i-am magazine Nov/Dec 2015 HOLIDAY

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making, keeping & cherishing FAMILY HOLIDAY TRADITIONS teaching kids an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE


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TABLE of CONTENTS | holiday 2015 • • •

What ’s Inside inspire 11

21 26

Teaching Kids an Attitude of Gratitude Making gratitude part of the rhythm of your family’s life helps kids and parents.

nurture 12

Finding Your Way Out of Grief The holidays are all about cheer, but for many, depression levels spike this time of year. If you’re feeling lost, consider these steps towards healing.

protect 15

New Options for Clean, Delicious Water Tapping into the benefits of home water filtration and conditioning systems

18 Celebrate the Season With Healthier Indulgences Tips to reduce fat in your meal planning this holiday season.

create & innovate 21

Dressing an Angel Local women turn wedding dresses into angel gowns for newborns gone way too soon.

29 31

achieve 23

Sparkle at Parties This Holiday Season... without breaking the bank.

connect 26

Making, Keeping and Cherishing Family Holiday Traditions ‘Tis the season for old family holiday traditions and creating new ones! Discover a few local holiday spectacles that would make great additions to your family traditions.

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28 i•am magazine Shares Some of Our Favorite Holiday Traditions

29 Ribbon Jello We share a recipe of a favorite holiday tradition by our own publisher.

giving back 31

Making Kids’ Dreams Come True This local charity provides children in need with new electronics. You can help – and it’s easy!

32 Justina Page From the ashes of her own family’s tragedy, Justina rose to find new purpose in life by offering help and hope to other survivors of burn trauma.

business highlight 16

To Screen or Not to Screen: The Changing Landscape of Prenatal Testing Memorial Hermann offers insight into options for pregnant women.

19 Urgent Medical Care for Kids in Your Own Home? There’s an App for That! PediaQ launches convenient pediatric healthcare in The Woodlands.

“the most wonderful places to be in the world are: in someone’s thoughts, Someone’s prayers, And in someone’s heart.” ~ Unknown

Welcome to i•am magazine


Suzanne Hirayama Founder & Publisher Editor In Chief Creative Director Patricia Ostholm Dianne C. Witter Copy Editors CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Cathy Brown Stacey Brown Kristen Decker Dr. Chloe Rothbell Michelle Schurman CONTACT

6700 Woodlands Pkwy., Ste. 230-281 The Woodlands, TX 77382 EDITORIAL INQUIRIES

info@i-ammagazine.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES


ur mission for i•am magazine is to enhance and celebrate the incredible lives of women through a beautiful “better living” publication that serves as a prominent source of advice, knowledge and inspiration.

Within each issue you will find numerous articles pertaining to health and wellness, fitness and activities, personal finances, travel, personal spirituality and more. Each of the issues are devoted to a theme. We began the year with WELLNESS (Jan/Feb), which was the perfect time to set your goals for the year and chart a course for a healthier and happier 2015. We then followed with the WOMEN’S issue in March/April, which coincided with National Women’s History Month, a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. This thought-provoking issue reflected on who we are and what we want as women. It aimed to inspire, motivate and educate on so many topics important to women. Our May/June issue is the ever-popular FAMILY & HOME issue. We highlighted various topics including organizing your life

spaces, healthy eating for all ages, enhancing family relationships, and more. In the exciting DISTINCTIONS issue (July/Aug), we focused on unique services, inspirational life experiences, and creative products for the home. It doesn’t get more distinctive than that! CELEBRATIONS were the focus of our fifth issue (Sept/Oct), whether it’s a formal special occasion or a less formal social gathering. This issue was loaded with helpful planning tips and recommendations to make your celebration a stress-free success. And last but not least, we close the year with our HOLIDAY issue (Nov/Dec), where we focus on giving back, highlighting several local organizations in need of your time, unused items, or financial contribution. And it wouldn’t be the holidays without family traditions – we offer inspiration to honor old family traditions or create new ones. We hope you’ve been enjoying an amazing year of better living with i•am and look forward to the new year filled with more impactful stories! And remember, this magazine is for you – an intelligent, amazing, modern woman!

adsales@i-ammagazine.com i•am magazine is a bi-monthly publication of Yama Media, LLC and is distributed, complimentarily, to residents within The Woodlands, TX. If you are not within our distribution area but would like to have i•am magazine delivered to you, subscriptions are available for $18.00 (six issues annually). To subscribe, send a money order for $18 payable to Yama Media, LLC, along with your full name and mailing address to Yama Media, LLC; 6700 Woodlands Pkwy., Ste. 230-281, The Woodlands, TX 77382. Please allow up to 8 weeks for delivery of first issue. Estimated readership: 200,000+. ©2015 Yama Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the Publisher’s consent is strictly prohibited. The opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions or views of the Publisher. The publication of any advertisement or advertorial in this issue does not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s products or services by this publication.

/iamWoodlands /iamWoodlands /iamWoodlands


Two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality. ~ Unknown

I A M T H E I N T E L L I G E N T, A M A Z I N G , M O D E R N W O M A N


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i am




i•am 10 www.i-ammagazine.com




• • • gratitude |


Teaching Kids an Attitude of Gratitude Making gratitude part of the rhythym of your family’s life helps kids and parents. story | Cathy Brown


eaching our kids gratitude these days is not an easy chore - especially when we are surrounded by so many means of instant gratification. What’s the point in being thankful for anything when we get what we want…and so quickly, too? I’ve learned that we, ourselves, need to focus on being gracious in order to teach our kids gratitude by our example. Secondly, practicing gratitude needs to be a daily occurrence; a constant rhythm we keep striving for. WHAT I LEARNED FROM A DRAGON… I learned a lesson about the psychology of gratitude recently, when my son pressed me into playing a game he plays on his tablet called DragonVale. The game’s concept is to ‘breed’ dragons so that you get another, more exotic, dragon. Your dragons, in turn, earn you cash… ‘dragon cash’. This cash allows you to buy habitats, decorations and food for your dragon island. The more exotic the dragon the harder it is to breed and the more cash you’ll earn. My son, husband and I, all play this game and are in competition to get the latest and greatest dragon. Recently, after months of attempts, we succeeded in getting the toughest dragon in the game: the elusive Double Rainbow Dragon. We were thrilled! However, I’ve noticed that now that we have our elusive Double Rainbow Dragon, we’re no longer interested in it and frankly could care less that we have it. We’re on to greater things. I guess you could say we really don’t have an “attitude of gratitude” regarding our little dragon that we once wanted so much. This example is sort of silly but it does highlight some good food for thought about gratitude and teaching it to our kids…and some wisdom for parents as well!

GIFTS COME IN UNEXPECTED FORMS A few years back a friend introduced me to a book that presented the challenge to observe and write down 1,000 gifts – things you are grateful for – in a notebook. Now, I’m not exactly what you would call a voracious reader. I read what I like to call “bubble gum” novels…anything simple that’ll keep my mind interested. Sitting down to read something without a gripping plot twist makes me want to scrape out my eyeballs. However, I must say, there is a definite challenge to cataloging 1,000 gifts and it piqued my curiosity. What if you’re having a crummy day or something really bad just happened? It’s tough to be thankful in the middle of darkness. It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going our way. Difficulties tend to make us ungrateful or apathetic to moments of blessing. At first blush this challenge seems ridiculously impossible; an unattainable goal. However, gifts don’t always come in the form of a box with a bow. Sometimes they show up in an unexpected call from a friend, a rainy afternoon, a sunrise, a moonrise…blessings really are all over the place, but we often miss them. They occur regardless of our life’s circumstances, but we have to make a habit of opening our eyes and being receptive to seeing them. When we can do that, we become aware of the gifts that even dark times bring. In acknowledging these blessings we, as parents, begin to live with an attitude of gratitude – and it shows. Our kids are sponges and they soak up what we say and do. They see our attitude and it gives them a valuable mindset to frame how they see the world. But developing this attitude in our kids needs to go beyond teaching by example. We need to talk about gratitude and remind our children to watch for opportunities to be grateful in many different forms. One year at family Christmas, my son – who is an only child and at the time, was the only grandchild – was so inundated with pres-

ents that he began tearing them open one after another, assembly-line style – in front of all our family. I was horrified. But the truth is, he didn’t know any better. He was little and all he saw was a mountain of toys under an obstacle of wrapping paper. We’ve since had the opportunity to cover many basics such as stopping to smile and thank the person who gave you the present (whether or not you happen to like it) and the importance of writing thank you notes. We’ve talked about how happy it makes you feel when someone likes your gift, and how important it is to make them feel the same way. PRACTICING GRATITUDE EVERY DAY Another way we’ve made an “attitude of gratitude” part of our daily life is that we started closing the day with bedtime prayers. During this time, I ask him to think of his top three favorite things of the day and to give thanks for them. Sometimes, he’s thankful for seeing a friend at school, for playing catch with his dad, seeing a lizard, or eating his favorite lunch (chicken nuggets and ranch dressing…*insert eye rolling*). It doesn’t matter what he’s thankful for, just as long as he’s conscious of looking for opportunities to be thankful for something. Gratitude is the art of being thankful and having a readiness to show it. It reminds us of the same thing – something far too easy to lose sight of in our busy lives. Living this way teaches our children to seek out blessings and gives them the knowledge that each day carries a million reasons to be thankful in a million ways. And that, in itself, is something to be grateful for!

