Houston Post Harvey – Taking it Day by Day

I’ve lived in Houston since 1997. It’s flat. You don’t realize how flat until you’ve traveled to Austin or San Antonio. The Texas Hill Country quickly reminds you that Houston’s only hills are its highways and beltways. It’s also full of traffic, and as recently shown on the news, prone to flood. We have bayous and creeks surrounding our flat terrain. Still I love this city for so many reasons such as :

1. Diversity. This is truly an international city. Global companies choose Houston to place as their U.S. headquarters consistently. We attract business and opportunity bringing people from all over looking for work. Annual Greek and Italian festivals along with the city’s international festival, highlight just some of those cultural activities that the city and its suburbs love to celebrate.

2. The people. Because there’s such a diverse group of people in the 4th largest city of America, people learn to interact with others from such different backgrounds and we do it daily. That’s why people came together so quickly to help during Hurricane Harvey. Houstonians help when the cry for help is sent out. They may have cursed at you the day before for not merging onto the freeway correctly, but the next day that person is there to help you evacuate your flooded home.

3. Food. We have the best. Fajitas and margaritas are a staple. Bar-B-Q and chili cook offs are as frequent as weather updates. Spanish tapas bars, hip Montrose eateries, elegant Galleria restaurants, taco trucks, China town, and seafood dives where you can “peel n eat” crawfish and shrimp, dot our city’s landscape.

4. Sports and entertainment venues. We have the harvey picRockets, Astros, Texans, and Dynamo. We still have loyal Oilers fans. Our fans have been deprived of a championship for a long time, but they remain true and steadfast. Houston also attracts the best performances from opera, to country, rock, jazz and we have a symphony that gives free performances to the public in Herman Park.

5. Resiliency. People here pick up the debris and tattered left overs from the storm and get to work. Neighbors help neighbors and volunteers show up in full force to aid in cleaning homes, schools, and businesses affected by the flood.

It’s going to take time for Houston to rebuild. We have flooded before. It will most likley flood again…but hopefully not for a while. We’re Houston Strong and will take life one day at a time. Congratulations Houston! You showed America and the world what we’re made of. Now time for a margarita.


Ask a silly question and get a silly answer!

Maybe you’ve seen these groups that have emerged on Facebook as the “go to” for question asking.  They’re named, “Ask…” and then the name of the community.  It amazes me the kinds of questions that are asked on these sites.

I enjoy getting recommendations for an electrician, a good bakery, or a fence repairman.  But.  There are some questions that leave my speechless.  One day a man asked, “Hey ya’ll.  I’ve been coughing for three days.  What should I do?”  My first thought was “Dear Lord I hope you don’t have a child to take care of.”  If you can’t figure out what to do, like, see a doctor or visit a pharmacist, then you shouldn’t be allowed to take care of children or operate machinery.

But then the crazier thing is how people think they know everything and have all the answers to the questions!  For the cougher, one person said drink tequila with a worm, another lady gave a homemade recipe for a cream that he could rub…well I’ll leave the rest of that part off.  No one said, “Go see a doctor.”  Geniuses.  They don’t have a medical degree, but hey, they know how to take care of a cough!

Another lady posted a public service announcement and plea to the group.  Her big, shocking ( literally) discovery, was that the new HEB grocery store baskets gave static electric shocks to people.  She wanted everyone to call and complain to the store about how unsafe their baskets were.  Wow.  And all this time I thought we as humans, generated our own static electricity!  What do you know.  It’s been grocery carts all along.  Someone give this lady a research grant.

I don’t know everything, but that’s ok, because when I do have a question, I’ll be sure to visit one of these Ask groups since they seem to know it all…but first I’ll call HEB!



March Madness…for several reasons

March brings showers and April spring flowers…or something like that.  I enjoy seeing green!  It’s a sign of new life after cold temperatures.  Actually our winter here in this part of Texas was so mild, that I blinked and it was spring!

With that burst of new life comes new energy, new ideas, and some busier schedules.  College basketball tournaments are about to start as well…have no idea where the term March Madness came regarding that! Outdoor recreation kicks into high gear, people begin to spruce up their yards and homes, and vacation planning for spring break is in full force!

