Teddy bear Tea 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014
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When I first became a Mom here in Houston, I remember hearing other Moms talk about the Teddy Bear Tea.  It sounded like such a fun thing to do around the holidays.  But having two boys, I did not really have the chance to make it an annual tradition. It is more of a mother-daughter affair. My Mom and I did take Will one year though!

I started taking Kate in 2010 with a friend and her daughter.  Those friends moved and the next year, my friend Amy and her daughter Eden started jointing us.  We love spending the day with them and continuing this tradition.  Every year, I think it will be Kate's last year wanting to go but she starts talking about it around Halloween.  She just loves it.  I feel quite certain though that we have only one or two years maximum left as I have not seen any girls older than 10 at this event.

{warning--this will be long and there will be tons of photos...it is one of my favorite things we do.}



Will took this photo of the four of us just before we left...

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Some people asked on IG about Kate's dress. I got it at a local boutique. You can get it here (on sale!)   And here are some that are similar (one /two /three (LOVE this one!)   My dress is Kate Spade and it is a few years old.  In fact, I wore it to the Teddy Bear tea two years ago too.

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In the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel.

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Kate used to be afraid of the Teddy Bear.  I am so glad she is not anymore!


And here is Will with the Teddy Bear in 2002!

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Amy and I had some champagne in addition to our afternoon tea.  It was so fun to catch up and watch our girls laugh and play.


Durting the actual "tea" the parents are served traditional tea and the kids have a little buffet of fruit, sandwiches and sweets.  They also have hot cocoa and lemonade for the kiddos.

Then they have face painting....


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They also decorate cookies but I did not take a photo of that.

There is a puppet show and a magic show....


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This year, the girls colored an ornament (last year it was a t-shirt)....


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Kate asked me to do a "side-bun."  I love how cute it looked on her.


Then the sugar kicks in and they dance around and ride these rocking horses....

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And here is Will on one of the rocking horse (with my Mom in 2002).

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Look at those smiles!  You can see how much fun they had!!!!


A few people emailed to ask about her dress from the last post too. This is the dress Kate wore to the Nutcracker  and her gold flats.



Disclosure Note:  This post contains some affiliate links and if you purchase items after clicking on links I may receive a small commission from the company (at no cost to you). I only link to products or companies I have used and loved. Thank you.

Our Nutcracker tradition 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014
Good morning.  I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree sipping coffee and working on some blog posts.  My work has tripled lately but I cannot complain.  I have had this new office for 2 years now and was contemplating not renewing my lease as my rent was going up and business had recently slowed down. I also do a lot of public speaking and thought maybe I would just continue with that. Then, all of a sudden, work increased dramatically.  I felt as though God were sending me a message to keep doing what I am doing.  I really love my work but it leaves me with little time to keep up the blog.

 Kate took ballet starting at 2-ish (I know she had 6 recitals) and she loved it for a long time. This year she chose to stop ballet as it was getting too hard to do both gymnastics and ballet.  Gymnastics is her passion but she still loves the ballet and she still dances all around our house.

We started going to The Nutcracker when she was 5 and this was our 4th time.

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Dave snapped this while I was looking for another lens and I just love it.  Although it looks posed, it wasn't.


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{Kate's Dress/ Kate's shoesMy Shirt/ My skirt is very old --similar }

Kate and I always have such a nice time together,  My favorite part is watching her face and listening to her "ooh and ahhh." She loves the music so much as well as the gorgeous costumes and the dancing.  The ballet is beautiful but I prefer to watch Kate!

You can pre-order snacks and drinks and have a table reserved at intermission and we usually do that. Kate always enjoys a sweet treat (cupcake or cookies).

Then we wander out to the lobby and there are often a few mice and soldiers to take photos with.

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After the show, Kate and I go to the green room to meet a few performers.  Kate brings her Nutcracker book and they sign it for her.

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A few weeks ago Kate said this to me...

Kate: Mama, You know I don't love the actual day of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas that much.  What I love the most is all the traditions and things we do around those holidays!


If you've been reading here long or you know me in real life, you know I am ALL ABOUT THE TRADITIONS!  So, it made my heart leap with joy that my daughter appreciates them as much as I do.  And by the way, my boys seem to love them too.  Will gets especially upset if we don't follow our annual traditions.  Last weekend, Kate and I went to another Christmas tradition here...The Teddy Bear Tea.  And today we are off to see the Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Show..  So, come back soon for those photos.


Disclosure Note:  This post contains some affiliate links and if you purchase items after clicking on links I may receive a small commission from the company (at no cost to you). I only link to products or companies I have used and loved. Thank you.

happy Birthday Harry

Monday, December 8, 2014
Harry is 14 today!  Can you believe it?  He is applying to high school!  And in a year, he can get his driving permit.  Where did the time go?

When I started the blog Harry looked like this....

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Now he looks like this...

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Harry is a very normal 14 year old in some ways (hates homework, talks back to his parents, likes to sleep in, spends WAY too much time looking at his phone screen!).
  But is he extraordinary in some ways too. 

I like to list the things I love about Harry on his birthday (in no particular order)

~He does not follow the crowd.  Harry observes what everyone else is doing but he does his own thing (and in middle school that is especially hard to do).

~He has an amazing work ethic.  Harry loves to work.  Whether it is his fishing lure business or detailing my car or mowing the lawn, he has a fabulous work ethic.  

~He figures things out.  If Harry does not know how to do something, he will figure it out.  This summer, he did not want to spend a lot of money on geocaching tubes, so he found a method to make them out of recycled bottles.  He comes up with stuff like that all the time. Whenever one of us doesn't know how to do something, we ask Harry.  It's true.

