Thursday, March 29, 2012

Songs of Faith: The Greatness of our God

I have a collection of songs that I listen to before, during and after my prayer time as well as during my planning time at school and other places as well. This play list is called "Faith" on my iPhone and laptop. I have been listening to these 25 or so songs everyday since this time last year. They each really speak to me in different ways. Of course I have my favorites such as "Great is thy Faithfulness", "Jesus Will Still be There", "Amazing Grace" and many others but for whatever reason, I woke up last night in the middle of a pretty good sleep with this particular song (The Greatness of our God) in my head and lyrics speaking to me. With everything going on in my life right now I have to catch and stop myself crying to God and asking for my many issues, concerns and requests to be answered and instead look to Him to know Him and His GREATNESS.

I first heard this song at Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee at a special service inside Raley Chapel. I played in the orchestra and I had heard the orchestral side of the arrangement but never the words and scripture side of this song. When we began to sing and play the song and I heard the words, I stopped playing and just listened and was moved by the Holy Spirit.

The Greatness of our God
Give my eyes to see more of who You are
May what I behold Still my anxious heart
Take what I have known and break it all apart
For you my God are greater still

And no sky contains
No doubt restrains
All You are
The greatness of our God
I'll spend my life to know
and I am far from close to all You are
The greatness of our God

Give me grace to see beyond this moment here
To believe that there is nothing left to fear
And that You are alone are high above it all
For you My God are greater still

And no sky contains
No doubt restrains
All You are
The greatness of our God
I'll spend my life to know
and I am far from close to all You are
The greatness of our God

And there is nothing that could ever separate us
No there is nothing that could ever separate us from your love
No life, no death
Of this I am convinced
That you my God are greater still

And no word can say
Or song convey all You are
The Greatness of our God
I'll spend my life to know and
I'm far from close to all you are
The Greatness of our God

And no sky contains
No doubt restrains
All You are
The greatness of our God
I'll spend my life to know
and I am far from close to all You are
The greatness of our God

So give me eyes to see more of who You are

What an amazing testimony of  getting to know God and all of His GREATNESS. I know I am continually working towards this goal and no matter what is going on in my life, I still need to look to Him for guidance. He is a GREAT GOD! He will take care of you and provide for you and your family. You just have to look to Him and trust him!

God is Good... All the Time!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Prenatal Visit #7

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
"That looks like him"

Today I went in for my 28 week OB appointment. This was a special appointment because not only was I having my glucose/ sugar test, I also was having a special 4D ultrasound as well. Since this was a special appointment and we were going to be able to see a 4D image of Luke, I decided to invite my parents to come down and go to the ultrasound with me. Chris had baseball practice and he could not get it out of it so I wanted someone there to be with me. Who better than your mom, right?

It started with me drinking that nasty Orange stuff for the glucose/ sugar test. I had to drink all 20 ounces of it within 5 minutes then had to wait an hour before they would draw my blood to determine if I would need to take further tests and blood work for Gestational Diabetes. During this hour long wait, I was able to get my ultrasound done and meet with my doctor.

When we went into the Ultrasound room, the tech began by giving us all the disclaimers that are involved with an elective ultrasound such as a 4D. I knew most of this information but she was very helpful and enlightening for the whole process. She began and immediate found "his" parts with the regular 2D image. It was amazing how fast she found them as well as how clear she made them out to be. My parents and I were blown away and really could not tell either way. After that she switched over to the 4D technology and started to look for a great face image.

Unfortunately, Luke was looking off to the side and was not able to get the "full-on face" image that a 4D was known for. We got some excellent profile shots of him and we were able to watch him move and even SMILE while she tried to get him to roll over but we never got that 4D full- on face shot. I was a little disappointed, especially since my parents had drove in from Tyler, but at the same time felt good that I at least got to see his profile. (In our 20 week ultrasound, he was not cooperating either and we did not get a good or any profile shot). When I showed the photos to Chris he said "Yeah, that looks like him". Always a kidder, my husband. But Luke really did look like Natalie in these profile shots.

He kept rubbing his hand against his face the whole time. It was SO CUTE!

 The profile shot we had been waiting for...(He really does look alot like Natalie!)

The best one and MY PERSONAL FAVORITE!
I just cant wait to meet this little guy!

During the whole 10 minute process the technician was very nice and helpful and told me that if it was her she would try to reschedule and come again a little later. Most 4D ultrasounds are done between 27-32 weeks or so and I am just 28 weeks so she said don't spend my money on these. Again, I was disappointed but I went ahead and decided to wait and not pay the $100 for this session. My parents were just thrilled to be able to see Luke and get to see him SMILE and move around. I wish for their sakes he would have cooperated but then again maybe if we wait Chris MIGHT be able to come and see it too. I am going to go back in 2 weeks for my 30 appointment and  I am going to try again then.

Dr. Markos was running late from an emergency surgery in Conroe so I had to wait for him just a little while but as soon as he got there he came right in and did the full check-up. Once again, I measured 2 weeks ahead at 30 weeks instead of 28. And once again he told me "Your an over-achiever". He still did not move my actual due date up yet but he said he will continue to monitor this. I measured at least 1 week ahead from 30 weeks on with Natalie and although she was big she was fine. Of course I would like for the due date to be earlier so I will get more time with Luke overall and not have to teach up until 2 days after I get out of school for the summer; BUT my MAIN CONCERN is LUKE'S DEVELOPMENT and I certainly don't want to take him out before he is ready. We will just continue to monitor him and see what happens as we get closer and closer to his arrival.

My blood pressure was nearly perfect (as usual) with a 126/82. I have felt that my blood pressure was really high lately due to alot of stress at home and school but EVERY time I go to the school nurse or the doctor it is in this perfect range. I ended up gaining 3.2 pounds this time and I am not happy about that since I have been trying to monitor my weight gain and my caloric intake so very well (especially this time since I was having the Glucose/ Sugar test). But it was at this visit that I passed my PRE-PREGNANCY weight of Natalie. Of course that was the day we found out we were having Natalie and right now I am 28 weeks along but I was a little depressed about that. As I have mentioned before, it is just so hard to watch that scale go up and up knowing how hard I worked over the last year or so to lose that 65+ pounds. I guess I will just have to work that hard again here soon.

I wont know about the results of the sugar test until Thursday or even Friday but I am hoping and praying that I will pass this first time and not have to go and take the 3 hour fasting test like I did with Natalie (It was AWFUL). The doctor told me that "no news is good news" and they would call me if there was a problem or I would need to come back in for a 2nd test. CROSS YOUR FINGERS and SAY A PRAY FOR ME PLEASE!

Overall, it was a good appointment and I was very pleased. I now start my bi-monthly, or every 2 weeks, appointments. It seems too early for that but I know this is when I started them last time. The time is just flying by so very fast... Mr. Luke will be here before you know it!

Thank you Lord for my little boy and for a healthy pregnancy thus far!
God is Good... ALL THE TIME !

