27 September 2009

It's official...

I had an appointment at the Apple Store this afternoon. Mission completed and we were heading out of Memorial City Mall to get to our movie. Being a Saturday, the mall was crowded necessitating our parking so far north of the mall it was almost Dallas. We walked down two hallways and then headed into Macy's. It's been AGES since I was in a department store and of course, the first thing that hits you when you walk in is all the conflicting fragrances in the 'Beauty' department. Mike started sneezing and my nose started twitching. Dashing past the bottles of scent, I tried to appear casual as we passed a makeup workshop in progress - Estee Lauder I think - complete with a makeup artist the likes of which I have NEVER seen in a mainstream department store.

She was dressed in black shirt with plunging neckline, black short shorts, black ankle boots with stiletto heels, black nail polish, and heavily black-kohled eyes. But that's not what caught my attention - she was wearing HUGE netting bow "hat". I mean, seriously, that thing had a span of at least 30"! Mike and I kept looking straight ahead and continued walking. Heads straight ahead, we cut our eyes to each other after we passed her and then burst out laughing.

"Did you see that?", I ask Mike. "All that black nail polish and makeup.", Mike replies. "That hat?? Did you see that HAT?", I say. "Is that what that was?", said Mike. We decided all that was missing was the silver dancing pole.

It's official. We are fuddy-duddies. We have joined the legions of "tutt-tutt"ers who walk through the mall and feel like we are on some sort of anthropological expedition. It might have been a foreign country for all we knew - who were these people and what were they doing? And WHY were they doing it? We start sentences with "I remember when....(fill in the blank)" or "In OUR day...(also fill in the blank)".

Furthermore, I notice that we now not only discuss lab results but congratulate ourselves, almost to the point of high-fives, when they come back "in normal range". We are excited when we catch a 6:15pm movie on a Saturday night, the WEEKEND no less, because we can be home by 8:30pm.

We have become domesticated. And it doesn't even bother us!

But please slap me if I start wearing "sensible shoes". There ARE limits.

We're not worried!

Our burly, rough and tumble grandson, Luke, appears to have great potential as an athlete. He has been able to throw (accurately) a ball for over a year now. I may have some football games to attend in the future (something I didn't have with my own two boys).

But this past summer during visit to "Gramma Cheri's Keller House" as it is known, Luke spent the night. As this is the first time we've done this, it was significant. I didn't know if he'd be happy to actually STAY the entire night or decide to bail once it was bedtime. But we didn't have any issues whatsoever and he went to bed just like he did at home (and also woke up early - just like he did at home). I was getting ready the next morning while he was in and out of my room. I was drying my hair when I noticed he was very interested in my shoe hanger. Next thing I knew, he was off and "running".

I really like how he's really working it with that pacifier.

And the kick "off" was executed well.

At least he picked a sensible pump. :)

26 September 2009

I hear VOICES!

I went to a cooking demonstration at Brookwood Community yesterday with my friend Cynthia. They decided to channel Julia Child and had their chef, Laura Day, show us how to make the famous Boeuf Bourguignon (fancy title for roast beef stew with fancy veg). We also were served lunch consisting of the same and believe me, it was well worth it! I may have to gather up all these ingredients myself and try my hand at this ala "Julie and Julia" sans the profanity (as well as the "falling asleep and forgetting to take it out of the oven so it was ruined" scenario). Shoot, I might even have to go buy this lovely Ruffoni pan to make it in! (Forget high fashion - I go weak at the knees when I see stuff like this).

Anyway, during the demonstration, I received a phone call that I missed because it's just not good form to keep one's mobile ringer on during French Cooking Demonstrations (although NO ONE told that to the two men who attended because both of them received calls and wouldn't you know those guys, both in their 50s or 60s, had obnoxious song ringtones? isn't there some law against that if you are a male over the age of 14?). After I got to the car I turned my ringer back on and noticed I'd missed a call and had a voicemail waiting. I was glad then that I'd missed the call because now I have this message recorded to listen to over and over again (not to mention also sharing it with Mike later last night).

"Hello? Hey, Gramma?? This is Kennedy. I was hoping to have a princess cake for my birthday. So could you please make me that, please Gramma? I love you too. I love you, Gramma, Gramma Cheri. Bye!"

That's it, verbatim. I listened over and over to get it down word for word. You see, I'd phoned Megan earlier to ask what kind of cake Kennedy wanted. She wasn't sure if so said she'd ask her when she got home from school. I knew she was going to the San Antonio Zoo for her birthday and thought she might want a zoo themed cake. But given Kennedy's history, I figured Princesses could figure high up on the chart of Birthday Cake Interests. So Megan must have discussed it with Kennedy and Kennedy was calling to take care of business.

