Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ol' Razorback Red's Maiden Voyage

We have hit our thirties. Officially. We bought a camper.

For a while we had been considering a camper since the kids are mobile and love using that mobility outside. So a few months ago we made a trip down to San Angelo to check out their selection. We went in knowing the basics of what we wanted: small enough we could be comfortable hauling it yet big enough we would actually be comfortable in it. We found the perfect size and shape in a Winnebgao, and lo and behold we found out they also come in a bright red.

Now I thought the bright red was pretty, but what really sold me was the salesman who tried to claim this red as Texas Tech Red Raider Red. No. I could not have that. This is Arkansas Razorback Red. So. We got a red camper to haul all over the country. Funny thing. After 3 weeks of football season, I am trying to find a new favorite red-colored team.

This past weekend my folks came into town to help us out on the maiden voyage. We were nervous as cats, but all in all it rode smoothe and we had no major hiccups. I'm sure no one noticed the black water hose hanging out and then the black duct tape holding it in the bumper. And I forgot olive oil and butter, but hey-no one is remembering all the things I DID get.

Here we go!

The food still tasted good thanks to our camp chef Cash.

If you are unfamiliar with West Texas, all you may know of it is Midland/Odessa. Midland: home of George and Laura Bush (heyo, I am super proud her childhood home is 1 block from our house). Odessa: home I'm sure to someone but it ain't me. Okay, fine, Odessa is where Permian High School is and all the Friday Night Lights hoopla. Some of you may have heard of it.

But there is so much more to West Texas than oil rigs and tumbleweed. A couple hours south of Midland is a tiny ranching town called Ft. Davis. Here the school is so small they don't have 11 kids to field a football team, so in Texas High School style they play 6-man football. This is a thing. Everyone should watch at least one 6-man game in their life.

He's just here for the cheerleaders.

A solid 1:2 flag to player ratio

6 players. 4 cheerleaders. 1 team.

Ft. Davis Indians vs. Sierra Blanca Vaqueros
(You can't make this up.)

Also in Ft. Davis is the McDonald Observatory which is actually part of the UT-Austin campus. On weekends they host star parties. I know you're snickering. You think I'm a real big nerd. I've actually been to 3 star parties now, and I admit each time they get cooler. I am obsessed. At the star parties they point out to you all these constellations you still can't see, but they also tell you neat facts about our solar system and beyond. To steal my dad's quote, on a good night I can pick out the moon. But man, at the star party you see so much more. They had one telescope set on Saturn where you could actually see the rings around it. My mother, bless her Arkansas-farm-girl-don't-you-dare-take-me-to-a-nerd-convention heart, even admitted it was worth the 45 minute wait in line to see the 6th rock from the sun. Who knew we had this deep love for Saturn?

From the top of the state park you can see the McDonald Observatory in the distance

On Saturday we went to Marfa. Marfa is one of those places you can see, but it is best felt. You with me? Marfa has all these funky little shops where artists are sculpting on the doorstep or hand sewing self-designed clothes at the cash register. My sweet man snagged me a beautiful leather purse handmade at Cobra Rock as I chatted with the owner who was busy making a pair of shoes. He said it takes him 3 weeks to make 1 pair due to drying timed but he could do 8 in a week. 8! That's it! They literally make every last stitch and then sell them right there.

West Texas comes alive in Marfa

Over in Alpine we stopped for lunch at Reata. It is a pretty famous restaurant, but most folks know it by its Fort Worth franchise. Right outside of Alpine is one of Claytie Williams's ranches where he always had his infamous Ranch Parties. Driving by that ranch had me all kinds of nostalgic for the old days.

We stayed both nights at the Davis Mountains State Park, and the kids had the best time running and driving trucks and going on walks. On our way home little Henry begged to go camping again. I don't know if it was the good times or the incense I bought in Marfa, but I seriously considered asking Cash to just keep driving to the next state park. There we would've shown everyone our Roll Tide Red camper.

Monday, September 3, 2018

That Ol' Ballpark, Man, Was Back in Gear

The summer flew by. I have no idea how I went to sleep last night when it was Memorial Day yet today I woke up and it is Labor Day.