As a realtor, this is the time of year that we begin to see people plan on buying their first home, or selling what they have and upgrading to a larger space.  Here is a quick newsletter from the real estate team that I’m apart of: http://imprv.co/awel

Take a quick read and let me know your thoughts and questions about real estate.  Read More »

Fantasy Football Fatigue

I know when football season is approaching.  It starts with the men in my house planning a fantasy football meeting, slash party, slash draft, slash my wrist (sorry I slipped with that one) kind of event.  But before the event even occurs, there’s the “research” that goes into the players.

July is when I begin to faintly hear the discussions concerning players and their health.  By the beginning of August men become like students finishing their Senior English papers;   on the computer, checking periodicals, combing through statistics, and starting their “picks”.  And for once it’s picks that don’t involve nasal cavities.

Then the draft day comes.  This isn’t a quick meeting.  This involves several hours of talking, debating, finally drafting, and then coming home with the hope that this team will win the Super Bowl.  Then the season games begin!

Sunday lingo on the way to church for some people may be, “I wonder what the pastor will talk about today?  What are we having for lunch?”  Ours starts with, “I should have played John Doe.*  I didn’t.  Now watch he’s going to score all these points and I’m going to lose this week.  My team is horrible.”  Sigh. I’m hoping the sermon will revolve around keeping the Sabbath holy.  Something like, “NFL…Not For the Lord’s Day!”  I can only pray.

When the fantasy team is doing well, it’s incredible.  There are high fives, whooping and hollering, and the testosterone level is excruciatingly high.  When the team is doing poorly, a television remote is bound to fly, tempers flare, and suddenly men are talking to the television like they can really be heard.  “John Doe * you stink.  Why didn’t I trade him?  Is it too late?”  I myself would like to be traded to a wine bar.

When I was in college there was a class offered called “Sports Psychology”.  I honestly used to think that it was about men and why they get so worked up about sports!  Then I learned what it was really about.  I like my idea better.

So girlfriends, wives, sister wives and such, brace yourselves for a couple of months.  Next it’s playoffs, then the Super Bowl, and then we’re free…until fantasy baseball in the Spring.

*John Doe isn’t actually a NFL player.  The author doesn’t know many players’ names.

A new page…

I acquired my real estate license a while back.  Between that and juggling family, I have been so busy and neglectful in blogging.  So, to pick up where I left off, I’m trying to commit to blogging at least once a week.

Today is September 11th, and no one can look at that date without remembering what it represents; a day of unfathomable tragedy.  No one would have predicted that on a Tuesday morning the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history would occur.  People awoke that morning, got their kids ready for school, made breakfast, dressed and showered for work, and commuted into their place of employment, not knowing it would be their last day on earth.

The truth is that none of us are promised tomorrow.  In James 4:13-14 NIV, it reads “Now listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are  a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  The reality that the verse points to is that life is short and things can change in mere seconds.

Now fifteen years later I watch the memorial on television.  Family members take turns reading names of those who lost their lives that day.  Among them are moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, firefighters, police, and other first responders.  I hear a diverse chorus of last names, and a bell ringing for the times that the planes hit the trade center towers, the Pentagon, and the flight 93 that crashed with everyday heroes on board struggling to take back control.  One man who was remembering his older brother said, “Fifteen years feels like fifteen seconds.”   Another read the name of his wife that he lost, and looked at the crowd asking, “When will peace finally come?”

Another school year has come and my kids are one year closer to graduating. My high school reunion, 25th, just occurred.  I look at everyone and remember them as seniors, but truthfully we are forty somethings with families.  Time isn’t slowing down and never will.  Cherish days, make memories, say “I love you” more often, and ask yourself, “If this was my last day on earth, where would I go?”

The Bible doesn’t answer all of our questions about heaven and life after death, but we do know that Jesus himself wants us there.  On the cross while he was waiting to die, the two other men hanging on either side of him had differing views.  Once yelled at him to prove that he was the Messiah and to save them all.  But the other criminal reacted with “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But his man has done nothing wrong.  Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Then Jesus answered him and said “Truly I tell , today you will be with me in paradise.”( Luke 23:39-43 NIV)

There’s comfort in knowing that we will see our loved ones again someday.  The families this morning at the 9-11 memorial service echoed that sentiment repeatedly.  But don’t forget to acknowledge who Jesus is just like the criminal hanging there.  Don’t put off accepting Him…there might not be a tomorrow.





