Friday, November 30, 2007


Tonight, we are headed up to OKC for a brief over-night and Saturday with my family. My grandma finally joined my grandpa in the assisted living center on Thursday. This is a huge praise and a huge relief to all involved. Grandma has been in a nursing home/rehabilitation center since the middle of August, allowing her ankle to heal and doing PT several days a week. It's been extremely stressful and difficult on all involved. My grandpa has been residing in assisted living for about 1.5 months and has really thrived--his meds are given on time (he is a diabetic), he is eating 3 solid meals a day, is making new friendships, has activities to do, etc. We are hoping he and Aron can play a few games of pool.

I'm looking forward to seeing them, although it will be a short trip. We will go back up once all my family come to Texas for Christmas. I'm looking forward to the drive with Aron, time with family, stopping for fried pies across the Oklahoma border, and hopefully, having my aunt (who is an amatuer photographer [she just won 2nd place in a photgraphy contest in the state] take our Christmas card picture. I have our outfits all picked out, so hopefully the weather will cooperate with us somewhat (rain is predicted most of the day tomorrow).

Maggie is taking several unassisted steps daily now, it's fun to see her progress. She is liking more and more foods, lights up when Aron comes home (says "Dada!" and gets all giddy), enjoys tossing Tupperware from her drawer in the kitchen, makes it a habit of daily de-shelving all of her books, meticulously choosing which ones to stop and look at, and likes to "cluck" her tongue. I especially love how she reaches for me everytime I come into the room.

5 household cleaning tips

Actually, more than 5 were shared on the Today show this morning, so to read up on these and more click the link here:

1) Getting rid of kitchen smells
2) Keeping drains unclogged
3) Removing small dents and dings from wooden furniture
4) Getting rid of red wine on the carpet
5) Keeping bathroom tiles sparkling longer

Thursday, November 29, 2007

5 surprising bargain-hunting tips

Just in time for the holiday season, these tips were shared today:

1) FruCall: 888.DO.FRUCALL--sounds like a great number to have on hand. Basically, if you are in the store, debating buying a flat-screen TV (or any number of other items), you can call this number to see if you are getting a good deal (compares prices elsewhere). Who knows? If the price is better elsewhere, maybe the sales clerk will match the deal.

2) Online coupon code: simply Google the store name of choice and the words "coupon code" or "promotional code" after it and see what comes up. You can also check these other sites:,,,

3) The Freecycle Network:
Like Craigslist, except everything is free.

4) Out-of-order hotel rooms: booking a room this season? Ask about aforementioned rooms and see what kind of price discount is offered to you. These rooms typically have a small stain on the carpet, a broken lamp, etc., so small enough to still be totally usable (nothing large like "no hot water" or "bathroom is broken"). Savings good be quite significant.

5) Dynamic pricing: a computer trick to help lock in the best price on an online item (read up on it below)

Click here for more information.

5 life-changing investments

Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money" shared these places to invest your money:

1) Natural gas
2) Seeds
3) Video games
4) Brazil
5) Canada

Click here to read more; I thought the last two were pretty interesting!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


5 phone numbers that will change your life

That's their title, not mine. :) Yesterday, on The Today Show, they shared 5 phone numbers, you probably have never heard about.

1. Traffic congestion relief: 1.866.MY.TRAFC
After listening to a 10 second add, you use voice recognition software to say your city and state and street location and are given more accurate information about your drive than those every 10-15 minute updates on the radio. Even alternative routes are provided!

2. Bar bet hotline: 334.844.4244
Ok, it's not really a bar bet hotline (it's the "Foy Information Hotline"), but that's how they described it on the show. You know how you are chatting with friends and someone says: "The Civil War ended in 1880" (because everyone talks history! :)). You disagree, but at the moment, aren't even sure you know the exact date of the Appomattox Courthouse armistice. Call the above number! It's actually based out of Auburn University's Student Union. I excitedly told Shel last night about this and after my long diatribe, she informed me that both she and her sister, Karen, answered phones when they were in school! But, in the early '90s before everyone had Internet, they had to consult giant notebooks filled with information, and peruse dictionaries, encyclopedias, and National Geographic. Matt Lauer called yesterday during the interview and asked the girl, "What is Barbie's real name?" and in less than 1 minute, she came back with the answer: Barbara Millicent Roberts (named after the designer's daughter). At Life Group last night, we called and asked why the Academy Awards statuette is called "Oscar." To find out why, give them a call (Lauer called them "the original Google")! Or, look it up on Wikipedia. But, for all those times you are away from the Internet, keep this number handy.

