Top Five Places to Visit

Top 5 Places to Visit

I love to travel… I will go anywhere, anytime – all I need is a few minutes notice and I will be packed and sitting by the curb waiting for someone, anyone, to pick me up.

I am lucky enough to say that I have been to some pretty amazing places.

My five most favorite are as follows:

  1. Washington, D.C.

There are a TON of monuments to see in DC but everyone said that you could not go there without seeing The White House so we did.. and it was.. well.. white.. Ok, so I’m from Texas and we have HUGE houses here.. so I really wasn’t all that impressed.

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  1. St Louis, Missouri

I became quite the tourist while in St. Louis.. One of my favorite places I think you should check out if you are ever in the area is the Budweiser Brewery. They give you free beer. Do I really need to say more?

  1. Mexico City, MX

Mexico City, actually Mexico, in general, has gotten a bad rap lately with all of this bad press regarding safety. The truth is; it’s a BEAUTIFUL place to visit and one of my absolute favorites. Just like anywhere else, you need to be aware of your surroundings, you need to remain vigilant at all times, but that’s just common sense. The city itself – stunning! The architecture, the people, THE FOOD – absolute best!

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  1. New York City

What is there NOT to say about NYC? It’s an amazing place that has a little something for everyone. My last visit there was with my daughter during a time she was obsessed with Gossip Girls so our entire trip consisted of all things GG. We stayed at the Empire Hotel, we visited the spots in Central Park the cast frequented, we basically reenacted an entire season – and I LOVED every single second of it!  You can read more about it here.. Gossip Girls Take on NYC

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  1. Las Vegas

I like to call this place the “Adult Disneyland”. For me, it is, literally, the happiest place on earth. I was JUST there this past weekend and although I have been there soooo many times, I loved just as much as I always do.

There are so many new activities now that extend so far beyond the gambling and drinking; though, who are we kidding, that’s still why I go but, if you should choose to make it a family trip, rest assured, there is PLENTY for people of all ages to do. There are shows and exhibits and “experiences” such as the High Roller, and shopping! The shopping there is THE BEST! There are restaurant galore- and the shopping! Wait, I think I already mentioned that!

Holy Crap! You’re TWENTY!

Holy crap! YOU ARE TWENTY YEARS OLD! How did that happen? WHEN did it happen? Wasn’t it just the other day we were getting you ready for your first dance recital?

 

You have always been more mature and wiser than your years so there isn’t a whole lot for me to tell you. If I remember correctly, at this time I was telling the boys not to get too ahead of themselves, to slow down and enjoy the view, not to drink too much; you know, typical college student stuff. But that isn’t you at all. A part of me thanks GOD every single day for this and the other part wonders where the heck you came from because that clearly isn’t anything you learned from me or dad.

And yes, I desperately tried to refrain from sharing my annual Words of Wisdom but I failed miserably so the tradition continues…

MOM’S WORDS OF WISDOM ON YOUR 20TH BIRTHDAY

*Quality over quantity

Just like your brother you are so blessed to have a great group of friends that have been there through it all. Cherish them, love them, tolerate the growing pains you may all be suffering and get through them together; just like you have gotten through everything else.

*Self-care is key

Always make time for yourself. You can’t take care of all of your very important school obligations if you don’t take care of yourself first. This will apply when you get a job, have a husband and a house to run, have kids…. Whatever stage you may be in life ALWAYS make sure you leave a little “me time” in there and don’t EVER feel bad about it. EVER.

*Counting calories isn’t worth it

Being healthy is important but counting calories is just a waste of time and energy. Try and eat right, stay active, and you will be fine.. you managed to get through your first year and a half of college without adding an ounce; I think you’re safe..

*Makeup isn’t always necessary, but sometimes it is

You are beautiful inside and out (of course, I’m your mother so I’m sorta biased but whatever, it counts). You don’t always have to wear a ton of makeup. It’s ok to be natural.. SOMETIMES! There are times when you do. When you feel your best, you reflect the very best. Just make sure you take care of your skin.. don’t wait till your 40’s to figure that out like I did.

*Take risks

We never regret the risks we take, only the ones we didn’t. Sure, it could turn out to be a mistake of ginormous proportions, but oh well… life will go on… I promise.

*Follow your passions

You’re going to be in the workforce for quite a while so find something you’re passionate about. Go into a field you love no matter what the pay is. If you enjoy what you do, money won’t matter. I still believe you would LOVE the world of plastic surgery – just saying.

