Friday, April 29, 2011

Round Rock Donuts

I scarcely have words to describe how delicious a Round Rock Donut is. I am a loyal Shipley's Donut fan and Round Rock is definitely supreme to Shipley's. Everything that is good about a Shipley's glazed is all the better in a Round Rock Donut. The air pockets are even more copious in nature and distributed evenly throughout the donut. The sugar glaze has just a little extra firmness to it to provide that extra touch of resistance as you take a bite. The color of the donut (which I believe is due to sweet potato flour as well as the eggs and butter that they use) is a bit shocking, but you can taste that extra egg-y and butter-y flavor in the donut. This extra layer of flavor enhances the sweet bread flavor rather than taking away from it. I highly recommend this donut place if you are in Round Rock or anywhere near Round Rock or if you are crazy enough to drive to Round Rock for an amazing only request is that you bring one back for me!

(The pictures are from my phone...sorry...we didn't have time to take out the real camera...they were still warm!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

None on the ground...

Wildflowers, Hempstead, June 2006

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This weekend

This past weekend we celebrated Easter with family and friends. On Saturday our church small group had an Easter egg hunt for the kids and MacKenzie got to participate this year! MacKenzie did great finding her first two eggs and then hesitated to hunt anymore because she was too busy holding her eggs in her hand rather than her basket. Keegan slept the whole time.

On Easter Sunday we visited church and spent time with our dear friends the Medlins eating yummy food and swimming in their pool. We have two little water babies on our hands as both of them enjoyed time in the pool. MacKenzie skipped her nap and pretty much swam non stop from 3 until 8. We definitely had a good time, but also kept in mind the real reason for celebrating that day.

On Monday both girls had doctor appointments. That is the last time I schedule both their appointments at once. Thank goodness my mom came to help because I would not have been able to handle everything between MacKenzie crying from her shot (mainly because she was sleepy) and Keegan puking up the oral vaccine they gave her, then crying from her shots. Both girls are doing great and hitting all of their milestones. Keegan weighed 13 pounds 14 ounces (85th percentile) and was 23.5 inches long (only 69th percentile) so she is definitely a bit of a chunky monkey! MacKenzie weighed just shy of 30 pounds (94th percentile) and was 35.5 inches tall (99th percentile). It is no wonder her dresses are too short for her! We are so thankful for our healthy little girls!

Monday, April 25, 2011

fussy post dr...

I know today is monday, but the post will have to wait until tomorrow!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

18 months of Mac


Tomorrow you are 18 months old...a whole year and a half! I cannot believe 18 months have already passed. To me, 18 months seems very old, you are past the baby stage and definitely a toddler. It seems like just yesterday you were keeping mommy up at night like sister does.

In the past month you have gotten very snuggly. You like to sit in our laps more, to cuddle up with us on the couch, and you love being held by anyone and everyone. Seriously, we go to functions and get togethers and you walk around to everyone holding your arms up in the air asking to be picked up. You are not shy or bashful and it is a good thing you are so cute otherwise people would probably ignore you!!! You love to give Mommy, Daddy, and Keegan kisses and hugs. Mommy randomly asked you "Who do you love the most?" the other day and you responded with a very enthusiastic "MaMa". It made me happy! Since that went over so well I am trying to teach you to respond "dada" when I ask "Who do you have wrapped around your little finger?". Needless to say, Daddy is not very happy about that! In all fairness I tried to get you to respond Dada when I ask "Who is your favorite person in the whole wide world?", but you decided Henry (En-nee) and Avah (Vah-Vah) were your favorites!

You love your stuffed puppys still and will make the stuffed Rudolph "fly" whenever he is talking. You have enjoyed playing with blocks more and more and enjoy when you and Daddy sit on the ground to make towers and knock them over. You play with your toy food, but less with the actual kitchen and will carry around the strawberry and the ice cream. Like most kids your age, you love push toys that you can push around and crash around the room. Bubbles and coloring are favorite activities too. Your favorite books are "Bear Snores On", the elmo and big bird books Dee got you, and the teeny Bible story books that are in the box. You will have us read book after book to you on the couch which makes Mommy's life easier when nursing Keegan.

You still call your sister "Nee-nee-nah" and call yourself "Tinsey". When you say Keegan's name you always bounce as you say it. Very cute! You have learned what a dolphin, whale, and shark say in the past month, but we have mainly been focusing on learning letters and colors. You can usually pick out which block is red, blue, yellow, purple, green, or orange and you can identify about half of your upper case letters. I need to teach you the signs for all of these as it will be easier for you to respond that way. The only letters you will say are O and S, but you can identify many more than that. We marvel at all of the things you will identify and retain from us reading you your books, you are so smart. The other day we were driving down the road and you saw an 18 wheeler truck and you started to make the honking motion and said honk honk. It is so cool to see you transfer things we ask or show you in books to the real world. Of course your favorite new words are "uh-oh" and "wow". Funny that you haven't picked these words up until now, but you say them like a grownup! It is so cute.

