Category Archives: college

Gratitude

Hands in pockets: Ricky, Jared, RJ, and the kid

Hands in pockets: Ricky, Jared, RJ, and the kid

I’m grateful that my sons have such great friends to pal around with. This week two of the Core 4 who room together at Sam Houston State (e.g., my younger son and RJ) were reunited with the other dynamic duo, Ricky (University of North Texas) and Jared (Blinn Junior College) for the first time since they left for college.

Although it was a short videogame-playing session, I could tell that they had a lot of fun, judging from all the laughter coming from our game room. Here’s hoping this is an unbreakable bond for these Fantastic Four friends!

A Fun, Frustrating Time

Tanner, Chase, and Josh know where to look, not my sons.

Tanner, Chase, and Josh know where to look, not my sons.

What a nice weekend we enjoyed! First, both boys came home from UTSA and SHSU. While we waited for my younger son to arrive Friday afternoon and join his brother, we entertained my older son’s good friend Josh and my “third son,” Chase, who both attend college in Houston. Or should I say that they entertained me. It was good to get their take on life (and Runescape) and talk about what their post-graduate plans are (hard to believe that they’ll be done with college in May).

The boys met their pal Tanner Friday night at Buffalo Wild Wings to eat, chat, and play trivia (the Mister and I helped our disc golf friend Eric’s team and sat nearby). Saturday night (yep, cheap Mom relented so the boys could sleep in) we watched “Thor: The Dark World” movie and really enjoyed it (Loki is such a witty bad guy).

So stubborn!

So stubborn!

Then I spent the next couple days trying to get my younger son to cooperate and let me snap a pic or two of him.

“Stop it, Mom!”

“Stop it, Mom!”

Naturally, he refused to play nice. When I told him that one day his children will enjoy seeing photos of him, he replied, “You’ve taken enough pictures.”

Really, son? Enough?!? That word is not in the vocabulary of the momarazzo!

The two brothers

The two brothers (yes, Jake got his hair cut)

At least he put up with the usual pose-with-your-brother-before-you-leave harassment. Guess I’m thankful he threw me one little cooperation crumb.

Wonder what the photographic Thanksgiving break will be like . . . or do I.

One Home . . .

My older son is back in his usual spot in the dining room.

My older son is back in his usual spot in the dining room.

. . . and one to go! I can’t wait until our family of four is reunited!!

Sidebar: Jake looks like he’s up to something, because he didn’t have his fake tooth (flipper) in (he gets the permanent one probably in March). He looks like a goober when he smiles without it!

Feathers A-Flying

The brothers (ages 4 and a half and almost 8)

The brothers (ages 4 and a half and almost 8)

Throwback Thursday has me thinking about life as an empty nester. It’s been almost 12 weeks since both of our sons flew the coop, the older one to finish his senior year at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the younger one to start his college journey at Sam Houston State.

So how has it been for dear, old mom, who is home alone during the day for the first time in almost 22 years? Lonely, my friends. Maytag man lonely. Oh, how I miss my sons!

The boys on their play cottage in 1999 with their  Pokémon collection

The boys on their backyard play cottage in 1999 with part of their Pokémon collection

What’s been hardest for me is that my younger son usually ignores me unless he needs homework help or someone to talk to while he drives through McDonald’s at night. Yes, my little sweetie who I’ve always been so close to! Before he left for SHSU, he told me straight out that he would not be like his older brother, who at least texts me good morning and good night every day (and usually quite a bit more).

I understand that he wants to assert his independence and become his own man, but, as I’ve told him many times this fall, caring is not a crime. There’s no off switch to your emotions when you’re a parent.

I hate the news blackout after 18 years of being in the loop. It stinks, and it hurts my heart.

Older brother helps his younger sibling with his homework 10 years ago.

Older brother helps his younger sibling with his homework 10 years ago.

My strategy has been to be patient and relish the communication opportunities that I do get. The kid does call and Skype more often than his older brother. Plus I listen intently while he and his father chat (he talks to him more), while throwing helpful suggestions for questions to ask (which the Mister usually fails to use . . . frustrating! Guys!!).

Fortunately for me, we’ve gotten to see our sons this semester, our younger son more often because he’s closer. My older son hasn’t returned home since he left in late August. That’s about to change, though, because he’s driving in from San Antonio tonight (he has no classes tomorrow)! When little bro heard about it, he also decided to come visit the old folks at home.

I’ll try not to make the grill too hot for him!

The Beauty and the Cutie

Aunt Dorothy is surrounded by Mike, Carol, and the Mister.

Aunt Dorothy is surrounded by Mike, Carol, and the Mister.

Last Saturday the Mister and I drove to Huntsville for two reasons. First, we joined his brother, sister, and sister-in-law and visited with a true beauty, the Mister’s aunt, who was celebrating her 94th birthday in a facility there.

Practice makes better!

Practice makes better!

And then we moved on to this cutie! We picked up my younger son at Sam Houston Village and drove the short distance to Eastham-Thomason Park so that he and the Mister could throw some discs.