*Be open minded

We live in a diverse, ever-changing, always evolving world. Be open-minded about everything. Learn as much as you can from the people around you, especially the ones who think differently than you do. Appreciate the differences, don’t judge them.

*Pay attention to the political issues

Please don’t become one of those people who can speak of nothing other than politics but pay enough attention to the issues so that if/when you enter into that sort of conversation, you give an educated, well-informed opinion. And if you should come across someone who’s opinions are in complete contrast to yours (and you will) don’t be ugly about it… listen to their views, try and understand where they may be coming from, stand your ground, and vote your conscience. You don’t always have to agree with everyone’s opinions in order to remain friends but you do have to respect them.

While we may not be there to celebrate with you physically, know that our hearts are with you every second of every day; especially today.

Have an amazing day, my baby! Mom and Dad love you to the moon and back!

Words of Wisdom for Dylan’s 23rd Birthday

For the last several years I have provided my children my “words of wisdom” on every birthday, a tradition I promised them I would stop. All I can say is; “I tried.”

Dylan, 23 years old – I can’t even believe it. It seems like just yesterday we were sitting in your very messy room learning our colors. Luckily, you learned them because, here you are, a college graduate – about to enter “the real world”.

In my usual fashion, there are just a couple things I think you should know as you do so:

* Friends will come and friends will go.

You have been blessed to still have your oldest friends around. Cherish that; remind yourself often what a blessing that truly is. But don’t forget to make some room for new people along the way. Everyone comes into your life for one reason or another, being a real adult is, not only identifying the reason but figuring out which ones to walk away from.

* Always say yes to dessert

If I need to explain this to you then I clearly have not done my job as a parent.

* Who you were in high school isn’t really all that important

When I was in high school, I was told often to appreciate it because “those are the best years of your life” – and if I remember correctly, I told you the exact same thing. But let me tell you – that is SO NOT TRUE … the best year is the one you are in RIGHT NOW, and the one after that, and the one after that.. see where I am going with this?

* Others’ opinions of you don’t matter

Remember that Dr. Seuss quote; “those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter” … well, Dr. Seuss is a freaking genius.

* Get off your phone

It’s ok to look up every now and then… that thing isn’t going anywhere… at least that’s what I’ve heard… (I need to work on this one too).

* Travel, travel, travel

The saying goes “when you’re young you have the time and energy to travel, but not enough money, and then when you get older you have enough money and time, but not enough energy” – so travel as often as you can while you still have that adventurous spirit and unlimited energy in you. The money will figure itself out… (it’s called points – use them!)

* Learn how to cook

Yes, I know I only know how to make a handful of dishes, no need to remind me, but this is EXACTLY why I tell you this.. Trust me, you don’t want to have to eat frozen dinners and canned ravioli the rest of your life. You should at least know the basics, but feel free to explore the cooking world, there’s so much to learn and Pinterest makes it look so easy!
BTW: I am willing to be a taste tester any time… all you gotta do is call. I can be there in 5 hours or less.

* Changing your mind is acceptable

From something as small as the shoes you want to wear or the movie you want to watch to something as important as the career you choose to follow; whatever it is, changing your mind is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. Try it all – then decide – and then decide again if you feel the need.

* Don’t get too distracted.

Watch the video; you’ll see what I am talking about…

*You’re still our baby; I don’t care how old you are or you THINK you are; you are and will always be my baby – and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

I hope you had an AMAZING day… remember that we love you to the moon and back!