You are eating well still and it's hard to tell what you don't like and what you just don't feel like having at the time. You decided you really like lettuce salad recently, but I think that is mainly because of the dressing. You also have a deep fondness for peas and steamed broccoli which makes Mommy happy. She rather enjoys veggies too and is glad she doesn't have to fight you on eating them. You love oatmeal or eggs for breakfast which makes for a great start to our day. You still love milk and will pass up ice cream at Chick Fil A if you have milk in your cup to drink. In fact, you will eat a little bit of sweet, but most of the time will take a bite or two and be done. You have been doing amazing eating with a fork or spoon and while you still use your hands will try and succeed often with eating utensils. We have to be careful not to cut your food up to small because you want to be grownup like us and eat what we are eating. You love to dip food into any sort of sauce which is an easy way to get you to eat. We recently gave you rigatoni noodles to dip in pasta sauce and you put your fingers into the tube of pasta and ate it that way.

This past month we have had multiple play dates, had lunch with grandparents and great grandparents, went to Mommy's family reunion, had an Easter Egg hunt, made bags for the homeless people, played on the park (you climb up the slide to the top of the play structure), and in general enjoyed each others company. You are a good little girl and you make us smile regularly. We love you and everything about you. We know you are a gift to us from God and feel blessed with your presence in our lives.

Love you always!
Mommy and Daddy

Friday, April 22, 2011


Way back when I posted this post about an orzo pasta salad that I like to make. I will be making it again this weekend and found some pictures of it that I thought I would share... It is a perfect light dish for the upcoming (or already here) summer months. I love how simple it is and you can jazz it up with a flavored olive oil if you find it to be too drab. As you can see in the picture, we like to take a huge scoop of it and eat it with roast chicken and a veggie (sauteed spinach is pictured).


Some time ago I mentioned the foccaccia I had tried to make. I found this recipe with a quick search online and was eager to try it out. It seemed easy enough being a mainly bread machine recipe. I was hoping for something soft, chewy, airy, and saturated with olive oil. This recipe was fine, but not these things. It would be a great sandwich bread because it held together nicely (paninis would be especially good). It was ok for dipping in soup, but did not soak up as much as I would want. Give it a try if you want a fairly easy and pretty foccaccia.

Ingredients you will need:
3 ¼ Cups white bread flour 1 Cup Water
3 tbsp olive oil 1 ½ tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp instant dry yeast 1 tsp salt
1 tsp sea salt Rosemary

1. Lets begin by adding the water to your bread pan.
2. Add Olive oil.
3. Slowly sprinkle in flour covering the liquids.
4. Add yeast and sugar, mix.
5. Add salt. Set machine to “Dough” or “Pizza dough”. Start.
6. Grease a large cookie sheet. Once dough is ready, remove and place onto cookie sheet.
7. Spread evenly over cookie sheet, cover, let rise for 30- 45 minutes. Your dough should double in size.
8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
9. Poke multiple holes in dough using wooden handle of spoon.
10. Brush an extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough.
11. Srinkle bread with one teaspoon of sea salt.
12. Sprinkle with rosemary.
13. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
14. Place on wire rack to cool.

Serve with olive oil. Enjoy your Focaccia bread recipe.

My modifications (I used Kosher salt instead of sea salt, sprinkled with herbs de Provence instead of rosemary, and added lots of chopped garlic)

This is the website and it seemed to have a lot of good bread machine recipes so maybe there will be better out there!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Favorite Statue

"Communist Statue", Texas A & M University

Editorial Commentary...

An online friend (follow her blog here) posted this to facebook and I just had to make sure everyone saw it here. Plus I wanted to comment a little bit on it myself...

