Thursday, August 29, 2013

What "it" is.

It starts with a couple of "wild and crazy guys."

A couple of wild and crazy guys on ESPN.
And so we begin yet another football season.  This one is filled with Johnny Football, the SEC, and way too many home games.  I already miss that man, crazy though he may be.  He's so dedicated to his tailgating.  It sounds so heroic to most Aggies, but to those of us average humans, it sounds a little less heroic than, hmm, let's say being dedicated to, "feeding the poor", "advancing world peace", "teaching underprivileged kids", you know . . . all the other stuff we could focus our time on.  Nonetheless, what Chuck and Tim do at this tailgate is worthwhile and important.  No!  I'm really not kidding. I promise I'm not saying this tongue-in-cheek.  I mean this in all seriousness, and let me tell you why.  It's only taken me 15 years to figure it out.

The Cotton Bowl 2012
Chuck and Tim each have a wife (aka Theresa (above) and Stephanie, respectively).  Chuck and Tim each have three beautiful young children.  Tim has three girls, and Chuck has one girl and two boys.  The oldest child of the six is 9 years old (Luke).  The youngest of the six is 1 year old (Bess).  I promise that none of our children is headed for any sort of football career.  I'm not sure any of them will even ever play football as a passtime.  However, these kids gleen something extremely important from the outrageous "display" that Chuck and Tim put on at every Aggie home game (aka "The Aggie Tailgate" or "TAT").  (Umm, yeah, I just came up with TAT and I can only say that I really wish it had been TIT.  Much easier to remember.  Too bad for me.) 

You may ask, "What is it, Theresa?"  Well, thank you for asking; let me tell you.  It is an unparallelled dedication to a sport, an event, a comraderie (that sometimes makes me want to barf), the repeated preparation of food ranging in quality from mediocre to oustanding for their dedicated weekly guests as well as for the friends they haven't met yet, a perseverence in what must be temperature on Mars, the belief that they can sway the outcome of the game with the volume of their voices, an unwaivering loyalty to a group of people (known and unknown), and the absolute certainty that they are part of something bigger.  These guys "get it".  They just do.  I'm not ashamed to admit that, although I actually attended TAMU for a year before marrying the big bohunk, I don't get it.  I truly don't.  I admire it.  I appreciate it.  I love that he has it.  But, I don't get it.  It seems so over the top . . . so ridiculous . . . so fanatical. 

And yet . . . when I'm there . . . I feel a part of it, included in a group of good people, cheering for a cause.  And I realize . . . finally . . . that this feeling -- this very small spark of loyalty that I'm feeling -- is actually something very amazing and so much bigger than each of us.  Because, let me tell you, that this same spark of loyalty which translates into a showing of big-man-macho support, is actually the same thing that causes us to stand when the national anthem is played at a baseball game.  It is the same thing that causes us to pull our cars aside when a funeral procession passes.  It is what makes us happy for our friends when they are promoted at work and what causes us to empathize with them when they experience hardship.  It is the same thing that bubbles in our chest when we watch a wounded soldier return home from war.  It is the same thing that caused us to plaster our homes, billboards, businesses, and schools with American flags in the wake of September 11th. It is the same thing that causes our eyes to burn with tears when we watch a 96-year old man say goodbye to his wife of 75 years.

"It" is loyalty and love.

Chuck and Tim have "it".  And they are passing "it" on to our children.  How incredibly amazing it is to show that loyalty and love exist outside of your home, your church, and your family.  Chuck and Tim extend "it" to all who attend their tailgate, and even to those who don't. (Have you seen their sound system?)  The simple act may seem, well, just that . . . simple.  But the truth of the matter is that they care. They love. They hold loyalty foremost in every facet of their lives. I have absolutely no doubt that Chuck (and Tim) will be there for me in my most desperate times (Heaven forbid), and that I will need only call once.  They are my heros. 

