Sunday, March 30, 2014

Texas Is It! Photo Shoots

It's amazing how God brings people into your life - people who bless you SO MUCH while they say that you're the one blessing them! That's my friend, Angela. She met me initially by becoming a regular in one of my Zumba classes. :-) When I stopped teaching at that location, she was crushed (which really blessed my heart, b/c initially I hadn't wanted to leave them, either.) Whenever she'd see me taking another class there (yoga & barbell), she would go out of her way to run over, hug, & chat. One day she said, "I didn't know that you can sing!!! We've been visiting a new church for us, and this Sunday I was bowled over to see you up there!" So we bonded over our new church connection and ended up friending on FB. That week I typed a few things in German to my friends in Würzburg...and Angela flipped out: she also speaks German, but not intimidatingly so ;-) - she has relatives in Germany that she talks to. More connections! She asked if we could meet for bubble tea one day, (twist my arm!!!) told me about her company, and asked if I would be interested in doing a photo shoot & being a model for some of their shirts. (Again, twist my arm!!! :-D I was flattered beyond belief!!!!!) I only have a few unedited, low res proofs from all the sessions, but:

We did one shoot last November:

And another last week:

And then these this week:

And she can't wait to do MORE! I guess I'm the face of Texas Is It! :-D Angela keeps going on and on and on, thanking me ad nauseam for doing this; I keep telling her I think this is SO MUCH FUN! She has made a secret dream of mine come true! :-D

[PS - See that bluebonnet field? Awww, yeah! You *KNOW* I am obsessed and totally dragged JB & the kids out there this weekend! Post of pics SOON!!!]

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fave Things: Zum Mist

Every once in a while, I feel the need to tell the world about random stuff I'm currently obsessing over. :-P I'm not in cahoots with any of these companies, just in love with the items. :-)

Today's edition: Zum Mist, and specifically the Frankincense & Myrrh fragrance!
One of my yoga instructors brought this magical elixir into my life! She sprays it as aromatherapy in our yoga studio at the beginning of yin and during savasana (final relaxation.) It defines calm & peace for me! As soon as the scent wafts out the door & hits me in the hallway while I take off my shoes, any stress of the morning simply melts away. I have a total Pavlovian response to it. :-D

You can order it online, but luckily, our grocery store (H-E-B :-)) carries the whole Zum line in their organic section! (Bonus: I do love the faith connection of it being "Frankincense & Myrrh" - gifts for the Lord that bless me still today. :-))

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Singing Saturday + Haute Wheels Food Truck Festival

Saturday was HUGE FUN!!! A girl I sing with at church is a vocal coach and a theatre director here at our local visual & performing arts center. We really click & enjoy singing together, so she asked if I would sing a duet with her at a big arts festival this Saturday. OF COURSE!!! I was honored!!! She picked a gorgeous Sutton Foster song, "Flight". Sutton Foster is one of my favorite Broadway stars; we have a very similar style & vocal range, so it was PERFECT!

We performed twice; the sound on the first performance was a little harsh (mic feedback), but you can still click to see it. :-) Here's our second performance of the day:

After a super morning of singing, JB & I took the kids into the city for the Haute Wheels Food Truck Festival! DELICIOUS!!! First stop: my beloved steamed pork bao [Asian steamed bun (bao) filled with barbeque pork]

Then: crêpes, Vietnamese treats, gourmet PB&J, Southern desserts, Mexican Korean barbeque fusion, etc.

