Monday, July 30, 2012

Ohio Trip Recap & Blessings

 I was THRILLED for my daughter to return home yesterday evening. Her flight was scheduled to land at 4:22 pm but my dad called at 4:29 pm saying he'd meet us at my sister's house since he already had picked up the gang. (My flights never arrive early.)

My speed-demon father arrived at my sister's house before me and Little K couldn't find our car. "They forgot me," she told Grand.

Ha! I don't even think so! I've included some fun photos from the rest of her trip to visit my mom's side of the family but trust me, I'm so glad she's home.

As my mom said this morning, this summer has been a lot of firsts for Little K. First time at spend-the-night camp. First time traveling to Ohio with Grand & Cousin C. First time spending time at Cici's (Trent's mom) house for a few days without her parents. And the first time preparing for 2nd grade.

Do you remember  being nervous about school starting when you were a kid? I do. I'd lay on the couch with the worst stomach pains, filled with nerves. This even happened when we had no new kids at my very small school.

Now, we have 14 days until the first day of second grade on Monday, August 13 and Little K is not the only one who wishes summer was longer. (She actually told me that if she was in charge, the summer would be longer and the school year would be shorter. My response was "Don't forget to make the weekends longer while you're at it.)

There still seems to be so many things that we still haven't done so I suspect there will be another flurry of posts about fun things to do with kids in Houston before school starts. I won't forget the snuggle time with my girl while we watch the Olympics and scream "Go USA!" It's too funny.

Yes, I'm so thankful for the Barrett clan for helping Little K celebrate the end of summer. From Aunt Kenny fishing with K in the pond, taking the family to the Ohio Festival where they met Batman and Robin & sending OODLES of Box Tops to turn into K's school ...

to PaPa Don constant teasing that teaches you to be tough and dish it out as well as his enticing the girls to pick up leaves in the backyard as part of a good work ethic ...

to Grammy play spanks and re-introducing the gals to the satisfaction of baking a good cake or yummy dinner that everyone enjoys...

to Uncle Sean, Aunt Patti and Cousin Bentley taking K to the club pool and playground to cool off, not to mention a cool new bathing suit.

Thanks for the memories. I can almost put myself as a child in these photos, only I was the oldest & had no idea that history would repeat itself in this wonderful way. Thank  you, God, for all the blessings in our life.

How will you close out the summer?

Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cake Decorating with Kids

The girls are getting plenty spoiled by Grammy in Ohio, not just PaPa Don. At left, you can see how the three of them got into some sugar. Grammy is a fantastic cook and baker. 

One of our favorite things to do with Grammy is bake a doll cake. You maybe have seen these in the local grocery store. They're easy to make and so fun for little girls. It's also a great birthday party idea.

All you need is the right pan for the cake to serve as the Barbie dolls skirt. I Googled "barbie doll cake pan" and tons of inexpensive options came up for the pan and the Barbie doll to insert. (The pan allows the cake to cook while leaving a cylindrical hole in the center of what becomes the dolls skirt.) Once the cake is baked and cooled, you can insert the Barbie's legs into the cake so it looks like she's wearing the cake as a skirt. 

Now mind you, the Barbie has no top on at all so it's best to keep men like PaPa Don out of the kitchen or you'll hear cat calls. (Perhaps that's just our PaPa Don! Did I mention he's a Marine?) 

Next, you need to have your icing ready. Grammy usually helps us make the icing (from scratch of course) while the cake is baking and cooling. With a flat icing knife, the kids can carefully put the icing on the doll's skirt to make it look like cloth. As you can see in the photo, Grammy has icing tips and bags so that we can then decorate the skirt to look like it has lace or ruffles. You'll need the icing bag and tip to also design a shirt/top for the Barbie. We prefer matching colored icing but that's up to you. 

As a final touch, we use the icing bag and tip to fashion the Barbie with a ring on her hand and maybe a bracelet on the other arm. In order to practice our delicate touch, Grammy helps us put icing on our own hands and wrists. That's the best part because you can lick the icing off and do it again until you get the icing jewelry just perfect! :-)

I think in the above photo, it looks like Little K is staring at her cousin as if to say "That icing is absolutely delicious! You get it, right?" 

Even if you're not much of a chef, this is a fun thing to do with kids in Houston or elsewhere. It's perfect for rainy days, too hot afternoons or just because. When the kids are bored and don't know what to do, "let them eat cake!" 

