Robin Gansle lives and works in Denton. She has a portrait studio on the Square where she photographs babies, children, families and high school seniors. Her husband of 12 years, Mark, works as a director for McAfee. They have two kids: Gillian, 10, who has Asperger’s syndrome and is a gifted artist, and Grant, 7, who never ever stops talking.
7:30AM Awaken disoriented – this is not my bed, this is not my room and there is most definitely the aroma of bacon in the air. And I feel way more rested than I should. It all comes to me in a bright desert sunlight flash – I'm at my mom's house. The trials of traveling alone with two kids to Las Vegas, Nevada (as I do for a week every summer), are safely tucked into the part of my brain that forgets the painful stuff, like childbirth and making Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd. I stretch out in the bed that I don't have to share with my dear husband, who, as always, has to stay behind in Texas to work. I don't begrudge him that, because I'm smelling bacon and I didn't have to cook it. That's enough to get me out of bed.
7:45AM Stumble bleary-eyed into my mother's kitchen, where she has an insane assortment of flavored syrups lined up for my simple coffee. I should point out that she previously owned two coffee shops. I pour way too much of something dark and wonderful into my cup, along with the coffee and cream, and let it wake me up as I take in the scene around me. My mother's immaculately clean kitchen has been taken over by the assistant cooks – my 10-year-old daughter, Gillian, and my 7-year-old son, Grant. My poor, very OCD mom struggles for control but is losing the good fight. She's going down with a smile at least. Bacon and eggs have been made and consumed, but we are on to a bigger battle – there is a mini-doughnut maker to be tackled. Such a small, benign-looking little thing, and four people (two of whom are throwing back caffeine as fast as possible to stay ahead of the kids) surely can get along, right?
8:30AM Many tiny doughnuts, several recipe substitutions and a lot of overflowing batter later, the kids call this a resounding success. The grown-ups are exhausted and slightly less impressed with the results but hoarse from laughing so hard.
9:30AM Pool time! It's the 4th of July, but strangely a cooler day in Henderson, Nevada, than the average 100-plus. There are clouds in the sky and even a prediction of rain. My mom, however, has a cover for her pool that keeps it warm, and it's perfect for swimming. After the sunscreen routine, the kids spend the rest of the morning until lunchtime in the pool. This is the first year Grant can really swim well, which is so wonderful. It means I don't have to get in and can sit in the shade and watch instead. He went from a sad doggy paddle to swimming all the way across her pool the long way and back, side breathing and everything. Gillian is swimming laps like a pro. She could be on swim team if she wanted. So proud of them both.
12:30PM All that swimming means hungry! Hot dogs and fruit and Italian sodas are served. Good timing too, as it actually starts to rain. The kids finish lunch and zone out on the couch … playing DS or reading Mom's Cat Fancy magazines (no, really). This is the first time all summer that we haven't been on the go and we can all just relax. I love it.
1:30PM My crazy kids ask if they can take a nap. We are going to be staying up late to watch the fireworks and we are still mostly on Texas time, so how can I argue with that logic? Nap time it is. After almost three hours, I have to wake them both up. I think they were both settled in for the night!
5PM Mom's cooking again, with help, again … this time making her famous Texas ribs. The smell of barbecue sauce begins to fill the house, and my stomach rumbles. My mom didn't cook a lot growing up; she just had a few things she did really well and stuck to those things. So if she did them well she added the word “famous.” Or “secret.” So this is her “Famous Super Secret BBQ Sauce Recipe.” The kids totally get behind the cloak of silence thing she has going here. Rib making and eating is messy business, so once again, we make quick work of trashing her pristine kitchen, but many hands make light work of cleaning it up again.
8PM Dessert at the Cheesecake Factory at the Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. Just enough room left in our tummies to split some cheesecake, nab a good parking spot and then head across the street to the Green Valley Ranch Casino where they'll be having some great fireworks.
9PM We've walked across the street to The District, an upscale open shopping area owned by the casino. It is crowded. The weather is an absolutely unheard of 78 degrees. Suddenly they start the fireworks a little farther to the right than we expected, and we realize there's a big tree blocking our view. Everyone scrambles forward, and we slip off a bit to the right and get a secluded spot that lets us see all the fireworks just fine without being squished in the crowd. Oohs and aahs for the next 10 minutes. Watching fireworks with kids reminds me of how amazing things like that still are to them, so I make sure to ooh and aah with the best of them.
9:30PM Back home and bedtime. Everyone is exhausted from a long day. Ready for more fun with Nana and Vegas-style thrills tomorrow!
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