I was on a flight recently when I began to overhear a conversation between two men. One man told the other that he had two daughters, both older. The other man said he had one son, 14 months old. The first man proceeds to tell him that he HAD to have another child and growing up an only child was the worst thing he could do to him. UH, HELLO… I grew up an only child and I happen to think it wasn’t so bad. On the contrary, for the most part, it was pretty darn great. Sure, being an only child can SOMETIMES be a bit boring, but sometimes, a little alone time goes a long way. Being an only child, in my opinion, helped me to become as independent as I am today. I can travel the world alone, though not my preference, but I am perfectly capable of doing so. While the people I know that grew up with siblings, esp around the same age, can’t go to the grocery store alone. My children included.
Growing up an only child wasn’t as lonely as everyone thinks it is.. Aside from having a TON of friends, I had myself. I learned who I was by a very early age and I learned to be true to myself, a conviction that still guides me today.
Sure, I may never fully understand the bond between a brother and a sister or have that bond that sisters usually do, but then people with siblings will never understand the sheer joy of never having to share your parents’ attention or deal with a younger sibling break your favorite toy or worry that your parents would chose going to your kid sisters ballet recital over your game..
As an adult, the lack of siblings makes things less complicated. My kids get all of grandmas attention and there is virtually no discussion on who gets what when it’s all over.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way promoting having only one child, nor am I promoting having ten. But if you should chose to or circumstances make it so, know that you have not done a disservice to your child. Know that your child will be a well adjusted, contributing member of society and that he/she will be just fine..
Flew into St. Louis last September and before even checking into the hotel we had to stop at Pappy’s and get our hands on some original baby back ribs. Now, i’m not really a rib eater (I don’t think the McRib counts) but these suckers were GOOD. I had my elbows deep in BBQ sauce when I saw this lady walk by. I had to do a double take and even then it took me a minute to figure out who she was, but I quickly became a screaming fan. I stood up on my picnic bench and followed her around trying to get a good pic – of which I could never do. After some persuasion, I finally got the nerve to ask her for a pic and she was beyond gracious. Don’t let the tough exterior fool you – inside, Big Boo is ALL HEART.
Thank you for making my day – and for proving to my kids that you actually WERE there!
I became quite the tourist while in St. Louis.. visited a few places I think you should check out if you are ever in the area:
Founded in 1852 and the original of the six breweries; you will be transported back to a time when the beer was stored in caves and there was an actual school on the property. (I’m guessing attendance was pretty darn perfect.)
You’ll get to learn about the vision that became one of the largest and oldest breweries in the nation. Surrounded by architecture rich in history- including three National Historic Landmarks – and cutting-edge brewing technology, you’ll see history come to life. The days of the cave coolers may be long gone but the plant remains in tact visually transporting you back in time. AND.. they give FREE beer samples!
Such a fancy place to make BEER! Either way, it was a great tour and you get free samples!
There is no way you can even step within 50 miles of this city and NOT see THE ARCH. Not gonna lie though, I was a little disappointed that the view was cluttered with construction. It may have just been a bad time for me to go but it is certainly something you have to see at least once. (Once is pretty much all you need.)
For $10 you get to go up a pod and walk a portion of the top of the arch. One side of the arch is nothing but a green river but the other side was actually pretty breathtaking. Would I do it again? Probably not. But it was nice to scratch something off of the ol’ Bucket List and say I have been there.
Allow me to tell you a thing or two about those pods. They are, literally, pods. Like eggs – with seats – and a tiny window. I had pretty much assured myself I was going to die on the way up… I did, however, manage to survive.
There isn’t a lot to do up there but look out both sides of the arch.
Then you gotta get back into the pod and start the prayers all over again.
There is something to be said about becoming a tourist in your own back yard. Although I have been to SA hundreds, if not thousands, of times, I have never really SEEN it.. not like this anyway..
I lived there for eight years as a child and had never even heard of the Majestic Theatre. It wasn’t until I moved away and came back as an adult that I became slightly obsessed with it. On my Bucket List was not only to see a show there, but to see a very specific show.. Phantom of the Opera – and that’s just what I did.
