Monday, July 12, 2010

When Chicago came to Texas.

Last month, my mom's brother Bernie and his wife, Mary, and their 5 kiddos came all the way from Chicago to visit us. While they were here, my mom's other brother Terry surprised us all by showing up in our backyard - also all the way from Chicago. It was SUCH a fun visit with lots of swimming, lots of laughing, and LOTS of great memories. Like . . .

Discussing Texas history with my Uncle.
My uncle Bernie is a history buff. So while he was here, he wanted to show his kids the Alamo. Luckily, he has three nieces who are proud Texans and are well-versed in Texas history so we were definitely on board with that plan. During the days before our trip to San Antonio, we had lots of little discussions here and there about little factoids from Texas's glorious history. But what we found out was that our Uncle Bernie actually knows a LOT about Texas history. In fact, he crossed the line - yes, Uncle Bernie, you crossed the line - by knowing WAY more about Texas history than his three native-Texan/raised-by-Charlie-Palmore-who-knew-everything-about-Texas nieces. It didn't matter what it was, he had the right information and we were woefully incorrect:

Me: We should go see Goliad, too. That's a really cool place to visit, too. You know about Goliad, right? How Santa Anna executed all the people there just before the Alamo?
Bernie: Was it before the Alamo? I think it was after the Alamo . . .
Me: No, I think it was before.
Tammy: [pulling the laptop out to Google it to prove that I was right because that's what we Palmores do . . .]
Bernie: Because I thought they were sending troops to help out at the Alamo.
Me: Well, maybe that's what they taught you in CHICAGO. But in my TEXAS HISTORY classes, taught here in TEXAS, I learned that it happened -
Tammy: It was after the Alamo.
Me: Crap.

Or . . .

Me: [talking about the Alamo] And then Fannin wrote a letter -
Bernie: Wasn't Fannin at Goliad?
Me: Ummmmm . . . [confidence waivering] . . . I think . . .
Tammy: [Googling]
Bernie: I think he was the commanding officer at Goliad.
Me: Are you sure? Because I thought he was -
Tammy: He was at Goliad.
Me: Crap.

Even walking up to the Alamo, I was getting it wrong:
Me: I took this Texas history class in college and the professor was saying that, you know how Travis was in bed sick when the Mexican soldiers finally got in and he killed a bunch with his knife while still lying in bed?
Bernie: Wasn't that Bowie who did that?
Me: Crap.

It was embarrassing. And I finally stopped arguing with him.

And, believe me, that's no easy feat.

Stopping at Buccee's with my mom.
On our way home from San Antonio, we stopped at Buccee's for gas. And Beaver Nuggets, of course. My mom was standing at the cash register, paying for a Diet Coke and some chips. My 12 year old cousin Declan was standing with me, waiting for my mom to finish paying so that we could walk out to the car. That's when my mom walked away from the register with her bag of purchases and a confused look on her face. She held up a cigarette lighter and we had this conversation:

Mom: [with a tone of bewilderment] I just accidentally bought this.
Me: What?
Mom: [still confused] I just accidentally bought this.
Me: [looking at Declan for help] How does one accidentally buy a cigarette lighter?
Mom: I have no idea. I was just looking at it, trying to figure out what it's shaped like and the guy charged me for it.
Me: Well, you should take it back to him and tell him you were just looking at it.
Mom: [studying her new purchase] What IS it shaped like?
Me: [studying it, too] I have no idea. I guess it's just a . . . maybe it's a . . . I have no idea.
Mom: Well, what on EARTH am I going to do with this??
Declan: You could go buy some cigarettes . . . accidentally.

I wanted to give him a high five right then and there for being the funniest 12 year old EVER. But I don't think that 12 year olds think that high fives are "cool" because . . . well . . . they're not. So I just laughed and acted like the super cool cousin that I am.

The next day, my mom told my brother-in-law Matt all about the lighter and how she had accidentally bought it. Since he smokes occasionally, she asked him if he wanted it and he said sure. As she handed it to him, she asked if he knew what it was shaped like. He looked at it and said "Yeah - it's shaped like a crack pipe lighter."

