Friday, December 28, 2007

The Dust Tastes Nasty

Teensy and boys along with Mom and Dad have just returned "home" from West Texas. We left on Friday morning, December 21st. Getting the Spoon's ready for travel away from home is daunting and makes me want to find a dark corner, assume the fetal position and rock soothingly as I suck my thumb. We started packing on Thursday so we could leave on Friday. Had we started packing on Friday to leave on Friday we would have left Saturday morning. Just to drag you into the aneurysm inducing trauma too here's the rundown.

  • Gifts: We had to pack all of the gifts purchased for Kendra's family. This included: Poppy, Granny, Uncle D, Kendra (yes, his wife shares the same name as my wife, isn't that...special), and Uncle D's kids, Brylee, Reece, and Kendal, Grandma Greenfield, Grandma Rushing, Aunt Mimi, Uncle Randal and Aunt Janette. Having wrapped and secured those gifts it was time to dig out all of the gifts that Santa had dropped off early to our house which needed to be taken to Granny's house so our children could believe in the magic of Christmas. PLUS, oh I'm not done yet (and you are already looking for a corner aren't you?) we had to get our gifts to our children out and ready to pack.
  • Teensy: Since we were going to be gone for seven days we needed to pack two cans of formula, a case of bottled water for her cereal, drinking, and bottles, enough cereal (two boxes) for her breakfast, lunch and I just need a little tide me over snack, food, teething medicine, gas medicine, diapers, wipes, shampoo, outfits that were guaranteed to make her look just absolutely adorable because, after all this was her debut in West Texas. Clothes, Lord we packed enough clothes for her to change three times a day. Then there were the toys, blankets, pack and play for sleeping, and night night pj's. Oh yes, and a coordinating bow for every outfit, except the pj's because it really balls up the whole sleeping thing. Most of this went into her hot pink with white polka dot duffel bag that will be her luggage until she's old enough to tell us she hates it.
  • Chubbers: Chubber Chubber needed two changes of clothes per day, he could have used five changes of socks per day, but we just let him eek out on one pair per day, pj's, his special cream for eczema, special lotion, special soap, special shampoo, special spray for his beautiful curly, velvety soft hair, special comb that helps him not scream the entire time we are coming this luscious locks. Tooth brush and the toothpaste he'll use, Tylenol because his two year molars decided it would be a good time to burst through his gums, great timing molars! We of course could not forget the gucky, his special security blanket which travels with him everywhere. A pack and play for him since he sleeps in a crib still and would fall out of a traditional bed. Blankets, sheets, and a pillow so he could smell hom e as he slept. Toys, movies, and shoes. Plus jackets for windy, cold and windy, and the coldwindywhyintheworldareweoutinthiscrap jacket. This packed in a grey toned camo duffel.
  • Mister T: Titus was the least of our worries as he's the most content in most situations. He's a well seasoned traveler. When it was just the three of us we drug him all over timbuck too. He's a great traveler and a good sport when it comes to going because that's what he's been doing for his entire life. We packed pj's, clothes, play clothes, two pair of shoes, movies, games, and toys for his entertainment. He shares Emma's soap and shampoo, and of course his toothbrush and toothpaste. He usually takes along an animal but decided they could all stay home since he would be with cousins. Worked out pretty well animal free. And a pillow. This was all packed into a green and black camo duffel.
  • Snacks: This is no small feat. We filled a laundry basket and two insulated bags full of the things that our kids like to snack on. They are huge snackers and eat almost all day long. There is snack restriction from 5:00-5:30 while Mom is cooking dinner but other than that they are free to eat at anytime they wish and we make sure they have healthy snacks at their finger tips. Go-gurt, grapes, three boxes of different crackers, cheez-it's, Frosted Mini-Wheats, cookies (Mom made chocolate chip!), Sugar wafers (they aren't healthy for everyone but me loves them), Capri Sun Roaring Water, four cases of Diet Coke, Christmas snacks we made, Strawberry Newtons, and Chocolate. Nesquick for Chocolate milk in the mornings. I think I've covered everything.
  • Mom: All of her clothes fit into a hanging bag, then her toiletries bag, make up bag, and hair dryer. A pillow.
  • Me: One duffel filled with all of my clothes, shoes, house shoes, and my kit bag which had the essentials to my survival. Chief among the essentials is Claritin because there is something about West Texas my body doesn't like and I get sinus trouble every time I go so these pills are gold!

