Sunday, January 1, 2012


We have been blessed with a great 2011, and we look forward to seeing what 2012 has in store for us.  This year, I want to have clear, written resolutions to keep me on track.

Resolution #1  Actually join a Catholic church and do a better job of keeping God as our number one priority.  Mark and I go to church on Sundays for the most part, but sometimes I feel we are on autopilot and are not getting what we should out of it.  I want to finally pick a Catholic church to join, go to confession and start 2012 with a clean slate, and be active and involved in the church we join.

Resolution #2  Loose weight, stay fit, eat healthy.  I know this is cliche and probably on everyone's list, but this is an issue I must address immediately.  I have gained a good 20 pounds the second half of 2011 that I need to get off.  I also know I am not putting very nutritional things in my body so I want to be more aware and knowledgeable of food and fitness. 

Resolution #3  Organize and live a more simple life.  I have piles of stuff...beginnings of several projects...and areas with things that need to be organized.  I am in clean mode and ready to throw out lots of stuff that I don't need.  No clutter is the theme.  Along with this is procrastination.  I am going to work on doing things quicker as they come up and not putting them off.

What are your resolutions?

Ringing in the New Year

Mark and I went to Sulpher, OK, to ring in the New Year with friends away from the city.  This is the second time we have done this, and it has proven to be a great choice each time.  Not only do we not have to worry about dressing up or drinking and driving or getting too wild, but it is bonding time with some of our bouples (best couples).  This year, we played lots of Yahtzee (I got three Yahtzee's in one round...all with sixes...what are the odds), canoed, hung out by a campfire, watched Dick Clark's New Year Special, cooked, and took walks in the trails.  Here are a few pictures from the weekend:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giving Thanks

I know I have been the world's worst blogger these days, and I know it has been 2 weeks since Thanksgiving, but I just HAVE to write a post about the Thanksgiving holiday as it is my most favorite. 

As you probably know, I have a very big family.  We are close knit and get together on every holiday at my grandmother's house in Palestine.  Growing up, while my grandpa, Jiddo (grandpa in Arabic), was still around, he would ask that all five of his kids and their families be present at Thanksgiving so that they entire family could be together and the families could go to their separate ways on Christmas if needed (to the in-law's).  Thanksgiving was very important to him as I think his family is what he was most thankful for.  I think I have carried his tradition and meaning behind Thanksgiving.

Our holiday starts off with a Thanksgiving Eve party the night before Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's house in Palestine.  We normally have lots of food and drinks and visit with those we have not seen in a while (close friends and extended family).  Here are a few pictures I took at this year's party of family and friends from all over:

Normally, the party goes on for a while and ends up with the uncles and boy cousins playing poker.  However, I guess age is catching up to them these days as they now end up turning in pretty early.  This year, a few of my cousins and I went out to the local bar, The Shelton Gin, after the party.  Look who I ran into from high school in Texarkana:

That's right - Ben and Bailey Idom!  It was funny seeing them there since I haven't seen them since high school in 2002.  They are working at Lakeview Church Camp located right outside of Palestine (I went to camp there when I was young).

On Thanksgiving Day, we went over to my grandma's for our big lunch.  I guess you could say that our family is pretty much centered around food.  Maybe because we are Lebanese and our family grew up in the produce business?  We eat the traditional turkey and dressing, but we also eat lots of Lebanese/Arabic food.  The menu this year included kibbeh (a dish made of bulgur and chopped meat), cabbage rolls (meat and rice rolled inside boiled cabbage leaves cooked in garlic and lemon juice), grape leaves (meat and rice rolled inside grape leaves from the vine and cooked in garlic and lemon juice), meat pies (flat bread pies with spicy meat toppings), and okra and rice (okra and lamb meat cooked in tomato sauce and served on top of rice).  Our family craves this type of food 24/7 so we always get excited in anticipation with this meal.  The aunt's prepare this food weeks in advance as it takes lots of time.  In fact, this year, I helped with a few of the items.  Here is a look at the spread:

Then, of course, after the meal, we all sit around and watch the Dallas Cowboys game.  We also draw names for Christmas (to see who you have to buy a present for).  Since there are 15 of us first cousins, we have to draw names or else it would cost a fortune to buy gifts for everyone.  Normally, the aunt's would draw names according to the number of kids they have, but since me and another cousin are now married, and we are all getting a little older, us, cousins, draw the names for each other.

Mark's mom is still up north in Wisconsin taking care of the family estate so we did not do Thanksgiving with them that big this year.  We did have lunch with his dad and sister the day after Thanksgiving at Ojeda's, one of their favorite Mexican restaurants in Dallas.  After lunch, Mark and I went to Home Depot to pick out a Christmas tree.  A real Christmas tree is another tradition of mine.  I love the process of picking one out.  Home Depot also makes it easy as they cut and smooth the trunk for you, wrap it up, and tie it up to the top of the car. 