He makes the points well enough himself. The clothes made available to little girls these days are nothing sort of atrocious. A friend and I will often walk past the girls section in Target (not exactly the most risque store around) and marvel at the clothing selection for girls and pre teens. Some of the jean skirts are barely long enough to cover my 18 month old, much less a long legged girl of 8 or 10. In my firm opinion, the only time "juicy" should be written on the backside of anyone's clothing is when they are still in a diaper cover because their bums literally are juicy! And as the author of the article states, manufacturers would not be making these clothes if they weren't selling or if they didn't think there was a chance that they would sell. What kind of a mother (or father) looks at some of these clothes and thinks...Oh my little girl would look so precious in this? Don't get me wrong, I am by no means an advocate for dressing your child like a prude, but there is cute and there is skank and the line between them is pretty clear and pretty well defined. This is also coming from a mom who realizes that it will be difficult for me to properly dress my child as her legs are already too long for a lot of 2T clothing (but she is not wide enough for 3T...does anyone know of a place that sells 2T-tall?!?). My job as a parent is not only to teach my child and meet her physical needs, but to make sure she is presentable to the world and to set clothing expectations for her to cover her body when need be (obviously she can expose more skin at the pool or beach). As he states, however, the girls are not driving themselves to the mall and buying these clothes with their own money. Somebody is buying the clothing for them which means one of two things. Either the parents are ok with their daughters dressing this way, which is unacceptable. Or they have so much power in the parent to child relationship that they have convinced their parents of their "need" for this clothing, which is unacceptable. And for anyone who feels like clothing is an appropriate expression of a child and their feelings (which is true and totally a point), do you really want your child expressing themselves with a push up bra, phrases written on their butt, and exposing parts of their body that few societies find appropriate on a normal basis? This is just another classic example of hypersexualization (ha- I'm making it into a word again) in our society. We force mothers to breastfeed in private, but encourage little girls to expose themselves to the world...this is wrong...

Just a little rant, any thoughts from the readers?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keegan is already 2 months!


Today you are 2 months old and you are a shining star in our life. You have changed much in the last month. As Daddy would say, you have gone from a blob to an actual little person with personality and that you actually "do stuff". I would have to agree with him on the part of you doing more, but I wouldn't have called you a little blob beforehand. Poor Daddys...they can't do much with babies the first bit of their lives. All baby wants is to be close to mommy because that is all they have known for the previous nine months. But you, like all babies have warmed up to Daddy tremendously in the past few weeks especially.

As far as all that stuff you "do"...

You began smiling at 5 weeks and you are a super smiley baby. You like to flash your big gums at everyone, especially when they make a big fuss over you. You coo and "talk" a lot too and you are very loud compared to your sister. You will yelp really loud, I think just to see how loud you can be. You love to look around and will follow sounds and people around the room with your eyes. You enjoy the swing when the mobile is moving and playing music. Your favorite thing is to be held and you still snuggle up into a little ball on our chests whenever possible. You have started kicking your feet a lot more though which is fun for babies to do. We have gone on a few walks and you are finally warming up to being in the stroller as long as you are propped up a bit and your tummy is full. You had been a bit fussy for the first six weeks of your life. Then it seems that one day you opened your eyes, said hello world, and became happy! I love you either way and knew it was just a matter of time before you settled down into yourself!

You are a faster eater than MacKenzie (20 min) and eat about every 2-3 hours. At nights you eat more to get ready for a long stretch of sleep. You sometimes sleep 4 hours, sometimes sleep 6 hours. I like the six hour stretches because I like to leave you in bed from 4:30 on to snuggle. You are good about sleeping while we are running errands and doing things with Mac. We are just about ready to take you out of the bassinet and put you in the regular part of the pack and play. I let you sleep on your tummy on the couch during nap time and you like that best of all (besides being snuggled with us).

Your face is so round still, you are turning into a rolly polly! You have acquired a roll in each forearm and each thigh to go along with your double chin. Your hair is beginning to fall out and new hair coming in is lighter brown. No sign of eye color yet...maybe hazel or green, maybe brown. You are very tall and fill the bucket car seat with your length. We just moved you into size two diapers and your 3 month clothing seems a little snug (especially lengthwise).

Thank you for joining our family and bringing us such joy! We love you endlessly and cannot wait to see what kind of a person you will become!

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, April 18, 2011

Walk For Life

Saturday we were greeted with the most lovely weather for the Walk for Life. I was excited that it was nice outside and ready to walk for a cause that means so much to me. We arrived at Matzke Park (which is a great little park and track that I think we will be spending more time at) and waited for the start. The only other people I knew that were participating was our church pastor and his wife. They had a lot of people talking to them so I just enjoyed the quiet time with my girls. Both girls did great and I was able to do the two mile walk without having to make any major stops. It was the first time I had walked with a purpose since delivering Keegan so I was glad I wasn't too tired after.

