I'm just back from Houston, where all of us celebrated the second b'day of Kegan, the youngest among us, and the upcoming 40th b'day of Colin David, my oldest child--no, I cannot believe I have a child of 40. With eight adults (ten one night) and seven children, it was controlled chaos and wonderful fun. I'm not much of a photographer, but I tried--the picture on the top left is Colin (and behind him his father-in-law John), next most of the children gathered around one table for two kinds of cake--Kegan's chocolate and Colin's favorite yellow cake (always drove me wild when he was a child--I want chocolate!), then Maddie, the oldest child, doing some Karioke--she has a charming voice, and I wish now I'd asked her to sing "Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore" And finally my four grandsons, ranging in age from a couple of months shy of five to the two-year-old, three towheads and Jacob with his dark, curly hair--and inability to stay still for more than two minutes. The children all play well together and are delighted to see each other--as I watched them digging in the huge sandpile yesterday or hunting from eggs (hidden in plain view, of course) in the rain this morning, I thought what rich memories they are growing up with. Maddie, at almost nine, is by far the oldest and is the self-appointed caretaker of babies--she cuddles and loves when they cry, changes their diapers when needed, puts them on the potty, dresses them, and seems to enjoy it all. And she and three-year-old Morgan sleep all in a tangle on the pull-out bed in the living room. And then, a thoroughly modern child, she is off to her hand-held computer games.
Lisa, Colin's wife, knocked herself out cooking, and we ate royally--eggs and sausage Sat. morning, grilled hot dogs Sat. noon, and Doris casserole (which I've mentioned here before) Sat. night--Colin's request. We also had Colin's queso: a note about that below. And this morning, sausage and Rotel quiches and that wonderful potato casserole made from frozen hash browns--everything in it you should not eat but oh! so good.
I had been a bit apprehensive about the trip--now I view that as babying myself, but I was so tired much of last week that I was afraid of getting tired. I went to bed early both nights, slept long, and got a two-hour nap Sat. Colin said he felt bad about putting his 70-year-old mom on an air mattress but there wasn't much choice. I had confined quarters in his already overcrowded study, and it was fine except that my hips discovered they really don't like air mattresses. For much of yesterday, one hip didn't seem to want to work right. But I still slept pretty well and am not nearly as exhausted tonight as I expected.
I noticed an interesting thing. Maybe because of my just-past pneumonia, but my kids are--well, careful of me. The boys, Colin and Jamie, are always there to see if I need an arm to lean on and almost always I say, "Thanks. I'm fine." And in passing each child gives me a pat on the shoulder, a quick rub on the back, some much appreciated gesture of affection, and I try to return them. I was always being urged to sit and rest, until I felt useless, and I was always given the stable good patio chair and not one of the collapsible ones--even if it meant moving a semi-protesting grandchild. I love the attention and the affection it reflects but I don't want them to start thinking of me as old--or letting me think that way. And that's why much of the time I say thanks but no thanks to the kind offer of an arm. Of course it was a bit much as we left today when I said I had to go back and get the muffins and water I'd left--Colin volunteered and came back waving the muffins and a bottle of white wine. "Is this what you wanted?"
A word about Colin's queso: a friend gave me this years ago (she has now forgotten it) but it is the best queso ever, heavy and hearty enough that I used to serve it to the kids for supper when they were in high school:
Brown 1 lb. hamb. and 1 lb. ground sausage, breaking up clumps as you go (your choice to use hot, mild, or regular sausage)
Put in crock pot with
1 lb. Velveeta
1 medium jar Pace Picante (again, your choice--choose hot, medium or mild)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
When melted and ingredients are blended, serve with corn chips. Enjoy!