Now that I have told you a little bit about my Thanksgiving, I want to take a few minutes to talk about what I am thankful for this year.  This is a subject I do not talk about much, but now that the holidays are here, and things seem to be looking positive, I figured it's time for me to say a few words about the situation.  My brother, Jeffrey, has battled a drug addition for several years now.  Being we are such a close knight family, you can imagine the toll this takes on our family.  My brother has the biggest heart; anyone will tell you that he is such joy to be around.  However, this addiction got to the best of him and he has been in lots of trouble (drug charges).  The result is prison, a rehab program in prison to be exact, for those that have addictions.  We were fortunate that he was placed in this rehab sector of prison called Safe P (Johnston Unit) in Winnsboro, TX.  He has to stay there for six months.  This is blessing number one as he could have gone to "regular" prison with a mixture of all kinds of criminals.  This rehab program encourages the inmates to be accountable for their actions.  They are there to help themselves and their colleagues be better people and to get to the bottom of their problems.  They are given privelidges as times goes on...things that you and I take for granted like working out, eating certain foods, purchasing stamps, eating certain foods, etc.  After a month or two into the program, they allowed my brother to get a job (he does not get paid of course, but it is something to do with his time and to gain work ethic and appreciation).  He is responsible for the warden's yard.  He mows it, gardens, and does other landscaping jobs around the facility.  He was also given the privelige of playing the guitar at chapel service on the weekends.  He is a very gifted guitar player, so it is great he is able to showcase and envelop his talent.  The second blessing is that I think his mind is finally clear and he has strengthened his relationship with God.  Going to visit him, you can tell that he is learning and realizing his strengths and weaknesses.  He has hope for what lies ahead of him, and he is putting his best foot forward in trying to live life the sober way.  He has been in Safe P since August, and he told me last weekend that this is the longest time he has been sober in years.  I really hope he has the strength and courage to fight the demons and temptations when he gets out and to live a normal life.  I am so proud of him and his progression in this program.  He also turns to the bible and even gives me enlightenment in his letters he writes me.  Even though Jeffrey wasn't present this Thanksgiving, I felt like he was with us more than ever.  I love him and look forward to the future having him back as my brother.  I am so thankful that he is still with us and turning a new leaf in his mind, body, and soul.  Please continue your thoughts and prayers as I know that is part of his recovery and it is much appreciated.  If you are interested in writing him, let me know and I will get the information to you. 

I would love to hear what you were the most thankful for this season.  Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 7, 2011

My, My

My, my there is so much to blog about and so little time.  I am so behind!  First and foremost, my computer crashed at home and have I mentioned that I am still in the archaic days without a smart phone?  Yes, I still have an old school flip phone...but I am working on that.  Secondly, there have been so many things going on that I just haven't found the time to get it all down on paper...or posting pad should I say.  Between birthdays, mini-trips, anniversaries (including our one year), two new tennis seasons, and the new job, things have been hectic to say the least.  However, one day I'll get to it all and fill you in of some of these meaningful moments in my life.  I still enjoy reading about yours.  :)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Falling for Fall TV

Normally, fall TV does not affect the George-Peer household.  This fall, however, is a different story. 

Seasons just ended for two of my favorite shows:  Burn Notice and Royal Pains.  There is something about a hot burned spy accompanied by his sexy girlfriend, beer drinking friend, and CIA associate (who is not to bad on the eyes either) fighting crime and saving the world one day at a time that really thrills me.  Not to mention I get to learn how to build bombs and escape from 15 story buildings which could become handy one day?!  Burn Notice has all of this plus more.  The scenery isn't too bad either - I have always wanted to go to Miami.  On a different note, watching a concierge doctor on call for the rich in the Hamptons is also very entertaining.  What also makes the show is his witty brother who is sales driven adding humor and imagination to the show.  Both shows air on USA.

My regular fall TV shows normally only include Dancing with the Stars and Beverly Hills 90210.  However, the cast on Dancing with the Stars isn't really doing it for me this season.  I like a few of them, and I am SO glad Derrek Hough is back, but I don't think I'll watch this season as religiously.  And for 90210, well, that is my guilty pleasure.  It is ridiculous that I watch it, but I am hooked.  And what’s worse is that Mark watches it with me and is just as hooked!  It definitely is not as good as the original 90210, but it passes the time. 