And it was SPECTACULAR!
Who would have known I could experience such beauty in my own back yard?
We started out with a fabulous dinner in a wonderful little restaurant themed after shows called the Houston St. Bistro. The show themed meals really help increase the excitement levels of the show you are about to watch. And can you say “genius idea”? I had the Phantom of the Opera dinner, of course.. it was delicious and may still be my favorite meal OF ALL TIME.
Then on to the show!
How to describe… I dont think there are enough words in the English dictionary to explain how in love I am with this theatre.
Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, Texas, it was built in 1929 and was designed in a Spanish Mediterranean style, a style that is seen throughout. It is currently
recognized as one of the most ornate facilities in the country. The Majestic stood proudly for many years as the largest theatre in Texas and the second largest motion picture theatre in the country.
A change in entertainment led to a closing of its doors in 1974. It remained closed until 1976 where a new group took over and occasionally hosted a show or two. In 1989 it was “officially” reopened for the Symphony of San Antonio (another to add to that ever growing Bucket List) until 1995 where it was adopted by the city of SA and given a million dollar renovation. Today it stands, in all its glory, waiting for you to stop by and admire. You can find more details about the evolution of the Majestic here All I can say is if you are ever in SA, dont miss it!
But the tour couldn’t stop there! The following day we decided to visit the Tower of the America’s. Boy, has that changed! COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from what I remember.. but the rotating restaurant still remains.. the view is as AMAZING as ever, and the food.. TO DIE FOR.
For $12 you can travel 750 feet into the clouds and enjoy a view of the city you cannot find anywhere else.
Maybe it’s because i’m (slightly) older or because I now appreciate things I never did before but that City is my home and a giant piece of my heart will always remain there..even if they never do finish that construction!
These two crazies are headed back to school for their second semester away… I wish you loads of fun, amazing success, and leave you both with an abundance of love… and, of course, my Words of Wisdom (the ones you all thought I was done with). 😊🤷🏼♀️
So here goes…
Be open to new people.
I can hardly count how many incredible people I met throughout my first year away (like your dad/uncle and others who are to remain nameless) But I never would have met them if I thought the same way I did when I first got there. I wasn’t very keen on talking to people I didn’t really know or who liked different things than I did, who had different plans on the weekends, or who majored in subjects I didn’t understand. Whatever you do, DON’T BE THIS WAY. You’ll miss out on some pretty outstanding individuals. And our lives would have been ENTIRELY different if I had.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
This is something we’ve all heard before, but I can’t stress it enough. Figure out who YOU are first, and then be THAT. Introduce yourself as much as possible. It may feel awkward and you may scare them off, but who knows! You could introduce yourself to your new best friend or someone taking the same terrible astronomy class as you.
Don’t feel pressured.
Now I know I say to try new things, but feeling pressured to do something you’re completely uncomfortable with is a whole different ball game. If you don’t want to drink at a party, don’t drink. Carry around a Solo cup full of orange juice. If you want to study or go to sleep instead of staying up to watch 8 episodes of Catfish, go study. You can always do what you want, and anybody that has a problem with that can shove it.
Nobody wants to be that person left out of weekend plans or a Starbucks run, so send out invites like UPS sends packages to our door. Knock on doors, talk to people in the bathroom, check your common room – the more the merrier! You’ll meet more people this way and you might just make someone’s day.
Do as much as possible.
Before you know it (and trust me on this one) you’ll be a senior applying to jobs, and you’ll realize you never got to try that one cool taco place or that you never checked out that history museum 5 blocks away, literally, or you never went to that bar that had Trivia Tuesdays. Do it now, experience it, and invite your friends. The last thing you want to say after you graduate is, “I never got to try that cool taco place.”
Sit and take it in.
This one might sound weird, but the moments I cherish most from freshman year are the ones that I stopped, looked around, and remembered to appreciate every element. Like one night, when your dad/uncle Donny and Donald “fun, lots of fun” and my roommate all took off to the valley at the last minute and had a great night out (ok, scratch that- that was very unsafe and a bad idea)- but you get the idea. That one moment will always stay with me. Be sure to take in the ones that will stay with you.
