Thirty years ago tomorrow, I made a momentous decision: I left Chicago, where I had celebrated my 30th birthday in mid-August, and followed a guy to San Antonio. Like pioneers in the 1800s, I put a “gone to Texas” sign on my apartment door (well, not really, since I didn’t know my Texas history back then), and off I went on a wing and a prayer.
After spending about a year in San Antonio, I moved to Houston, as did the guy. It was there on August 25, 1988, that my life changed for the better: I met the Mister on the Rice University bike track as I trained for a duathlon (run-bike-run). The rest, as they say, is history. I traded icy, cold winters for ridiculously hot and humid summers. But I also found a warm and welcoming home.
Ironically, today I’m in Chicago, my old stomping grounds, visiting my mom and freezing my butt off. Karma perhaps?
Looking at all that I’ve gained over the last 30 years—the Mister and our sons, as well as my wonderful in-laws and lots of cherished friends—I’d say I have a lot to celebrate tomorrow.
On Sunday, I will be more of a Texan than a Midwesterner. As much as I adore Chicago and Illinois and always will, my true loves live in the Lone Star state.
And so will I, probably for the rest of my life. I’m truly and wholly thankful!
This is what I learned during a loooooong day-into-night trip to and from San Antonio yesterday to visit our older son:
1) A lot about Tommy James (and a little about the Shondells) on the way there (he hosted his own show) and back (Cousin Brucie talked to him) on Sirius XM’s Sixties on 6. It was fascinating! Children behave!!
2) We always always always love seeing our sons! It was such a boost to my heart to spend time with my sweet, blue-eyed boy for the first time in seven weeks. Skyping simply isn’t enough for this mama bear.
3) We’re looking forward to our UTSA collegian graduating in May and moving back to the Houston area, so we don’t have to endure those long car rides, though.
4) Despite all the fun the Mister and I had harmonizing (well, to our tin ears) to all that fab and groovy 1960s music, I did contemplate divorcing him when he ordered the St. Louis-style ribs at Tony Roma’s after I told him not to. He knows how this lifelong Cubs fan feels about the Cardinals!
5) Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger make a good team (it’s hard to understand both of them) in “Escape Plan,” the movie we saw with our son. Yes, there was plenty of bad language and a ridiculous amount of violence. But the story was good, and we loved the ending.
6) Finally, it’s very tough to take a selfie plus two on my iPhone 5S and properly center it (as the evidence above proves). As my clever son quipped, “That’s why they call it a ‘selfie’ and not a ‘triofie!'”
Miss you already, kiddo!
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.
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!
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.
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!!
At about 10 a.m. today, something unusual happened to me.
I officially became an empty nester.
We moved my younger son into his dorm at Sam Houston State Saturday. This morning his older brother and I loaded up the Toyota Highlander, and then he left to drive to UTSA.
UTSA begins classes Wednesday, so there was no need for my #1 boy to rush back. He’s living in the same apartment, so he easily can move himself in. This is the first year we haven’t helped him transport his stuff; I’ll admit that I won’t miss the three-hour trek to and then from San Antonio.
But, of course, I will miss my clever, handsome, blue-eyed boy! We’ve had a great summer together, and it’s always hard seeing him return to college.
As I watched him drive away, one thought popped into my head:
There goes half of my blogging material!
A few weeks ago when I glanced at my older son on our iMac screen during his Skyping session with his younger brother, I just had to stop and stare.
Where did that collegiate caveman come from?
My #1 son’s hair sports a natural curl, which only is tamed by frequent haircuts. He hadn’t stepped into a salon since school started in August. This led to the following conversation:
Practical Mom: “Have all the haircut places closed down in San Antonio?”
Older son: “I don’t feel like getting my haircut.”
His mom who has suddenly been replaced by my mom: “This is like being transported back to the 1960s! You look like a hippie!! How can any girl notice your beautiful blue eyes if all they can see is all that hair?”
Even though my collegian wants so badly to be a rebel either with or without a cause, he’s cursed with being a first-born child. Which means his inner compass compels him to toe the line and usually listen to his parents. Especially when he knows we can see him via Skype or FaceTime.
And would be visiting him that weekend.
Ahhhh! Much better!
We noticed dark smoke billowing over I-10 near Columbus as we drove home after visiting our older son in San Antonio last Sunday. Last time that happened, it was caused by wildfires spurred on by our terrible drought.
This time a small car was engulfed in flames on the other side of the highway. The traffic was backed up for miles.
Nothing good ever comes of smoke drifting over I-10.
No matter where my sons are, they like to toss things at each other.
I think it’s a boy thing, because the Mister often joins in.
Plus they like to invent games to keep boredom at bay. Of course, these activities include the aforementioned throwing. No spelling bees or geography quizzes for my guys. Should learning be involved? Perish the thought!
So it was only natural that when we visited my older son recently at his two-story apartment in San Antonio, my guys devised a new sport that involved hurling objects up and down the stairs. We live in a one-story house, so stairs actually are a novelty to them (yep, they’re so deprived).
Fortunately, my collegian owns a wonderful collection of plushies that were perfect for the game due to their squish factor. Which led me to dub this fun diversion as “soft toss.”
Naturally, both boys tried to throw these cute, stuffed toys as hard as possible. My younger son hit me square in my Nikon 50mm lens with Boo while I was defenselessly snapping away (he claims it wasn’t on purpose, but I’d like him to take a lie detector test anyway).
Boo may be a ghost in the Mario world, but in real life smacking into the Nikon D700 up against my face? It kinda stung.
Watching my sons have so much fun together made me smile. I’m thankful that they get along so well and have no trouble battling boredom.
I have a feeling that every time we visit my collegian, a game of soft toss will be on the agenda. Next time I think I’ll just watch . . . from a protected area.
Like last year, we drove to San Antonio yesterday to spend the day with my older son. We hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks, so it was nice reconnecting with him and catching up in person.
Plus it’s always good therapy for the brothers to enjoy quality time together . . . even if it does mean posing for mom on the porch swing outside my #1 son’s duplex.
I can never get enough of those precious smiles!
Now there are three of us at home once more.
Last Saturday the Mister and I helped our older son move back to San Antonio in anticipation of his junior year (hard to believe!) at the University of Texas branch there. Even though he’s back at the same college, this starts a season of change for him.
After two years he’s out of the dorm and in a new duplex, two-story apartment a mile or so from campus. It’s nicer than any place I’d ever lived in until we built our house. Downstairs is a lovely kitchen, living room with comfy couches, large guest bathroom, and . . . most important . . . a washer and dryer.
My big kid hated when the girls in the dorm monopolized all the laundry equipment, even going so far as taking his clothes out of the machines before he could. You would think that he would see that as an opportunity to actually meet and talk to the fairer sex, but he’s kind of a shy guy. Now he has ended the laundry war.
Upstairs my son and his roommate have their own bedrooms and bathrooms. Not much sharing going on with this duplex. That works well for my kid.
Speaking of roommates, my son will have a new one. Our neighbor Ben, his roomie of two years, will spend the fall semester studying in Italy. When he returns to San Antonio, he’ll have an apartment near UTSA’s downtown campus where all his classes are. I know my guy will really miss Ben, as will we.
We didn’t get a chance to meet Marcell, my #1 son’s pot-luck roommate, because he hadn’t fully moved in yet. But we’re looking forward to getting to know him during a future visit.
So now my son has a new place, roomie, and routine. To go along with 15 hours of business classes, none of which starts before 12:30 p.m. (definitely his idea).
I hope he has an amazing school year filled with lots of learning, good grades, and wonderful experiences. We miss you, sweet boy!