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fighting for Grandparents' Attention... Well, Not Exactly

Well, the kids trip to visit their great grandparents has been quite the story throughout the extended family. I received an email today from the patriarch himself saying that I need to post more photos to FaceBook so two of my aunts could see what's going on. I was also reminded by PaPa Don that one particular Aunt Margaret has an extra special relationship with my PaPa Don since marrying the youngest of my uncles. 

Not to be overshadowed by this lovely woman, I fired an email back: "Well, I'm happy to share any and all photos. BUT let me say this. I love Aunt Margaret but remember I'm still #1. :-) I don't think she knows how to make a good drink like I do and she's never dyed your hair red or married you in the middle of a department store. Hee hee." 

PaPa Don's response: "the competition has increased since you were a munchkin." Nice. 

Let's see how Aunt Margaret responds. (SMILE)

Now onto the day's updates and more fun things to do with your kids. I'm told it rained all day in Dayton, Ohio and the adults were worried about what a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old would be able to do. Silly, silly adults. 

Like we often do in Houston, Little K jumped on the opportunity to build a tent indoors. I started that mini tradition when she was younger and scared of the thunder and lightning. Now she just thinks that's what you get to do in a storm. Lately, in Houston, we've had plenty of tent building and it never grows old. 

Of course, great grandparents' opinion of indoor tent building is particularly interesting. Here's some insight: 

"Another redo for the umpteenth time was building a play house under the big Grand Pa Barrett rocking chair. I commented to your Mom that Little K and C under it (and every other chair in the kitchen) was a repeat of her mother also doing it, as did her mother, and her dad, and his dad and his dad too.

My Trust Agreement states that (Uncle) Don Jr. has first refusal for it. yet I wonder if anyone other than Gram and me recognize that six generations of children have all flipped that rocker over, covered it with blankets, shawls, towels, whatever,.... as it became everything from a playhouse to a rocket ship and all in between." Now that's a refreshing viewpoint.
Not all has been peaches & cream during the trip though. When PaPa Don retired for his afternoon nap and carefully spread out in his Lazy Boy Chair in the family room with a cloth carefully drawn across his sleepy eyes to help get some quality sleep, a scoundrel unveiled. It seems my super sweet girl waited until the old man was fast asleep and then carefully put a fake roach atop his snoring mouth. (See left.) 
Gad! I bet the poor guy about had a heart attack when he awoke. I could hear the laughter from here. 
Ohio is an hour ahead of Texas time so it's about time for the munchkins to head to bed. Gotta give kisses to PaPa Don after all the torment he's been through on just day 2 of the summer trip. Good thing only 2 great granddaughters made that visit.  
Until the next nap time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

What are some of your favorite memories with your grandparents?

 I've already received a few emails from our Ohio family, retelling me today's events. (I keep those emails in a Word file so that I have a chronological capture of so many of our memories. I suggest you do that with any emails you get from special relatives in your lives. Mine dates back to 2004 and it's awesome!)

Apparently, the day started off with PaPa Don warming up his old bod in his hot tub. He was enjoying the quiet while Grammy began breakfast and laundry. (It's Monday after all.) My mom/Grand was showing. As PaPa Don soaked in the warmth of his hot tub, he casually wondered where Little K and her sidekick cousin C were. "Seconds later decked out in their bathing suits, they were at the tub, and  ready to go," he said.

Later, the two young girls and their PaPa Don ventured to the garden in the backyard. For years, I helped PaPa Don pick the pea pods from the vine & sang a special "pea picking" song that the great gardener wrote. One year (like this one), we had no peas to pick upon my visit to Ohio so PaPa Don had to write a new song. I'm told the girls sang this one today as history repeated itself again.

"This summer I went to Ohio.
I went there to help PaPa pick peas.
The rabbits arrived there before me.
Dig taters 'cuz there ain't no peas.

Taters, taters,
Dig taters 'cuz there ain't no peas!"

Digging potatoes there is much more of an adventure than you might think. When you find a huge one, you yell "MONGO!" When you find a small one that one be good for a pot of soup, you yell "SOUPER!" There was a lot of "MONGO!" screaming today, although I'm not sure the girls adhered to the size policy. :-)

Ah, yes, we're a colorful bunch but we have GOOD stories to tell. At left, Little K and Cousin C show off their bucket of white and red potatoes. Good thing my girl is Irish!

