Friday, April 30, 2010

I heart Grandma Camp

My amazing mother has hosted this event for hmmm...six years now. This is a modern day miracle because our numbers are growing exponentially and many of us have moved far away from the mother-ship. Yet, somehow she still manages to pull it off with flying colors. This is the main gist of Grandma Camp:

  • Everyone wears the same thing (boys & girls & moms). So, we barely have to pack anything. We wash these outfits every night and then voila! You are ready to go the next morning. Also, we can keep track of the littles better when everyone is wearing the same bright green shirt. You get the picture.
  • We usually put in our orders of what meals we love. My dear mother spends who knows how long, preparing our favorites: spinach lasagna, burritos (or some type of dish with beans. I mean, we must've eaten pintos 3-4x every week growing up. It just wouldn't be home without them), jambalaya, and of course, topped off with Blue Bell.
  • Each day, we usually take a field trip somewhere. Favorites: Blue Bell Factory, Bluebonnets, Houston Children's Museum (incredible), the park (simple and perfect), NASA, Chuck & Nancy's "ranch," Miller Theater, and the Houston Temple.
  • A Tea Party. The children dress up in their Sunday best and sit around Merlsie's dining table They sip peppermint tea using her lovely dishes, eat dainty cookies and sandwiches, and have a delightful conversation. They love this part.
  • A gigantic van is usually rented to fit everyone. Merlsie had a magnetic sign made for the van which reads, "Watch out! It's Grandma Camp!" I had the honors of driving the beast this year...and mercy! was it a beast! (I'm bummed I didn't get a picture of this. As you can see, my picture portfolio here is a little on the skimpy side).
  • This year we did a little "service project." The women-folk put together these darling fleece blankets for the babies down in Mexico, coming home from the hospital. My girlies loved it.
  • The children and mothers play, talk, and laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh. It's a chance for the cousins to bond...and they do bond. They're all little buddies--just the way it should be. And, us women have so much fun talking, working in the kitchen, giving eachother pep-talks and ideas. just magical.

We all love and look forward to this little bright spot of the year. It normally falls in the springtime. Thank you Grandma Merlsie! Here's to another fantastic Grandma Camp! (The last picture has nothing to do with Grandma Camp at all. I just love this house. It's also on my parent's street. I drool everytime we go past it).

We had a bonus of having Adam's two sisters join us this year. We're all just one big family anyways.

And, as a side-note, us siblings threw together a surprise 40th Anniversary party for our parents. It was so much fun to plan and then to pull off. Ahh...all those years of Student Council paid off. At least I know how to operate a helium tank! BTW, fyi Costco enlarges pictures for a STEAL!! You can get a 20x30 poster-size for a sheer $9.99. We enlarged eight pictures of my parents through the years. They made us cry.

(Thank you Meesh. I love you too. Let's connect soon. muy bueno.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Home sweet home

My mama tells me that I'm a sixth generation Texan. And, when I told someone recently that I was from California, she about choked, "You are not from California, you are from Texas. You live in California." I know. When I go back and visit, I can feel it...these are my roots.

We just arrived back home from a spring break visit to Texas last week for our annual "Grandma Camp" (which was a huge success). I will, of course, be detailing our Grandma Camp in the next post; however, I just wanted to spend a moment explaining my feelings about the Lone Star State.

Besides the heat and humidity (which gives me a headache), I love this place. These are my top ten reasons why I love Texas:

1) Blue Bell Ice Cream. These people know how to make seriously good ice cream in half gallon containers. None of this skimpy Breyer's container nonsense, in which every time I'm back to buy more ice cream, they've shrunk their container another size. so distressing. It's so good, we go to the Blue Bell factory every year for Grandma Camp.

2) The BBQ. I'm not normally a red meat lover (c'mon, I've lived in CA for almost 13 yrs now), but the meat down there is so tasty...mmm...I'm salivating right now at midnight. You smell it everywhere. And I love it. Pappa's, Goode & Co., my cousin Dale's favorites. Everyone eats it and everyone's happy.

3) The trees. Now, California has amazing agriculture; however, the thick trees in Houston make me smile and breathe deep.

4) The accent. I got jipped. How in the world did I not inherit an accent?? jeez. When I tell people I grew up in Texas, they always respond, "Well, you don't have an accent." Although, after I've talked to my mom for awhile or any friends there, I start using a little more twang and more "y'alls." I love it. It's home.

5) The cost of living. I'm not going to focus too much on this or I'll start getting the shakes. I am amazed how much house you can get there for your money. I'll leave it at that.

6) Biggie size. You hear that things are just bigger down there...and they are--the roaches, the hairdos, the earrings, the plates of food, the malls, the houses--everything. Get a load of that house I posted, which is right around the corner from my parent's home. My sister lovingly dubbed it "Toad Hall." I always trick-or-treated there. They gave out biggie size candy bars.

7) State pride. Where else do you see Texas shaped pools and Texas shaped corn chips (which were the store brand, mind you)? No kidding, I even spotted a Texas shaped stepping stone for your yard at Wal-mart (People use them too. Our cousin has them). If you want, I'm sure my mom would be happy to furnish you with a bumper sticker which says, "I'm not from Texas, but I got there as fast as I could" (she gave this one to Adam) or "Don't Mess with Texas" (a classic).

8) Bluebonnets. When I was in labor with each of my babies, Adam would tell me to go to my "happy place." Without even thinking too hard, I would imagine myself in a field of bluebonnets. It sounds a little weird. They bring back many happy memories of springtime trips to the bluebonnets. And, eventhough they don't bloom in the summer, they still bring me back to being in the Texas hill country all summer long.

9) The People. Eventhough I was raised with this, I forget...people are just downright friendly there. As I was pumping gas at Costco, an employee said, "Hi ma'am! How're you doin' today?" "Can I help you pump your gas?" I think I may have flinched (I'm sorry to say). Part of me was hoping he wasn't talking to me. Then I thought, "What is wrong with you?!!! Smile and talk!" We had a nice lengthy conversation about his family, Grandma camp, the weather (I was driving a 15 passenger van with a vast gas tank). Driving away, Annie said, "People are so nice here!" yes. yes they are.

10) My family. I love this house (the one Savannah is sitting in front of). We moved there when I was 3. And, I love even more the people inside. Really, they are why I love this place so much. I feel loved. I feel happy and warm.

I love Texas. And, I love California...this is where my little nest belongs. However, as my grandma Dorothy would tell me regularly, "There's no place like Texas." She's right y'all.