~He is an amazing brother.  He has always been the kindest, sweetest brother to Kate. He invents games for her, plays with her and watches out for her.  With Will, they have their close times and their competitive times.  This weekend, Will was working on a project for school and Harry stepped in and videotaped and helped so much.  He really has Will and Kate's backs.

~He is frugal and a saver.  I admire that.

~He is really funny.  All 3 of my kids are talkers but I suppose Harry is probably the quietest of the 3 (not that he is all that quiet).  Sometimes he will come out with the funniest one liners though.  He does make us all laugh (especially with his stories from school).

~He is passionate.  When Harry gets into something, he really gets into it (judo, coins, lacrosse, fishing).  He learns everything there is to learn and gives it 100%.

~He has amazing faith.  Harry has always had such faith in God and he practices it out loud.

~Harry is really smart.  And not just book smart.  He is street smart.

~He is nice and polite.  Now I am not delusional.  I am sure he has been unkind to his peers at points in his life.  But for the most part, I have seen him display incredible kindness to others.  He invites new kids to sit with him at lunch.  He has often shown kindness to the "left out" kids. It is his nature. Parents LOVE Harry.  He even has a little parent fan club.

~Harry is loyal.  He gives people a lot of chances.

~He does not ask for much at all.  

~He takes interest in other's lives.  He will ask me about my patients and my talks or meetings.  He is interested in Kate and Will's sports and schools.  He asks Dave about everything.  So many teens are self-absorbed but he really looks outside himself.

~He doesn't let obstacles get in his way.  Harry has not had the easiest life.  He has had some severe health challenges. He's had tons of testing.  He is small.  He never lets any of that hold him back.  He goes for it in life.

At 14 Harry loves fishing, chicken wings, hanging out with his friends, running his business, watching fishing videos, technology, his family and God.  He is a GREAT kid and I am so proud to be his Mom. I know he will go very far in life. 

 Happy Birthday Harry!!!!! I love you very much!

P.S.  Harry did not want a party.  We went out for wings as a family and gave him a "go-pro" camera (part b-day and part Christmas present).  I am bringing him his favorite "whataburger" up to school for lunch.  And Happy, our elf, decorated his door with toilet paper:)

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Gingerbread houses and a gift idea from a small peanut business

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
We've attempted to make gingerbread houses around here for many many years. We sometimes bake fresh ginger people to go along with the houses.  But it usually does not end well.  I know some people use glue on their houses but we've never wanted to go that route.

A friend of mine said that the TraderJoe's houses are the best.  I tried to get the kits last year but they were sold out,  This year, when I saw them mid November, I grabbed 3 boxes.

Last Saturday everyone was home and Will''s girlfriend was over so I brought out the boxes and we got to work.  This was BY FAR the best year ever!  No one's house fell apart.  The mess was minimal and everyone got to do their own thing.

Kate's friend, Eden was at our house too so she and Kate teamed up on a house.

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Harry was the best at mixing up the frosting!

{it was a dark and dreary day and I am too lazy to lighten up the photos}

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Will and Evie got started first.  They were all business.  And needless to say their house turned out amazing.  I was impressed with how well they worked together.  And yes that is hair on Will's face for No shave November:(

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Evie is very talented.


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Harry really wanted to make one IF he had my permission to "blow it up" with fireworks later.  I said sure.  So, he was going for an abstract look that would lend itself to an explosion.  He loves when I take his picutre too;)

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At this point my good friend Amy came to pick up Eden but we would not let them leave.  Dave set out a delicious cheese and bread platter and we drank wine and talked and ordered tickets to a Christmas show while the kids finished the houses.

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I love how Harry put the dog and a person on the roof.... all the better to fly off upon impact!

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Kate and Eden each decorated one side of theirs. And they "monogrammed" the roof.

Will and Evie's turned out really pretty...

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And being the gentleman that I raised him to be he is, Will told Evie that she could take their house home with her.

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The kids wanted to have a contest, so Dave was the judge.

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{like Harry's t-shirt?!)

It was a complicated and tedious scoring procedure based on neatness, originality and artistic execution.

I think there might have been some mathematical miscalculations (Amy was the mathematician and she had some wine!) but it turned out to be a 3 way tie!!!!

We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.  I am so glad that I found these "no fail" houses at Trader Joe's.  I will buy them from now on. I have NO affiliation with them just trying to share the joy!

I do however have a affiliation with a new young business man named Harry (he is my middle son).

Harry started a fishing lure business a few months ago.  He custom paints lures and sells them.  And he has been pretty successful.  A few pros have even caught stuff with his lures.

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Caught the other day in a city pond with his lure.

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They range in price but are about $10.

  I asked Harry if I could share his business with my readers because a) I am SO proud of him and b) they would make GREAT stocking stuffers for the fishing people in your life.  If you want to order an original Swales lure you can email him. Harry can do any color/pattern on a crankbait, rat-l-trap or swimbait. Email him at harryswales18@gmail.com


You can follow Swaleslures here on Instagram!

I have to just add here that Harry has been an entrepreneur for as long I can remember.  Remember these ventures and this one and this and this was a favorite too.   He has such a strong work ethic and he loves making businesses. While most boys his age are sitting around playing video games, he is researching, designing and airbrushing lures. And he seems to love it. Dave and I always try to be supportive of his ventures.  I have no doubt he will follow his dream and be an entrepreneur when he is an adult too.