Friday, February 17, 2012

First Trip - 02.17.12

I’m pretty easy to please.  Give me a lake and a beer and I’m a happy camper.  I grew up at the lake.  Some of my favorite childhood memories involve the lake.  Life is good there.  You have friends, family, cold beer, floats, and cool water.  You get to sit around and talk without the distractions of technology.  We went camping so much we had a checklist (maybe this is where my love of checklists came from?).  I have vivid memories of waking up on Saturday morning to dad testing the boat motor and sprinting to get my bathing suit on.  We would then spend the next 3 days skiing, sleeping in a tent, under the oppressive Georgia heat, on a leaky blow up mattress, with no electricity.  It was heaven.

TJ grew up going to the lake with his best buddy Matt in Graham, Texas.  Whenever he tells a story about the lake, his little eyes light up and he’s just so happy.  Like the time he jumped off the top of the dock and it was too shallow and nearly broke his nose.  Or he'll tell about the time they were shooting fireworks and set the lot on fire.  Needless to say, he loves the Nall Lakehouse.  Since we’ve been together we have had several trips with their family.  It’s heaven to me now too.  We both love it so much that we agreed that our first family outing would be to the lake.
We’ve been parents for 28 days.  We were about to make a trip that we’ve made several times.  We know exactly what to bring: a couple of comfy outfits, toiletries, dog, dog food, portable kennel, bathing suit.  Easy.  Now what in the hell do we bring for a one month old?  Do I need the activity mat?  What about the pack n go?  The bathtub?  He eats every 3 hours, but it's a two and a half hour trip. Does that mean we need to pull over and breast feed?  After countless text messages and phone calls to Matt’s wife Jenn, I was feeling confident that I could do this.  Afterall, Matt was out of town so she had to pack up her two boys, one three week old baby girl, and two dogs all by herself.  Now that’s stress, right?

I learned several lessons that weekend, but all in all it was a wonderful weekend and we realized that life was great.  I've been told so many times that life was never going to be the same.  Well, you know what?  They were right.  Life is different.  Hard.  Challenging.  Exhausting. Great. 
Lessons learned:
  • Pack every last little thing in the car and THEN feed him and run for the car like your life depends on it...otherwise you'll end up breastfeeding in the McDonald's parking lot in the sketchy part of town only 30 minutes into your trip.
  • You can never pack too many outfits
  • When it comes down to Moose vs. Teddy, Teddy wins.  It's okay to put the dog in the back of the truck because Teddy needs to ride in the truck.  Moose will be fine.  She'll whine and cry, but she's a dog and she'll be ok.

Now that it's all said and done I thoroughly recommend all new parents to just pack up and take a weekend trip as soon as possible.  It's not going to be ideal.  You are still going to be exhausted, you're still going to be figuring things out, but there's a lot to be said about a change in scenery and good friends.  It's good for the soul.  I came home with more confidence than I've had since little man made his arrival. 
Teddy and little Maddie meeting for the first time.  If arranged marriages were socially acceptable we'd sure hope for these two to love each other.  Although, I'm pretty sure both Matt and Jenn could take us down in a street fight and if Teddy ever broke Maddie's heart we'd be in for some trouble.  Maybe it's a good thing that they seem oblivious to each other.
Are you kidding me with those little leg warmers?  I was terrified of having a girl, but it's a hard and true fact that little girl clothes are so much cuter than what they offer for the boys.

Me and Jenn on the dock.  Maddie is in a hug-a-bub.  I sent my mom picks of us and she made the  loving comment that Jenn looked so relaxed and happy with Maddie and I looked stressed out.  She figured it was because Maddie was in the hug-a-bub wrapper.  Sure mom.  It couldn't be the difference between a first time mother and a mom of three.  Either way, mama went out and bought me one for my Easter basket.  Grandma's are the best.
    Teddy was a big fan of Wyatt.  I was really surprised that both of their boys really like Teddy.  They refer to their baby sister as "our baby."  They had lots of questions for us:
    Does he cry when he's hungry like our baby?
    Does baby Teddy's face turn red when he's mad like our baby?