Later, Grand took the girls on a walk down the street to the pond, where they could feed the fish. It's a stark difference from the hustle and bustle of Houston. It's a bit cooler too but not much. 

Looking at these pictures, I remember the time I took my aunt's dog down to this same pond. At the time, there were ducks there. The dog decided he needed to go after the ducks but, unfortunately, I was at the other end of the leash.

Suffice it to say, I ended up in the pond, soaking wet, with only one "Jelly Shoe" on a foot. The other was lost at sea.

Overall, it looks like they're having fun together. 

I hope this encourages you to go out and do something similar with the little ones in your lives. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create wonderful memories with your loved ones. I think you just need an adventurous spirit and a willingness to get your hands a bit dirty. 

What are some of your favorite memories with your grandparents? Great grandparents? Add a comment to this blog post to share your ideas.

Until the next nap time...

How Do You Welcome Your Extended Family to Your Home?

So my grandparents are pretty silly. EXTRA silly for their great grandkids. Little K and I talked on the phone Sunday night after she had arrived at my grandparents house in Ohio. 

"Did you check your email?" she asked me. 

I then did. The photos at left are the surprise I found in my in box. It seems PaPa Don created some welcome signs that included purposeful misspellings of my daughter's and niece's names, not to mention the misspelling of his own daughter's name (Dawn). Hee hee.

It looks like they're up for a week of fun. Little K already informed me that she picked fresh tomatoes from the garden and that she's looking forward to Grammy's homemade biscuits and gravy and to PaPa Don's infamous pancakes. Oh, I'm really wishing I had made this trip. Yes, I have those memories too, so I suppose it's time for Little K to have her own. Still, there are some things you're never too old to enjoy. :-)

What fun memories do you have with your grandparents? As parents, do you encourage the grandparents in your life to make funny memories with your kids? 

Until the next nap time...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Time Well Spent with Grandparents

It's never a dull moment when Little K spends time with my parents, so fondly called "Grand" and "PaPa" as my blog followers are familiar. Little K spent a week with them just on the west side of Houston earlier in July and my daughter had a blast. I think the photos speak for themselves.

At left, my 7-year-old gets "dazzling" as she tries on grown-up clothes in a store in the Houston Galleria. I can only imagine what the sales people thought of my mom and daughter. It does remind me of times long ago when my own mom caught me and my PaPa Don (mom's dad) reenacting a wedding. PaPa Don stood next to a manequin who was dressed in a wedding dress as I served as the officiator over the wedding ceremony. Bystanders watched our ceremony and giggled. My mom was mortified.

These days, Grand has another view."A Grandmother has a right," my mom replied.

 Below are some pics of Grand and Little K's adventures at a Memorial-area park and at the merry-go-round at Memorial City Mall. Cheap, easy fun for parents, grandparents and little ones.

Today, Little K left with Grand and cousin C for a trip to Ohio to visit my grandparents, Little K's Great Grandparents. Not many of us have had the opportunity to get to know our great grandparents so I'm so excited that Little K gets the chance to write this interesting chapter of her own life. Luckily, she sees her great grandparents about twice a year, including  a trip to Ohio. This round, I'm staying in Houston to work but am a bit jealous. Here's to an exciting week with the Barrett clan and many fabulous memories for my girl.

Thanks, Mom/Grand!

Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Two for Tuesday deal in July at the Downtown Aquarium

My 7-year-old LOVES the Downtown Aquarium so she'll be thrilled to know we get to go next week. You can go for half price any Tuesday in July. Check out the details below and download your coupon.

A new coupon has been released for the Two for Tuesday deal in July!  Take advantage of half-price Houston Aquarium tickets with buy-one-get-one free All-Day Adventure Pass coupon available online. The pass includes unlimited access to Shark Voyage, Aquarium Adventure Exhibit, Ferris Wheel, Carousel and Lighthouse Dive.

The coupon is valid for Tuesdays in July. The Adventure Pass retails for $15.99, so the deal makes it about $8 per person. Print the coupon here to get this deal. Coupon valid for up to four people. A new coupon will be released for August Tuesdays.

Families can enjoy many of the Aquarium’s activities this summer including Shark Weekend (July 28-29) and free Salsa dance lessons each Friday evening from 7 pm – 11 pm.  Find the Houston Aquarium downtown at 410 Bagby at Memorial.

Until the next nap time...