JB's big winner was a Vietnamese Hashbrown Melt: sandwiched between two hashbrown patties, bahn mi pork, sriracha sauce, and an over-easy egg...viola, Vietnamese Waffle House heaven! :-D My steamed pork bao won for me, but the arrancini with tomato jam and the gourmet PB&J were delish! The crêpes disappointed slightly, only b/c the crêpe batter was a bit pancakey (thicker than wafer-thin crêpes). I wish I would have had enough room in my tummy to taste a burger with a doughnut for a bun and a gourmet grilled cheese with bacon jam, :-D but I'm still excited to eat the ginger beer cake ball & cookie dough-stuffed Oreo I brought home!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Off My Wall: Tumbling, Cheering, Singing

Random shareworthies for the week on my mind and off my FB wall:

* No doubt that I love living in Texas, but most of these re: my home state ring so very true!!! 38 Signs You’re From North Carolina

* This week, Annelise got moved up to Level 3 tumbling! :-O I was stunned!!! She's been in Level 2 since she began 11 months ago, (b/c she could already do a round off - the Level 2 prerequisite.) Level 3 is a back handspring...with a light spot. (I thought it had to be completely on her own, so I thought she was still way off. Nope!) Of course, we're thrilled! ...But sad to leave her Level 2 friend, Ava, behind (she's still got a ways to go) and having to get a new class time stinks. :-/ Monday afternoons were perfect! Now the only Level 3 opening is Tuesday 4-5 PM. School gets out at 3:45, so we'll go straight there, and then we have to be at football at 5:15, so then we'll rush there, too. :-P Pray that the 4 PM Level 3 on Monday or 4:30 PM on Wednesday has an opening soon, so we can switch over. :-)

* Love this from Daily Readings with Mother Teresa:
“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the bridegroom will say, 'I do not know you' (Matt. 25:12).
What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love that keep your religious life burning like a living flame.”

* On Tuesday, I got to star in a photo shoot for a local company!!! Talk about feeling like a rockstar!!! I have another shoot with them this coming Thursday, so I'll post some of the proofs then. :-)

* Tuesday was also my first meeting as a part of our youth football league's Cheer Committee. Yes, I am already neck deep in cheer madness for the fall!!!!! The squad sizes have been slashed for this coming year, so if my returning girls don't register ASAP, they'll lose their spots to new girls who are dying to be on our squad. Apparently word has traveled fast that my squad is the BEST IN THE LEAGUE (*blush* & ;-)) and there are already four new girls trying to get on. Registration JUST began!!! Most people sign up in May or June - March is NOT usually on the radar! But in order for them to make it back with me, I've had to light a fire under my returners. I have to say, it's really stressful - I can't stand the idea of disappointing anyone who wants to be with us!!! - but it's also really exciting to be a "hot commodity"! ;-) :-D :-P

* I saw my FIRST BLUEBONNETS of the spring on Wednesday along the highway!!! My heart leapt!

* I posted this about shopping in the middle of my day after teaching an AWESOME Zumba class on Wednesday:
Things that made me happy in the last hour: super delish organic cocoa rice krispy treat samples at Costco, our fave organic linguine back in stock at Aldi, talked to the nicest 75-year-old man in the checkout about yoga (he does twice a day!), and the checkout lady said I'm her favorite customer b/c I'm always nice :-) (Made my day! But geeze, what kind of rudeness does that poor lady encounter to remember my every-other-week visits? SMILE, PEOPLE!!!!!)

* I shared this link with a big "AMEN!!! Being healthy & happy is what matters!!!" Why I Hate "Bikini Body" Pressure + How To Get Over It For Good

* Grandma & Grandpa sent Annelise the movie Frozen as soon as it was released this week. I sat there behind her, bawling my head off, listening to her sing SOOO passionately as we watched - this is the first show she's EVER been truly obsessed with, and it totally reminds me of how I'd get obsessed with Broadway soundtracks. ♥ My heart was bursting... She can't get enough. :-) I think we've watched it four times, so far.