Cathy Brown is a wife and stay-at-home mom with one son. She was formerly a consultant in the market research industry until being diagnosed with MS and leaving the corporate world behind. Today Cathy enjoys blogging about her passions and beliefs through her site www.deepbreathes.wordpress.com.

“as we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John F. Kennedy




nurture |

coping with loss • • •

Finding Your Way Out of Grief The holidays are all about cheer, but for many, depression levels spike this time of year. If you’re feeling lost, consider these steps towards healing. story | Dr. Claudia “Chloe” Rothbell


oss can be painful and isolating. When you feel like no one understands what you’re going through, you may shut down or become deeply depressed, losing vitality and inspiration to move forward. Whether you’re grieving a death, a divorce, job loss, death of a beloved pet, a longdistance move, or another form of separation, grieving is normal and healing takes time. You may feel like you should “snap out of it,” but grief and depression just don’t work that way. It’s easy to get stuck at a certain place and spiral downward, losing your way. For many, the gaiety and togetherness of the holiday season makes a loss feel bigger and makes the depression worse. In my life coaching practice, I work with people and families in crises and those experiencing all kinds of life-changing events. They struggle to cope with stress, depression, loneliness, emptiness, anger, fear, guilt, grief and burnout. I call myself an EmpowermentTransformation Coach, because that’s what I help people do – find their inner powers and use them to forge a new and better life. TAKING THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD HEALING Grieving is a normal part of life, and healing doesn’t happen on a preset time frame. Allow yourself space, time, and permission to go through it. Everyone deals with loss differently. Don’t judge yourself or others about the “right” way to handle the process. Allow yourself to flow, and let go of what needs to be released at the right time for you. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat a dear friend in the same situation. The grieving process isn’t a straight line; you’ll have good

i•am 12 www.i-ammagazine.com

days and you’ll have set backs; that’s not failure, it’s just life. What’s important is that you refocus and get back on track.

types of self-talk can make in how you perceive your life and your power to move forward.

REFRAMING YOUR PERCEPTIONS Our perceptions determine what choices ARE YOU A VICTIM OR A VICTOR? we make, which, in turn, either empower us to Our perceptions of reality lead us to move forward or keep us stuck in bad feelings. make conscious or unconscious choices to be That’s good news; it means we have the power to either a victim or victor. Once we choose to change our reality by changing our perceptions! become a victor, we begin the transformation Many factors contribute to our percepprocess. tions, most we’re not even aware of. They Some people see life as things happeninclude, but are not limited to, our upbringing, ing to them that they’re powerless to change. past experiences, culture, the beliefs of people They blame others for their circumstances and we admire, religion, and family life. These veils give away their power. This “victim” attitude color and skew our thoughts, affecting our drags you down and drains your vitality. emotions and influencing the next steps we Someone else in the same circumstances take to positively move forward in life. may take the “victor” attitude. A victor or So here’s your assignment: Consciously champion allows themselves to grieve, but emcreate positive thoughts and visualizations to braces their own accountability for life moving support your well-being and inner healing. Creforward. They move out of survival mode and ating a journal can help you see your situation begin thriving when they use each experience more objectively. When feeling down, try jouras a lesson to grow. They create realistic goals naling your feelings, then go back and replace and a practical plan for their new life ahead and them with positive qualities. don’t “catastrophize” about For example, say you the future. Many books have “each of us wrote down: been written about people who He was the love of my life! lived horrendous lives, but ulhas the ability Can I ever be happy again? I’m timately overcame all obstacles to become the afraid I’ll be alone forever. and achieved amazing success. champions of One way to reframe If they did it, you can too! that might be: our own lives.” He may have been my greatest RELINQUISH love, but life has many paths SUFFERING DAILY and choices, I am a strong, capable, beautiful Practice surrender. Every day, conwoman inside and out. I choose to heal, to love sciously work at releasing the pain and sufferagain, and succeed in my life! ing that imprisons you. Think about the difference these two **Try this exercise: Close your eyes. See

a beautiful ocean in front of you. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Exhale anything negative, disturbing or painful in your life. Envision the ocean extracting it from you and instruct it with your “will” to never return. Releasing your hold on the pain helps remove the hurtful emotions that go with it, like anger, resentment, grief, fear and guilt. As these feelings leave with the outgoing tide, you’ll have room to experience greater connection, love and acceptance. Surrendering frees you to move forward. FORGIVENESS Forgive yourself, especially from any guilt or self-blame. Take on a more objective and detached perception of the situation by being account“true, sincere able for your part, without emotion or judgement. Likewise, forgive your loved and selfless ones, living, dead, and anyone else who forgiveness is has caused you pain. the greatest Forgiving someone doesn’t mean the pain they caused you is OK, healer and it simply frees you from holding on to freedom of all.” life-sapping energy and resentment. You don’t have to carry that load anymore. True, sincere and selfless forgiveness is the greatest healer and freedom of all, and I believe it also releases karma. Now you can connect with joy to the inner beauty of the person or experience, and not the sadness of the loss. Focus on the good experiences and extract the lessons you can learn; use them as inspiration to make yourself a wiser and better person. Many of my clients find this technique very freeing, experiencing a deeper sense of love and flow. PRACTICE GRATITUDE Gratitude opens the heart, allowing goodwill to enrich all those it reaches, and promotes healing. Forgiveness and gratitude work hand in hand, releasing the self-imposed emotional chains and baggage that imprison us and brings us the freedom to move on. Victors work at being mindfully grateful for the good things in life, large or small. **Remember every day to feel love and gratitude, and share that gratitude with all those who have helped you. Tell them verbally or mentally how much you appreciate having them in your life and project these positive energies to them. MOVING ON Life is neither fair nor unfair. It just is. Life happens. Without adversities and challenges we wouldn’t grow and evolve as human beings. If you feel stuck and unable to move on, it may be time to seek help. A certified life coach can bring greater life balance and clarity to your situation and equip you with a plan to move forward. I teach my clients tools to empower themselves to develop their inner powers, improve their self-esteem, gain insight, heal their hearts and release the past. Based on my experience, energy management can be an important part of the solution as well. So, what baggage is holding you back from full participation in life? Follow these tips, take back your power, and celebrate a fuller, richer, more carefree life. You deserve it!