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Restaurant Critique #2: A New Kind of Favorite

The Cheesecake Factory
March 11, 2012

This was Chris and my 6th Anniversary and we wanted to go to a place that we would not typically take Natalie to. We also wanted to try a new place that we had not tried while living in The Woodlands. I had been to The Cheesecake Factory before a few times in Tulsa and OKC but it had been many years. This was a Sunday afternoon of Spring Break and there were alot more families and kids than I expected but was still more formal than your everyday Chili's or Applebees.

Main Dish Menu Options/ Choices
This menu is one of the most expansive and diverse menus I have ever seen. There is LITERALLY something for EVERYONE. They have a complete pages for Chicken, Seafood, Pasta, Steaks and Pork. They also have 2 complete pages of combo plates or miscellaneous options. I did not count the total number of main dishes options but I would guess they had at least 100 different choices. Even the pickiest of eaters should be able to find something to eat.

Chris ordered Mongolian Beef Steak Tips with special mushrooms and fried asparagus. This came with loaded mashed potatoes and he also ordered Sweet Potato Fries. The mashed potatoes were some of the best that he and I had ever had. His main dish was priced at $19.95 and was a great value for the amount and overall taste of the food he ordered.

I ordered the Stuffed Chicken Tortillas. These were a cross between an enchilada and a burrito. They were stuffed with chicken, cheese and roasted/ grilled vegetables. It came with black beans and a corn cake. This dish was delicious and just as good or better than options similar at authentic or Tex Mex restaurants. This dish was priced at $17.95 and was a pretty good value for the amount of food I received.

Appetizer/ Salad
The Cheesecake Factory's menu includes 2 whole pages of appetizer options. This include things such as Chicken Wings, Spinach Dip, Southwest Egg rolls and much more. They also have an entire page dedicated to Salad choices, both side and entree salads. Most appetizers range in price from $7-12 each but can feed multiple people, even those with LARGE appetites!

Chris and I ordered the Avocado Egg rolls for our appetizer and they were INCREDIBLE! We both love avocado and guacamole and these were so Delicious and tasty. They came with a side of cashew dipping sauce that was also very tasty.

Most of the meals did not come with a side salad but could be added to your meal if you choose. They did however provide 2 different kinds of bread to snack on while you waited for you meal. These were very tasty and made the wait for our food a little easier.

The presentation of the food was above most everyday restaurants. Each dish was designed and plated in such a way that reminded me of many upscale restaurants I have visited in large cities such as NYC and Washington DC. I loved the fact that this restaurant can take and everyday meal and present it in such a way that made it stand out from the everyday ordinary.

Restaurant Decor
The decor of The Cheesecake Factory was very basic yet elegant at the same time. The main colors where basic earth tones like tans and yellows. They used paint textures and lighting to make the dining experience one to remember. The decor was professional enough to warrant the menu prices but casual enough to bring family members and small children to.

Other/ Miscellaneous
I cannot forget the most important part... DESSERT! The Cheesecake Factory is WORLD RE KNOWN for its YUMMY CHEESECAKE and we just had to partake and experience it first hand. They have over 45 different varieties of cheesecake available as well as other dessert options. We ordered the Brownie Sundae Cheesecake which feature a chunky brownie crust, cheesecake filling, whipped cream and a cherry. It was amazing and I don't even like cheesecake. These cheesecakes range in price from $4-8 each.

Overall Rating System
I am going to use 3 categories (Menu Options/ Taste, Presentation/ Overall Experience and Overall Value) and each category will get 5 possible points. This will give the restaurant a total possible score of 15.

Menu Options/ Taste- 4.5
Presentation/ Overall Experience- 4
Overall Value- 4
Total- 12.5

This was an incredible lunch and Anniversary celebration with my hubby. We both really enjoyed The Cheesecake Factory and it will become a place we look to for a nice and elegant meal with each other or family members.

Once again, without God we would not be in a position to afford this lovely meal or the time together. God is Good... ALL THE TIME!

"Coming Back"

In November when Jackie had to have hip replacement surgery, we sent Natalie to my parents house in Arp, TX to spend the week with them. This was a great time for her and my parents to spend together and I know she got spoiled and loved on like never before. However, she was a little hesitant to say goodbye to Chris and I as we were leaving her much like any toddler would do. My parents live in a VERY small town of under 1,000 people and they live about 1 block from the train tracks where trains pass through nearly every 20 minutes or so. Now while I was growing up, this was so annoying to me because you would hear the train whistle even in the "wee hours of the morning" and in the middle of the night. I grew accustom to it eventually but it took some time to get used to. On the day Chris and I left to go back to Conroe, as we were leaving a train passed by and my mom and dad were able to distract Natalie by taking her into the front lawn to look at the train, count the cars, describe the colors of the cars, etc. while Chris and I escaped so to speak.

Come to find out during that entire week that she stayed with my parents she grew to LOVE trains and wanted to go out in the lawn and watch them go by EVERY time they came through town. My poor parents were exhausted by the end of the week. But the clever idea brought forth by my mom was when Natalie would start to fuss and ask for mommy and daddy, Gigi would tell her "Mommy and Daddy are coming back, just like the train". Natalie then understood that like the train, mommy would come back. When we got her home after Thanksgiving and took her to MDO or Sunday School she would tell her teachers "mommy/ daddy coming back". She STILL does this when we are not home and she asks Gigi Jackie where we are.

So as we are approaching the arrival of Baby Luke into the family, I have been prepping Natalie but telling her she will have a brother, she needs to be a big girl and help mommy and daddy, and other things as well. When we do our bedtime story and prayer time, she thanks God for "Baby Brother Luke" and kisses my belly and tells him she loves him. It is adorable and melts my heart each night.

Over Spring Break, Natalie started to say "I want to go and get Luke". I had to stop and tell her that she cant GO AND GET HIM and that he would be here after a few short months. She then immediately said "He's coming back". I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit as she said this. She really is a smart little girl. Every night since then after she says her prayers and kisses him goodnight, she will say "I want to go get him" and "He's coming back".

Don't worry Natalie, he will be here in a few short months! I am sure after a few months of him being here, you will not be saying that at all!

God is Good.. ALL THE TIME!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Only 56 more days

You would think I am counting down the days to Baby Luke's arrival but in all reality, I am counting down the days to the end of school. A  great teacher friend of mine from Grove used to ALWAYS say "Now don't wish you life away" and she is right but in my current situation (baby included), I still cant help but count down the time I have remaining. I feel like now I just need a new start. Perhaps the reason this year has been so hard on me is because I not only was not depressed about NOT teaching band but also once I got into the general music classroom it was ALOT different than I was accustom to and had experience in. I know I could do much more and much better if just given another opportunity for a fresh start. I have spent some time over Spring Break outlining my goals and objectives for the remaining weeks of school I am excited about the possibilities it will bring to me and my music students.

I have never taught recorders before so I am really thrilled to be able to continue this process. While at TMEA I attended several conferences about teaching recorders and got a lot of motivation. I started some of this before Spring Break but I will really buckle down when we get back this week. I am really excited to try this new adventure for me and a new way of learning the recorder for my current students.