I think my mom lost consciousness for a few minutes at that point.

Seeing Toy Story 3 with my cousins:
While they were all here, Toy Story 3 came out and the kids were VERY excited about it. Oh, who am I kidding? I was very excited about it, too - I LOVE those movies! So we rounded up all the kids and headed to the theater for a date with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Aaaaaaaaaaand then we got a little sucker-punched. I mean, it was a GREAT movie, as usual. But it was SAD, too, because it's about Andy going off to college and moving on without his toys. I was THIS close to letting loose with an all out wail at the end. My niece Avery was absolutely inconsolable when it was over, no doubt making a silent vow to play with every toy in her room when she got home. When we were standing outside and she saw a paper cut out of the one of the toys from the movie. She picked up and said "Catchy, I'm gonna keep this forEVER. [looking at it meaningfully] I'll NEVER get rid of it."

Yep, I'm pretty sure that movie scarred her.

And do you know how many times they say "Buzz" or "Buzz Lightyear" in a typical Toy Story movie? It's a lot. You hear it in almost every scene: "Buzz! Over here!" or "Where's Buzz?" or "Noooooooo Buuuuuuuuzzzzzzz!" - lots of references to him throughout the movie. But somehow, someway, my mom walks out of the theater saying: "I thought it was funny when Bud Lightyear . . ."

I honestly don't know how she does it.

Listening to concerts in the living room.
My nieces and nephew and my cousins enjoyed giving concerts in the living room. And they were very entertaining. We heard lots of great songs and saw lots of great acting in those little concerts. Avery gave us LOTS of introductions for herself that went a little something like: "Ladies and Gentlemen. You are about to hear Avery. You're gonna love her because she is so amazing." And then my 10 year old cousin Patrick got up and started all his songs off by turning his back to us and pretending to spray breath spray into his mouth. It was so hilarious. But one of my favorite parts of those concerts was listening to my 7 year old cousin, Nora, sing some of her original songs. My favorite one went like this:

"I am so coooooooooooooooool. Cuz my name is Noraaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Everybody likes meeeeeeeeee. And when you see me, you'll want to hang out with meeeeeeeeeeeee. Cuz I'll be like "Hey, do you want to hang out with meeeeeeee?"

She'll be famous one of these days, mark my words . . .

Aaaaaaaand swimming with my mom.
I've told you before about how my mom thinks that she will drown in pool if she ever falls in because she'll get disoriented. Well, she decided to try to work through that while my uncle Bernie was here because he's a firefighter and a trained paramedic and could, therefore, oversee any necessary rescue efforts. So we watched her slide down the slide and flail around in the water a few times before she finally started to get the hang of it. And my uncle only sent me in once to rescue/re-orient her, so that was good.

We just still can't seem to help her understand that all she has to do is stand up because her pool is not that deep. That's all you have to do. But she just doesn't get that AT ALL. In fact, while she was in the 3-foot-deep shallow end of the pool playing volleyball with us, she was holding onto the beach ball that we were playing with and she had picked her legs up so that she was floating - like sort of using the ball as a flotation device. We were waiting for her to serve while she was floating there, slowly spinning around several times. Then she said "I can't figure out how to stop spinning."

This whole standing up thing is really a challenge for her . . .

Anyway, it was such a fun trip and I'm so glad that they made it down here to see us. We had a great time with them and were very sad to see them go. I know it was quite the sacrifice for them to leave that Chicago weather to come spend a hot week in Houston in JUNE, but I'm so thankful that they did.

Because, frankly, I know a LOT more about Texas history now.


Phyllis Eddings said...

That was wonderful Catherine! I hope that since you made such a long post, it doesn't mean you're gonna be absent the rest of the week in trial or something. :( Of course, if you are, then go lock up those pervs.

Catherine said...

Thanks, Phyllis! And no trial this week . . . but next week is another story! :)

Anonymous said...

I did ALL of my Texas research by watching the 1960 classic The Alamo starring John Wayne ("Republic. I like the sound of the word.It means people can live free....") and James Widmark as an ailing Jim Bowie.

Chica said...

Hahaha, you are too funny. Love that post.