3. San Fransisco Sex Information: 415.989.SFSI
No, no, it's not that kind of line! This group has been around since 1972, provide trained counselors, psychologists, and therapists, and will answer questions you have, and you can remain completely anonymous.

4. Ohio Tobacco Quit Line: 800.QUIT.NOW
Pretty self-explanatory: trained counselors provide those trying to quit with needed support.

5. Golden Oldie: 866.411.SONG
This one is right up my alley! Next time you are going insane, because you can't think of the title of that song, call this number, hold the phone up to the song for 15 seconds as it's playing, and the service will send you a text message with the title and artist. First one is free, after that each one is 99 cents.

Click here to read more (again, it's short!).

5 good-for-you, bizzare foods

The Today Show is hosting a "5 Things" series this week and I wanted to pass along daily what I am learning. Monday it was "5 good-for-you, bizarre foods," all packed with outstanding nutritive value. Most of these foods have been eaten in other countries for centuries and are just now coming to the US: Acai (an Amazonian berry, packed with tons of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants), alligator and crocodile meat (leaner than most other meats, low in choloesteral, and high in Omega 3's), cupuacu (relative of the cacoa tree; helps with abdominal pain and has healing properties for the skin), laver bread (simliar to seaweed; packed with vitamins and minerals, and high in protein), and yerba mate (though I was not a child of the 60s, I guess this was very popular back then; relieves stress and is packed with antioxidants).

I went to Whole Foods yesterday and bought some Acai juice off the shelf (coconut-pinapple flavor); it's 100% juice, and gives you one serving of fruit/vegetables for the day. Delicious!

Click here to read further (it's short!). The video segment is also short and worthwhile because it gives more information than the brief reading.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dickens of a Christmas

After Thanksgiving every year, downtown McKinney (about 20 minutes north of us) hosts its "Dickens of a Christmas" event. All the shop owners dress in period costumes, street vendors sell everything from popcorn and funnel cake to homemade stationary and art, snow is blown off the courthouse a few times a night, and carolers sing. The stores (oh, there are so many wonderful ones!) share holiday window displays and the occasional sale with the customers. The day dawned bright and gorgeous outside, the temperature somewhere in the low-50s--perfect to be bundled up and cozy, yet not freezing. We browsed the shops (Shel, found the best antique/vintage store you will love, and Kate, some wonderful baby boutiques!), watched a puppet show (Maggie was enraptured and sat through the whole thing!), and enjoyed experiencing this delightful downtown. If you live in the area, you *must* go next year and make it a holiday tradition. I'm so glad we went on Friday because it has been raining ALL weekend long. We've been indoors, baking, and putting up Christmas decor. I think the house is finally coming together and I hope to post pics next week, and in light of SCW's London post, I will give you a "visual tour" of the home with commentary.

Maggie absolutely loved the puppet show!
Here she is standing, unassisted. She still prefers to cruise the house, but just the weekend has taken more steps on her own than in many weeks. We must be getting close!

One of the puppets.

This puppet sang "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas;" it was very cute!

I know this picture is not very clear, but I couldn't get a good shot (those windows and their reflections can be tricky!). But, I had to post this because it was so cute. These two kiddos were dressed up, and sitting in a window display, waiting by a table of cookie and milk for Santa.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving in pictures

Sorry, no pictures of the cook (I didn't actually shower until after it was all over!). We hope you all enjoyed the holiday with your loved ones. Despite Maggie having a cold, the day turned out wonderfully. We stayed indoors all day long, cooking and just being together. I couldn't believe that we basically had all the dishes ready at the same time! I give this credit to my husband's help in prep work the night before (chopping and bagging all vegetables), and my double ovens. Who knew they could come in so handy?! Overall, our meal turned out lovely and tasty. The turkey, as I mentioned previously, was my first attempt at preparing and cooking. I think I expected it to be SUPER flavorful, but it really wasn't. Aron said that unless you smoke it or deep-fry it (what they do in Texas!), you really can only expect turkey to be one of two things: dry or moist. Ours, thankfully, was very moist. So, I would say it was successful! Our least favorite dish was the scalloped pumpkin and spinach (rather bland), but Maggie LOVED the spinach and kept scooping up handfuls. And, I'm sad to say the pumpkin pie turned out poorly. It was way too runny (how is that possible?!) and we chalked it up too much sour cream and too many eggs called for in the receipe (this is most likely my first Cooking Light recipe that we will never use again). Instead, we ate some egg nog gelato and sipped coffee with mint truffle creamer into the wee hours of the night.