Instruments and their "Families"
I have re-vamped an old way of teaching the instruments and their families to my primary grades. I used a very common and resourceful method of teaching this while at Grove but now I have added some new 21st century twists, projects, games and other educational things to it to make it a little bit more interesting for my students.

I have some new singing and movement games I found while at TMEA that I am going to try in May. This will be geared towards the primary grades but I will also do some of the lessons with the upper grades as well.

I have TONS of more stuff I learned while at TMEA this year that I am eager to apply in my classroom. Unfortunately, most of them are semester long methods that cannot be crunched into just 9 weeks or so. Again, I feel like more whole attitude and perspective would be a lot better if I just had a clean slate and fresh start. Until then, I will just keep on "Trucking" and try to make it through these next 56 days!

If it weren't for Him... I would not have this job and my whole life would be different right now. Thank you Lord for Your provision and all-knowing power. You knew what this road would look like and You knew I could handle it. Thank You for Your many blessings!

God is Good... ALL THE TIME!

Spring Break 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012
A new type of Spring Break for me

In all my years of high school, college and teaching I have NEVER been so ready for Spring Break as I was this year. It has been a very hard and trying school year for me thus far and I was more than ready for my vacation days. In fact the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading up to Spring Break were by far my worst three days of teaching ever and they only got worse as time progressed closer to Friday afternoon. But nevertheless, Spring Break had arrived and I was ready and happy for my 9 days off.

Looking back on my previous 8 days off I have not done alot AT ALL. This is SO NOT MY KIND OF Spring Break. I usually like to do things with friends and family and take some sort of trip during a long break such as this but not this year. This break began with "Chocolate and Sunshine" as my sister Allison would say, as it was Chris and mine 6 year anniversary but it has ended rather boring and uneventful.

Friday, March 9
The weather in Houston had been very nasty and rainy and this caused Chris's baseball tournament to be cancelled in Baytown but he had to stay late for practice and other classroom necessities so he did not get home until about 7pm. We usually reserve Fridays as a night to have our "family time", go out to eat and spend time together. Not this Friday! Chris got home so late and was so tired we stayed in. In fact, I was so tired this night I went to bed before 9pm.

Saturday, March 10
It was still rainy and overall gross in Houston so thanks to Chris' baseball tournament getting completely cancelled, we were able to spend quality family time together at The Woodland's Waterway and Mall. We took Natalie to the Center Food Court Carousel and some of her other favorite stores. We went into Chris' favorite store Teavana to scope out his Anniversary gift. We also ate a fabulous Food Court (Seriously, it was pretty good!)lunch together before heading home to put Natalie down for her nap. The rest of the day was spent at home relaxing and having fun with each other.

Sunday, March 11
IT IS STILL RAINING! This day was Mine and Chris' 6 year Anniversary!! We began the day at church and then spent the rest of the afternoon together. We ate at The Cheesecake Factory, went to the mall to get each other's gifts and then went home to eat some of our Anniversary Cookie Cake. It was a wonderful Anniversary and I will never forget it. It was an Anniversary for the record books.

Monday, March 12
The weather is finally beginning to look up. It is sunny and 80 degrees outside. However, the Aldine baseball field is still very muddy and nasty so Chris' game for today had to be rescheduled for Wednesday. We spent the day at home since Chris had to study for his PPR test this coming Sunday, March 18. This is the final step in to being completely and fully Texas certified!!! This is the test that ALL teachers must take that focuses on how to teach and not your specific content field. It is somewhat difficult but very hard to study for. In fact, when I was preparing to take this test, I just took multiple practice tests since there really wasn't alot of material to study with. Chris is an excellent test taker so I know he will do well but he needed to study and prepare so we stayed at home all day and helped him get ready for this BIG test!

Tuesday, March 13
Chris had a double-header baseball game in South Houston all day so it was a "Mommy and Natalie's DAY OF FUN"! We began by running some errands and then going to Babies R Us and Target to start my baby registry for Baby Luke. Natalie was very helpful at both of these stores and she would tell me how many of each item to add. She would also tell me things like "Baby Luke needs diapers" and "I don't like that Mommy". It was quite humorous! She did just fine in Babies R Us but the time we got over to Target (which was only 30 minutes or so) she was drifting fast. I noticed this and looked at my watch and it was only 11:15am. She also began to sneeze a whole bunch. Most of the drainage she was sneezing was clear but I wrapped it up at Target really quickly and got her home. I took her temperature and she had a 99.3 temp but was sneezing alot. I went ahead a gave her some Benedryl and tried to get her to eat but she didn't want any of that. The rest of the day she was fussy and needy and I knew she was coming down with something.

Wednesday, March 14
Chris had a game this afternoon but we decided to go to one of our favorite eateries "Five Guys Burger and Fries" with Jackie. This was great, as always, but I could tell both Chris and Natalie were not feeling it. They both just looked "sick"! We got home and Natalie had a fever of 102.3 and Chris had a fever of just under 100. Unfortunately Chris HAD TO GO TO HIS GAME which then led to his full sickness for the rest of the week. Chris got home that night at 7pm and was very weak and tired.

Thursday, March 15
WANTS THE MOST is her daddy who is also sick and cannot hold and take care of her like usual. This put alot of stress not only on him but me as well. Chris was at his worst and could barely walk around due to his lack of strength. We were just a VERY sickly house. Besides my jaunt to the salon, I stayed at home and watched my two sickly family members.

Friday, March 16
Today Chris and Natalie seemed to both be doing better but were not 100% just yet. Neither of them had a fever but were both very "puny". They seemed to be feeling better and Chris thought getting out MIGHT help! We decided to try and go to lunch and maybe this would help them. Natalie seemed to be fine during the lunch but Chris was fading fast. He came home and still had a low grade fever of 100 degrees and was very weak. In fact, he was so weak he could not even finish his lunch or dinner (He is REALLY SICK!). Natalie did not have a fever but was still sneezing and the Benedryl we had been giving her was not helping her so I went to Walgreen's to get her and Daddy some medicine. About $65 later, I came home with just about 1 of EVERYTHING! I put them both to bed and hoped for the best!

Saturday, March 17
Today Chris and Natalie are both better but yet again not 100%. Natalie has not had a fever but is still sneezing a little. We tried the new Children's Allergy Medicine and that has seemed to help her. I spent the morning with her in my arms and both of us watching Veggie Tales. Natalie still does not have a fever and is beginning to feel like herself again! We went outside and played with bubbles and played with the dogs. She was having a great time. She finally got her appetite back and ate one of her favorite meals, Ravioli, for dinner. After dinner was the ABSOLUTE best for me because we went upstairs and watched Beethoven's 2nd together. This was the 1st time she has sat in my lap the entire length of a movie and watched it faithfully. She snuggle up next to me and would laugh and say wonderful things about Beethoven and the puppies. It was wonderful and TOTALLY worth a week of doing NOTHING to get this in the end! It made me tear up a bit!

