. She says, “True beauty comes from the inside. We need to work equally on the inside, mentally and spiritually, as much as the outside.”

On a Whim 
When Amy Gonzales heard about a casting call for a local Houston magazine, JMG Magazine, she decided to try out. She says, “I was so nervous when I walked in and saw so many tall, beautiful girls who knew exactly what they were doing.” Despite her lack of modeling experience, she was chosen and was shooting outdoors in 100-degree weather two weeks later. “It was quite the warm welcome to the industry!” she says.

Dec Jan 17 _ Katys Top Models_ Amy Gonzalez (6)
Photography by Francesca Murray

Since that first experience, she has modeled for JCPenney, Paul Mitchell, Mary Kay, and local designers in Houston and Dallas. Gonzales says, “Every job is different which is so fun for me! It doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun doing it.”

Defying Standards
Like many little girls, Brianna Key grew up with a dream to participate in pageants and be in magazines. Although she did some modeling as a child, her career really started at age 12 after appearing in ads for Wimpy’s Hamburgers in downtown Houston, and participating in music video pilots for the Disney Channel. She is a former Texans Cheerleader and has won Miss USA titles like Miss Texas Continental and has modeled for Sierra Pacific Bridal and Cane Island.

Dec Jan 17 _ Katys Top Models_ Brianna Key 5_Photo by Arthur Garcia
Photography by Arthur Garcia

In her work, Key has been told that she is too short or not good enough to be a model. “Once I step outside that room, I have to realize who I am and be proud of who I am. I can’t control what I look like, but I’ve come pretty far. I have defied standards,” she says. “I’m good enough for myself, and that’s what matters.” At age 25, she now owns her own business, Key Designs, and takes modeling opportunities as they arise.

Born with a Talent
At 9 months old, Kyrie McAlpin danced on top of the table when her great-grandmother played music and acted out songs she listened to. She says, “I was born with that natural talent. I love modeling, acting, and dancing.” After attending Drama Kids Camp and taking acting and modeling classes with the Neal Hamil agency, Kyrie’s career has taken off. Her credentials include Academy Sports and Outdoors weekly ads, a Nationwide Insurance commercial, and a Macy’s showcase.

Dec Jan 16_Katys Top Models_ Kyrie McAlpin (11)_photo by Debbie Porter
Photography by Debbie Porter

Five-year-old Kyrie’s mom, Kadene says, “Be yourself and get as much training as possible. You can never have enough.” Although Kyrie occasionally travels for gigs, including to California to play a young Mary in a Mary J. Blige music video, she and her family live in Katy for the amazing schools.

A Young Pro
Unlike most toddlers, who often fight standing still for pictures, 3-year-old Cami Valverde loves having her picture taken. Her mother Patty says, “She sees a camera, and she starts posing, and she loves to look at the pictures to see how they came out after we are done.” Cami started modeling clothes and headbands for small clothing shops at just 9 months old.

Dec Jan 16_Katys Top Models_ Camila Valverde (19)_Photo by Tia Ray
Photography by Tia Ray

Her pictures have been printed in magazines like Semana News, Magnificent Magazine, Big City Kids, and Stylish Milk Magazine. She is also on Instagram for brands like Cherokee, Munchkin, and Igloo Coolers. Patty says, “She is so free-spirited, so I think her poses are always fun and different with a little bit of sass.” KM

LACEY KUPFER WULF is a wife, mother of twin toddler boys, and a freelance writer.

Katy, TX – January 6, 2017  Katy ISD is pleased to announce the establishment of an Athletic Hall of Honor to recognize the efforts and contributions of former student athletes, athletic teams, coaches and special merit individuals who have brought distinction, honor and excellence to themselves and to the District.

kisdath

Nominations are now being accepted through March 15, 2017.  Submissions will be reviewed by the Katy ISD Athletic Hall of Honor Honorary Board and voted on by the Katy ISD Athletic Hall of Honor Committee. Once submitted, a nominee’s application will remain active for five years with the Honorary Board. Due to the sheer volume of alumni worthy of such an honor, nominations will be accepted annually.

The Hall of Honor Committee has already selected the following four state championship teams to be honored in the inaugural class of the Athletic Hall of Honor:

  • Katy High School 1959 Football State Champions
  • Katy High School 1997 Football State Champions
  • Taylor High School 1997 Tennis State Champions
  • Taylor High School 1998 Tennis State Champions.

Individuals and state championship teams will be honored at a 2017 fall banquet and a Katy ISD football game. State championship teams will continue to be added to the Athletic Hall of Honor every year.  For more information and access to the requirements and nomination form, click here.

Courtesy of Katy ISD

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.

Katy, TX – December 22, 2016 Internationally ranked professional golfer Patrick Reed stopped by Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital with his wife, Justine, to deliver special treats for pediatric patients who are hospitalized during the holidays.

mem-her

The Reeds graciously donated dozens of toys, games, coloring books and infant rattles, delivering the gifts in an oversized Santa bag much to the delight of the boys and girls at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

The presents provided a welcome distraction for the children and their families, helping brighten their days during a difficult time and bringing a taste of the season to the patients who are unable to go home.

The Reeds partnered with the hospital in an effort to give back to the community that has embraced them. Patrick Reed, who is ranked eighth in the world and was a member of the 2016 Ryder Cup championship team, has established his home in Houston with his wife and young daughter.

“We are so grateful for their thoughtful gesture which brought joy and cheer to the children across our hospital,” said Susan Distefano, Senior Vice President and CEO of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “This time of year can be a struggle for families in the hospital, but kind acts like this help restore a little magic back into their holidays.”

Courtesy of Memorial Hermann Hospital

 

The publishers of Katy Magazine honored 10 extraordinary citizens at the Katy Area Economic Development Council’s general assembly meeting

Katy, TX December 13, 2016—Today, Katy Magazine officially announced their People of the Year award winners at the Katy Area Economic Development Council General Assembly meeting held at the Education Support Complex. Ten outstanding Katy area residents were presented with awards in front of a large audience of business and community leaders at the Katy Area Economic Development Council’s monthly assembly meeting. The 10 honorees are also featured in the Dec/Jan issue of Katy Magazine and will be showcased in their upcoming Katy Business Magazine launching in early 2017.

This list of honorees includes Katy area residents from all walks of life– extraordinary educators, volunteers, heroes, and community leaders across Katy. The oldest honoree is 93-year-old Avadele Short, an active volunteer who’s logged more than 10,000 hours serving at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital. The youngest honoree is Nolan Stilwell, age 27, a beloved Katy entrepreneur who thrives despite having Down syndrome. One honoree, Stan Stanley, was named posthumously, for his dedicated service and humanitarianism in Katy.

stan-stanley-katy-magazine-people-of-the-year-award kay-callender-katy-magazine-people-of-the-year-award

The 2016 Katy People of the Year Honorees are as follows:

  • Andy Kahan, a dedicated crime victims’ rights advocate
  • Avadele Short, a 93-year-old avid hospital volunteer
  • Bob Bryant, Katy ISD’s former director of Fine Arts and new school namesake
  • David Morrison, a community superhero who volunteers as HolyBatman to brighten the lives of children
  • Karen Sparks, Katy ISD Restorative Practices Coordinator who has inspired hundreds of students
  • Kay Callender, founder of Keep Katy Beautiful whose projects have won many awards
  • Nolan Stilwell, creator of Sweet Heat Jam Co. and who also has Down syndrome
  • Peter McElwain, Katy ISD’s leading planner and architect who is retiring after 18 years
  • Stan Stanley, founder of the Katy Area EDC, school namesake, and community leader (Posthumous honoree who passed away March 29, 2016)
  • Tina Hatcher, founder of Hope Impacts, an organization that helps transform the lives of Katy’s homeless

katy-magazine-people-of-the-year-group

“We couldn’t be more honored to celebrate these extraordinary citizens who are definitely making Katy a better place for all of us,” says Publisher Katrina Katsarelis. “Each honoree exemplifies the loving, caring spirt of Katy, Texas.”

katy-people-of-the-year-katy-people-of-the-yearLast year’s 2015 Katy People of the Year recipients included: Da’dra Greathouse, singer, songwriter, musician, and speaker; Rebekah Gregory, Boston Marathon bombing survivor; Andy Dalton, NFL quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals; Christina Dismuke, 2016 TASA Region IV Elementary Teacher of the Year; Alton Frailey, former Superintendent of Katy ISD; Coach Gary Joseph, head coach for the Katy Tigers; Shari Nightingale, founder of Lindsay’s Light; Mayor Fabol Hughes, elected mayor in 2013 and reelected in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

CONTACT: Katrina Katsarelis, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher Katy Magazine 281.579.9840 katrinak@katymagazine.com

Katy, TX – November 23, 2016 Katy Aquatics received a special appearance from Olympic gold medalist Anthony Ervin earlier this month on Tuesday, November 15th at the Katy High School Natatorium. Ervin’s visit was part of an outreach effort presented by the USA Swimming Athlete Partnership Program to encourage young swimmers to lead champion lifestyles and stay physically active. These appearances directly promote the sport and the healthy lifestyle it represents.

anthony-ervin-group-photo

anthony-ervin-gold-medal

Anthony brought his Olympic gold medal from Rio to share with the kids and inspire them to continue and persevere in the sport of swimming. Ervin was able to speak to our Age Group swimmers and share his journey from learning how to swim, to becoming an Olympic athlete. He spoke about his struggles, successes and how he used both to make his come-back during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Anthony did a great job speaking to our athletes on their level and relating to them through his own experiences in the sport. Anthony captivated both our athletes and their families in a very motivational speech and concluded the evening with group photo sessions.

