Tag Archives: University of Texas at San Antonio

Another Milestone Achieved

Why we’re in the Alamodome

Why we’re in the Alamodome

Something about “Pomp and Circumstance” makes me cry. Could be because of what it signifies.

You might think that after watching two emotional high school graduations that my eyes wouldn’t tear up when hearing that standard ceremonial march. But you would be very wrong.

Jake shows off his class ring Green Lantern style.

Jake shows off his class ring in Green Lantern style.

Of course, this time there was much more at stake, because it was Jake’s commencement ceremony from the University of Texas at San Antonio. After four years that seemed to be over in a minute and a half, my older son was set to graduate last Saturday afternoon in the immense Alamodome.

As I waited with the Mister and C.J. for about two hours (which did not fly by) before the start of the festivities, I reminisced about how far my beloved chubby, blue-eyed baby had come. I thought about when we got his acceptance letter from UTSA, orientation, and that painful moment when we moved him into his dorm. Talk about your emotional rides!

Jake seems to enjoy talking to a college official.

Jake seems to enjoy talking to a college official.

Even within a sea of graduates (Jake’s College of Business seniors joined those from the College of Architecture, which included his former roommate Ben, and the College of Public Policy), my eyes were focused only on my son. Watching him walk across the stage to accept his faux diploma (he has to wait a month or so for the real thing) was a moment of immense emotion for me. I couldn’t be prouder of Jake!

The smoke from indoor fireworks and streamers rain down on the graduates.

The smoke from indoor fireworks and streamers rain down on the graduates.

Plus our family added its third alma mater (after my University of Illinois and the Mister’s University of Houston). Go, Roadrunners!! We appreciate and value Jake’s college education.

We’re glad C.J. has long arms!

We’re glad C.J. has long arms!

Once Jake finally found us outside and we snapped a few photos, it was time to move on . . . literally in many ways (well, after we had spent about 20 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot). After dinner at Pei Wei, we put all of the graduate’s possessions in our cars and made the three-hour trek back to Sugar Land where we finally ended our long day’s journey into night and then into day again (we started at 9 a.m. Saturday and returned at 12:15 a.m. Sunday). Everyone was exhausted.



Now Jake gets to relax for a couple weeks before he becomes a working man. How will he handle the transition from school to the real world? All he has to do is remember the fortune he got!

Cue the Tears

My unexcited son manages a thumbs up as he holds his acceptance envelope.

When my older son received his acceptance to the University of Texas at San Antonio three years ago, there was a tiny, nagging thought in the back of my ever-Tefloning brain:

I’ll be repeating this scene before long.

Showing even less enthusiasm (gotta love the Cookie Monster wristband, though)

Sure enough, it was little bro’s turn yesterday to hold up his big envelope for me to photograph. This one was from Sam Houston State; a couple weeks ago he had opened a regular-sized envelope with his acceptance from the University of Houston. Two applications, two yesses. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Reading his acceptance letter

But, of course, it wasn’t. For awhile, we wondered if the kid was even going to make it out of high school, as he battled his severe school anxiety that started the second semester of his sophomore year. The twin horrors of homebound school and online high school had us reeling until my son righted his ship with medication and returned to his public school second semester junior year.

This first semester of his senior year started out rocky for the first two weeks, but he hasn’t missed any classes since. Of course, even when the waters seem smooth, the Mister and I are forever on our guard for wobbles and waves that could capsize our son’s journey. We are battle-worn but ready.

He’s in!

All of which just added to my tears when I read the kid’s college acceptances. Yes, it does mean that my beloved baby boy will be moving out and on with his life, as the Mister and I face an empty nest for the first time. I know I’ll miss my younger son as much as I do his older brother. They are my life.

But, more importantly, it reminded me of how this kid fought for his normalcy and to keep up with his schoolwork so he wouldn’t fall behind. He never gave up. How even though it’s been difficult at times to sit in his classes, he hangs in there, because he knows his future is bright and worth fighting for. I am so proud of him.

Hey, Sam Houston State! Say hello to your newest bearkat!

Congratulations to my brave big little boy. You are and always will be my hero!

Our Household Downsizes Again

The bins and incidentals ready for the Odyssey and Highlander last Friday night.

Now there are three of us at home once more.

The kitchen has granite . . . unlike ours.

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.

My son picked out this cute frog shower curtain. He loves frogs. I don’t.

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.

An apple a day helps keep my son healthy.

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).

My boy smiles . . . despite having bins behind him that need to be unpacked.

I hope he has an amazing school year filled with lots of learning, good grades, and wonderful experiences. We miss you, sweet boy!

Future Blues

This came in the mail yesterday.

Bad enough it’s already August.

But the card and sticker that my older son received from the University of Texas at San Antonio noting that he’ll be graduating (hopefully!) in two years?

That’s just a slap in the face.

Didn’t he just start college?!?

Farewell for Now

My older son seems ready to return to college.

Last week was big for our family. Not only were we trying to cram in activities as summer came to a close, but we also deposited our #1 son back at the University of Texas at San Antonio for his sophomore year (classes start tomorrow).

