Thursday, July 31, 2008


Do you know what time it is? It is 12:53 AM! And I am NOT SLEEPY!

We went to Zookini's tonight for our 'last supper' with Royce before he goes home tomorrow. And I absolutely love their ice...with diet I had one. I knew better...sure I am...wide-awake-and-gonna-be-sorry-in-the-morning.

But it hasn't been fruitless...I made garage sale signs for this weekend, I placed an ad online for the garage sale, I edited the rest of the pictures I took of the grandkids this past week, I caught up on reading some blogs, and I was the first to wish Paul Dawkins a happy birthday at 12:11AM on Facebook chat!

OH! I just yawned! Maybe by the time I get this baby shut down for the night, I can go back to bed and go to sleep! Maybe I'll be taking a nap with Tater tomorrow!

(It is now 1:01AM...maybe I'll go take a Benadryl......)

Monday, July 28, 2008


Drained...that is me. For 10 solid days I have had house guests. Not the same ones...some go, others come. My washing machine has never seen so many sheets and towels in one weeks' time. It's been great, though! Just draining.

On Thursday, the 17th, my baby sister and my big brother and his wife came in. It was pretty cool...without any prior planning, Lucy flew from Idaho and Ray & MJ flew from Virginia, met up in Dallas, and were all on the same flight from DFW to SA. They came for the infamous West Family Summer Christmas. (see previous post) They all stayed with me because they have to shell out the $$ for plane tickets, and I wanted to save them a little on the lodging. Then my mom came on Friday. She always stays with me cause she's the mom! They all stayed until Monday morning. Monday afternoon the washing machine went into action!

We were expecting Rich and Christi late Monday night. They were going to leave Aidan and Annaliese with Nana & Grandpa while they celebrated their anniversary in Fredericksburg, then Rich was going to drive back to Plano, and Christi & kids were going to stay in SA and fly back on Sunday. But their plans changed...Rich's grandmother was in her last days of battle with cancer in Iowa and he needed to go see her. (She passed away Saturday morning...please keep Rich's family in your prayers!) So Kerry went to get Christi and the kids on Tuesday and brought them back. They stayed with us until Friday afternoon...

By Friday afternoon, Kerry's mom was here. Christi had driven to Odessa to get her and bring her back so she could see them and Royce who would be coming in on Saturday.

Whew...are you tired yet? Remember, in the midst of all this was Vacation Bible School every morning last week! (see previous post) :P

So Royce came in Saturday night (while we were babysitting Connor), and he'll be here till Thursday. Although, technically, he isn't "here"...he usually ends up spending the night with friends.

This morning I took Kerry's mom home...she was ready. ;) So since Royce is not really "staying" here, I'm declaring our season of guests to be over. Except wait! The girls and I are having our second annual summer garage sale this weekend! That means Dana and Melynda (and Jordan and possibly husbands) will be here! Guess I'd better get those sheets & towels into the washer again!

I love my family, my kids, and my grandkids....but then I love my quiet house and normal (?) routine once they are gone.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

VBS and Grandchildren

This has been Vacation Bible School week at First Baptist. This is my 5th or 6th year to teach Preschool Music which I absolutely love. The only downside to this is having these silly little preschool songs going through my head 24-7. If you asked me to hum or sing a regular song right now, it would be absolutely impossible. But the kids...they are the reason I put up with "Here We Come-A Walking Down the Street" running through my head. Some are shy at first but quickly warm up. Others are unabashedly loving on you the minute they walk in the door. Some are shy at first and are still shy when they walk out the door on the last day. I love to watch Ethan...he knows me...I have babysat him several times...but he is shy, so he doesn't want to sit in the circle with the group. He sits against the wall and watches. By this time, he has learned the songs and the motions, so he very shyly does the motions and mouths the words, while he sits against the wall. And when we get the streamers out for the last "parade" song, he always wants a streamer...and waves it to the music...while he sits against the wall. And then there's Mason, and Natalie, and Juliana, and others who learn all the words and all the motions and are so excited to participate in everything we do. They even know which song comes next on the custom-made "Preschool VBS Mix" CD. And the younger four-year-olds like Kylee and Annabell just want to sit in your lap or talk to you while you are trying to sing. Plus, having 5 classes of preschoolers for 20 minutes each, singing, dancing, marching around the room is a great workout!