I reflected some about what a great organization carenet is. They provide counseling and a basic health assessment and ultrasound for pregnant girls and women who are unsure of what course to take with an unexpected pregnancy. They provide classes, ongoing support, and give true options and choices with an ultimate reminder in the sanctity and individuality of each life. I am do happy to have helped raise a little money for a group of people who truly cherish each child. I hope I am able to work with them again soon and I thank everyone who supported and prayed for this event.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I already posted an almost exact duplicate of this post last year! I have food block!!! I will make it up to anyone who cares, I promise!!!!

Blueberry Muffins

I love this recipe. Not only is it incredibly easy, but it has the perfect balance of sweetness and an actual nutiness to the recipe. The outside of the muffin has just enough resistance, the inside is perfectly soft and is only barely able to hold the blueberries in perfect suspension as it bakes. I love the color that they turn out, slightly blue, but not overly Avatar-ish! As I have stated before, I prefer Muffins are made with frozen blueberries, they hold together better for the longer cooking time of a muffin.

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour (I have made with half whole wheat and it is not bad)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (or more) frozen blueberries

Heat oven to 400°F. Line 12 regular-size muffin cups with paper baking cups, or spray bottoms only of cups with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat milk, oil and egg with fork or wire whisk until blended and frothy. Sift together the dry ingredients, saving two tablespoons in the sifting vessel. Add dry ingredients (minus the two tablespoons) to wet ingredients; stir just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Toss blueberries with the remaining flour (this will help them remain suspended in the muffin mix. Gently stir in blueberries. Batter will be thick and evenly studded with blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (I like to use my cookie scoop...each tin is about two scoops).

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Ok Moms...give up the goods...Mac is showing signs of wanting to potty train. I am in research mode...let's get some advice and tips going!


Christmas eve

Driving to The Howards, Christmas Eve 2007

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cardiologist and Carenet

Last Thursday Keegan had an appointment with the cardiologist for her ASD (a small hole in the top to chambers of her heart). She was incredibly brave during the appointment and Mommy got a little worked up. I had to help hold her down for her chest x-rays which was not fun and had to let her lay there upset while they put all the EKG leads on her chest. She is little and obviously had no idea what was happening to her so it was hard for Mommy to wait the ten minutes or so to hold her and comfort her. The cardiologist (who was very nice...not my usual stereotype of a cardiologist) felt assured that everything was good and that the initial report was more of a "they have to report it or they could potentially get sued if there is a problem later" situation. We will have a few more follow-ups over the next five years, but it is more precautionary than necessary. That peace of mind will be nice though.

This Saturday the girls and I will be walking in the Carenet walk for life. It is a cause that I am firmly behind and the organization is good about being a support and a help for women in need. If you want more information you can go to and you can see the money being raised by individual walkers...the girls and I are walking under the name Howard. If anyone wants to join me, please let me know!

I was thinking a lot about my post last week about soul is much harder to write about than to explain in person. I would like to say though, I knew Matt was worth working hard for when he gave up going with the sports car club to Hooters to visit my sick grandmother in the hospital...he is a pretty good guy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

First Foodie Friday

I wanted to have something spectacular for my first foodie Friday on this blog, but I've got nothing amazing...just normal. We have been eating a lot of meals from the freezer that were prepared before the baby came so nothing that looks that great in pictures (just tastes great).

Since strawberries are on sale I thought I would post a few yummy strawberry desserts...

Of course you can always cut your strawberries and toss them generously with sugar. If you refrigerate for a few hours and stir occasionally they will macerate or produce a little sweet strawberry juice to enjoy. You can then eat this as is, top with cool whip (which I believe needs to be name brand), pair with angel food cake, short cake, or pound cake (and cool whip), or serve over vanilla ice cream (while usually a bluebell fan, I highly recommend the Breyers Slow Churned Vanilla Bean with berries).

Another idea involves this cake...

Chop one pound of strawberries and fold into one to one and a half containers of cool whip (again name brand, but you can use light if you wish). Set aside and cut an angel food cake horizontally in half. Use the strawberry cool whip concoction to "ice" or "frost" the cake. Top with additional strawberries as desired, slice, and serve. This is a really great and light summer treat. I always say I am going to make this with strawberries and blueberries for July 4th, but never get around to it...maybe this year...

I also enjoy making strawberries Romanov, but you have to wait for that the mean time...Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Belvoir, Israel

Wordless Wdnesday means a picture and a caption...enjoy

Belvoir (Crusader Castle Ruins), Northern Israel near the Sea of Galilee, July 2008

Monday, April 4, 2011


In honor of the changes here is my first Monday Musing...which makes more sense in my head...

