Saturday, November 30, 2013

November BarkBox

Last month we canceled our BarkBox to save money during the government shutdown, so the fur babies were extra excited to get their box this month!

Petsafe Pogo Plush Slap Happy  $14.99  This toy has a sheep-skin like cover that has a hidden rib-cage like inner frame with a squeaker.  They claim this toy encourages tugging and tossing.  I suppose that claim is correct.  Aggie Belle had this toy torn to piece in less than 5 minutes.  Mommy isn't impressed with this one.

Vanilla Mint Twistix: $2.99 These wheat and corn free dental trees help freshen puppy breath and clean teeth.  And, the dogs love them!  Score!

Bocces's Bakery Truffle Mac and Cheese: $9.50 These organic, local ingredient biscuits were a perfect treat to give over Thanksgiving when the kitchen was full of awesome smells that kept the puppies begging for handouts.  A little expensive for us to want to buy on our own, but yum, yum!

Nootie YumZies Duck and Sweet Potato Treats: $15.50  These long treats allow Mom and Dad to decide how much Puppy gets at a time.  That's perfect for our Little and Big!  They both love anything with duck, and they are allergy friendly for Bailey!

Aggie Belle and Bailey were so stoked to get a BarkBox again!  This box is valued at $42.98, much more than the $19 we pay a month.  Awesome deal!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We've had a week full of my family and Isaac's family all together in Houston. Today was about food and games. We're enjoying having all these special people under obe roof. We hope you're day has been full of what's important to you!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Josh Groban Concert

Last Tuesday, Mom, Nanny, Dede, and I went to Toyota Center for the Josh Groban concert.  We met up with our friends David and Melody and enjoyed our 13th row seats and the benefits of that go with them!  Nanny and Dede have seen Josh perform several times over the years in various cities.  Mom and I saw him in the Woodlands in 2004 when he was just 23 years old.  That seems so long ago!  It was a hoot to see how Josh has grown not only into his larger than life voice but also his personality.  He had the crowd in stitches with his jokes about learning how to fly planes, marriage, and what he was like as a gangly teen learning to juggle life and fame.  Judith Hill from The Voice was Josh’s opening act, and she was phenomenal.  She sang a few duets with Josh later on in the evening as well.  

Isaac missed out, but he claims he can’t stand Josh.  I just think he’s jealous that the running joke in the family was that Josh was always second on my list of husband choices, always behind whoever I actually married of course!  J

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Works For Me: Baked Balsamic Chicken and Pears

I've about quit on trying to remember to take photos while I cook.  It's stressful and not worth the frustration half the time.  That said, please know I only post recipes that my family, multiple of us, absolutely rave about and that are simple.  I'm just over trying to make my life look like Pinterest.  I'm convinced those 'people' are just robots because nobody has time for all that!  ha.

Baked Balsamic Chicken and Pears

 1 T. olive oil
4 small, skinless chicken breasts
2 Bosc pears, unpeeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
1 cup chicken broth
3 T. Balsamic vinegar
2 t. cornstarch
Heat oil and cook chicken 10 -12 minutes or until juices run clear.  Transfer to plate.
In same skillet, in remaining oil, cook pear wedges 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. 
In cup, mix broth, vinegar, and cornstarch.  Add to skillet with pears.  Heat to boiling on med.high.  boil 1 minute.  Return chicken  to skillet and heat through. 
May be  served over whole wheat couscous or quinoa.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DSAH Buddy Walk 2013

Part of the reason Kaitlin and the boys had come to Texas when they did was to participate in Buddy Walk on November 9th.  Kaitlin’s warrior of a Secondborn was born with Down syndrome in November of last year, and he has spent the first year of his life conquering statistic after statistic and odd after odd.  Part of his birthday celebration was joining other kiddos with Down syndrome and their families and friends at Buddy Walk.  

