My heart is in Texas

I love sun. I love my family. I love Texas.

Based on those three statements, it is pretty easy to guess that I enjoyed my most recent trip to Midland, Texas. My only complaints? Too short. Between my early morning flights and staying up late to cram in as much awake time as possible with my family, I came back as one tired chica. My other complaint? No Caitlin. Since my niece was born two years ago, we’ve tried to make it an annual trip to visit around the time of her birthday, but Caitlin’s work schedule kept her from joining this year. We’ll have to make up for it soon with another visit.

My trip officially began around 1 a.m. I had stayed late in Topeka catching up with a college pal when Continental emailed me that my flight was delayed by over an hour out of Kansas City. One hour wouldn’t be a huge deal, but that meant I’d miss my connecting flight in Houston. Yes, “Houston, we have a problem.” Panic set in. I zipped out of Topeka and went straight to the airport to sort out the problem before it was too late. Unfortunately I couldn’t do anything until 4:30 a.m. when they opened up check-in. Knots built in my stomach, but fortunately my stress was quickly relieved. The airport clerk printed me a boarding pass not only for my original connecting flight, but the next one out a few hours later. When I arrived in Houston, I was sad to have missed the connecting flight by ten minutes, but relieved that I had secured a seat on the next flight to Midland.

My sister-in-law picked me up from the airport. She would be spending most of the weekend away in San Antonio, so I was thankful to have a few hours with her on this day. We grabbed a light meal and then she took me to G’s daycare. I was nervous that my little niece wouldn’t recognize me. She hadn’t seen me since Christmas. But when I walked into her daycare, a huge smile flashed across her face. Of course, the huge smile might have been because she had just finished eating a strawberry cupcake and was licking the remaining frosting off her fingers. But when they supervisors cleaned her off, she ran and gave me a huge hug and held my hand as we walked out. Ahhh.

We played with bubbles in the car ride back home and she told me all about the birthday party they were celebrating at daycare. I can’t get over how smart she is and what a great talker she has become! She’s like a real person now!

When we got back to the house, we immediately ran to the playroom for her to open the birthday present I got her. She pulled the tissue paper up onto my head, giggled and said, “hat” and excitedly pulled out the two books I got her. One of the books came with a little doll. The book was about Skippy Jon Jones, a Siamese Cat who thinks he is a Chihuaua. To my great joy, she loved that doll and the book, wanting it to be read to her constantly and taking the doll with her everywhere from the playroom to bedtime. We also spent more of the day outside. It’s gooooorgeous in Midland, which is to be expected considering that it is in the middle of a sunny desert. Although, that’s much to the chagrin of the residents there who have been in a 8-month drought. G and I even dipped our feet in the swimming pool, where she kicked and splashed quite gleefully.

Tori had to leave early in the evening, so we had to say our goodbyes. 😦 Greg, G and I then went on a walk for ice cream trip number one and some play time at the park.   Shortly after, it was G’s bedtime. So my brother had me sing ‘rock-a-by, baby’ to her and lay her down. She begged for SkippyJon Jones to be added to her menagerie of bedtime dolls and quickly fell asleep on her tummy with her tush raised way up in the air. Too funny.

My brother and went to the living room to catch up and chill. His brother-in-law, Tracy, came over and we ordered Chinese food and drank beer. I was pretty wiped, from not sleeping the night before, so we called it an early night. Plus we had to get up early in the morning.

Stella, their chihuahua terrier mix, bounced into my bed Saturday morning. Waking me up around 8 a.m. – which is a lot earlier than I am used to, working an evening shift. After letting G enjoy some green waffle (spinach waffle) for breakfast, we set off for the Midland Farmer’s market. Greg stopped to talk to some friends, so G and I walked around to look at the booths. Some young girls were selling duct tape hair bows, and I’m a sucker for kids selling their crafts, so I bought a white one for G to wear. As we walked around the booths, people commented, “that looks like another little girl we see a lot here.” To which I’d respond, “Oh?” “Yeah, G,” they’d say. I’d chuckle and say, “This is G. I’m just her aunt.” I guess it was probably suspicious for them to see what looked like G with her blonde hair and blue eyes being carried around by this brunette with brown eyes.

It was a bit chilly at the market, so we decided to hop back in the car and get some traditional Texas breakfast for us big kids (my brother and I), since we didn’t enjoy the green waffle for breakfast. We went to El Burrito or something like that and got breakfast burritos – YUM! Nothing like eggs, potato and cheese wrapped in a tortilla. G even ate a second breakfast of eggs and cheese – that kid is like a hobbit.

From here we swung by my brother’s office, which I had never seen before. There were all those cool oil rig figures and paintings. It seemed like a nice place to work. We didn’t stay there that long because we had one last morning activity to fit in before we picked up my other sibling from the airport. Next stop: feeding chickens.

We went out to the co-op farm my brother and sister-in-law are a part of and the owner let us into the chicken coop. He helped G fill her hands with kernels as the chickens surrounded her. I must admit that I was a bit unnerved to be in there with these critters pecking at me, so I’m pretty impressed with how calm, but excited that 2-year-old girl was with the event.

It was a pretty full morning and our little one was getting sleepy, but we worked hard to keep her alert for her Aunt Mary Catherine’s arrival. As of 12:30 p.m., Saturday, May 14, the three Smith kids were united in Texas for the very first time.  MC was starving, so we stopped yet again for food at a true Texas Roadhouse (not one of the chain Texas Roadhouses). G ate yet another time! Wowzers.