anthony-ervin-gold-medal-1

All of the Katy Aquatics swimmers and parents thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet Anthony on a personal level and would like to extend a heart-felt Thank You to USA Swimming for creating an awe-inspiring visit with our team. This event was a special memory for our athletes to share with one another for years to come!  This was truly an exciting day for our entire club, and we wish you all the best in your future career Anthony!         Katy Aquatics has professional coaches on our competitive and non-competitive staff who provide challenging and innovative training to support the development of each individual swimmer.  We offer instruction for swimmers of all ages and abilities, as well as host Water Safety events in our local Katy area throughout the year.

anthony-ervin-motivational-speech

Courtesy of Katy Aquatics

Katy, TX – November 22, 2016 Over the past few weeks, Katy ISD hosted dedication ceremonies for two of their newest schools, MayDell Jenks Elementary and Catherine Bethke Elementary. The Katy community, Board of Trustees, Fort Bend County officials, and the namesakes themselves, MayDell Krivacka Jenks, and Catherine Gigi Bethke, were all in attendance.

bethke-photo

These new schools were designed and built as a result of the district’s $748 million bond referendum approved by voters in November of 2014. VLK Architects was hired by Katy ISD to work in collaboration with the district and the community to create a new two-story elementary school prototype with Bethke and Jenks as the first schools to open. The hope with these new schools is to inspire students and engage different learning styles through the availability of collaborative and flexible spaces. In addition, these new facilities were constructed to address and accommodate Katy ISD’s increasing student population.

“I could not be more proud to have this opportunity to open a new state-of-the-art facility,” said Katy ISD Superintendent, Dr. Lance Hindt. “I am in awe to see the student adaptability and creativity as they develop individual modes of learning and collaboration through the use of flexible spaces.”

At the Jenks Elementary School Dedication Ceremony, Principal Troy Kemp spoke about how humbling it is to be a part of and represent Jenks in his role as principal. “This week the ‘Book of Awesome’ showed up in my mailbox,” said Kemp. “It is a book filled with pages of the little things in life that can turn an ordinary day into something very special. While opening a new school is by no means a little thing, I have to say it is awesome! It’s awesome in the traditional sense that it is something to be enjoyed, revered, and respected. It is also awesome because of the children and the families that I have gotten to know by being a part of this school.”

Mike Schofield, Texas House of Representatives, District 132 attended the Bethke Dedication Ceremony and spoke about how valuable it is to attend a new school and have the opportunity to pass wisdom down to descendants. “Fifty years from now, when some of the students who attend Bethke Elementary are retiring and happen to be driving by with their grandchildren, they will tell them ‘this is where I went to school. This is where I learned the lessons that I passed on to your parents, and they passed on to you,” said Schofield. “I can’t think of a higher calling or a better use for a piece of land than to be the place where that happens.”

Katy ISD’s Board of Trustees President, Rebecca Fox spoke at both dedication ceremonies and mentioned how much she enjoys seeing new campuses open within her own community. “There are no words that explain what a privilege and honor it is to represent you on Katy ISD’s School Board,” said Fox. “We are just so grateful that we get to be a part of a community that values education. You all have been supportive of us as we continue to grow and make more opportunities for our students to learn.”

These projects have been a two-year journey to completion which was a success that greatly benefited from the cooperation of the district, bringing these campuses to life.

“I just want to say thank you to the Katy ISD community for the opportunity to design learning spaces that will be used by your next generation of learners,” said Todd Lien, VLK Principal. “It was truly a collaborative effort and we could not be more grateful.”

Courtesy of VLK Architects

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!

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Katy, TX – November 10, 2016

The Cinco Ranch High School Chapter of Future Business Leaders of America got together for their annual Halloween Katy Christian Ministries Can Drive. While Halloween commonly holds the American tradition of people of all ages receiving candy and joy from others, the Cinco Ranch Chapter of FBLA decided to take a refreshing reverse and give to others rather than receive. Members went above and beyond spending a round trip of as long as 6 hours placing flyers on their neighbors’ doors and then returning the next day to collect cans to donate to KCM. With the combined effort of hardworking and generous members, the Cinco Ranch Chapter of FBLA was able to collect a grand total of 1316 cans with Daniel Gaw donating the most at an impressive count 325 cans! Following the collection, they had a spooky social decked out with all kinds of creative costumes including teabags, snapchat filters, zombies, magicians, and much more! After dinner, the members gathered to participate in an exciting costume contest by competing against one another for the best costume on the runway! After a couple hours of fun and games, the winner was declared: Haylee Giang won the contest with her “tea-rrific” costume! Special thanks to PDQ for providing FBLA with a nice location and amazing food for this year’s “Scare Away Hunger” can drive and Abby Rooney’s dad for providing a large truck to transport all 1316 cans to KCM. The Cinco Ranch High School Chapter of FBLA had an enjoyable time making awesome memories and helping out in the community.

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Courtesy of Angela Young, Cinco Ranch FBLA Reporter

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.

Katy, TX Blog (November 16, 2015) – From Katy ISD Leadership – “As you may already know, on Friday the world was shocked to learn of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Today, as a mark of respect for those victims, our flags were flown at half-staff and will remain as such until sunset on Thursday. Furthermore, many Katy ISD schools and facilities participated in a moment of silence today at 12:00 noon to honor the memory of the victims.

Even though this took place in another country, its impact reaches across the world and gives us reason to pause and think about our families and our children, as no community is immune to random acts of violence.

Here in Katy ISD, we take proactive measures to not only be prepared to respond to random acts of violence, but to prevent – to the extent that we can – them from occurring in the first place.

The safety and security of students and staff members on our campuses is of the highest priority and by working together to create healthy and positive relationships with teachers and the school, we can ensure that we provide safe teaching and learning environments.”

 

Katy ISD

KATY, TX  – Trendmaker Homes has opened its fully-furnished, luxury model home in Katy’s Cane Island where the Houston homebuilder has debuted a larger version of one of its most popular plans more suitable for the master-planned community’s larger homesites.

Built with a stucco and stone elevation, Trendmaker’s new model home in Cane Island features five bedrooms with a first-floor master suite, 4.5 baths, spacious casual dining area, study, game room, media room, hidden storage area, a three-car garage and covered patio.  The new home also features a second bedroom on the first-floor, ideal for use as a guest room, a baby’s nursery or mother-in-law suite.

Along with opening its new model, Trendmaker will add 22 new luxury homes in one of Cane Island’s secluded, gated sections on 80-foot and larger homesites.  Several coveted cul-de-sac homesites also are available.  Starting in the $550’s, the homebuilder’s one and two-story, four and five-bedroom plans range from 3,614 – 4,787 square feet.  A 1.5-story plan also is available. Trendmaker Home’s model in Katy’s Cane Island is open Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon – 6 p.m.

Along with the new Trendmaker model home, Cane Island offers a new model by Perry Homes, now open daily, with others by David Weekley Homes and Coventry Homes opening later this summer.  Ryland Homes, Shea Homes and Toll Brothers also will open fully furnished models in the Katy master-planned community.

Construction also continues on Cane Island’s Welcome Center, Recreation Center, family pool, poolside cafe, glass-walled conservatory and yoga studio.  Other residential neighborhoods, open green spaces, pocket parks and several play areas which pay tribute to the area’s history in railroads, oil and gas, farming and other industries also will be added.

 

Press release courtesy of Kaplan Public Relations

 

The fabulous fun guide for moms, wives, and ladies all over Katy.

Written by Ashley Lancaster
Every now and then, it’s good to get out and enjoy some fun times with your best girlfriends. Whether you’re discussing a new book, taking part in some retail therapy, or dining at a trendy restaurant, here’s a list of delightful ways to relax, recharge, and reconnect in Katy.

Catch up during  dinner and a free outdoor movie  at Central Green Park in LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
Catch up during dinner and a free outdoor movie
at Central Green Park in LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch

LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
281-395-5533
lacenterra.com
Enjoy lunch on the patio at D’Amico’s Italian Restaurant or dinner at Perry’s Steakhouse and grab a sweet treat at Rocket Fizz or the Sweet Boutique before you leave.

Pinot’s Palette
2910 Commercial Center Blvd., #102
pinotspalette.com
Bring your friends and your favorite bottle of wine for some painting. They offer weekday classes and rooms for private parties.

Schakolad Chocolate Factory
2020 S. Fry Rd.
832-321-3580
schakolad.com
Schedule a chocolate-making class and learn the art of crafting delicious treats.

Santikos Palladium
7301 Grand Pkwy.santikos.com
Work on your strike at the bowling lanes and try some delicious gelato before a show. Get treated like a star with in-theater dining – they bring your gourmet meal directly to you.

Play dress-up and shop home décor  and furniture at Junk Street Market
Play dress-up and shop home décor
and furniture at Junk Street Market

Brookwood Community
1752 FM 1489, Brookshire
brookwoodcommunity.org
Just a short drive from Katy, the gift shop, gardens, and award-winning café are the perfect spot to have lunch with the girls.

Salata Katy
1230 Mason Rd., #200
281-394-9292
salata.com
Mix and match your favorite toppings from over 50 fresh ingredients to create a delicious, guilt-free salad or wrap.

Hauerland’s
1648 S. Mason Rd.
281-395-4595
2717 Commerical Center Blvd., #150D
281-394-9272
Shop with the girls at this unique boutique that carries specialty gifts and collectibles with popular brands like Pandora, Vera Bradley, and more.