**Source: MDP BELife

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• • • improving water quality |


New Options for Clean, Delicious Water Tapping into the benefits of home water filtration and conditioning systems known to withstand municipal chlorine disinfection. Reverse osmosis can also help filter out any trace amounts of herbicides, pesticides or pharmaceuticals that may be found in some surface water supplies, giving you sparkling clean, good tasting water right out of the tap.

story | Michelle Schurman


f you are a health conscious consumer, it’s very likely you are paying close attention to the nutrition facts and ingredient lists on the food products you buy. But when you turn on the tap and pour yourself a glass of water, do you have any idea what you’re drinking? The Woodlands’ water supply is extremely safe, as it turns out. In fact, Mike Mooney of the Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA) calls it “superior.” Municipal water supplies are strictly regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency for acceptable levels of chlorine and other chemicals and contaminants. But, notes Mooney, “You’ll find sulphates, chlorides, fluoride, nitrates, calcium, magnesium, aluminum, iron…lots of minerals and secondary metals that are naturally occurring in all water.” The levels of these determine whether an area’s water is considered “hard” or “soft” – and the harder the water, the more build up it may leave behind in appliances. It can also affect tap water’s taste. But Mooney doesn’t recommend buying bottled water. “We have safe drinking water. It’s much more regulated than the bottled water industry; most people don’t know that.” Then why, you might wonder, are people turning up their noses at tap water? TASTE IS THE BIGGEST COMPLAINT “People contact us because they feel their tap water smells and tastes funny,” says Martin Morales, the owner of GeniSoft Water Systems, an independent water filtration and conditioning company located in Spring. Morales knows a lot about water “organoleptics” – the taste, odor and appearance of H20. For years he’s been helping customers devise a customized and affordable plan to improve the taste and quality of their tap water. The GeniSoft whole home system has three components – a water conditioner, a carbon filter and optional reverse osmosis. Conditioning or “softening ” the water removes the fine sediment or minerals – mainly calcium

and magnesium – that can build up in your plumbing and appliances. Certain areas of the country are more prone to hard or soft water, and south Texas tends to have harder water. Then, the water passes through a carbon filtration system. This is like having one giant Brita water filter for all of the faucets in your home, before the water even gets to the tap. Carbon filtration improves the taste of your water by removing chlorine. In addition, some homeowners choose another level of filtration, known as reverse osmosis. Morales says the whole home system can provide three grades of water to a 5,000 square foot home, with a family of six people and five bathrooms. FILTRATION LEVELS TARGETED TO USE “There’s the (tap) water you need for things like watering your grass. Then, a water softener can give you utility grade water, which will help prolong the life of your appliances, plumbing, faucets and fixtures, by minimizing sediment build up,” says Morales. Softer water also makes for easier kitchen and bathroom clean up for the same reason. “Then you have drinking grade water and that’s where reverse osmosis comes in. Reverse osmosis filters the water down to tenten thousandths of a micron which removes viruses, parasites and bacteria.” It’s very rare, but the waterborne cryptosporidium and giardia parasites (which can cause serious gastrointestinal illness) have been

YOUR COST DROPS TO A PENNY A DAY According to a recent report from the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the average American drinks more than 35 gallons of bottled water a year – that’s about 270 bottles! In The Woodlands, it’s common to see large commercial water trucks delivering five-gallon jugs of water to private homes This habit in the pursuit of greattasting drinking water, albeit convenient, is also expensive, says Chris Millard, a Genisoft water expert. Not to mention burdening landfills with used plastic bottles. Millard estimates it would cost a family of four almost $7 per day to meet its daily drinking requirements with bottled water. Investing $895 to install a reverse osmosis system in your home decreases that cost to pennies a day. “We make it really affordable for people to have better quality water than bottled water, and it has absolutely nothing in it except for the water itself,” says Millard. “You no longer have to pay for delivery, renting a cooler or lugging in heavy jugs of water.” Local resident Jean Casagrande says she simply couldn’t live without the system in her home. “The shower doors don’t have water stains anymore; dishes and glasses don’t get spots; it’s better overall for your house, and it tastes better, too,” she says. Softer water helps soap lather more easily and it’s also easier on your skin, hair and clothes and appliances. Because there is no longer any mineral build-up, many homeowners find housecleaning easier and can eliminate harsh chemical cleaners and switch to more natural products. As you research water filtration systems, be sure to factor in long-term costs of changing the filters and buying a service plan. It’s extremely important to make sure these systems are kept in working order to maintain your investment and and keep that pristine water flowing!

Michelle Schurman is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer based in The Woodlands. She is a mother of three, who enjoys writing about health, nutrition, parenting, relationships and lifestyle topics.





To Screen or Not to Screen: The Changing Landscape of Prenatal Testing

be performed safely between 11 to 13 weeks of gestation, as opposed to amniocentesis, which is most safely performed after the 15th week of efore the availability of cell-free fetal pregnancy. Formerly, mothers in Montgomery DNA testing, expectant mothers at County who were concerned about their baby’s high risk of delivering babies with gegenetic information – and wanted answers netic or chromosomal disorders relied earlier than 15 weeks – had to drive to Houson the first-trimester and/or serum screening, ton for CVS. The test is now available in The which detects between 80 and 95 percent of Woodlands. cases of Down syndrome and a lower percent “The first decision for expectant age of trisomy 18 and trisomy 13. Now, the parents is whether or not they want cell-free fetal DNA test, used primarily to know genetic information for women age 35 or older or those about the pregnancy,” says Dr. who have other risk factors, has been Samuel, who performs chorionic found to be much more accurate villus sampling every week. “They in screening, according to a study should consider this question before published in the New England Journal of Dr. Samuel the mom undergoes the first blood Medicine (NEJM) in 2014. screen. For parents who want to have all “The cell-free DNA test provides exthe genetic information about the pregnancy pectant parents with increased confidence that that modern medicine can provide early in these three chromosomal disorders are not prespregnancy, CVS is the best choice. Although ent, when compared to prior methods,” says the risk of miscarriage is less than 1 percent, Amber Samuel, M.D., a high-risk pregnancy the decision to move forward with genetic and specialist affiliated with Children’s Memochromosomal testing is a very personal one.” rial Hermann at Memorial Hermann The CVS is an invasive test that can deterWoodlands Hospital. “However, an abnormal mine chromosomal or genetic disorders in the result on the new blood test still needs to be fetus using a sample of the placental tissue, also confirmed by either chorionic villus sampling known as the chorionic villi, to evaluate the baby’s or amniocentesis. Additionally, all noninvasive chromosomes. The test can be done through the screens detect only some of the genetic abnorcervix, known as transcervical CVS, or through malities that may be present.” the abdomen – transabdominal CVS. An Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can

story | Karen Kephart


i•am 16 www.i-ammagazine.com

abdominal ultrasound is performed to determine the position of the uterus, the size of the gestational sac and the position of the placenta within the uterus, and to guide the procedure. “The approach high-risk pregnancy specialists use depends on the location of the placenta,” Dr. Samuel says. “If the placenta is high and in front, transabdominal CVS is more appropriate. If the placenta is low in the uterus or toward the mother’s back, transcervical CVS is the preferred approach.” The transcervical procedure is performed by inserting a thin plastic tube through the vagina and cervix to reach the placenta. The physician uses real-time ultrasound images to help guide the tube into the appropriate area and then removes a small sample of chorionic villi. The transabdominal approach is performed by inserting a needle through the abdomen and uterus and into the placenta under direct ultrasound guidance. “When expectant parents with babies at high risk for genetic disorders face decisions during the pregnancy,” Dr. Samuel says, “high-risk pregnancy specialists are here to guide them.” The Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands provides care for babies delivered at any gestational age. For a physician referral, call Memorial Hermann at 713.222.CARE (2273).


WOMEN WOMEN’S PELVIC FLOOR HEALTH TALKS In Recognition of National Bladder Health Awareness Month Bring your girlfriends and learn about common pelvic health disorders – such as urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic pain, and pelvic organ prolapse – that will impact one in three women. Ladies’ Happy Hour with Gregory Eads, M.D. Wine & Cheese Tuesday, November 3 • 6 to 7:30 p.m. Ladies’ Tea with Jane Reed, M.D. Tea & Scones Wednesday, November 11 • 9:30 to 11 a.m. RSVP to 713.222.CARE Visit womens.memorialhermann.org or call 713.222.CARE to learn more. Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital 9250 Pinecroft Drive, The Woodlands, TX 77380 Conference Center, First Floor Both affiliated physicians are board certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.