One of the bonuses this year is being able to take my grandkids with me to Bible School! This is the second year I've taken Caleb, who lives here. But this year, Aidan (along with his mommy and baby sister) is here for a visit, so he and Caleb are keeping Miss Jeana and Miss LeeAnn hopping in Preschool 4D! It is quite the adventure...the minute we get in the car, the VBS Preschool Mix is in the CD player, back speakers turned up, and the boys requesting "Nana, we want the 'marching' song!" (That's Choose Jesus....cause they love the motions and the instrumental version is the one we march to with streamers.) Then it's "Nana, now the 'cowboy' song!" ("I Will Hasten" which has music you could ride a horse to and involves slapping your knee and saying "YeeHaw"!) Then Caleb always wants to go back to the 'marching' song, but Aidan wants to listen to the 'love Jesus' song (He Loves You/He Loves Me) which has a great 50's sound. What fun!

Christi and Annaliese are going with us, too! Christi is helping me out in class...along with Brook duBois who is absolutely wonderful and loved by all the kids...especially Caleb! Christi is an elementary music teacher in Plano, so its like having a pro on board. Annaliese, who is 15-months-old, goes to the nursery and comes to music class with the three-year-olds...five precious little girls who love to sing and dance. Annaliese loves to stand in the middle of our circle and watch...she also loves the wave the streamers, and she loves to get her sticker at the end of class.

VBS and grandkids...what a great mix! It's so much much fun, in fact, that I'm going to give Caleb and Aidan their own copy of the "VBS Preschool Mix" CD...Christi and Carey are going to love me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ode to Family

I've considered several different titles for this blog...I'm afraid I'm going to end up with half a dozen blogs all rolled into one, because there is just so much stuff rolling around in my head. I even briefly thought about doing what I used to do when I was in school...write the paper first, then title it. My English teachers always frowned on that. (Why is that, Jenni?) They always wanted the title and outline of my term paper handed in first! How could I do that? I didn't even know what I was going to write yet???

So....since everything rolling around in my head is pretty much a result of the planning, process, and product of a family reunion, I decided on the title "Ode to Family"...and I wrote it first! (Mrs. Morgan, Sr. Eng. OHS '75, would be proud! And I even used some alliteration!)

Last weekend, 40 members of my family gathered for the 2nd annual West Family Summer Christmas. That's right...Christmas...complete with Christmas tree, gift exchange, stockings, and turkey & dressing Christmas dinner (even fruitcake!).

Christmas was always the time of year when my four brothers and sisters and I, along with our families, would gather at Mother & Daddy's for family time. We always exchanged gifts, ate turkey and dressing, and had a great time seeing how much each others' kids had grown and reminiscing about old times. I am always amazed that when recounting the same incident, each of us remember different things. Individually, our memories are monotone, but together, it's like we each have a different color crayon to color in the memory to keep it bright.

As our kids have grown and married and had families of their own and moved all over the country, it has been harder to get them all back to Odessa to Grannie's house for Christmas. This generation of cousins has always been very close, and they missed not getting to see everyone. We decided we could get together in the summer when schedules were less busy...but we didn't want to lose any of our Christmas traditions which had become unique to the Raymond West we decided to have Christmas in the summer. We tried it last year for the first time and it was a delightful success, so we officially adopted our new version of Christmas...the West Family Summer Christmas.

Why? I've been pondering the "why" of some of the things we do as family. Perhaps this is from being around Tater and listening to his favorite 2-year-old question...why? Why is it so important to us to see one another at least once a year? Why is it so important for us to continue traditions that started when Maggie, Lara, and Jenni were the only grandchildren in the family? Why is it so important that we continue to give gifts to one another in July? Because we are family...and it's more than just a song!

Why are we so eager to see each other? Because my parents taught us that family is one of the most important things in the world. It is the first institution created by God. It is the foundation for the future. We were taught to love each other and respect each other. Now that we are grown with children and grandchildren of our own, scattered from Virginia to Idaho, each living our lives as we feel led by God, we still love and respect each other. We are a part of each other. And most important of all...we actually LIKE each other!!! Why are our kids so excited about seeing their cousins? Because somehow we have managed to pass along these values to them. Even the second generation of cousins are catching on...Tater's comment: "I want to play with my cousins!"