    Where is baby Teddy?  (They kept forgetting he was sleeping in a bassinet right next to them)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bea's Biscuits

Mary Elizabeth Stallings.  She was my great aunt and she meant EVERYTHING to me.  My maternal grandmother (Nanny) passed away when I was in the 4th grade and my paternal grandmother (Maw Maw) in the 5th grade.  For all intents and purposes she was my grandmother and I loved her with all my heart.  I believe my dad is responsible for naming her "Bea" but that can't be verified.

Side note: I just recently learned it's "intents and purposes" which makes way more sense than "intensive purposes." Who knew?  Not this kid.

I have so many great memories growing up with her.  That river runs so deep that I won't even attempt to describe what the following memories mean to me, but here are a few highlights:
  • She smoked Virginia Slims.  The REALLY long ones.  She (like every self-respecting southern lady) always had lipstick on, which meant that Bea's ashtray was filled with 100's of butts with lipstick stains.  Both her and Maw Maw had ashtrays, that in my young age, I knew to be ridiculously too large, but they were always full.  Weird.
  • She was a member of Eastern Star.  I asked her about it around the time I started reading Dan Brown books.  It went a little something like this:
    • Me: Bea, are you in a secret society?
    • Bea: Love, we are a society and we have secrets, but we are not a secret society.
  • Thanksgivings at her house were so magical it brings tears to my eyes (if I actually cried).
But hands down the most memorable moments that I have with this woman revolved around breakfast.  I'm not talking a McDonald's bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit with hashbrowns mess.  I'm talking about a "slap your mama" this is the best breakfast I've ever had type breakfast.  I have no doubt that when I die I will awaken to the smell of coffee, eggs, bacon, and Bea's BISCUITS.  Instead of a sweet old lady in a housecoat from the seventies it will be Jesus with a big smile on his face.

When I began to realize that my time with Bea was drawing to an end, I made sure to ask her to teach me how to make those glorious biscuits.  I took comically detailed notes.  If you've ever cooked with a southern woman you know how difficult it is to learn their favorite recipe.  Why you ask?  Because it's not written down and it damn sure isn't measured.  She taught me from the "look" of it.  I believe this to be a pride issue that is bred in us.  We think, "No one could possibly make [insert dish here] better than me, but if there's a chance she could then I'm not helping her figure it out." So here's the recipe to Bea's Biscuits.  I'm hoping that I'll have it perfected for my grandchildren.  As it is now I get it right about once for every four misses. No one else really notices but I do. 

Bea's Biscuits (the short hand version)
  • Bowl of self-rising flour
    • She made sure to tell me that she's been told over and over that you don't have to sift today's flour, but she still likes to do it.  It's the way she's always made them so there's no need to change now.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
    • I'd also like to note that she measured this in her hand and I made her put it in a teaspoon.  When I say it was exactly 1/4 teaspoon, I mean it.  Wow.
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 scoops of Crisco about the size of an egg
  • Work everything together
  • Pull about a golf ball size portion of dough and coat in flour and roll into a ball (She seriously spent about 10 minutes with me explaining how to roll it into the ball.) 
  • Place in pan and pat them all on the head.  No joke.
    • A recent Alton Brown episode explains the "pat them on the head" gesture - the biscuit rises the most in the middle so you should press the middle down to make them more uniform.   
  • Serves 8 - 10
  • Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 - 15 minutes

Cheese and Sausage Biscuits

Cheese and Sausage Biscuits (via Carol Tuggle)

My oldest sister used to make these for me.  I found the recipe a few years ago and now I make them every chance I get.  They are super easy to make and are a huge crowd pleaser.


1 lb sausage

2 cans cheddar cheese soup (can sub one can nacho cheese for more spice)

1 small onion; finely chopped

3 cups biscuit mix

Crumble sausage in large skillet and add onions.  Cook over medium heat until sausage is brown; drain.  Combine all ingredients, stir until dry ingredients are moist.  Place in muffin tin to bake.

Bake at 425 degrees for around 10 minutes.  Toothpick test to know if they are done.