Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Works for Me: Dog Treat Puzzles

Our dogs eat just fine.  They don't need coaxing, they don't need people food added on top, they just eat their kibble and are grateful neither of them are any longer on the streets.  However, we've learned that when we make meal time a game, they have so much fun, so dog puzzles work for us! We've found food puzzles that both pups enjoy, but to keep them special in nature, we don't use them every single meal.

Aggie Belle especially loves the challenge of 'hunting' for her food.  She sometimes tries to scarf her food, so having her bites spread out between compartments keeps her at a steady pace.  Also, we're gone most of the day, so we'll put her breakfast in several of these, spread them throughout the house, and then know that she has plenty to keep her busy for quite awhile.  Some of her favorite toys are Dog Games brand:

Bailey isn't much for true toys, but he loves his Kong treat!  Kibble fits so nicely in there, as do little cookies, and he loves throwing it around and pawing at it to make the food come out.

What things work for your dogs?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We're Having A...

Wait for it...
 We see it!


Friday was Isaac's birthday, and Saturday we were gathering with my family to celebrate both of our birthdays.  We had heard from my doctor on Thursday that the blood test results were in.  We went to a local bakery we use when Isaac can't make a cake for some reason.  We had Ginny call the automated number to find out what color to make the cake.  Then we took it to my parents so the 8 of us could find out all together.  It's no fun when some of the family already knows!  I was sick as a dog with a nasty sinus infection, but it was a great way to celebrate our birthdays!  Good thing blue and green are already my favorite colors!  :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: Sandwiches

Monday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tuesday: Chicken and Rice Casserole

Wednesday: Rigatoni

Thursday: Leftovers for Isaac/GNO for me

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Beef Tenderloin, Fall Salad, Roasted Asparagus for Mom's bday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

An Open Letter to My Husband On His 28th Birthday

Dear Isaac,

You amaze me.  Truly.  You are the most talented person I know, and yet your humility keeps those talents hidden from most.  You are a master engineer (seriously, we need to hang all your certificates of appreciation from's time), top notch carpenter, electrician, plumber, seamster, dog trainer, wall painter, car mechanic, cake decorator, and there's probably something I'm missing.  The best part is that you openly and willingly use these talents to serve others and never charge them the full value of your time and efforts.  If you can get away without payment, you do.  You've taught me to be more humble and not expect to always get in return for my work.  Thank you. 

I've watched you take hold of the goal of leading our family in Christ over the last 4 1/2 years.  Every time I turn around, you surprise me with some new revelation of how Christ wants our family to be living.  When God is speaking to me, and I share those words with you, you listen intently and then discover ways to make His Truth more and more a part of our daily lives.  You've learned to pray with me and not just for me.  Thank you.

You know I hate surprises, or at least knowing surprises are coming, and you love to give them.  Somehow, you've learned to surprise me with treasures without me knowing anything was impending.  And each time, you get better at it.  Thank you.

You love me.  All of me.  Even the unloveable parts that rant and rave and have bad, nasty days.  That takes a lot.  I'm not easy to love, let's be honest.  Yet, you do it, each day, and teach me to be easier on myself, to let the little things go, and to put Jesus first.  You encourage me to do all God is asking of me, to try new things, and make time for myself.  Thank you.

I love you, Isaac.  Happy birthday!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WFMW: Vicks for Cough

Y'all, my go-to medication for fighting Houston allergies is Mucinex D.  This stuff is wonderful for me!  But, from November until last week, I couldn't take it.  For those of you up north where nothing is blooming and 'allergy' is relegated to pets, great for you.  For those of us who don't know what a 'dead season' is, well, you know my suffering.  The things I was allowed to take 1st trimester were not making a dent in the congestion, cough, and goop that comes with Houston allergies.  Essential oils weren't helping either.  Someone told me to rub Vicks on my feet before going to sleep.  I'd heard that piece of advice before but still was skeptical.  However, back in December, I was so sick I was willing to try anything that might help and wouldn't hurt the baby.  It worked!  I slept through the night, Isaac slept through the night, and everybody was happy the next morning.  I've used this several times since then, including this week.  This is certainly a trick I'll be pulling out again and again!  Piece of advice: wear socks so you don't get your sheets greasy or slip and fall on tile getting to bed.  Here's the restful nights and no coughing!  This is what works for me, and I hope it works for you!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January BarkBox

BarkBox arrived this weekend!  There were some great treats waiting for the pups!

Wigzi Treat Ball and Stuff n' Crunch Treats ($13.99 and $5.99)  Half of Aggie Belle's meal and treat time fun is playing with her food before she eats it.  And Bailey loves a good treat puzzle when we leave the house for work.  This treat ball is really big, so it's perfect for AB!