Open Forum ; a right or a privilege?​

I live in a small town, deep in South Texas – as in, if- you -go -any -further- you- are- now- in -Mexico – deep… it’s a town where people know all of your business, high school football is king, and the city officials are, in most cases, a “friend”.
Before I continue, let me make it clear that whatever statements I make are not directed at one person, in particular, nor is it even, specifically, about my hometown. These statements are in general and really made to ask one (ok,  maybe two) question(s)… “Is Open Forum a Right or a Privilege?”
About a year ago it was determined that town hall meetings in my little neck of the woods would no longer allow for an open forum.  Basically, there is now a virtual complaint box  – one in which they can choose to acknowledge or chose to ignore.. and there is nothing we can do about it.
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Having an attorney in my family, I thought it best to broach the very infuriating topic up with him first BEFORE I take my rant to Facebook.
Me: We have a right to say what we want to say, as long as it is done during the allotted time and follows the rules (don’t be ugly, rude, or disrespectful)
Him: Open Forum is not a right, it’s a privilege.
Me: Having a seat on the city council is not a right, either – it is a PRIVILEGE, that, we, the citizens they are so vehemently trying to shut up, GAVE them.
Him: well, after you gave them that privilege, it is now their right to shut it down.
Me: (silence)
So which is it? I still stand by my opinion that it is, indeed, our right but I really can’t argue with his logic (I hate when people respond to my rants with LOGIC, btw). But that just leads me to my second question – are any of these people that we have given this very generous right to even QUAlIFIED to be making such decisions – ANY decision, for that matter????? I would have to say, from experience, that the majority of them are not. So how did it get this way? Who decided that we would allow our town and our schools to be run by a group of people that can hardly manage their household, let alone make such hugely impacting decision? (For the record, this does not apply to ALL of them – just most of them.)
I don’t know where the suggestion box is for this but I’m thinking someone needs to find it – and fast –
I’d probably check the website first. 🙂

Words of Wisdom as you prepare for your 2nd year as a Longhorn

So this is it…. Year two… feels like just yesterday I was dropping you off at Pre-K…. I can see the excitement and anticipation on your face (and don’t think that look of frustration hasn’t gone unnoticed either). I’m sure you can see the pain in mine; but what you can’t see is the swelling of pride in my heart as I look at the amazing young woman you have become.

I know the last thing in the world you want to hear right now is yet more advice from a woman who’s been offering it your ENTIRE life. But if there is anything I have ever taught you is that you are to never, ever stop learning and that all it really is.. is advice. You don’t have to take it – though keep in mind I will “gently remind” you that I told you so..

So in my usual fashion; here goes; Words of Wisdom as you prepare for your 2nd year as a Longhorn:

You are officially moved in to your new “big girl” apartment; all ready to learn new things (like how to cook) know that not all of the lessons are going to be good ones. I do believe this world is a good and beautiful place but there are places and situations that are not. Be attentive to your surroundings but don’t let it get so overwhelming it affects you to your core. Be vigilant, but not paranoid. Try never to get so wound up in what “could happen” that you fail to see the beauty that’s all around you.

The same goes for people. When you meet someone new, make sure you look them in the eye. Remember to never judge someone based on appearances. The true measure of a person is taken over time and should be based more on their actions rather than their appearance or words. We all say stupid things on bad days; words hurt but actions leave scars…. Keep that in mind.

Our hope is that you’ll come across more kindness and compassion than anything else. We pray that you’ll surround yourself with people who bring out the best in each other, who support each other, who lift each other up.. But should you come across people that don’t fall in that category, just turn around and walk away. It sounds simple, but trust me, it’s not. It could be one of the hardest things you may ever have to do.

Your dad and I have done our best to teach you how to be strong, to know who you are and never doubt yourself. Stand firm in what you know is right, even if you find yourself standing alone.

Lastly, remember that life is meant to be lived. Yes, you are here for a purpose and that is school but part of getting a proper education is learning to LIVE. So whenever you see the possibility for adventure – take it! You only get one chance at this – make it count..

That’s it! You got this; I am sure of it. But if you need me; this week’s 5-hour mad dash to you should prove that I will be here – all you have to do is call. OR text. Snap. Tweet… smoke signals..

Love you to the moon and back, my baby! Hook em!

👨‍🎓Words of Wisdom as Dylan becomes a College Graduate

While it would probably be enough to just say “good luck” and “We love you,’ that’s not all there is to say- Not by a long shot- so before you cross that tassel over to the other side here goes:

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First, Congratulations!

Ignore my (moms) crying and the zillion pictures I’ll be making you take. In fact, forget everyone and everything and make this moment about nothing other than you. Accept every hug and kiss from the grandmas. Take your victory lap. Jump in that river. This is one of those “big moments” we told you about. Soak in every second of it.

Keep moving.

Take your moment then move on. Now is the first time, but certainly not the last one, that you’ll learn that life just keeps moving. Hold your head up high, keep looking straight ahead, then take that next step. The truth is that we all worry about what’s supposed to come next. Everyday heroes put one foot in front of the other and just do it. You can too.

Take care of yourself.

Take care of yourself, your stuff, and especially, those you love. A good life is yours for the taking; just remember everything and everyone will need a little of your attention every now and then. Don’t ever get so busy making a living that you forget to have a life.

