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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lulu is Six!

Our little Lulu has made it to her sixth birthday and we are totally stoked!  Benjamin and I still refer to her as our first kiddo and she has done a fantastic job loving Winston.  
This year has been a different and trying year for our girl.  Last summer Lulu lost most functionality of her back legs and had back surgery to remove a herniated disk in her back.  It was a scary time for our family.
We decided that if there was even the slightest chance she could have a full recovery, we would opt for the surgery.  Our vet staff at True Companion along with the surgical team at North Houston Veterinary Specialists were amazing to us.  They outlined our options, told us the outcomes and were extremely sensitive in delivering the news understanding that she was more than just a dog.  After a week away from us, we were able to bring her home on July 4th!
It was a long road to recovery.  She had to stay in a kennel during the day.  We had to retrain her not to jump on the couch that she so loved to lounge on.  And the most devastating thing for her was that she was not able to swim during prime swimming months.  We were thankful, more ever than before, that we still had our girl!

Lulu has full mobility of her legs using them to swim in the pool, chase rabbits, squirrels and Winston!  However depending on the day {and weather!} they can be quite weak.  We have all had to learn to carry her up and down the stairs, ban her from jumping onto the couch and minimize her outside water play time.  You know how this girl loves her water time!
She is always right in the middle of any good water play and Winston has learned that she loves it as much {or more!} as he does.  
It has been precious to watch their relationship develop.  While we are out for the day, Lulu sleeps in a bed in the study and as soon as we walk into the house Winston is at her bed saying, "Hi Luli!" giving her hugs and kisses.  He has learned that she has a tail and that he does not.  He gently rubs her ears and will pat her head casually as they watch TV together.  He also has learned that she loves treats and is always eager to give her one... or two... or three!
Bubbles are a fascination at our house, not only with Winston but with Lulu too.  This girl will go nuts over the translucent circles floating in the air charging after them to bite them before they disappear!   
Like anyone who goes through a major surgery, our girl Lulu has her good days and her bad ones.  Since her surgery last summer, we have had one major scare of a relapse...on a entirely different disk.  We have found that laser treatments help Lulu tremendously and they have been a saving grace for her and us.  It's amazing how quickly they help her bounce back to her normal self.    
She is our sweet fur baby.  A fierce protector of those she loves.  A carefree spirit.  A lover of any water activity before her.  She appreciates a good fire, a lap and a warm blanket.  She is always ready to give kisses and never lets you forget when its dinner time.  She is our sweet Lu girl and we are thankful every day that she is part of our lives.  She lives each day full out and crashes hard each night, resting up to tackle the next day.
We love you Lu girl!  Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meal Planning Monday

This weekend, Benjamin and Buddy had some time together in the morning allowing me to plan a menu for the week!  I don't know about you but I enjoy looking up new recipes and mixing them in with the tried and trues.  This week I am going to attempt three new entrees!  I have provided links to what I'll be trying and let you know how they turn out!

Monday
Shake n Bake Pork chops, cauliflower and cous cous

Tuesday
Baked Parmesan Chicken, glazed carrots, pasta 

Wednesday
Trader Joe's orange chicken, rice and veggies

Thursday
Fish sticks, mac & cheese

Friday lunch
Hess Dinning Hall

Friday dinner
Fried Round Steak, potatoes, broccoli

Saturday Dinner

Sunday Lunch
Houston Food Truck Park {weather permitting}

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Project 52: Week 2014.30

This week my little Bug decided it was fun to stand by the roses, smile and say cheese.  When I asked if he wanted his picture taken he said, "Yes!" and proceeded to keep cheesing.  I just love how he keeps growing and developing!  One night this week my Mom and I went shopping leaving Benjamin and WAC to have man time together.  Winston conquered the playground slide and all three of us went back on Friday so that I could see!  Then we had swing time and Winston was the happiest when all three of us were pumping our legs into the sky side by side!  He went to Monday Funday this week, had a visit from Great Grandparents Johnson, lunched with some of Mommy's work friends, saw Benjamin's parents and every good week has froyo!  A few weeks ago he started calling me "Mommy" and Benjamin "Daddy."  I noticed this week that we have officially moved from Mama and Dada.  He continues to be a little parrot and it is astounding to me how much he already understands.  I look forward to each day as it always holds something new for both of us!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

May Designs: Card Party {and a Giveaway!}

Giveaway is closed and the winner, Andrea K., has been contacted!  Thank you to all who entered!

