Saturday, January 26, 2013

Monster Jam at 3 Months!

For years, when we'd be driving down the road and see signs promoting Monster Jam, Benjamin and I would turn to each other and say - "Oh!  That would be fun!  We need to see how long it's in town for!"  Inevitably, it would be the last weekend in Houston and we'd say, "We'll go next time!"  Well, our next time finally arrived!

We decided that it would be a perfect event for our Valentine's 2013 and a way to celebrate Winston turning 3 months.  Benjamin purchased some hearing protection for baby and let me tell you they worked perfectly!  He wasn't even phased by the noise...
but more on that in a minute!

Noah and Salem joined us for our adventure.  It was Salem's first time for this experience as well.  Before meeting them at our seats, Benjamin, Winston and I went early thanks to our free pit passes from Advanced Auto Parts and walked around the arena soaking in all of the Monster trucks and their glory!
You can kinda tell here - but Winston was fast asleep for most of our time in the pit.  Every once in a while he would open his eyes, smile and shut them again!  It's like he knows that he will be along for almost all of the crazy rides that Benjamin and I go on!
Yes, Winston is wearing a little devil hat.  It only seemed fitting for the Tour of Destruction!

Benjamin purchased tickets in the club level and I highly recommend sitting in that section of Reliant if you attend an event there.  They have oversized chairs, tables and food vendors only for people who purchase tickets in that area.  I had been in that section before, but under the light of having a wee human, it became more fabulous than before!  Just knowing that if things went south and Winston couldn't handle the noise we could sit on a comfy couch and watch what was going on from inside was awesome.  
Before the big start of the show, we all put on our ear protection and headed to our seats!  We had a great view of the arena below us.
As soon as we were back in our seats, the lights dimmed and a massive roar of power filled the air as the Monster Trucks started their entrance into the arena!  The sound of the rumbling engines was impressive and I was so thankful that we had purchased Winston his very own pair of hearing protection. As I said earlier, he didn't seem too bothered with the noise.  He slept like this through most of the racing portion of the show:
Sound out and not phased by anything!  I am constantly amazed at how well he does in all of the outings that we take him on.  He is such a trooper and sweet boy.  
Our favorite part of the night was the freestyle where the trucks could drive up and do stunts off of the beaters piled in the middle of the arena.  Lots of air time and total crashing mayhem!
And we got proof that Winston was awake during the event with smiles!  While he was awake he ate and was "talked" up a storm!  I am fairly certain he was telling us that this has been by far the coolest thing he has done in his little life.  Although when he asked if he could be a Monster Truck driver, we told him we'd get back to him on that...  He did have a good time watching the total destruction below him...
But I'm not sure he enjoyed it as much as I did.... 
Yes, that's a foam replica of Grave Digger on my head...and yes, we bought the cotton candy so 1) Noah and I could eat it and 2) so I could have this sweet hat!  Speaking of Grave Digger, here are a few shots of his freestyle!
All in all, a successful outing and a fabulous way say "I love you!" and "Hooray!  You've made it three months!"

Oh, and don't forget to enter into our giveaway!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Give-A-Way: Felted Bible Characters!

One of the things I am looking forward to as Winston grows, is the telling and re-telling of Bible stories and him understanding the stories and asking for them again and again!  I was super excited when my Mom showed me these adorable felt Bible characters!  They are soft, adorable and will be perfect for Winston to play with while he learns the classic stories we all love so much!
And because they are just fabulous and fun, I decided that this colorful, well made set of characters could be yours, dear reader!!

These little guys measure between 3" to 8.5" wide by 5" to 8" high making them a good size for little hands to hold and play with.  The details are amazing on each character.
 Kiddos can admire Joseph's cool colored coat or play with Jonah and the whale!
Take the wee ones on the journey with Moses as he walks through the Red Sea and watch their faces as they are amazed at the miracle of Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000.
Mesmerize their little ears and watch them cheer David on in his fight against Goliath!

To enter the give-a-way, you can do one or all of following - Remember, the more you do, the more entries you have in the drawing to win!

1. Follow my blog and leave a comment saying that you do!
You have to be a follower of our blog through Google Friend Connect or "like" us on facebook by clicking here.  You must be a follower of one of those two in order to win.  Tell me where you follow & double entries if you follow both!
2.  Leave a comment telling me what your favorite Bible story is!
3. Post this give-a-way on your blog or facebook!
Once you have, let me know by leaving a comment - double entries for both!

