I’m a New Cheer Mom

I’m a New Cheer Mom

cheer, cheer mom, i'm a new cheer momLet’s start by saying “I’m a New Cheer Mom” is something that I never thought would come from my mouth. But here we are …

This road started last fall when Piper started junior high. Our school is huge and unless you are in a club, it’s a hard road to connect and fit in. Piper had asked several times to be on pep squad. With her dance schedule, it’s nearly impossible to do anything that meets in the evenings. But after reviewing the qualifications, we decided that Piper could use her absences allowed for dance and meet the number of games that she needed to attend for the season.

I took Piper to the first game and decided to come inside to watch. After her description, I felt pretty good about what Pep Squad involved, but I was anxious to see for myself. I sat over by a friend and chatted while keeping Piper in the corner of my eye. She cozied right up with her friends & chanted & cheered – she was in heaven. Toward the end of the game, the Pep Squad got to join the cheerleaders on the track to do some chants together. She was in heaven!

cheer, cheerleading, cheer mom, New Cheer MomI think I knew that night that she was going to ask to try out for cheer. (My friend, also the mom of a serious dancer, even teased me about it. It was that obvious that Piper was having a ball.) Our junior high is double the size of the high school that I graduated from. Everyone needs a group to call home, and I was seeing Piper spending more time with the girls in pep squad.

Football season ended almost as quickly as it came and then basketball season arrived. I should preface by saying that we are basketball people. We watch college basketball on a weekly basis, so it was much more fun to be in Pep Squad for a game that you actually understood!

We once again used our absences and hit up exactly the number of required basketball games. Cheerleaders aren’t allowed on the court during the games, only during time out and halftime. So, it was a very different atmosphere then football, but still fun nonetheless.

As time for cheer tryouts came closer, Piper became more and more excited about the possibility of this new step. She started taking a weekly class that taught the girls how to tryout for cheer. To be honest, I had no idea that there was so much to know – or remember! How to spirit, tips for jumps, voice projection, wrist angles … it was a whole new world for us.

When the week of official tryout clinics actually arrived, Piper was well-prepared. There was a large group her age that were trying out – 27 girls. We knew from our informational meeting that they could only take 12 members max. We also realized that a handful of these 27 girls had been doing cheer as seriously in their life as Piper has been doing dance.

All of our district junior highs tryout on the same day. This allows the district to use judges that aren’t local (a very good thing). Every student must wear the same thing – white shirt, black shorts, no logos anywhere. The parents were not even allowed to come inside the building – a fact that I agreed with 100% until I had to use the restroom as badly I was about to bust!

Once the tryouts concluded, the girls were given a sealed letter containing their fate. The instructions were that your car needed to be off campus before you opened the letter, so we quickly drove to a business right across from the school.

Piper put together a vlog about the day. Watch and see how it went for her. (If you just want to see her reaction to the tryout, skip to the 8 minute mark!)

Needless to say, it was an emotional day for both of us. I was a nervous wreck and honestly, I have no idea why. I guess because I knew that she really wanted to have the experience and try something new. And, also, because I know that this year has had some significant low moments and it would be so great to see her light up. Boy, did she ever! I don’t think either of us will ever forget the joy that came with opening the envelope.

So, without further adieu, Piper went straight into the fitting for her uniform and all accessories. It was exciting and fun. The check will be written next week and practices start immediately. What seems real now will be VERY real this time next week.

The best part of this story is that Piper will be able to continue to train at a high level in dance. Every school has a different schedule and way that they do things, but our school is pretty compact with their practice and tumbling schedule. (Actually, much better than other schools by comparison.) Cheer was never meant to replace dance for Piper. It will be a different way to add conditioning into her routine, be involved in her school, dance and continue to compete! Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers and helping us through this semester of “new”!

I’m so excited for our next chapter. Fingers crossed that it’s a fun one!


cheer, cheerleading, cheer mom

Project Life App

Project Life App

I’m absolutely in love with Project Life, a product that was developed by Becky Higgins. I began Project Life in 2010 and I’ve never looked back. Although there are several ways to use Project Life, I have always used it to capture one-photo-a-day. In 2016, I switched to the Project Life app and it has made life even easier.

Becky Higgins Project Life App

When Becky says that the Project Life app puts scrapbooking in the palm of your hand, she is telling the truth. The app has the functionality of so many things that you would find in a traditional paper kit. Everything is at the touch of a fingertip.

Here are the steps:

  • Pick a collage
  • Import your photos
  • Choose a kit within the app for additional cards and journaling (there are some free options for kits)
  • Add journaling
  • Save/Export

It really is that easy! There are so many collage options and fun kits to choose from!

Project Life App

This is a layout that I did for a week in January. I use the same collage layout for every week during the year. The kits that you can buy within the app all have cards that coordinate, but I tend to mix and match them depending on the topic.

