8/19: Oklahoma!

As I said, on Sunday night, my brother, his wife and five of his children arrived. I didn’t get pictures of that night – or many at all, with all the excitement – but I have a few to share.


My mom took the hint and cleaned off the counter for me to cook on. It’s an island in their kitchen and worked perfectly for me the entire week. My back was never to anyone and I was able to mingle while cooking. The first day, we did baked oatmeal and “Eggs in a Train.” We forgot our train cookie cutter so improvised with a small glass. It turned out well and compliments were plenty.


My dad on the left, Len (my brother) in the middle and his son on the right. If you look at Dad and Len, they are spitting images of each other. They were thick-as-theives all week. Len kept saying that he loved visiting Dad because he got to sit and learn from him.

On a side note: who paints their truck, a Dodge at that, green!? My brother.



Again, I packed up the children and drove them down to the water. It was a hit with the kids, even the girls jumped right in and played. It was nice to see that they weren’t too prissy to enjoy the water on a hot summer’s day in Oklahoma. The two above are two of the three girls that Len has.


Brendan loved playing with a floaty that Len’s daughter brought. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t hold him up out of the water – no matter how hard he tried!


Caiden, of course, was in his element and was excited as all get out with the water and the cousins. We have to teach him not to grab onto people, though. There was an incident or two where he grabbed for someone and got the wrong body parts. I’m convinced it wasn’t intentional, as he grabs onto anyone, as soon as they get close enough. We’ll work on it this winter so he doesn’t do such again, next year.


One of Len’s sons warming up. I’m not sure why he needed to – the water was plenty warm enough!


Front and center is my youngest brother’s (Matt’s) wife. She’s expecting their fourth boy. This is the brother that lives two hours from my parents in Oklahoma. To the right is my mother and in the back is one of Len’s sons – I believe the oldest. Hi Jen, way back there!


After dinner, Matt took his kids home for the night (school and all that) and we went out for ice cream. What you see is (L to R), 2 of Len’s daughters (one of them quite crazy, at times – in jest, of course), Len, Caiden, another son of Len’s and on the far right is Len’s wife, Wendy. Nice lady! I’m glad I finally got to meet her. McDonald’s was crashed by our family and it was fun. I lined up all the children, youngest to oldest and had them order one at a time. Great way to work things out when you’re bringing 13 people for ice cream somewhere!


Len’s youngest son and Pop-Pop.


Grammy enjoying her ice cream but not the picture taking. Too bad! We have to show Grammy at some point, right?


You take my picture, I take yours!


And, of course, afterwards, Aunt Mary (that’s me) had to take the older children + Caiden night swimming. We didn’t stay too long. The bugs were eating me up, so I took them home. The point is – it was fun going at night in a safe location and warm water!

That’s about it for Monday. Tuesday, we head to Texas!

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8/15: Oklahoma!

We were preparing to leave for Oklahoma. The goal: see a brother I haven’t seen in over 20 years (and get to know his family), visit with family and cook all the breakfast and dinner for 19 people the entire week. I offered to do the cooking (with Jen, of course), to take pressure off my mom.

Jen and I made a menu for the week and wrote out two shopping lists. One for my parents, one for us to bring/purchase. We tried to keep the shopping list for my parents light; it wasn’t fair to make them buy everything. We ended up purchasing other stuff while we were there but the intent was in place.


Before I could pack to leave, however, Mark asked me to make him two of his favorite meals for while we were gone and he was waiting to return to work. Chicken Enchiladas is an old favorite; we’ve been making it randomly for the past 3 years. He wanted that and a newer recipe: Dorito Taco Salad.


He had to help. He cut up and cooked the chicken while I was paying with the spices part…


Fresh cilantro and parsley broken up and cut up in that nifty little spin cutter purchased nearly 10 years ago at the State Fair.


The result: gooey yummy mozzarella melted over tortilla shells stuffed with chicken and green sauce.


And, of course, the Dorito Taco Salad. We left him with those two meals and packed up to go.


We drove off on 8/16 at about 11:00 a.m. Unfortunately, we have zero pictures of the first day. We drove from Idaho through Wyoming to Denver, Colorado and delivered a baby blanket to my brother for his son. We got no pictures from that. His son was sick and sleeping. After dropping off the gifts, we got back on the road, drove for another hour or two and stopped at a hotel for the night. The room we got (last one available) was a king sized bed with a couch and chair. Brendan wanted the chair and enjoyed himself on it.


Caiden took the couch and refused to wake up in the morning. I think we wore them out swimming in the hot tub after we got to the hotel (around midnight or so).


The next morning (8/17), Brendan walked (by himself with Jen shadowing him) to the front desk twice to find out how much it would cost to call his daddy. After the second trip to get an answer, the front desk clerk said he could call his daddy and not get charged. Brendan was super-excited and raced back upstairs to call his dad … who didn’t answer because he was up until the crack of dawn playing with his brothers. He was having his own little party since we were out of town and missed his son’s phone call.


Halfway through the day of driving, we saw a gas station/park for kids and pulled over for lunch. We let the boys play out some of their energy and got back on the road. They seemed to enjoy themselves – especially after Brendan used his earned quarters to purchase him and his brother a sweet snack.


Again, I forgot to get pictures on arrival. We got to my parents house about 11 p.m. on Saturday night (8/17). The next day (8/18), my dad was an instant hit with the boys. He had a riding lawn mower and had no problems giving the boys a ride.


Brendan is all serious about mowing the lawn and Caiden just wants to run around and jump on. My dad was their hero, that morning.


Brendan starts getting comfortable enough to play with the gadgets on the dash.


Caiden is so serious about mowing the lawn. I can see his little mind working, “I get to drive!” When he was a year old, we had a riding lawn mower and a huge yard. He’d fall asleep on his dad’s lap while Mark was mowing the yard. He didn’t want to go to his bed for a nap. He’d rather stay on dad’s lap. If we tried to move him, he’d wake and wail. These pictures I have will be fond, tear-jerking memories when my dad is gone, that’s for sure!


And, of course, Pop-Pop (my dad) becomes a hero to 2 of my brother’s boys and my own by taking them for an extended ride around his huge yard.


Pop-Pop is truly a grandpa – giving the boys lovely memories!


My parent’s house. It sits high on a hill behind the Choctaw Casino that my dad works at. The Fifth-Wheel to the right there is where my wee family and I stayed for the week. It was comfortable – in the day, it would get hot as blazes, though. Did I mention it was 100+ with severe humidity the entire week we were there?! I was dying, most of the time. By mid-day, I had to lay down for 30-45 minutes or simply pass out.


Later on, I took my brother’s 3 boys and my own 2 and went down to the river/lake. It’s a mile or two down the dirt road from my parent’s house and they had a blast for awhile, skipping rocks and dunking each other. Of course, it was also a great way to cool off, even if the water temperature was like taking a luke-warm bath!


Eventually, everyone made it into the water. I had to call my dad and ask him to deliver towels, as I’d forgotten them.

That’s all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Late on Sunday night, my brother from Connecticut showed up. In all the excitement, I did forget to take pictures. There are plenty more of other days, of course. I’ll give ya a few hours to digest this part of the week and then post the next.

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