The Jurassic Life

Well about two weeks after our fridge and freezers failed us, our AC decided to go out too. Thankfully, my handy dandy husband was able to fix the AC himself.
I took the kids to see the new Jurassic Park movie. That was an interesting trip. Probably my most stressful trip to the movie theatre ever. My little “Tucky T-Rex” as we call him, loves dinosaurs and he has always loved Jurassic Park movies, but he was quite the little T-Rex at the theatre.
He was fine when there was lots of dinosaur fights and action, but the first part of the movie is a lot of talk, and not a lot of action, so he was really struggling to sit still or quiet. And the theatre had those new-fangled “recliner seats” too. Once Tucker discovered that up/down button, it was over. He reclined and inclined back and forth every five minutes. Then came the point when he felt he just had to try out the three empty recliners that were beside us. I knew there was a good reason I chose to sit in the back of the theatre!
I have never attempted to try to make my 4 year old sit perfectly still for a 90 minute movie before, but I thought this was the one movie he would be entertained enough to watch in the theatre.
I guess that’s what I get for thinking.
I have however, enjoyed watching Tucker act out all kinds of dinosaur scenes with his toys at home. He has grown quite the imagination, and he is in that phase where he is giving each one of his dinosaurs a different funny little voice. The other day I was watching him as his stegosaurus “talked” to his T-Rex and only God knows whata-saurus. I can’t ever remember all those dinosaur names. But soon, a pterodactyl bird came flying in and stopped right above the T-Rex’s head as Tucker deliberately made pterodactyl farting noise. He had no idea I was watching him play, but I busted out laughing at that point. I have never much enjoyed farting humor, but then again, I’ve never heard a pterodactyl fart before! It was pretty funny to hear Tucker’s version of a pterodactyl fart when he thought no one was watching him. Boys will be boys, and it’s pretty dang funny.
I won’t be going to any movie theatres for a while, but his little play acting is way more entertaining than Jurassic Park anyway! And the popcorn is cheaper at home too!

Easter in June

My son found a stash of Easter eggs the other day and got really excited. We spent the last few days playing egg and seek. It’s amazing the entertainment a basket of eggs can provide and I’m not sure why we only do it once a year.
Thankfully a lot of those egg hunts were inside our house, because every time I walk outside I feel like I am going to melt. The weather guy this morning literally said “today we are going to get a little break”, referring to the forecast with a high of 98 degrees for the day! I admire my husband and anyone who works outside to make a living, because it can’t be easy.
My sister and I are both counting down the days to our beach trip. Can’t wait to hear the sound of those waves.
We got chickens recently and I only planned on keeping them for a little while to cut down on the bug population, but we are kind of having fun with them. Farm animals are funny things. They are all entertaining in their own way. I always thought goats had one of a kind personalities, watching all their antics, but chickens have their own ways of entertaining us. Pretty soon, we will be able to hunt for their eggs. We already found one.
Well, if you get bored this summer, and no one’s talked you into getting chickens yet, just pull out the Easter eggs and let the kids hunt the day away. They are on sale this time of year!

Way to go Chad!

I published a children’s book recently, one of my life long dreams. It is illustrated by a young man in California who is battling a terrible disease called A-T. My niece, Audrey, also battles this rare disease. This summer, I had hosted an Art contest for A-T kids and families and Chad was one of our winners. I was in awe of how many hours and how hard he worked to color his sea creatures, and that sparked the idea to write a story to go along with his illustrations and make a book.
He is over the moon excited and so am I. Chad’s most ambitious dream is to see scientists find the cure for A-T, so we decided to chase that dream too, by donating all profits from the book to the AT Children’s Project. Because A-T is such a rare disease, the ATCP is one of very few funding sources of A-T research. In fact, it was started by a group of parents whose children had A-T.
When your family is faced with such a dark diagnosis, it is easy to get hung up on statistics and the doctor’s devastating prognosis. But A-T warriors like Chad inspire all of us and remind us that no disability can put a limit on how far you can chase your dreams. You can do whatever you set your mind to, as long as you work hard at it.
This weekend, I got some exciting news. Chad’s mother, Louise, sent me a picture of a huge front page article in Chad’s hometown newspaper. I was so excited! It is so fun to be on the receiving end of a front page story! I could just hear Chad’s smile as I saw that huge front page story in California. It was a good reminder that while the news business can be a stressful one, especially when it comes to politics, that what we do is important. Because we get the opportunity to be that huge smile maker….to give people like Chad the special honor they deserve.
If you know a local person who is an inspiration, please feel free to reach out to us. I love those stories.
If you would like to buy the book written by me and illustrated by Chad, you can find it at TheBookPatch.com by searching for my name or the title “Hello! From the Great Blue Sea.”