Tip: While I use the app to capture one photo a day for our large family album, some (probably the majority of users, actually) use Project Life layouts to capture a snapshot of each week or month of the year. It’s much less to think about and still gives a good glimpse at what’s happening in your family.

When I do specific layouts on kids or family events, I tend to vary the collages. I always stick with a 12×12 so that all of my albums are the same size.

Project Life App

While I still love traditional paper scrapbooking, I have really grown to love the Project Life App. If you are in a busy season of life and you are already so behind on memory-keeping that you are thinking of giving up, I hereby give you permission to use the app. It IS NOT a cop-out. It is not cheating.

Here’s a quick video from Becky Higgins herself to show you how easy the app is to use:


Finally, let’s talk about what’s next. You’ve made your pages, it’s time to print. You can order prints directly from the Project Life app. The “order prints” bar is at the bottom of the opening screen of the app. You can order in four sizes: 4×6, 6×8, 8×8, 12×12. (My second choice for printing is Persnickety Prints.)

Tip: If you are going to use square collages, always save/export as a 12×12 because the resolution will be suitable for an 8×8 print. But, it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around.

More questions? I’m happy to help. I might not be an expert, but I am an active user! Here’s where you can download (iOS and Android).


Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Review

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Review

2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Review

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of our favorite family activities each year. We are lucky that the rodeo always falls during our spring break, so you can count on us to take one day and make it a rodeo day.

This year, I needed to work through spring break, so my husband loaded up the kids and took them for the day. They had a fantastic time.

2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Review

2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Review

2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Review

The rodeo with young teens is a lot of fun. They love everything that there is to offer. One of the biggest tips that I have is find a rodeo committee member that is near you to buy half-price carnival tickets when they are available. Most of the bigger rides cost 10-ish tickets, so you can run through tickets quickly. Buying the ticket booklets beforehand can save you a ton of cash.

From the animal pavilion, to the shopping, to the midway and the carnival rides — oh, and the food — the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a must do for every Texan. It matters not if you have children, there really is something for everyone. So, mark your calendars for February 27 – March 18, 2018.

This post is sponsored by Rodeo Houston and US Family Guide. I received rodeo tickets in exchange for my honest opinion.

It Matters

It Matters

It mattersFunny thing about raising teens. You sometimes get slapped in the face with memories of your own teen years whether you like it or not. I have had this happen several times with both of my kids lately.

I remember being a teen and always needing things done a certain way. Part of that was because that’s the way everyone else was doing it. The other part was because I function better with organization and order. The things that meant so much to me didn’t always line up with the things that meant the most to my mom.

As an adult, and particularly as a parent, I look for the easiest way to do most things in my life. From the way that I shop to the way that the dishwasher is loaded. I choose the path of least resistance and the road with the biggest payoff for minimum amount of effort. (This is probably what my mom was going for, as well, during my teen years!)

Recently, and several times, actually – I’ve run into situations with my kids where I’ve chosen this road. Only after looking at their face or hearing their reply, have I realized that sometimes just because it isn’t a big deal to me, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a big deal to them.

It matters to them.

I don’t care if the hair pins aren’t all facing the same direction in the holder … but Piper does.

I have no idea why it matters that books are sorted on a shelf by collection … but Avery cares.

It’s not that I’m selfish, but sometimes in trying to live my own life at 100 mph – I forget that my life decisions (big and small) affect the people that I love the most. And the people that I work with. And my friends. And my clients.

So, the next time that someone brings a decision to your attention, and you think (and probably express) that you think it’s silly – just remember that they wouldn’t be bringing it up if it didn’t matter to them. And the fact that it matters to them makes it important.

Family Fun and Value at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Family Fun and Value at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

2016 family** We have been attending the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo since we moved to Houston in 2006. Today’s sponsored post is brought with a full heart as this is a “must-do” event for our family every year! **

Navigate the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Arrive early to make the most of your day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo! Family-friendly carnival rides, exhibits, attractions and tasty treats are available throughout the NRG Park grounds, starting at 9 a.m. daily during the Show.

Download the RODEOHOUSTON mobile app available for iPhone and Android to ensure your family outing to the Show goes off without a hitch! Jam-packed with an interactive scheduling tool, and parking and map information, the mobile app is a must for busy parents who like to plan ahead. Pre-plan and create an agenda personalized to your family’s interests using the “My Schedule” function within the app.

You won’t want to miss a trip to the Stars Over Texas Stage in The Junction! Enjoy animal acts, sing-alongs and talent shows hourly from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. while snacking on funnel cakes, candy apples and turkey legs! The Stars Over Texas Stage is located under a shady outdoor canopy and includes picnic tables.

See all of this and more at the Show, March 7 – 26. Grounds passes are available for adults 13 years of age and older for $10; for children ages 3 to 12, $5; and for children ages 2 and under, grounds admission is free! Visit rodeohouston.com to learn more.