Hold your fire.

People, things, and even circumstances may be fully deserving of the full power of your fire. Hold it when you can. Count to ten, go for a drive, take a walk…Do whatever you have to do to find a peaceful but workable solution. The world needs more lovers, not fighters.

We’ve ALWAYS got your back.

You are never alone in this world. You’re lucky to have a safety net knit tightly of good friends and family who are all ready to be there when you need them. Let that love carry you in weak moments. And when you get a chance, do the same for someone else.

Dream big.

And I mean really, really big, but also live every day with a spirit of wonder and brave resolve too. A lot of adulthood is not so much an exciting new road but a familiar, well-worn path. Marvel at the simple joys and brace yourself for the sad, scary things that can, and will, pop up along the way. Have faith in yourself and in God and, I promise, everything will fall into place. Eventually.

Be there.

Celebrate others successes and ease the burden of their failures. Make them laugh and sit with them when they are sad. Go to boring parties, lame weddings, and uncomfortable dinner parties because someone asked you to be there for them. You’ll be amazed at the joy you’ll find from doing the thing you really didn’t want to do.

Love is all you need.

You will have a lot of choices to make the next few days, months, and years. It can all seem a little overwhelming. Let The Beatles provide a little clarity in the chaos: “all you need is love”. If you have it, give it. Plain and simple. Then you won’t just have a blessed life, you will be a blessing to others as well.

You look so handsome.

Seriously. Yes, I know I’m biased but I’m your mother and I’m allowed to be.

You have no idea what it’s like to watch someone grow up before your eyes but I hope you get that privilege.

We are so unbelievably proud of the young man you have become inside and out. And you look great in that cap and gown too. Like for real: you are rocking it.

We love you.
Truly, honestly, deeply. This day. Every day. Forever. Take that knowledge with you into a brave new world.

The best is yet to come, my baby. Keep shooting for those stars.

Love, Mom and Dad

P.S.  I finally get to scratch off #6 from my To Do List! YAY ME!

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I can’t believe it’s been five whole years. Some days it feels like they flew by and other days, not so much. But we managed to get through them – together – never once letting each other go, no matter how bad the mood was.

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A lot has happened in five years. Babies were born, relationships ended, kids started college, others finished, some of our kids graduated high school, relationships we were certain were over began again and became better than ever.

And a lot has stayed the same. Our amazing group of friends/family has never failed to be there for each and every moment I mentioned and so many of the ones I didn’t They were always quick to offer a hug, a pat on the back, a large drink, a shot of tequila, a huge congratulations, and even a kick in the a$$ when necessary.

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A lot has been learned in five years, as well.. we’ve learned that no matter what happens or how bad it seems, life goes on and it will be better tomorrow. We’ve learned that the darkest times can lead us to the brightest of places, and the most devastating struggles can grant us the most necessary growth.

As for me, personally, I am still in awe of the strength Isaiah, Destiny, Malcolm, Rick, and Roxanne continue to possess. You have handled each hurdle with grace and unwavering faith and I am more certain than ever that it is that love for each other that helps you to continue moving forward, overcoming whatever you may be battling at that moment, knowing that it WILL pass and you WILL make it through.

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May you never, ever, for one second forget how far you have come and remember that you will make it through whatever comes next. Becuase we will all be there to help you do it – TOGETHER.IMG_1386

Ctrl, Alt, Delete –

I’m a NEW MAC user… until about a year ago I was a Windows person all the way. Ctrl, Alt, Delete was a lifesaver. It’s how you “reboot” the system and start over. Clean slate.. Brand-spanking new. I was looking for the same combination on my MAC when it hit me… I need one of those for my life!

The last few years have been rough. I have been in this state of “existing” for a while. I’m there, I am enjoying myself (for the most part) but I have been feeling as though something is missing and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.  I’ve tried meditation, which I have yet to master because I cannot for the life of me close my eyes. I have been meaning to try yoga but never made it to a class though I’ve carried a bag around with clothes and a mat for about 3 months now. I have done the journaling, I go to church, I read ALOT… and I still can’t figure out what it is that’s missing. Don’t get me wrong. I am a happy person. I love my family. I love my house. I love my life – but why do I have this tugging feeling that something is just not right? And how the hell can I figure out what it is? And if I ever do, how do I fix it WITHOUT going all Thelma and Louise on my fam?

