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.
I am a huge fan of To Do Lists – I create them almost daily. There is something about scratching items off that list that brings me such comfort… it’s the little things in life, right.. (no one said I was normal).
On top of my day to day list; I went ahead and created a To Do List for the year.. things I plan to accomplish in 2018…. a Vision Board of sorts.. of course, Im constantly making revisions to this list but, today, it goes like this..
1. Take a Photography Class
2. Take a Gun Class
3. Learn how to meditate
4. Take up Yoga (yay, more yoga pants)
5. Pay off my credit cards (which I will probably charge up tackling #4 – it’s a vicious cycle)
6. See my son graduate college (which will then allow me to do #5, which helps #4 – oh my GOD)
This is just the beginning of an ever-evolving list. If it’s one thing I learned; it’s to never stop learning. The day that happens is the day it’s all over…
Another work trip.. but I cant complain when it’s a place as gorgeous and filled with history as this one.
Leaving a day early for some sightseeing is definitely a habit I will keep. Going to work knowing I have seen what’s on the other side of the hotel window is a lot easier than staring out of it the entire time I am there, praying for light that isn’t florescent.
We arrived Saturday evening, and although it was cold, we hit the town.
I was told that it being as cold as it was actually helped us beat the crowds, but when you cant feel your face, it’s hard to appreciate Lincoln in all his glory.
And while, he is indeed magical, IM FROM TEXAS.. and I was too cold to enjoy the beautiful scenery, so we called it a night and opted for dessert and wine instead.
The next day was much nicer and we took advantage of the sun peeking out to do some sightseeing.
We started on the hunt for a restaurant that had gotten some great reviews and ended up at a wonderful Farmer’s Market.
Seeing places like this really make me want to move. I love the outside, I love SHOPPING outside.. seeing the colors of the art, the plants, the fruit.. and all of the “colorful” people that sell them. For me, it’s a breathe of fresh air and I love every single second of it.
We spent way more time there than we should have and I didn’t regret a second it.. but we did have sights to see, people to meet.. so off we went!
From there, we headed over to the Washington Monument. Now, I had already been told that you had to be there early to get a ticket to go up, but no one told me you had to be there BY 7:30am. Needless to say, no tickets for us. So instead we walked around and enjoyed all of the monuments.. and trust me, there are plenty.
We started with the World War II Memorial, then the Korean Monument, then headed over to the Vietnam Monument. Each was exquisite and beautiful.. and something you have to see.
We decided the White House was just too darn close not to go, so off we went.. ON FOOT.. it wasn’t too too bad.. and the hotdog we picked up along the way really helped.
The White House was.. well.. white.. Ok, so I’m from Texas and we have HUGE houses here.. so I really wasn’t all that impressed.
I was more disappointed we couldn’t get a tour.. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand security and how important it is, but that house belongs to the citizens.. shouldn’t getting in to see it but available??
Anyway, we couldn’t get in so we opted for hanging out outside. The courtyard across the street was actually really pretty so we sat and rested and took in the scent of all the tulips.
TIP: If you want to go, book WAAAAY in advance.
When it was all done I would have to say it’s a city I would love to come back to – WITH SOME PLANNING, and ALOT more time. Two days just isn’t enough. I’m sad to report it wasn’t even my first time there. I had been before and only got to see about half a days worth.
So my baby , you are officially a college student.
At this point, all I can do is pray that your dad and I taught you well and set you free..
It also means my time here sharing my “words of wisdom” is just about done and,although I meant each and every word I ever said to you and can assure you that I poured every ounce of thought and emotion into my “teachings”..well, you’re officially an “adult” and you will be living in AUSTIN.(Hook, ‘em). so it’s time to get real.. I think you’re ready and can handle the truth..
This is what I REALLY want you to know..
My FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM as my baby goes off to COLLEGE:
First and MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you see Mathew McConaughey, TAKE A PICTURE.. I don’t care if you have to trample people, miss class, or look like a crazy fool.. you get that picture.. then you tell him your mom loves him.
Now that THAT is out of the way, here is what I really want you to know..
* Play in traffic. You still want to look both ways and make sure a big old truck isn’t coming, but don’t spend your life on the side of the road. A little traffic play will do you good. (within reason!)
* Go ahead and count those chickens before they hatch. If not, you’ll live expecting that they may not. Expect them to hatch, all of them. And if the time should arise when they don’t, well that’s ok, too.. just move on to the next plan..
* Don’t make wardrobe decisions based on the possibility that you may get into an accident, but do wear clean underwear. Everyday. Please.
* Honesty is not always the best policy. In some situations telling a lie is just the right thing to do. The secret to maturity is in knowing when.
* Do not keep your enemies closer. Who wants close enemies? Keep your friends closer..
* The grass is not always greener. On the contrary, it’s the weeds, mud, and dried patches that make us who we are. But do take the time to “water”, in other words, take time out to be with no one else but your thoughts to reflect and pray. A little “me time” is good for the soul… seize the opportunity every chance you get.