* Wednesday night, I had Easter Choir rehearsal. I'm leading the altos! :-) This church has never had a formal choir before (I sing on the Praise Team: just 4 or 5 people, one on each part, with mics up onstage - more like a band) so it's fun to go back into choral mode, again. Praying that the choir makes a powerful impact! :-)

* Friday morning was rough: Will's forgotten homework assignment & broken backpack, running late, me stressing over the threat of disappointing people in an area beyond my control (cheer fams who won't make it on my squad), & I even forgot my water bottle for my barbell strength class... BUT we powered through, I added weight for squats and clean & press in barbell, and then I had the best soul-healing rehearsal for a singing event Saturday with a sweet BFF. I was so excited to shine with her! (More on that gig as soon as I get the video uploaded. ;-) Stay tuned!!!)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Break 2014

We embraced my sweet gym friend's advice and really enjoyed our Spring Break week at home with no big trips, but something special each day along with all of my "normal" stuff. :-)

After teaching Zumba on Wednesday (best class energy in ages! really a stand-out morning!) the kids read their books they picked out this week while I got cleaned up. (The hot tub was supposed to be closed for cleaning, but it was done, so I could get in! Joyous!!!) And yes, I made my kids read this week. :-P Annelise read her next Magic Tree House, and I am SO EXCITED for Will!!! We *finally* may have found a series he & I can both agree on. (He wants cartoons & nasty Captain Underpants. Barf. I want something that...has ANY other redeeming value. :-D) Tim Green's Football Genius series may be our new saving grace. It's at his reading level (he's on the young end; recommended ages 10-14), it's about youth football, and it's written by a former Atlanta Falcons NFL football player = Will's ultimate team. There are six books total, so hopefully the remaining five can keep him engaged & inspired when it comes to reading. *fingers crossed*

We left the gym and met Daddy for sushi lunch (& a bento box for me ;-)) at RA Sushi.

On Thursday morning, Annelise came to my adult Yin yoga class and practiced beautifully!!! She was so quiet, respectful, & did every pose as guided. Both the instructor & I were so proud!!! ♥ (Will played ball in the kids center.) We then got to see a BFF's brand new home & celebrate their house-warming with a fun panini lunch. :-) I definitely got a few house ideas for our turn next year, as well - my friend has SUCH a great design aesthetic! Thursday afternoon, JB brought me Sbux chai ♥ and we all went together as a family to football practice out in the fresh air & sunshine. We topped off the day with a fresh crawfish dinner (barbeque for me ;-)) with football BFFs - are you as bowled over by this gorgeous evening as I was?

Friday began normally: my barbell strength class and a few errands. Friday afternoon, however, we babysat for our same football friends going to the rodeo. Four kids for a sleepover = I managed the food, JB managed the Xbox. It was...loud. :-P

Saturday, we were supposed to run a booth at the local Children's Fest from 11-6 for our youth football league, but it was canceled for rain, so we suddenly had a whole day open up for us! After unbeatable lunch specials at Thai Cottage, we split up: boys to a movie, and Annelise & I to American Girl! We got her poor Caroline's hair fixed at the doll salon - stunningly worth it!!! That hair was so insanely matted; the stylist took 20 minutes to mist it with water and brush out each section before styling. (Annelise chose an updo with a crown. Of course. ;-))
She was also thrilled to score Meatloaf, the bulldog on sale! (She loves collecting the American Girl dogs, and I think she now has them all, except for Toasty, the Collie, who's retired.) Super thanks to Grandma & Grandpa for the Christmas gift card that she used part of for our precious girl time with NO whiny boy interruptions! ;-) :-D

We still had an hour before the boys' movie ended, so we just extended our girly browsing time through the mall. I know that sounds like "such a typical girl thing", but honestly, I can't tell you when we really did it last. We lounged at Sbux together for a few minutes, and then we used another gift card at Justice. [Justice is NOT my favorite store, but Annelise had a $10 card, and she's been longing for a Justice water bottle with an "A" on it to take to school since September; so that was her choice. (Nevermind that I have a Silhouette and can monogram or put whatever name, initial, design, etc. in whatever color on whatever bottle we have. Oh, no. It had to be the insane rainbow leopard & zebra print Justice one. Hello, tweens. :-P)] I have to say, though, I was excited to teach her the best way to shop: browse to see what you like, and then buy when you have gift cards! :-D (Even Sbux was free, b/c I had my gold star credit. ;-))

When we reunited with the boys, they had sprouted facial hair:

Late Saturday afternoon, Annelise became a Rainbow Loom machine!!! She hasn't added any new tutorials, but she made four new complicated designs!
She's wearing two Paper Lanterns on one arm, and a Dazzle, Moxie, and Taffy Twist on the other.