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A while back I started reading up on the Law of Attraction. You can read more about that here. Honestly, it’s freaking hard. I try to be positive, I swear I do. I visualize like I’m supposed to. I even made a vision board! See it here… And trust me, no one is more ready to ACCEPT than I am, but still… I can’t seem to find THAT place (or what I have recently learned is called the “Vortex”). I have bought the books, I listen to podcasts every time in the car, which is a lot, and I still can’t seem to get into that groove of “being”. WTF! Why is this so damn hard for me?

Because nothing seemed to be working I went ahead and shelled out some major bucks to get training from someone who is supposed to be the best. She’s cool – I like her- I mean, from what I can tell on her daily pre-recorded videos she looks like the kind of person I could chill with. She tells me she loves me. (I’m on day 9 and that shit is already getting old) And, I have to admit, she has sorta inspired me; even got me thinking about childhood stuff and thinking that maybe it isn’t all me – we always gotta blame the parents somehow.. but still… nada, zip, zilch! NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Except for one important lesson I will share with you now…

If you want to “reboot” your life do this: think about your positive and negative experiences, people, activities, and habits. Write them all down. When you figure out what parts of your life are no longer serving you, remove them.

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Those Facebook friends that make you cringe every time they post something stupid or yet another selfie because we just didn’t get enough of the 5 million they posted the day before (I mean, really, can’t one of your 4000 friends take a picture of you?). All of those emails you get because you hit the “subscribe now” button (except for this one) that do nothing but clutter up your inbox. And especially all those apps on your phone that have the “update me” dot screaming at you constantly though you never do because you don’t actually use it and you really have no idea what it’s for, REMOVE THEM. REMOVE THEM ALL.

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Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s not. If you are anything like me you’ll feel horrible deleting that person you don’t actually know but feel that you must have known them in some past life because you have 162 mutual friends. And that app; you may have that nagging feeling that you might actually need it one day (you can reload it, btw). Those emails, well, odds are slim you are ever going to win that jackpot, the coupon you’ve been saving is probably expired, and you may as well take your chances on that chain letter you never forwarded. So now is the time to put your big girl (or boy) undies on and do like Nike; “JUST DO IT”.

It’s important to remember that there is no right time or way to do this. It’s ok to feel a little sad and even a tinge of regret for a few minutes.. THEN GET OVER IT. Time to focus on the other side of the list. The one that brought you joy. The one that serves a purpose. THOSE are the ones we want to keep.

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Words of Wisdom to my 24 year old son

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24 years old! How did this happen? Just the other day your dad and I were out buying you a Emmitt Smith jersey just praying you’d be a boy.. and now you are a MAN.
In moms usual fashion – I HAVE to give you my Words of Wisdom – although you have always marched to the beat of your own drum, I CANT let this opportunity go by.. so here goes..
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Follow your muse…

even if it doesn’t seem practical to any of us… life isn’t supposed to be “practical”, it’s supposed to be LIVED. But keep SOME sense of reality in your mind. You do need to eat.

Follow your heart…

People will always try to tell you what you should do with your life; Yes, we all know I am guilty of that too. Sometimes it’s based on what we wish we could have done, sometimes it’s based on what we did do, and sometimes we simply want to live vicariously through you, but ALL of it comes from what we want FOR you and I promise that it is ALWAYS done out of love. But remember that you’re the one who will have to live with those decisions, so if you are being pushed to go to, say law school, for example, when all you really want to do is play that guitar of yours, then do it. (I promise I will only cry for a little while.) Bottom line, listen to your heart. It ALWAYS knows best.

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Earn a decent living…

Making lots of money isn’t the point, but neither is it evil.

It would be wonderful if money solved everything, but all it takes is a quick look at the news feeds to see that those who ‘have everything’ also have whole worlds of trouble that you don’t. Follow your dreams and don’t be a slave to the dollar, but also don’t let yourself stay poor. We can’t afford to support your spending habits much longer…. dad and I have dreams too!

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Never stop dreaming…

Continue to have those outrageous dreams of yours but be prepared to put in the work. You’ll be amazed at what comes true when you do.

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Expect to fail…

Failure is not fatal. Learn the lessons, then get back up and try again. Whatever you do, don’t give up. It’s a waste of energy.

You are unique and have your own gifts to offer the world. Be you… YOU are the one we love and we love you just the way you are…

Wishing you an AMAZING Birthday and loving you to the moon and back!