You could potentially have up to 6 entries in this giveaway!
Post the picture below when you share!
This giveaway will end on Saturday, February 2nd at midnight.
Winner will be announced Sunday, February 3rd!

Thanks for entering and good luck!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 Restaurants: White Oak Kitchen

Straight after the New Year, Benjamin, Winston and I were joined by Kala and Luke for a new restaurant adventure at the White Oak Kitchen in the Galleria mall.  Benjamin had spent a little time looking up some places on Zagat and White Oak was the winner for January's new place to eat.  Located on the top level between Cheesecake Factory and Neiman's, we strolled in through the doors to our first "new to us" restaurant of 2013. 

We made reservations for Friday night and when we arrived, we were one of three tables with people there to eat.  This remained through the entire evening which was fantastic because it wasn't overly crowded and the noise level was perfect for conversation.  The atmosphere of the restaurant was very laid back with an attentive, interactive staff that was great at not rushing the night along.  The were very conversational and accommodated for Winston's stroller.

The food was an absolute treat for the tastebuds!  Benjamin has deemed the Houston Angus Burger his best burger of 2013 {so far!} and the smoked mac + cheese delighted!  Everyone gave praises for the meals they were eating and though we were all full from finishing every morsel on our plates, a S'mores bread pudding was ordered for the table.  As soon as the flavors of chocolate, marshmallow, vanilla and graham cracker hit my tastebuds, an "Oh, my goodness!" escaped from my lips... it was the best bread pudding I've ever eaten!  Confirmation came from around the table that indeed a wise dessert selection had been made.  

After the meal had ended and we were heading out, it was decided that the White Oak Kitchen would indeed be a place that we would frequent again!

....and we did!  Benjamin and I met our sweet friends the Armstrong's there when Jeremy was down for the marathon.  We met them on Saturday night and again there were only a few tables of people and the food definitely lived up to our very high expectations.  The kitchen also prepared for Jeremy a baked potato even though it was not on the menu.  A second successful evening!

For the combination of atmosphere, baby friendliness, taste of food, staff and consistency, we give White Oak Kitchen:
4.5 Stars

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fortune Cookie Recipe

For our New Year's celebration, I thought it would be fun to have a festive dessert.  After a few minutes, I got an ambitious hair and decided to make fortune cookies!  It became a family event with Lulu being on watch for any crumbs to help taste test, Winston cheering us on with coos and Benjamin doing the folding because I have a habit of burning myself!  Our New Year's Eve was special because we were all in the kitchen and the receipe turned out to be easier than I expected!  

Fortune Cookies
5 tbs of unsalted butter
4 egg whites
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of flour
pinch of salt
3 tbs of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp almond extract
Parchment paper

Makes about 15 cookies

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Melt butter in a small bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat together egg whites and sugar on a medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Scrape the bowl down to ensure all of the sugar has been mixed in.  Next add the flour and salt.  Beat together until combined.  Scrap the down the bowl.  Lastly, add in the melted butter, cream and almond extract.  Beat together for another 30 seconds.
Go ahead and try a taste - it is delicious!
As a guideline, draw two 5" circles onto the parchment paper and place on the cookie sheet.  Spoon about a tablespoon of the batter onto the parchment paper and spread with the back of the spoon into a thin circle.
Put in the oven and bake between 6-8 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.  When you take the pan out of the oven, you will need to act fast.  Take a spatula and lift the first circle off of the pan and place on a clean surface.  Quickly place the fortune in the middle of the circle.
Then take two sides and fold them until they meet together.  Then press the middle of the semi circle over a coffee mug or a straight surface to create the middle crease of the cookie.
Place the folded cookie into a muffin tin to help maintain the fortune cookie shape!
Don't worry if the middle of your cookie cracks a little - it happens.  If it splits the whole way, it just means you can eat it without feeling badly!  Quickly do the second circle and repeat until all batter is used.  

After the first 8 or so, I was able to spoon out an appropriate amount and no longer needed the circle outline.  It may take one or two at the beginning to get into a groove, so if you need to make an exact 15, I would recommend doubling the batter to be on the safe side.