Y'all have you been introduced to May Designs and their fabulous notebooks yet?  They come in amazing colors and patterns with tons of options for how you'd like to use your book.  They are the perfect size for meetings, to throw in a purse or diaper bag, to jot down lists, notes, wish lists and doodles.  I few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting their Houston office and participating in a calligraphy course by Design Roots.  Adorning the halls were a new product that has been launched on their website today - adorable cards, announcements and invitations!
I was happy to receive a sampler package of these adorable cards.  I was quite surprised at the fantastic paper quality and the designs were witty and eye catching!  May Designs gives the ability to personalize all of the cards by choosing the paper shape, colors, patterns and matching envelopes!  The options are fresh and fun for any occasion including baby announcements, save the date, change of address and just because.
The photo quality on the printed cards is fantastic and did I already mention that they are a really great paper quality?

And because I think you should experience the greatness of these cards too, I will be giving away a set of 5 of the "You are Fantastic" cards pictured above!  Just follow the Rafflecopter below for your chance to enter!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{May Designs provided the samples, I adore them and that is why I am sponsoring the giveaway!}

Monday, July 14, 2014

Remaining

I recently took one of those semi-annoying, semi-addicting quizzes that are popping up all over Facebook feeds these days  This one was simple: answer five questions and find out what color you are.  I answered the questions and the color bestowed upon me was orange.  I like orange.  It was a color in our wedding, we have had walls in our house that color and it was an accent for Winston's nursery.  And like most of these quizzes do, it gave me a reason for the results.  Here is what mine said:
Of all the mind types, yours is the quickest.  You are usually thinking a mile a minute, and you could be thinking about anything at all.  Your thoughts are often scattered and random - but they're also a lot of fun!  You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about esoteric subjects, the meaning of life and pop culture.
Well done, Facebook quiz, you nailed it on the head!  I tend to have thoughts flying around my head  a mile a minute.  I have learned how to focus on tasks at hand, blocking everything else out, but the act of quieting my mind and being still has always been a little challenging for me.

I was reading in my quiet time last week and on this particular day, these words stuck with me:
When you seek my face, put aside thoughts of everything else.  I am above all, as well as in all...  Be prepared to be blessed bountifully by My Presence, for I am a God of unlimited abundance.  Open wide your heart and your mind to receive more and more of me.
The accompanying scripture was John 15:10-11.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 
First is the component of obedience which leads to a promise.  Obey His commands and I will remain in His love.  Why is this important?  So that I may have His joy and that it may be complete.  I make the choice each morning to follow the Lord, to obey the commands he sets before me keeping me in His love.  The most challenging thing for me is to remain focused and engaged through the day.  Remain: to stay, abide, wait.  

In high school, I started attaching people or events that I wanted to pray for with objects in my everyday so that as I used that item I would remember to pray.  It has been a good way of teaching myself how to pray continually.  To remain mindful of the Lord's presence and stay in communication with Him.  Its something I work towards daily.  Remaining aware of my dialogue with Him.

Now that I have Winston, I am finding that there are moments when I have a hard time remaining with him.  I find myself playing with my phone when I should be playing with him or Pinteresting when we are watching Frozen (start time 45 minutes...the almost exact time Olaf makes his first appearance!) for the 326th time.  When I do these things I find that I am missing little moments when he starts dancing around, or singing along or is wanting me to notice something he has built or done.  Now don't get me wrong, there are times when it is good for me to be away from Winston allowing him to play and create on his own.  It's healthy.  It's needed for both of our sanities.  I'm talking about when we are coloring and I find myself drifting to check my email instead of remaining engaged with my little guy.

This week I have set a goal for myself to remain.  To stay.  To abide.  To wait.  I am setting aside the phone during play times and family times so that I am all in.  So that I wherever is happening around me, I am all there.  Present.  Available.  Another goal is to wake up before Winston so that I am guaranteed time to read the Word and spend time with Jesus.  To stay awhile with him.  I am eager to put aside thoughts of everything else, opening my mind and heart to what He needs to say to me.  Scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

What about you friend, is it easy for you to stay, abide and wait?  To remain in tune and available?  What have you found that works for you?  I'd love to hear!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dallas: Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine

Since the majority of our summer travels were going to revolve around orthodontic meetings when we made plans to visit Dallas for the Lunch Bunch reunion, we decided to make this a mini-family vacation.  For as long as we had lived in Dallas, I had been enthralled with the thought of staying at The Great Wolf Lodge.  And now that we had Winston, it was a no brainer as to where we would stay!  We prepped Winston telling him where we were going to be staying and started practicing our wolf howl!