This is very significant to me because, well, it's my first "grandchild left" voicemail. The first of many I hope.

And, yes, Kennedy, I will be VERY happy to bake and make you a princess cake. Love you, sweetheart.

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day was weeks ago but it's been so busy I never got around to posting about it. I think I was in shock that Mike was actually IN the USA. Usually, he spends Public Holidays working in Kazakhstan or en-route coming or going overseas. So (shock!) he was actually at home which of course called for DOING SOMETHING! So we went to Pflugerville which is only 2-1/2 hours away.

We hadn't been in Pflugerville since the "Great Surgery Debacle of Summer 2009" (aka known as "Megan's Unbearable Lightness of Being...in Great Pain") so we definitely wanted to go back and once and for all demolish the bad hospital vibes. :) And everyone was doing great!

We kind of joined Tim and Megan in a "Stay cation" going out to eat or "ordering in". We discovered some great new places in Austin. One of these was the perfect marriage of fantastic and original hamburgers, homemade ice creams and a playground out front for the kids - score! One of my favorites was Phil's Ice House (the aforementioned ice cream/burger/playground winner). I even told them they needed to get one built in (preferably) west Houston in general; Katy, in particular. They CAN hold a candle to Beck's Prime!

We ate so much at lunch on Saturday that we had no appetite for our reservation at P.F. Chang's. So Megan called and rescheduled for Monday at lunch and we got Pei Wei takeout for Saturday night - MUCH later in the evening! (Note to those "not in the know" - if you register for online ordering at Pei Wei, you'll get 30% off your first take-out order).

Sunday after services was an old favorite - Houston's Restaurant. I always laugh about going to Houston's in another town - Houston's in Austin? How come we don't have an Austin's in Houston? Moving on...naps in the afternoon, bliss. Then headed to Freddy's Frozen Custard for supper. If you ever get a chance to go to one of these, be sure and get their Turtle Concrete - oh.my.word. And then we went back and let the kids play in the bounce house purely expecting to see dinner "revisited" but they didn't have any playground equipment induced nausea. :) Tim even got out the good old Whamo!Slip'n'Slid and he and the kids had a blast. I didn't get any photos as it was dusk (and the water was flying!).

We played 42 that night after the kids were in bed. This is historically a game fraught with tension since Mike plays for blood and I barely understand the game. But all went well that night and I evidently played fairly well - Mike and I won two sets!

"Who dealt this garbage?"...oh, it was me.

Monday we played with the kids and they did more bouncing in the bounce house (have I ever mentioned how that thing has been worth every penny??? Oh, I did? Sorry...) and then went to P.F. Chang's for lunch. That's when Lleyton decided to plant one right on Mike - just took his Papa's face between his hands and put on right on the kisser!! Too awfully cute - I was almost jealous but I got the the good picture so was happy. :)

We loaded the car and all three dogs and headed back to Katy that afternoon (us and about a million-kajillion other people). We were fine with traffic till we got to I-10 and then it was stop and go. So we cut off and went down to 90A, cut through Fulshear and avoided traffic while enjoying lovely country scenery.

All in all a VERY enjoyable long holiday weekend.

We just need to eat at home for a LONG time...

25 September 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

Luke has graduated from baby crib to big boy bed. This transition happened awhile back but the first time I'd seen the new shared room of Ben and Luke was this past weekend when we went for Ben's birthday party.

Luke proudly showed me his bed (complete with cute little rail) and commenced jumping up and down on it. Kennedy got on too and started bouncing. Lleyton was getting a huge grin on HIS face with the anticipation of a good bounce as well. I told Luke I was going to get on his bed and bounce too. And y'all know me - I'm not going to win any supermodel-thin awards anytime in THIS lifetime! Luke stops jumping, looks at me, and solemnly announces, "You go bounce on Mama's bed".

Smart kid.

24 September 2009

Snips, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails...

Last Saturday we celebrated my eldest grandson and grandchild's 5th Birthday. When Benjamin was born, Mike and I still resided in London (well, maybe Mike was as I was spending an awful lot of time in Texas that year including 8 weeks when he was born...). One of the main reasons we decided to move back was the births of our first two grandchildren, Ben in September and Kennedy early the following month. The Atlantic became impossibly wide after that and within a year we'd make plans to repatriate. We just were NOT going to miss this adventure of grandparenthood!