Although this is NOT AT ALL how I would have pictured or liked my Spring Break to go, I did in fact get A LOT of Natalie time and snuggle time with my baby girl. Soon, I will not be able to give her this undivided attention since a new baby will be in the house. Of course, I would have liked to have been able to "go out and do things" this break but I think in the long run, this was better for my family. Poor Chris with his long hours and non-stop schedule has been so tired and I am sure he needed to just sit/ lay and do NOTHING for 4-5 days. I know this will have done him good in the long run.

Monday starts work again for both Chris and I and neither of us are looking forward to it. Chris will be in full-swing district baseball games and long practices. The STAAR test (Texas Academic Standardized Test) is coming up and it seems to be at the forefront of each of our schools minds right now. With that being said, Chris and I both will be at the beginning of "Testing Season" and will have alot on each of our plates. However, this coming weekend I plan on meeting up with my sister and spending some quality time with her and Natalie before Baby Luke gets here (Lord willing of course... you never know what will happen at the Davis House between now and then!). I know all of us will need that and I am looking forward to that family time with her and Natalie. I am going to consider that part of my Spring Break.

In the long run, this type of break/ vacation was best for my family and I think it was still a good break... just not MY KIND OF BREAK! This week is one of the many reasons, I talked Chris into teaching and I just cant help but think about the many years to come with us and our children on vacations during this week and spending that quality family time together "out and about".

Here's to Next Year's Spring Break. We will be a family of FOUR! I cannot wait to see what that Spring Break entails! NO MATTER WHAT...


Monday, March 12, 2012

An Anniversary for the Memory Books

Monday, March 12, 2012
6 Year Anniversary Gifts

Yesterday marked mine and Chris's six year anniversary and this year seemed to be a very special year and anniversary for us. This time last year we were in seperate cities trying to fulfil our dream and quest of moving to the Houston metro area. Chris and Natalie were in Conroe with his parents as Chris was searching for jobs and interviewing. I was back in Shawnee working and hanging out with friends. We had been living on 1 salary for 18 months and was literally living "paycheck to paycheck" and even borrowing from family to get by. There were not many gifts being handed out and a dinner out included lunch at Cracker Barrell.  A year has passed and here we sit in Conroe, TX with 2 teaching jobs and rather large salaries, new friends and a BABY BOY to be joining our family in 3 months (From today)!
God's love is truly amazing! He NEVER ceases to amaze me by His faithfulness!

Yesterday Chris and I were able to go to church and spend time with our SS family and friends, spend time with Chris's parents and even spend a wonderful lunch and afternoon together. We ate lunch at THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY in The Woodlands and then spent some wonderful time together at the mall (This may be surprising to some people who know Chris but... he has found a store a really likes and a store that he will go into the mall for! It took six years but, I got him there!) shopping at each other's facvorite stores.

We started off at his favorite store called TEAVANA. This is a store that is based around various kinds of loose leaf tea. They sell over 60+ different kinds of loose leaf teas as well as teapots, tea sets, tea pitchers and other tea necessities. It is the "FRAISER CRANE" store for teas! Chris found this store about 3 months ago when he went to the mall for a Christmas gift. Ever since then he has been in and out of that store several times. For Valentine's Day I got him several kinds of tea and a tea thermos to take to school. For our anniversary I decided to go ahead and splurge on a cast iron teapot that he really wanted. I am not a tea fanatic but this tea pot sifts and brews the tea leaves and keeps the tea warm between various servings and cups of tea. This was an expensive little 8 oz teapot totaling in at $80 but it was worth it to be able to satisfy his tea desires.

We then went to one of my favorite stores... BRIGHTON. I have loved this store ever since 2009 when Chris and Natlaie got me a necklace from there that said "Mom" on it. I wear the necklace and matching earrings all the time and I get numerous compliments. It is simple and elegant at the same time! I didnt really need anything this year but I went into Brighton thinking I was going to get a Cross necklace I had seen in a catalog. Instead Chris saw a display about their charm bracelets and he started using their touch screen to create a bracelet. Before I knew it we were creating MY charm bracelet. I have seen these and watned these for a while but I never mentioned anything to Chris nor took the initiative to get any information about them. About 30 minutes later I ended up with a beautiful heart bracelet with 5 different charms. Each charm symbolizing who I am as a person. Chris chose most of these on his own and I was very impressed (He has ALWAYS been a great jewelry buyer)

Treble Clef
"I Love You" (To symbol our 6 years together)
Baby Girl
Baby Boy

The bracelet is gorgeous and I am very grateful to Chris for discovering this woman "must-have" and even helping me create this. It is beautiful honey! Thank you very much!  

We finished our trip to the mall with a stop at GREAT AMERICAN COOKIE COMPANY where we picked up the cake I ordered for Chris and I. We both really LOVE cookie cakes and it is pretty much a staple for celebrations in our family. I didnt want to write the ordinary and boring "Happy Anniversary Honey" so I decided to come up with my own saying: "Here's to 6 more years". Almost immediately after looking at the cake, Chris said "Just six more?" Clearly I meant MANY more but I should have humored his math brain and wrote "SIX SQUARED or SIX CUBED more years"! Either way, I cannot wait for many more years to come!

This anniversary was a special one (as they ALL are) to both of us and I will never forget it! We only have 3 short months until another male will enter this family and we both cannot wait. Yesterday we celebrated each other and soon we will celebrate the FOUR of us! I love you CHRIS DAVIS and I am so glad to be your wife!

Thank you Lord for Your continued blessings! God is GOOD... ALL THE TIME!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Here's to SIX PLUS more years...

March 11, 2012
6 Wonderful years and counting...

Six years ago today, I was getting ready to change my life forever. I had met the man of my dreams and was getting ready to take his hand in marriage. This was the day I had waited for my entire life. In fact, as I approached the hair salon with my friends and bridesmaids, I got out of the car yelling "I'm getting married today... WOOHOO" in true Monica Geller (FRIENDS) fashion. I swear I did not sleep a wink the night before and I was so very very anxious for the BIG DAY!  I could not wait to be Mrs. Chris Davis!

The day started off with my bridesmaids and I getting our hair done at my favorite salon in Norman. My sister was there and was such a support to me as I was getting ready. She told me how beautiful I was and I was going to be a gorgeous bride. This helped ease my fears and anxiety so much! I then headed over to Dillard's in the Sooner Fashion Mall with another bridesmaid and one of my best friends, Aubrey, to get my make-up done. By 11am I was "dolled up" and ready to go. I then made my way over to Bethel Baptist Church where the ceremony and reception would take place. My mom, grandmother and sister were all there helping me get my dress on and get ready for our pre-ceremony pictures. I was so excited about taking the pictures but couldnt help but wonder what Chris and the groomsmen were doing on their side of the church.

Another 2+ hours passed and it was time for me to make my way to the sanctuary to walk down the aisle and take my grooms hand. Bethel was set up in a way that I actually had to go outside to get the back of the main aisle of the sanctuary. It was a beautiful crisp, clean day and I will never forget the beauty of that day as long as I live. All of the wedding party had made their way down the aisle and it was my turn. My wedding coordinator, Barbara, opened the doors and there stood my groom. I will never forget the look on his face. With my dad escorting me down the aisle and the music playing in the background, I took my last steps as a "Klingsick".

