Home for the Holidays

We had a nice Christmas in San Antonio this year. We attended a Christmas Eve service at my parent's church, Oak Hills. Max Lucado gave a GREAT sermon. We spent the rest of Christmas Eve eating hors d’oeuvers and visiting. My brother-in-law, Ryan, had to work on Christmas day, so he opened his gifts Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was relaxing... gifts and a nice meal, followed by a hike in the park. My mom always does an amazing job at making our holidays special. From the Christmas tree to the dining table to the presents under the tree... everything is always beautiful.

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Christmas Baking with Mom and Jenn


Kodak Girl's Night

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Last night we had our “Kodak Girl’s Night.” In 2004, Kodak had a huge restructure and we lost good people. I was fortunate enough to work in the Houston market, which had lots of young people. Some areas of the country only had one or two employees. Over time, we all became great friends. We decided to keep in touch by getting together once a month for a “Kodak Girl’s Night.” Last night was our annual Christmas get together, which is always extremely fun! We had a great dinner and desserts, played a game (we’re old), and exchanged gifts. I got the idea for the “Merry Christmas” banner from Lori’s blog. I don’t think mine is as cute as hers are. :)


Formula Program in China

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched… But they are felt in the heart…. Helen Keller

The leaders of my China mission trip last year, Carrie and Jacob, are two wonderful people, completely unselfish, with hearts for God and His kingdom. Carrie and Jacob quit their jobs and they are volunteering in a China orphanage for at least a year. What an extraordinary calling!

Carrie has a blog and just recently posted about a “Formula Program.” I was moved after reading the post on the Formula Program. Carrie has given me permission to mention the program on my blog for anyone who is interested in contributing.

For more detailed information you can visit Carrie’s blog or the New Day site, but I’ll give a quick summary.



The Formula Program provides formula to babies in orphanages and foster care in parts of China that are extremely poor. The baby formula is not available for purchase in these rural areas. The babies are sometimes fed water, which can cause severe malnutrition and sometimes death.

The cost for formula for one child for one month is only $25 or $300 for one year. If you’re interested in donating, click on the New Day link. You can donate for one month, two, three, or one year.

It’s very easy and it only takes a couple of minutes. The New Day site will take you to PayPal and you’ll receive a receipt immediately for tax purposes. You can make the donation in someone’s name if you would like. If you’ve lost a loved one this year - what a great way to honor them by possibly saving the life of a baby in China.


Things I Love That Start with the Letter "C"...

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Carmex or Chapstick- I am completely addicted to carmex and medicated chapstick. I would much rather wear chapstick than lipstick.

Crème Brulee- My absolute favorite dessert. I love it when a restaurant has a Crème Brulee sampler with different flavors.

Children- I love children so much, especially China babies. I can’t wait to be a mom.

Cardigans- My second favorite piece of clothing, next to dresses, is the cardigan. They’re so classy. I have the blue cardigan in the photo. I got it on sale at the end of last summer, I can’t wait to wear it next year.

Cosmetics- I love make-up and getting makeovers. If you’re ever feeling bad about yourself or having a bad day, just head to the mall and have a makeover!

Caffeine- Who doesn’t love caffeine, my favorite fix is diet coke.

Church- My church has the greatest people in the world. The picture above is my church, it’s so pretty.

Computer- Oh my… what would I do without my computer? If it weren’t for the computer, my life would be so boring and dull. Its hours of entertainment!

China- My heart is always in China.

Candles- I love Yankee candles. The scents are super strong. When the weather is getting cold (which doesn't happen often in Houston) , I love to burn the fall scents.

Camera- I take my camera everywhere I go. You never know when a great photo op. will arise.

Cupcakes- My favorite is vanilla with butter cream icing. Yummy….

Cable- Digital cable is the best. Who doesn’t love recording all your shows, never missing an episode, and fast forwarding through commercials and boring scenes.

Chandeliers- Need I say more?

Cell Phone- I can’t live without my phone. I don’t have a home phone, so the cell phone is it. When I was in China last year, I would have dreams at night that my cell phone was ringing.

Charmin- Random, I know. I was a Procter and Gamble baby and Charmin was a staple in our household. In college I tried generic brand… NEVER again!


You Know You Travel A Lot When...

The lady at National Rental Car in Dallas knows you by name. Each time she sees you she greets you with “Well, hello again.” As you drive away she says, “Until we meet again.”