Losing lottery tickets and big dreams

Well around midnight before the Memorial Day holiday I realized my fridge was giving out. Of course we had just gone grocery shopping and had a fridge full of spoiling food. I also knew it would be very hard to find anyone to come on Memorial Day. To make matters worse, our back-up fridge from the 1950’s had quit working a few days prior. It was one of those “UGH” moments. So frustrating. And yet, in light of recent events and real tragedies, I quickly reminded myself-while this little ordeal may cost us a pretty penny–they are just refrigerators.
Thankfully we did find a super nice friend of a friend handyman who came to our rescue, and at least one of our fridges is back in operation on this beautiful, hot day.
We had a fun day Saturday, swimming with cousins, and then all the teenagers had a sleepover. God bless the parent who had to listen to all those shrieks and screams all night, I’m sure. But I’m sure it was worth every shriek. Sleepovers with your cousins is a special time.
I won’t forget the many long nights I spent lying in dark, cracking up, over and over again about the silliest things with my cousin Cindy, my partner in crime. Or the many silly things we did. We would often make “coupons” to try to manipulate her mom into letting us have sleepovers and other things. I can’t remember exactly how that system worked, but I remember being very passionate about it.  For several months or years we even published a “Family News”, where we recounted what little cousin was learning to crawl or whatever funny story a relative told us, as well as all of our dad’s favorite jokes.  We made the Family News in Grandpa Calame’s office on Sundays. That was serious business.
One day, Cindy’s daddy (Uncle Richard) got a wild hare and let us paint murals all over their white bedroom wall. He never got around to finishing painting it I guess, so he figured he’d let us do the job. Boy, were we thrilled! Soon their bedroom wall was filled with horses and houses and rainbows and God knows what else. It was colorful, that’s for sure.
Then there was a time where we found an old cassette tape buried in a dirt pile next door (while we trespassed in our boy cousin’s backyard. They were boys, so they were enemies. The dweeb boys had used that cassette tape to record “all of their most important secrets that they didn’t want anyone to know”. It was a gold mine for two knieving cousins in that boys versus girls age.
And then, since Cindy lived right next to the old country convenience store back then, there were the times that we would sneak over to the store and snatch all the lottery tickets that people dropped on the ground. Many of them would only half-scratch them, and those were our favorites. We just knew some dummy would drop a winning Weekly Grand. Never panned out, but I will say we probably had more fun scratching and searching through those used lottery tickets with a hope and dream of winning, than we ever could have with the real money. Yep those were memories I won’t ever forget.
Still, to this day, if I am walking through a parking lot and see a lottery ticket on the ground, I am compelled to pick it up and double check it. I am not too disappointed when I don’t win though, because, hey, if I do win, most likely I’ll just have to use it to buy new refrigerators or something like that! It’s definitely more fun to dream!

Wind in our hair, bugs in our mouth

I finally found a good old golf cart that’s raggedy enough that I got it for $1,100. I’ve been looking for many months, because golf carts these days cost more like a small car. I learned how to drive in a golf cart, and I thought it would be good practice for A’Dell, too.
The best part is, golf carts, at least old golf carts, only go about 10 MPH at most, and that’s really pushing it. My dad bought me and my siblings a golf cart to drive around the ranch for that very reason. My golf cart was really slow though, topped out around 5 MPH, but I loved it none the less. We got a little battery charged radio and cruised around the ranch at 5 MPH all day long, wind in our hair, hands on the steering wheel.
One of my funniest memories was with my cousin, Cindy. We were cruising around one day, feeling cool, singing along to our little radio that was duct taped to the dash. Only problem was, bugs kept flying into our mouths (along with the wind in our hair)! So we got the ingenious idea to wrap several rounds of seran wrap around the two front posts of the golf cart like a windshield. I don’t think that get-up would have passed inspection, but we were sure proud of ourselves for coming up with that idea. We were always doing something crazy to “fix up” our golf cart and make it more like the cool vehicle we were dreaming of.
The new golf cart that I bought this weekend has a little bed in the back of the cart. My teenage daughter was so happy about getting a golf cart that she solemnly swore she would take out the trash every day now, because she can drive it to the dumpster instead of carrying it. I wanted to make sure to put that in writing!
Yep, I think this old golf cart is going to be worth every penny. We got her a little battery-operated radio, too, so I have a feeling … it’s only a matter of time before my daughter breaks out the seran wrap!

A bump in the road

Today as we hit the ranch road, and I braced myself for some big bumps, the kids began laughing and chuckling and making noises like they were on a rollercoaster. In anticipation of each hole coming up, they shrieked, “Get ready! Here it comes!”
And oh man, as we approached the cattle guard, they really got excited. They were making noises so funny and loud I couldn’t help but laugh and get into it.
It kind of got me to thinking about lemons and lemonade. When life gives us lemons, they say, “make lemonade.” So when life gives us bumps, pretend like you are on a fun rollercoaster.
I can remember when I turned 18 and went off to college in San Angelo, I felt so out of place. There were one way streets and smooth sailing roads, none of the familiar potholes of Devine. I remember actually writing an essay about it, because I kind of missed it. When I hit a pot hole, I know where I am.
It’s always fun seeing life through the eyes of a child. Every little bump in the road is exactly what you want to make of it. You can groan, or you can make the best of it.