Mary Jo Peckham Park
5597 Gardenia Ln.
pct3.hctx.net
Bring a few healthy snacks and challenge friends and family to a game of mini golf.

Villagio Town Center
22764 Westheimer Pkwy.
Stop for a treat at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt or spice up your girl’s night with upbeat Latin and Salsa music and international cuisine at Babaloo International Café on Latin Fridays.

Enjoying the artwork at Katy Contemporary Art Museum
Enjoying the artwork at Katy Contemporary Arts Museum

Planet Ballroom Katy
1315 Grand Pkwy., #104
832-437-5416
planetballroom.com
Master a fun new skill by learning the tango, waltz, cha cha, Salsa, jive, swing, country, and more. You don’t have to have a designated partner to take a class.

Tiger-Rock Martial Arts of Katy
625A S. Mason Rd.
281-829-9300
katytkd.com
Groups of ve to 10 can sign up for a self-defense course that builds confidence as you learn how to be prepared for any situation. Schedule a weekend class or ask them to come to you! Call for availability.

The Cellar Door
829 S. Mason Rd.
cellardoorkaty.com
Have a friendly gathering with your closest friends and sip a glass of wine in an intimate, relaxed setting.
They have an extensive menu with everything from sweet whites to port style varieties and daily wine tastings until 6 p.m.

Alamo Drafthouse
531 S. Mason Rd.
drafthouse.com
Have a fun, silly girls night and check out an entertainment event like the totally ‘80s, ultimate ‘90s or Pitch Perfect sing-along night, big screen classics night with films like My Fair Lady and Gone with the Wind, and quote-along nights to your favorite comedies like Anchorman and Wayne’s World.

Katy Budget Books
2450 Fry Rd.
281-578-7770
katybooks.com
Avid readers can join one of the many book clubs available like Mystery Matters or I’ll Take Romance and spend one hour a week discussing details of their favorite genres.

Schedule a brunch date at one of Historic Katy’s vintage venues, Cottage Charm
Schedule a brunch date at one of Historic Katy’s vintage venues, Cottage Charm

Historic Katy Fun
Don’t forget these Old Katy faves!

Multiplicity
1306 Avenue A
832-437-2442
multiplicity.co
Attend ladies night out on the second Wednesday of every month. There will be a fun craft and free adult refreshments.

KT Antiques
5614 2nd St.
281-391-2299
ktantiques.net
Originally Katy’s oldest supermarket and located in the heart of historic downtown Katy, this antique and collectibles shop is perfect for an outing with the girls. Check out their annual spring ladies’ night out on May 7 or the Katy market days on the third Saturday of every month.

Katy Contemporary Arts Museum
805 Avenue B
832-857-1340
katycam.com
With art classes and a beautiful gallery of unique pieces, this is the perfect place to find inspiration. Admission is free.

Junk Street Market
5625 2nd St.
281-391-5865
Gather inspiration for your own DIY project, get a quote on having old furniture revitalized, or just go ahead and purchase one of the gorgeously renovated pieces available in the store.

The Cottage Door
1001 Avenue B
281-391-1222
thecottagedoor.com
Need to find the perfect gift? Visit this cozy little shop nestled in lush greenery in historic Katy and choose a gift from a wide selection of brands like Camille Beckman, Michel Designs, Poo Pouri, Naked Bee, and more.

This is only a sampling of fun places to go for a girls’ night out in Katy. For more activities, restaurants, and shops, visit KatyMagazine.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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!

 

Tommie Cross-Holmes, a Mayde Creek graduate, is accomplishing his dream of modeling in New York City

Written by Cherri Northcutt | Photography courtesy of Tommie Cross-Holmes

Growing up as a student at Mayde Creek Elementary, Tommie Cross-Holmes never imagined that he would one day live in New York and have a successful modeling career. “As a kid, I was always playing outside with friends,” Tommie remembers. “My mom even got walkie-talkies so she could let me know when to come in for dinner. The only problem was, I had to stay within range,” he says.

“Tommie loved to read and play football,” his mother, Denita Holmes shares. In fact, his love of sports led him to Katy Youth Football where he met some of his lifelong friends. His dad played golf, so Tommie started playing in seventh grade. Tommie adds, “I also played football and ran track through junior high and high school.”

KM_DecJan_14_Tommie Cross-Holmes_Editorial shot by photographer Phyllis Lane
Tommie Cross-Holmes, a graduate of Mayde Creek High School, is making a name for himself as a model in mainstream editorial after moving to New York City

Dreams of Broadway
At Mayde Creek High School, Tommie was also active in choir. “He performed in Kantori and Encore choirs, and played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast his senior year,” Denita says. An active, good-natured young man, Tommie had dreams of playing for the NFL and singing on Broadway.

After graduating from Mayde Creek in 2009, Tommie was accepted into the musical theatre program at Sam Houston State University. While there, he also found time to play intramural football, basketball, soccer, and kickball. He was on the rugby team for the university as well as a camp counselor for incoming freshmen in his sophomore and junior years at college. “I like to meet people and be active,” Tommie says.

Getting the Callback
For years, Tommie’s mother and several of his friends encouraged him to give modeling a try. “I said, ‘That’s not for me,’” Tommie recalls. “Finally in 2010, I decided to give it a shot.”

Page Parkes in Houston was the second agency Tommie went for a meeting. “The only pictures we had were my senior photos from high school,” Tommie admits. After meeting with Parkes, the agency signed him that day. “They set me up with my first test shoot,” Tommie remembers. “I felt like a superstar in my own way.”

“We were drawn to Tommie’s sweet nature, cool look, and we loved the hair,” says Erik Bechtol, agency director at Page Parkes. “He’s always happy and has a love of the business that makes people want to be around him.”

At an agency review, Tommie showed off his modeling and acting talents for other agencies and clients. “I was so nervous,” he recalls. “At home later I was freaking out that I wouldn’t get a callback.” He did not need to worry. The next day Tommie learned that he had callbacks for eight modeling opportunities and 10 callbacks for acting. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy,” Tommie says. He began modeling under the name Tommie Cross.

The Move to NYC
In August 2011, Tommie went to New York to test the waters. In his first few days, he went to casting calls and met potential clients. He then booked his first campaign for Off Broadway Shoes. A few days later he booked a TJ Maxx advertisement. Jobs with Seventeen Magazine and GQ quickly followed. “I thought that if it was going to keep going like that, I’d better find a place to live,” Tommie says.

Three weeks into his trip, Tommie found an apartment, and he’s been in New York ever since. Tommie’s “trial run” has turned into a permanent move.

Last February, Tommie met his goal of getting work with a national modeling agency when he signed with Wilhelmina Models in New York and Los Angeles. His proudest moment as a model so far was a recent commercial for Sony. “I did a Sony campaign with video game characters of me that played on the billboard in Times Square,” he says. “That was a great moment.”

Calling Katy Home
Tommie enjoys occasional visits with his family and to his hometown. “New York is just go-go-go, 24-7,” Tommie shares. “I love coming home to Katy to just chill and relax.” In Katy, he still loves playing football with old friends and watching his little brother Samuel grow up. Samuel is now a freshman at Mayde Creek High School. “I like to go back to Mayde Creek and talk to Coach Carter,” Tommie says. “I miss driving instead of always taking a subway everywhere.” Tommie also enjoys reconnecting with his childhood friends in Katy. “I’m still the same person. I don’t let success go to my head.”

Remember Your Roots
Tommie believes in setting goals. In the future he says, “I want to get the acting side of things going. In three years I want to shoot a TV pilot and in five years I want to be on my first feature film.” This January, he will be in Los Angeles working with Wilhelmina, LA. Tommie believes that the attitude you display determines how successful you will be
in the industry.

“Modeling isn’t for everyone,” Tommie admits. “You have to get used to rejection.” Even so, he encourages people to stay positive. “Don’t be scared; get out of your comfort zone. Get out there and try.” He encourages others to not be afraid, and to remember their roots. “No matter how successful you get, don’t forget who you are, where you came from, and the people who were with you when times were hard.” KM

CHERRI NORTHCUTT has lived in Katy with her husband and two daughters for over 14 years.

 

An inside look at Katy ISD’s dedicated board of trustees

Written by Shetye Cypher | Photography courtesy of Katy ISD

As one of the fastest growing communities in the nation, Katy ISD is the perfect combination of long-standing tradition and a cutting edge approach to learning. Through collaboration, commitment, and a desire for greatness, the Katy ISD board of trustees is always striving to provide the best educational experience possible for Katy students.

KM_14_Katy ISD Board of TrusteesGroup 4x5 Large
The Katy ISD Board of Trustees (Back Row from Left to Right: Charles Griffin, Ashley Vann, Joe M. Adams, and Courtney Doyle. Front Row from Left to Right: Rebecca Fox, Bryan Michalsky, and Henry Dibrell.)

Bryan Michalsky, President

  • Is the CFO of Cotton Holdings, Inc.
  • Has lived in Katy for six years
  • Was a Bearkat cheerleader for Sam Houston State University
  • Was elected to the board in May 2012

Both lifelong educators, Bryan Michalsky’s parents instilled the importance of a good education early on, which he feels
had a huge impact. “I love children, which to me is the first prerequisite to serve on the board,” he says. He also truly believes that the board has made strides in engaging the community over the past two years since he has served.