Our pastor from Bethel Baptist Church, James Erlich, and my dad performed the ceremony and within minutes we were Mr. and Mrs. Davis. It was the best feeling in the world! My dad laughed with relief and said "You may now kiss your bride". We did it! I remembered exiting down the main aisle and breathing a sigh of relief with my bouquet as the crowd laughed. It felt great to finally be Mrs. Davis!

"With this ring... I thee wed"

"You may now kiss your bride"

Mr. and Mrs. Chris Davis

I honestly don't remember much about the reception because I kept thinking about how lucky I was and how wonderful my life was going to be with the man of my dreams. We took more pictures after the ceremony and did the wedding rituals of cutting the cake, feeding it to each other and making toasts, but through it all I kept thinking about our future together and thanking God for putting Chris in my life! The funny thing is, my mind has NEVER drifted from these thoughts and curiosity of what our life will be like together because we will still have many years to go. I thank God EACH AND EVERY day for allowing me to be Mrs. Chris Davis and giving me such an amazing husband and father to my children!

Six years later and here I sit contemplating our previous six years together and how the next six will be even better. On that BEST DAY OF MY LIFE, I would have never imagined I would be sitting here on our anniversary six years later with a beautiful daughter and another baby BOY on the way. God has been good to Chris and I and we are forever grateful! I can only imagine what the next six years will entail!

To my loving husband,
Thank you for the last six years! You have been there for me through THICK and thin! You have held my hand in times of trouble and despair. You have lifted my spirits through acts of kindness and helped me get over depression and other emotional stress just by making me laugh! You are an amazing husband and an even better father and I cannot thank God enough for putting you in my life! I consider myself to be the luckiest woman alive! I love you Chris Davis and here's to SIX PLUS MORE YEARS!

Through it all... we are still just a couple of youngsters in LOVE!

Today especially

Friday, March 9, 2012

My "Day of Surprises"

If you are a follower of mine, you know life has been a little hectic lately! Between living with the in-laws, being a single parent (ONLY DUE TO CHRIS' BASEBALL SCHEDULE!!!), busy time of year at school and the pregnancy my life has been literally exhausting! I am in need of a break! (I am sure you are reading this and thinking the same thing!)

For the past 2-3 weeks, I have been helping Chris complete his duties for his alternative certification. He has to complete 37 projects about his teaching, take numerous practice exams plus complete his actual certification. I have been helping by completing some of the projects he started and helping him review for upcoming tests. With his INSANELY busy schedule these days, I have been trying to help him get it all done before the end of April. This too has been exhausting but worth it for him to be able to have everything done!

All of that to say this morning when I got out of the shower and was getting ready for work, Chris came in with a bag full of presents. He told me "I wanted to give you a day of encouragement and surprises. There are 7 small gifts in here for you to open after each of your class periods today." He told me he would have done this on our actual anniversary (March 11- Sunday) but I don't have school that day. This was totally unexpected and I was a little in shock of his romanticism. He continued saying "You have done a lot lately with taking care of Natalie, helping me with my certification and just being a teacher and mom. I wanted to give you something to look forward to at the end of each class. I love you very much!" I was nearly in tears. To my memory (it is not the best) I cannot remember a time of him being this romantic and sweet. I am so very grateful for this... especially at this point in my life.

These gifts have all been so amazing and original as well. I did not ask for any of these but rather he thought of them on his own (I LOVE IT WHEN HE DOES THIS). I don't know where or how he found the time to get these but they are great. Each of these gifts were wrapped in separate gift bags with tissue paper and a small note explaining each. My "Day of Surprises" included these wonderful gifts:

1st period
A compact mirror
"For you to see how beautiful you are"

2nd period
Room Freshener Spray
"At least our room will smell good"

3rd period
An Island scented candle
"A sweet scent for a sweet woman"

4th period
New daily face wash and a loofa
"Something new to try because I know you like new things"

5th period
Peanut M&Ms
"A little pick-me-up to get you through the day"

6th period
A 4X6 Picture Frame
"A frame for the first time Baby Luke meets Abbey and Oxford" 

7th period
Scents for my Scentsy
"You are Sensational :)"

It is amazing how God sends you a message and a TRUE pick-me-up exactly when you need it. This happened to be through my husband and his kind and romantic spirit. Today was one of those days at school where I held back tears thinking "I just don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be here." Actually, on several occasion today I felt this way and luckily I had these small tokens of love and affection from my loving husband to help me get through the day. These were all small but were really BIG in my heart and will stay there forever. The very last gift was a true tear-jerker for me and I really needed someone (anyone) to tell me that after a day like today!

I love you, Chris Davis, and I will never forget this "Day of Surprises" as long as I live. You have lifted my spirits and made me realize how much you love and care for me. You are the best husband a girl could ask for and an even better father to our beautiful children. I really cannot thank you enough! The last 6 years have been amazing and a blessing to me and I cannot wait for the next 6! I love you with all my heart!

God is GOOD... ALL the time!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Prenatal Visit #6

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
"Your an over-achiever"

Today I went in for my monthly routine prenatal check-up at 25 weeks. This particular check-up was pretty short and without any complications or extra lab/ blood work to be drawn so it went very quickly and smoothly.

We started off by checking my weight. I gained about 1.7+ pounds this month. I had been trying really hard to watch my diet and caloric intake this month but as usual, there were times where I splurged! Overall I have gained about 17 pounds in this 6 months. This is so depressing to me since I spent the previous 10 months losing 65 pounds and suffering through the worst diet of my life. Now granted, I felt AMAZING after dropping those 65 pounds and this pregnancy should be MUCH HEALTHIER due to the weight loss but it is still unsettling watching the scale go up and knowing there is NOTHING you can do about it! I just know in 3 months I will have something to show for it... A BEAUTIFUL BABY BOY!

After that my nurse took me back to the exam room and took my blood pressure. This was 130/70 which is a little high for me. My numbers have always been right where they should be at 120/80. This didn't seem to put up any red flags for my nurse so all seemed fine. My nurse then took the Doppler and found Luke's heartbeat. This time around it was 161 beats per minute. The past several times she has found his heart rate it was in the 140s. If I did not have those very VIVID pictures reminding me he was a BOY... I might wonder if he was a girl. I went home immediately and double checked the previous TWO ultrasounds just to make sure he was still a HE! The nurse asked me about his movement before she found his heart rate and I told her HE WAS VERY ACTIVE. I told her about his 1-4 hour kicking spurts and his days/ nights being mixed up already. While she was trying to find his heartbeat, he kicked 3 or 4 times and 1 of those was visibly noticeable to the nurse. We both had a great laugh! I guess he DID NOT want to be bothered!