Storage bins await transport back to UTSA.

First, my boy and I went through all the stuff he had brought home, which has been patiently sitting in storage bins in his room all summer.

Lots of papers to look through

We looked through everything and determined if he ever used it (some things thus remained at home), still needed it, or required more of it. Then we repacked the bins, feeling better prepared than last year for moving in.

Back to familiar environs

Last Friday the Mister neatly put all those bins, plus a couple trash cans and backpacks, into his Honda Odyssey, which already held our company’s dolly. Then the four of us hopped into the minivan for the three-plus-hour drive to San Antonio (including, of course, the required stop at Buc-ee’s in Luling).

Mr. Muscle makes a second trip with his brother's stuff.

Even though UTSA changed its move-in policy from last year and didn’t let us drop off our stuff at the curb (this time we had to park and move the bins, etc., from there), it was easier than last year. We actually felt organized!

The collegian gets the easy load.

There weren’t a lot of changes for my #1 son as we moved him in: He has the same roommate, Ben, who he has known since first grade (and who lives in our subdivision). And the boys are back in the same room in the same building in, yes, the same dorm as last year.

The boys briskly move towards #1’s building.

But, of course, things are different. My firstborn son has a year of higher learning under his belt. He made a successful transition both academically (on the Dean’s List) and personally (making decisions and doing his laundry). He seems a little more mature, a little more sure of himself this year.

When I hugged him goodbye, I didn’t feel as sad as last year. I know that being in college is best for my boy right now. This is his time, and I hope he makes the most of it at UTSA.

Plus, we’ll see him in a little over a week when he returns home for the long Labor Day weekend!

A Healthy Dose of Blue Eyes

The brothers are together again!

Three hours is a looooong way to travel for anything by car. But when it comes to getting a blue-eyed fix, it’s the distance I’m willing to drive. Or have the Mister drive.

The River Walk is like Venice in Texas.

When the Mister turned 60 last Friday, we decided that we wanted our entire family to help him celebrate. Which meant we needed to be with our #1 son, who is at college at the University of Texas at San Antonio about three hours away. The Mister, our #2 son, and I sleepily hopped into the car at about 8:30 a.m. yesterday and began our all-day venture.

A duck enjoys the River Walk waters.

We picked up an equally-sleepy #1 son from his dorm and drove to San Antonio’s famed River Walk.

St. Anthony, the patron saint of San Antonio

There we strolled along the river, talked, shopped at the Rivercenter mall, ate lunch at Tony Roma’s, and mainly just had a great time with our much-missed son and older brother.

A pipe blower and guitarist entertain at the Rivercenter Mall.

It was fun (and a bit teary, I must admit) for me to watch my sons enjoy each other’s company so much. I hardly got a chance to talk to my older boy, but I didn’t mind when I saw how much fun he and his younger brother were having just being together again.

The guys pose in front of the Alamo.

It seemed like the Mister needed to be with our #1 son to make sure he’s doing okay. My #2 son needed to talk and reconnect with his big bro in person (they talk and/or text just about every day).

As for me . . .

Subdued blue eyes

. . . I just needed yet another fix of my sweet son’s blue eyes.

Everyone Moves On, Day #2

UTSA welcomes my #1 son.

Tomorrow came, like it or not! That meant that after a night filled with tossing and turning (well, at least by me), the Mister, our #2 son, and I picked up my #1 son from his UTSA dorm and headed straight for the nearby Walmart.

My #1 son pushes the shopping cart.

Us and thousands of other crazies—they were trying to take advantage of Texas’ annual tax-free weekend; we just wanted to buy essentials to make my #1 son’s stay in San Antonio easier (e.g., Lean Pockets and ice cream) and possibly (but not probably) cleaner (e.g., bathroom cleanser).

Could my son find himself on a school banner with the roadrunner mascot?

After putting the groceries and supplies away in his dorm room, we walked to campus (which takes about 10 minutes) to find his classes. All five are in only two buildings. One of those, the Humanities and Social Sciences structure, houses three of his classes.

Seems easy-peasy, right? Wrong! We felt like we were on a wild goose chase (or wild roadrunner, in this case) trying to find rooms that were on the same floor but nowhere near one another. I’m glad that he has an hour in between each class, because he might need it to figure out which to go!

The two brothers walk and sing a Flight of the Conchords song together.

Even though our on-campus time purportedly was meant for looking for classes and picking up a few books at the bookstore, it definitely had a more-important purpose: It allowed our family to be together one last time at the place where we hope our firstborn son will receive a good education and mature into an adult who can depend on himself to make the right decisions. We hope he finds the confidence he needs to function in the real world.

One last smile from my #1 son as we prepare to drive back home.

When we got back to #1’s dorm and prepared to say our goodbyes, my firstborn actually was smiling! I’m not sure if it was the small taste of independence or his looking forward to moving on with his life. But it did gladden my heart.

My three favorite guys!

