Monday, September 21, 2015

Good Morning Texas taping

I saw a post on Facebook from Dallas Mom's Blog saying they needed audience members to attend a taping of Good Morning Texas. The topic of the show was going to be Fall Fashion. I was free that particular morning, so I signed up for a spot. I figured it would be cool to see how a live show was filmed and potentially get to meet some of the anchors. My sister was free that morning too, so we went together.

When we arrived, it was kind of funny because there were models everywhere getting ready for the show. We felt out of place! The producer rounded up the audience members and brought us into the studio. She gave us some insight into how things would go, asked us to put our phones on silent and tuck our bags under our chairs, and encouraged us to be energetic and smile often. The cool thing was that she didn't mind if we took pictures or stayed around to meet the staff after it was over.

I have to say the operation seemed frantic. It didn't appear that the anchors, crew, or talent had much notice about what they would be doing next or where they needed to be. It was clear that no one had done a run-through. I'm not sure if that's how it normally is, or if this show was an exception since there were so many special guests/models, etc. All I know is that I would be super stressed out if this is how things go 5 days a week! Mad props to everyone for being professional and getting the show done, though. The anchors did their jobs very well and rolled with it when they needed to.

I definitely had a front row seat. Here's what it looked like from the viewer's perspective. I'm in the blue and white dress.

We were able to visit with anchor Carrie McClure for a little bit after the taping and she was gracious enough to pose for a picture with us. Anchor Jane McGarry was busy filming short promos/teasers for upcoming shows, so we didn't get a picture with her.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Go Shout Love

Do me a favor and spend the next 8 minutes watching this video. It'll make you be quiet, make you listen, and make you humble.

Visit their website to see how you can help. I ordered a couple of t-shirts to support their cause, and I'm following them on facebook and instagram to keep up with their new endeavors. We should be so grateful for the healthy kids in our life, and we should open our arms to those who aren't so fortunate. Now, go shout love!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Online Shopping Reminder for Labor Day Weekend

I shop online a lot now that I have two kids. In my pre-motherhood days, I used to actually go in to stores to buy registry gifts, birthday gifts, clothes for myself, etc. That would be quite the chore at this point, so online shopping is my solution. I needed to buy a wedding gift for my nephew and his wife, so I went to to see if any of the 3 stores they registered at were offering cash back. To my enjoyment, I saw that orders from Macy's would qualify for 6% cashback, and that's one of the stores they were registered at. Woot! There's literally nothing else you have to do besides start at Ebates and link to the retailer's site from there. The added benefit is that the site alerted me to the fact that Macy's was having a 15% off sale with free shipping on orders over $75. Bonus!

To date I've earned $230 in cash back by starting at the Ebates site first before ordering something online. It's also reminded me about coupon codes and sales, so I've saved countless extra dollars from that too. What you earn gets paid out quarterly, and I elect to get mine sent directly to my Paypal account. That way I can access it immediately. You can also have it sent to you in the form of a check. I'm not pulling your leg - the site is completely legit and I've been using it for at least a couple years now. I don't usually like to refer people to programs or websites, but I can't think of a reason not to tell everyone about this site. They literally give you money back each time you make a purchase online with a retailer they support. You were going to shop there anyway!

Use this link to sign up:     

Happy shopping!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Galveston Beach Trip 2015

While our friend, Kim, was visiting us from Germany, we decided to take a beach trip to Galveston for a few days. My sister and her family, and my parents, were able to go too, so we rented a large beach house in Pointe West. 

It was awesome!  There was plenty of room for all of us, and it came furnished with furniture, TVs, game tables, cookware, all appliances, etc. We brought food with us and were able to cook everything in the house to save time and money and avoid the inconvenience of going out to eat with 12 people. It was situated on the bay and we only had a short walk across the street to get to the beach. The views were wonderful from both the front and back balconies of the house.

It was so nice to be able to get to the beach quickly and not have it be crowded at all. Renting the house also gave us access to the nearby beach club, which meant two pools and a cafe. This was Jude's first time at the beach, and he took after his big brother in his affinity for the sand.

One day we took the kiddos to the Pleasure Pier to check out the midway and the rides.

Another day, part of the crew stayed behind with the kids while the rest of us went on a bay fishing expedition. I'm not a big fan of fishing, so I just enjoyed the boat ride, the company, and catching some sun. Our boat was called "Dutch Treat", which was quite fitting! The Germans had the most luck catching fish, so that was exciting.