| healthier indulgences • • •

Celebrate the Season With Healthier Indulgences story | Kristen Decker


his holiday season, try these recipe modifications for celebrations that are as flavorful as they are healthful. As both a self-proclaimed foodie and a registered dietitian, I’ve always enjoyed finding healthier ways to prepare family favorites and holiday classics. Most celebrations are guaranteed to involve food and it’s not much fun feeling compelled to avoid certain things due to dietary restrictions. If you’re entertaining, allow your guests, and even yourself, to enjoy delicious dishes guilt-free by following a few of these key concepts for simple recipe modification. 1. For appetizers, try to incorporate raw produce like fresh fruits or vegetables with a healthy dip. Filling up on fiber helps prevent over eating by satisfying hunger longer. Add in some protein to lower the fat in dips – try Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for creamy dips or homemade flavored hummus (buffalo, Siracha or pesto, anyone?). Plain yogurt with a splash of vanilla extract, drizzle of maple syrup and sprinkle of cinnamon also pairs fabulously with fresh fruit. Apples, pears and grapes are perfect seasonal selections for dipping. 2. For baked goods, a few types of modifications can lead to a significantly healthier option without drastic changes to the final product. Start by lowering the total sugar content. Most original family recipes have a full cup or more of sugar. In this case, reducing the total sugar by ¼ will likely have no influence on the quality or taste and is a common practice among cooks looking to make recipes healthier. In sweet breads, muffins and cakes, replace 1/3 of the fat (butter or oil) with unsweetened applesauce. This adds a hint of natural sweetness while keeping the product fluffy and moist. If trying to add fiber or whole grains, use ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose. These few switches will save calories but no one will taste the difference. 3. For side dishes and casseroles, focus on adding flavor with fresh herbs and sautéed veggies

instead of cream-based soups and cheeses. Sautee garlic with onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery for a classic blend that adds depth of flavor that guarantees no one will miss the fat! Sprinkle with a blend of whole grain breadcrumbs, ground flax seed and fresh herbs for an enticing topping presentation. While key concepts like portion control and staying well hydrated with water will always be relevant when navigating an abundant food setting, these simple recipe modifications can add up to a major savings in calories and fat over the holidays. Try one of these holiday recipes to show your guests how delicious it can be to eat healthy, even during the holidays. Come January, you’ll all be glad you skipped the fat without skipping the holiday feast!

Caramel Apple Cheese Cake Tarts Makes 16 cupcakes

Recipe widely adapted from www.skinnytaste.com

ALL YOU NEED: 1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar 3 tablespoons butter, melted 1 (8-ounce) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened 1 tsp vanilla extract 6 ounces fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt 3 eggs 3 tablespoons flour 1 each Gala and Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped 1/2 cup caramel sauce, divided

Bake 18-22 minutes, or until filling is set. 3. Cool on wire rack. Chill at least 1 hour in refrigerator, or until ready to serve. 4. When serving, top each cheese cake tart with chopped apple pieces and drizzle of caramel sauce.

Seasonal Brussels Sprouts Salad Yields 5 servings

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven blog

ALL YOU NEED: 1 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends removed, then halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise 2 cup cooked whole grain (quinoa, barley or brown rice all work well) 1 cup dried cranberries 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese 2/3 cup chopped walnuts Maple vinaigrette (See below) 1/3 cup pure maple syrup 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar Pinch of salt and pepper ALL YOU DO: 1. Toss salad ingredients together in a bowl. 2. Whisk all ingredients for vinaigrette until combined. Pour over salad and toss to thoroughly coat. Chill until ready to serve.

ALL YOU DO: 1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Mix graham crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar and butter together in small bowl. Press into bottom of cupcake pans coated with nonstick spray (or cupcake liners). Bake crusts 7-10 minutes, until just brown. While crusts are baking, make filling. 2. Combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until smooth using an electric mixer. Gradually beat in yogurt, eggs and flour; do not over beat. Pour into crust-lined cupcake pans.

Kristen Decker, RDN, LD, is passionate about making healthy eating fun and sharing creative ways to prepare old favorites and inspire new dishes. She works with clients to find balance in all aspects of wellness so they can get the most out of their life, living happy and healthy each day. Learn more about her business and health coaching services at www.lentilwellness.com.

i•am 18 www.i-ammagazine.com


Urgent Medical Care for Kids in Your Own Home? There’s an App for That! PediaQ launches convenient pediatric healthcare in The Woodlands story | Michelle Shurman


icture it. It’s nighttime and your baby wakes up crying, with a raging fever. You think about heading to Urgent Care, but your husband is out of town and your other child is fast asleep. What are you going to do? It’s a hypothetical situation, but a very realistic one for many moms these days. “Kids never seem to get sick at convenient times. They always get sick on weekends or at night,” says Cheryl Crosby, a Dallas mom of 17-month old twins. Crosby recently used a new healthcare app, called PediaQ, when both of her children took sick on a weekend. With the simple touch of a button on her phone, a nurse practitioner was at her house in 30 minutes to examine the children. “It’s hard to load them up at night or on weekends when they’re not feeling good,” says Crosby. “My twins are preemies…and the littlest things can make them really sick. I don’t want to go to an after hours clinic or ER, that’s just asking for more (germs)!” Crosby was impressed with the timeliness and caring nature of the nurse practitioner, who diagnosed and treated the ear infections and sore throat. PediaQ kept Crosby’s pediatrician in the loop by forwarding all the details of the medical visit. “I downloaded this app before my kids were ever sick. And I think that’s what made the whole process super easy and really convenient,” says Crosby. EXPANDING TO THE WOODLANDS PediaQ launched in Dallas in May and is set to launch in The Woodlands this fall. “Parent reviews have been off the charts, and they love that PediaQ is available when their pediatrician isn’t,” according to PediaQ’s COO, Matthew Vuckovich. The service is available weekdays between 4 pm and 12 am, and on weekends between the hours of 8 am and 12 am. Here’s how it works: • Once you download the app, you make a personal profile and fill out all of your family’s information, including medical histories • Store your credit card information securely on the PediaQ app

• When your child gets sick, you can request a visit by a licensed pediatric nurse practitioner (NP) in your geographical area • Within minutes, the NP will respond and you will receive the nurse’s picture and background information on your app, followed by a brief phone consultation • Within the hour, the NP arrives at your door, ready to assess, diagnose, treat, and if needed, prescribe medication for your child. The PediaQ app is “loosely modeled” after the on-demand car service Uber – PediaQ is delivering exceptional pediatric urgent care in the comfort and safety of your home, says Jon O’Sullivan, the Founder & CEO of PediaQ. After working in the healthcare service industry for over 25 years, he had a “light bulb” moment when he realized he could do the same thing for healthcare - by connecting parents of sick kids with pediatric nurse practitioners via mobile technology. “When you’re providing medical care for your child it’s a much more serious decision than ordering a town car. So, you really have to build a base of education about the qualifications of nurse practitioners,” he adds. All PediaQ nurse practitioners are fully licensed and screened by the company and have on average 5-10 years of specialized pediatric experience. They typically spend about 30 minutes with their patients, which is three times as long as a typical visit to the urgent care or ER. “Studies will show that nurse practitioners can do 98% of the work that a primary care physician can do, including writing prescriptions,” says O’Sullivan. All in the comfort of your home, PediaQ nurse practitioners can treat common ailments and infections like strep throat, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, bladder infections, respiratory prob-

lems, ear/eye infections, asthma/allergies, sprains/ strains, just to name a few. They can also advise you if a situation seem serious enough to require a trip to the ER. So, what is the cost of all this convenience? PediaQ will accept your insurance, so that all you are charged is your urgent care copay (averages $50-$75) plus a $50 convenience fee if the call is made before 10 pm, and a $100 convenience fee for visits after 10 pm. PediaQ also accepts cash payments, with the base visit starting at $150. When you consider that a typical emergency room visit starts at $350 and can range into the thousands of dollars, Crosby believes PediaQ is an affordable service that will catch on quickly. “I’m saving money by staying home… waiting in my own home… and having them come to me.” PediaQ is growing quickly, and has received local and national media coverage. As it expands from the Dallas area to The Woodlands, the company’s website requests community feedback on where it’s needed most – so share your opinion! For more information and to download the app, visit www.PediaQ.care or Facebook www.facebook.com/PediaQ

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Dressing an Angel

Local women turn wedding dresses into angel gowns – and they need your help! story | Michelle Schurman

an Angel Gown, but she says she could cut that time in half if the pieces came to her already cut and sized. After sewing the tiny dress, she then hand stitches all of the lace and buttons back on to the new garment, adding incredible detail. She makes matching bonnets for girls and little hats for boys.