And so, while this may be the one and ONLY time I admit this publicly, Chuck and Tim are making a difference with their TAT.  The TAT is important not just to those who attend, but also to those who observe it.  It isn't just about beer, football, and food.  No. There is something more.  I hope you each have a chance to experience it at some point in your life as I and my children have.

And on all those ocassions that I express my displeasure with Chuck's absence or roll my eyes when someone compliments my half of the personal property known as "The Army Truck", please remind me (LOUDLY) of "it", because "it" is what life is all about.  You can see examples of "it" below:

Evie, Theresa & George on the Fire Truck

Luke, George, Evie, & Daylan on the Fire Truck

The Army Truck
The back of the Army Truck

The beer taps on the Army Truck

The cooker.
Where the beer used to be stored before kegs.  Now you can find juice for the kids in there.

Baby Aggie

Blind Aggie

Happy Aggie
Drunk Aggie - Tailgate Entertainer

Traditional Aggie

Football Aggie

Aggie Love

Tailgate Aggie 
Timmy Aggie (because he's a breed unto himself).

Aggie Tickets

Thanks to Chuck and Tim for reminding me, Stephanie, and our collective children, each and every year for several weekends in a row, what "it" is all about.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

77 Days

For the first time in 77 days, the house was silent and empty yesterday.  I can't help myself, it was just so wonderful to have them doing something productive.  I was going to go crazy if they refused to read a book one more time this summer. 

So, we sent Luke and Evie off to school yesterday.  I'm in love with their teachers, so life is GREAT . . . so far.  There's time for it to all go south, mostly for Luke because he just isn't your model student.  That's not to say he's a bad student.  He's smart, interested, kind, and happy.  But he is not attentive, driven, or enthusiastic about school.  So, we begin yet another year with signs that I will be pressing him every step of the way to finish his work, read his books, and study for tests.  Not a great thing for me, but I guess it is what has to be done.

We also sent Amber off to college last week, and she posed dutifully for her "first-day-of-school" picture at age 18.  What a patient and kind niece!

And as for George, well, three weeks into school he is coming down with a cold.  Isn't that always the way?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Drive In

So, we went to a drive in movie last Friday night and the kids had a blast.  Who knew?  It was the first time for all of us.  The weather was awesome, particularly since it is typically the hotter than the third ring of Dante's hell during August in Texas.  Lucky for us, it was in the low 80s and perfect!  Aside from actually costing as much as going to a regular movie, the experience was so fun!  The kids could run around and play. The food was really pretty tasty. And they had adult beverages.  You know that's the key to my happiness!

We had my mom and my nephew, Rocky, visiting us last week, so they were there too!  It made for a very enjoyable evening.  The only hitch is that we didn't get done with the second movie until midnight!  That's late!  And since I'm practically geriatric these days, it felt even later than normal.  Add a couple of glasses of wine on top of that and I was ready to go home after the first movie, Planes.  Unfortunately, the kids were certain they could stay awake for the second movie, Smurfs 2, so we were in it for the long haul.  Of course, you can tell from all the raving I've already written, the lateness of the hour didn't dampen our spirits or our enjoyment. 

We will definitely be going again!

I forgot to mention that Evie wasn't with us.  She and her sweet friend Eva had spent the day getting back-to-school mani/pedis and having a lovely ladies lunch with yours truly.  They seemed to have a blast and then Eva's mom took them back to her house for a sleepover. 


What adorable girls.  They even wear matching dresses!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New School, New Life

George started Pre-K last week.  He's going to a new school. I adored his old school, but Chuck wanted to try out this new school at our church.  The school isn't actually new; it's just new to us.  I digress.  The point is that George is back in school and this time, he's in uniform!  I can't stand how cute he looks, but it wrenches my heart that he's growing up, not to mention that now I have to make sure his laundry is done regularly also.  I really like the option of throwing on just whatever is in his drawer at the time.  Of course, Evie and Luke are in uniforms too so it really doesn't make much difference. 