Cards, Picnics, and a Smart Aleck Fish

My daughter finally got me to sit down and play some cards the other day. It’s something she always wants to do, but with a rowdy little brother, it isn’t always easy to do, so I have put it off for quite a while. I had forgotten how much fun it is, and how many happy smiles I would get in return for a few minutes of my undivided time.
Grandpa and Tucker caught a big bass this weekend. Grandpa hooked it, and Tucker reeled it all the way in, and boy was that little boy proud of it. “That fish was a biiiiiig one. He was strong, but he wasn’t as strong as me,” he said, flexing his little would-be muscles.
I went fishing this weekend too. It was such a nice day, so I decided to take my shoes off and sit on the edge of the dock and dip my feet in the cool water while I fished. It was very relaxing, for a while. Unfortunately, the only bite I got was a bite to my toes from a smart aleck fish! I can just see that little perch down there under the water laughing and telling his buddies, “So she thinks we’re gonna bite that hook, huh? I’ll give her a bite alright.”
Tucker and I carved out some time to go on a picnic at the ranch too this week. There are lots of super friendly dogs out there who liked the smell of the burgers we brought for our picnic, so before we could eat me and Tucker jumped on the mule and tried to outrun the dogs to a spot where we could eat in peace. We went this way, and we went that way, but dogs have pretty good noses, so they kept finding us before we could even take a bite of our burgers. Eventually we drove near the pond, and the floating dock caught my eye. So we had our picnic out on the floating dock, just a few feet off shore, dog-free. I thought I was pretty smart until one of those golden retrievers jumped right into the pond and swam to the dock to shake off on us. Oh well, at least we got to eat most of our burgers before the dogs got to us.
Note to self: sit down and play cards more often, let the kids reel the fish in, don’t put your toes in the water, and remember, golden retrievers love to swim as much as they love the smell of hamburgers!

A perfect day

We had a very nice Saturday at the ranch with my kiddos, cousin Audrey, and grandpa and grandma. As I sat on the porch swing with my little niece and a puppy, the breeze was blowing, and it felt just like the perfect day.
I looked down at Audrey as we were swinging and said, “What a beautiful day. Nice breeze, pretty sunshine, cousins…” and before I could say anything else, she chimed in loud and clear, “And a puppy!”
So there you go, I guess that’s the recipe for a perfect day
We ran and ran around grandma’s house a thousand times in games of hide and go seek. We sat in grandma’s little pretend Frio River (which we built with a load of rocks in a stream coming from the water well faucet). We built rock castles. We floated their boats down the stream. We bar-be-qued.
And as the day was winding down, we even got a surprise visit from a one-armed crawdad, who came meandering up from the fishing pond. That really put a thrill and a shrill in Tucker and Audrey. Uncle Sherman and Hannah walked up right around then, and he showed them how to handle Mr. One Armed Crawdad. After lots of careful inspection and some high-pitched shrieking, Audrey and Tucker got the fish net and relocated Mr. Crawdad many, many times in the bucket, under the bucket, in the stream, out of the stream. He eventually made it back to the muddy shore of the pond, but I’ll bet he was plenty dizzy.
It was a perfect day, but not a perfect day to be a crawdad!

Being Older

We had a get together with some cousins this weekend, and their conversations are always interesting.

Listening to a group of competitive “big boys” talk, I had forgotten how big of a deal it is to be 4, or 5, or 8, for example.
Three of the boys were brothers, and so instead of calling them by each of their names, my little one said “Hey kids, look at this!”
One of them quickly responded, “I am not a kid! I am 5 years old!”
Their favorite activity of the day was to pick up the largest dirt clods they could find and see how big of a splash it would make when they threw it in the tank. With each dirt clod, the thrower announced, “See I’m strong. I’m 8 years old.”
To which the next one would say, “I’m strong and fast. I am 4 years old.”
The 4 and 5 year old competition was most fierce. Five year old Lane said to 4 year old Tucker: “You might be fast, but I am strong.”
These days, I don’t even remember exactly how old I am. Thirty-three, thirty-four, doesn’t much matter. But I also had two cousins who were extremely close in age, and when we were all 11-12 years old, quite a few serious conversations revolved around who was “older”. I think I was the youngest, or at least they convinced me of that. It seemed every argument boiled down to my cousin Daniel reminding us that, he is “the oldest”, followed by my eye rolls.
But I can also remember that in my basketball games with Jacob (my other cousin), that when he called a foul on me, his “older-ness” was supposedly the final word. Even though, he is literally just a couple days older than me.
So anyhow, the little boys conversations on who was bigger and stronger and who was older, brought back lots of memories. I don’t care if I was the youngest or not, I still think most of the time, I was right. Perhaps that’s why I named my column the way I did. Haha. I will say though, that my cousin Jacob grew up to become a head coach and athletic director, so maybe he did know the rules of refereeing basketball a little better than me after all.
I have a feeling when we get together in another 40 years or so, that I will be reminding Jacob and Daniel that “I am younger”…even if it is just by a couple days. Funny how life works like that.