Tag Archives: family time

Even Grown-ups Need Their Mamas

I love this old photo of our mother. Look at her – she’s gorgeous! As a child, I used to stare at this snap and think my mother was a movie star. As an adult, I stare at it and wonder if Dad was trying to show off mom or his new stereo system. #glamourshotfail I can only assume this was taken pre-fivedaughters.

Mom - Dressed to Go Out - Edited

I’m showing it to you now because Mom’s on my mind, so I’m heading up there. I’ll be off the grid (aka – lost in rural Oklahoma) for the next 10 days. My mother barely gets television stations and her home phone service is always on the fritz, so I can only assume internet connectivity = none. Still, I’m excited! Big Sis and I will be driving up together. While we’re there, two of my other sisters are planning to drop in which means there will be food, board games, cocktails, arts & crafts, one-handed croquet and some antiquing. I can’t wait!

If you’re thinking “NO! HOW WILL I SURVIVE WITHOUT A NANABREAD POST THIS WEEK?” rest assured your check is in the mail & I’ll miss you, too.

Later, taters!
Jeanne (NanaBread)

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Republic of Texas Bike Rally (ROT) Austin 2012

The suns sets over the Texas state capitol during ROT 2012


If you read my blog, you’ve occasionally heard me reference The Complete Package (my beloved husband) and his girlfriend (his beloved motorcycle). Each year, TCP takes his girlfriend… er, motorcycle… to Austin to participate in the Republic of Texas (ROT Rally for short) Bike Rally. And every year, I pack my Jeep full of his gear, my stuff and our Boston Terrier and fulfill my destiny as the driver of the support vehicle. Lest you think I’d rather be riding on the back of said motorcycle, think again. But that’s a story for another day.

Each year, approximately 50,000 motorcycle riders and 200,000 participants join in the fun at the largest motorcycle rally in the state of Texas. One of our favorite events of the weekend is the bike parade from the Austin fairgrounds northeast of town where the rally takes place to downtown Austin in front of the state capitol. It is really something.

With the parade route stretching about 11 miles long, bikers riding 2-across will stretch the entire length of the route for more than an hour. To give you an idea of how many riders take part, when the first riders pass the state capitol and turn onto Congress Avenue, there are still riders parked at the fairgrounds waiting for their turn to leave. That’s a solid line of riders stretching out for more than 11 miles riding across Austin, revving engines, honking horns, flashing lights and high-fiving onlookers as they pass. Even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast, it’s an impressive spectacle.

Here are a few photos from this year’s ROT Rally parade into downtown Austin.

Here they come! Escorts lead the first riders down Congress Avenue.

Lilly Bug, our granddaughter, takes in the parade from atop mommy’s shoulders.

Bikes of all shapes, sizes & colors parade past.

Some are stretched out choppers…

Some have stretched out riders…

Some get a big ‘thumbs up’ from event staff when they pass.

Some bikers share their ride with pink-haired cuties…

And some ride solo while rocking a spiked yellow helmet for color.

Some like to hide their identities like these mysterious luchadores.

Some represent the ‘older’ crowd on an ultimate trike…

While others represent the younger crowd like this green Ninja hottie.

Some riders are too cool for school…

While others are too fabulously outlandish for words.

As downtown fills with bikes, the first riders into downtown fill Congress Avenue starting at the state capitol and parking their way down to the river.

When a traffic jam occurs, some riders are friendly enough to stop and chat with our grandkids and pose for pictures.

Eventually, Congress Avenue becomes a giant parking lot filled with thousands of bikes and people begin to mingle and take it all in.

I love that the downtown parade is a family-friendly event. People of all ages, races, backgrounds and tastes come out to see this once-a-year event. Rally organizers throw a giant party downtown each year. There really is something for everyone – from bikes to live music to stunning architecture.

When all else fails, you can always break out the light sabers and battle to the death, as My Baby learned at the hands of Jonah Bear. Lilly joined in, too.

Every year, friendly riders show off their bikes to anyone who asks. Some will even let the kids sit on them and pose for photos. Jonah Bear loves that part. I think he likes dreaming of the day when he’ll be big enough to ride a bike into downtown Austin with his Papi. And to that, I say “let the boy dream!”