We thought the kids (and adults!) would enjoy a dolphin cruise, so we ate lunch in Galveston one day and then embarked on our journey. It was a great success and we saw a ton of dolphins, many right beside our boat.

On our last night of vacation, we decided to take a sunset walk to the beach. It made for some great pictures and lots of smiles!

All in all, we had a fantastic time and it was so nice to spend time with our loved ones. If we make it back to the Galveston/Pointe West area in the future, I definitely foresee us staying in the same place!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Catered Dinner Party

I'm lucky enough to live down the street from a very talented chef. We've become friends with him and his family, and Meezy and I have dined numerous times at the restaurant where he serves as the Executive Chef.  Another neighbor/friend mentioned that she had him cater a private party at her house and that gave Meezy and I an idea. Our friend/former exchange student/honorary family member (Kim) from Germany came back to visit us for 3 weeks recently, and we wanted to have a special dinner for her and her boyfriend. We thought about making reservations at a restaurant and inviting a few more friends, but the thought of having a dinner party at our own house sounded really fun.  It's comfortable and laid back and we could have control over the food and drinks being served.

First order of business was deciding on the menu. We knew we wanted five courses and wanted it to be a good variety of foods. I'm a vegetarian and our guest of honor doesn't like fish, so the chef was nice enough to do custom items to accommodate the two of us, while still providing an amazing course for everyone else.

With this many plates and silverware needed, we decided the best option was to use a rental company to provide them. We also hired a waiter to help with the serving and act as a bartender. Next order of business was the guest list. We knew we wanted to invite friends that Kim had grown particularly fond of throughout her previous stays with us. The hard part was trying to keep it to a reasonable number! We had to make sure we could afford that many guests and also would have enough room for them. I wish we could've invited a few more people, but this was the best we could do. The final guest list included 12 diners. My dining table is fantastic and can handle that many people with the leaves extended, but I don't have 12 matching chairs! It was a little hodge-podge, but at least we all had room.

I failed massively by not taking pictures of the chef working his magic or of each course as they were being presented. I snapped one quick pic of the first course as it was being constructed, though.

I also managed to get a pic of the dessert before I devoured every last morsel.

The dinner was truly phenomenal and the fellowship was on par too. It was great to sit back and catch up with friends in the comfort of our own home, while not having to deal with any of the usual hosting responsibilities. If we could afford it, I would do this more often!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The New Normal

I miss my blog. I was going back through some old posts, cleaning up the ones that don't need to be published anymore, and it made me wish I had more free time for writing. I like discussing current events, sharing fun stories about my family, detailing my work endeavors, etc. Life has just been a non-stop, exhausting experience the past few months, though. Blogging keeps getting pushed down the priority list.

Jude is now 7 months old and barely has begun sleeping more than 3 hours in a row. We literally had 6 months (180+ DAYS!) of being woken up every 1-3 hours overnight. If someone told you that you'd be getting very interrupted sleep for 6 straight months, but would still be expected to function like a normal human being with a full-time job, you would question whether you were capable of doing that. I'm still not quite sure how we've managed to do it, but it's pretty much because you just have to. It is what it is. We have no other choice. Sleep problems aside, our little Judey Patootie is doing great. He's on the brink of crawling. He grabs for EVERYTHING. He's been eating pureed foods for a couple months now, and we're about to introduce some soft finger foods. He's happy, he's mellow, and he's very inquisitive. 

Dutch is 3 and a couple months. He's an awesome kiddo. He stays up late, but typically sleeps pretty well. When he wakes up in the morning, he comes into our room with a big smile on his face and announces, "The sun is out! I'm all done sleeping!" He's starting to pay more attention to his surroundings. When I leave daycare and turn out of the parking lot a different direction than normal, he asks, "Where are we going?" He's very loving and is constantly telling us things like "I love you" and "I want to give you a hug and a kiss" and "You're my friend." His smile is infectious and he has a great sense of humor. He does t-ball, karate, and takes swim lessons.