When Children Play…

Childrens-Church1Reading and watching the recent world events would make anyone sad and troubled.  Mass shootings, earthquakes, violent protests among many other negative occurrences, are enough to cause worry and dread.  I watched television pundits yell at each other today over gun laws, read opinion pieces on terrorism, and finally had enough of the ranting and raving and turned it all off.  Seems like the only safe and happy channel to watch right now is the Hallmark Channel and its sappy, Christmas love movies.

Then this evening, looking out my study window, I watched my two kids playing outside.  They were playing with children much younger than themselves, and one with special needs.  Games of tag, hiding behind mailboxes, riding scooters on the sidewalk, and looking at our neighbors’ Christmas lights, all gave me a grateful look inside their world; a place I haven’t been to in years.  There was no yelling, no fighting, no judging, no bullying, and no trying to look cool or fit in…just being kids who wanted to play.

As a kid our childhood was full of imaginative games.  Christmas time was especially exciting with school parties and knowing that family would be coming to visit along with the big man Santa.    We didn’t have to think about a mortgage, a car payment, renewing insurance,  and work deadlines.  The words “job security” and “terrorism” were completely unknown to us.  We were encapsulated in a safe, protected bubble of peace and assurance.

The world they live in is full of danger, but they don’t see it.  They only talk of promise and potential.  Concerns that we face are ours alone.  We shoulder the burden of worry while they plot their Christmas wish list.

Jesus spoke about children.  In Matthew 18:2-4 It reads, “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said “”Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives on little child like this in My name receives Me.””

Meek, humble, playful and ready to serve were the qualities Jesus referred to.  In our society, the rich, powerful, and most likely to grace the cover of a magazine, are the ones who seem to receive all the glory.  But Jesus came and called out the changes to the world system as He saw they should be.

Cherish the play time and “embrace the inner child” as some would say.  The laundry can wait, and the mopping of the floor could be done another day.  Your children will only be with your family for a short time.  Their lessons of youth are a welcome comfort for all of us.


Feeling Sorry for Thanksgiving

Rockwell, Thanksgiving.jpg
Rockwell, Thanksgiving.jpg

I really feel sorry for Thanksgiving.  Once Halloween has come and gone, there is a short amount of time before Thanksgiving arrives.  A couple of weeks of grocery store sales on turkeys and trimmings is all you might really notice about the holiday.  People may speak about where they’re going to spend the day, but before it even arrives, it’s overshadowed by the approaching Christmas season.

Thanksgiving is almost like the middle child.  It deserves more attention for all the good that it represents, but the beautiful, more attractive Christmas season casts a shadow over this short holiday. Black Friday sale announcements start earlier every year, and more department stores are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.  What a tragedy that retail profit is trumping family time!  But the hurriedness and excitement of it all seems to just shrug it shoulders at Thanksgiving.

I once went to Target on Thanksgiving night with my husband.  We thought we were really going to grab some great deals.  Problem ended up being that we were grabbed; physically.  Do you really want to know what kind of people show up on Thanksgiving night at some of these stores?  Our experience has taught us that they’re not very nice people!

In between picking up scooters and DVDs,  I tried to pick out a pair of women’s boots when I was pushed aside.  My hair became tangled in some lady’s ( I used the term “lady” loosely) button down jacket, and out of the mass crowd of barbarian shoppers, I saw my husband waving his arms at me.  He was signaling that it was time to evacuate.  We walked out with a few items and more of a headache.  People were shouting at employees for items that had sold out, and let’s just say we would have been better off being at home with family; warm and cozy with a piece of leftover dessert.

Now I have to admit before going further, I love Christmas!  It’s my favorite holiday as it seems to be for a lot of people.  I love our family decorating the tree, baking goodies, Christmas parties, gift exchanging…singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus…the list goes on.  It’s a cheerful holiday.  But what about Thanksgiving?