We have much to be grateful for: a good and gracious God committed to making right what was once broken, wonderful family and friends all around the US, an enjoyable and growing marriage, a delightful baby girl, a new home, Aron's good job, a church we love, and all the little things we take for granted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

wordless wednesday

why we miss the band (aka helmet)...

give thanks

Tomorrow dawns my favorite holiday; I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons: being with family and friends, traditional dishes served, crisp, fall weather outdoors, anything spiced, or pumpkin, and mulled cider. Over the years, Thanksgiving has taken on new faces. Growing up, we always did the meal with my grandparents and aunt and uncle in OKC. When we moved away in the early '90s, we would either do our own thing as a family of 4 or be grafted in by various close friends (mostly the Sandovals). Since Aron and I married, we have done a variety of things as well. Aron's Aunt Dinah makes Thanksgiving every year and starts preparation days in advance. Each year the menu changes, except for a few staples (ramaki--water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, and her famous chocolate mousse). This woman is the quintessential Marth Stewart of Thanksgiving and I'm sad we have not been able to sit at her table for the past 3 years. However, being away has lended itself to starting our own traditions. The first 2 years we lived in Texas, Shannon and I prepared Thanksgiving; it was fun to plan the menu and shop for the groceries. My aunt and uncle and grandparents drove down one year and Angel also joined. Last year in Chicago, Matt & Rachel, and Shel & Randall shared the meal with us.

This year it will just be Aron, Mags, and I. We plan to do our own Turkey Trot before we eat, sit down to a meal prepared by us, and, afterwards, well, just do whatever we feel like. :)

Here's the menu run down (many recipes are from Cooking Light; you know I love that magazine!):

*Holiday Salad (we have made this the past 3 years, so it's probably becoming one of "our" yearly dishes) This dish has unusual ingredients (pomegranate seeds, endives, Gruyere cheese), but everything pairs so well.
*Scalloped Pumpkin and Spinach
*Chiptole-Maple Sweet Potatoes
*Green Beans and Red Onion and Warm Mustard Vinaigrette
*Apple Cider-Brined Turkey (my first EVER attempt at cooking my own turkey; so easy and is brining as I write! As Angel might say, I am finally an adult!)
*Gravy (store bought :)
*Laurie's family Stuffing
*Shelley's Angel Biscuits
*Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Pastry Crust
*Egg nog gelato from Whole Foods
*Shiner Bock, red wine, and water to drink

Although, I'm in the market for a good holiday tonic. Any tips?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gap casting call update

While Maggie is not a finalist, you can still vote for your favorites here. There are definitely some CUTIES!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

new observations

Maggie has a favorite cuisine--Mexican food. The beans. The rice. The tortillas. Any samplings we give her off our plates. Tonight she scooped up handful after handful of all the above, getting the messiest we have ever let her get. She also got this very glazed-over look as we sat outside on the patio of the restaurant; it was hysterical.

Also, in the last week I have noticed that she purposefully pulls books off her shelves and "reads" them, albeit upside down (every time!). She kind of "talks" to herself, too, as she turns one page or a chunk of pages. It's wonderful to watch her start to make this her own! Tam, you'd be so proud. :)

We miss the band; Maggie has a huge goose egg on her forehead. She looks alot like Auntie Shannon when she was little (picture forthcoming).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

11 months

Today, Maggie is 11 months old! Hard to believe that she is 4 weeks shy of the big 1.

11 months

Today, Maggie is 11 months old! Hard to believe that she is 4 weeks shy of the big 1. She has one new tooth (bringing the total to 7), says "dada" all the time (I would offically say it's her first word), occassionally says "mama" (though doesn't really seem to know it means me...sigh), is making new sounds all the time (currently, lots of "ca-ca" and "tu-tu"), likes to be chased, attempts headstands from time to time, likes to sit on her knees, and is enamored with all things musical.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

stone cold

Though she might not know it, my good friend Leslie in Chicago inspired me to go "stone cold sippy cup" with Mags (remember when we ate Korean barbecue that night and you and Beth were talking about big girl beds, sippy cups, and such, Les?). Her one year birthday is around the corner, she will be drinking milk, and not using bottles. I figured, let's do it now. So, on Monday I started to use the Nuby and it's been relatively easy. There have been a few feedings that were dragged out over an hour or more period, but the last few days have been pretty much flawless. Thus, I feel I can say that she is totally weaned from the bottle. How great is that?! I love that she can hold the cup herself and sit in her carseat as we drive and drink it, or just sit on the floor or in her highchair and drink. Big girl!

Up next and NOT looking forward to it: the bink (our word for pacifier). Might as well do it now! I knew I should have done it in August, as I literally watched her mentally become aware of it and become dependent upon it. Wish us luck!

It's official!