And most importantly, Stop being embarrassed when your family calls or comes over. We just love you a lot – show us some love back. I promise, It won’t hurt. And when you’re all grown up and visiting your own children – you’ll understand how we feel.
17! Almost an adult in the eyes of the world; forever a baby in my mind. It doesn’t matter how tall you get, how grown up you look, or how smart you become, you will forever be my baby. Although I say I will always be there, by your side, protecting you from well, everything, we all know that isn’t practical and eventually I will have to let you go out (somewhat) on your own. Unfortunately, the world is tough and things will not always be as easy as they may seem right now so there are a few more things I still need to tell you before you go.. (somewhat of a continuation of years past)
First, relationships matter. I cannot stress that enough! Not the trivial friendships or acquaintances you may stumble upon… but the ones that touch your heart. Your family. Your friends. Those relationships are important and you will need them throughout your life. These bonds will carry you when you need lifting and celebrate with you when you rejoice. We were made for relationships and your heart will ache without them. Build strong ones. Protect them.
Second, Be prepared to make mistakes. That’s inevitable. And when you do, move on and make more. As hard as it will be for me to watch you fall, the greatest gift a mother can give is to let you.. just know that I will never be more than a phone call away.. we can always talk about it.. cry about it.. and when you’re old enough – even drink about it (thats always fun) Life is a learning process and you need to experience ALL of it in order to truly live it. I cant promise you that I will always sit back and just observe, I am your mother and you know how I can be, but know that I will try my best to do so. Try and learn from my mistakes, Lord knows, I have made more than my share. No one wants you to be perfect, just reasonable..
Last and most importantly, Never lose your faith. Hold strong to it. There will be times when you have nothing else. Cultivate this relationship above all others and everything else will fall into place. Happy Happy Birthday, my baby! Mom and dad love you to the moon and back!
If there is one thing you need to do in your life just once, Carlsbad Caverns is probably it.. ONCE is enough for me!
We started our journey early on the morning on the 21st.. a quick stop for fuel (gas and coffee) and we were on our way.. The hardest part of this trek is getting out of Texas.. it takes FOREVER.. like, an eternity. And there isn’t much to see… but finally we made it out of there and crossed that state line.
It’s almost as if someone flips a switch because the landscaping changes instantly. And it is nothing short of beautiful. The dry land of east Texas suddenly changes and the skies turn blue… and then before you know it, there’s snow! And mountains! And SNOW ON THE MOUNTAINS!
After what seems like a million hours, WE FINALLY MADE IT!
The town is pretty small and there isn’t much to do so a Domino’s Pizza Night it was!
The next day we started our journey with a trip to the caverns.
If you haven’t already been there, you should . I probably wouldn’t go again but it’s certainly something you need to see at least once in your life..
Carlsbad Caverns ✔
It takes several hours, shoes with traction, and A LOT of stamina to get through it but it’s totally worth it.
The town is pretty cute, too, so we stopped and had some lunch in their ONE restaurant before we headed out.. We were the ONLY people in the restaurant so I cant complain about the service – it was pretty darn great.
Aside from that, not much else to see… I did, however, leave my mark in those caverns on more than one occasion – so when I tell you to wear shoes with traction, DO IT! 🙂
Turned out there was a gun store right across the street from my office (who knew? not me) and they offered a class with a DISCOUNT – I mean, if that’s not a sign to do it I dont know what is! So I did it – I signed up.
The night before I was pretty nervous and even thought about cancelling, several times, but in the end I knew if I didn’t do it now, I would never do it and I promised myself I would so, reluctantly, I got my a$$ up the next morning and drove on over.
The class part was a piece of cake and ALOT more interesting than I ever thought it would be. I learned so much! Now, let me make one thing clear – I am not a proponent of guns, I am no expert in gun laws, and I dont even know if I will ever own one. What I do know is that things are not like they used to be, this world seems to be getting crazier every day, and should the occasion ever arise where I do feel Ill need one – I want to be ready. I want to know how to use it PROPERLY, I want to know how to store it, and I definitely want to know what my rights are IF I should ever need it.