When Dr. Markos came in he examined any swelling I was having my lower legs or feet (NONE YET!!!) and then checked MY heart rate and then measured my belly to check what week I was measuring. I was 25 weeks and 1 day at the time and he measured me (TWICE) as 27 weeks. He told me "You are an over-achiever". The truth is... I am just going to have large babies. When I was carrying Natalie beginning around 25 weeks, I always measured a week to 3 weeks ahead (yet somehow I carried that child for 43 WEEKS! Odd huh?). He still will not change the official due date but I am going in again in 3 weeks for my 4-D Ultrasound and he said they will measure again and if the date changes it will be at that time.
Overall it was a great monthly check-up and doctor's appointment. I go back again in 3 weeks for my 28 weeks Sugar and Glucose test and a 4-D Ultrasound. I am really nervous about his because I was border line Gestational Diabetes with Natalie and I have been thirsty a lot lately. I am going to try my hardest to REALLY WATCH what I eat these 3 weeks in preparation for the sugar test. I covet your prayers in this area.
As always

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Amazing Deals and Steals at "Just Between Friends" The Woodlands

When I was pregnant with Natalie Grace, a great friend of mine from Grove in Shawnee told me about these "Kids and Baby Consignment Sales". Jamie Bergsten was a third grade teacher at the time and had a 1 year old girl born around the same time as Natalie in August the year before. She told me about this really awesome lady and family that hosted a sale in Shawnee twice a year where moms from all over come and basically exchange the clothes their kids have outgrown for new ones. I had no idea what is was so in March of 2009, I went to the sale called "Monkey Business" hosted at the Shawnee Fair Grounds. At the time, I did not know what I was having so I did not really buy much but my grandmother was in town so we went and made a morning out of looking at all the great stuff. We saw designer dresses and clothes of all kinds at a fraction of the cost in a department store. I ended up buying a few small toys and accessories but again since I didn't know if I was having a boy or a girl, I didn't spend a whole lot.

Well that was in March of 2009!! In September of 2009 at the other Semi-Annual "Monkey Business" sale, I had already had Natalie Grace and was ready to get me some bargains. I did not consign or sell any of my items just yet because Natalie was only 2 weeks old at the time. But I did get her some awesome dresses and designer Polo Jeans for a 3 month old for about $10 total. It was amazing. I was hooked.

The following Spring I decided to consign some of the items she outgrew really fast as well as the items I purchased at the previous 2 consignment sales. I sold these and was able to get 70% of my earnings back in a check. I ended up making about $45 this first sale and I felt pretty good about my earnings. I spent a little over $50 so I basically got Natalie a bunch of new clothes in her size and season for about $5! I felt great.

For the following 2 years I consigned Natalie stuff with "Monkey Business" and "Sugar and Spice" sales in Shawnee. I usually would trade in some of her clothes she outgrew plus anything else I thought worthy of re-selling and then bought her clothes that were of that season and her size. Most of the time I would basically spend what I made plus about $20-40! This made for a pretty cheap way to clothe your growing infant and toddler.

Now that I live in Houston, I am not able to consign with the "Ma and Pa" type of small town consignment sales but with the Nation Wide Leader of Children's Consignment... "Just Between Friends". I started consigning with them in The Woodlands in September of last year and I had basically raised the prices of all my stuff by $1-2 mainly because I was selling to THE WOODLANDS. I did not make but $21 last time and I was very frustrated. I spoke to the "JBF: The Woodlands" owner back in January and she gave me some tips and this time I made $115 and only spent $130! PLUS... this time I was purchasing for 2 children!

This was the first time I was able to purchase clothes for both girls and boys! Although I did NOT do very well for Natalie this time, I did get to see all of the cute boys clothes out there and got several adorable boy clothes with designer labels for Luke at 75-90% off! I was so thrilled with some of my purchases... I wanted to brag about them and post them!

I got both of these outfits for $6 TOTAL! They are so cute! 

Another adorable outfit (I am thinking Christmas Pictures) for only $6!

This one seemed so cute and simple and it was only $2 on 1/2 price day! SCORE!

Although this outfit is 24 months... I could not resist an entire St. Louis Cardinals outfit (including the hat) for $5! Poppi will LOVE this!

This cute little outfit was only $1.50 on 1/2 prcie day!

These 2 onesies combine were only $1! I got them for $.50 each! "Mr. Amazing" and "If you think I'm handsome you should see my daddy". I love them!

I personally am not a fan of these two BUT I figure for $2 I could humor my Sister-In-Law and the rest of my In-laws and get him a Texas Tech Red Raider outfit! They are Nike too!


 A Ralph Lauren Sports coat and Matching Onesie! This little guy WILL BE well dressed!

Overall, I think I did pretty well with this season's consignment and I am looking forward to seeing all these adorable outfits on my little guy! Just 3+ short months! IT IS GETTING CLOSER!



Monday, March 5, 2012

One Day... That will be ME!

This past week I was able to go to some of Chris' baseball games down at Aldine. It was an experience in and of itself but a pleasure to be there for my man and support him in this new endeavor in his life.

The first game I went to I decided to take Natalie to. I had been telling her "Daddy is at baseball" pretty much every time she asked where he was so I thought it would be appropriate for her to go to one of his games. As soon as we got there she immediately spotted Chris and started yelling and crying to go and get daddy. It was really sad because she didn't understand that daddy could NOT hold her right now. I tried to get her to sit on the bleachers but that seemed to make it worse. We then went and tailgated on the back of my car. She seemed to like this because she could see daddy but he was far enough away she knew he could not hold her. We did this for about an hour and a half and then she asked to go and sit on the bench. She cried a little but then settled down enough to sit on the bleachers and watch the game. About 1/2 inning later, the game was over. Jackie was kind enough to offer to take care of Natalie on Saturday so I could go to another game. This was a double header and I got there around the 3rd inning of the second game. There were alot more people at this particular game and I am assuming that is because it was on a weekend.

At both of these games I was able to see family members from both teams. I also was able to see "BASEBALL MOMS" at both of these games. During one of the games I witnessed a mom cheering hard for her son but then also cheering for the rest of the team. Between innings she would go over to the dugout and give the boys snacks, Gatorade and water. She also had a basket of cookies waiting on them when the game was over. At the second game I witness a mom wearing a "Brett's Mom" shirt and coordinating jacket. It was adorable!

I am so excited about having a little boy and I cannot wait for the day when I can be a "Baseball Mom" and support my little boy like these moms did! That is what being a mom is all about! One of these days... I will be the Baseball (AND CHEER) MOM!

Thank you Lord for your continued blessings! GOD IS GOOD... ALL THE TIME!

"Keep Your Fork"

This past Sunday in Sunday School we started a new unit/ book on the Psalms. We began with a lesson on prayer and looking to God. It was based out of Psalm 42 and 43. I have read through the Bible many times and even took a Sunday Night discipleship class on Psalms but I had never experienced these particular Psalms like I did yesterday.