Upon arrival at the check-n counter, Winston was given a pair of wolf ears and he loved wearing them during our stay {and now in our house!}.  It's amazing how one set of ears can elevate the experience of staying at Great Wolf!
After getting settled into the room, we took a quick walk around to check out the hotel.  The bottom level was full of things a kid {of any age} would find fun from the Magic Wands to the Sweet Shoppe full of goodies that gave me a cavity just looking at them!
While I was super pumped about the wands and the adventure of MagiQuest, Winston was still just a tad to small to appreciate it.  What he and I both did like was the Starbucks inside the hotel.  If you keep the cup you are given and bring it back the next time you get a drink, they give you a discount! 
We stayed in a King size room and were very pleased with the space we had.  There was a perfect place to set up WAC's travel bed.  The Bjorn lightweight travel bed has been the best travel bed for us. It is super easy to set up and tear down, it fits in a suitcase for when we need to fly with it and Winton is happy to curl up for night-night in it!  

Each morning we spent a little time watching PBS with our ears, eating powdered donuts and enjoying a juice box.  Twice a day there is Story Time at the Clock.  It was captivating for the little guy although here is a friendly parent PSA: The songs will get stuck in your head.
Grapevine was a great home base for us the weekend.  It was only a 30 minute drive to the Perot Museum on Saturday morning and there is a lot of shopping close by should you need it!
The main attraction of the Great Wolf Lodge is the fabulous indoor water park!  There is a fun little kiddos section that was fabulous for Winston complete with a climbing tower, water guns, stationary jet skis and slides!  Once he discovered the just-his-sized slide, it was all over.  We lost count of how many times we climbed the stairs and slid down - pure heaven in little guy's book!  His love of water coupled with his learning to swim made the trip to the water park a blast!

Another cool feature about The Great Wolf Lodge is that they issue the adults wrist bands that open your hotel room and that is used to purchase any souvenirs, snacks or meals.  The ease of use is fantastic and you don't have to worry about carrying a wallet to the water park.

In a nutshell, we all enjoyed our trip to The Great Wolf Lodge!  We highly recommend it for families with little ones or medium or big ones!  We will certainly being staying there again!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Survived Seven

Seven years ago today, Benjamin and I said our "I do's" and started our life together.  In seven years we have lived in four different homes, adopted a Lulu, had a Winston, celebrated two graduations all adding up to a life that neither of us could have written out.  We spent a few minutes today looking back at photos we have taken over the years and neither of us would change a thing.  In this world of digital technology, its nice to reminisce on both the big things and little things we have done together.  

Here are the highlights from Year 7:
  • Benjamin graduated from Ortho residency and accepted a position as a part-time faculty member
  • Moved into our new home
  • Traveled to San Diego, New Orleans, Dallas and San Antonio 
  • Celebrated Winston's first birthday
  • I "retired" to stay at home

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Craft: Happy Crab Hand Craft

I think crafts made with a little one's hands and feet are just precious!  They are a great way to document how small {or big!} they are at that point in time.  A great keepsake and or gifts for family members.  The last art piece that Winston made was back in February so we were due up for something new!  One of his favorite books is The Clumsy Crab.  He loves to "read" along and does an outstanding crab impression!  Taking inspiration from his love for crabs and this pin from Pinterest, we took a few afternoons to make our very own Happy Crab Creation!

When making this craft, I wanted Winston to do everything by himself {or with very little assistance from me}.  He was in charge of where to put the glue, the sunshines and the googly eyes.  I had to remind myself to take deep breaths, stay positive, keep it fun and know that sand can be vacuumed from the carpet {since we did this in our craft room}!  I highly advise to put a smock on the kiddo and cover the surface you are using with paper.  