In addition to his passion for education, his professional experience provides him with the knowledge to make sound financial decisions. He loves that Katy ISD provides its students many opportunities to learn and succeed. “From athletics, to fine arts, to FFA, Katy ISD does a remarkable job of educating the whole student and preparing them for a fulfilling life,” says Michalsky.

Henry Dibrell, Vice President

  • Plays the drums and was in a band that traveled around the U.S.
  • Is a licensed minister
  • Is a flag football coach at CrossPoint Community Church
  • Was elected to the board in May 2011

Henry Dibrell refers to the involvement of parents and community volunteers as the “secret sauce” behind Katy ISD’s success. “We have an opportunity in Katy to change the face of education for all young people,” he says. “Katy is a great community. We have a bright future. As we continue to grow, we must work together to ensure that greatness continues and is passed down to the next generation.”

Dibrell decided to run for the board out of a passion for seeing young people achieve. He believes the board’s mission is to make sure every child in the community has access to unparalleled learning experiences. “Education is the great equalizer in our society. In this great nation, if you have a good education and work hard you can achieve great things. The key to the preservation of our liberties is an educated populous,” he says.

Rebecca Fox, Secretary

  • Has served in PTA’s, the VIPS executive board, and the Katy Council of PTA executive board
  • Has lived in six countries
  • Works as a motivational speaker

No matter the strengths, challenges, or interests of students, having talented educators ready to teach and inspire is what Rebecca Fox loves about Katy ISD. “I love children of all ages and watching them learn new things. Giving them opportunities that meet their individual strengths makes me excited,” she says.

Fox could not be more proud of the amazing programs that Katy ISD offers students, from fine arts to special needs. “I have attended countless graduations and shaken thousands of hands, and I still get misty-eyed every time I hear the music as they walk the stage and throw their caps into the air. It’s my favorite time of year. I am so proud of them, and happy that they are prepared for the future.”

Charles Griffin, Treasurer

  • Retired from the U.S. Air Force
  • Coached by Gary Joseph at Katy High School
  • Third-generation Katy grad
  • Elected to the board in May 2012

In Charles Griffin’s travels around the world, he has seen the value of a great education. Having lived almost his entire life in Katy, he wants to help restore the trust of the community in the district. “I grew up in Katy and moved back here so my children could have the same great experiences. I wanted to give something back to the district having received so much myself,” he says.

Griffin believes that being a leader includes being honest, loyal, steadfast, and of sound character. He feels the current board’s vision statement works well. “It was put together by this community and covers all the important needs of our students, community, and the district,” he says.

Courtney Doyle, Sergeant-at-Arms

  • Mother of six children
  • Active in PTA and as a community volunteer
  • Secretly wants to adopt six more children
  • Was elected to the board in May 2014

Courtney Doyle feels she is acutely aware of the importance of all kids being given an opportunity to learn. She felt running for the board was a unique opportunity to add another woman’s voice to the leadership. “I want to continue to aid in opening the lines of communication between
the district and the community. We not only have to communicate our goals to those who have been in Katy forever, we have to engage and find unique opportunities to communicate effectively to families who are new to the area,”
she says.

Doyle loves walking the halls of the schools and spending time at extracurricular events. The students brighten her day and her outlook on the future. “Children have a way of sharing hope without even knowing they are doing so. They are innocent, quick to love, quick to laugh, and eager to be great,” says Doyle.

Ashley Vann, Member

  • Graduate of James E. Taylor High School
  • Third-generation community servant
  • Vann and her mother were the founding members of the National Charity League – Katy Chapter
  • Was elected to the board May 2014

Ashley Vann feels that being a Katy resident means that you are a part of something great. “People move to the Katy area for the Katy ISD schools, and I love being a part of this district – its past, its present, and its future,” she says.

A James E. Taylor High School graduate, Vann has served in leadership positions for over a decade in Katy ISD. She is a third generation community servant who felt a calling to do more for the school district. “I campaigned honestly and tirelessly. I communicated clearly, and truly committed to do this job with all of my heart the minute I filed,” says Vann.

Vann also loves that even though the district is significantly larger than when she was a student, it still feels like a small town. “As a product of public education, I always believed my children would be, too,” says Vann. “Education is more than just the classroom. It is hands on learning outside the four walls of a school building. It is achieved through mentoring, the many co-curricular activities that are available, and the fundamental basis and commitment that exists at home.”

Joe M. Adams, Member

  • Has been a proud Katyite since 1986
  • Has held every board position at least once
  • Is a private pilot and owns his own plane
  • Has been a member of the board sine 1989

Joe Adams believes that the board’s job is managing the district along with the superintendent. He says the board wants to continue to improve the district so all students have opportunities to excel. “Education is important for our students because they are our future. One day they might be my doctor, my mechanic, or even the president of the U. S.,” says Adams. “We need to make sure every student is prepared for the next step in life, whatever that might be.”

Adams is confident in the opportunities Katy ISD can offer. “I cannot tell you how many times people have told me that their children have done well in college because of the education they received in Katy ISD,” says Adams. “We need to be proud of our district, our leadership, administration, and teachers. We are all in this together and it is important for us to be successful.” KM

Shetye Cypher is a freelance writer who is also the journalism teacher and publications advisor at Tompkins High School.

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

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

Written by Kelly Boldt|Photography by Anetrius Wallace

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

Don Clayton – Cinco Ranch High School

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

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

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Cinco Ranch HS_Don Clayton (4)_photo by Anetrius Wallace
Coach Clayton has been Cinco Ranch’s head coach since it’s opening in 1999
His wife Rhonda is a teacher at Randolph Elementary

Gary Joseph – Katy High School

After 32 years at Katy High School, coach Gary Joseph appears to have found the formula for success. He says it’s discipline. Known as a tough, straightforward leader who works at developing trust with his players, Joseph also realizes the importance of being a mentor to his team. “Leadership is important,” Joseph explains. “The biggest thing with our staff is developing trust with the kids. The players have to believe in what we’re saying. If they don’t believe in anything or anybody, they’re not going to be committed to anything in life.”

The Katy Tigers hope to continue their legacy of seven state championship wins. Joseph says, “I am proud to have helped build the great traditions at Katy High School over the years.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Katy HS_Gary Joseph (7)_photo by Anetrius Wallace
Coach Joseph has had 11 state championship appearances, six as head coach

Lance Carter – Mayde Creek High School

The first word Mayde Creek head coach Lance Carter uses to describe his program is “tough.” That’s their style of practice, what he expects his players to bring to the field, and how his team plays on game day. “There are lots of other details, but what really drives us is our love for the game,” Carter says. “Off the field, I have loved watching young men grow into their futures.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Mayde Creek HS_Lance Carter (3)_photo by Anetrius Wallace
Coach Carter’s wife, Emma, is a history teacher at Cinco Ranch High School

Carter also believes that coaches play an important role in other facets of their players’ lives. “So much of this game is a mentality,” he says. “You’ve got to be very driven to play football, and we have the opportunity to use football to teach them drive and motivation that may last a lifetime.”

Dave Meadows – Morton Ranch High School

Coach Dave Meadows believes he can be described as intense, thorough, and caring in his role as head football coach at Morton Ranch High School. “Our workouts are intense, and we work on things that are applicable to what the kids have to do on the field,” says Meadows.

Physical training isn’t the only aspect of being a good coach for Meadows. “We hold our players to a higher standard,” he says. “They may not live up to them all the time, but we want them to understand that there are consequences if they make a bad decision. We are all part of this together.” Meadows believes the Mavericks are ready for the new season. “What we are doing here is what suits us best. It may not work for everybody, but it works for us.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Morton Ranch HS_Dave Meadows (7)_photo by Anetrius Wallace - Copy
Coach Meadows’ has had four state championships, three state runner-ups, and 293 wins in his career

Lydell Wilson – Seven Lakes High School

In his third year at Seven Lakes High School, coach Lydell Wilson is working hard to achieve his goal of building a state champion-caliber team. Part of his strategy is to get involved with the kids. “I can relate to them, and they tend to respond to that,” explains Wilson. “I try to get individual guys to understand that winning is important. Everybody has to sacrifice something for our
team goals.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Seven Lakes HS_Lydell Wilson (3)_photo by Anetrius Wallace
Coach Wilson won a 4a division I state championship in 2007 at Lamar Consolidated

For example, Wilson sacrifices his personal time and encourages the players to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team as well. Wilson says, “Every second counts, and we want to make sure they put their all into everything they do.”

Trey Hermann – Taylor High School

Head Coach Trey Herrmann will be taking over the reins at Taylor High School this year. Herrmann is a graduate of Mayde Creek High School and was previously part of the coaching staff at Mayde Creek and Seven Lakes high schools. He was named the 20-5A Coach of the Year in 2010.

Herrmann believes his hard work and commitment to the program will demonstrate the strong work ethic he expects from his players. “I am honest and work hard to be clear about expectations,” says Herrmann. “But toughness has always been the most important part of what we do. Not just the physical part, but we want them to develop the mental strength to overcome obstacles.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Taylor HS _Trey Hermann (4)_photo by Anetrius Wallace - Copy
All three of coach Hermann’s sons are currently in Katy Youth Football

Each program has its strengths, and Herrmann considers the off-season work by his players to be the cornerstone of his program. Herrmann adds, “We find that when players buy into it, that translates into better performance on the field during the season.”

Tony Tademy – Tompkins High School

As the head coach of the newest Katy ISD football program, Tony Tademy at Tompkins High School knows he and the players have a special connection. “We are learning together, growing together, and every day is a new day for us,” says Tademy. He says the team is ready for game time. “We have a plan, and every day we stick to that plan.” Organization, attention to detail, and being honest with the athletes are all important components of Tademy’s leadership style.