You have a sick, sick obsession with Marriott points and frequent flyer miles.

The sound of the airplane is completely relaxing and knocks you out. They should sell relaxing CD’s with the airplane sound for home usage.

While cleaning out your computer bag, you discovered 6 movie headsets.

Randomly, you crave the Continental “cold plate” served in first class. It’s light and delicious.

If you don’t receive a first class upgrade, you take it personally.

You awaken in the middle of the night in a hotel room and you don’t know what city you’re in or why you’re there.

You awaken in the middle of the night a home and don’t know where you are.

While sleeping hard on an airplane you awaken and you know that you’re on an airplane but you have no idea where you’re going or where you’re coming from.
I've never flown on the Hello Kitty airplane, I just think it's super cute!

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My Top 5 Favorite Restaurants

I’m currently traveling about 100% for work. One great advantage is I have experienced some of the best restaurant around the country. Here’s my Top 5…

1. Joe’s Stone Crab (not to be confused with Joe’s Crab Shack), located in Miami, FL. I love this place! Joe’s Stone Crab is the best dining experience I have ever had. They are only open during crab season and they are extremely busy. Of course, the crab is excellent and the service is amazing. If you’re ever in Miami during crab season you have to try Joe’s, get there early. We arrived at 4:00 in the afternoon and waited 2 hours but it’s worth it!

2. The Angus Barn located in Raleigh, NC. I was in a rental car line once and over heard a group of people discussing how disappointed they were because their flight to Raleigh was canceled and they had reservations at The Angus Barn. I would be disappointed too! I have spent a lot of time in the Raleigh/Durham area and I always eat at Angus Barn. I’ve never been disappointed. The spinach salad is the best.

3. Japonais, located in New York City, Chicago, and Las Vegas. I ate at the NYC location with my sister and our great friend, Leslie. It was Leslie’s birthday and a FUN night. We ordered a variety of items. The portions are very small, similar to tapas. I love this scenario, you get to taste a little of everything. My favorite thing at Japonais is the beef that comes to the table raw and you cook it on a hot rock. I don’t eat a lot of beef; however, this beef was excellent. It melts in your mouth. Note: Hugh Hefner takes his girlfriends to Japonais.

4. Del Friscos Steak House, located in New York City, Dallas, Las Vegas, Colorado, North Carolina and recently they opened a location in Houston. I have dined at the NYC location and attended the grand opening party at the Houston location. The grand opening party was so much fun, complete with a red carpet as you walked in and people cheering and taking pictures. It was incredibly exciting! I love the lobster and crab cake. All the side dishes are excellent, the mashed potatoes and creamed spinach are the best! They are known for their lemon cake for dessert.

5. This list would not be complete without a Houston restaurant. Houston is the #1 dining out city in the nation and often the #1 fattest! It’s so hard to name a favorite in Houston but I’m going to have to say the Taste of Texas. It is the ultimate Texas steak house experience. It’s not your typical trashed out steak house with peanut shells on the floor. It’s beautiful; the décor is classy, ranch-style. The food is excellent. You can pick your steak from a window to the kitchen if you’d like. I love the salad and bread; I could just have that as a meal. I’ve had almost everything on the menu and I’ve never been disappointed. Go hungry because they give Texas size portions.

Honorable Mention- The Lady and Son’s in Savannah, GA (Paula Deen’s Restaurant), Ibiza in Houston, and Star Pizza in Houston. No wonder I can’t lose that annoying 5 pounds!!!

Jamie and Bobby Deen at The Lady and Sons
Del Friscos

Leslie's Birthday at Japonais


Why I'm Still Single

Everyone has their dating horror stories, but once you're a single girl in your 30s, those stories seem to get a lot more frequent and a lot worse. If you're married and reading this, let me share the "adventures" you're missing. And when you see a single girl, remember these. It's like that joke: men are like parking spaces, the good ones are taken and the rest are handicapped.
So here's a sample from my soon-to-be-written coffee table dating book:

I dated a guy once and all of the sudden he started having extremely bad body odor. Not just a little B.O…. big time B.O. How do you tell someone they smell like a homeless man crawling out of a dumpster? I bought him a scented shower gel and deodorant as a gift. Still no results. Like the good investigator, I checked his medicine cabinet, and the deodorant was in there. It had never been used.