With all that food, it shouldn’t be any surprise that it was potty time for G. With all the excitement and her being so young, I was so proud of the kid for telling me it was potty time. We just barely made it in time for her to use the actual potty, but good for her! Her parents let her wear a special crown if she uses the potty, sing a song and eat some m&ms, so the whole ordeal was pretty adorable.

It was nap time pretty soon after that, so us big kids put on our swimsuits and headed outside for some beers poolside. When G got up from her nap, she got to join us at the pool, but the water was too cold for her to do anything more than dip her feet and play with squirt guns. In a bout of extreme ridiculousness, my sister tried to teach the child ‘how we tan.’ Seriously, who does that? Though in a nice twist of fate, MC, the Tanning Queen, got so sunburnt that she was too sore for the rest of the weekend to do much more for the rest of the weekend than sit on the couch being cold.

Ice cream adventure number 2, a trip to look at alpacas and some more time playtime soon found us quickly back at time for G’s bed. After begging me to read ‘just one more book,’ which turned into like five books, the kid was finally ready for ‘rock-a-by baby’ and bed.

MC, Greg and I then decided to make some really tasty vegetable pizza with a wheat crust, bean-tomato sauce and vegetable toppings ranging from broccoli to zucchini to peppers. It was delicious, but I think my sister was half asleep when we finally got around to eating it. We watched a movie, talked some more and then called it a night.

Sunday started with church, which G was mostly fine through. She did cry once, but was otherwise calm. She got really excited when the eucharistic gifts were being blessed and they rang the bells. “I hear the bells!” is one of her favorite expressions to say and she also says it whenever Greg gets a text and a little chime sounds. Another little adorable habit of hers. We then got breakfast – yay more breakfast tacos – with some of Greg’s friends.

After a detour by George W. Bush’s childhood home, we headed back to the house. When we got back, G wanted me to play with her outside on one of her scooters, but then we decided to see what Aunt Mary was up to. Guess what? She was complaining about her sunburn on a couch with blankets covering her. So G decided she wanted some books read to her. How many books did she want read to her? ‘One, two, seven, eight.’ After she had books read to  her, it was time for another nap time before we were to go to a baseball game.

While she napped, my brother put on Scott Pilgrim, which we both love, but confused my sister deeply. “Why do people turn into coins when they die?” “What is this?” “Why does he look 10?” were some of her many questions during the film. We mostly just laughed these off.

Soon it was time for the baseball game, which my brother was incredibly excited about. G was, too, or so it seemed. However, once we made it to out seats, it wasn’t long before G got restless. Enter ice cream number 3. We only got her one, but she was very sweet about trying to spoon feed all of us. “I feed Daddy!” she’d exclaim. Once the ice cream was gone though, she was restless once more. Since I’m not a huge sports person, I took Geneva for a walk around the stadium. We stopped at a very busy playground for a bit and continued walking back. At one point, the stadium played a snippet of Pirates of the Caribbean theme music over the speakers, which made G stop to dance. Adorable and funny. She mostly just dances by shaking her tush and walking at an angle.

When we made it back, Greg’s team was horribly losing and G was ready to go “Hoooome,” so we decided to leave. The second we were outside the stadium, however, she started crying, “baseeeeball.” Aw. The kid has no idea what she wants.

When we got back to the house and I unbuckled her from her car seat, she mischievously jumped into the front seat and stole some coins from Greg’s cup holder. Then she showed me her piggy bank and meticulously put her coins in the bank. She had me open the bottom and take some more coins out so she could do it again and again. Then she wanted to show Aunt Mary, who – you guessed it – was moaning about sunburn on the living room couch while covered in blankets. Oh, MC. G is a very sweet kid, but this was also the one moment during the weekend when we saw a bit of her hostility. She does not care for the dog, Stella. She did not want Stella anywhere near her or her aunts. “No, Stella, nooooooooooooo!.” She cried. Greg says she’s trying to assert her place in the world and prove her dominance over the other being that’s her size. Poor, Stella.

Back in the playroom, G asked to be covered in a blanked like Aunt Mary. So silly.

We were playing with her Monkey bowling game when Tori finally made it back from her trip. Greg, MC and I played with G, while Tori worked on preparing a special dinner in honor of Greg’s birthday (which was Monday). Soon Uncle Tracy and his fiance came over for the meal and brought another Southern treat: tres leches cake. G helped Greg blow out the candles and she ate her piece before her bedtime. She managed to stall quite a bit before finally going to bed. Asking for more books to be read to her, Skippy Jon Jones, another kiss from Aunt Mary or whomever and repeat singings of’ ‘rock-a-by baby.’ This was hard for me as well because I knew that with my early flight in the morning, this would be my last awake moments with the kid for who knows how long.

The rest of us adults then sat down for the birthday dinner and presents. I got Greg a little lens for his iPhone camera and MC got him a piano book of Beatles tunes. Even though G was asleep, he braved trying to quietly play so we could sing-along. Sufficit to say, I was nervous of this plan for multiple reasons.

Then we tried some of the tres leche cake, which allowed my sister to earnestly comment, “it tastes like there is milk in this.” Yes, MC, yes. It tastes like there is milk in the three milk cake. Sigh.

Some more chatting and it was time for some rest before my 5 a.m flight. My brother kindly woke up at 4 a.m. to drive me and I had to say goodbye to my wonderful family and the warm weather of Texas to go back to work in dreary Kansas.

It gets harder and harder to say goodbye every single time. It’s safe to say that my heart is in Texas.

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2 Responses

  1. Good grief that girl looks like her mama 🙂
    And I’m glad you found the lens for Greg!
    Also, ❤ to your second complaint.

    I'm glad you had a good trip.

  2. oh my gosh, that is a beautiful kid! i am glad you had a good time with the fam 🙂

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