As if two weren't enough, I have added several new shows to the mix that I am really excited to see!  Here is a preview of them:

Most Eligible Dallas (premiered 8/15/11) - Reality TV series that revolves around young adults in the Dallas metroplex area juggling their social and personal lives.  The show is entertaining.  That's all I can really say about it.  I like to watch it to see some of the Dallas hot spots and to see if I know anyone/anything on the show.  I know, it's sad.  Also, Mark used to work with one of the stars, Matt Nordgren, at Schlegel Sports so it's interesting to see the dynamics of his life versus how he was when Mark worked with him.

Pan Am (premieres 9/25/11) – Centered around the iconic airline Pan America World Airways during the 1960s.  The drama will focus on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world-famous airline in 1963.  This just looks plain interesting. 

Hart of Dixie (premieres 9/26/11) - An American medical drama TV series that follows Dr. Zoe Hart as she moves to remote Bluebell, Alabama, when there are no jobs available for her in New York.  Rachel Bilson stars as Dr. Zoe Hart.  I love her!  You probably remember her as Summer from The O.C.

Up All Night (premiered 9/14/11) - Comedy TV series that centers on a couple who struggle to balance their home lives (especially with their newborn child, Amy) and their work lives.  I think this will be fun to watch, especially since Mark and I will be in their shoes one day (later down the road).  Plus, Christina Applegate always aims to please.

Revenge (premiered on 9/21/11) - A TV drama about a girl who decides to move back from the Hamptons to take revenge on the people who caused the destruction of her family and death of her father.  I can't get enough of the Hamptons, and the shows looks like it doesn't lack suspense.

We shall see how long I stay interested in all of these new shows.  I know I cannot watch them all, but I am going to give it a try.  I can't believe how many of these shows interest me.  Fall TV has been Dancing with the Stars and 90210 ONLY for the longest time....  I am glad I get off work at 4:30PM now so I can catch up on DVR recordings before dinnertime and tennis. 

Oh, and I'm not done.  On top of of my normal shows combined with the new shows, I am catching up on Mad Men.  I had to see what all the buzz is about.  AMC is re-running all of the episodes in order from Season 1 on Sunday mornings.  The verdict...I cannot get enough!  They air three episodes in the morning, but I could watch more!  It’s great!  The screenplay and characters are amazing.  If you are not hooked on this show, it is only a matter of time.  I am glad they won the Emmy this year for best TV Drama Series.

I guess that’s it for my TV craze going on right now.  I am definitely falling for Fall TV this year.  What are you watching?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Lakeside

We celebrated this Labor Day a tad bit early - on Saturday.  We went to Lake Ray Hubbard with two sets of friends (brothers and their wives) that both have boats.  We are blessed and lucky to have such great friends, and we are fortunate they like to take us out on their boats.  :)  Here are a few photos from the day.

I hope everyone has a safe, relaxing Labor Day weekend.  I would love to hear about your weekend festivities!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Strange but True Facts

A financial planner and former client of mine, Mark Stoeker, sent this email to me.  It contains facts and figures about who is benefiting from today's economy.  I found it to be strange, but true.  In a nutshell, if your net worth starts with an M (million) or B (billion), then you are benefiting.  These facts point out that the gap between the rich and the middle class gets bigger each year.  Interestingly enough, my prior job was insuring the middle to lower class, but the clientele of my new job consists of primarily the upper class so I am able to see more and more of these transactions and habits of the high net worth on a normal basis.  It is interesting that this economy is actually helping them unlike the rest of us!

  • According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, face lifts for men jumped 14% last year.
  • The average bonus for a worker on Wall Street in 2010 was only $128,530.  It appears that more Wall Street bailouts may be needed.
  • According to DataQuick Information Systems, the sale of million dollar homes rose an average of 18.6% in the top 20 major metro areas in the U.S. in 2010.
  • In 2010, for the first time ever, more than a million U.S. families lost their homes to foreclosure.  That number is expected to grow even higher in 2011.
  • According to Moody's Analytics, the wealthiest 5% of households in the U.S. now account for approximately 37% of all consumer spending.
  • In 2009, only 18,288 vehicles with a price tag of $100,000 or more were sold in the U.S.  In 2010, 32,144 such vehicles were sold.
  • Porsche recently reported that sales increased by 29% during 2010.
  • Porsche has announced that they will soon be taking orders for their first hybrid sports car, the 918 Spyder.  The price tag on one of those puppies will only be $845,000.
  • Approximately half of all American workers make $25,000 a year or less.
  • According to the U.S. Energy Department, the average U.S. household will spend approximately $700 more on gasoline in 2011 than it did during 2010.
  • According to a new study by America's Research Group, approximately 75% of all Americans are doing less shopping because of rising gasoline prices.
  • According to the New York Post, Barack Obama enjoyed a total of ten separate vacations that stretched over a total of 90 vacation days during the years of 2009 and 2010.
  • When 2007 began, 26 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, an all-time record of 44 million Americans are on food stamps.
  • The Ivex Packaging Paper Plant in Joliet, Illinois, is shutting down for good after 97 years in business. Seventy-nine jobs will be lost.
  • Meanwhile, China has become the number one producer of paper products in the world.
  • Luxury jewelry retailer, Tiffany & Co., recently announced that their profits increased by 29% in the 4th quarter of 2010.
  • Average household debit in the U.S. has now reached a level of 136% of the average household income.
  • The U.S. economy now has 10% fewer "middle class jobs" than it did just ten years ago.
  • The average CEO now makes approximately 185 times more money than the average American worker.
  • According to one recent study, 21% of all children in the U.S. were living below the poverty line during 2010.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Day of...Work