“We try to always do what’s best for the kids and be as consistent as we can,” says Tademy. “My coaches and I want them to know that we want to see them succeed.”

KM_F_14_coach profiles_Tompkins HS_Tony Tademy (7)_photo by Anetrius Wallace
Coach Tademy is a former TCU linebacker coach and was also a defensive coordinator at University of Louisiana, Lafayette

Kelly Boldt is a freelance writer and Katy mother of three teenagers. 

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!

Reflecting on how quickly Katy changes

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

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

Now I am almost 40 – almost being the operative word! – and I’ll have to renew again in person in six years, 2017. Our oldest boy will be 11-years-old. Our triplets will be almost 8-years-old. What will their voices sound like? What will they be like? Will their interests have changed? Will they still enjoy each other and laugh so much? What will their favorite books be? Will we all finally be able to go out together without a diaper bag and a stroller bigger than Dallas?

Will we have the same friends? As the boys grow older and have more experiences, we will meet new families. I recall the song “Circle of Life” from The Lion King. We are always in flux, always changing.

I hope our family will still call Katy home, but what will Katy look like? It has grown so much in the last decade. I remember Katy Mills Mall opening with fanfare. New high schools welcoming thousands of students. New hospitals, restaurants, and the I-10 construction that seemed to never end. It is exciting to think about the future in store for our city.

What are some of your memories of the past decade? Have you seen the Katy boom, or are you part of the growing number of new residents? Welcome, welcome. Please tell us about your Katy life!

Finding a Balanced Schedule as Katy Kids Head Back to School

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

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

I know this is a hot topic for parents who need to get children to school and themselves to work each day. It’s a source of frustration and power-plays for me and my four-year-old.

First, he gets up too early. He has the black-out curtains and a noise machine so he sleeps more soundly, but he still wakes up. Then he has to go potty, then he goes back to bed. Then he comes out for a book to look at until the clock numbers tell him he can get up.

Second, the babies are unpredictable. Some days, they are up early and then other days they decide to sleep until I have to wake them up.

Third, I am not on schedule, yet. It makes a huge difference in our making it out the door on time if I am ready for the day before they get up. It also means that if something doesn’t go right–like three surprise dirty diapers–I have to be ready to leave dirty dishes in the sink until I get home. That’s hard.

So, although I have my idea of what a pleasant, easy morning should look like, it has not happened yet. We are working on it, and the carpool teachers at my son’s school are very kind each morning as we maniacally turn into the parking lot. It’s a good end to the morning when we make it before the carpool gates close.

More on mornings as we improve. Do you have any ideas? How do you get your carload out the door with a smile on your face? PLEASE, tell us!

Sharing Good News is Important

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

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

I ALSO really believe that goodness and good news are all around us. If we move to focus slightly more on the good, I think our attitude and outlook might change.

Last month, I noticed my tail light on my Odyssey was out. I have no idea how to pop open the covering, so I took it up to the mechanic. I bought a bulb and asked for someone to help me. Seven attendants could not open it. Yes, seven. They partially popped it open, but then warned me that they might break it if they continued. I told them to stop. Then one more attendant who had been working on a different car came over. He took out some special tool (you can see how mechanically-inclined I am), popped open the fixture, changed the bulb, and replaced the covering in less than three minutes.

I decided to let the manager know. I sent in my happy comment via e-mail today. I am hoping that Mario gets some recognition. I am sure that usually those comments are negative. Maybe my goal to focus on the good instead of the negative will pay off for Mario. And hopefully he’ll teach the other mechanics how to change a light bulb!

You can try this, too. Received an unusually helpful waitperson at a restaurant? Let the manager know. Did the pharmacist or barista recognize you and make you feel welcome? Share that good news with their supervisor. I can only imagine the number of times a customer complains about an employee.

I am also trying to do this with my sons’ teachers. I used to teach and my husband still does. I know that as a parent I LOVE getting positive feedback about my children. Now it’s my turn to send some positive feedback to the teachers who are with my children five hours a day. I’m not buying them gifts or anything, just sending short, but sincere, notes to them when I think they did an outstanding job with my children. I think they will appreciate it. I will also remember to include the principal with my good news. I’m sure she hears when a parent thinks a teacher did a bad job.

Okay, I know that a light bulb and some finger painting project is not on par with our global problems. The bad news still seems overpowering. But in my small, Katy corner, this is where I will begin. Will you join me? I’d love to hear how you spread the good news in your area.

 Trying a Katy Progressive Dinner on a less-expensive scale

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

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

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

We started our meal with appetizers at Baker Street Pub.  Keeping the goal of staying on a low budget, we opted for Mission Burrito for our main course, and finished up at The Yogurt Spot (just a short walk from La Centerra). 

There are so many options at La Centerra for all three courses that we could easily go back and do another dinner date with an entirely different set of restaurants.  In fact, as we were walking from meal to meal, we were planning out our next progressive evening.

The meal, in its entirety, took up 5 hours, provided us with wonderful food, and rang in at well under $50.   Progressive dinners on a budget… success!

The common thread for our progressive dinner dates so far is that we make them double dates.  Having another couple along makes the evening of sitting, waiting, and eating such a joy.  We loved the way the night had lulls in activity that allowed for deeper conversation, and changing venues kept things fresh and entertaining. 

All in all, progressive dinner dates have been enjoyable, relaxed, and wholly successful for my husband and I.  We’ve added it to our list of favorite date ideas!

How about you?  Have you tried progressive dining?  Post a comment below!

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:

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.

Spreading Love to the Katy Community

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

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

The quote, “What goes around comes around”, it seems, is a true physical property!  The more we emit kindness, truth, and happiness, the more we will receive it. Conversely, the more we gossip, express negative emotion and treat others unkindly, the more others will treat us this way.  Our daily words and actions definitely impact those around us- particularly the members of our family. I often feel that as a mother, I can set the tone in the home.  It is no wonder that on the days when I am stressed or short tempered, others seem to be stressed and short to me!  A smile, a kind word, an empathetic ear and a positive attitude are all examples of positive ripples. Emotion is truly infectious…may we share it wisely!

How has someone positively impacted you?  Please share.

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.

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.

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!

Keeping your Katy yard looking good throughout the summer months

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

I soon learned that due to the clay-based soil, trees, shrubs, and flowers are not happy unless they are planted in raised beds where they have adequate drainage.  With much chagrin, I began again, this year to beautify my yard.  I bought plenty of fertile soil to ensure the tropical foliage would thrive.  As I tried again, to plant various tropical varieties, I had much better success.  In fact, I feel I am well on my way to my tropical paradise. 

Another lesson I have learned is that yard work in the Houston area is very time consuming.  With the humid environment, weeds grow like crazy.  Last summer I felt like I simply couldn’t keep up.  So, this summer, I have decided to spoil myself.  I have hired a yard crew to mow and weed my yard once a week.   In Katy, there are hundreds of fabulous yard contractors who will mow, weed, plant, fertilize and mulch for a very reasonable rate.   At first I felt a little guilty that I had given up ownership of my yard care.  But, each time I pull into my driveway and see the beauty that I could never have achieved on my own, I am more than happy I have outsourced some of my yard care. 

What yard advice do you have to share?  Please post a comment.

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!

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.

Turn to Katy bookstores to have fun and escape summer heat

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

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

Murder By the Book (www.murderbooks.com) off of Bissonnet is also a popular place to follow for great events involving thriller, crime and paranormal novels. We also are not too far off from Blue Willow Bookshop off of Memorial (www.bluewillowbookshop.com.)You can easily combine a love for books in your quest for a budget event.

Houston is full with small bookstores that bring big events with popular authors and topics. And I’ve always thought that there is something magical about an autographed book! Plus you can read the book in advance and then enjoy the opportunity to ask questions with the author. Whether you love to read or if you know someone who does attending local books signings can be a great budget event that can also get your family out of the summer heat.

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

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

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

Discovery Park was opened in 2008, and I only recently discovered it last October while I was downtown for a conference.  Even when it was too cold for the water parks to be open, the playground area was an obvious draw for my two children, ages 4 and 18 months.  Add in interactive water areas and they are in hot-Houston heaven.

There is always art on display, which includes art carts and more permanent art.  One of the structures, the Mist Tree, is both art and fun – my girls love to stand beneath the structure and giggle as the showers come over them.

Discovery Green also has a lake and plenty of green grass to spread out a blanket on and enjoy a picnic, a cold treat from the snack bar, or just to rest after letting the children wear themselves out in the water features and on the playground structure.

The park is open from 6 am until 11 pm every day, with the exception of some areas closing for maintenance as needed.  Parking is available around Discovery Green in metered spots, and there is additional paid parking in garages around the area.

Although heading downtown isn’t something I do on a regular basis, Discovery Green is absolutely worth the trip.  My daughters love to splash and play, they love the art, and they love the café.  I love all of those aspects as well, and I especially love the quiet ride home as the children nod off to naptime.

What about you?  Do you frequent Discovery Green?  Post a comment!

Fresh Produce In Katy

I am so happy to find out that we have a fresh produce market in Katy. This Market is located at 5026 E. Third St. in Old Katy. It’s hours are from 10am – 6pm Wednesdays through Mondays and closed on Tuesdays. They will not only have fresh produce but as well organic produce too. The Market is stocked with honey, dry beans, and herbs and many more to come. The Market will eventually grow bigger in time but until then I have enjoyed seeing all the produce it has stocked. Produce will vary depending on the season so make sure to go and see the different produce they have before it is gone.
 
