Tag Archives: RJ

Making Good On a Promise

C.J. is ready to blow out the candle on his mini pizookie at BJ's.

C.J. is ready to blow out the candle on his mini pizookie during lunch at BJ’s.

Every so often, my ever-lovin’ though sometimes ornery younger son will look at me and say, “Remember my birthday last year? I still can’t believe we didn’t go to Dave and Buster’s.” Then cue the fake sigh.

As I cue my own real sigh, I must admit that I do feel bad about last year, even though C.J. and the rest of the Core 4 seemed to have a great time at Tilt Studio. Which is why I had promised him an eventual trip to D&B. Yesterday I fulfilled it.

The guys walk towards their world of fun.

The guys walk towards their world of fun.

Yep, my newly minted 19-year-old got to spend his birthday with his big brother and Ricky, Jared, and RJ at Dave and Buster’s in Houston. The Mister and I went along to act as chauffeur and ATM. Plus we always enjoy watching the guys have a great time. Which they did!

Sharpshooter!

Sharpshooter!

Most of their $20 Power Cards were wasted spent on a couple of basketball games that they played numerous times. All five of them love to hoop it up.

Lotsa tix

It’s a handful.

One of the best parts for them, besides trash talking each other, was racking up tickets. Once all the money was gone, it was time to see how much they had earned.

As a veteran mom, I knew that most of the prizes were going to be lame and cost lots of tickets. D&B, after all, is just Chuck E. Cheese’s with better food and games and without the rat. But the guys still enjoyed checking out the store and picking out their rewards (except for Jared, who is saving up his winnings).

Jared, Ricky, C.J., RJ, and Jake pose with Bumblebee.

Jared, Ricky, C.J., RJ, and Jake pose with Bumblebee.

As we were walking out of D&B, C.J. said, “You know, last year’s place was okay. But Dave and Buster’s was a lot more fun!”

Glad you had a birthday that’s as wonderful as you are, my sweet son!

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Accidental Special Effects

The disc golf course is on Little Egypt Road.

The disc golf course and park are on Little Egypt Road.

Last Saturday the Mister and I drove to Huntsville to visit our baby boy. We wanted to see the new apartment that he, RJ, and two other pals plan to move into this fall (a pause, please, when we consider four boys living together and the subsequent chaos and mess, plenty of which will come from our own cutie), as well as sign the necessary paperwork.

Because it was such a nice day (spring has finally sprung in south Texas!), the guys naturally wanted to play disc golf. C.J. specifically was interested in trying out a course called Little Egypt in Conroe, which is close to Huntsville. So off we went!

Woods, woods, and more woods

The woods proved challenging.

There was only enough daylight to complete 13 of the 18 holes, but the guys got a good taste of the layout. Which was not yummy at all! Trees as far as you could see impeded plenty of drives and upshots, adding to the frustration of rusty putting.

I had opted to bring my lightweight Nikon V1 to document the event. Fortunately, being able to up the ISO to 800 and 1600 meant that I could snap decent, in-focus pics as day turned to dusk.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

Well, except for the disc. When shooting under low-light conditions, which leaves you with a slooow shutter speed (these were mostly around 1/50th of a second), you’ve got to pick your poison: Either the person will be in focus or the disc.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

Naturally, I prefer crisp-looking people. But I was intrigued when I checked out my photos in Photoshop: The out-of-focus discs looked so elongated! Almost like spaceships.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

These formerly round, odd-looking aliens added a new dimension to my disc golf photos. I guess that just like with life, disc golf can be a blur!

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!

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.

Battery Recharge

Back to his usual position on the supersofa.

Back to his usual position on the supersofa.

Look who brightened up our weekend!

When we Skyped with our younger son last Thursday night, we talked about him catching a ride with RJ’s dad, who was picking up his roommate the next day to bring home for a visit. The kid decided that he wanted to reconnect and recharge. It was great to get a hug in person!

Netflix streaming has led to addictions.

Netflix streaming has led to addictions.

The first thing he did was plop on the couch and queue up the final season of “Scrubs” on Netflix. The kid loves watching that show, and on more than one occasion, I’ve been caught up in his marathon viewing sessions. This was no exception.

Zzzzzzzz!

Zzzzzzzz!

Of course, he is a college student. Mainly, a tired one. After a couple episodes, he succumbed to the allure of soft pillows and snoozed for a few hours.

A crowded card: Hiral, Chris, Adam, Eric, the kid, Steve, the Mister, and Marcus

A crowded card: Hiral (hi!), Chris, Adam, Eric, the kid, Steve, the Mister, and Marcus

With the next day being Saturday, only one activity could fit the bill: Disc golf, of course.

The Mister putts.

The Mister putts.

The Mister and the kid joined bestie Eric and five others for a round of 18 at the nearby River Pointe Church’s course.

Easy-peasy!

