Celebrating in Texas: A Weekend Recap

Happy Monday, Loves!

What. A. Weekend.

I cannot even begin to tell you how tired the Raiford family is this morning. We had the most amazing weekend – but it was tiring. We took the kids to Texas to visit my grandmother for her birthday, and it was such a wonderful trip. But, it wasn’t a trip that included a lot of sleep.

Let’s see…I think the most we slept was Thursday night in our hotel room in Amarillo. We went to bed around 10:30 and woke up at 7 am. Other than that, we are talking very little sleep. We had a late flight into Dallas on Wednesday night that put us in our hotel room at 11:30. We all needed showers and baths – I will not let anyone go to bed after being in an airport or on a plane, ever – and it was later than that when we went to bed. We woke up at 5:30 am so we could get on the road to my grandmother’s. It’s an almost 6 hour drive, which is a lot.

But, we were able to spend the entire afternoon and evening with her, then we took the kids to dinner. Then we checked into our hotel and my cousin, Lesly, and her daughter, Tamia, checked in after their flight from California. We got to spend a few hours visiting with them, and that was amazing! Despite living on opposite coasts our entire lives – Lesly in California and me in Florida – we spent a LOT of time together growing up. Our dad’s are brothers, and my grandmother lived near us in Florida until I was 18. So, they visited at least once a year, and we spent so much time together.

We hadn’t seen her in a few years, and it was SO good to spend some time with her this weekend, too! Friday was my grandmother’s birthday, so we went birthday shopping, picked out a cake, bought her favorite beer for her, and we had the best time with her. She is so much fun – and our kids are so fortunate to get to know her like they do.

She spent the weekend sharing her life with us, and it was so much fun. Our kids are so excited to go back to school and share some of the things she told them, and who can blame them? They had no idea that their grandmother had tea with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House many year ago (she was invited because of the work she did for the government following the terrible Pearl Harbor tragedy and all that came from that). They had no idea she’s been to the Super Bowl. They had no idea that following her work for the federal government in her early 20s, she decided to get into a car with three girlfriends and drive for 10 days clear across the country to live in California.

It took them 10 days. They had to get an oil change every 1,000 miles. They went through 8 new tires, and they slept during the day and drove at night when the reached the desert so they would not overheat the car. She then landed in LA, where she spent several more years of her life. She traveled by train to see her family – and my grandfather would visit her at the train station where she had a 2-hour stop in New Mexico – so they could spend time together every few months.

They had no idea that they have a very famous cousin – well, she’s my dad’s cousin. My grandmother’s sister Alice’s daughter. So, my dad’s first cousin, June Lindemann. Grandma showed them the book that June – who was not just my grandmother’s niece but also her godmother – wrote about her life as a beauty pageant queen. She was Miss California when she met and became engaged to the son of a wealthy South American Ambassador. She moved to Chile to live with them when they got married, and then they had a baby. Unfortunately, she had to flee the country on the very last plane that left before the Communist state took over and lives changed. Her husband decided that rather than go against the communists, he’d join them so that they would not target his famous, prominent family. And she took the very last flight authorized to leave Chile to escape with her newborn son.

Her story is in her book – Pageants, Politics, and Promises. And it’s unbelievable. Read it.

My kids had no idea that their great-grandmother had so many stores to tell, and they are in disbelief that their grandmother lived this life.

We had the most fantastic weekend. We met new people. We had a lot of cake. We painted rocks and hid them in my grandmother’s neighborhood for people to find. We had fun. We really, really, really had a great time.

We are tired, but our hearts are full.

Now that we are home and everyone is back to their normal routine, we are still exhausted, and that’s all right. It probably doesn’t help we were gone the entire weekend before and only home for two days before we took off for Texas, but we will get over being so tired.

We will never, ever get over how much fun we have with my grandmother. We will make that long ass trip several times a year to spend time with her. This was our 3rd weekend in Texas in the past six months, and we are so overwhelmingly fortunate and blessed to be able to make the trip so often to spend this time with her. I won’t lie – I strongly dislike where she lives, but she’s happy there and she’s got all the farmland in the world to look at every morning when she drinks her coffee. It might smell like cows and the entire place is orange – orange – and colorless, but I will tell you that those Northern Texas sunsets and sunrises are spectacular. In fact, they are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some spectacular sunrises and sunsets in California and Hawaii – and even the sun setting between the buildings on Fifth Avenue in New York City. You can’t beat a Texas sunrise/sunset.

And you cannot hate a place where the world’s coolest woman lives.

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, loves!

This is a beautiful day! First, it’s Friday. And that’s always something I love, but it’s also my grandmother’s birthday, and I’m celebrating with her. In person. How many people get to say they’re hanging out with their grandmother on her birthday approximately a century after her birth. I have my husband with me. I have my four sweet babes with me.

My heart is FULL.