t was her first pregnancy and, like most expectant women, Stefanie Bohuslav breathed a sigh of relief when she passed her 12-week mark. Her pregnancy was going smoothly, just as she’d always imagined it would. She didn’t see it coming. At 26 weeks, she started bleeding heavily, and was rushed to the hospital for an emergency c-section. “They chose who to save, and they saved me,” says Boshuslav, who lost her daughter in 2012. Kylie Danielle was stillborn. Boshuslav suffered a placental abruption – an uncommon but serious complication of pregnancy. It happens when the placenta separates from the uterus, depriving the baby of oxygen, and putting both mother and baby at risk. She says staff at the Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Woodlands provided incredible support at such a difficult time. While in the hospital, two non-profit groups, HAND (Houston’s Aid in Neonatal Death) and MEND (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death), distributed small teddy bears and trinkets as part of the bereavement process. But Boshuslav felt there was something missing. DRESSING AN ANGEL IS BORN “My daughter was buried in nothing. We just wrapped her in a little blanket because that’s all that was around,” says Bohuslav. Finding clothes to fit such a tiny baby, some weighing less than a pound, is difficult. Some parents resort to buying doll clothes since there aren’t any other options. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, after both of her other children ended up spending time in NICU, that Bohuslav realized neonatal death is more common than she thought. It became her mission to give these babies a proper burial dress. Through Facebook, she connected with a Dallas woman who was turning old wedding gowns into Angel Gowns. So, she decided to start a similar project here in the Woodlands and

Dressing an Angel was born. After an initial call for donations, her two volunteer seamstresses are overwhelmed with wedding gowns – they can barely keep up. “I have all boys. I have two sons and four grandsons and all the dresses I’ve seen are mainly girls and I couldn’t stand it, so the first dress I made was for a boy,” says Gail House, one of Bohuslav’s two volunteer seamstresses. After making doll clothes for many years, House is able to use her talent to transform one wedding dress into eight Angel Gowns. It is time consuming and painstaking work because the satin fabric is slippery and unforgiving, according to House.

HELPING GRIEVING PARENTS SAY GOODBY Bohuslav says she wept the first time she laid eyes on one of House’s gowns. She knows how much these dresses will mean to grieving parents, who may want to take photos and have a burial service for their deceased infant. “It won’t take the grief away but it’s one less thing to worry about. It’s something that’s so beautiful it just eases that one part, and makes that picture that they can cherish.” The donated wedding dresses do not have to be dry-cleaned, and a white or offwhite color is preferred, but other colors are also accepted. If you would like to donate your dress in memory of someone, a small tag will be attached bearing that person’s name. “They are not forgotten,” says Gail. KYLIE’S LEGACY LIVES ON Dressing an Angel is providing gowns to Memorial Hermann Hospital in The Woodlands because all three of Bohuslavs children were born there. They are distributed free of charge. “My daughter Kylie’s legacy lives on,” says Bohuslav, who is now mom to Hailey, 2, and Kaleb, 1. “I’ve met all these people who’ve also suffered losses. It helps me because I know I’m helping other

LOOKING FOR LOCAL VOLUNTEERS That’s why Dressing an Angel is looking for some help from The Woodlands community – they need an assembly line of volunteers to simply cut the old dresses apart and Stefanie Bohuslav with the leave the sewing up to them. Bereavement Coordinator at Memorial Hermann. “Don’t be afraid to help – there’s no right or wrong. This is a parents.” feel good project even though it’s for a very If you are interested in helping you can sad cause. We’re not asking you to make this,” contact Dressing an Angel through its Facebook she says holding up one of her angel dresses. page. You may also send your wedding dress to “Just take a donated wedding dress and cut that Dressing an Angel at: 2211 Rayford Rd., Suite sucker apart!” she laughs. 111-413, Spring, Texas, 77386. It takes House about 4 hours to make




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Sparkle at Parties This Holiday Season... without breaking the bank story | Michelle Schurman


f your inbox is starting to fill up with invitations to holiday parties, then you have probably already asked yourself,“What am I going to wear?” As visions of dollar signs dance in your head, don’t panic – looking great at your holiday functions doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. “It’s one thing to be cheap, it’s another thing to look cheap,” says Rebecca Matthews, a personal stylist and fashion expert. I asked personal shopper and stylist Rebecca Matthews to help us put together a guide for the fashion-conscious, yet thrifty minded, woman who wants to sparkle this holiday season. Her first piece of advice: Start by making a list of all the events you will be attending. Then, head to your closet to take inventory. SHOP YOUR CLOSET “There are redeeming qualities in your closet,” says Matthews. “You’ve got the good black pant in there…now whether it fits or not is a whole different question,” she laughs. She says black flowy pants and dark jeans are the foundation of a great - and versatile – holiday wardrobe. “Those two bottoms right there will get you to a cocktail party and something at somebody’s house,” she adds. These should be good quality items that you are willing to invest in because you know you will wear them throughout the year. For the holidays, you can pair these with a less expensive trendy top – red is a great choice. “Red is huge this fall and every shade of red. There is a red for everybody, so you need to find two tops – one that’s casual and one that’s dressy so you can dress up the jeans or dress down the dressy pants.” Other hot colors this season are wine, moss green, cobalt blue and pink. You will be seeing a lot of texture like fur, leather and suede and Eastern-European inspired patterns, Indian prints and fall florals. If you’ve already got a great black dress that fits well, add some holiday sparkle with a scarf or a piece of jewelry. Matthews is a fan of Charming Charlie’s and Stella and Dot for reasonably priced accessories that can give a whole new look to an outfit you may already own.

WHY NOT RENT? So, you have big New Year’s Eve plans and need something a little more formal? Renting a dress has become the new way to look “glam” without a case of sticker shock. On-line rental services, such as Rent The Runway (RTR), make it easy and virtually worry-free. RTR has thousands of designer dresses for all occasions, in many styles and a wide array of sizes. For example, you can rent a $620 Badgley Mischka dress for $70! The dresses are available for either a 4 or 8-day rental, and you don’t even have to clean them when you’re done. The great thing about this service is that you get a second size for free, and customers post reviews and pictures of themselves in the dress. One negative though – the dress doesn’t arrive until relatively close to your event and you are not allowed to permanently alter it. “I did it and it was awesome!” says Matthews, who rented an $800 dress for her daughter for $100. Keep in mind, there is a $9.99 shipping and handling fee. SAVE TIME, SAVE MONEY ON-LINE Matthews, a professional shopper, estimates it takes the average woman about two hours at the mall to find the “perfect” dress. www.RentTheRunway.com But, many women would rather do Carmen Marc Valvo that shopping from the comfort of their own $85 ($595 retail) home. The rising popularity of flash sale sites such as Gilt, Rue La La and Beyond the Rack make it possible to do just that. These sites offer “luxury” brands at deep discounts – some items are at least 70% off the retail price. After you join the site, you are notified of the flash sale, which typically lasts 1-3 days, but shipping can sometimes take up to 6 weeks since the sites do not keep their own inventory. “They are addictive!” says Matthews. “I www.RentTheRunway.com have some clients who shop on these sites and Badgley Mischka get great deals.” (continued on next page) $70 ($620 retail)





| affordable holiday attire • • •

Of course, when buying online sizing is the biggest concern. Matthews recommends shopping at stores whose brands you already know and try to use retailers who cover shipping both ways such as Nordstrom and Zappos, which recently branched out from shoes to women’s clothing. DISCOUNT OUTLETS AND DEPARTMENT STORES A few years ago Forbes magazine voted Houston the number one shopping city in America for the sheer amount and variety of places to shop. Sure, you can get high-end, but you can also get some really good deals too. “I shop everywhere and I find a lot of things at Steinmart,” says Matthews, pointing out that, unlike other discount stores, Steinmart sells this season’s clothing, at sale prices. TJ Maxx, Ross and Marshall’s are great spots to find bargains, and sometimes you can hit the jackpot at Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call. For lower-priced trendy items (like the red tops we mentioned earlier), you may want to check out H and M, A’gaci, Zara and Forever 21. While these stores have gained a negative reputation for “fast fashion,” Matthews says they are an affordable way to experiment with a new trend. And, don’t forget about your trusty department stores such as Dillard’s, Macy’s and JCPenney. “I think they do a great job with their dresses and you’re going to get a bigger selection in a department store,” she adds. RESALE AND CONSIGNMENT STORES A recent visit to several local consignment stores yielded some surprising finds – a Tory Burch dress for $46, a Ralph