Teeing off into the gloaming.

Teeing off into the gloaming.

It was fun spending time with the Mister’s family. And, of course, we can never get enough of our beloved baby boy (or his equally beloved big bro). What a wonderful afternoon and evening we enjoyed!

Simply gorgeous!

Simply gorgeous!

The fiery sunset? Icing on the proverbial cake!

All Is Better in My Photographic Universe

The kid catches the football in 2009 (left) and 2005.

The kid catches the football in 2009 (left) and 2005.

As much as I miss my younger son living with us, there’s one thing that hurts my heart even more: Not snapping photos of him playing sports.

I’ve clicked the shutter on my many film and digital SLRs thousands of times, as I’ve documented the kid kicking a soccer ball, hitting and catching a baseball, scampering up and down a lacrosse field, throwing a disc, bowling, golfing, scoring baskets, and tossing and catching a football since he was five years old. Blessed with great hand-eye coordination and good speed, he’s been fun to watch.

Just because he’s away at Sam Houston State doesn’t mean that he’s stopped being active. This semester my son has played intramural flag football, basketball, and soccer (which he hadn’t competed in since he was about nine years old). And here I’ve sat 90 minutes away, torn between wanting to still be a part of that experience and realizing that it’s time to let him go (plus I doubt that the other parents are around, which only ups the potential embarrassment factor for him).

Purple was the color of his Knights’ youth football jersey!

Purple was the color of his Knights’ youth football jersey!

But when the kid told us that his team (called Beowulf, natch) was in the semifinals of the SHSU intramural flag football tournament last Tuesday, I decided that I was tired of literally sitting on the sidelines. So the Mister and I drove up to Huntsville to relive the kid’s athletic past and revel in its present.

He made the conversion catch, but, unfortunately, his momentum carried him out of bounds.

He made the conversion catch, but, unfortunately, he landed out of bounds.

I’m so glad that we did! It was fun meeting the guys who have been making a positive impact on his collegiate life, especially his friends Nick and Brandon. And, of course, it’s always good to reconnect with his roommate RJ, his friend since kindergarten.

I never tire of watching him catch a touchdown.

I never tire of watching him catch a touchdown.

Mostly, though, it was wonderful to see our son playing a sport he loves. Personally, I would’ve preferred better lighting conditions—an 8 p.m. time-change game on a dimly lit field caused me to use my Nikon 85mm f/1.4 lens, which I usually reserve for indoor sports.

Willie Joe congratulates the kid.

Willie Joe congratulates the kid.

But it felt good to be back watching my son from behind my Nikon D700, even with a plethora of crummy, high ISO pics.

Good times!

Good times for the kid and RJ!

Plus the chance to snap a post-victory pic of these two happy roommies? Priceless!

My heart feels a little bit better now.

Battling Expectations

Our tickets

Our tickets

The last time I wrote about Sam Houston State football, the Mister and I were not watching the SHSU Family Weekend game. The weather had conspired against us, unfortunately, and we opted to spend more time with our younger son instead of sitting on the wet bleachers after a long lightning and storm delay.

Still wanting to see the Kats in action as well as, hopefully, our beloved personal Bearkat, I bought two tickets to the annual Battle of the Piney Woods clash last Saturday at Reliant Stadium (home of the Houston Texans). This time any rain would be a moot point due to the retractable roof.

Tickets only were sold for the lower bowl (26,000 attended).

Reliant is an impressive stadium.

Fortunately, it was a spectacular fall day, and the roof was open. The Mister and I settled into our seats near the end zone and prepared for a shootout. Before this season, we didn’t know much about the intense rivalry between SHSU and nearby Stephen F. Austin State University, home of the Lumberjacks (as in “axe ’em, Jacks!”), now in its 88th year. We may be hicks from the sticks, but our sticks are bigger than Huntsville and Nacogdoches.

Big head or little hat? Or both?

Big head or little hat? Or both?

I had read that when these two teams meet, the scoreboard operator is busy. No kidding! SFA quarterback Brady Attaway (great last name!) is the nation’s second-best passer. In this game, his impressive stats included 505 passing yards and five touchdowns. Add about 240 rushing yards, and you’ve got a boatload of offense.

Brian Bell makes the handoff.

Brian Bell makes the handoff.

However, the Bearkats aren’t too shabby when they have the ball either. Quarterback Brian Bell accounted for 339 passing yards and four touchdowns. The team gained 218 yards, too.

Sammy dances for the crowd.

Sammy dances for the crowd.

In the end, the Jacks’ four turnovers in their first four possessions in the fourth quarter doomed them, despite an impressive, late rally. The Kats won 56-49 and lead the series 51-35-2. Way to eat ’em up, Kats!

Our son should be here somewhere.

The kid should be somewhere among the orange.

And what about our son? For some reason he decided he’d rather sleep late and stay on campus rather than root for his team and see his loving parents. He missed out on a thrilling victory, while the Mister and I didn’t get the chance to spend time with him.

Guess you can’t win them all.