Think Dog Louisiana Alligator Jerky (5.99) We've seen a huge case of these little goodies, made from real gator meat, at Sam's for ages.  However, I've been hesitant to want to buy the club pack of a treat I don't know if my pups will enjoy.  Welp, they do, so we might be investing in that club pack after all!

 Grandma Bowser's Country Oven Biscuits. ($7.35) These peanut butter cookies look like human cookies, which makes it so easy to fool our pups.  Yum! 

This month's box cost us $19, but the goodies value at $33.32.  That's how to have some yippy good fun!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Sunday: BBQ Pork Sandwiches and fruit
Monday:  Pancakes and Eggs

Tuesday: Green Bean Chicken Casserole
Wednesday: BBQ Ribs and Sweet Potato for me/ Mashed Potato for Isaac
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Out for Isaac's birthday
Saturday: Family bday celebration for Isaac and me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vision 2014

Each year UBC hosts a teen retreat called Vision.  The kids stay in hosts homes and have a college leader come hang out and help them break apart what they hear from the speaker in the sessions.  I went to Vision each year as a teen, was able to be a college leader, and this was our 3 year to host.  We had the 8th grade girls, who we also hosted when they were 6th graders.  We love this group, and we had a great weekend.  Unfortunately, we spent so much time having fun that I took two pics the whole weekend.  Oops.

Worship was great, though I heard from several kids that they missed Gladsome Light.  I did too-those guys are awesome.  The speaker is a friend of Kyle's name Asa Ramirez.  He's amazing, and spoke solid truth to the kids all weekend.  Asa talked about what real discipleship looks like and reminded the kids that being a follower doesn't happen by accident.  It was good for all of us to hear again.

We spent half of Saturday, all 100+ of us, sorting food donations at the Houston Food Bank.  I love that place.  Some years each grade will have a different project in various locations, so it was fun to have everyone together, working together.

Pray with us that what God revealed to these kids this weekend will make deep and permanent changes in they way they live.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Favorites

Linking up today with The Good Life Blog and The Diary of a Real Housewife.

We decided to take the Christmas money my parents and grandparents gave us and put it toward a dining room table.  Yes, I know, we did the trip instead of gifts this year, but they decided to surprise us with a treat anyway.  We were humbled and blessed and learned how to be receivers instead of just givers with that one.  Anyway, Isaac and I had one room that still didn't have furniture-our dining room.  We both love very classic, ornate dining table styes, but finding a set that didn't break the bank AND fit in our rather small dining room has been a trip.  At least we have the same tastes?!?!  We scourged through the after-Christmas sales, and found a beautiful table and chairs from Rooms to Go that was in our budget.  I knew Isaac would make the purchase this month before the sale ended.  I didn't know that he'd been saving up money to buy the buffet and hutch (china cabinet) to go with it.  I walked in from work on Wednesday, and my dining room was full of beautiful furniture!  Now we can host truly huge dinner parties and hopefully be an even bigger blessing of hospitality to others!  And, now I have a place to display my great-grandmother's china that's been waiting for me for over 2 decades.  Wow!  I know things aren't what makes life, but some things have memories attached, so to be able to share heritage with the next generation just gets to me. 

Vision is this weekend.  We'll have a house full of 8th grade girls and a weekend full of Jesus.  Can't wait.

This dude stood in the cold, dark, predawn hours to get presale Rodeo tickets for us this week.  Reba and Zac Brown, here we come!

These two.  Melt my heart.  They are going to be the greatest big siblings to this baby! 

We go today to get blood work done to find out if this baby is a boy or girl.  It'll still be a while before we get results, but it'll be nice to know who this kid is!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Trips Instead of Gifts- Belize, Stop 3

Our time in Cozumel is here and Roatan is here.  

The country of Belize was our 3rd and final port before heading home.  Mom and Dad have also spent lots of time here diving, and again, I had been looking forward to joining them.  Isaac went on a two dive trip with them though, and I'm glad they did.  Belize has been having very strong rains that have caused run off to make the Caribbean a bit murky, but they still had two gorgeous dives.  David and Laura had a beautiful beach day, so everyone came back happy!

I went with Nanny and Dede to a howler monkey preserve and the Belize City Zoo.  The preserve is pretty cool.  It's nearly an hour in-land in a village.  In the 80s, some researchers discovered that while the howler monkeys and humans were living fairly peacefully together, the monkeys were dying off because of the slash and burn farming methods of the village.  A team came up with a plan to help the farmers in a 20 mile radius come up with different farming methods, and they use the proceeds from the preserve tours for education centers and programs in the village for the residents.  It's worked out so well.  Our guide from the preserve had us literally walking through people's yards to get to the troops of howler monkeys.  One mama had her baby in mid-November, and she had no problem showing off her tiny girl to the curious visitors.  We made sure not to feed or touch them, but they came right to us.  Precious.