Easy-peasy!

Even though he hadn’t played much since we moved him in at SHSU, my son managed to win by a stroke.

Talking strategy

Talking strategy

It was fun watching the collegian interact with his older buddies again. And it always tugs at my heartstrings to watch him and his devoted dad together. Those two are closerthanthis!

After that, he played a round at Tom Bass with his other disc golf bestie, Glen (the highlight was that the Mister and I got to visit with the ever-lovely Kelly and a snoozing baby Jonas; little Glen was napping in his room).

Until we meet again, this smile will have to do.

Until we meet again, this smile will have to last for awhile.

Before we knew it, we were taking RJ and our son back to Huntsville on Sunday afternoon (after watching a thrilling Houston Texans victory). The kid got a chance to relax, knock the rust off his disc golf game, and even do his homework and prepare for the week (yes, I actually witnessed him studying!).

And the Mister and I got to spend time with our beloved baby boy once again. Totally win-win!

Discin’ in Huntsville

You can see a basket just past the trees on the left.

You can see a basket just past the trees on the left.

A lot of times wherever we go, we just happen to find disc golf courses.

Well, especially when the Mister decides we need to find them!

The kid and the Mister tee off at hole 1.

The kid and the Mister tee off at hole 1.

Last Sunday when we visited our younger son and his roommate, RJ, at SHSU, we walked off some of those Chili’s calories by throwing the Mister’s discs at a local course. And when I say “we,” of course, I mean them.

Hey, someone has to snap photos!

The kid advises the novice.

The kid advises the novice.

RJ doesn’t play disc golf, but that didn’t stop my son from trying to indoctrinate him into his favorite sport. It would be nice to have some company when he decides to practice.

Lots of rusty chains on the baskets

Lots of rusty chains on the baskets

Our disc golf pal Eric had told us about a nine-hole course at Huntsville’s Eastham-Thomason Park, which is pretty close to the boys’ on-campus dorm. Thanks to the Garmin, we easily found it. The kid’s bag was in his room, but he still enjoyed tossing the plastic again.

Looks like the advice worked!

Looks like the advice worked!

RJ’s a good athlete, so he started to get the hang of throwing after awhile. All he needs is lots of practice and continued help from his roomie.

How low can you go?

How low can you go?

The course was typical of ones that are shoehorned into parks. The above basket was almost on the ground, probably to discourage players from flinging their discs into the creek behind it. A spray park and walking path raised the possibility of hitting innocent people.

Fishing for a disc

Fishing for a disc in a different part of the creek

Still, a disc golf course within a mile or so of his new home is important for my son. It gives him a great outlet for releasing the stress of studying (and I sincerely hope I’m not making an assumption that he actually is studying!), as well as a way to sharpen his skills.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t bean someone in the noggin’!

A Little Traveling Music, Please

Still can’t resist my older son’s beautiful blue eyes!

Still can’t resist my older son’s beautiful blue eyes!

The Mister and I pulled on our traveling pants (big pockets for lots of snacks) Saturday and yesterday and put about 560 miles on the Honda Odyssey.

Our goal? To take our sons out to lunch at their individual colleges.

Result? Mission accomplished!

Our older son was first on our list. Saturday we drove the 190 miles to San Antonio, picked him up, and went to see “We’re the Millers,” which was surprisingly good despite the awful, woeful, disgusting abundance of foul language, even by Jennifer Aniston (you’re better than that, Jen!). Then we enjoyed lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and chilled for a bit at his nice apartment.

Love that Sirius XM!

No commercials rock

Finally, the Mister and I hugged our senior collegian goodbye (we probably won’t see him until Thanksgiving) and made the three-hour trip back home. We lightened the load by attempting to harmonize to songs played on Sirius XM’s the Bridge station. Usually putting that capital L to our foreheads, though, is the Mister’s inability to remember most of the lyrics despite his fine singing voice coupled with my out-of-tune pipes despite knowing most of the words.

Our finest moment? Our rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” Even Simon Cowell might have been impressed! And, yes, we were 1 for what seemed like 236 songs. At least we weren’t shut out!

RJ and the kid

RJ and the kid

Yesterday we pretty much repeated the procedure, but without the movie. Fortunately, Huntsville is only 88 miles from our house; it takes about 90 minutes to get there. We picked up our younger son and his roommate, RJ, at their dorm and made the scene at Chili’s, which was their choice.

Yum!

Yum!

Naturally, the kid needed a molten dessert pick-me-up. It doesn’t take much to raise his spirits, thank goodness. After a stop at Walmart and a small disc golf course to play a few holes, we returned to Sam Houston Village. There we deposited the boys, gave our freshman a hug (we’ll see him a few times this month thanks to disc golf and SHSU football games), and then it was back to our horrible harmonizing.

Whew! Glad we don’t have to labor on Labor Day!!