All of this fit into our van, along with us, how I did it was a Christmas miracle. We were off by 9:30 Friday morning and 1,000 feet into our journey had to turn around because Mom forgot her camera. We were on the road again by 9:50. The trip there was grueling because it took forever! 13 hours in the car with a 14 month old, 2 year old, and 5 year old is grueling. The mistake was in our choice of route. We chose to go through Oklahoma City, then Fort Worth, which is where the whole problem started. Fort Worth was a mistake. Traffic is always an issue but this particular day was among the worst traffic days in recent memory. It took us over an hour just to navigate through Fort Worth form Texas Motor Speedway to I-20 headed for Weatherford. It should have only taken us 25 minutes at least 35-40 at most. By the time we were through the Fort Worth traffic I was a fuming, angry, keyed up, road raged Daddy. If one more care had pulled into the fast outside lane and made the decision to drive slow I would have exploded! We pulled off and ate dinner to give me some time to cool down. Fort Worth was only half way and we should have already been there. We pulled into Granny's drive way at 9:40. Then we had to unload--EVERYTHING! I didn't get to bed until 11:30 that night and I was exhausted.

We haven't been to West Texas for Christmas since Titus was a baby, he's only had one Christmas at Granny's. Granny was able to have Christmas with all of her grand babies under one roof. This was all the gift she needed, but she enjoyed the things we brought her other than her grand children. Granny had not seen Teensy since she was in the NICU so needless to say she had changed a lot since she last "saw" her. Pictures just don't' do for Granny's ya know.

Kendra's family has lived in their house for over thirty years, so most of Kendra's memories are in this house. It was cool to have our kids under the same roof enjoying Christmas that their Mom enjoyed when she was their age. We made sugar cookies for Santa and used the same cookie cutters Kendra used. This kind of stuff makes me happy inside and comforts me because I'm huge on nostalgia and memories. Most of my family traditions aren't practiced at Christmas with Granny, but I don't mind being involved in their traditions and giving mine a break.

Christmas morning in my family always meant home made hot chocolate, cinnamon rolls, and pigs in a blanket. After we enjoyed that we dug into the gifts. Someone was always designated "Santa" and sorted out all of the gifts. We usually opened one at a time watching the expressions on each package opened. All of our Santa gifts were wrapped under the tree in one special paper. All of the other gifts from family were wrapped in different paper. Kendra's family opens family presents on Christmas Eve, then on Christmas morning the kids walk into the living room and see all of the Santa gifts just set out. Opened, assembled, batteries installed, grouped by child. It's a pretty stark difference and not easily over come. Making sure my wife is happy, and my kiddos are happy is VERY important and takes precedence over this tradition. Personally I would like to combine the two and settle. Have family presents on Christmas Eve, but have the kids find wrapped Santa gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. I don't really push the subject, but maybe someday.

Our kiddos had a great time playing with their cousins and we had a great time visiting with family. There is nothing to do in this town, but be with family, chat, reminisce, and relax. Sitting around the kitchen table, drinking Folgers coffee and reminiscing is a great prescription for hustle and bustle. Stopping to know that the fiber of your being is woven together with memories of family, and celebrations, and the foundation upon which "you" are is strong because you have time to be together and close and tell those you love, "I love you."

The dust in West Texas still tastes nasty, but being with your family at Christmas is delicious. I love you Teensy, Chubber Chubber, Mister T, and Kendra! You are what makes my year bright.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Memory Lane: Go, Go Granny

Fleeter Ann (Robinson) Hill was my Mom's grandmother. She raised my Mom from birth because her mother, Pauline, couldn't. I've never really been told what the reason was just that she couldn't so there you have it. My Granny had seven children but raised so many of her own grandchildren it wasn't even funny. I still have the hardest time deciding who is and isn't an aunt, great aunt, uncle, cousin, it's just all messed up.