Still, I cried when I hugged him goodbye and told him how much I loved him. I was too choked up to say more than that. Where’s Winnie the Pooh when you need that silly, old bear to speak for you?

#1 walks away from us . . . just like he did when he learned to walk at 11 months old.

I did laugh when he called me within a minute of our parting to make sure I had given him something he needed. And we did some texting back and forth (mostly trying to solve internet problems) during the three-hour ride home.

But my #1 son has shown us that, at age 18, he’s ready to move on and see what life has in store for him. Knowing that he’s starting to gain some much-needed confidence, it’s easier for me to accept that he’s at the right place for his continued growth.

Oh, how I miss my firstborn son! But, oh, am I happy for him, too!! All of us are moving on.

My #1 Son Moves On—Day #1

Could my #1 son be dreaming about his independence?

As I type this, my #1 son has been away from hearth and home since last Saturday. Somehow we got all his necessities into the Mister’s Honda Odyssey along with a hand truck from our company and set off for the three-hour trek to San Antonio by mid-morning. We only had to return to the house once to retrieve a few important yet forgotten items. Fortunately, we were only 15 minutes down the road.

Being well-organized has never been our family’s strong suit!

Moving #1 into his dorm at the University of Texas at San Antonio was easy—it helped to have the four of us plus two strong alums and, of course, the dolly. Wheels make everything move better! It was very much appreciated in the almost-100-degree heat that we only had to make one trip from the car to the room.

#1 uses his MacBook Pro at his dorm desk—just like home!

My #1 son is very fortunate that he’s in a relatively new dorm that’s like an apartment complex. Much to his relief, he has his own bedroom.

The twin bed is up high to fit drawers underneath it.

No longer is he sleeping in a bunk bed. No longer will his younger brother be annoying him from the top bunk. No longer will he hear me yell from my office, which shares the wall with his bedroom, that the two of them need to settle down and go to sleep.

My #2 son makes himself at home.

#1 is a free man . . . as long as he makes good grades, of course! Now he has a new set of responsibilities and priorities.

But he wasn’t worrying about that last Saturday. Getting his room set up to his liking, as well as filling his half of the drawers and cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen he shares with his roommate, Ben, took center stage. He would spend his first night alone as a college man in his room . . . while the the Mister, our #2 son, and I cooled off at a nearby motel.

Personally, I was too exhausted to become emotional at the thought of leaving my beloved #1 son behind the next day after we shopped and walked the campus. As Scarlett O’Hara so aptly said, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

The Final Day

My #1 son and his beautiful blue eyes

Tomorrow we’re driving my #1 son to his new life in San Antonio. College looms in the form of the University of Texas branch there. Today I hope to savor the 18 and a half years I’ve shared with my son amid the flurry of packing and trying not to forget anything important (UTSA is three hours away).

#1 in his role as the Honorable M.D. Dr. Judge (glad I have his videos to watch)

Yesterday my sister-in-law Fran asked if I was in that “I can’t wait ’til you leave, please don’t go” stage with her nephew. Quite honestly? Not at all! I’ve never been anxious to have him leave, so this is such a bittersweet moment. I’m thrilled and excited for him as he starts his adult journey, but I’m sad for myself because I’ll miss him so much.

My New York Yankees fan

What am I really feeling as I think about #1 being away at college? I believe that Winnie the Pooh said it best:

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together . . . there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart . . . I’ll always be with you.”

My beloved #1 son, you always will be in my heart. I would write more . . . but I suddenly can’t see the iMac monitor through my tears.

UTSA’s Wildflower Side and More

Little blue flowers bloom on campus.

Every time I travel, I have to make a big decision: Which camera lenses to take. Even though we were traveling by car to the University of Texas at San Antonio for orientation last week, I didn’t want to tote a heavy load around campus. Which meant I reluctantly left my beloved Nikon D700 and Nikon 105mm lens at home, because both can be tough on the biceps after a few hours.

Little purple flowers dot the bushes.

Instead, I opted for my Nikon D300 and Nikon 17-55mm lens. Although not as light as a point and shoot, this combination is great for all-around photography and so superior indoors.

Little reddish flowers brighten up the landscaping.

Of course, I knew the minute I didn’t pack my 105 that there would be great flowers to photograph on campus. And I was right!

Purple petunias blow their “horns.”

Beautiful buds bloomed everywhere I walked, it seemed. Mocking me, of course, because I didn’t have my macro champ.

A butterfly adds an orange glow to the greenery.

But I discovered that the D300 and 17-55 were up for the challenge!

Love these Indian blankets!

As we got close to my #1 son’s dorm, I noticed an area alive with wildflowers. I was in shutter-snapping heaven!

Sunflowers always make me smile.

Because the D300 has a crop factor that acts like a zoom (unlike the full-framed D700), I was able to get up close and personal with the flora despite my maximum lens length of 55mm.

These look like little sunflowers.

If you look closely on the top right, you’ll see that the combo even did a great job capturing some of the local wildlife.

This bee was busy.

I’d say the D300 and 17-55 were the bee’s knees!