Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Houston?

I was born and raised in Waco. Went to Texas A&M, taught special education in Austin for 3 years, then moved to Houston for law school in 2006.

Child(ren) and Age(s)?

My son, Ford, is 7 years old and a 2nd grader at West U Elementary.
My daughter, Austyn, is 5 years old and in Pre K at West U Baptist.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you…

I’ve always wanted to write and illustrate a children’s book. I’m working on one now!

Favorite local things to do in Houston?

With the kids… we love the zoo and children’s museum, Dairy Ashford Roller Rink, Urban Air, and anything active. We spend a lot of time at Colonial park pool during the summer. I love our regular family traditions like fishing and a picnic on Mondays, Friday family nights and backyard movies, and Random beach days when the weather is nice. We enjoy all outdoor activities from bike trails to farmer’s markets.

Grown ups only… Matt and I fancy bingo and thrift shop date nights. Yes, I know, it’s weird.

Do you have a favorite family friendly restaurant in the area?

Little Matt’s, of course. We also frequent Skeeter’s and Punks.

What is your go-to activity for yourself for pampering or for fun?

If I have a day to wander aimlessly, you will find me at either a thrift store, Hobby Lobby, or Half Price Books… My mind goes crazy with inspiration when I’m browsing in these places with no particular goal in mind. I love treasure hunting, creating and learning new things. This is my idea of “pampering”… it is cathartic and relaxing and life-giving all at the same time. It feeds my spirit.

Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!

I am a certified Lagree Fitness instructor at HIP Fitness and have been teaching there for about 2.5 years. I tried HIP and became Lagree addict almost 4 years ago. I believe in the method. It is absolutely the most efficient and effective workout you will ever do. I love sharing that passion with clients to help them achieve their health and fitness goals.

How has the Houston community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?

I am so thankful to live in a community that makes this HUGE city feel like a small town. I always struggle to explain West U to people that don’t live here. I like to compare it to The Truman Show. As we set out to walk to school each day, we meet up with neighbors along the way. We visit again with mom friends at pick up, and then again at baseball practice or soccer. You know someone everywhere you go and it makes me feel so safe and supported and happy. I have met my best friends volunteering at our Pre-K school, at the baseball fields and at a park when our kids were infants. There are 22 kids on our HALF-block alone. These kids will grow up together. We have the privilege of doing this crazy phase of life together. It takes a village to raise a child… our village is 2 square miles and boasts an amazing public school, great parks, quaint shops and restaurants and epic community events. We are so blessed to call West U home!

What is the best advice for juggling mommyhood and running a business:

BE PRESENT.

I am constantly reminding myself that the days are long but the years are short. Our time with our kids is limited. Yes, they will be around until we send them off to college, but the days that they WANT to be around us are numbered. One day, they won’t beg me to read another chapter just so we can snuggle a little longer before bedtime. Soon Ford won’t look at me and wave before he steps into the batter’s box. Austyn won’t ask me to dress like a butterfly, play dolls and race unicorns around the house with her. Saturday mornings will be spent sleeping in instead of making pancakes, watching cartoons and chasing lizards. While we are here in this sweet season, I am soaking up every single ounce of my kids. Family time is sacred to me, so I try to be prudent in my commitments. Right now my kids still think I’m cool and want me around, there will be another time to do ALL the things. So to answer the question, my juggling advice is to be ok with dropping a few balls when it comes to checking things off the to-do list. My family deserves more than the scraps they are getting when I’m frazzled and exhausted from over committing myself to things that make me feel productive and important. Other people can do those jobs. But only I can do the mom job; I am indispensable at home. This priority should be obvious. We aren’t promised tomorrow so we must be intentional about every moment.

What would you tell the old “You” before you had kids?

Oh my goodness, this is easy.

Strive to be PRESENT, not PERFECT.

Show up and do your best. But resist the urge to work incessantly. Enjoy the moments that are still, quiet and peaceful. Be kind. Give grace. Make it right. Love big.

Funniest shortcut/routine for helping you through parenthood?

On Keeping it real:

Get in the habit of laughing at the ridiculousness of your life on the days that seem impossible. Example: One day I was nursing one kid, the potty-training kid didn’t quite make it in time and pooped on the floor… then stepped in it. I’m holding nursing baby with one arm and cleaning with the other. Meanwhile, the dog is vomiting on the rug (instead of the hardwood which is 5 inches away from spot chosen on the rug) and someone is knocking on my door. I MEAN THATS FUNNY, people. You can’t make this stuff up. Keep your heart light and your head up.

Keep a quote list. Kids are hilarious. Write down the funny stuff and make a coffee table book of that wisdom. You will read it for years and think, “look how far we’ve come!”

On motivation:

My kids will do anything for a “gold star.” I tell them I am giving stars to the first person to ____ (brush teeth, get dressed, etc.) We have no actual stars, but they haven’t noticed. When they ask how many stars they have, I always say, “almost enough for treasure chest!”

Jar of money: at the start of the month, the kids each get a jar of money- $1 for every day of the month. If they pass room inspection at 9am, they get to keep the dollar for that day. If they leave dirty clothes on the floor or don’t make the bed, I charge them $1 and do it for them. All messes not cleaned by the mess-maker are paid to the whoever cleans them up out of the $ jar. So if Austyn cleans up Ford’s mess, he has to pay her – this is major motivation! At the end of the month, they collect their “allowance.” I’ve found that a jar full of money to be lost is more motivating than an empty jar waiting for money to be earned.

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