One year for Valentine's Day in college, my boyfriend of one year bought me the movie 'The Sound of Music' and a back scratcher wrapped in newspaper. How romantic! He made dinner reservations at a place we both really liked. We took off in his piece of junk suburban, and it died on the way. Luckily, we weren't too far from campus. We ended up spending Valentine's Day dinner at the campus cafeteria! He refused to watch the movie with me and of course, he wasn't going to scratch my back, because I had the back scratcher. I was on my own.

I dated a guy once that told me if we were to marry he wanted me sign a contract saying I would never get over a certain weight. WHAT??? What about when I have his babies? My sister suggested I have him sign a contract saying he would always he to make a certain amount of money. Funny idea!

After college I dated a guy named Ronnie. He is a severe mental case! One day I was in a great mood. I called him and said in a chipper voice, "Hi Ronnie, what are you doing Ronnie, how's your day Ronnie?" He responded in a not so chipper voice, "Don't call me by my name." Shocked, I said "What should I call you then?" He said, "I don't care but only assholes (sorry the for bad word, that's what he said) call me by my name." Seriously? He also called me one day and said, "Want to go to a movie, my therapist says I need to get out in public more?"

I went to Cancun with a boyfriend. I got extremely sick one night with sun poisoning and was a nice shade of "lobster red." The boyfriend (he shall remain nameless) took me back to the hotel and left me there and went clubbing until 4:10 AM. My guess is he wasn't dancing alone, and clearly that relationship was left in Mexico.

In my thirties, I dated a guy who in a drunken rage confessed that he not only did drugs, he sold them! Apparently, his drug business wasn't doing so well. We went out to dinner for my birthday and he handed me the check. Classy! He compared his drug problem to my diet coke habit. You cannot be indicted for the possession or selling of diet coke. He also told me to not tell anyone why we were breaking up. He wanted some time to get over his ex-girlfriend (they had been broken up for over a year) and maybe we could get back together. I told him I would not be anyone's second choice.

So, next time you feel the urge to ask someone why they're still single, just remember the choices out there are pretty bad!!!


Thankful Thursday

-I'm thankful that I worked in the central time zone this week (Chicago). I got home tonight at 10:20 PM as opposed to 12:00-2:00 AM!

-I'm thankful that is was COLD in Chicago. I love the feeling of the heater on in the car.

-I'm thankful that I had jury duty last week, which meant I was home and I was able to attend my friend, Jenny's, adoption shower. The women at my church are amazing and encouraging and I love spending time with them.

-I'm thankful that my sister and brother are not just my siblings but friends. I love hanging out with them. My brother always makes me laugh. He is very wise and he is truly a man of God. My sister always has great advice on anything from life events to fashion. She is so much fun to travel with; I have a "Girl's Trip" partner for life!

-I'm thankful that tomorrow (Friday), I have the day off and I'm getting a mani and pedi in the morning. My friend, Jana, is taking a half day at work and we're going to the Nutcracker Market!

-I'm thankful that I'm on vacation next week. I'm weary. This year has been exhausting… mentally, physically, and emotionally. I'm looking forward to rest.

-I'm thankful for new friends… Joy, Carl, John, and Mark. They came along at just the right time. Joy is so thoughtful. She calls when I'm on the road to see how everything is going and to catch up. She's always looking out for her friends. She is also a ton of fun! Carl is very loyal, I love that about him. Carl and I like to do a lot of the same things… tour expensive homes, talk about decorating, watch drama filled MTV shows, etc… Did I mention he has impeccable taste? And, John is so much fun too. He's sweet, funny and he makes a mean margarita! Mark is the sweetest guy I've ever met. Of course, he's fun, so cute, and smart; everyone that meets him loves that about him. He also has a deep, passionate side to him. I can talk to him about anything, he understands me (which can be complicated at times). He has a heart of gold, he's kind, and generous. He always encourages me to be the bigger person in a situation and not let my pride take over. Mark is the kind of guy that is a friend for life.

John and Carl's Beautiful Chandelier

Mark and Jill

Jill, Joy, and Carl


Reflecting on China Trip '06

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Written October 25, 2007

It’s been a year since I left for China. Making the final decision to go was one the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I had been praying for God to show me what the next step in my life was, where I should go or what I should do. I remember the moment just like it was yesterday, I was praying about what I should do and it popped in my head, “China.” I had been thinking about going on an orphanage mission trip for a long time, 6 years to be exact. It’s interesting how God plants a seed in your soul and waits for the right time to reveal His will.