August is back to school for most of the kiddos; however, August is back to work for me. 

I have been at Texans Insurance Group, formerly Curley Insurance Group, for a little over five years (five years this past July 11 to be exact).  Being employed at Texans has been like riding a roller coaster over the years.  The agency has gone from changing ownership, to changing names, to changing locations and offices, to changing policies and procedures, and now back to changing ownership again.  The agency is up for sale and the purchase will take place any day now as all of the potential buyers have done their due diligence and are now in the final phases of submitting their offer and intentions.  While I had fully intended to ride the wave even as things seem to diminish, I was approached by a past co-worker in regards to a position opening up in her agency.  A position that only I came to her mind as the perfect candidate.  I went on an interview which ended in a very positive note in all areas; I had a feeling that the job was in the bag. 

Meanwhile, two days later, my immediate boss turned in her two weeks notice.  This rocked my world as I was also contemplating leaving the agency (pending I would get an offer from the other agency soon).  My boss turning in her notice came a complete shock to me.  I thought she would be riding the wave with me at Texans, and she actually one of the main reasons I never wanted to leave Texans.  Also, with her being my mentor, I had sad feelings about separating from her and the department that we created.  All good things must come to an end, and I needed to accept the fact that my boss and I would not be working together forever anyway.  She was offered a position at a top, national (and international) agency; it is where most young professionals in our industry strive to work for, so she definitely needed to take the opportunity. 

In the midst of all of this, our upper management team met with me on taking over my boss's responsibilities and mentioned that I have the potential to take over her position and manage our department after the sale takes place (depending on the buyer).  However, there were no guarantees and nothing could be placed in writing.  Do I stick around through the sale while working overtime to satisfy mine and my former boss's accounts not knowing what really lies for me in the future, or do I turn my back and walk away...leaving it all behind myself a fresh start at another agency?

As I am sure you assumed, I did get the offer from the other agency.  I contemplated on both opportunities.  I made several lists of pros and cons.  I analyzed all of the "what ifs" by staying at Texans as well as the offer from the other agency that was laid in my hand.  I got advice from all areas and several people....  I asked many, many questions....  I tried to envision myself at both places a year from now....  I prayed to the good Lord....  And I went to a lecture led by Ron Reynolds.  Ron made a few comments that really hit home.  He said that you are not going to get anywhere in life if you continue to sit comfortably.  You have to go out and take a risk in order to gain.  You have to move yourself and make things happen.  This was the final piece to all of this mind and soul searching I was doing.  I then decided to take the job opportunity at the new agency. 

Once I made this decision and turned in my two weeks notice, I never looked back.  My only concerns were leaving my long time customers along with friends and family I had written accounts for and serviced over the years, as I have a non-compete clause stating I cannot solicit their business for two years.  Besides that and leaving our department short staffed with two people, I did feel slightly unsettling, but after informing them of my decision, I finally felt a freedom and self-worth that I have not felt in long time. 

I took a long weekend break from work.  Mark, my sister, and I took a mini-vacation with my parents to El Campo and Port Lavaca for a wedding.  I'll post on that later.  My last day at Texans was last Thursday and today was my first day of work at the new agency.  Boy did I forget what it felt like to be the new kid on the block (at Texans, I was one of the last men standing). 

Even though I am doing the same line of work, today was like my first day at school.  Everything is so new and there are so many new faces to learn.  I was sent home with homework (procedures manuals and paperwork to review and fill out).  There are several people I need to meet with this week in order to familiarize myself with their accounts.  I already have prospects coming to me that need quotes.  There are new carriers I have to get to know.  It is all so exciting but slightly overwhelming.  So much for being comfortable. 

I guess I can go ahead and tell you the name of it my new agency: TexCap-Concord Insurance Services.  It still feels funny saying that.  Everyone is so welcoming and friendly.  I know they are truly happy to have me on board.  I know I will eventually be comfortable at this new agency, and I know that I am already valued.  I look forward to this next chapter in my life and wish the same "back to school excitement" for you whether it be from a new venture, an addition to the family, or even a small, personal change.