For a "not doing anything big" Spring Break, we surely had an awesome one!!! :-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Turtle Golf on Spring Break

It's Spring Break week here! We're not going on a big trip, but that doesn't mean each day can't hold a little something special. :-) I was feeling bad that we weren't doing "more", that the kids were just coming along with me on my average week: to Zumba, on my errands, etc.; but a wonderful gym friend pointed out: "Being off school is special enough. Let them each pick out one or two special things they want to do sometime this week, and otherwise just have them enjoy being with you." YES!!!

So Will chose us going to miniature golf on Tuesday. The best part? Better than Annelise's hole-in-one?

This baby Red-eared Slider turtle crossing our course! We love wildlife so much; this unexpected cutie made our day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fave Things: S'mores Pizza

Every once in a while, I feel the need to tell the world about random stuff I'm currently obsessing over. :-P I'm not in cahoots with any of these companies, just in love with the items. :-)

Today's edition: S'mores Pizza from Papa Murphy's. The best dessert pizza EVER!!! The dough is their standard pizza dough, so it's got a hint of salt to balance out the chocolate chips, marshmallows, & brown-sugar-oat crumble that melt together in gooey goodness. Papa Murphy's pizza is fresh "take and bake" at home, so you can bake it as done or as light as you prefer. (I'm a "light bake" fan. :-))


Out of the oven:

Pro tip: as much as you will want to chop this sucker up right way, if you can hold off until it cools just a bit, it will be WAAAAY LESS MESSY to cut!!! :-D (FWIW, their thin crust "delite" regular pizzas are amazing, too. We bake the delite, then the s'mores, and by the time we're totally done with the delite, we can cut the s'mores. ;-))

Monday, March 10, 2014

Off My Wall: Week in Review

Random shareworthies for the week on my mind and off my FB wall:

* I finished a big project last Sunday that I'd had on the back burner for 3 months...but the relief level wasn't as huge as I had anticipated. Do you ever have moments feel unexpectedly anticlimactic like that?

* Annelise had a CAVITY-FREE dental cleaning on Tuesday! :-O STUNNED! Overjoyed...but stunned!

* Guess where I got to go Wednesday? (Hint: I was just there for a radiator.) :-/ Now it's the brakes' turn. *sigh* At least it wasn't raining or as cold as Tuesday, and the shop is right across from school, so I could just walk over to volunteer for Will's Eureka science program. That WAS happy. :-)

* Since JB worked part of Thursday from home to be able to come to Annelise's musical, we also got to go out for a lunch date! We went for phở (pronounced "fuh") at the newest Vietnamese bistro here. DIVINE!
Phở is the most soothing, delicious noodle soup. I've been battling some type of allergy thing for a week, and phở truly has healing properties, (much like American chicken noodle. :-)) Give it a try - it's not exotic or scary at all, just very flavorful both, rice noodles, & thin slices of whatever protein you'd like.

* Friday, I survived what I HOPE is my LAST dental work of 2014! It involved a laser soldering my gum tissue... Yeah, let's pray for no more of that. :-P

* Friday night = date night!!! I had a giant Mexican vanilla milkshake & big order of French fries GUILT-FREE, b/c my mouth hurt! (& I went to barbell that morning. ;-))

* Do you ever get obsessed with a song whose lyrics you DON'T like? (I usually only listen to Air1 when I'm driving, but somehow I still seem to find out what's in the regular Top 40, and being a musically-inclined chica, one listen can get it stuck in my head. :-D) I have two of those songs right now: "Say Something" by A Great Big World is utterly heart-wrenching, and I'm not thrilled by the player "Young Girls" lyrics by Bruno Mars...but I LOVELOVELOVE both tunes. The swells, the musical progression... J'adore!!!