I spent so much time at my Granny's house, had just the best time ever there. She lived at the foot of South street in the teeny tiniest house. There's one specific story that I need to pull out, but I have just hundreds of other stories knocking on my brain's door that it's hard to keep on track with the one I want to share.

Granny was feisty to say the least, stubborn, set in her ways, and always a very colorful person. She wore her hair pulled back into a bun, a perfectly woven tight bun, not a hair out of place--ever. She usually had on a sweater with her dress and wore white keds tennis shoes. Granny was the antithesis of pretentious. She chewed Good Money tobacco. This tobacco was in a figure eight shape and she would cut off a, "chaw" of the stuff and chew it. I'm assuming is was the long leaves of the tobacco plant twisted. She carried a Foldgers coffee can so she could spit out her 'backy' juice. It was the most disgusting thing, but none the less a part of my Granny and I loved her, sumtotally!

Saturday's were spent going to town with Granny. We always went to town with Granny on Saturday's. When I was younger we would go to the square, where she would shop at JC Penny's and the hardware store, etc. Sis and I would go across the street to the courthouse and try to see into the jail, never did get a peek, but it was a great adventure for us. As we got older and Wal-Mart came to town we would go there and then to Consumers market for groceries. Granny usually got the same things each week, predictably.

One Saturday when my sister was in high school we were at consumers. As we picked up Granny and headed to town she was complaining about her clothes being too big. She was just a tiny thing and I don't think I ever saw her buy new clothes. Granny was always devastating my sister in public, asking her how big her boobs were, shoving panties and bras up in the air to see if she needed any. Stuff like that would just send my sister into orbit to the planet mortification! I really loved watching my sister melt into a puddle of humiliation and the look on my Granny's face like, "what did I do?" Great. This particular Saturday would prove to be one my my fondest memories from my childhood because it involved the humiliation of my sister.

We were at Consumers and Sis and Granny were in the produce section when, "Lesa, I need to find a bathroom." "What's wrong Granny?" "The elastic in my underwear just gave way and I'm losing my drawers." "WHAT!"" Just get me to a bathroom." As luck would have it the bathroom was just behind the aluminum produce doors. Just as my sister and Granny walked through the door into the back room Granny's panties gave way and were piled up around her ankles. To make matters worse one of the cute guys at my sister's school that she liked was standing there jaw dropped, eyes popped having just witnessed an 80 year old ladies underwear fall around her ankles. "Hey Lesa, everything ok?" "Yes, we are fine. Granny come on." "Ma'am can I help you?" As the boy was leaning down to help my Granny with her panties, she stepped out of one side and kicked them up to her hand. "No! you don't need to help me. We are just fine. Thank you." As my Granny stuffed the underwear into her purse and turned to exit, my sister was just frozen in humiliation. Not only would she have to spend the rest of the day with her Great Grandmother shopping commando, but she had just encountered a peer--a cute have a crush on you peer--who witnessed the whole debacle.

I still laugh when I think of this story. It's one of my favorite stories of all time. Incidentally, Granny's underwear kind of peeked out of her purse the rest of the shopping trip and my sister just stayed back head hung low, hoping that she would die before Monday rolled around.

I'll have more great Granny stories. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

R.I.P my friend

My friendly, feisty, spunky, ever-present (until today) fish, Otis died today. Otis was my office fish and came to be my friend when I worked in Texas at Heritage. We had to do a unit in one of our Bible classes with fish and I bought several beta's, Otis was the only surviving one. Several of those little suckers leaped out of their containers to sudden death, kamikaze crazy fish!

Otis was special to me because he had some really cool tricks. He would flip his smooth black rocks at the side of his bowl every so often, which always got my attention. Other than swimming around and flipping rocks, he was quiet and reserved.

I'll miss my friend. Thanks, Otis, for three good years of love and support. I'll miss you.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A titch more Teensy

Well we've finally scraped up all the dried on frosting from the beating our kitchen took last Friday for Teensy's party. It was a lot of fun having many of our friends and family take the time to join us for the celebration of her first birthday. Levi and Emma both had less than spectacular first birthday's when compared to Titus' first birthday. His first birthday was literally a three ring circus. We had clowns, a ring master, decorated our church fellowship area in Texas to look like a circus, ordered custom made lollipops, and had a pinata (in Texas everyone has a pinata at their birthday, not sure why) the size of a small man (this thing stood about 4 1/2 feet tall for real). We had a lot more time and resources for Mr. T's first birthday, with Levi and Emma we just felt good about having a birthday.