Since we had created two fortunes for each guest, we then created a cute little box using the Silhoutte and bright card stock.  After gluing the sides together, using puff paint I wrote the names of our guests and 2013 on the sides of the boxes.
This allowed for a great presentation of the cookies and the boxes were also useful for taking home one should they want to save it for later!
Overall I was very pleased with the turnout of the fortune cookies!  They tasted fantastic, the fortunes we crafted for the family were well received and provided some good laughs and they were fun to make!  
Just a note:
You could also use vanilla extract instead of almond, if you prefer.
After the cookies cool, try dipping one side into chocolate and covering with sprinkles for another option!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Looking back on 2012, I can confidently say it was not the year we started out thinking it would be!  Last January we were blissfully unaware that our world was about to be rocked by all that pregnancy and adding a tiny human to our family would bring!  Adding that huge surprise to the mix, our 2012 was wildly successful and more than we could have imagined.  

We were able to check five things off of our bucket list: hang out with a penguin, visit the Orange Show and the Art Car museum, see a show in Vegas and Benjamin saw a Dynamo's game in the new stadium.  We were able to add Nevada and Hawaii to the list of states Benjamin and I have visited together.  
We spent a lot of evenings together on the couch with our favorite Lubaby, celebrated her fourth birthday and spent many afternoons swimming in the pool with her!
We celebrated milestones of Mee Maw turning 80, my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary, and our 5 year anniversary along with the announcement and arrival of our sweet Winston Ace!
All of this coupled with spending time with family and friends, along everything else I was able to write about during the year plus the blessing of working for a fabulous company and Benjamin loving his residency rounded out 2012 in a fabulous way.

2013 is already here and it's hard to believe a full week is already gone.  It's back to the routine of the daily grind for Benjamin and I with a new adventure ahead for Winston.  We are excited about what 2013 will bring our way the biggest thing being Benjamin's graduation from residency!!  Woo hoo and praise the Lord!  We hope that y'all have had fun reading our updates and that you will keep following along with our little crazy corner of the world!

Goals and Resolutions

Last year, I took the time to sit down and write out some resolutions for 2012.  I was all gung-ho and ready to go - starting out with gusto especially on the books piece completing three books in less than two weeks and then... pregnancy!  

I am proud to say that I was able to keep up with being intentional on reading and meditation on The Word.  I believe that I was able to love others well and we did really well on the cooking/trying new restaurants thing... leaning more towards the restaurants!  What I did not do so hot at was doing anything of Project 52 and reading 24 books.  Ah well - life happens and priorities change.

For 2013, I have decided to do things a little more simply by way of goals and resolutions:

1. Continue the habit of reading God's Word daily.

2. Keep my desk at home cleaned off.  I did the unthinkable this week: cleaned off the top of my desk and cleaned out all of the drawers.  I think my mother and husband nearly died when they saw it!  I'm great at piling things up, going through the piles from time to time and going on my merry way.  However, I will admit, it is nice to have a clean surface to do typing or writing!

3. Start the habit of reading at night to Winston.  He is already following the pages when we read to him and I think it would be special time that Benjamin and I would love having with him after busy days at work.

4.  Read 12 books.  One per month.  I think I can do it!  Now - anyone have any good suggestions?  

5. Try cooking a new dish or trying a new restaurant every month.  This was something that Benjamin and I enjoyed doing together, with family and with friends!  

Five things.  Five things to be mindful of and to try to accomplish.  Here we go, 2013!

GAPTAP: Daycare

Dear Friends,
Tomorrow is the day that I return to work, Benjamin back to clinic and Winton starts a new adventure at daycare.  We did a dry run on Friday only leaving him for a few hours and Winston did fantastic!  He charmed the ladies and when we walked in to get him he was fast asleep with a full belly.  Benjamin and I were another story - we did well while we were inside, but once in the car we allowed ourselves a time to be emotional.  Then we set forth to keep our minds busy with a list of errands, finished up still alive and were super excited to pick up Lovebug.

How are we feeling, did I hear you ask?  Okay - I mean, taking him to daycare is better than leaving him at home with Lulu!  I mean, we know she loves him but the lack of opposable thumbs and only being one foot off of the ground is a little limiting for childcare!  We are trying to focus on being thankful for the weeks off that we were afforded to have, for the fantastic job that I am able to return to along with the wonderful people I work with, and for the facility and people who will be loving on Winston.  And like most everything, I am sure that the days will fly by!

So here's my question:  
Did you take a week's worth of clothes to daycare or day by day take the outfits you wanted them to change him into?

I know that we'll get into a routine of what works for us and the sweet ladies taking care of him, but I was just curious!
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