George is taking to Catholic school pretty well.  His teacher is young, sweet, and pretty.  He's a lucky kid in almost every way, of course.

My  niece Amber moved in this weekend.  She starts her first classes of her college career tomorrow! 

And finally, Luke and Evie start back next week.  I have to admit, this week has been soooo quiet!  No visitors, just two kids in the house. Amazing!  Things will really get back to normal next week.

This was my first summer where I wasn't at work full-time and depending on a nanny or a babysitter or an au pair to care for my children.  There have been ups and downs, for sure.  For example, the kids are here all the live long day.  That's a negative and a positive.  Positive: We don't have to wake up and rush out of the house.  Negative and Positive: the kids aren't on their ADD medication.  Negative: The kids are restless and want to play video games all day long.  Positive: I don't have to work on three hours of homework after school every day.  Negative: They are in the house more so it is messy all the time.  Negative: We aren't on a schedule.  Positive: We aren't on a schedule.  The list goes on and on.  But, one thing remains true.  When I was working and now, when I'm not working full-time, I still want those kids to go back to school.  I'm ready, even if they aren't.

Hope your back to school experiences are going well and the tears are at a minimum.  Next year, George will start Kindergarten, and I'm pretty sure there will be some waterworks on my part.  So, I'm sending hugs to all you moms out there who are starting a new chapter with your kids:  To Taylor who is sending her two month old baby to daycare for the first time, To Carla who is sending her youngest off to Kindergarten on Monday, To Krista who is sending her oldest off to middle school, To Mary who is sending her daughter off to college, and to Gayla who will watch youngest son marry his true love next month.  We mothers are always saying goodbye with each stepping stone our children take.  They are precious memories, so live them well!

Hugs to all of you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Nephew

This morning we said "so long" to our nephew Colt.  He was our manny this summer and is driving home in his brand-new-to-him car.

We wish him well, and pray for safe driving!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Too much love

I was giving hugs to the kids last night before bed and each one squeezed me extra tight and asked for "just one more" hug before letting me go.  It was beyond precious, but when I got to Luke he said as he hugged me, "There is no such thing as too much love."

Without a doubt, my dear sweet son.  Without a doubt.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Last Lake Weekend of the Summer

We went to the lake this weekend with one of my dear friends and her family.  It is actually her family's lake house.  We had such a lovely time even though we were only there for less than 48 hours.  We drove in Friday night after the kids got out of camp and then drove back Sunday morning.  But the lake was wonderful despite the heat.  And we had so much fun just floating and playing on the boat . . . and eating more food than we should have.
Even though the kids had a full day at camp, Evie was ready to go!

Of course, they passed out together.  Best kids ever!

Lots of floating and boating!

My friend Crystal loaded up her son Carter and George onto the tube for the first ride!

Colt riding on the tube.  We couldn't throw him off.

Evie took the wheel.  She spent the entire weekend surrounded by boys, so we gave her a special job to help make her day fun!

Carter and Luke were joined at the hip all weekend!

So, this is probably our last summer weekend of fun.  We head back to school so soon.  And don't think I'm not looking forward to it even though this has been a simply amazing summer!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Camping With City Kids

A couple weeks ago, the weather was in the 70s.  That never happens in July in Texas.  It was weird.  But, it worked to my advantage because I was able to take my city kids camping.  Mind you, I've only been camping twice since we got married.  Once in Wisconsin right after we got married, and I will tell you it was a dismal experience.  I was finally convinced to go camping with our friends this last March for spring break. They have two boys right near our kids' ages, and it was way fun! 

So, I was perfectly comfortable going camping on my own with three kids and a teenager (who has never been camping ever) and doing it all on my own. Don't ask me why, but I totally knew I could do it and had no reservations.  Plus, I love adding another first to Colt's list of life experiences!
We went back to the same campground and got a beautiful spot on the lake.  So gorgeous!!!! 

The picture without humans marring the view.