Maggie is ALL DONE with her band! Yesterday was the last appointment. They took some "after" pics, we'll get them next week, then I'll post shots of her before and after the band. Lookin' good! Here she is, all smiles at my friend Allison's baby shower last week. And come on, how cute is this kid!?

california pics

Here are some shots I orginally intended to post under "T-street" post, but the pics wouldn't upload. Today, Aron put our office together, so our desktop is up and running! Woo-hoo!

Cayla visits!

T-Street lovely as ever! Pictures below as follows: A good family shot of us, Maggie liking the sand, but not the water (see her face!?), and dad saying, "What?! Is this my child!? How can she not like the beach?"

Meet Jeremiah Sandoval, a.ka. Angel and Lindsey's newphew and a.k.a. Maggie's first official kiss--Oh. My. Gosh. This little guy has got to be one of the cutest and sweetest boys I have ever met. He is super chatty, respectful (said, "Hello, Mrs. McKay") and loved Maggie. He shared his toys with her and wanted to sit next to her. And, he gave her about a half a dozen kisses...even on the mouth! I wish this picture were better of him because he is so stinkin adorable, this shot just doesn't do him justice. But, I do love Maggie's glowing smile here!

Maggie and Asher--my good friend Dawnielle's little boy came over to play; he is 8 days younger than Mags. They were very sweet, playing together and poking eachother at times. He is a total doll.

And, of course, our ever-loving, and ever-giving hosts, Aron's folks. They had much fun with Miss M. Aron's sister, Cari, was also in town for the weekend, but alas! I have no clear pictures of her, I am so bummed. But, Cari, know that we love you and were so glad to see you! :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

mom's corner

I'm needing mom input about transitioning Maggie from pureed foods to all table foods. She has been eating table foods for a few weeks now (including bites of most things we eat), but I'm noticing that she is wanting the pureed stuff less and less. Therefore, here is my delima. I want to offer her well-rounded meals at each feeding, but I feel like I need some guidance. I will look through my "Super Baby Food" book for help, but wanted to put this question out there for feedback from all my mom friends or anyone that has been around children. We do lots of cut up fruit and crackers, yogurt, and cheese, some meat. I'm needing some more creativity here, though! I did buy fresh brocolli and cauliflower to steam for her this week, so we'll see how that goes, Once she turns a year, we'll do peanut butter sandwiches. I want to start giving her Tofu chunks.

And as a disclaimer, I really still want to continue to make her food as much as possible and I want to be healthy. I'm not super into canned meats or veggies, at least not on a regular basis.

So, what does/did a "baby menu" look like for your little one?

Thanks in advance for helping me!

i'm back, and a year older!

We successfully moved into our new home last Thursday! After a quick jaunt to OC and arriving back home at 9:30pm on Halloween, we drove to our new place at 7:30am the next morning, as the movers were due to arrive between 8-10am. They showed up at 9:30 and were done by 1:30pm. The appliances we ordered arrived on Saturday, so everything is up and running! Praise the Lord. Many thanks to Brad for helping Aron unpack and move furniture around on Saturday morning! And although I had to wait around on my birthday yesterday, Verizon Fios TV and Internet was installed and is now up and running. Hooray! There are still several boxes to unpack and pictures to be hung, but it is most assuredly starting to feel more homey. Pictures forthcoming.

And yes, I turned 29 yesterday and realized that both this year and last year's birthdays sneaked up on me because we had just moved. Last year we celebrated by eating Lou Malnati's pizza in downtown Chicago and seeing a movie, while talking about Maggie's upcoming arrival. This year I cooked dinner in our new home (southwestern pork stew, homemade cornbread and gingersnaps for dessert). Lest you think that Aron dropped the ball, I actually told him I wanted to cook. In the last 5 weeks of transition for us, we have literally eaten out 2 dozen times, so I was itching to eat homemade goodness. I love to cook, so this was a treat for me. Plus, he was in CA for one day Monday to Tuesday and when he walked in on Tuesday night, he had a Banana Republic box in his hand--my hubby *totally* knows how to shop for me! A new outfit and it all fits--grey cords (the comfiest pants I now own), and a white hoodie from BR, a navy tank to wear under the hoodie from American Eagle, and a grey scarf from The Limited to accessorize. I loved it all. And yesterday, while I waited for the Verizon guy, I got a bunch of well-wishing phone calls from family and friends, read emails with birthday greetings, and opened a few gifts I had gotten in the mail. It was a good day overall. I am amazed to be one year shy of 30. I'm never sure what age "feels" like, but being 29 feels no different than the last few years. I know I have matured as a person in many ways over the years, but at the same time I still see myself as being in my early 20s. I think. Thanks to all who helped make my day so special!