If you really look at the story behind Thanksgiving, it’s one of danger, uncertainty, faith and survival; much like the times we’re living in I would say.  It’s more than just coming together to remember what the Pilgrims did, and passing the gravy.  It really becomes more than that.  We pause with family and friends and take the time to be grateful and thankful.  The only gifts involved with Thanksgiving are those of hospitality, sharing, gratitude, and reflecting on all we have to be thankful.

I remember as a child our family taking the time to talk around our dinner.  Each person had fond stories to share of past holidays, and special recollections of family members that had passed on.  “Remember Me-Me’s dressing?  Hers was the best” coupled with “I miss Granny’s smoked turkey,” and the sayings would continue.  Our family would discuss current events, while the older generation would reminisce about how good life used to be.  No one would have cell phones out and the television was off.  The only thing we would turn the television on for was the Dallas Cowboys game (this was before my Houston Texans came on the scene).  Games like trivial pursuit and UNO were pulled out, and no one thought of going out on Thanksgiving night except to watch a movie or take a walk.

So enjoy this holiday.  It’s a quick but an important one.  Take the time to be thankful, put down the cell phone, and converse with family and friends.  Forget about shopping on Thanksgiving night.  Those sales will come and go, but your family won’t always be together.  Pass the gravy, enjoy the laughter, and DVR those Cowboys!

Happy Thanksgiving…

We’ve Got “The Look”

Cypress Mom

Blog photoI’m afraid we’ve developed into “that couple” with “The Look”.  The look isn’t glamorous or trendy.  It’s not one that I’ve desired, but I believe it’s found me like it will find every adult eventually.

“The Look” sneaks up on everyone.  Then one day you realize you have it and there’s no going back.

I’m talking about “The Look” given to other parents when their children are misbehaving, are out of control, crying, whining, and any other annoying thing you may think a small child or baby would do.  I have personally received those looks!

I can remember sitting in Olive Garden with our soon to be one year old.  He was sitting in his high chair and looking all around at other tables.  He was waving and being so cute.  At some point crankiness set in and he began to fuss.  The fussing turned into crying and before we could…

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Cell Phone Coma

Children using smartphonesCountdown has begun. In 30 seconds a major asteroid will collide with Earth!  JJ Watt called and wants to practice some football drills with you.  You’ve won a million dollars and a trip to Disney World!  No response.  My kid’s head is down and he is intently watching a small, rectangular device in his hand.  The only signs of life I can detect are his diaphragm moving slowly up and down, and the thumbs and index fingers seem to be moving on their own.  Eyes are fixated and pupils appear dialated.  There is absolutely no response to any of my attempts at verbal communication.

Sound familiar?  The image can only be something that every parent of a pre-teen or “tween” is learning to deal with.  While our kids have no cell phones of their own, they use ours frequently to play games and see what their friends are doing on social media.  This is learned behavior by the way.  Humans aren’t born with an innate sense of pushing buttons.  But from the looks of things, this generation will never know that concept.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s where board games were cool, and Battleship was the closest thing to being “tech savvy”.  By the time the Atari game system launched in the 80s, with the game Pac Man following soon after, we thought as kids that this was the biggest invention ever!

Arcades were the rage then too with pin ball machines and their fancy, bright lights.  Going to the pizza parlor were you could play games AND eat pizza with a big mouse called Chuck E. seemed like heaven.  Your parents yelled your name out to come sit down when the food was ready, and everyone would sit, eat, and talk.  Now most likely a parent will text their kids to come to the table, everyone will sit down, phones are out on the table while the family is eating, and an occasional word will be spoken.

It’s an addiction.  It’s everywhere.  Go to any public gathering and you’ll see adults doing the same thing; heads down with thumbs and index fingers moving like crazy.  In a few years I predict the physical therapists will have an epidemic on their hands from strained necks and over usage of thumbs.  And plastic surgeons will be working on the “turkey necks” that adults are giving themselves by looking down so continuously.  (Gobble gobble!)