Lauren gown for $68 and a designer Tahari cocktail dress for $62. All of these items were in perfect condition, and likely only worn once. There were also several pieces of brand new clothing, with tags still attached. “People are smart with their money. I don’t care if you make $500,000 or $50,000 a year, it just makes good sense to make your money go further,” says Monica Hart, the owner of Designer’s Second Debut in Conroe, one of the area’s leading resale stores. “You don’t want to go to the party looking like everybody else does. If you buy consignment then you know that dress is not what’s in the stores right at that moment,” she adds. Her store features a huge selection of clothing, shoes, handbags, clutches and jewelry. Holiday wear started arriving in October, and she says she is putting out hundreds of new pieces every day. Other local resale stores to check out are Upscale Resale and Style Encore in the Woodlands. If you feel like venturing into Houston, More Than You Can Imagine and The Little Bird are some of Matthews’ favorite spots. SWAP WITH A FRIEND Hosting a Clothing Swap with your friends is a fun way to find a new outfit without spending a single cent. “One of your friends almost always has the perfect thing,” says Mindy, a fashion-forward Woodlands mom who loves swapping or loaning things to friends. To host one of these parties, invite friends of all sizes and ask them to bring about 10 pieces of clothing, which are clean and in good condition.

Designer’s Second Debut in Conroe, TX Jessica Howard, $58 ($275 retail)

Provide mirrors and places to try things on and let the swapping begin! You may want to serve a festive drink and make it a fun way to kick off the holiday season with friends. No doubt, you’ll leave with at least a few fab finds – for free. FASHION RULES OF THUMB As you begin assembling and shopping for your holiday wardrobe keep in mind Matthews’ “rule of three.” If you’re considering an item, ask yourself if you can wear it to three different places. If the answer is no, then it doesn’t belong in your closet, regardless of how good a deal it may be. And, do like your mama told you – always make sure your outfit is age appropriate. According to Matthews that means it’s not too tight, too low-cut or too short. Find things you really like, that you can afford and that look great on you. Good luck ladies…y’all are going to look gorgeous this holiday season! If you are interested in using a personal shopper or stylist, you can contact Rebecca Matthews at www.rebeccamatthews.com.

i•am 24 www.i-ammagazine.com

www.RentTheRunway.com Marchessa Notte $175 ($1,295 retail)

Neiman Marcus Last Call www.lastcall.com Aidan Mattox $203.40 (originally $515)

Neiman Marcus Last Call www.lastcall.com Marina $57.50 (originally $159)

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Making, Keeping and Cherishing Family Holiday Traditions story | Stacey Brown


y the first of December, the Yuletide spirit fills the air. Families and friends gather to reminisce over festive meals, exchange heartfelt gifts and create joyful memories. It is a season of tradition and ritual. Seeing a favorite holiday movie together or baking a delicious cake using grandmother’s special recipe creates happy memories and instills a strong sense of family unity. These family traditions develop gradually, so it is never too late to start new ones or revive old holiday traditions. A special holiday tradition binds a family together, communicates its values and tells its unique story. For instance, one family chooses a Christmas community service project because they believe in giving back to the community. Their children gather cans of food and deliver i•am 26 www.i-ammagazine.com

the groceries to the local food bank for distribution to needy families. Our family shares memorable stories at the dinner table. We remind one another of our blessings, and we remember family members who are not with us anymore. We enjoy sharing the story of our family’s move to Texas with our children. One mom gives her child a special, memorable ornament of his own each year. They both look forward to it and reminisce each year about ornaments in the collection. When he’s ready for a tree and a family of his own, he’ll have a meaningful collection to start with. One family in Georgia happens to have a gigantic pine tree in their front yard. Each year they hire a crane and festoon it with lights, to the delight of the neighborhood. It’s not only a family tradition, but a full neighborhood celebration! As families grow and evolve, it is also important to acknowledge growth together.

Our sons are now preteens, so we have gradually added new family activities. Several years ago, we received a beautiful gingerbread house, and it sparked a new tradition – building our own gingerbread house each year. It is now a memorable, messy and tasty activity! Whether your family builds gingerbread houses or serves the community, any activity that nurtures relationships can become a family tradition. Just find an activity your entire family enjoys and continue it each year. Houston and the surrounding area abounds with holiday festivities that are sure to become cherished traditions. The city boasts a breathtaking array of musical performances, holiday activities and festivals throughout the season. From Christmas tree and menorah lighting ceremonies to concerts and Christmas markets, there are plenty of holiday festivity opportunities to start new traditions with friends and loved ones.

• • • holiday family traditions | OLD-FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS AT SPRING CREEK FARMSTEAD At Spring Creek Growers farmstead in Magnolia, guests experience an old-fashioned country Christmas. Children can enjoy a delicious pancake and bacon breakfast with Santa and play real farm games. A leisurely hayride on an antique tractor is a special treat. The tractor passes “Old Cedar Lookout,” a towering tree house offering a spectacular view of the 20-acre farm. After the hayride, guests can fish for perch and bass with old-fashioned cane poles at the lake or enjoy barbecue sandwiches. The farmhouse bakery serves hot chocolate, apple cider, and coffee, and the farm shop tempts shoppers with a charming selection of Texas and U.S.A. made country gifts. Guests can select a stunning poinsettia and cut down a Christmas tree with a saw. A day at Spring Creek Growers farm is a truly delightful experience for the entire family. www.springcreekgrowers.com DICKENS ON THE STRAND IS A CLASSIC FAVORITE Galveston commemorates author Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol, with an authentic recreation of Victorian London at Dickens on the Strand. A Christmas Carol comes to life on the streets of Galveston’s historic Strand district. Visitors meet Scrooge, Marley and Tiny Tim. Queen Victoria makes a special appearance. Officials from the Dickens Museum in London join the festivities. With its authentic Victorian atmosphere, revelers are sure to enjoy the turn-of-the century entertainment and Victorian-inspired crafts, jewelry and clothing. www.galvestonhistory.org FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS AT MOODY GARDENS After enjoying a day on The Strand, visitors will marvel at the Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens. Featuring 1 million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays, Moody Gardens’ magnificent holiday display is sure to be a memorable experience for everyone. Skate in the open-air ice skating rink or try out the Arctic Ice Slide afterward. www.moodygardens.com/festivaloflights/ GERMAN-STYLE CHRISTMAS MARKET IN TOMBALL Tomball celebrates its German heritage with a Texas-style German Christmas market each year. The entire family will enjoy this unique European-style market. Holiday festivities include an open-air shopping market with imported German gifts, folk dancers and polka bands, and authentic ethnic food. While enjoying the live entertainment and shopping,

visitors can sample a taste of Germany or enjoy traditional carnival food. German Christmas Stollen, a traditional german cake, and a glass of dark beer or Gluhwein, a traditional mulled wine, are festival favorites. Food vendors also offer bratwurst, red cabbage and apple strudel. Children will enjoy meeting a Dutch Santa Clause and seeing a live Christmas tree. The Kinderfest area will entertain children with its petting zoo, pony rides, bungee jumping and carnival rides. In the “Weihnachtshaus” market, housed in the community center on Cherry Street, shoppers can buy German clothes, fine linens and souvenirs. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the German ambiance and “Gemutlich”


at this charming Texas-German market. www.tomballgermanfest.org/christmas-market/ Regardless of the activity, holiday traditions and events create happy memories and strengthen family bonds between generations. Through memorable traditions shared with family and special friends, fill your home and heart with joy and peace during this season of celebration.

Stacey Brown is a freelance writer who resides in The Woodlands with her husband, twin boys and their rat terrier. She enjoys traveling with her family, digital photography, cooking and writing poetry.

Dickens On the Strand, Galveston

Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens, Galveston

Tomball German Christmas Market, Tomball





| holiday family traditions • • •

Every year I give my son, Taylor, a special Christmas ornament – a brass reindeer, hand-blown glass ornaments, a small silver picture frame inscribed with the event and the year. He now has a collection of his own nice ornaments ready to start his own tree. I thought I’d do it till he was 18, but we both enjoy it so much, I doubt I’ll ever stop! — Dianne Witter, Editor & freelance writer

We hope you enjoy and gain inspiration from some of our favorite family holiday traditions shared here with you.