The only thing that would make this 5-day weekend better would be coming home to find out that our parents finished up the final details in the upstairs bathroom while we were away (they are so sweet to stay in our home for us when we travel…and they’re always doing little things for us…and since we are finishing up the remodel, I’m just throwing it out there…in case they’re reading. Just saying. No biggie.)

{These were taken when Craig and I visited in November without the kids…she is always making funny faces in photos and cracking up. Maybe that’s why she and our sweet Carter-man are the very best of friends!)

Really, though, what an amazing trip.

And it is a trip. The kids are here. It’s not a vacation with little people.

But, I won’t complain because they are excellent little travelers. They always fly well. We always receive so many compliments in the airport about their excellent behavior. We always know they’ll behave in hotels and restaurants. They’re a little judgmental about rental cars – but that’s probably my fault. I’m a neat freak and rental cars are never up to my standard of clean.

To be able to surprise my grandmother for her big birthday is something very special to me. We’ve been making it a point to come to Texas to see her every 2-3 months. It’s a quick flight from Florida, and she is my favorite person in the world. We alternate trips with the kids and just ourselves, but they would never be okay with missing out on cake.

Anyway, I’m just so excited to be here with my amazing, beautiful, special, wonderful, spectacular grandmother on her birthday with all the people I love most in the world – and I’m still bringing you my Friday favorites. As always, I promise they are super random, but still my favorites.

{How blessed are we that my own grandmother gets to spend so much time with our sweet littles even though we live 1,500 miles apart? How blessed are we that they love her so much, and that she gets to see them grow up? And how blessed are we to be able to make this trip so often throughout the year so she doesn’t have to miss out on this time?}

Mornings

My favorite part of the day. I just love the new start, the quiet time with a cup of coffee. Coffee as a whole. A little quiet time alone with my husband to start the day. I love it. It’s my favorite part of the day. Followed very closely by bedtime. Perhaps it’s just the whole thing about quiet that gets to me?! Oh, and I like my coffee black.

The Open Sunroof

Before I was a mom, I always drove a convertible – and then I had a hundred kids. So, the next best thing is a great big sunroof, and it always has to be open. I love the fresh air and the sunshine when I’m driving. Seriously, it’s my favorite.

The Phrase “I love you for no reason”

I have no idea how or when it started, but our sweet Charlotte and our sweet Carter – the twins – like to tell us this. “Mommy, I love you for no reason!” “Daddy, I love you for no reason!” and it melts my heart. Every single time. I cannot even with that saying, especially when it comes with a darling little hug and those sweet little voices.

People Rocking Their Lives

I just have this thing for people who are living their best life and making the most of what they’re doing. I love it. I love to hear the smile in people’s voices when they’re so happy with where they are in life and what they are doing and how things are going. It’s such a beautiful change from all the complaints and the pessimism of the world – and it makes me smile.

Spending Time With My Grandmother 

How truly blessed and fortunate are we that we get to spend this kind of time with a woman who has lived a century? How blessed are with that she is with us – and sharper, wittier, and funnier than ever – to get to know her great-grandchildren. Our kids get to spend time with the woman who has been my favorite person on earth since the day I was born, and the twins are like 95 years younger than she is. That’s amazing. It’s so amazing.

One of the things that make my heart so happy since she moved herself off the farm and into an assisted living facility last summer the staff and their kindness. Anytime we visit, they are always so good about remembering us, and they are always so kind to tell us how lucky our grandmother is to have so many visitors despite how far we all live. She never goes more than six to eight weeks without someone making the trip from California or Florida to see her between myself and my brother, my cousins, my parents, and my uncles.

What breaks my heart is when they also share that some of their residents haven’t had that many visitors all year and their families live in the area. Some have no visitors at all. I am grateful every single day that we are able to book a flight and see her anytime we want.

You guys…if you are so fortunate to have a living grandparent – get up and visit. Don’t make excuses. I cannot tell you how amazing it is. How many stories my grandmother tells us from her own youth and from her own days as a young woman. She’s so hilarious, and she’s such a wonderful storyteller. There is nothing quite like listening to her tell us the stories of her childhood and her life, and to hear her sharing those stories with the kids – or to go into her room and find her watching baseball – she is a huge Orioles fan – or watching Tiger play golf (she’s so disappointed in his performance in recent years) or catching up on football with Craig. She’s an amazing lady – and I wouldn’t trade this time with her for anything.

This is a woman who is so gracious, so elegant, so classy, so beautiful, and so funny. She’s active and loves to be outside, in the garden, on the farm, taking classes, volunteering in her church, leading prayer, taking care of animals, reading a book while she drinks her coffee on her porch – she likes John Grisham novels and such. She’s a woman who calls us to ask if we can bring her some beer when we visit so she can have one in the evening, and who is so impatient with “old people” as she calls them – even though they are probably 20-30 years younger than her. She cannot handle that they don’t take care of themselves.

She’s spectacular. I only wish you could all spend a little time with my grandmother. I promise you that you will never meet a more beautiful person inside or out. And that is my Friday favorite every day.