I still remember when my parents would take me to a farmer’s market to go and get fresh produce. We would leave early to get the best picks and leave out of there with bags full. We loved going there and would spend the whole morning just looking at the produce. I loved the sweet smell that some of the produce would give out as well the different colors. This is a tradition that I will be bringing into my family for years to come. My children love the different kinds of produce they see and smell. I love eating healthy and what better way to do it than getting fresh produce for my family. There’s is no substitution for that sweet tomato taste. I could eat a whole basket full myself and remember my parents having to get another basket for us to take home.  So get those your bags ready and go fill them with fresh produce that your family can enjoy. You can as well make it a family fun trip with all the produce that they will come to see and smell.
Have you been to a farmer’s market in town? What were your experiences?

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?

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

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

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

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

I do NOT have it all figured out, but here are some suggestions. I’m sure you have found some tricks for your own family.

1.)    Choose a worship time that best suits your child’s needs. You may want the contemporary service, but if it falls at the same time your child is used to getting ready for bed, you’re asking a lot of him.

2.)    Go to your church during the week. Give your youngster a tour and let him ask questions and see things up close.

3.)    Talk to your child about how you expect people to act at church. You may say something like, “Do you think grown-ups run around the church? What do they do when they want to talk with God? What can you do?”

4.)    In my opinion, having a specific church toy or bag of toys works well. It’s used only on days of worship so it comes to be special and something your child will look forward to playing with. It will also encourage worship since they’re religious items.

These are a few tips. How do you make worship time not only bearable, but faith-filled, with your kids?

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!

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.

A fun ladies’ night out in Katy

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

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

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

The recipes we made included lemon bars, peanut butter and chocolate cookies, Chex mix “puppy chow”, rainbow cupcakes, caramel brownies, pretzel Rolos, chocolate covered strawberries, marshmallows, and pretzels, Oreo balls, cupcake balls, and toffee. 

While the recipes baked, and in between helping at tables, there was plenty of time to munch on snacks and chat about our weeks and plans for the weekend.  Within 4 hours, each recipe was done.

At the end of the evening, all of the completed recipes were laid out on a table and the women took some of each in a to-go container. 

A wonderful thing about the Bake and Take was that everyone stayed to help clean up – and it only took an hour!  For 10 full recipes, each with their own dirty dishes, the clean up was a cinch.

I can’t wait to do this event again – it was such a wonderful evening of baking, taste-testing, and being with beloved friends!

What about you?  What is your favorite ladies’ night out idea?  Post a comment below!

It is important to properly take care of our Katy animals

I just returned from a bittersweet visit to my veterinarian. Our nine-year-old cat, Geordi (all you fans of Star Trek will know where his name came from!) was noticeably ill. Over the course of just a few weeks, he began to empty his food and water bowls several times throughout the day and increase the use of the litter box. Besides the obvious changes, Geordi seemed normal. I mean, cats sleep a lot anyway, and he came out for tickles and he still purred. But we knew he needed to go see Dr. Wendy at Mayde Creek Animal Hospital.
 
Good thing we did. Geordi is a diabetic. Dr. Wendy did blood tests, and his glucose number was in the 500s. The normal range for cats is in the 100s. The point of this blog is not to discuss feline diabetes, but I hope to remind us all about how much our pets are a part of our lives. I drove to the vet thinking that I would not be coming home with Geordi. I really thought I would have to have him put to sleep. He had been a companion of mine since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001; he was rescued as a kitten from the flood waters and passed along to me by a friend.
 
Geordi has seen me through my first apartment, my first job, dating woes, marriage, a new house, one child, and now triplets. He has known me longer than my husband. I am sure that all pet owners can relate to the value they put upon their animal companion. Pets just love us. They make our lives better. When we lose them, our hearts are broken. When I had to put down a previous cat, the vet presented me with a clay imprint of his paw. Now, I don’t look at it everyday and sob over it, but it is a visible reminder that Q (yes, another Star Trek reference!) was here and is now missed. (Of course, another reminder is some scratched up furniture, but that’s a different matter!)
 
We have some more time with Geordi because we hopefully caught his illness early enough to make simple changes to improve his health. I may have to put him to sleep in the near future if these changes don’t effect enough of an improvement. That will be a tough day, but I am thankful that I can now show him some more love while he’s here. How do you show that you love your animal companion? How do you remember those that you have lost?

Closing out our first year of dance classes in Katy

Avery in her recital costume and make up

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

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

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

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

My daughter’s class was later in the show, and my eyes filled with just as many tears… there was a good deal of comic relief when my daughter (or any number of her classmates) forgot their steps, but there was something that affected me deeply as I watched my tiny little girl, up on the big stage, doing something so grown up without any adults.  It was such a picture to me of what we’re just embarking on – the way that she will continue to grow and mature into a little lady who no longer needs her Mommy.  The years between now and then are many, but they are flying by so quickly already.  This weekend’s recital was a very real reminder to me that I am doing my job: teaching my daughter to slowly and healthfully not need me anymore, day by day, until she is ready to take on the world.

And on that stage, take on the world she did.

Thank you, Adamson Ballet School, for a beautiful, hilarious, and poignant recital.

What about you?  Are end of year activities causing reflection?  Post a comment below!

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!

Favorite Eats for Katy Families

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

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

Usually, taking either of my children to a restaurant is a challenge.  Unless we go to Rainforest Café, it is unusual for them to stay entertained the entire time we’re there.  However, around the time my oldest daughter turned two, I discovered the magical world of sandboxes at restaurants.  Now, when my parents ask us to join them for dinner, or when we want to catch up with an old friend, we know just what to do.  We suggest one of a handful of places that were brilliant enough to install a play area.

In addition to El Jarrito, we also frequent Victor’s Casa Garcia on North Fry Road, Café del Sol on Franz Road, Willie’s Ice House on The Katy Freeway at Fry Road, and Clay’s Restaurant on Clay Road. 

We live further out in West Katy, but these restaurants are worth the drive for us because the children are entertained the entire time: from choosing our food, to ordering, to eating… all the way to paying the check, our children are happily playing.   Sure, there is a little mess to contend with, and yes, we do have to wash hands very well before the children eat, but these are small inconveniences compared with finding ways to beat boredom in other restaurants.

We’re always searching for other locations to take our family.  Do you have a place your family loves to go?  Post a comment below!

Tips on how to survive Katy’s tiny torturers

Standing water is a breeding ground for pesky mosquitos

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

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

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

Suggested ways to help reduce standing water sources – and the mosquitoes that breed in them – include clearing away old tires, buckets, drums  and any water-holding containers.  Fill in the low spots in your yard that hold water for long periods of time.  Ridding drains, ditches, and culverts of weeds and trash so they flow freely.  The same goes for debris in rain gutters. Cover trash containers and empty plastic wading pools.  Replace the water in birdbaths and plant pots with fresh water weekly. Keep ornamental ponds stocked with fish since they eat mosquito larvae. Use mosquito repellant and wear appropriate clothing when outdoors to prevent mosquito bites.  Don’t wear concentrated perfumes since insects find there smells appealing.

Should you or your family get bitten anyway, there are several home remedies for soothing the itch:

  • Try cooling the sting with cold water or ice.
  • Another home remedy is making a sticky paste of baking powder and water and dabbing it on the mosquito bites.
  • Moisten the bite with water, and rub salt on it.
  • Apply apple cider vinegar directly on the bite.
  • Rub a bit of toothpaste – peppermint is best – to the area.
  • Aloe will stop the itch and heal the bite.

Calamine lotion works well also. So if none of the home remedies work, you may just need a trip to the drug store. Are there any other home remedies or inexpensive ideas for soothing mosquito bites?

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!

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!

Free life-saving techniques are available right here in Katy

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

West I-10 Fire Department

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

 The CPR and first aid classes are also open to anyone looking to offer babysitting services. Imagine how comforting it would be to know that the person babysitting your young children took the time to learn Basic Life Support (BLS) and first aid.

West I-10 Fire Department offers CPR and First Aid the third Saturday of every month (except November and December). The Department teaches Heart Saver CPR, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and First Aid courses intended for general public. Also offered are more comprehensive Basic Life Support (BLS) courses for Healthcare Providers (doctors, nurses, and EMTs).

Courses are taught by a licensed health care professional, like a nurse, or by an American Heart Association instructor. The small classes (generally no more than 25 students) begin at 8am and run till around 1pm – or noon, if CPR is taken without the First Aid class. They cost $15 to $25 and can be paid on the day of class in cash, or by check or money order. (If you’re bringing cash, try to bring exact change.)

 The CPR/First Aid courses for both citizens and Healthcare Professionals are taught at the West I-10 Fire Department located at 22125 Kingsland Blvd. For more information, or to sign up for classes, email hhyslp@WestI-10FD.org.

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

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.

 Offered by Katy Parks and Recreation Department

It’s time to start thinking about summer activities for our kids. I know, I know, the economy is still a little shaky and gas prices on the rise – again! So how can families find activities at a reasonable cost, without draining the gas tank, or the wallet? Katy Parks and Recreation Department might just have the answer you’re looking for. The Department offers a number of week long summer camps that won’t cost an arm-and-a-leg and are close to home.

