Yesterday I promised to share with you the joys we gathered as memories during this last month and a half of waiting in Texas.
For the past few days, Honey, the kiddos, and I have actually gotten away to a vacation spot in New Mexico with our brother-in-law and nephew. We hiked, cooked out, endured a smidge of altitude sickness, and marveled at the beauty of both the vista and the details we saw.
At times, we did question whether we were in New Mexico or Cuba, since we’ve heard so much about the classic cars we’ll see in Havana.
As we thought we would depart for Cuba in early June, we didn’t anticipate getting to do any of the things I’ll tell you about today, and all of them have left us with good Texas memories to take with us when we leave in 10 days’ time.
Though it wasn’t first chronologically, it certainly left the strongest impression, so I’ll start with the 40th Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. Since Willie pointed at Einstein and threw him a bandana, this is what we’ve seen every day.
Our summer movie schedule would have simply featured repeated viewings of DVDs. Instead, because of the delay, we took in “Monsters University,” both with our cousins and at a drive-in double feature. (A drive-in movie! How cool is that?) Einstein and I saw “Man of Steel” on opening night. The kiddos saw “Despicable Me 2” with their grandmother, and “The Lone Ranger” played second at the double feature.
Extended family always takes a prominent place in our summer trips home, but with an extra six weeks, we saw people whose schedules hadn’t meshed with our original departure date. We had Cousin Camp in College Station, and also saw our longtime next-door neighbors. We met other cousins at the Perot Museum in Dallas, and enjoyed the musical staircase, the simulated bird flight, and working on a construction crew in the kids’ interactive room. Driving over to Grapevine, we spent a day at the Sea Life Aquarium with still another cousin and an uncle. None of these fun days showed up on our original agenda.
And speaking of fun days, what’s more fun than your birthday? Well, in our case, the answer became “your birthday in Texas!” For Blossom and Ladybug, the prospect of birthday parties in Cuba had seemed less than ideal, seeing as how we don’t actually know anyone there yet. With a later date, both girls had several chances to celebrate their big days here with extended family and a few friends, including two families with Texas roots who we met in Spain some years ago.
Following that up with two consecutive days of freebies topped off the kids’ summer memories. First, on July 11, we headed to 7-11 for free Slurpees. (You see what they did there? 7-11 giving away Slurpees on 7/11.) This year, they gave 12-ounce Slurpees, up from 7.11 ounces last year. We loved that, 7-11!
Then we dressed up for one of our favorite summer days: Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. You may remember my ambivalence about being a Chick-fil-A mom, but once again, we donned the bovine apparel for the sake of a chicken sandwich. Well, a chicken sandwich and Einstein’s desire to earn a college scholarship by working there in high school. You’ll not find me discouraging a kiddo who wants to earn money for college!
Those two days stood out for Einstein, Blossom, and Ladybug, but for me, the stand-out moment was a discovery I made while out for dinner with my mother at the wonderful Blue Mesa Grill.
This is Guajillo-Peach Pandowdy. I had to order it just for the name alone. Say it out loud and you’ll see why. (For those of you who don’t speak Spanish or Texan, here’s a pronunciation guide for the first word: Gwa-HEE-yo. For “Pandowdy,” you need to Texan-ize it by rhyming it with “howdy.” Texans make the “ow” in “howdy” sound like a mixture of the “i” sound in “high,” the traditional “ow” sound, and the “a” sound in “ha;” sort of a vowel stew.)
Gwa-HEE-yo Peach Pan-D/I/OW/AH-dee.
There is no way on this earth that I would let that get away from me.
Once we devoured it, I turned to my mother. “If we could have another son, I think I might have to name him Guajillo-Peach Pandowdy LeBow.”
And that, my friends, is how you turn government red tape into priceless memories.