My life is a little crazy and hectic (At least for my own personal taste) right now and it seems to only be getting worse. To sum it up "in a nutshell"...
  1. My house in Shawnee STILL HAS NOT SOLD so we are still living with my in-laws. (Not a MAJOR issue, at least not right now, but I cannot even plan a room for my new baby and do all the nesting because... I DON'T HAVE MY OWN HOUSE!!!!!!
  2. My job is currently crazy with State Testing and extra hours all the time.
  3. Chris is FULL-TIME baseball right now which leaves me as a SINGLE PARENT (BTW... let me praise those single parents out there!!! I don't know how you do it!! I will pray for you more :) ) and not a lot of family time is available for just the three of us. This is really important to us since in just 3 short months, there will be four of us!
  4. I don't really like my teaching job and would rather spend my time with my kids. I know EVERYONE out there feels this way but for me this is a new feeling. I have NEVER (EVER) felt this way about teaching (Even when I was at Bowlegs) and I am getting worried each and every passing day with heightened depression about my job and teaching in general.
  5. Oh and... I AM 5 1/2 months PREGNANT! That alone is mentally and physically draining!
So we are reading through the Passage yesterday in Sunday School and I had an "Ah-ha" moment. The first five verses of Psalm 42 state:

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

I really keyed in on verse 5 as it stated "Why are you depressed? Put your hope in God." There have been many a depressing time in my life and times for self-pity and doubting God but none like they are right now. I am not doubting God at all but just not trusting him as much as I should (Of course this is easier said than done!) It was in the middle of this lesson yesterday I thought back to October 2008 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, OK.

At this time in our lives, Chris and I had been trying to get pregnant for about 13-14 months. We had tried everything... Literally everything; my doctor told me I was too fat so I lost a bunch of weight, I cut-out caffeine and sweets from my diet, started a exercise routine and held it faithfully each and every day and Chris changed his clothing style but nothing worked. We were both so depressed and had nearly lost all hope it would ever happen. In fact it was in October 2008 that we had spoke to my doctor about In-vitro and other means of conception.

One Sunday at IBC after I had played in the orchestra and came out into the congregation to sit with Chris, our pastor, Todd Fisher, was preaching on prayer and how to pray correctly. Now I am a preacher's kid and I have been attending church all my life and honestly kinda tuned it out at first. In fact, Chris and I both did. He wrote a note to me on the bulletin saying "I have heard this one before". I laughed and smiled at him thinking the same thing. But within a few minutes my heart turned and my ears became open. I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit. I listen to his 45 minute sermon and throughout most of it I sat at the back of that auditorium crying and sobbing knowing I had not been praying correctly and my heart was being convicted. Chris was very kind and held my hand and gave me tissues.

I went home that Sunday afternoon and sat down to talk with Chris. Oddly enough, he was feeling convicted as well. We both had been praying together multiple times daily for a little miracle but obviously not correctly. About 4 hours later after many tears from both of us and several scripture references, we prayed and asked The Lord to help us pray to Him correctly. The following days and weeks were full of amazing prayer, quite time and commitment to God from each of us seperately but also as a husband and wife. About 6 weeks later, we found out we were pregnant with Natalie Grace!! It is amazing what prayer can do!

I sat there in Sunday School this Sunday just thinking back to how I was convicted that day and how God was speaking to me right then and there as I was reminiscing. We continued the lesson and the tears came slowly. I thought of all the things and "problems" in my life right now from the above list and I just fell on my knees and asked God to help me pray correctly and to put my hope and trust in Him that he will provide for all my needs.

At the end of the lesson, our teacher read an illustration called "Keep Your Fork".

Keep Your Fork
A widow of 20 years came into her pastor's office one day and asked to plan her funeral. Among the many familiar requests such as songs to be sung and scriptures to be read was a request that she be buried with her fork in her hand. The pastor was a little dumbfounded and looked at her a little bothered. "Ma'am, if you don't mind me asking, why a fork?" The widow responded, "My whole life I have been trained that after dinner EVERYONE, including the hostess, keeps their fork because dessert will be next." The pastor laughed and thought it was just a cute inside joke type of a thing for her family. The widow continued, "No matter what life is handing you and no matter how your life is going right now, just hold on a little while longer and remember THE BEST IS YET TO COME!" The pastor granted her request and 6 months later he honored her at her memorial service with her fork in hand and this story read aloud!

So there I sat with tears flowing down my face and I just kept thinking... THE BEST IS YET TO COME! Just hold on! All those things I listed above are just things... HOLD ON because the real prize is coming! I prayed at that moment that I would focus on putting my hope and trust in God for all of these crazy things and request I am making. I will yet Praise Him... even in the darkest of times always knowing THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Maybe you are facing your own troubles right now... KEEP YOUR FORK! Pray and God to help you trust in Him and put all of your hope in Him. God will provide because... The best is yet to come!

God is Good... ALL THE TIME

Restaurant Critique #1: Seafood Favorites

Now that Chris and I live in Houston and are able to not only go out to eat more often but also have such a wide array of options available to us, I have decided to start posting about some of my favorites and compare them to each other! I am going to start with my favorite type of food... SEAFOOD!
This will be a comparison of 3 of the best "Upscale Seafood" restaurants available to us The Woodlands/ Houston metro area.

My first experience...
I have always LOVED Pappadeaux ever since I ate there as a sophomore in High School in Austin, TX. I was on a trip to State Solo and Ensemble contest in San Marcos, TX and this was a meal our band director and band boosters provided to this students who were performing at this contest. I loved seafood but had never ate there until this trip. My band directors both seemed to know this restaurant well and ordered several appetizers to share while we waited for our order. One of these appetizers was fried alligator! It was amazing and I have been hooked on these little bites ever since. (In fact, I occasionally swing by Pappadeaux on my way home from work to get an order of these to go!)

Main Dish Menu Options/ Choices
Pappadeaux menu is a mix between traditional and Cajun style cooking. They have platters available as well as fresh catches and even a live lobster tank as you walk in. I personally have never ordered and chosen a live lobster from their tank (They are VERY EXPENSIVE... $100/ per lobster) but I have always wanted to. I usually get the Fried Seafood platter which has, shrimp, catfish, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab and oysters (All FRIED of course). This is always good and makes for a wonderful lunch the following day. This platter is $27.95 and it comes with Pappadeaux's sourdough and rye breads.

Appetizers/ Salads
As mentioned above their Fried Alligator is literally "to die for" and I order it pretty much EVERY time I eat there. I have also ordered their Fried Oysters, Oysters Rockefeller (These are loaded with bacon, shrimp and cheese and then fried) as well as Oysters on the Half Shell. I have not found a better restaurant for Oysters on the Half Shell (If this is your thing!!) They do NOT offer salads as a part of the entree' but you can order one on the side for a charge of $3.95.

The presentation of Pappadeaux's food is very classy yet down to home. Most of their dishes are southern in nature and they serve these dishes like so. They present them on a bed of rice (or french fries for the fried foods) and usually come with 2 sides each.

Restaurant Decor
The decor of Pappadeaux is very professional and each table is covered in both black and white tablecloths. The building itself usually has lots of windows and very open throughout the seating area. The bar area is towards the front of the building but never a distraction to the average family seeking a non-alcoholic dinner or evening. The servers all wear white shirts and ties and they serve you as if you were in a very fancy French or Italian restaurant. They unfold your napkin and follow other high class etiquette rules you would not find at your family Red Lobster!