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LillyFair & Jonahpalooza: The End

The Complete Package and I just wrapped up two glorious weeks with our grandkids. For the first time, we decided to give them each their own special week at our house. Together, they are a whirlwind of constant motion and commotion. But separately, we are able to focus all of our attention entirely on each of them and give them one-on-one time they don’t normally get.

We started on Sunday, July 17th with our first annual LillyFair. After spending a long weekend in Austin visiting family, I brought Lilly home for a week of Yo Gabba Gabba, dress-up, baths in the kitchen sink and lots of snuggles. After 8 days, we feel like we’ve gotten to know our little Lilly Bug much better. She’s a pistol. She’s funny and lively. She loves music as much as she loves food (and girlfriend LOVES to eat). She has a small collection of favorite words. Her two favorites are Papi and snack, and sometimes she uses them in the same sentence. She’s a sweet little elf.

At 22 months, she plays hard to the very brink of exhaustion and loves to sing, especially in the car. She can’t get enough Yo Gabba Gabba, which she calls Baba, and she has a crush on DJ Lance Rock. When he walks onto the TV screen in that orange jumpsuit carrying his boom box, she giggles and lights up like a firefly. Her favorite part of the show is the silly faces segment.

Every time the kids visit, I make them something. It might be a costume for their dress-up box or sword holders for pirate swords or spy glasses made from paper towel rolls. It’s something I love to do, and the kids love it, too. For Lilly Bug, I recycled some of Jonah Bear’s old t-shirts to create Yo Gabba Gabba character shirts. First, I created Muno’s trademark lumpy orange body using felt and French knots. I love Muno. He’s cool. Lilly loved the color and the textures.

Next, I reworked Plex the robot on a red t-shirt using felt & embroidery thread.

If I’d had another week, I might have crafted a Lilly-sized DJ Lance Rock, but time ran out, so we’ll never know if I could have pulled it off. I’m thinking Papi should rent the costume and surprise her some time. She would lose her mind. As if her Papi isn’t already her hero. Papi would rock as DJ Lance Rock!

Last Sunday, we met My Baby and Bama Boy for lunch to trade Lilly Bug for Jonah Bear. Jonah loves coming to visit, and has since he was a little tyke. Now that he’s 4 1/2, he’s an old pro at coming to visit. He had his little suitcase packed and was ready for adventure.

We kicked off Jonahpalooza with a movie night. We made popcorn, broke out a bag of gummy worms and watched his new favorite movie, Rango. He spent the week playing dress up, watching his favorite cartoons and taking private swim lessons. We had picnics and rode bikes and visited the science museum to see the dinosaurs. Jonah is all boy, and is the total polar opposite of his little sister. While Lilly’s switch is always set to “high-energy”, Jonah is active but also sweet & tender and has his quiet moments. He’s thoughtful and polite and big-hearted. He loves to read and tell stories, and his imagination is astounding. He’s exceptionally smart and very creative. This week, Jonah asked for a new Bolt costume. It’s one of his favorite movies. And of course, I never say “no.” This time, Jonah was big enough to help cut the fabric and sew on the machine. Here’s the result, complete with a carrot dog toy.

Here’s our sweet boy learning to float like an ice cube. Hi, Kaki!

And here’s Jonah at the science museum with the T-Rex. Run, Jonah!

In all, we spent 16 days with our grandbabies. Our house is a mess, our refrigerator is empty, and our energy is completely sapped. But you know what? It was a fabulous 16 days. I know everyone thinks their grandkids are the cutest, the smartest and the greatest. But in our case, it’s true. {wink}

And we already miss them.

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A Picnic with the Alligators

No, it’s not a children’s book or a gangster movie. When Mom and two of my sisters were here last week, we packed a picnic and went down to Brazos Bend State Park south of Houston to spend an afternoon under the live oaks. It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the low 70’s, sunny skies and a great breeze. We went on a Wednesday, so we practically had the entire park to ourselves which made it even more peaceful. We found a picnic table under a big live oak tree dripping with Spanish moss and spent a relaxing afternoon enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. It was beautiful. It was glorious.