We pitched tents.  No sweat.  Everyone is still very impressed with me about everything I did on this camping trip on my own.  Apparently, I don't exude much of a rough-and-tumble image.  Oh well. I'm cool with that, but it's nice to know I can do some things on my own despite everyone's impression.  See my handiwork below.


So we set up camp and it rained (hence the beautiful temperature) but not too bad.  The kids spent some time in the back of the car playing Zingo. But they really wanted to just be in the tent the whole time.  There is something so novel about tents for children.

Finally the rain was just a drizzle so we went exploring.

Everyone says they look photo shopped in this picture.
The teenager does not like to be photographed.
This fish carcass stayed with us for the entire trip.  Even back at our campsite.
And, of course, Evie can't be outdone and found her own fish carcass.
Proof that I was there.
We found so many deer, rabbits, birds, an armadillo, raccoons and other things while we were there.  In fact, we came across this doe and her babies when Evie and I went to the restroom.  They were SOOOO close!  I can't tell you how amazingly close they were! (I took a ridiculous number of pictures since I'm a bit of a city kid myself, but I only shared a few to spare you and be respectful of your time.  You're welcome.)


Unfortunately, we didn't catch any fish, but we sure gave it a good effort.

We cooked hot dogs and even made s'mores.  It was really pretty fun.  I wish I had brought wood for a campfire, but the week before there had been a burn ban in place, so I didn't want to risk breaking the rules.  You know me - ever the rules follower!  I finally put the kids to bed (after quick showers) and we retired at 9:30.  Colt stayed up playing with fire (literally) but eventually crawled into his tent.  I let him have his own 2-man tent with a sleeping bag, and the rest of us piled into a 4-man tent with sleeping bags. 

Colt in his tent.
It wasn't horrible, but it definitely wasn't comfortable.  I eventually fell asleep after maneuvering around arms, legs, and tree roots.  Sometime during the night, Evie stole my pillow so I stole it back.  And the worst part was when Luke actually tried to use my ass as a pillow.  Not a shining moment in my life, but one I'll never forget.  I kicked him off and rolled him onto his own pillow.

Sadly, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of two raccoons fighting over our trash.  I kicked myself and cussed at the raccoons from the safety of my tent.  I can't believe I forgot to throw the trash away.  I totally thought about it earlier in the day and I just plain forgot when I went to bed.  After the bastard raccoons figured out that we were stupid enough to leave our trash out, they came back and tried to bust into my sealed coolers too!  That was the last straw.  I had been pissed but accepting of the raccoons tearing up my trash, but there was no way in hell I was going to let them get into the rest of our food.  So, I staggered out of my tent, grabbed up the kids muddy shoes and started throwing them at the intruding raccoon (only one came back).  It was unfazed and looked at me like the crazy human I am.  I threw another shoe and hit the ground close enough to cause the raccoon to retreat (but only a little).  I threw one more time and yelled quietly (no need to wake the neighbors!).  It ran off into the bushes and watched me with its beady eyes while I packed up my coolers and put them in the back of the suburban.  While I was packing up the second cooler, the raccoon had the audacity to actually try to come back for more!  I threw another shoe at it and it retreated again.  Unfortunately, it was Luke's shoe and it ended up in some high grasses on the edge of our campground.  He was not thrilled the next morning when I told him he had to go fetch it.  After my tussle with the raccoons I took the picture above of my innocent children who slept soundly on the hard ground while my war against wildlife was waged outside the tent.

Of course, I can't complain too much because the next morning I woke up to this sunrise and took this picture from the door of my tent.

God is good.  No doubt about it.

And then our sweet deer family roamed through our campsite.  They were much closer before I got my camera out (and before the kids started running toward them like they were friendly stray dogs).  They really are city kids, but the entire experience was truly amazing!

So, other than our run-in with the greedy raccoons, it was a pretty great trip. We went fishing. We went hiking. We found treasures. We saw nature.  It is a trip that I will always remember.  And this picture sums it all up for me.  Those precious moments captured.