Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving with the Morris extended fam

This being the first holiday following Mark's father's passing, we thought it might be nice to invite some family members here for Thanksgiving. I titled this as the Morris extended family, but really it was Mark's mother, sister, her husband and their 2 kids- which without us, totals up to fewer people than are in our little immediate family. Usually a true Morris gathering involves his aunts, cousins from either side, some friends, some other distant cousins that I can't keep track of and invariably embarrass myself not remembering, and kids that Nana tutors. Which is still smaller than my family-of-origin gatherings are now.

So it was a small group. The children had a great time being together and Uncle Kelley was the hero of the day for playing kickball while we cooked and cleaned. Actually Mark was the true hero for working like crazy at his job weekdays and weekends, and then when he finally got a day off, he worked like crazy in the kitchen with me, and then after dinner, when the rest of the adults collapsed from stuffage, he enlisted the children to help him out. They actually did a pretty good job!

'Twas the night before T-day, and the children could not tear their eyes away from a movie to say "cheese". Even Max pretends to love it. (Don't be fooled! He won't watch more than 15 seconds of Elmo)

Max and Kayla giving hugs. This looks contrived, but it's really not. Max is very huggy. Kayla consented to hug him by the end of their visit here.

The dinner: mashed potatoes, rolls, turkey, greens, gravy, green bean casserole, salad, cranberry jelly, cornbread dressing, potato salad, fruit salad, and macaroni & cheese. It was a merger between North & South.
One thing I realized is that Thanksgiving favorites are almost always what you're familiar with- not so much about taste as about tradition. My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is mashed potatoes or a yummy fruit or green salad. But others did not even take those items because they were saving room for their favorites: collard greens and potato salad, which I'll take more to be polite than out of preference. Some basics are popular with both groups though: rolls.

I accidentally deleted the picture of the desserts. Much woe. Dessert is really the best part. We had pumpkin, apple, and german chocolate pies, as well as 7 up cake (with strawberry frosting, a new Rewa addition) and Oreo Cake.

The group. We brought in the kiddie picnic table so we could all eat together.
We had a good time with Mark's family and watched more football than I've seen in the past ten years, but it was a good weekend for football. The children really enjoyed each other and the weather was great, so they dug holes in the backyard and filled them with mud. Good cousin memories.

My sister-in-law Alice and her son Charlie Choo were here visiting her parents for Thanksgiving, and they came to dinner on Sunday. We had fun with them- my kids would not leave her alone, though. Here's Katrina showing off her nightgown my mom made for her and a matching one for her Julie doll as a birthday gift. Julie's not in the picture- that's Charlie.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Soccer girls

Another soccer season has come and gone. On one hand, I am excited for my girls to get some exercise, time with their friends, outside at that, and to learn a new skill. On the other hand, Saturday games seem to take up a whole lotta time, and weeknight games make life way too complicated, what with teaching piano lessons, making and serving and cleaning up dinner, bedtime for Bonzos, and Daddy invariably working late. But the first hand obviously overpowers the second in the arm wrestle, because we keep signing up for more seasons.

I really appreciate the time and efforts of the coaches, and am exceedingly grateful that Katrina's practices are in the field directly behind out house. Fire ants or not, it is much easier to send her out when it's time for practice and join her when we're ready or watch from the backyard, than to feed everyone early, pile all the kids in the car at dinnertime and "entertain them" (keep them out of trouble) at the field where her sister practices.

This season was rained out a lot- we had a surprisingly cool and wet fall. I actually was sad that so many of the games were canceled; I really wanted the girls to get a chance to play. It seemed like they were just getting it when the season ended. I guess that's why so many places in TX are year-round with their sports- they don't want players to lose any skills. Still, I like the break between seasons, even though it's only about 2 and 1/2 months.

Katrina throws it in as her teammate Gabby springs into action.

Action shot of Katrina, unfortunately pretty blurry, but at most games I was trying to keep track of Max or keep him (or his siblings) from throwing/kicking balls into other games.

Katrina is puzzled why that one didn't go in. She like playing forward as opposed to sweeper.

Felicity's game changed a lot this year, their field size nearly doubled and so did the number of players on the field. They also acquired the official goalie position and had the complicated offsides rule that I don't pretend to understand. Her games are on fields that are quite the hike from our house, so Mark and I had to tag-team those events.

Felicity running- Coach Dan said she's always eager to play, begging him to put her in.
Unfortunately, she doesn't always know what to do... but she's improving and she enjoys it. And that's the point of her playing at this time in her life. Their team had a "learning season" so here's hoping the next season is more of a "winning season"- this girl likes to win!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Solo Flight to Davis

Recently I took a quick trip to Davis, California to visit my grandparents. It seemed like traveling in time and instantly I felt ten years old, walking through the door to the familiar smells and sights. They built their house in 1955 (partly with their own hands) and have not changed it a whole lot since I visited it with my family of origin in younger days, although it is still very clean and in surprisingly good shape. It had been over 14 years since I'd been back to 821.

Although I have taken long-distance trips away from my children, this was the first that Mark wasn't with me or meeting up with me. Somehow I felt like people treated me differently, with neither a husband nor several small children along. I got lots of reading time, which was nice. This was my first time ever spending time with my grandparents without other relatives along, which changed the pace and conversations quite a bit.