Like I said, class part – piece of cake – gun range, not so much.
Driving over to the gun range was nerve wracking enough… trying to maneuver my way there through a parade while hungry was even worse. After what seemed like an eternity, I found my way to it and walked the very few steps to the range. I got myself checked in and ordered a burger (I mean, you cant shoot anything on an empty stomach, right) Burger was incredibly delicious (another who knew moment) and I scarfed it down way too quickly – and I say that sincerely- my stomach was already a mess and adding this burger that I inhaled in three bites to it only made the matter worse. There were noises coming from inside me that I had never, ever heard before.
My nerves were really getting the best of me. I was shaking like a leaf. I couldn’t imagine holding a gun, let alone, pointing it at something with this shakiness so I let every single person in the class go first before there was no one left. Only me. At that point, I had two options – make a run for it or put my big girl pants on and just do it.
I opted for option 2 and walked on in.
It was a lot louder than I had expected it to be. Pieces of the bullet were flying all around me (that wasn’t in the brochure). I was given my slot, a gun was laid in front of me along with a box of ammunition. A target was hung up directly across the table and I was instructed to load it.
I had JUST taken this class! It hadn’t been more than 2 hours and yet, I was blank. I couldn’t stop shaking, my mind was racing, my stomach doing things no one wants to know about … I just stood there. Literally, unable to move. I had made the wrong decision. I needed to get out of there – and fast!
But I didn’t. I was physically unable to move.
The instructor told me to take a deep breath, which I did. I closed my eyes for a minute, tried to gather my composure, held back my tears (I still dont know what the tears were about), and opened up the magazine (or as I like to call it, the bullet holder).
Note to self: CUT YOUR NAILS! My nails were so long that my shaking hands made it impossible for me to get the bullet (yes, only one) in there so I had to have my instructor help me. Which he did – thank you, Lea!
I warned him (and everyone else in the room) to stand back as I had no idea what was about to happen. And I did it – I stood as instructed – legs slightly apart, firmly on the ground, both hands on the gun, thumb in position, target in my sight, and I pulled the trigger. Then I dropped the gun on the counter and jumped back… I stared at it.. waiting for something to happen, but guess what, nothing happened. (Pun most definitely intended)
I hadn’t realized it but my eyes had been closed. Still- I made the ONE shot I was supposed to and allowed to move on to the next set of instructions.. two rounds this time. One right after the other.
I removed the magazine, still couldn’t get the two bullets in without assistance, but managed to do it well enough, assumed the position, tried to focus, and pulled the trigger. BULLSEYE! (wrong sport?) I did it! and I didn’t throw up and hurt anyone! Ok, not so bad.. on to the next round.
One single shot, one double… three bullets. I managed to get them all in without breaking a nail or assistance. Small Victory. I assumed the position, held my breath, and pulled the trigger! And I did it – AGAIN!
The next rounds seemed to fly by. I eventually figured out loading it and even managed to put the safety on correctly. The shaking eventually stopped and my breathing returned to normal. I even passed the class and was given the permit to apply for my license.
That was in January. I still haven’t submitted the application nor have I held another gun. But my mission was accomplished. Should the need arise, I think I can do it and do it safely. Not sure that will ever happen but scratching one off the list is good enough for me.
What if you knew of a place where the scenery changes every single day; a place where the food is beyond amazing and the music, best ever! A place where centuries old architecture is the backdrop for a culture so invigorating, it’ll rouse your soul and your spirit. Well, i think I found JUST that place! New Orleans-
First and foremost, the music. The sounds come from every street corner and echoes throughout the city. Even with so many sounds happening at once, you cant help but find your favorite and hear it above all the others sounds.
Then of course, the food… under no circumstances are you to leave there without visiting Cafe Du Monde.. one word of caution… DO NOT WEAR BLACK.. it doesn’t matter how careful you are.. you will get that powder all over you.
I had the privilege of visiting that glorious city twice in the same year. One for work and one was strictly for pleasure. Both were equally entertaining and both visits had me seeing aspects of the city that were totally different from each other.
