I have held off saying a lot about Hurricane Harvey and I did so for a reason, I didn’t know what to say? Was I going to discuss the disaster? Was I going to discuss the loss of lives and devastation? The political rhetoric that has been thrown around? Or, was I going to talk about how I was personally effected?

Honestly, I still don’t know what to say? This will probably be a rambling post, but that is ok. I think often times, we struggle to find the right words to say in the aftermath of this disaster.

I am from North Carolina and at the age of 21, I packed up my jeep and moved just north of Houston to a town called The Woodlands. There, my life changed for the better. It changed because I went out with what I could put in my jeep and my best friend John, who was already living there, we got an apartment and I became who I am today. Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, so for me, I had never lived near that large of a city.

My first week of living in The Woodlands, I drove to downtown Houston to see the sights and to get use to the traffic and to the area, but what really happened was I fell in love with the city. I feel in love the area, the people, the culture, etc. And had I not accepted, at what I thought was a great job on the east coast, I would still be there today. I to this day, love Houston and more importantly, the great state of Texas.

The food and the music to this day have been completed changed because of my time there.   BBQ has an entire different feel for me today than it did in North Carolina because of Brisket and smoked sausage.  Tex-Mex and Mexican food, I don’t even know where to begin on this, but I think that Lyle Lovett said it best and is words that I still live by to this day:

Never eat Mexican food east of Mississippi or north of Dallas. – Lyle Lovett from a Southern Living article.

And the music is just amazing. From seeing King George Strait, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen and the list just go on and on.  To this day, when these artists are in town, I try like hell to get back, because for a few hours, I get to relive my time in Texas.

Texas is a part of me. It made me who I am today. It shaped me into the father, husband, man etc that I am today. It forced me to make new friends and leap outside of my comfort zone. I had to abandon things and views that I thought were one way to realize that it was really another. I changed into a better person, because of the years that I lived in Texas and for that, I am forever grateful.

So as I sat and watched the storm unfold, I was in constant contact with my family and friends that live there. I saw through their photos via text and on Facebook what was going on. And then the days after, I saw media photos of places where I worked or drove to and from work or the damage that my church had. But through it all, my friends and family are safe. The church can be repaired from the flooding, again. And Texas will rebuild, hell if you have ever spent anytime in Texas, you’ll know that not only will the city and residents rebuild, they will rebuild even bigger than before. That is the Texas way. That is Texas Pride!

As I listened to a friend the other night discuss the political tone and how the GOP failed to pass legislation when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, I couldn’t help be thinking that he was missing something. Regardless of the political views, the residents were rallying around each other and helping one another in a way that can not be described. People that did not know each other and regardless of color, political views, religious views were there helping to save the lives of their fellow Texans.

Hurricane Harvey hits really close to home for me. I have a good friend that was working the entire time as a fireman. I have friends that are in law enforcement there. I have close family there. I have friends that have serious medical conditions that were unsure about treatments that they were going to have. And through it all, you see Houston Texans J.J. Watt started a fund with a goal of $200,00o to be raised to help the residents of Houston and at this time, it has raised over $16 million.

Houston is Houston Strong and that will not change. Hurricane Harvey will not destroy the great state of Texas or the city of Houston and surrounding cities for that matter. If you are able to give, please do so, as it will take years to rebuild. And there is a reason why the phrase “Don’t Mess With Texas” is so true. Texans have rallied in a time of disaster to help those in need. So as I type this out, my heart and prayers are with those today and always, in a city and state that I truly love.

God Bless Texas!

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As most parents have struggled with picky eaters from time to time, I feel like for the first time that my boys are finally coming around to trying new things! Granted, I’m not giving them a lot of choices, as I’ve explained that they don’t have to eat it all, but they have to at least try everything that we make on the weekends.

And the funny thing, is that they are starting to really open and broaden their food palates. And yes, I’m talking about 6 year old children having a broad food palate, but I want to do the opposite of what my parents did for me. Did they expose me to foods, yes, but they also didn’t have me try new things either. My mom, who I love dearly, would just make me a  burger if I didn’t want to try something.