For this craft you will need:
    8 x 10 canvas
    Mod Podge
    Paint Brush
    Small container of sand {we used play sand}
    Painters Tape
    An empty container
    Yellow paint
    A round sponge stamp
    Red Paint
    A paper plate
    A small sponge roller

I placed a strip of painters tape on the canvas, instructed Winston to paint the glue below the yellow and let him go to town.
{Yes, glue got everywhere...hence the smock and the paper!}
After painting the on the glue, place the canvas over the empty container.  Next, pour the sand onto the glue and spread it around to cover the entire area.
Winston's job was to push the sand out of the bucket onto the canvas.  He did a great job!  {and yes, sand got everywhere.}
 Then he spread the sand around to make sure the area where he had placed glue got covered up.
Lastly, he then helped push the extra sand off of the canvas into the empty container.  {Yes, sand got everywhere!}  Then we left them to dry for a little while. 

The next step is the sun.  Using a 1" round sponge stamper and yellow paint, Winston stamped a sun into the sky on the canvas.  
He had so much fun stamping the canvases, he continued stamping the paper just so that he could use all of the paint! 

Since I didn't want the sand to flake off the canvas, after the sun was dry I took them outside and sprayed the sand with a clear coat sealer.  This guaranteed that the sand would stay in place and it gave the artwork a wet sheen!

In order to make it simple on myself, we did one hand at a time.  Winston loves to give high-fives so when we were ready to lay down his hand we would give the canvas a high-five!  To make sure that the crab would come out vibrantly red, we rolled paint onto his hand after every high-five.  To make the crab, turn the canvas portrait was and place the palm of the hand down with the thumb to the left of the canvas {away from the sand}.  Rotate the canvas 180 degrees and do the same thing with the opposite hand.  You want to make sure you have the palms of the hand prints touching {or as close as you can!}
Winston enjoyed his hands getting rolled and would squish the paint around!
High-five canvas!
Looking more and more like a Happy Crab!
While our handprints were drying, Winston helped me pick out which sized googly eyes he wanted Happy Crab to have.  He picked the largest size I had in my eye arsenal, and placed them on the thumbs once I had glue on them.  He did a fantastic job on all of them!  
I have Nipper, as we have named him, sitting on the counter in the kitchen.  When Winston sees it he stops to make his crab hands!  In allowing Winston to have more ownership {and not micromanaging him} in making this artwork, I realized how proud he was to know that he did it!  Did the vacuum cleaner get a workout?  Did I have messes to clean up afterwards?  Yes!  But, we sure did have a lot of fun!

What about you?  What are your favorite crafts to do with your littles?

All of the items used in the craft can be found at Hobby Lobby or Michaels.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dallas: The Perot Museum

On our trip to Dallas, besides catching up with friends, the one thing on the to-do list was to check out the Perot Museum of Nature and Science .  It was finished after we moved from Dallas.  I had heard that they had a really great children's area designed for little tots five and under.  We purchased our tickets online and made plans to go first thing on a Saturday morning.

Up and early, we headed down familiar roads bringing us to the parking garage for the museum.  A few weeks prior I had seen a photo of the cutest bright green frogs and behold!  When we walked past the Musical Forest, there they were!
We went to The World's Largest Dinosaur exhibit and it was great!  They had hands on exhibits for the kids and Winston's favorite was digging for dinosaur bones!
Next we headed to The Moody Family Children's Museum and were not disappointed for one minute!  It was Winston's first experience in a children's museum and he lived it up!  I think the water table and the camping area were rivals as his favorite areas to play in. 
 I loved that there were coveralls and hand dryers at the water play station.  Genius!  
 Just two guys, grilling up a steak!
Driving the truck, emptying the truck, sorting the fruits and veggies as well as shopping were all fun activities that both Winston and I enjoyed!
We then ate lunch at the restaurant on site and everything that we ordered was tasty {mac & cheese, chicken tenders, chicken sandwich, regular and sweet potato fries}.  The museum does allow outside food however it is not allowed to be eaten in the exhibits.  They do provide seating inside or outside and there are lots of tables available.  We did a speed tour of the remaining floors of the museum as little buddy was ready to stretch his legs and run around.  So we did just that!
By the green frogs, there is a mini river where kids are encouraged to shed their shoes, feel the water between their toes and splash to their hearts content.  
Winston had a blast running up and down the river making big splashes when he stomped and jumped. It was the perfect activity to expel the last bits of morning energy before driving back to the hotel for a rest.
If you live or plan on visiting Dallas or a near by town, I highly recommend you making this something that you do.  It is a great place for kids of all ages!

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