There’s something about a picnic on a lake, under a live oak with nothing but the sound of birds chirping that’s just good for the soul. I can’t describe how relaxing it was. While we ate, we broke out the Pente board. Pente was really big back in the early 80’s, if you’re old enough to remember it. We played Pente several times while the girls were here. If you’re not familiar with posts about my family, we’re big into playing cards and board games. Sometimes we even break out the 1,000 piece puzzles. Scrabble, Phase 10 and Cranium rate high on our list, too. Subconsciously, I think we’re all hoping that this ritual of working our brains will help keep senility at bay. Check back in 20 years, and I’ll let you know how that worked out. But on this day, we kept our brain cells hopping with a little low-level strategy and bead stealing while we fed the ravens and grackles.

When lunch was over, we packed up the picnic and game board and took a stroll around the lake in search of alligators. Welcome to south Texas, ladies!

It’s not like we planned to wrestle them, or anything. We just wanted to see if we could find them and take pictures. Baby Sister said that our nephew, Gabe the Babe, would get a kick out of it if we could find and photograph some alligators. As soon as we started down the path around the lake, we found one about 6 feet from the shore. Some days, we just get lucky like that. Guess I should have bought a lottery ticket, too. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

Our gator was kind enough to pose for pictures. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but I think he was about 6 feet long, a Pisces, and into red meat, small woodland creatures and macrame. But I’m just guessing. Hello, handsome!

Big Sis took this awesome close-up shot. She wasn’t the least bit afraid to get close enough to get a good picture with her zoom lens. Here’s the proof:

Our Baby Sister was right there with her. Which reminds me…. I forgot to tell them to run in a zig-zag pattern if the gators decide to come out of the water and chase them. Oopsie. Hehe (nervous laugh). Another 10 feet down the path, we ran into a blue heron. Such pretty birds. They really are blue, you know.

There were other gorgeous birds, as well. Like the ibis with his long bill (also seen on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs) and these beautiful red-billed ducks.

The big lake at Brazos Bend is beautiful. It’s wild, marshy and untamed like me (wait…marshy?) and it’s teeming with flora & fauna. The banks of those little islands on the right are home to all sizes of alligators, turtles and birds. I wish I could adequately describe how lovely it is. It’s so peaceful there.

Those decks over the water make an excellent place to stop and take photos.

We took lots of photos. There were so many things to look at. Favorite flower:

These were growing on tall, thin reeds like cattails. I don’t know what they are, but they were absolutely lovely. Favorite trees? Definitely those gorgeous live oaks. They grow low and wide, like big green umbrellas. When they’re covered in Spanish Moss, they’re just magical. They’re one of my favorite trees.

Favorite critter? This baby alligator captured by Big Sis and her zoom (again).

This little guy was perched on a stump. He couldn’t have been a foot long. At least, what we could see was about a foot long. What is it about little baby animals that make them so stinkin’ cute? Even the deadly ones. Baby lions? Cute. Baby hippos? Cute. Baby cobras? Trick question!! No snakes are cute!!

Thank you Mom, Big Sis and Baby Sister. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your visit. I enjoyed the antiquing. I enjoyed the baking. I enjoyed that big honkin’ sirloin we grilled up with that baked potato casserole. I enjoyed the chick flicks, the board games, and the pajama nights. But most of all, I enjoyed our picnic in the woods and the chance to just hang out and be ourselves. And laugh. And belch like guys and giggle about it. And swap stories. And relax. It was lovely. And I miss you already. We should totally do this again sometime. And next time, we’ll see if we can’t get all the sisters and My Baby to join us!

If you’d like more information on visiting Brazos Bend State Park, go to:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/brazos_bend/

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Hoegarden 2011: That’s a wrap!

I learned something important at this year’s Hoegarden. I didn’t take nearly enough photos. I have no one to blame but myself. I had my camera, I just didn’t pull it out often enough. I got caught up in all the fun. For instance, we ate really well over the weekend, but I didn’t capture most of the food. I did get this photo of Friday night’s pulled pork sandwiches with Asian coleslaw and a dreamy baked potato casserole. Oh, those potatoes! It was a fabulous Friday dinner.

This little piggy went wee wee wee, all the way...well, let's not go there.