I have been blessed to be a part of every single birthday Ben has had, party or not. As this was his 5th, I think perhaps my days are numbered for him actively wanting me there each year. I can see it now, 10 friends at the paint ball place and there is Gramma Cheri in full camo, zeroing in on his friends...or the year I break a hip when they go roller skating and I fall - somehow I don't think so. With Kennedy I can probably host mani-pedi parties and get away with it a lot longer! :)

And now a MasterCard moment:
2 Cake mixes - $2.16
1 Can Icing - $1.56
4 eggs, milk and oil - $1.50
7 bags of various candies - $17.58
1 Grandson happy with his birthday robot cake - PRICELESS!

All of his grandparents were there in force this year as well as some of the great-grands. And Ben had most of his cousins and a couple of friends in attendance. The bounce house got a good workout (I'll say it again - that thing was WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY!) and the weather was good for outdoor playing (always a boon for the harried mom and dad of such occasions!) I have been putting my cake baking skills back to use - Ben wanted a robot theme so a robot cake was in order (by the way, it is WAY easier to trim a cake with lots of candy instead of all the piped icing and cut prep time down by an hour at least - woot!)

I had bought semi-sparkler candles for the cake, thinking the effect would be nice, not knowing that they were also the "hard to blow out" kind of candles. Oops! Good thing Ben is 5 and has very healthy lungs (note to self, do not use said candles for any asthmatic or emphysemic honorees). As the photos below will tell, he had to really work at it to get them out and STAY out!

Then he was NOT happy to learn that the "still shot" of the "blowing out of the candles" had not been caught by mom and dad's camera and a staged reshoot was in order! His dismay was understandable but hilarious.

I had lots of leftover candy from the cake so put it all in a big plastic bag and brought it over. Luke, being the eagle eye that he is, spots it...

...checks to see if Mom is watching...

...is followed by his friend and...

...buys said friend's "silence" with payment in kind.

Then the gifts were opened. The Wall-E robot was a big hit!

Kennedy helping and taking away the wrapping paper trash.

A sure fire sign that these guys are getting older - they wait and let the honoree open the presents!

Checking out the new Wall-E robot toy - of course, Uncle Tim had to come check this one out!

And you can never go wrong with a huge old honkin' set of Crayola Crayons and art supplies!

So Happy Birthday, Benjamin. You are almost in kindergarten now - one more year. Soon you'll be a big brother to little Master/Miss Brewton when he/she is born. And you're a good big brother for mischievous brother Luke. We love you very much and have enjoyed seeing and helping you grow and mature into the sweet and smart young man that you are.

And thanks for still wanting us there. :)

Ben and I about a year ago - I've always loved this photo of my "Butter Bean" and his Gramma Cheri.

15 September 2009

For the love...

...of grandchildren! We went to P.F. Chang's in Austin with Tim and Megan's family on Labor Day and Lleyton evidently thought his Papa was something because all of the sudden, he grabs Mike's face with both hands and plants one on him!

Lucky guy!

03 September 2009

A Literal "Sunday Afternoon Drive" in California

Yes, that is indeed the OCEAN!

As promised, here are some photos of our Sunday afternoon drive down the coastal highway between Anaheim and Laguna Beach. We didn't park, get out and walk around - perhaps we should have. We did attempt to find a parking place at one point, but not finding one within any reasonable distance from the beach, we caved and just drove on seeing more beautiful scenery. We're not really what you'd call "beach people" anyway. I mean, we have a pool here at home and I'm the only one who uses it. I think Mike's been in it once or twice in the almost 4 years we've lived here. And coming from Lubbock, I just recently found out what "ocean" was! Okay, I kid - I found out about those when we moved to London the first time and we flew over one.

This drive really made me feel like I was on VACATION!
"Nuthin' like that round these here parts, buddy!"

I've never been a fan of palm trees and this just backs up that feeling - looks
like a bunch of matchsticks with tassels stuck around that house. Oh, sorry if
it's where you live...

Anyway, back to the point, we had promised Tim we would NOT leave California without seeing the ocean. So we did see it - and it did not disappoint. But the interior designer in me kicked in and I was all agog at the architecture of the homes and the gorgeous yards and what looked like fabulous shopping for antiques, designer studios and all that jazz. I know - I'm warped. And Mike, while happy to drive me wherever REALLY just wanted to go back to the hotel and watch "Bones Season 1" dvds. Yes, we live a riveting life. But just the fact that Mike didn't read any work emails or take conference calls was enough for me to officially label this a "true vacation to remember".

I hope you enjoy.

Even the gas stations were pretty!

Beachcombers - and they had clothes on!! :)

Beauty around every curve of the road

What a beautiful drive.

Two houses here - but they are HUGE!

I wonder when this house is going to slide down into the ocean? Eeek!