There's so much happening in my career, with my house, with our rental properties, with Meezy's career, etc, but there's just not enough time in my day to discuss it all! I think as Jude gets a little older and has a more consistent sleep schedule, I'll be able to get a little more time to myself. Until then, the blogging will be sporadic, and probably not as philosophical as it used to be! Bear with me.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Recreating Old Photos - Mother's Day Gift 2015

My mom always tells us not to get her gifts. We usually don't listen to her and buy her something anyway. This year we decided to take a different approach. Over the past few years, I've seen people online recreate a picture from their childhood where they try to mimic clothing, expressions, posture, etc.  I thought it would be funny if we did that this year, but with a few different pictures. There is no shortage of pictures from my childhood with my two sisters, many of which are embarrassing.  A couple months before Mother's Day, my sisters and I went through old photo albums and established the list of a few pictures that we would use for this project.

Then came the hard part of trying to recreate them.  We needed to find outfits that would mimic what we wore in the original pictures. Considering the pictures were taken 30+ years ago, and we were small children at the time, this wasn't an easy task.  I spent many hours scouring different stores and shopping online, trying to find pieces that would work. After working on the outfits, I also wanted the backgrounds to be as similar as possible. I bought some props and planned the locations. Once we had all that lined up, my sisters and I met up on a Sunday afternoon, about one month before Mother's Day. My hubby served as the photographer, with original photos in hand, making sure we had the right posture, facial expression, and arrangement. We went through many wardrobe changes and spent a lot of time getting the backgrounds right. The results were awesome. Hilarious, embarrassing, and awesome.

We tried to really pay attention to detail with this one. My oldest sister wore a plaid shirt, purple shorts, and socks with sandals. My middle sister found an outfit that was a pretty darn good replica of what she wore originally, and then had the socks with sandals. I couldn't find a white shift dress with a picture on it, so I bought a white swimsuit cover-up, added a sticker, and pinned on some white ribbon for the straps. I then added socks and pink sandals, and mimicked the hairstyle, facial expression, and posture. I bought some fake tulips and stuck those in the ground behind us.

This picture featured just my middle sister and me, in outfits that weren't too complicated. I bought some pink footed adult pajamas and my sister wore a simple white shirt and shorts. We spent a little time on the background, trying to mimic the striped couch, random toys strewn about, and brown carpeting. The hardest part was trying to position myself on top of her in the same way I had done 30 years ago!

I feel I need to apologize for making you see this picture, but it was too funny not to share. I wasn't thrilled about recreating a picture where I was originally wearing a diaper, but I wanted to be a good sport and give my mom a laugh. My oldest sister had an easy outfit to recreate, just a purple shirt and shorts. My middle sister's outfit took a little more work. We had a hard time finding a spaghetti strap tank top with bright diagonal stripes, but finally came across a full length sleeveless dress with bright horizontal stripes. That would have to do!  She actually tucked the dress into the back of the shorts, to make it look like a top. We were able to find pink shorts with a white trim on the bottom, but needed to add white duct tape to the top to make them look like they had a white band. The final touch was the binoculars around the neck! For me, I came across the red and blue striped shirt while perusing the boys' section at Target. It's not an exact match, but came pretty darn close!  I used white shorts, tucked up to look like a diaper, to complete my outfit. We made sure to pay attention to hand placement and facial expressions on this one. I think we nailed it!

This picture featured my oldest sister and my middle sister, when she was a small baby. We thought it would be pretty comical to have them recreate laying together on a tiny baby blanket, now that they're both full grown and my middle sister is actually 4 inches taller that my oldest! My oldest sister got a white sundress and added butterfly stickers to make it look like the design in the original. We then used ribbon to add straps to my middle sister's tube top to mimic the outfit she wore as a baby. We found a baby blanket similar in style to the original and then had some random toys and flip flops strewn about. It's funny seeing how much space they took up on the blanket when they were little as compared to now!

Last but not least, this pic was fun for us to recreate. I donned the adult footed pajamas from the earlier pic, and my oldest sister wore a white shirt with red sleeves, with a sticker pinned on to mimic the design on the original shirt. She "held" me between her legs, while I grasped a blue block. My middle sister just needed to sit in the corner with her mouth open. Ha!

We didn't give my mom any warning as to what the true nature of her gift was, but simply told her we wanted to compile some pictures of the three of us, some old, some new, as a walk down memory lane. When she opened the photo album and saw the first (original) picture of us three young girls in front of the tulips, she said, "Awwww" and got nostalgic. Then she realized the pic next to it was us at our current ages, and she couldn't control her laughter. We got it on video. It's a pretty great reaction!

Needless to say, the laughter continued for each subsequent page. She got a big kick out of the end result, and my sisters and I had a really fun time putting it all together.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!