I was able to join Kaitlin, the boys, her in-laws, and her mom, sister, and brother-in-law at Minute Maid for a beautiful time of cheering, walking, and celebrating life in all its shapes and sizes.  Buddy Walk volunteers lined the route to yell out participants’ names and encourage their progress.  One little guy decided Secondborn was his new best friend and just loved and loved on him.  Melt my heart and find the waterproof mascara!!  I loved visiting with the Allen ladies and pushing along Firstborn as he took in the sights and sounds of such a happy crowd.

Kaitlin has blown me away this year as she has adjusted to being the mom of a sweet boy with special needs.  She is raw and honest and strong and brave, and Buddy Walk was as much to honor her achievements as it was Secondborn’s.  I am so proud of my dear friend and her amazing family!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meal Planning Monday

 photo mondaymeals_zpscbe2340b.jpg

Sunday: Tuna Salad

Monday: Spaghetti

Tuna: GNO

Wednesday: Baked Chicken and Pears

Thursday: Sloppy Joes

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Pearland or leftovers

Weekend Shenanigans

Sami's Shenanigans

Neither of us had ever been to the Grand Canyon, and a trip to Arizona that ended on a Friday was the perfect opportunity to visit this upside down mountain range.

After lunch on Friday, we headed north through Sedona to make it to Tusayan, the little village near the park entrance.  Sedona is gorgeous!  We arrive right at sunset, so the light rays were having an excellent time playing with the colors of the buttes.  Wow!  Much of our drive was then through national forest on a road full of hairpin switch backs.  What a treat!  


Saturday we woke up early to get right on to Grand Canyon.  We had barely paid our entrance fee when we found a herd of female elk grazing on the side of the road.  These ladies are just huge!  Southeast Texas deer just have nothing on these gals.  

Once we arrived at the visitor center, we watched a short film about how geologists believe the canyon was made.  I have to say I disagree.  So much other science (go check out Answers in Genesis) confirms the canyon was made during Noah’s flood, but arguing with a bunch of people who are convinced their rocks tell a story just isn’t worth it.  

After the film, we bundled up, jumped on a bus, and headed out west to Hermit’s Rest trail.  We wanted to hike some of the rim during the day because we knew we didn’t have the time to take any trails into the canyon this trip.  We probably made it about ¾ of the length of Hermit’s Rest trail before taking the bus the rest of the way.  The scenery was gorgeous, the hike was easy, but the wind was atrocious and utterly cruel.  We were prepared with cold weather gear, but winds like that just stop being fun after a while.  Regardless of the ferocious wind, we were constantly in awe of the landscape at each bend and turn.  Isaac exclaimed several times that he could see God’s fingerprints smudged all across the canyon.  He’s right.

After we returned to the visitor’s center, we loaded back into the car and went east as far as the road leads before heading north.  We hit up every over look available on the way out to Desert View Overlook.  There’s a castle tower there that’s 5 stories tall.  It was breathtaking to climb to the top and see the sun set casting bright shadows and richly deep colors across the canyon walls.  Just wow! On the way out of the park, the moon rise was stunning.

Nat Geo has a center in Tusayan, so we stopped there after dark to see the IMAX covering human history in the Grand Canyon.  It was actually very good and very educational, but started with naked ancient Indians, so there went purchasing a copy to take home to share with my 6th graders when we study North America.  Oh, Nat Geo-sometimes realism is a bit too much for public schools!
Sunday morning we had to leave before dawn to reach Phoenix for our flight home.  The drive was gorgeous as the moon set and the sun rose between the bluffs and mountain peaks between national forests.  Eventually, the elevation decreased as we headed south.  We left the mountains and forests for cacti covered hills and cliffs.  Arizona is by no means the largest state in the Union, but it sure is diverse from north to south!  I gotta say though, after flying over the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico and west Texas, I don’t know why anyone would want to live there.  It’s just truly waste land.  Yuck!  Isaac says nothing is wasted, but I don’t know.  Man, oh man.


We are so grateful that we were able to save up and tag a little mini fall vacation on to the ACE board meeting weekend!
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