Did you notice the sandwich? It’s on a little piggy bun! Our mother made those. From scratch. They were delicious and adorable. Until BBQ sauce started oozing out of their eyes. Then it got a little horror showish. But they were still delicious! We also had a tropical couscous dish for dinner Saturday. It was a mixture of pearl couscous, grilled peppers and pineapple tossed with The Pioneer Woman’s “Aunt Trish’s Salad Dressing“. I told you I’d find another use for it! We topped the couscous with grilled shrimp and chicken, and used the rest of the dressing on a green salad with grilled halloumi cheese. Didn’t get a photo of that, either.

Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cupcakes: photo courtesy of Andrea at http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com

The biggest food photo loss, in my opinion, was getting so wrapped up in Big Sis’s tie-dyed cupcakes that all thought went out the window – except to stuff one in my face. They were rockin’ and they were gorgeous. Easily the prettiest cupcake I’ve ever eaten, and it tasted even better. Also fabulous was Mom’s coconut pound cake with pineapple and macadamia nuts. I fully intend to share that recipe with you in the near future. It’s unbelievably moist and fabulous!

To add to your disappointment, there was no one-handed croquet this year. Between the food, the board games and the manicures, we just never made it outside for croquet. It’s not like us to pass up an opportunity to play, but it never came up. For the uninitiated, we have a long-standing family tradition of setting up an extreme obstacle course croquet field, then making everyone play with a drink in one hand and their mallet in the other. If you spill your drink or get caught with an empty glass or bottle, you lose a turn. One round can take hours. It’s hysterical, especially if you’re NOT the one with the empty glass.

Here’s some of what we did manage to capture from the weekend:

There were manicures & nail polish. Lots of nail polish. Photo courtesy of Sister #3.

We played board games. Lots of board games. Ever played Dirty Minds?

The older girls got to spend time with the younger girls.

And the youngest girls got to know each other better.

Yes - we had a boy join us this year, but we didn't scar him too badly. I hope.

Most of all, we just enjoyed hanging out together.

Although I should have taken more photos, at least we had beautiful weather, great food, fruity tropical beverages, and three glorious days of quality time together. It’s not often that 12 members of any family can get together and have this much fun. It’s why I look forward to this weekend all year. Time with four generations of the girls is a rare and wonderful gift. One I truly appreciate. And now that this post is done, I’m ready to start planning Hoegarden 2012. Wahoo!

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Hoegarden is here! Hoegarden is here!

That’s right. It’s time to pack up the board games, nail polish and booze and head to north Texas for our annual “girls only” estrogen festival known as Hoegarden. Four generations of females will descend on Sister #1’s house for three days of mani/pedis, chick flicks, board games, antiquing, shameless snacking, fruity umbrella cocktails and one-handed croquet. If you’re in the area and are overrun by a large herd of boisterous females, I apologize in advance. We may be loud, but we’re a lot of fun and completely harmless. Our snark is worse than our bite, I promise. I’m out until Monday doing my girlie thang. Have a great weekend, everyone. Photos and stories to come next week, so stay tuned!

Sisters + Wax Lips + Aprons = Flo & Nadine with their daily blue plate special.

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Nothing is better than family time.

The kids came to visit this weekend. Nothing is better than time with our kids. Lilly Bug is now 17 months old. She’s such a bubbly, sweet little pixie. She wakes up happy and the rest of the day just gets better from there. She’s a little chatter box, and is just starting to put together a few full sentences. Her vocabulary is expanding at an alarming rate. She laughs at everything, sings at the drop of the hat, and thanks to Jonah Bear’s toy harmonica, she learned to play hobo songs about life riding the rails with her Papi (The Complete Package). I love those curls.

Jonah bear turned four just before Christmas. That blows my mind. Where does the time go? He’s not a baby or a toddler anymore. Our first grand baby is a boy now, and his ability to think at such a strategic level amazes us. He’s a deep thinker and problem solver, and yet he’s also a sweet, compassionate soul. He is a boy who knows what he wants, and this weekend he wanted blueberry pancakes and fruity push-up popsicles. I love his sweet boy hugs & his big, beautiful brain.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a family weekend without My Baby and Bama Boy. We ate too much, we played Scrabble, we shared popcorn & ice cream while we watched Megamind. It was awesome. But my favorite thing was watching Jonah Bear’s face light up when he mastered the pedals on My Baby’s old bike with all of us out there cheering him on. It was one of those priceless family moments. Speaking of priceless family moments… Sorry, honey. Mommy loves you.

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