* Saturday, we had a rare weekend football practice. Spring 7on7 League is BACK! It felt SOOO GOOD to have our family out there together, again! We even brought Bonnie Blue Beagle for the first & last ;-) time. (She just barked too much when she had to stay on the sidelines away from JB. :-D)

* Sooo happy to sing in church Sunday morning...even though it was "Spring Forward Sunday", so my already-hating-to-get-up-early-self was up a whole hour earlier. :-P This was probably the ONLY thing I wouldn't complain about that hour for. ;-)

* Do you love or hate the time change? I've always HATED springing forward; I feel weird that my kids are already going to have to start getting ready for bed while it's still light out, (although it being Spring Break this week helps - I don't mind them staying up a bit later; but current sunset time is 7:30 PM) and I did NOT enjoy it being pitch black on the drive into sing Sunday morning, (current sunrise: 7:40 AM). I have, however, found something I LIKE about it: it stays light past 6:30 PM, so football practice can easily go until 7! YAY!!!

* Annelise has decided she loves sushi! I am SO PROUD of her!!! (Now if only I loved it. :-/ I try often; it's just not my thing.) I'm now the lone hibachi-over-sushi hold-out in our house. :-P For me, the problem is more the tiny bit of rice wine vinegar in the sushi rice. I love rice, I love vinegar, I love sweet & sour rice dishes; but for some reason, the sushi rice prep makes me gag.

* HA! Yes, THIS: 17 Things You Learn From Growing Up In The South

* Also, YES, THIS: 6 Things Every Extrovert Secretly Has To Deal With (Every single one of these is ABSOLUTELY me.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2nd Grade Musical: "The Principal and the Pea"

Last Thursday was Annelise's 2nd Grade Musical: "The Principal and the Pea"

Set in a cafeteria with a cast of students, this short, seven-song musical uses simple rhyming dialogue and hip, imaginative songs to tell the story of a school searching for the perfect principal. Taking its inspiration from the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Princess and the Pea, the kids in this musical, wondering why they’re never asked what they think or what they want, devise the perfect plan when the teachers cannot choose. Of course, the students find the perfect fit, “A grown-up who could not stand peas,” only to find out that their new principal is a fan of…Brussels sprouts! The result is an entertaining, side-splitting musical sure to peas…please. Songs include: Our School; Principals (They Grow Up So Fast); Food Fight; They Never Ask the Kids; Peas; Try It! and Peas (Reprise). [PDF link to the lyrics.] 20-25 minutes.

Annelise rocked her speaking role, telling the audience about the classic The Princess and the Pea tale as inspiration for the kids' principal quest. ♥ So proud!

[Seated at the table, center]
[Front row, center]
[Her line about "a crown upon her head" :-)]
[My favorite pose! :-D]
[Silly girlfriends]
[With her teacher]
[Family love ♥]

The cast was the entire 2nd grade: I realized I never took a complete stage shot, b/c I was always trying to get close-ups. In our last family pic, you can see a section of black risers. There were four full riser sections on both sides of the stage with all of the rest of the grade that didn't have special parts - it was a HUGE production!

I'm so thankful that I was able to attend all three performances. :-) Thursday evening was JB & Will's first spring football practice of the season, so they both came & saw the first show during the day, (Will with his school class and JB worked part of the day from home.)

We'll see if the theatre bug that ruled my life for 20 years nips her now, too... ;-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

RODEOHOUSTON: World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest 2014

I still love my post from last year explaining what's happening right now in Houston with our rodeo - the biggest in the world!!! Check it out, and then know that last Friday night, we were lucky enough to be invited back with tent passes to this year's World's Championship Barbeque Cookoff! Joyous!!!

The food was decadent: ribs, beef brisket, chicken, sausage, (we missed the pulled pork! *crushed*), green beans, baked beans, potato salad, slaw, banana pudding, lemon bars, & 7 layer bars... And YES: I ate EVERY.SINGLE.BIT!!! Mmmmmm...

This event is one of my favorite things about Texas, hands-down. Big! Fun! Festive!