One year ago today, I walked down the jet way to board the plane in Dallas, my eyes were watering and my mind was spinning. I sat in my seat (luckily away from the others in the group) and sobbed and it was the ugly cry! What a way to start a vacation, huh? People told me the trip would change my life and I would never be the same. That scared me, what exactly did that mean. I had no idea what to expect from this experience, I was terrified. As I was sitting on the plane about to leave for Tokyo, I questioned my decision to travel to a third world country with complete strangers, to experience things that would break me and possibly make me question everything I’ve ever believed.

After two days and four flights (Houston to Dallas to Tokyo to Beijing to Jinjiang), we finally arrived in Jinjiang. Jinjiang is in the Fuhouz province in South China. Kids and nannies from the orphanage welcomed us. It was the warmest welcome I’ve ever received. The local television station was filming our arrival, the newspaper was taking photos, and people were interviewing us through interpreters. It was really fun, I felt like Jessica Simpson, too bad I looked like a dog from all the travel.

The first night in Jinjiang was a surreal experience. I was extremely tired from the travel and just wanted a hot shower and a bed. However, the “welcome committee” had other plans for us, they took us out for a traditional Cantonese dinner. We were served pig tongue, lotus flower, fish belly soup, and sea worms covered in a gray gelatin. The sea worms are considered a delicacy in South China. During dinner my nose started to bleed, probably from all the time spent on airplanes. I tried to be as discrete as possible. As I headed for the bathroom, but they caught me! While I was in the bathroom trying to stop the nosebleed, I felt like I stepped out of my skin and was watching all this happen to someone else. How did I get here? I was in South China with complete strangers, looking at myself in a foggy, dark bathroom mirror, while the local women were outside the bathroom door talking loudly in Cantonese about my nosebleed.

My first few days in the orphanage were good. We had been informed of the things we might see – kids with special needs and no treatment; babies laying in beds with no mattresses for hours; babies playing with their own hands because they have nothing else to play with; 3-5 kids sharing one bowl of congee with one spoon. I was mentally prepared, or I thought I was. I anticipated that my heart would be touched, but the affects would not be dramatic or long-term.

On the second day at the orphanage we took the older kids out for a day trip to the ocean, McDonalds (not my choice), shopping, and to the park. The kids were anxiously waiting for us on the bus. As we turned the corner and the kids saw us, they starting yelling “Hello, Hello, Hello.” The entire bus was alive and bouncing. The pure excitement and joy was intoxicating. Our leader told us to get on the bus as quickly as possible and find a kid to sit with and spend the day with. We didn’t have a lot of time to think about which kid we were going to pick. I got on the bus and went straight to a 4-year-old girl I’ll call Emma.

The bus was very crowded and loud. Emma sat on my lap and we both quietly looked out the window and watched rural China pass by. It was fascinating. Occasionally, Emma would turn around and give me the biggest smile. It was the kind of smile that is straight from the heart; I will never forget it. We couldn’t communicate, she’s fluent in Cantonese but the smile said it all. After the 3rd or 4th giant smile, everything in my heart and soul changed. It was a defining moment for me that I’ll never forget. I felt as if God was telling me I would be back to China to adopt. I remember thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is so me and I know what I was born to do.” I had thought about China adoption in the past, but it was only an idea or thought. There was nothing random about sitting with Emma on the bus that day. I love a song that Steven Curtis Chapman sings. It reminds me of Emma and how she changed my life. Here are a few lyrics….

"I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl. She was standing in the corner, on the other side of the world. And I heard the voice of Jesus, gently whisper to my heart; didn’t you say you wanted to find me? Well here I am; here you are…”

Emma is just one of the children who touched my heart. There are so many children, stories, and experiences that will be with me for the rest of my life. I kept a journal while I was in China. I have not opened it since I’ve been home. I can’t, maybe someday.

The first month home was the hardest. I couldn’t stop thinking about the orphanage. It's a unidentified building on a busy street. If you walk by you would have no idea what’s inside but what is inside are the greatest kids in the world. They don’t have parents, digital television, toys, snacks, choices but they love and long to be loved. They are so appreciative of the smallest things, even an animal cracker. They look out for each other, and they’re faces sometimes resemble the hurt and pain inside their hearts. Truly, these children are amazing! Going to China was the most powerful and emotional thing I’ve ever done.

For he who is the least among you, is the greatest.-Luke 9:48