Summer Solstice at Stonehenge II-Texas Style

Stonehenge II-Ingram, Tx

Father’s Day, 2019. My husband’s “gift” was a weekend trip to Kerrville, Tx. Nostalgic for the hot summers in the Texas Hill Country where he spent some of his summers as a camp counselor, he wanted to share some his favorite places with us.

As our trips tend to go, there was bickering on the way there. I wanted to stop in Fredericksburg to stroll into the shops on the way there. I packed sandwiches and drinks so we’d have a nice picnic lunch at a park. We get there, the kids are hangry, we unpack our lunches, the flies start annoying us and everyone is grumpy. I mange to snap a few selfies because no one wants pictures.

Dooley’s, Fredericksburg, Tx

However, we popped into Dooley’s, a legit five and dime store. I swear I stepped back into my childhood. This is a place where you can still buy polyester day robes, the kind my grandma used to wore way before yoga pants and stretchy bands were a thing. Even the store fixtures time warped to their original tasks. I’m not sure if they were there in the 70s or earlier. My kids found souvenir keychains. And candy cigarettes. The kind I used to “smoke” when I was a kid that didn’t ever turn me into a real smoker. They each got a pack, the grumpy lunch experience soon forgotten. Word of advice if you go: Take cash or write a check. They don’t accept cards.

While on the road, we realized we departed for our weekend adventure on June 21st, the Summer Solstice. We also had no idea Ingram, near Kerrville, housed an art installation perfect for the occasion–Stonehenge II, along with Easter Island statue replicas.

Finding quirky roadside attractions is my favorite part of a road trip. I don’t remember how I found it. I think we were discussing the solstice. I must have searched it on my phone to read about its history and found information about all the people who travel to Stonehenge each year. It popped up on my search results and we added it to our itinerary. We were the only people there that late afternoon and ran into Chet of The Daytripper, who happened to be filming an episode for his PBS show. My son was more interested in the show and the video equipment than the replica of Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice. Sigh…

A volunteer community theater performs along the Guadalupe River. That summer they performed Madagascar-A Musical Adventure. The kids enjoyed it more than we expected. Buy the kids popcorn and soft drinks and it elevates their experience. Buy Mamma a mini bottle of wine and everyone’s happy. Like the ups and downs of the hills we travel, such is the way of a road trip. We find gems along the way, forget the grumpy parts, and take the good memories with us.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

They Hate Road Trips-2021

This is the first of my summer road trip musings, in reverse order to my childhood.

Texas-New Mexico state line

I grew up in the Texas panhandle, New Mexico nearby, but we never went there when I was a kid. No snow skiing or summer hikes for us. Our summer vacations, if we had one, were usually to south Texas to visit my dad’s side of the family. If we were lucky, we’d get to visit the beach, but we mostly stayed at my grandma’s and visited family.

The past two years, summer vacation plans fell through. We always go back home to visit our family, but now we travel north. Last week we spent the first half of our vacation with family and then invited my mom to tag along with us for a few days in New Mexico. Six years before, almost to the day, we attended the U.F.O. Festival in Roswell, spent a day at Carlsbad Caverns, slid down the dunes in White Sands, and did a tiny bit of hiking in Ruidoso.

Santa Rosa, NM

Albuquerque and Santa Fe were our destinations this year and I wanted to stop at as many roadside attractions as possible. In reality, we didn’t stop as often as I anticipated. I had a grand plan to map out everything, but the beginning of summer break had us busy with day long projects for two weeks straight. Not much time for planning. As I got lost in the depths of Pinterest and the web, I decided we’d play it by ear. I started my sightseeing list, asked the kids to do their own research and give me suggestions (they didn’t), and quickly realized we’d need more than three days to do everything. Plan B: do what we can with the time we have.

We stayed at a beautiful home in Albuquerque via Vrbo. We bought enough groceries to prepare breakfast and dinner. When we arrived, I almost didn’t want to leave the house. I spent the mornings on the front porch of the courtyard sipping my coffee while watching hummingbirds and other birds I couldn’t identify stop by the fountain for their morning sips of water. My mom joined me and we took our time catching up. It had been almost a year since I’d seen her.

The kiddos, right before they ditched us. I’ll take what I can get.