The camps are designed for children ranging in age from three to twelve years of age with groups divided up based on learning levels and skill sets for each age group. The week-long sessions are broken down into pre-school, elementary and middle school age groups (3-5 years, 4-6 years, 4-8 years, or 8-13 years). Prices range from $89-260. The cost covers supplies used during the camp and length of the day. The camps are all 5 days long, with most running for 2-4 hours and others going as long as 6 hours a day.

What the kids will learn varies from one week to the next and one age group to the next. Camp themes range from building Lego® structures, reading, and princess manners to cheering, computer classes, and Mad Science® labs. Camps are being held at the VFW Hall at 6202 George Bush Drive in Katy.  Registration forms can be downloaded from the City Parks and Recreation Department website.

For camp information contact the City Parks & Recreation office by calling (281)391-4840 or by e-mail at katypard@cityofkaty.com. 

To registration, visit the City Parks and Recreation website at: http://cityofkaty.com/departments/parks/summer-camps-2/

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.

Little mistakes can cost your Katy family hundreds each year!

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

As the cashier thanked me and handed me my receipt, I took 30 seconds to scan the receipt before leaving the store.  I caught the mistake immediately.  Rather than ringing me up for one honey dew melon, the cashier had accidentally rung up 12 honey dew melons.  My mouth dropped as I realized that the cost of twelve honey dew melons had cost me, the buyer, $35.26.  I immediately pointed out the mistake to the cashier, and apologetically, he refunded me the cost of the eleven honey dew melons I hadn’t purchased.   I left the store, grateful I had taken 30 seconds to scan my receipt!  It had saved me over thirty dollars!

Over the past few months, there have been numerous times that I have “saved” myself money by simply checking my sales receipt.  One time, I stocked up on a certain kind of cereal that was on sale.  Cereal is a staple in our home, and I love finding a bargain!  Anyway, upon checking out, I was charged the regular price on all ten boxes of cereal.  The caught mistake saved me $15!  Another time, I was charged the wrong price per pound on grapes.   That, I discovered, saved me $5!  A couple weeks ago, I found I had been charged for several items someone else had left on the belt, saving me $23!

My examples of money saved in simply checking my sales receipt are endless.  I have never been good at clipping coupons, or driving to various stores to find the cheapest food.  But, I am now committed to always checking my receipt.  Just think!  With all of that saved money, maybe I can go on a vacation!  You can too!  Just try it!  How do you save money at the grocery store?  Post a comment below.

How one Katy family inspires others in the community

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

I met the Smith family the first day we visited our new church.  We had recently moved, and had not yet met anyone.  Upon entering, Shannon Smith walked up to me and introduced herself.  Shannon promptly asked if she could help me in any way.  Not knowing her, I was at first reluctant to ask, but I desperately needed some help with my younger children while we unloaded the moving truck. I decided to go ahead and ask if she could help me with my children for a couple of hours the following day.  She happily agreed and told me not to worry.  She was glad to help.  I was warmed by her kindness, and felt good knowing I had found a friend.   

Over the next few years, I watched as this amazing family positively impacted others. The Smiths were quite poor.  Their home was very small and it was clear that they didn’t have a lot of money.  What surprised everyone who met them, however, was that you would never know they lacked for anything.  They were always the first to volunteer to take a meal to someone who was sick, or open their home for a play group, or offer service to those in need. 

I often reflect upon the Smith’s example.  In spite of their meager means, they richly blessed everyone they came into contact with.  I realized, through their example that it doesn’t matter how much money one makes, or how full one’s time, living abundantly really comes down to a state of mind…and using our time and resources to help others.   Have you known people who have “An Abundance Mentality”?  Please share a comment.

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?

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.

“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.

Katy is rich with history, including local cemetaries

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

Katy's Antioch Baptist Church

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

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

Katy Heritage Society has taken on the task of filling out the stacks of paper necessary to have this historically significant site recognized by the State of Texas. According to Carol Eckels Adams, Executive Director for the Katy Heritage Society, both the Heritage Society and the Antioch Baptist Church need funds to help maintain this non-profit cemetery as well as for continuing the landmark recognition process.

Katy has another cemetery — Magnolia Cemetery — on Franz Road near Bartlett Street. It also has historically significant graves, including Katy founding fathers and a few Civil War veterans.

“Magnolia Cemetery has been around since the very early 1900’s and has graves from our early settlers, including some that have roads named for them,” says Eckels Adams. She goes on to note that Magnolia Cemetery is a for-profit facility, as opposed to Katy Community Cemetery which is a non-profit cemetery owned by a church. At this time Magnolia is not in the process of being recognized as an historic landmark. Both Katy Community and Magnolia continue to serve as operating cemeteries and have space available for new graves.

For the Katy Community Cemetery Fund, contributions may be sent to PO Box 359, Katy, TX 77492. To help with cemetery care and landscaping , paperwork, or any other volunteer work, contact the Katy Heritage Society at Katy Heritage Park, 5990 George Bush Drive, P.O. Box 359, Katy, TX 77492-0359, or call 281-391-2550.

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!

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

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

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

There are a variety of dances put on by each grade level within the Cougar Stars, each squad of girls, and some really special performances by the mothers, fathers, and Cougar Men of CRHS.  There are solos, small group dances, and whole team dances.  My daughter loves the music, the lights, and the dancing so much that she is mesmerized the entire length of the show.  She truly believes we are in the presence of celebrities, and we are!  These Cougar Stars have spent the year practicing and growing as dancers, and we get to come and support them and be entertained by them.  

Being a former dance team member in my high school days at Mayde Creek High School, I also thoroughly enjoy watching the Stars perform.  It is a mix of admiration for how far dance has come and nostalgia for some of the best days of my life.  It is sheer enjoyment for both my daughter and myself.

This year the title is THE SHOW and the Cougar Stars will be performing on both Friday and Saturday nights at the Cinco Ranch High School Performing Arts Center at 7:00 pm both nights.  Tickets are $8 at the door or $7 purchased beforehand from a Cougar Star and they are accepting KISD Gold Cards for Senior Citizens, making their ticket price $5 each.

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,

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!

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?

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

It’s not easy for parents to get out on a date night, but it is possible–and necessary. Planning is key. My husband and I love to get out of the house for a little while at least once a month. At times we have to cut out of work early or go in late to make use of our son being in school. We will go out for a leisurely breakfast or brunch. If we leave work after lunch, we can usually find a movie or have fun just getting out to some stores without the responsibility of watching our two-year-old.
 
But, when we can manage going out at night, we usually head to Alamo Drafthouse (531 S. Mason Rd., 77450). Here, it’s like a one-stop date night venue. First of all, the Alamo’s policy of no children under six years of age really makes a romantic difference. (I’ll tell you later about their great Baby Days, though!) All children under the age of 18 must be with parents. Nice, huh?
 
When we arrive, we try to stop at the bar for a drink that we can bring to our movie seats. There are also comfortable chairs in the lobby if we are very early. There are two pages of drinks on the menu. The choice is yours. We usually head inside the theater to watch the corny clips from old movies and the funny commercials played before the movie starts.
 
We don’t have to worry about finding a restaurant. The Drafthouse has a full menu from appetizers like popcorn, fried pickles, and chips to hearty meals. My husband and I usually get one of their pizzas or a burger. We never leave hungry.
 
It’s a fun experience. We write our selections on a piece of paper, and our waitperson comes right to us. Halfway through the movie, you’ll be asked if there’s anything else you want. The bill is brought to you, and that’s it. No hassles. My only hint for you is to arrive early enough so you’re not trying to read the menu in the dark. Cell phone lights help tremendously!
 
Like I said, date nights are important. And to have an avenue right here in Katy that is so convenient really makes it easy. Where do you and your date like to go? Let us know!

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

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

Avery and Kate enjoy watching the fish swim around the tank

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

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

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

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

After dinner, we let the children choose two more activities: the carousel, the ferris wheel, winning an item at the midway games, playing in the bubbles around the midway, dancing in the water sprays or a ride on the horse drawn carriages waiting outside the restaurant.  Every time we go, my daughters choose something different.  There really is so much to choose from!

The Downtown Aquarium is enough of a drive away (and bears enough of a price tag) that we save it for family birthdays, but when we go, everyone has a wonderful time.  It is certainly our family favorite for finer dining and child friendly fun!

How about you?  Do you have a favorite spot for family celebrations?  Post a comment below!

Making eating out in Katy an event

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

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

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

Once we had enjoyed the last of our drinks, we moved on to Three Olives for our main course.  My husband and I split the Pollo Verde and loved it.  We had never been to Three Olives before and loved the atmosphere, the décor, and the food. 

Our last stop was Hasta La Pasta for dessert.  Chocolate cake and cappuccinos rounded out our evening beautifully.  We sipped our drinks and enjoyed listening to the live music as well.

At the end of the evening, we discussed as a group what we thought of progressive dinners.  We all admitted that we had some concerns going in to the evening.  We wondered if it would be awkward to only order one course at each stop, or if it would seem annoying to have to get up and move before our next course each time.  However, after experiencing the night, we decided that it is a perfect, albeit slightly expensive, night out on the town. 

Since we chose to sit at the bar for appetizers, it did not feel awkward at all to order only drinks and starters.  And by the time we were ordering our last course, it was late enough that it seemed very natural to order coffee and dessert only. 

The transitions from location to location did not seem annoying or needless at all.  In fact, knowing that we had no time restraints and that the entire evening was dedicated to perusing Katy restaurants made for a laid back, refreshing vibe throughout the evening.  Switching restaurants helped us not feel like we’d only been sitting and waiting on food for four hours.  It added to the anticipation and enjoyment of our food as well.