Why do we continue the Christmas traditions even when the thermometer is hovering between 95 and 100? Because it is who we are. Traditions are unique to every family...they are what we have in common with those we love. Strong traditions spawn happy memories, and who doesn't love to walk down memory lane when the flowers are blooming and the creek is babbling? Cranberries may be hard to find in July, but traditions and memories abound all year long.

Why do we give gifts? This is one of the most thought-provoking "why" questions. So what if we get together in the summer? Lots of families do. So what if we have our own set of traditions we like to carry out? Lots of families do. I think the reason goes back to our love for family. We give because we love. The basic act of giving is based on love. None of us really need the trinkets we receive. We probably all have more 'things' than we could ever possibly need...just go look in your closet or your garage. But the idea of looking for a gift for someone you love and finding a gift that fits that person is exciting. It is a tangible way to show our love to our family. And that is important.

Folks heading out to the lake this past weekend probably wondered when they saw our banner on the fence reading West Family Summer Christmas, complete with a picture of Santa in swimming trunks, lounging in a beach chair under a palm tree. But inside the fence, no one had to wonder about the amount of love in our was readily apparent as we shared an absolutely fabulous weekend each other!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recipe for Peach Cobble-er with Love from a Two-Year-Old

Step One: Ask your 2-year-old grandson if he wants to help make a peach cobbler for his mommy.

"Oh! That will be fun! I get the helping stool!"

Step Two: Get your camera ready cause it's going to be something special.

Unwrap butter and melt 1 stick in each pan (we made two cobblers)

Stir 3/4 cup sugar into 2 cups peaches
In another bowl, add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour,
1 tsp of baking powder, and 1 cup of milk

Now stir and stir while standing on the helping stool!

Pour flour/sugar mixture into pan of melted butter, and then pour peaches on top. (Do not stir.)
But if you still want to stir, you can put the oven mitt on one hand and stir the empty bowl with the whisk while Nana puts the cobbler in the oven at 325 for 45 minutes.
NOW! What to do while the cobbler is cooking...hmmm...we can have a snack of marshmallows!

(If I could imitate the way Tater says marshmallows, I would try to spell it...too funny)
"You want one, Nan?"
Beep Beep Beep..."The cobble-er is done, Nana!"

"I made this peach cobble-er for you, Mommy!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Different Kind of Fourth

I am witness to the fact that as you get older, holidays change. For instance, last Christmas Day, Kerry and I were actually by ourselves. All the kids were doing other things. So we went and served lunch at the Salvation Army. It was different.

Now we've just had a three-day weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July. Again, all the kids were celebrating with their own families...which I personally think is just wonderful! They should have their own family traditions without grandparents getting in the way all the time! Families grow strong when they have traditions that bond them together, and the most important family unit to be strong is that small nucleus of mom and dad and the kids. (There...that's my own personal little bit of wisdom for the of charge.)

So, Kerry and I had no specific plans for the weekend other than going to Fredericksburg on Saturday because it's 'Peach Season' in Fredericksburg. And even though we still have peaches in the freezer from last year's bounty, we felt like we needed more. We decided to start off the long weekend on Thursday by inviting our friends, Rick & Ann, over for dinner. Kerry is still trying out new things on his new-and-improved grill, so he decided to grill some orange roughy and cook some scallops in a wine/butter sauce (yes, the 'grill' has burners for this sort of thing). YUM-O, as Rachel Ray would say. I made a yellow squash/zuccini dish, and Ann provided the salad and steak fries. After dinner, we introduced Rick & Ann to the World of Wii, and we had so much fun for the next couple of hours. I'm sure if anyone had been looking in the window, they would have been rolling in the grass! Especially when Rick and Kerry were was totally hilarious! Ann and I were laughing so hard we had tears! It was such a delightful evening and an excellent way to start our three days of leisure.