Matt and I have often had the discussion about soulmates. Is it possible for their to be just one person absolutely meant for you out there in our world. My Don't take the negative answer at face value though. Just because I don't believe in a single soul mate out there for each person does not mean that I do not believe in and strive for monogamy. I wholeheartedly support monogamous relationships and will work my butt off to stay in mine. My take on lasting relationships though is somewhat different...

My belief is that when you meet are meeting a potential partner. However, many things have to fall into place for that relationship to blossom and thus go anywhere. Sometimes age is a factor. Sometimes current relationships are a factor. Sometimes work, location, emotional status, desires, hopes, and dreams are a factor and get in the way. I like to think of it in the reference of wavelengths. We are all on wavelength like paths and we have to meet someone who matches our current wavelength in order to develop a relationship. Sometimes our wavelengths cross someone else's and they merge for a time, but for whatever reason cannot merge for the rest of our lives. Sometimes we meet someone and they merge for a long time. At the point in which you merge with someone else for a long time you have to make a decision. Do you continue on in your relationship or do you stop. If you continue on in your relationship you are pledging to keep your wavelengths together. This. Takes. Work. To keep two wavelengths together can be really easy and it can also be really hard. This is what marriage (or any successful long term relationship) is really about. Working hard and praying to God that you and your significant other can work to keep your wavelengths together. If one person's wavelength is moving then the two need to work together to move it back or move with it. My hope is that Matt and I's wavelength will continue to work together. We will certainly do our best to keep it that way.

Marriage is hard work. Especially when other factors get in the way. But it is so worth it.

The day we pledged to keep our wavelengths in synch...

Change in the lineup

In an effort to not neglect either passion (my family and food), I am in the process of merging this blog with my foodie blog. All of my old foodie posts have been merged onto this blog and the foodiehoward blog will soon be eliminated. This way, I don't feel as guilty about posting on one or the other. I tell myself that I will be more apt to write this way. I tell myself that I can make a goal of three posts a week this way (Musings Monday, Wordless Wednesday, and Foodie Friday). I tell myself that more people will get enjoyment out of checking just one blog.

We will see if any of these things happen...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Breast feeding Dolls?!?!

My dear friend Karlin sent me the link to this article earlier this week. The article talks about the new "Breast feeding doll". For those of you who do not want to follow the link and read the article, the jest is that there is a new doll for breast feeding. The girl (or boy I suppose) puts on a halter top type thing that has two flowers where the breasts would be. When the doll is brought near the flowers, sensors inside the doll make the doll mimic breast feeding. Here are my thoughts...

I understand the importance of encouraging and normalizing breast feeding in our society. I completely encourage people to breast feed, for goodness sakes, I breast fed MacKenzie for two weeks shy of a year and would have continued longer if Keegan hadn't needed me to stop. I also understand that it is important and good for some girls to be able to mimic their Mom's behavior in caring for a child when playing with their dolls. However, by no means do I find it necessary to encourage a child to wear a clothing item that will cause the doll to mimic breast feeding. I know of numerous kids who "nurse" their babies by holding them close to their chest or by lifting their shirt even. I find this behavior appropriate, I find the doll unnecessary.

I have beef with a bit of what the article said. Some opponents of the doll feels that this doll continues the hypersexualization (is that a real word? you know what I mean regardless) of children (especially girls) in our society. My counter argument to that is, since when is breast feeding a sexual behavior. Yes, I realize that the breast can be a part of sexual behavior, however, breast feeding itself is not sexual. It is nurturing. It is loving. It is life growing. But it is not sexual. In fact, it can be painful, messy, difficult, and tiring. Nobody breast feeds in order to be sexy. I am sure even my husband does not look at me breast feeding our children and think to himself...Wow...that is hot. I am sure he likes seeing me breast feed because it shows how much I am physically (and emotionally) giving to our children. Our society needs to stop treating breast feeding like it is something sexual just because it involves boobs. I cover to make myself and others more comfortable, but if someone accidentally catches a glimpse of me nursing my child then I am not going to stress about it. If the situation warranted and I didn't have my cover, I would, by all means breast feed "in the open" and wouldn't worry about someone seeing is about nourishing my child, not about showing off the girls.

The article also cites a critic who feels that this will lead to more girls wanting to get pregnant earlier. How exactly does a doll that "breast feeds" make a girl want to get pregnant anymore that one that does not? A doll is a doll, regardless of it's "abilities" and the extra addition of suckling will not lead to a rise in teenage pregnancies.

In I find this doll creepy? Yes. But not because of a girl using it to mimic breast feeding, but because it is an unnecessary feature built into the doll! Would I discourage my girls from nursing their dolls (of the regular, non flower sensor variety)? No. But I will encourage them to make sure the baby is latched on properly and given correct support!!!