I am preaching to myself here.  How many times I find myself getting caught up with what someone is doing. “Oh you’re eating that for dinner?  Yummy!” or where someone is vacationing, “Third cruise this year?  Jealous!”  Actually I’m nauseated.  Why is this so perpetual?  I love being connected but where to strike a balance is tricky.  I’m “pinning” recipes and DIY projects that I will never to get to try because I’m on my phone!  And the Word Crack game has the word “crack” in it for obvious reasons.  We just can’t seem to put these things down and walk away.

I hate to miss a birthday or anniversary.  I love seeing baby pictures posted by my friends.  Vacation photos?  Bring them on!  I can dream about where I would love to go.  But when we as a family and society begin to withdraw from each other, that’s when you realize enough is enough.  So my husband and I have come up with a few rules to help ourselves and our family:

  1. At the dinner table, no cell phones are allowed.
  2. Posting photos of each other are ok as long as I’m in good lighting and my husband has his Giants hat on.
  3. No posting about being out of town on vacation while we’re actually away.  We don’t want our Facebook Friends and Family breaking and entering. (You can thank us later from saving you from a life of crime.)
  4. Kids are not allowed to have cell phones until we as parents feel they are responsible enough to own one.  At this point, 19 years old seems pretty reasonable.
  5. When someone doesn’t seem to be responding to anything that my husband and I are saying (see the beginning of this blog), it’s definitely time to provide CPR because the Cell Phone Coma has commenced.

So look up and around.  Enjoy the view.  Save your neck from future plastic surgery.  More importantly save yourself and your loved ones from Cell Phone Coma.

“T minus 10, 9, 8 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, the Asteroid!”  I yell out.  “What?”  I hear from the patient.  It seems he has finally awakened from his coma…for now.

Trusting God With Your Children

cross I can remember dressing both my babies in their Sunday best for baby dedication.  Both Protestant and Catholic churches have their customs for bringing their children before the church.  Some call it baptism or christening, and we call ours dedication.  It comes from the verse in I Samuel 1:11, where Hannah had pleaded with God to give her a child since she was barren.  If God fulfilled her prayer, she promised to dedicate her son, Samuel, to God. It’s also found in Luke 2:22 with Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the synagogue 40 days after his birth and dedicating him as the custom allowed.

Standing before the church, our minister asked us if we would do our part in rearing our children in a godly home.  At the time the answer seemed easy and of course we agreed.  Now, as I parent a preteen and an elementary aged child, I see how much our world has changed and the challenges and dangers it presents.

In this day and age of online predators, international terrorists, school shootings, cyber bullying along with so much more, raising kids in this generation is tremendously difficult.  I often watch the evening news and wonder what will their world be like when they’re adults?  What will our economy be like?  What will our environment be like?  I hear the broadcaster announce, “nuclear deal reached”.  Hard to imagine a peaceful existence for their future.

The hardest part for me as a Mom is not worrying about my kids.  I don’t think it ever changes.  I know moms whose children are now parents themselves well into their forties.  These moms still worry about their adult children.  Yet there comes a point when you can’t control everything and have to hand it over to God.  Trusting Him with your child.  How?  When?

Trusting Him to place my child with the right teachers.  Trusting Him to guide them in making the right friends.  Trusting Him to help them catch that fly ball at the baseball tryout, or nail that tumbling sequence at a dance recital (yes I prayed really hard for that one, because how horrible to fall in a dance recital!).

There are always going to be big and small decisions concerning our children. I have learned that when I start to worry or fret,  it’s time to stop and pray.  When I do, I can hear that still, small voice say “Trust Me”.  And why wouldn’t I?  We can run around frantic and concerned, or stop and remember that the very one who knew us while we were being formed in our own mother’s wombs (Jeremiah 1:5), knows our children just as well and has a plan for their lives.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lords, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

My children have a future in Him.  I have reminded them that there are people who will try to convince them to follow other beliefs, pursue other interests, and take other’s advice, but to follow Him is what I agreed to help them do as infants.  Continuing that promise is something I can’t falter on.

I remember a song I learned as a child, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  It may not seem like it with the chaotic worldwide headlines, but He does have it.  He has our family.  He has my children.  And I am so thankful to have HIM.