Friday morning was cool, so we decided to work out in the backyard for a little bit. I dug around in the yard pulling weeds and watered the seeds I had planted, and Kerry put together the bench arbor to go against the fence in the middle of back flowerbed. The temperature began to rise, so we began our descent...into the sofa to watch a little TV. We decided the scallops had been so good the night before, we would do them again for lunch, along with some fresh asparagus and fresh corn on the cob. Mmmmmm. As darkness fell, we decided we wanted to watch some fireworks (since we had missed the Pops Concert/Firework Display down on the river the night before), so we drove up the street where we had a great view of the fireworks display over the lake. It was an awesome show lasting almost 25 minutes.

We got up Saturday morning and left for Fredericksburg. We decided to take a different route and see different views, so we meandered our way through south central Texas and had a delightful time. We finally arrived in Fredericksburg just in time for lunch and had some good German food (Reuben sandwiches and bratwurst!). Then we strolled and shopped a little before heading out of town to the fruit stands. We stopped at quite a few before we decided to buy...that's just how you do it, apparently. But we finally found some we liked, and we got not only peaches, but also black-eyed peas, okra, Pecos cantaloupes, and vine-ripened tomatoes. And yes, by the time we got home, all we could smell was cantaloupes! We also decided to stop and poke around at this place that had a lot of wrought iron and pottery and 'outside stuff' piled around. We had seen some pots outside one of the little shops earlier that I liked, and Kerry thought we might find some there. He was right! Here is what we found...perfect for our patio.

We were ready to leave Fredericksburg, but not ready to go home, so we decided to drive over to Lake Buchanan. Kerry's family had a place there when he was little and again for a little while about 12 years ago. It was really interesting to drive around and look at all the 'old places'. We were able to find the place where Kerry's two aunts had lived. The bigger house has been redone on the outside (and probably on the inside), but the smaller house is still there, just like it was.

And there is still a stand of cannas right where they had been when Kerry's aunt lived there!

After driving around the lake a while, we decided to go ahead and drive on to Austin and eat at our most favorite restaurant ever....

Carrabba's Italian Grill. We found this about 11 years ago when we were in Austin picking out wedding bands. We had been looking for another Italian place, which we never found, but discovered Carrabba's instead. There are Carrabba's in the Dallas area and Houston area, but we're a little partial to this one. Oh, my...Chicken Bryan...if you've never had it, we highly recommend it! Afterward we went down to the Capitol and walked around a while before getting back in the car and heading home.

Sunday afternoon was cool...low 90's, believe it or I got out in the backyard again and put up a little fence to keep Tux out of the flowerbed around the fence so the little flower seeds will have a chance to grow. Here's the lastest pic of the backyard's still in progress, but looking a lot better.

Celebrating the Fourth of July this year was certainly a lot different than we've ever done before. But it was wonderful not to have anything specific on our agenda...just spending time together, which is just about our favorite thing to do.

Now I've got to go and make a peach cobbler!!!

Friday, July 4, 2008


Look at the right hand side of my blog page and scroll down to my blog list, A Carousel of Blogs. You will find 'Rhonda Robbins Photography' listed there.

Rhonda is my cousin, and she is an awesome photographer. She has such a unique style, using old houses, railroad tracks, rundown buildings and warehouses as her backdrop. The colors in her photographs are bright, yet subdued at the same time, if that makes sense. And sometimes she uses black and white for a really neat effect. But more than that, she is able to capture emotions and personalities in the faces of those she photographs.

She has just posted some pictures of her new great-nephew, Brayden. You just HAVE to see them! Brayden's mommy, Bailey, has been through a lot this past year, and God has blessed her and Kyle immensely. As you scroll through the pictures, look at their faces, and say a little prayer for them. They still have a long road ahead, but it'll be easier with your prayers and with that sweet little baby boy along with them.

Love you, Rhonda! God bless you, Bailey, Kyle & Brayden!

(My favorite? The feet and the sunflower!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Simple Pleasures for a Little Boy

* Spending the Night (and following day) with Nana

* Wii Bowling

* Chocolate Milk

* Playing with Tux

* Taking a Bath in Nana's Super Duper Tub

* Lion King

* Hunting for Wii Mario Kart (but, alas, not finding it anywhere in town)

* Lunch with Grandpa (including a Chocolate Milk Shake)

* Elevator Ride at Grandpa's Office

* Unidad Park

* One Blessed Nana

(Can you tell I spent the day with Caleb?)