One trip was a bit more laid back than the other. I did alot of walking, alot of sightseeing, alot of picture taking. I toured the “haunted” mansions, ate more food than I should have, and even took some time to attend a mass service.
The other trip was a party the second I stepped off the plane. I dabbled in “colorful pastries”, spent more time on Bourbon Street than I should have and had my future told to me by a gypsy. Not quite sure I believe everything she said but, let’s just say, a girl can hope!I am under strict instructions to take the details of what happened during that trip to the grave – so thats exactly what I will do!
I cant believe you are 22 years old – and I am now considered middle-aged (OMG)
As I have done for the last several years; here are my “not so famous”
WORDS OF WISDOM
1. What other people think of you isn’t nearly as important as what you think of yourself. This is probably a complete contradiction to what you are used to me telling you. You know when I tell you that your language at home isn’t the same as your language when you are with your friends, and that you can’t dress for dinner the way you would if you were going out with the guys – I mean, what are people gonna think! ; well all of that still holds to be true. And at your stage in life, it’s even more important. But those are just details…. In the grand scheme of things, who really cares (aside from me – and your future boss). And, for the record, I don’t consider it so much as seeking approval as I am of “appropriateness” (Is that even a word?). My point here is – follow your heart and be true to yourself. Learn to love who you are, not who others would have you be. Do that, in a nicely pressed shirt, preferably tucked in, and all will be well in your life. THAT, I am sure of.
2. Real men do cry. Forget that macho bullshit that you hear amongst your frat brothers. Learn to be comfortable with your feelings, no matter what they are. Men DO cry; sometimes from joy, sometimes from pain, but sooner or later, they all do it. Holding your feelings locked inside is not healthy. Don’t be afraid to feel and do not be afraid to express those feelings; in any way, shape, or form that comes to you. I would prefer skydiving NOT be one of those ways.
3.Mind your own business. Gossip and mean-spirited talk about others is just bad. You and I talk about this all the time and I know you say it’s a guy thing and not a big deal- and maybe right now that’s true, but as an adult, it’s really just poor taste and bad behavior. Let others live their lives as they see fit and concentrate on living your own. Preferably in a nicely pressed tucked in shirt (i’m not giving up on that).
4. Having a girlfriend isn’t as important as having friends who are girls. They sure are beautiful (yes, I follow you on instagram and stalk all of the girls, too) and i’m sure they are wonderful people, but make sure to make friends with them FIRST. Talk to them, listen to them. You’ll learn more that way and chances are you’ll have a much richer relationship than one based on how she looks in some of those amazing outfits that would require surgery for me to ever even think of getting into.
5. On that note; Sex isn’t a game. Trust me when I tell you you won’t be any more of a man if you sleep with a ton of girls, but you will have a much bigger chance of getting one pregnant or picking up an STD along the way, I’m not naive or stupid; all im saying is that you should respect them as you would your own sister. And for god’s sake, make sure you are prepared with some form of birth control. I don’t want to have to kill you and dad and I are having way too much fun to have to stop and take care of a you and your baby mama.
6. Winners do quit, no matter what the cliché is. If your heart isn’t in it, then stop doing it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cant do something, but also dont let them tell you what you SHOULD be doing. Do what makes you happy and live a life that you love. No matter what that may consist of..except skydiving.
7. Above all, be honest. Be honest to your friends, your enemies, your parents, and most importantly, to yourself. If you have the slightest hesitation about your actions or words, think twice. When you look at yourself in the mirror you want to be proud of yourself and the choices you’ve made. A true man takes the consequences of his actions and doesn’t try to get out of them or pretend they didn’t happen. If you make a mistake, admit it, make it right, and learn from it. You’ll always have to answer to the man in the mirror AND the man upstairs, so do yourself a favor and do right the first time.
All of us are born with something special to share with the world. Don’t listen to those who would tell you otherwise. You count. You’re amazing. You’re perfect just as you are. Don’t try to be someone or something else. Follow and trust your heart and don’t forget to Say your prayers every night and thank God for the many, many blessings that have been bestowed upon us all. Happy Birthday, my baby! Mom and dad love you to the moon and back, 22 times over.