Fun for the Entire Family in OXY AGventure

houston livestock show and rodeo - poultryGrab your kiddos and head over to OXY AGventure, located in in Hall A of NRG Center, to see chicks hatch in the poultry exhibit and baby lambs take their first steps in the birthing center. Watch as wide-eyed children hear farm sounds come to life, right before their eyes!

Allow your kids to get their hands dirty in the horticulture exhibit while digging for worms and learning about the importance of soil composition, vegetation and water conservation in urban and rural agriculture. Before you leave, plant a sunflower seed to take home!

Interact with traditional farm animals, and some exotic ones, too, in the OXY AGventure petting zoo! A fan favorite, the petting zoo is stocked with friendly pygmy goats, pot-bellied pigs and llamas intermingling with excited kiddos with handfuls of yummy, animal-approved treats.

OXY AGventure is equipped with a fully-functioning milking parlor for you to see where milk comes from and learn how it is transported to your local grocery store. Demonstrations begin at 9:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends and are given by real-life dairy farmers!

Home to 12 interactive and educational exhibits, OXY AGventure provides both children and adults with a one-of-a-kind learning experience, and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit rodeohouston.com to learn more.

Kid-Friendly Entertainment in The Junction

Houston livestock show and rodeo carnival

Let your kids run free and catch some vitamin D outside at The Junction! This kid-friendly area of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is located directly behind Rodeo Plaza, near the carnival, and features rides and games designed for the Show’s youngest visitors.

Are your little tikes the competitive type? If so, sign them up for the Pedal Tractor Pull where children ages 4 to 12 years old compete in a pedal-driven tractor driving contest. These little drivers pull sleds behind miniature tractors down the raceway in hopes of out-pedaling their opponents! Competitions begin daily at 11 a.m. with the last performance at 6 p.m. on weekdays and 6:30 p.m. on weekends. The Pedal Tractor Pull is just one of nine attractions in The Junction sure to keep your children engaged throughout the day.

The Junction Carnival is packed with kiddie rides and games around every corner and is open 11 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 10 a.m. to midnight on weekends. Admission to The Junction Carnival is free with the purchase of an NRG Park grounds pass – ride and game tickets are sold separately. Visit rodeohouston.com to purchase pre-sale carnival tickets today!

Mutton Bustin’ and Pig Races in The Junction

houston livestock show and rodeoMutton bustin’ in The Junction is the perfect event for your aspiring cowboy or cowgirl. In mutton bustin’, riders grab on to the back of a full-grown sheep for a wild ride! Donning protective vests and helmets, mutton busters are some of the toughest, and certainly the most adventurous, young cowboys and cowgirls at the Show.

Youngsters must be between the ages of 5 and 6 years old and not weigh more than 55 pounds to be eligible to participate. Entries open at 10 a.m., with rides starting at 11 a.m. and continuing every hour until 7 p.m. – cost is $15 per ride.

Celebrate your mutton bustin’ victory with a trip to the pig races, just a few steps away in The Junction. Your child is sure to squeal as these energetic piglets race around a 150-foot track, all in a matter of seconds! Arrive early to find a seat right in the middle of the action. Pig races start at 10:30 a.m. and continue every hour on the half hour until 6:30 p.m., daily.

Meal Options for Kids Across NRG Park

With more than 15 dining vendors offering kid-friendly and affordable meal options, lunchtime is a breeze at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo! From corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and hamburgers to cookies, funnel cakes, and ice cream, there is something on the menu for even the pickiest eater in your bunch.

Meal pricing varies among vendors, but the average kid’s meal costs around $5. Certain vendors offer sweet treats, such as soft-serve ice cream and popsicles, ranging from $2 to $3, and complete meals, including a protein, side, and drink, ranging from $4.75 to $8.75. Look for these meal deals at select vendors scattered throughout Rodeo Plaza and NRG Center – you must inquire about kid-friendly meal deals before ordering.

Visit rodeohouston.com for a complete list of dining options.

Value Wednesday Deals

houston livestock show and rodeoThe Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo provides its guests with world-class entertainment at an incredible value. If you’re on a budget, you won’t want to miss out on the Show’s Value Wednesday deals. Every Wednesday during the Show, adults will only pay $5 to enter NRG Park and seniors, 60 years of age and older, and children, 12 and younger, get in free!

In addition to discounted admission fees, visitors have access to shopping discounts, dining meal deals, and $5 off the purchase of $25 or more at the Official Rodeo Merchandise booths. Value Wednesday discounts vary among vendors and are available at select locations in NRG Center, NRG Arena and NRG Park.

Bring the family out to The Junction Carnival on Value Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to enjoy $2 rides and games. Save at the carnival every day during Show by purchasing half-priced carnival packs, on sale now through Saturday, March 4. The purchase of a half-priced carnival pack provides you with a bundle of ride tickets and refreshment coupons at an incredible value. Plus, each carnival pack includes a $5 off voucher (when you spend $25 or more) valid for use at any of the Official Rodeo Merchandise booths. Visit rodeohouston.com for more information.