My first experience ...
I have not eaten at Landry's as much as Pappadeaux but I have had my fair share of Landry's. The first time I ate there was my junior year of High School on a DECA field trip to Corpus Christi, TX. We were staying on the beach and our hotel was a short walk away from my hotel room. My sponsor, Mr. Froman, had grown up in south Texas and had ate at Landry's numerous times. I loved my first experience so much, I went back about 3 more times in our remaining 6 day trip.

Main Dish Menu Options/ Choices
Landry's menu is not a broad a Pappadeaux but they seem to be experts in the shrimp area of the seafood menu. They had about 12 different ways you could order and eat shrimp. They had 3 different shrimp platters and featured side dishes like shrimp loaded mashed potatoes and shrimp stuffed mushrooms. Each time I have eaten there I have gotten a featured shrimp dish or platter. Since Chris and I have moved to Houston we have had the opportunity to eat at Landry's and this last time I went I ordered the Fried Seafood platter, just to get an accurate comparison to my current favorite of Pappadeaux. The seasonings and means of frying seemed a little classier than that of Pappadeaux. The waiter told me they used Peanut oil in their frying and lots of spices. I liked the overall taste of most of the dishes on the platter better than Pappadeaux. This Seafood Platter was $24.95 but it came with a salad.

Appetizers/ Salads
The appetizers served at Landry's are typical southern seafood favorites but they are given a little extra "twist" to make them unique to Landry's. For example, the last time Chris and I went to Landry's we ordered the Crab Stuffed Avocados. These were large half avocados that were stuffed with Crab meat and a seafood "dressing" and then topped with Chipolte Ranch Sauce. They will incredible. We both wanted to order another order of them almost immediately. Other appetizers on their menu include: Craw fish and Shrimp Bisque soup, Crab stuffed Mushrooms and a Blue Cheese and Shrimp Fondue. Unlike Pappadeaux, Landry's includes a salad with each meal. This salad is served much like the family size salads at "Olive Garden". It is a basic tossed salad with all the fixins' served in a large family style bowl. They serve this with their made/ created from scratch "Honey Mustard Raspberry Vinaigrette". This sounded a little weird to me but it was AWESOME!

Landry's seemed to present it's menu and food in a little bit more of an upscale fashion when compared to Pappadeaux. Each main dish comes with 2 delectable sides as well as homemade bread and "seafood inspired" butter. (I personally do not like butter so I don't know what it taste like but Chris gave it two thumbs up!)

Restaurant Decor
The restaurant decor of Landry's is also a little bit more upscale than that of Pappadeaux. They too have white and black overlapping table clothes but they also have wine glasses and cruise style folded napkins at your table as you arrive. This sorta sets a precedent for fine dining even before you order anything. The waiters are finely dressed in all black attire with ties. The dishes are served much like you would see them on a Food Network/ Iron Chef style of cooking show or presentation. These dishes often come with the added mint or drizzle of sauce on top of the dish which also eludes to a higher class of dining.

My first experience...
I first learned about Babin's from a billboard sign advertising 1/2 price Crawfish during Happy Hour on my way home from work one afternoon. I saw it was in The Woodlands so I told Chris we should try it out. We tried it out on a Friday evening in November and we have loved it ever since. It is a cross between the Southern/ Cajun style of Pappadeaux and the upscale and high class of Landry's. Babin's is a seafood restaurant straight out of the bayou of Louisiana and New Orleans and their food and style speak of their heritage. Chris, Natalie and I were experiencing this restaurant together and we made sure to try most everything we could this first time around.

Main Dish Menu Options/ Choices
The main dishes at Babin's are much like the previous two establishments but a little bit more Cajun or Mardi Gras style. They feature an entire portion of their menu that is labeled Mardi Gras features year round. They also feature a blackboard at the front of their dining room that has a list of the fresh fish flown in from various places around the world. Chris has order a fish called Golden Tile which comes from the southern Pacific rim. This was a very delicate fish that was NOT overwhelming in "fishy-ness". It came served with crab and lobster sauce and roumalade over the top and that right there sent this dish "OVER THE TOP"!! It was by far the best fish Chris and I had EVER HAD in our lives! This blackboard of fresh fish changes from week to week and even day to day. This last time we went they had a Red Snapper flown in that morning from Hawaii and a Butter Fish flown in from Tahiti. We did not try either of these but they sounded excellent. Most of their fresh fish options range in price from $25-35 but their main menu choices are very fair priced at $20-25 each. I ordered the Crawfish Etoufee last time and it was BY FAR the BEST I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! It was priced at only $17.95 and it included a salad.

Appetizers/ Salads
The appetizer selection at Babin's is one of the best I have ever seen at a seafood restaurant. They have a wide selection of soups and bisque's available as well as other items such as crab stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail and even stuffed jalapenos with shrimp, crab and cheese called "String Rays". Each time Chris and I have ate at Babin's we have ordered the boudin balls stuffed with crab and cheese. These are unbelievably amazing and I think I could order these just as an entree as itself. Natalie even liked them. The salads at Babin's are a wedge style salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cheese bacon, homemade croutons and house salad dressing. It is served with homemade bread and creamy butter sauce. These salads come with each entree and fantastic and worth the money even if they were not included! Babin's also has a wonderful dessert tray which features New Orleans style Beingets. These are AMAZING!

The dishes at Babin's remind me of Emeril's style of cooking and emphasize on New Orleans style presentations with lots of roumalade and other Cajun sauces and spices. The servers wear black and white with Purple, yellow and green accents and Mardi Gras beads.

Restaurant Decor
Babin's presents itself as a New Orleans Style Kitchen which focuses on Mardi Gras and the celebration of amazing fresh fish and seafood on a daily basis. The restaurant is decorated with large fish decor and New Orleans decorations and Mardi Gras colors EVERYWHERE! They have a beautiful fountain with fresh water and rock background as well as a lovely sitting area with patio tables to sit at while you wait for your table.

Overall Rating System
I am going to rate these 3 restaurants on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being set as the best and highest points possible. I elaborated on 5 topics above but I am going to only have 3 categories in this final round of judging: Menu Options/ Taste, Presentation and Overall Experience and Overall Value. This is allow for a 15 point possible total score.

Menu Options/ Taste- 4.5
Presentation/ Overall Experience- 5
Overall Value- 3.5
Total- 13
Menu Options/ Taste- 4.5
Presentation/ Overall Experience- 4.5
Overall Value- 4
Total- 13

Menu Options/ Taste- 5
Presentation/ Overall Experience- 4
Overall Value- 5
Total- 14

We have a new winner Ladies and Gentlemen... BABIN'S SEAFOOD HOUSE!
This will be my new, birthday, anniversary, special occasion or just any ol' Friday night eating joint!

Man I love living in HOUSTON!!!!

Even in a blog such as this... God is good... ALL THE TIME! If it weren't for Him we would not even be down here right now! Must we NEVER forget...

God is Good... ALL THE TIME!