Happy Holidays! A silly, but fun tradition at our house is searching for the Christmas pickle. This special ornament (yes, it really is a pickle!) is well-hidden in the tree and the first to find it is said to have a year of good luck. But I think my favorite tradition is one that my daughters started themselves – holding a Christmas Eve sleepover in one of their rooms. It’s the one night that differing ages, interests and maturity levels don’t seem to matter – my 15, 13 and 9 year old love snuggling up together anxiously awaiting Christmas morning! — Michelle Schurman, freelance writer

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A tradition that I began when I was very young was buying a Christmas ornament every year for each of my nieces and nephews and I bought one for them every year until they were 18, personalizing it with the year and their name on it. My intention was when they turned 18 they would have 18 ornaments that represented different stages of their life or where I was in my travels. Part of that time was when I worked in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, and I was able to get them some very interesting ornaments in those locations. I did the same for my own children. Every year when they decorate their tree, I hope it brings memories for them. — GiGi Lewis, Founder of Club Etiquette

Our Christmas table reflects our family’s diverse roots that stretch from New Jersey and French Canada to California and Texas. In recent years, parents and grandparents have passed away, so we honor them through the food they lovingly prepared each Christmas. Birdie’s favorite fudge, Ruth Ann’s creamed onions, and the Charette family tourtierre all have a place at our table, and their memories have a permanent place in our hearts. Our Christmas dinner is more than a delicious holiday meal. It is a celebration of our family’s story. — Stacey Brown, freelance writer

There are several family traditions I look forward to every year. Making rum balls is always a special treat! But my absolute favorite family tradition from my childhood, that I now carry on with my own family, is to make ribbon jello for Christmas dinner. My kids look forward to it just as much as I do, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it! I hope you enjoy the recipe (opposite page). — Suzanne Hirayama, Publisher

• • • holiday family traditions |


Ribbon Jello Makes approximately 8 servings (depends on size of serving bowls) INGREDIENTS 4 small boxes (3oz.) of Jello® gelatin (2 strawberry and 2 lime) 2 cups milk 1 cup granulated sugar 2 packages Knox® gelatin 2 tsp. vanilla extract 8 oz. sour cream INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE THE COLOR GELATIN LAYERS: Dissolve each package of Jello® with 1 cup boiling water in separate bowls. Set aside. TO MAKE THE CREAM FILLING: Bring milk and sugar to a boil, stirring continually. Add in vanilla and sour cream, then beat with a mixer until smooth. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, dissolve the Knox® gelatin with 1/2 cup boiling water, then add to the milk and sugar mixture. Beat again with the mixer until well combined.

Divide the cream filling into thirds (approx. 1-1/3 cups each), pouring into separate bowls, then set aside. TO PREPARE THE LAYERED JELLO: Next, in individual glass dishes, evenly divide (approx. 2 tbsp.+ for 8 servings) and gently spoon the first green gelatin mixture into the bottom of each glass dish, then place in the freezer for approximately 10-15 minutes until the gelatin is somewhat firm. Once the first layer has set, evenly divide and slowly spoon one of the bowls of cream filling mixture on top of the set green gelatin layer, being careful not to pour too quickly or from too high above the gelatin layer, as it may disturb the bottom gelatin layer and ruin the banding effect. Chill again for approximately 10-15 minutes in the freezer until somewhat firm. Repeat the steps above, creating the bands of gelatin and cream layers, alternating the colors as you go, ending with the red gelatin as the top layer. After you have poured the final layer and allowed it to slightly set for 10 minutes, remove the dishes from the freezer and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream (optional).






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• • • kids’ dreams matter |

giving back

Making Kids’ Dreams Come True

This local charity provides children in need with new electronics. You can help – and it’s easy! email, play games, engage in social media and watch movies – all the things that other kids their age are doing.

story | Michelle Schurman


hat’s topping your kid’s holiday wish list this season? To no one’s surprise, most kids are dreaming of the latest electronic gadgets – smartphones and tablets and gaming devices. We tend to update our gadgets pretty often – which means a lot of us have still-working electronics we never use. Take a look around your house see how many working, unused electronics are just collecting dust. Your kids have already moved on to the next generation of the technology. It may be hard to believe, but some kids have never even been exposed to these types of devices. This year, the electronics recycling company Pandabit is working with a Houston-based charity to challenge us to change that. “My (foster) kids came to me at 3- and 4-years-old, and they had never even seen a Disney movie,” says Kimberly Harris, one of the co-founders of Kids’ Dreams Matter, a Houston charity serving foster and under-privileged kids. “I mean, they were on the streets a lot or going from place to place, city to city, you just don’t understand how some of these kids live.” The siblings, who she would later legally adopt, arrived on her doorstep with a plastic shopping bag of belongings and a few diapers. It was a defining moment for her – she knew she needed to help more foster kids gain some confidence, self-respect and show them that other people care. “A lot of these kids are pretty damaged,” says Harris, noting that it’s not uncommon for kids to bounce between 12 to13 different foster homes in their childhood. SHOWING KIDS THEIR DREAMS DO MATTER Harris and two friends, Michele van Almelo and Denise Khan, joined together in 2012 to form the non-profit Kids’ Dreams Matter (KDM) Foundation. Its first initiative was a duffel bag collection program known as Savanna Smiles. The bags are stuffed with toiletries, clothes and stuffed animals and caseworkers with Children’s Protective Services distribute them to

foster children as they enter a new home. But, this was only the beginning. These three women – two legal professionals and one an entrepreneur – saw a new need emerging. “Our law office adopts a family or two every Christmas, and I noticed that every year the children want to put an X-box, a phone or a tablet on their list,” says Harris. “In talking to case workers…they told me there was a huge need for this, that kids ask for this all the time, but none of the other charities have the capability of giving such a high dollar item,” says Harris. So, they created Bright Compass – a KDM program devoted to giving brand new electronics to disadvantaged children for both education and play. “I think they are at a disadvantage because they don’t get the practice or experience with electronics that other children do. (It’s important) for them to be able to keep up with the world around them,” says Michele van Almelo. Bright Compass partnered with a Louisiana company called Pandabit, which buys and recycles gently used electronics and donates the proceeds to the charity. An old iPhone 4, for example, in flawless condition is worth $12, good condition is worth $10 and a damaged iPhone 4 would be worth $2. Every penny counts, says Harris. With the proceeds, KDM is able to buy brand new 7-inch tablets for about $50 apiece. A tablet is small and portable so the kids can take it with them if they have to move. It also has Internet capability so that kids have the opportunity to

DOING YOUR PART IS EASY With the holidays approaching and many kids receiving an electronic upgrade as a gift, now is the perfect time to donate your old phones, tablets and gaming devices, knowing the funds will go to a great cause. Donating these devices has a doubly good impact on the world; it also reduces the growing pollution problem of electronic waste by keeping these devices out of landfills. Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing segment of the waste stream in the United States, and it is the most toxic. Recycling your electronics to make kids’ holidays brighter is easy – it can be done directly through the Kids’ Dreams Matter website (www. kidsdreamsmatter.org). On the home page, click on Pandabit Challenge. After registering your device, you will receive a shipping kit from Pandabit and the return postage is free. Pandabit recommends that you erase your own device (and inactivate its link to your storage on any cloud servers) but they will also wipe it clean before recycling. The company will even email you directions on how to erase if you don’t know how to do it yourself. WATCHING DREAMS GROW Working to improve the lives of foster kids gives Harris great satisfaction, but the biggest reward is seeing how her own previous foster children, now 6 and 8, are thriving. “It’s good to know that I can make a difference in their lives, knowing that they have stability now. They’re going to move on and go to college and really make something of themselves,” she says. It’s estimated that about two-thirds of foster children never go to college, and very few graduate. In their own small way Kimberly, Denise and Michele are hoping to make a dent in those statistics in the Houston area through Kids’ Dreams Matter, knowing that access to electronics is just one important building block towards a better future.