I love fall. I love winter. I love spring. I hate summer.

Every year as the temps begin to rise and shoot into triple digits and the grass starts turning brown and school is out I get into a rut of depression. In May Cash asked me what about summer makes me do this. I didn't know. I just hate being so hot and confined. Maybe it goes back to being a single teacher when I got extremely lonely in the summertime. I don't know what it is. But I feel summer with my whole heart, and I hate it.

Then this summer happened.

In June I saw our local Double-A baseball team was looking for host homes due to our housing crisis in Midland. I called to ask about what it involves. Cash and I talked about it for about a week when we finally decided to just give it a shot. We figure we wouldn't have anyone for a month at least.

About an hour after I turned in our application, the office emailed to say they had just had players moved up the day before and this would be perfect. (The A's pay for 2 nights of hotels when the players get moved up. Then they're on their own.) Needless to say that night we got an email from a player saying he would be moving into our home the next night after the game.

We were shocked! It happened so fast, and we started scrambling to get his room ready and make our house look presentable and not look like 2 kids tear it up on the daily.

The next night we met our house guest. Over the next 3 months, however, he became so much more than that.

Somewhere between playing trucks with Henry and eating leftovers when he got home every night and watching The Bachelor with me so he could recap it with his girlfriend we gained a member of our family.

Starting lessons at 2 years old with a 90 MPH fastball

Brothers ❤

He is a starting pitcher, which I learned only pitches about every 6 days, so we went to every home game he started. When he was away, we listened on the radio. I became this baseball stats kind of woman. I found myself saying things like, "Oh, he pitched 7 and a third innings, no hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts. He did great. Yeah, they lost, but no one cares about that because he didn't get the loss because those weren't his runs." When you stop looking at the final score and only care about the stats, you are a baseball fan. When you start wearing your shoes on the wrong feet and eat the same food every game day because that's what you did last time, you are a baseball fan. In all my life no one ever accused me of being a big baseball fan. Baseball pants? Yes. Baseball itself? No. But Summer 2018--that was my summer of baseball.

Summer 2018

Signing autographs 

His biggest fan ⚾️

During his time with us, the team traveled to Arkansas to play both the Naturals and the Travelers. My parents got to make the trip to Little Rock where they met his grandparents and watched him throw an exceptional game.

Rockhounds dominated the Travs!

Last week his parents came into town and got to stay down the street at my in-laws'. I knew it'd be fun to meet them, but my gosh I cried when they left!

While his parents were here, we snagged them from the baseball game on Friday to take them to their first Texas high school football game. They brought sweet presents, each one so thoughtful, and even introduced us to sugar cream pie. If you've never heard of sugar cream pie, you have not lived (you also probably have never been to Indiana). One morning while Cash was at work I dropped the kids off and met our player's parents for coffee and after an hour of just chatting I drove like a maniac to pick up the kids because I was late. I found myself wishing we lived closer because although we hosted their son, they quickly became wise, older friends to us. And what an awesome moment when I got to tell them my heart ached for a third kid I would never have but that their son filled that gap for us this summer.

All the 😍 for new friends who feel like old friends
This summer has been surreal. What was once a season of depression and sadness for me became a time of learning, hospitality, and new friends. It wasn't a change in the weather or a new house or a fancy trip. All that changed was doing as God calls and opening our home to others. That one gesture of opening the door of our home opened up so much more for our family.

Today we gave our hugs and a small goodie basket and waved goodbye to the nicest guy in baseball and a whole summer of memories. With tears streaming down my face, I walked in his room to make sure he didn't leave anything. Instead I found a bottle of wine and a note...and a Starbucks gift card labeled "for Avery during Mother's Day Out."

I died. That was too much. Hilarious and sweet at the same time.

As the sun goes down on this Labor Day and puts the final stamp on our summer hosting a minor league baseball player, I thank God for His provision. Of all the players we could've received. Of all the families he could've gotten. Of all the things that had to be timed perfectly, I truly believe God blessed us all this summer when we grew our family by grafting in a whole clan from Indiana.

Pullin family of five

Never underestimate the power of an open door, especially when there's a guy in baseball pants on the other side.

Be blessed,