I had hoped to be useful and whatnot during my trip, and I guess I was, minimally. My grandparents have always stressed the importance of being self-sufficient, and they are no exception. Mostly my contributions seemed to be with food- preparing and cleanup. It is interesting to see how much has or hasn't changed with them through the years. It's also interesting how spending time with relatives teaches you much about yourself. I discovered that my mother is actually a lot like her father: quiet, hardworking, interested in books and learning, and averse to small talk and superfluous conversation; yet sentimental in relationships. My grandpa has not slowed down as much as I thought he might in his 9th decade- older people are reputed to be slow, but he managed to be swifter than I in many things and kept up with traffic on the roads. He says that they have attained the perfect relationship- a deaf husband and a blind wife.

A few weeks from her 90th birthday, Grandma continues to be a great storyteller and likewise tries to maintain independence, despite her failing physical capabilities. The irony that I had the hardest time reconciling is her loss of interest and appetite for food. This is the woman who is most famous of all in my acquaintance for producing vast quantities of delicious food, then persuading even the most engorged eaters to have just a little more or risk offending the cook. The rules no longer apply, and it is just a little too ironic for me to swallow, mentally. She told me lots of tales from her youth, preparing food at the bakery before going to school and trying to scrub the doughnut frying smell out of her hands before class. She also talked about her time as a Navy WAVE during WWII, while Grandpa was overseas with the Air Force. Grandma still likes to look her best, even if she can't see herself (or anything else, for that matter). Sunday, she had me fix up her hair that a church member had arranged the day before, but Grandma still puts on her own lipstick.

I really enjoyed looking at the vast quantities of pictures they have collected over the years, from old ones of ancestors whom I have never met, to recent pictures of my cousins in their adventures, many of whom I hardly recognize now. In particular I enjoyed the older ones of my very youthful grandparents, mother, aunts, and uncles. Some of them were shockingly good looking (and not always modest!) and many photos have weathered well despite the lesser technology. I loved the one when my grandparents wore their wedding clothes on their 20th wedding anniversary. They traveled all over the world and lived in some exotic locations, always serving others and devoting much time to their faith.

We attended church on Sunday and I couldn't help but get a little emotional as I met people who have been blessed by my grandparents' service through the years. It was also sad to say goodbye, knowing that it might (really) be goodbye for many years yet.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Super Sevens

Our Bean recently had a birthday. She is now seven, which was my favorite age as a child. I don't really know why, maybe I was superstitious? I do remember really being excited to turn 11, because statistically I had the least chance of dying at that age (that's what happens when you combine a child's irrational fear with a mathematician father's response).

But anyway, about Katrina. She was very excited for her birthday. Bet you can't guess why there are army men on the table.

It's because her birthday is on Veteran's Day! So Felicity arranged them in a smiley face for her, mixing irony with mirth. Matthew and Max are opening something of their own, something very exciting (Sunday socks):

Katrina has been hinting toward a dollhouse for some time now. It was one of my favorite toys as a child, so I was excited that we gave one to her. It's the kind you put together, so she gets to pick out the decor. Unfortunately, it's turning out to be quite a bit of work as well, and consequently it is still not completed.

The day was lovely outside and by the time we returned home from her choice of restaurants- Texas Roadhouse (this is our "family party" year, where we skip the friend party and do something fun as a family instead), and by the time I finally finished her cake, it was past the boys' bedtime (so they missed it) and nearly mine. Can't believe I never took a picture of the inside of this cake. She requested a checkerboard cake, which was a rather complicated recipe involving beating 9 egg whites and gradually adding 1/3 cup sugar, then folding it into....blah blah blah. And it wasn't even very good. We had to eat it with tons of ice cream. She was thankful though, which is just like Katrina- extremely gracious. Also for the guacamole I made her, that's her favorite food. It has been for some time.

Happy Birthday Bean! We love you and look forward to many more years with your sweet and thoughtful self. Even when you no longer fit into your cute froggy pajamas you made at sewing camp last summer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halloween is OVER

I have to keep reminding Matthew of that fact since he seems to want to celebrate it indefinitely. Just yesterday we drove past the pumpkin patch (which is readying to be a Christmas tree lot) and he asked if we could go. I'm sure that it's because I never blogged about Halloween; he needs some closure to this holiday.

October turned out to be a very wet and surprisingly cool month for our neck of the woods. Hence, I only made it to that pumpkin mecca once. Mark took all the kids on Halloween afternoon after he came back from work, but the Family Photographer (me) was not in attendance, so these are our only pictures.

Matthew wanted to buy all of the pumpkins and make sure they fulfilled their measure of creation.

Max, pre-mud stage. Matthew is blurred in the background, on the go as usual.

The measure of their creation (nothing fancy here, just freestyle w/ knives).

Look at this cute bee! He almost didn't make it trick-or-treating, since he took a nosedive from a crazy standing position in his stroller (what a surprise) and cracked yet another tooth. He still knew his lines though: "Beeezzzzz, Happy 'aleen!" and "Chickacheek!"

Our neighborhood had a picnic on the front lawns before the candy begging commenced. In the corner of the picture is that cute bee you saw earlier, probably running for the keg again. Don't worry, he never got any of the contents to match up with his mouth at the right time.

Our attempts at decorating outside. That cobweb stuff is a pain!

A witch, a vampess, the bee, and a pirate. Ready to be done with pictures and to start with candy.
The M&Ms and their oh-so-attractive garbage bag costumes. (You know it's bad when you have to use a trash bag to dress up.) I think Mark is the dark chocolate kind- do they even have white choc M&Ms?

OK, now that we've gotten that out of our system, we can officially get ready for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Park pics

One afternoon in early November, the weather was perfect and so was the lighting, so I brought my camera to the park and took some pictures while the children played. Matthew had a friend there, so it was a little harder to capture him, since little boys don't generally like to stop and smile for the camera.