Michelle Schurman is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer based in The Woodlands. She is a mother of three, who enjoys writing about health, nutrition, parenting, relationships and lifestyle topics.




giving back

| an i•am woman • • •

Justina Page From the ashes of her own family’s tragedy, Justina rose to find new purpose in life by offering help and hope to other survivors of burn trauma. story | Suzanne Hirayama


n 1999, Justina Page and her family — her husband James and their 6 sons — faced an almost incomprehensible nightmare. It was the middle of the night and Justina awoke to the sounds of explosions — their house was engulfed in flames, a 4-alarm fire. Justina awoke her husband, who immediately forced her out of the house through a window. But Justina’s love for her children (and a stubborn personality) made her climb back into the burning house to help save their children. The 4 oldest boys had made it out, some with minor burns and others better off. The smoke was thick and black and made it difficult to see. The heat unbearable. “It’s not like what you see in the movies… it is almost total darkness,” Justina said. She headed toward the 22-month-old twin boys’ bedroom down the hall when a bookcase fell on top of her, pinning her down. She felt her skin burning and envisioned this as her final moments on earth, when her husband miraculously appeared to rescue her. He once again forced her out of the window and went back to retrieve the twins. With much heartbreak, her husband was only able to rescue one of the twins before the ceiling caved in. They lost everything that night — their home, all their possessions, and more importantly, the life of their youngest son, Amos. Justina and the surviving twin, Benjamin, were not expected to live. Benjamin had 3rd degree burns on 36 percent of his body. Justina had 3rd degree burns on more than 55 percent of her body. As severe as the burns were, it was the smoke inhalation that gave the most cause for concern. Justina lay in a coma for six weeks before awaking to excrutiating pain. The road to recovery would be long and extremely painful. Recovery from such a devastating burn requires rehabilitation and surgery and numerous lifestyle adjustments. Justina and her family had to deal with both the physical and

i•am 32 www.i-ammagazine.com

emotional scars from the fire, the loss of their home, and the death of Amos.

Helping Others Through The Amos House of Faith

It wasn’t until a few years later that Justina was able to give meaning to the loss they suffered. In 2007 she founded The Amos House of Faith, a non-profit organization named after the son they lost that fateful day. The Amos House of Faith offers support to children and

“There are moments in life that change you forever. the death of amos beniah page was such a moment for me. nothing in life makes any sense unless there is something positive that comes from such a tragic loss. the pain has been turned into compassion, the loss has been turned into understanding, the emptiness has been turned into a life of renewed purpose. in honor of amos, i help others.” ~ Justina Page

families affected by burn injuries. Justina has dedicated herself to helping burn survivors and their families by offering fire safety education as well as emotional and financial support. She founded several support groups, such as the After Burns Club, which provides post burn support to children affected by burn trauma from grades K-8. These meetings are held monthly at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in both the Houston and Galveston locations. Justina has a unique understanding of how to teach, help and inspire others as a burn survivor and mother of burn survivors, and she is driven by a passion to help other burn trauma families cope. She underwent training through SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance and Recovery) to become a trainer, coordinator and peer supporter. And she has done volunteer work at Memorial Hermann Hospital’s burn center, Shriners Hospital in Galveston and the Phoenix Society. Justina is also a founding advocate of Common Voices Coalition, a group that focuses on education regarding the role fire sprinklers can play in a total fire protection package for your home. She has served in many capacities within the burn community and currently serves as the support group leader for the John S. Dunn Sr. Burn Unit as well as the burn unit Team Leader for Memorial Hermann Volunteer Services. Justina’s dream for The Amos House of Faith is to one day build a house to provide short-term residence for families and caretakers of burn victims recovering in a burn unit. The “home” will be similar in concept to The Ronald McDonald House for pediatric cancer patients’ families. This home will feature approximately


More people die from smoke inhalation than flames. Fire can suck all of the oxygen from a room and fill it with poisonous smoke and gases before flames even reach a room. Many times people die from lack of oxygen before the fire reaches their room. source: www.firerescue1.com

five bedrooms for five separate families and offer all the necessary amenities these families would need for living while their loved one goes through recovery. This amazing woman’s dedication doesn’t stop there. Every Thanksgiving, she single-handedly prepares, cooks and serves Thanksgiving dinner to all the patients and their families at Memorial Hermann’s burn unit. It has grown so much, she is now preparing meals for approximately 100 people. If you would like to volunteer to help this Thanksgiving, contact Justina at 832-816-5728 or justina@justinapage. com to find out how you can help prepare and serve these meals. Donations to The Amos House of Faith can be made online by visiting www. TheAmosHouse.org. Justina has chronicled her ordeal into a book titled “The Circle of Fire” (2011). Along with the gripping details of their tragedy, the book offers insight for coping with loss and devastation. This book is a must-read! Books can be ordered $20 each by contacting Justina at 832-816-5728 or justina@ justinapage.com or from www.Amazon.com. There is also an accompanying study guide book available for $10. All proceeds from the book go to support The Amos House of Faith. To learn more about Justina, visit www. justinapage.com.

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Their Home Away from Home

When you need a helping hand with your elderly loved one, there’s SarahCare Adult Day Care.

We provide a safe and active environment for seniors who require assistance during the day, and peace of mind for their family members who need to continue working or need respite. WE CARE FOR: • Frailty and Physical Dependence • Stroke and Parkinson’s • Chronic Diseases • Isolation and Depression


157 Nursery Rd., The Woodlands, TX 77380 281-419-3600 www.sarahcare.com/woodland ~ KINGWOOD ~

23972 Hwy. 59N, Kingwood, TX 77339 281-361-7000 www.sarahcare.com/kingwood

OUR SERVICES: • Health Care • Day Center • Personal Care • Versatile Activity Program

Schedule a tour of our center and a 1 /2 day free trial today!

Drowning in taxes, bookkeeping & accounting?

Let Aurelia E Weems, CPA be your lifeline Besides excelling at de-mystifying accounting jargon and IRS terminology, Aurelia’s clients would say she is refreshingly warm, friendly, and even funny. She looks out for her client’s best interests through exceptional attention to customer service and staying current with the ever increasing regulatory environment in tax and accounting matters to provide clients with the best legal income tax result. She is passionate about helping

Member of AICPA & TSCPA

entrepreneurs take control of their financial lives so they can make better decisions to meet their long term goals. This begins with listening to her clients and gaining an understanding of them and their business, and understanding their big why. Call to schedule your Get Acquainted Meeting: (936) 273-1188

• www.aewcpa.com

10484 Hwy 242 Conroe, TX 77385

Tax Return Preparation • Tax Planning • Review & Advisory Services • Bookkeeping & Accounting • Quickbooks & Business Planning

Lone Star Arabians

Living Life with Passion

Breeding World-Class Egyptian Arabians Lone Star Arabians is a family owned and operated business here in Magnolia,TX. We cordially invite you to make an appointment to come spend a day in the country with the world’s most beautiful horses. Immerse yourself in the history of the Egyptian Arabian... A gift of the desert. This is an excellent opportunity to pet and learn some basics about the breed, meet industry experts, learn how you can become part of this rewarding industry, and experience these unique, friendly animals up close in a relaxing and beautiful horse farm setting. Please RSVP to Amanda Hammack at:

281-705-8100 ~ www.lonestararabians.com ~ ahammack@lonestararabians.com 34120 Dobbin Hufsmith Rd ~ Magnolia, TX 77354

Feeling fatigued or anxious? Do you have insomnia or weight gain? These are just some of the symptoms we help our patients break free from.

Live life with zest!

Serving our patients for over 10 years – Experience matters when it comes to your health! Life should be more than just getting by day-today, feeling exhausted or unwell. It might be time for a new approach to your health care. Treat your body through functional – integrative health care utilizing: • Bio-identical hormone and pellet therapy • Detoxification • Nutritional Therapies • Specialty diagnostic testing • Treatment for thyroid and adrenal disorders

Mila McManus, MD Founder

Call today for a free consultation: (281) 298-6742 26110 Oak Ridge Dr. The Woodlands, TX 77380 • www.TWIHW.com

/iamWoodlands /iamWoodlands /iamWoodlands 6700 Woodlands Pkwy., Ste. 230-281 The Woodlands, TX 77382