It was a perfect night out to unwind, relax, and spend time with some precious friends.   I highly recommend trying the concept out.  Bring along some friends for a double date and get the added bonus of fellowship and conversation!

Have you ever done a progressive dinner?  Post a comment below!  If not, give it a try the next time you are able and let me know what you thought!

Katy Mothers Helping Mothers

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

On this trip, I was traveling by myself, but, I could recall many other trips with my babies and toddlers that had been quite stressful. On one particular occasion, a sweet middle-aged woman shared a row with me.  As I juggled cheerios, bottles, and Sippy cups, she was an angel.  She helped me the entire flight and turned a very difficult time into a manageable, happy time.  When I had asked her if I could do something to repay her kindness, she simply smiled, winked and said, “It is the Mother Code.  You will give back to other mothers.   You’ll see!”  And, that was that.

It was finally my time to board, and as luck would have it, I entered the plane, located my seat, and discovered I would be sitting next to this mother and her children.  She smiled wearily at me and said, “I’m sorry you have to sit by us today.  You probably won’t have a very quiet flight!” 

I smiled at her and responded, “It is a treat for me to sit next to you!  I would be happy to hold your baby so you can play with your other little one.” 

A look of relief spread across her face and she said, “Oh, that is so nice of you, could you?  I have been very worried about this flight.

I was thrilled!  Within moments, I was holding a precious little baby.  I held the baby for most of the flight as Theresa entertained her 18 month old daughter.  As the plane began to descend for landing, Theresa said, “You made my day!  What can I do to repay you?”  I simply smiled and said, “It is the Mother Code.  It’s just what we do!”

Have you known any angel mothers?  Post a comment below.

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

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

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

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

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

We had never been to Zoobilee before and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the zoo takes online reservations and sets a limit on people, so the crowds were mild.  The animals were either enjoying the time of day or the weather, because they were more active and alert than we’ve ever seen them before.  The bears swam and rough housed, the mountain lion prowled, the otters swam and pushed at each other.  It was a wonderful evening for the children, and a special chance to spend an evening as a family of four doing something just for them.

What about you?  What local memberships do you enjoy?  If you are a member of the Houston Zoo, did you get a chance to head to Zoobilee this year?  Post comments below!

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?

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

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

Kingsland Park & Ride serves the majority of Katy commuters.

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

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

Don’t want to take a taxi? No problem. Try the Metro’s two Katy Park and Ride stations. A bus gets you downtown at a cost of $4.50 for a trip that lasts approximately one hour. You get to ride in air conditioned comfort, while you read your newspaper or book … or take a nap.

The Park and Ride locations are the #222 Grand Parkway route, at 1030 W. Grand Parkway North, and the #221 Kingsland route, at 21669 Kingsland

The Metro bus stop at the Grand Parkway location at the Cinemark Theater Katy.

 Boulevard. For the Grand Parkway Park and Ride, take Grand Parkway north from I-10. Turn right at Mercantile and another right on Grand Circle Drive. The designated parking area is the east end of the Cinemark parking lot. The covered bust stop is across the street on Grandville. The Kingsland Park and Ride is on Kingsland, between Mason and Westgreen. It offers a large parking lot and a fully covered passenger drop off / pickup area.

Schedules are available on Metro’s website at: http://www.ridemetro.org/. Keep in mind that Metro has special hours of operation for weekends and holidays. Bus passes are available for those who use the bus system regularly. Metro even has a special deal for anyone lucky enough to be called up for Jury Duty. Show your jury summons for a free ride in and ask for a pass for the return ride. The bus drops you off about six short blocks away from the jury meeting room.

Do you have any more tips for getting around? Do you have any more ideas for making driving easier?

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

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

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

The gym has been a real good deal though, as I use it about twice a month. At least now, I don’t have to feel guilty for paying a monthly due, and not ever making an appearance at said institution!  It has a TV though, large and loud, so maybe I’ll go work out just to get some “Me time,” away from the kids, and feel productive at the same time.  Hmmmm, what would I look like after 30 minutes of treadmill?  At the rate of twice a month, of course.

The kids, undoubtedly, are getting the most out of the park and surrounding walking trail, complete with a gorgeous pagoda, pond and waterfall.  And “Beware of Alligators”sign.  Really?  This place is something else!  I guess I won’t be bringing Lacey, our little Chihuahua and Yorkie mix to the pond for a walk!  I can just see that now; my baby, as alligator bait… 

Needless to say, this country girl at heart isn’t completely sold on HOA rules and regulations, (“I only get to have two yard sales a year?”  The representative, very tired of me by now, sighs loudly.  “Yes, and only on these dates…”)   I’ll see more benefits in time, I’m sure, in time.

Obviously this was a humorous take on being in neighborhoods with HOA regulations.  What do you think?  Are you in a similar neighborhood and do you like the rules?  What kind of benefits do you have?  Or maybe you live in a “restriction-free” area.  I would love to hear your viewpoint!

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!

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!

 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!

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.

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.

There are many volunteers opportunities in Katy

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

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

Last week my husband and I volunteered to read in my son’s kindergarten classroom.  The children looked at us with wide, eager eyes as we read some of our favorite children’s books to them.  Since reading is a passion of mine, I was thrilled to be able to share this love with some of my son’s classmates.

Another time this year, I helped with PATHS (Parents and Teachers Helping Students).  The theme was “Traditions around the World”.  Each of the Kindergarten classrooms was decorated to look like a given country.  As children entered each classroom, they were taught about the country’s food, dress, customs and culture.  What an amazing day that was!

Opportunities abound in the Katy School district.  You can volunteer as little or as much as you are able.  If you have always wanted to be treated like a rock star, trust me, volunteering in the classroom is where it’s at! 

What has been your favorite volunteer activity in Katy?  Post a comment below.

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

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

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

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

I have some neighbors who love to celebrate holidays and they willingly open their homes to the other families in the neighborhood.  Attending these neighborhood festivities has strengthened friendships and has allowed us to really get to know each other. 

Discussions at the bus stop have at times been the highlight of my day.  I had to laugh when, on one particular morning at the bus stop, my neighbor asked where I was going.   I realized that she had never seen me in clothes other than my pajamas.  I told her that I do get dressed each day, she just never saw me that way!  On occasion, when a mother or father has to leave early in the morning, neighbors are willing to step in to make sure the children make it safely to the bus stop.

Random acts of kindness are abundant in a good neighborhood.  At times, a neighbor will drop off a batch of cookies, or will leave an anonymous surprise.  My children get very excited and try to guess who the secret giver could be.  Then, they want to make a treat for those who have been kind to us.  When a neighbor has a baby or needs surgery, other neighbors plan to bring in meals and assist with child care.  Last week, one neighbor gave my boys a big tub of balls.  Their children have grown and they thought my boys would enjoy them, which they will!

Sometimes a simple wave or smile from a kind neighbor will cheer my day.  It is great to have met so many kind people on my street, and it has made me want to be a better neighbor.  How has a Katy neighbor touched your life?  Please share a comment below.

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?

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!

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?

 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?

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.

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.

Enjoying Community Activities in Katy This Easter Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

My family is always game for a free night of entertainment, and this year will be no exception.

We’ll be in the parking lot of The Waters Church from 6:30 until 8:30 this upcoming Wednesday night.  I hope to see you there!

What other free or inexpensive Easter activities in the community do you and your family participate in each year?  Post a comment below!

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

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

Lexi with her kitty

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

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

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

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

• Spay / neuter surgery

• Deworming; feline leukemia testing

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

• As an added bonus, VCA Animal Hospitals will provide a complimentary overall wellness examination (within five days after adoption) and complimentary 14-day follow-up care for certain conditions to give your pet the very best in medical care.

• One free bag of cat food courtesy of Hill’s Science Diet.

Each and every feline at the Houston SPCA has a sparkling personality as bright as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Come by the Houston SPCA, become an approved adopter and take home your furever friend today!  The Houston SPCA Adoption Lobby is open Monday through Friday from 11am to 7pm and 10a to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, call 713.869.7722  ext. 138.

 

Photo by Katy Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Katy Magazine 2010, photo and story

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

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

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

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

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

Folk Life Festival Event

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

Everyone from kids and adults to volunteers is invited to join in the festivities. Judy Blanchard says, “I have 200 pigeons, which I use military materials to train. The kids can pet them and even release them if the weather is good.” Smoke, animals, the smell of food cooking, music, and costumed people will fill the atmosphere, bringing back memories for some and creating new ones for others.

Hands-on Activities

Includes roping, tin punching, weaving and quilting, dulcimer lessons, gourd painting, clay pottery, making corn husk dolls and rag dolls, calligraphy, and corn husking, shelling, and grinding

Festival Origins

The Outdoor Learning Center stands as 35 acres of land kept in its natural state for the sake of teaching young students lessons in science and social studies, usually during school field trips. In 1985, Kenneth D. Welch decided to extend the lessons to do something special for the Texas Centennial, by creating an entire day reserved for pioneer experiences brought to the modern world, a moment in time captured in one place. Ray Wolman now runs the center and the festival, which has a low entrance fee of $1 per person. In the beginning, Wolman and Welch threw everything together themselves, a somewhat overwhelming feat. Over time, the festival has turned into a fascinating learning experience, where people offer constructive criticism and help it to grow and improve each year.

Adapted from Krista Kessler’s story in Katy Magazine Spring Issue 2010

Do you know a fun event coming up in Katy? Post your comment here or email it to editor@katymagazine.com

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