Kendra made her smash cake and cupcakes for the guests, I made chili and green chili cheddar cornbread muffins. We had all the fixings to make Frito pie, too. One of my good friends from Texas, Sharon (who lurks about this blog now and then, HI Sharon!) who hails from Nebraska had never tasted or heard of a Frito pie! I couldn't believe that she had never had a Frito pie! For those of you who are deprived of this fantastic, crave-inducing delight, a Frito pie is simply corn chips, chili, and cheese layered together. Some folks put onion and peppers on, but me I like it just straight up. Corn chips, cheese, chili, more corn chips, chili, cheese. It is just fantastic. For the next several years anytime Sharon had not tried or had anything we would always say, "you've never had a Frito pie!" I'll have to post my recipe for Chili, it's really good an easy to make.

Back to the party. Kendra is amazing to me. She can get an idea or what my Granny would call a wild hair and just pull it off. For Teensy's cake, she wanted to make fondant ribbons for each cupcake and for Teensy's smash cake. Well we've never touched fondant, worked with fondant, other than to peel it off the cake we were about to dive into at weddings. That was not going to stop my sweet wife from tackling the project. We've watched enough Ace of Cakes and Food Network challenges to have visual memories of folks working with fondant. I made the butter cream frosting for the cakes and proceeded to make the ribbons. First she tinted the fondant to the specific colors she wanted, then rolled the fondant dough out to about 1/8th of an inch. She cut the dough into 1/4 inch strips ( it looked like fettuccine noodles) and each strip was cut into 6 inch sections. She would fold each strip into a loop (to look like a tear drop). These loops she arranged on the cupcake in a circle, then placed two or three loops standing up and viola! Ribbon. It was really cool. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the ribbon to post at present.
Here is a close up of the decimated smash cake. Teensy pinched all you see eaten with just two tiny fingers. The above shots of her are how we present all of our children on their first birthday, waist up naked wearing a party hat. She is chewing on a fondant ribbon in each shot. The hat is made of felt, each scallop has a tiny rhinestone on it, and the plate matches the hat, as well as an ice cream bowl which will come out later. It all comes in an heirloom box to keep for years to come. The high chair is the same chair that Titus, Levi, and now Teensy all sat in for their first birthday. It has a permanent place in my sentimental obsession, we can never get rid of that chair. I will also be on a mission to persuade all of my children to have their children sit in the chair for their 1st birthday (it is ridiculous, but my genetic make-up is 80% ridiculous and 20% starch). Those little polka dots were purchased in the cake decorating section and matched the colors Kendra used for the ribbon perfectly.
We have seven Christmas trees in our house at present. We have one in our formal living room, which is decorated with all of our sentimental ornaments. Then there is one in the kitchen ( you can kind of see it in the background) which is decorated in red and white with gingerbread. Kendra can flat decorate a tree! Then we have a snowman tree up stairs in the game room, Levi has a cowboy tree in his room. Titus has a tree that is all blue. Blue ornaments, blue lights, blue ribbon--blue! The tree in our room is kind of a vintage tree with copper bulbs, vintage looking hearts and such. Teensy's tree is awesome. It's a feather boa tree. The tree rests upon a shelf which is right by her changing table. We found a kit with Barbie ornaments and then some brushed metal ornaments. The topper is a tiara, which fell as I see--need to work on the fixing of that. The picture frames on the shelf have her brothers and her Momma holding her. The picture of Momma and her is in a tiara frame. Her room is Mint green and pink. I'll have to post some pictures of her room. Very cool.
Our kids are growing up with a deep love for celebrating and being excited about doing stuff. Kendra and I both want to celebrate that we are a family and we make everything a party. When we go to Target, it's a party! No matter what we do we try to make it a fun and exciting adventure and not a drudgery. Hopefully happy memories are being built as our kids carefully lay the foundation of their lives out in the Spoon house.