* Never, ever, ever wear cheap make up. Cute eye shadows and lip glosses are fine, but not make up..(it’ll clog your pores and make you break out – and your face will need to be fresh for that pic with Matt). Wait till you get home and mom will spring for the good stuff. Same goes for shoes.. last thing you want is achy feet.
* It’s not all about what’s inside. Looks matter. I’m not talking about some classic idea of beauty, I’m talking about the way we feel when we look our best. Take showers. Wash your clothes. Get your hair cut. Exercise and eat well. Fries with cheese are an option but not the only one.
* The early bird may catch the worm, but who wants worms anyway? Get a good night’s sleep, be well rested, I’m sure there will be a worm or two left if you really have your heart set on worms.
* You can have your cake and eat it too. In fact, if you let me know when you’re coming, I’ll even bake it for you. And I hear there are some amazing cupcakerys in Austin that I would be more than willing to make a trip up for.
* The glass is not always half full. But you can always fill it.
* The ends do not always justify the means. That’s an excuse, not a way of life.
*Good things may well come to those who wait. They also come to those who go out and work for them. So put in the work. Lots of it.
* Ultimately there’s no such thing as getting off on the wrong foot. The point is to get moving. If you have to change direction, put on your blinker, make a u-turn, step on the gas and go.
* Love is not blind. You’ll see.
* Sometimes you do have to sweat the details, it’s called being prepared.
* Time does not heal all wounds. Some will stay with you. Forever. Be careful who you give your heart to and try not to be the cause of other peoples wounds.
* Where there’s smoke there’s not always fire. Sometimes there’s just smoke. Don’t assume anything. Always take time to assess the situation. All of them.
* It’s not always the quality, sometimes it’s the quantity. Fill your life with close friends and family, but leave room for acquaintances, friends of friends and the guy next door.
* It’s not just how you play the game. Sometimes winning does matter. Play to win.
* Whether or not absence makes the heart grow fonder is immaterial; call your mom. This one’s never going to change, may as well just go with it.
* And when you fall in love and marry and have kids of your own . . .
. . . don’t blink. Before you know it, you will be sending your own child off to college..
That’s it! Love you to the moon and back! Always have. Always will.
I had the pleasure of visiting Seattle, Washington for the very first time. It had been a while since I had been anywhere for the “first time” so I was pretty excited about going.
I was told that the weather is always pretty dreary there. Mother Nature must have been in a good mood that week because the entire week was nothing short of beautiful.
I was there for work so I really didn’t have much time to do a lot of sightseeing but I did pass this shopping place every morning on my way to the conference. This was like retail heaven for me. Talk about a built in incentive to get my a$$ to work!
There was NO POSSIBLE WAY we could leave without seeing the Space Needle so we HAD to go. It takes 41 seconds to go up.. 41 seconds to AMAZINGNESS.
This alone was worth the trip.
They have clearly adapted to the younger generation because they have built in cameras all around where you can take your “selfies” and post them straight to social media along with a bunch of interactive stations… can you say GENIUS?!?
In case you’re wondering; you can purchase tickets and scope out all of your pictures here:
I had three kids by the age of 26.. I remember being so tired I would go into the shower and cry. I worried about them constantly.. I worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to keep up with the midnight feedings or that I wasn’t paying enough attention to the boys or that I wasn’t paying enough attention to myself or my husband. I would tell myself that as soon as ONE of them slept through the night, everything would be better.. and then they do.. and my worries changed.
Then we enter the stage of sleeping through the night but awake all day. It was no longer formula and baby food, it was REAL food.. and I worried that I wasn’t feeding them the proper foods, that they would choke on pieces of ham or chips or cookies.. I would tell myself that as soon as they started walking, everything would be better… and then they do.. and again, my worries changed.
Then I had three kids all under the age of five WALKING… everywhere.. and I worried that they would slip away from my sight and head out to the pool or out the front door or slip away from me at the mall.. I would tell myself that as soon as they started school, everything would be better.. and then they do.. and again, my worries changed.
Then I started working while they were at school. And I worried that they were going to be teased or bullied or I wasn’t going to be around if they got sick. I would tell myself that as soon as they entered middle school, everything would be better.. and then they do.. and my worries changed.
All three in school, two in middle school and one at the elementary. And I worried about them walking home and where they would go and who they’d stay with.. would they get into someone’s car, would they remember to look both ways before crossing the street, would they JUST LOOK UP FROM THAT PHONE! I would tell myself as soon as ONE was driving, everything would be better… and then they do… and again, my worries changed.
Now all THREE are driving and I worry if I can afford it, are they drinking, is someone else on the road drinking, are they paying attention to their surroundings… will they ever JUST STAY HOME? And I’d tell myself once they were all grown and out of the house, everything would be better… and then they do.. and guess what – I STILL WORRY.
Bottom line – doesn’t matter how old they are or what stage of their life they are in you will always worry about them; that never changes. The only thing that changes are the worries themselves.
If I could go back to the days when they were all at home and I would cry from being so tired; I would do it in a heartbeat – because at least I knew they were there – with me. But I cant, so I just have to hope for the best… hope that we taught them right and let them go.. watching as they walk out the door – again.