The Belize City Zoo is perfect.  They've taken great care to make very natural habitats for each of their animals.  They also only have animals native to Belize.  We had a great time watching the animals play.  I think my favorites were the jaguars. 

We had three more evenings and two full days of fun and food on the ship.  On the last night, we celebrated my birthday and Isaac's birthday a bit early.  It was a great week of family, and an awesome way to spend 3 family birthdays!

With our two waiters Mateo and Brenda.  They took awesome care of my parents and grandparents in October and us this trip.  Truly amazing people!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trips Instead of Gifts-Roatan, Stop 2

If you didn't read about our cruise and time in Cozumel, catch up here

Our second stop occurred the day after Cozumel.  We woke up just in time to watch the ship dock in Roatan.  Roatan is a little island, and is part of the nation of Honduras. 

Roatan is also home to one of the largest coral barrier reefs in the world.  My parents have spent hours and hours over several trips scuba diving in the waters of Roatan.   Isaac and I had looked forward to diving here this trip, but I was obviously unable to join him.  I insisted that Isaac still go on our original excursion, and I'm so glad I did!  He had 2 fabulous dives with turtles, grouper, several species of fish, and beautiful coral formations.  He was full of stories for hours at dinner!
Mom, Dad, David, Laura, and I headed to a tiny island called Maya Key that just barely is separated from Roatan to a private beach and animal reserve.  I wasn't sure what all we'd find there, but it was stunning.  The beach isn't quite the fine granular sand of eastern Mexico, but it comes more from weather worn shell.  It's still beautiful!  They have a long pier out to the coral reef for snorkeling.  Mom and I had brought our gear, and we had a fabulous time swimming with the fishes in the deep blue sea!  I was just in awe.  It'd been much too long (I was 15 in 2000 in Hawaii) since I'm been in that intense of a reef formation.  Just gorgeous!

On top of the beach and visitor side of the little island, there is the animal rehab and reserve.  3 South American male sea lions call this home.  They were rescued from Uruguay's angry fishermen, sent to St. Kitts, and when that facility closed, brought to Honduras.  These guys are HUGE!  I'm so used to seeing the North American sea lions at Sea World and in California, that I was shocked when these guys popped up out of the water.  For $25 each, four guests can help feed the sea lions at two different times during the day.  Well, of course I was going to sign up for that!  If I wasn't going to get my scuba experience, I was certainly going to get kissed, hugged, and cuddled by a 450 pound monster of a sea lion.  Duh!  The sea lion I was able to interact with is name Willie.  He's kind of a bully with the other 2 sea lions, but he was just precious to me!  When Willie kissed my check, he let out a big old breath right in my ear.  Loud, warm, and fishy all at once.  I was in heaven!  These guys are FURRY!  Seriously!  I know they're mammals and have fur, but I didn't realize just how much.  It was like hugging a wet golden retriever!  Love!  I also realized just how thick their facial whiskers are.  Wow!

The rehab also houses several birds and mammals that can no longer live in the wild for one reason or another.  The various primates were my favorite, but they also have a mountain lion, margay, ocelot, and jaguar. The sanctuary has recreated the natural habitat of these guys to the best of human ability.  I know it stinks for these guys to have such permanent injuries or conditions that they can't return to the wild, but they are living pretty well at Maya Key!  It was beautiful to be so close to these guys.  One of the spider monkeys is named George (seriously), and he's quite the flirt.  I stood around talking to George for a bit before he reached out his hand to hold mine.  They he'd begin sing and make kissing sounds.  He was precious.  I'm not sure his 'wife' Sasha appreciates his womanizing, but I did!  David and Laura fell in love with Georgie too!

 I can't wait to return to Roatan, hopefully to stay awhile and dive!

The day in Roatan was also New Year's Eve, so there was a big party waiting for us back on the ship!  The captain made it a formal night, and there were several places to go to celebrate.  After dinner we went to the show, which was a one night special group called The Platinum Club.  They are four guys who cover songs from the 30s to now, and they are amazing!  Wow!  We decided to head up to the top deck with the live band, streamers, noise makers, and fun for the big party!  Right at the stroke of midnight, the ship blasted its horn 3 times.  I hadn't heard a ship horn in a while, and was enough to wake the dead.  Gracious!  And then, by about 12:15, I was in bed.  Sigh.  Happy New Year, 2014!

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