Growing up in a rural area my parents were not exposed to certain types of foods and neither were their parents, my grandparents. Doesn’t make it wrong, it is just a reality. But when I was old enough and went out on my own, I tried  new things. I feel in LOVE with Tex Mex when I lived in Houston, Texas for 7 years. Breakfast Burritos are life changing kids. My point is, it took getting away from my environment and comfort zone and forcing myself to try new things.

As a parent, I have encouraged the boys not to be picky eaters and to at least try new foods. In doing so, they have realized that they too like things that test their palates. This weekend, they will be trying a skirt steak and shrimp with a chimichurri sauce. And yes, for dessert, there will be creme brulee. How many 6 year olds BEG for creme brulee?  How many 6 year olds try chimichurri sauce? Probably not many, heck, I think that I had my mom try it for the first time her last visit to see the boys.

As parents, it is our job to provide an outlet or at least an experience to try new foods. And hopefully, if you too can get your kids to try new foods and to be less picky eaters, you can expand their food palates too.

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A buddy of mine emailed me this morning about his kids and how they are really picky eaters and asked for advice. I really don’t know that I’m qualified to give advice on much of anything outside of writing some code and making BBQ sauce.

But what I realized in thinking was that, when I was my sons age I too was one of those picky eaters because my parents didn’t expose me to other foods. That isn’t a knock against my parents, but they also let me try foods once and then when I would push it away, they would just go to an old staple like hamburgers or hotdogs. Now, fast forward many years and I’m a parent many of the things that I use to push way, like spaghetti, I love to eat and love to cook it for the boys and they usually eat 2 – 3 servings at a sitting.

It is easy to offer once and then goto a standard and I’m not saying that I haven’t done that, I did it last night as a matter of fact. But I am also really trying to offer the kids as many different types of foods that I can and more importantly, let them figure out the foods that they like and don’t like. As long as they really try something, if they don’t like it, then I’ll figure out something out, but I really want them to try it and then let me know what they did not like about it. Maybe it was too salty for them? Maybe if I can alter an ingredient or two, they will love it?

So here is my only advice for those with picky eaters, try and encourage different foods and try to encourage it a few different times if they don’t like it at first. Change up the recipes if needed too because rarely will you every make the same dish multiple times identically. So good luck cooking and here’s to those with picky eaters to trying something new.

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Yesterday was the boys 1 year checkups. They are growing as they should, got their shots, and the biggest news of all, no more formula. That is right, as of 3:00 yesterday the boys were switched from formula to milk.

And since I love saving money, here is a quick break down of the savings:
Formula – $40 a week for 2 containers.
Milk – $3.50 for a gallon.

We are estimating that we will need 4 gallons a week, which will be $15 (with tax), which is a $25 a week savings. Saving $25 a week is not huge, but that is $100 a month that can go to pay down debt. Every little bit helps, so bring on the milk. And thus far, the boys seem to love it.

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At the boys 9 months Doctor visit, he suggested that we start introducing new foods to the boys.  Our pediatrician recommending starting off with soft foods such as peas, eggs, breads (wheat bread), potatoes (sweet potatoes), etc. The boys had started pushing away the spoons as we feed them and enjoyed eating their puffs, so this was just a great transition.

In the first weekend, we’ve been able to get the boys to eat eggs, peas, and potatoes. We have started slowly introducing new foods to the boys, but only 1 thing at a time, just in case they are allergic to any of the foods.  The boys have really seemed to enjoy trying the new foods and have thus far, had no breakouts. We are trying to feed them these new foods, instead of their pureed food at night and they seem to enjoy feeding themselves too.

The first time introducing new foods for your children might be met with resistance, but keep trying.  The more that we give them, the more they seem to enjoy feeding themselves. But talk with your pediatrician first, as they might have more insight and suggestions about the foods that you give your child.

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Have you heard the latest buzz, Pinterest? If not, you are probably a guy or not connected to the web very often. Well, my wife has started to as she would say, become obsessed with it. At first, I was a little skeptable, but after this weekend, I am all for it. She found 2 recipes that she made today, a Sourdough circle pizza bread and an apple baked apple. Once I get the recipes I’ll post the links, but these were two that she will definitely be making again. No, I will not be joining Pinterest, but I am all for my wife looking at it more if she is going to keep finding recipes like those.

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