In Santa Fe, we went to Meow Wolf, the immersive art exhibit in a remodeled bowling alley. The kids ditched us. We went on our own and had a great time anyway. Parents with younger kids wrangled and steered them in the direction they needed to go. Some hollered at them to figure out where they had wandered off–there are lots of nooks, crannies, and secret passages. I don’t miss those days. But here I am, without my own kids. I didn’t experience their wonder or joy, but they did show me their pictures. Sigh…

We headed out for lunch then for some shopping. Even if they’re older, they still get tired. I didn’t get to pop in to as many shops as I would’ve liked. They aren’t much into shopping unless it’s for candy or ice cream. Kids have a way of telling you things without telling you things. It was hot and they were done with the walking even though they’d been fed. It doesn’t stop at toddlerhood.

We spent the following day in Albuquerque. The oldest didn’t want to join us and I didn’t prod. This is probably our last full-family road trip. Heading back to Texas, we stopped at a large souvenir shop I remember from my own last full-family road trip to Las Vegas before my senior year of high school. It’s funny, no matter how old the kids get, there’s still the allure of filling up a little bag of polished rocks. Although they had their own spending money, I bought them both said little bags full of rocks, the youngest correcting me, “They’re crystals, Mom, not rocks.”

As we got back onto the highway, my mom announced she bought me a little something. I turned around and she handed me a small plastic rectangle. I flipped it over and discovered my name printed on it. I squealed like a twelve year old on a road trip. There’s still the allure of getting a little license plate souvenir keychain with your name on it, no matter how old you get.

Souvenirs are my fave!

Are You There, Judy? It’s Me, Ally-Again

Hey, Judy. What happened when Margaret grew up and became a mom? Did she become a mom? And what happened when she birthed her teen into adulthood? I mean, sheesh, the hormones…they’re worse than when I was 13. Or pregnant. And the nesting! It’s still happening. Why? Is this normal? With social media, we get tons of parenting advice until the kids are about nine or ten. Then it stops. We have to figure it out and only when we mention something happened does anyone ever say, “Oh, that, yeah, it’s normal, but wait until…”

Maybe we ignore the advice because we don’t get it when we need it. Either too early or too late, but when we’re in the middle of everything, we try to claw our way through. This birthing a teen into adulthood emotionally rips you up. Random tears on a run. Random tears when an old picture pops up on the screen. Random tears in line at the grocery store when my eye lands on a gummy SpongeBob Krabby Patty I’d buy as a treat for a tantrum free grocery trip years ago. Hollering sessions griping about homework, chores, junk food, being online for too long, you name it…and it’s me doing the hollering. And then random tears second guessing that meeting (or those meetings) with the teacher when the kid was in sixth grade. Why didn’t I say something different? I should’ve done this instead.

Did Margaret spend too much time at work in those earlier years or was she a stay at home mom? Her kids turned out okay, didn’t they? Did her mind linger over the what ifs and what can be? A ton of time passes between the first birth and the second birth. They both hurt though, but I don’t know which one hurts more. I think I was better prepared for the first. The second one creeps up on you. I thought I was ready. Here we go anyway. We’ll figure it out. It’ll be official tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Milestones II

Tuesday Slice May 18, 2021

Almost four years ago, I wrote Milestones. Here we are again, at another one.

This one hits hard. In spurts, like the others. Sometimes when I expect them. Mostly when I don’t. But they’re hard. There’s the time of the first orchestra concert of the year held in the cafeteria because rules said they couldn’t use the auditorium. The original plan was for them to play in the amphitheater, but a football game was scheduled at the same time. As usual, sports win. Not all students were able to make rehearsals, so attendance was sparse, but on they played. It’s hard not to think about “how it used to be.” The tears come in the car driving back home in the dark.

One of the first concerts back in the auditorium was postponed twice. Once because of dreadful rules. Again. The second time because of the Great Texas Freeze. They did make it back, but low audience attendance (more rules) felt odd and no one congregated in the lobby afterward. I wondered if this would be the last performance.

It’s hard not to get choked up at the “Countdown to Graduation” drive through celebration to pick up the senior t-shirt and goodies. This is is not what’s expected of senior year experiences. Poor kids. We didn’t attend the drive through parade last weekend sending everyone off from locked-out of school virtual learning, into the big, beautiful—or is it cruel—world in the best way possible to commemorate the end of the first 12 years of education. No tears shed on that one.

Maybe I’m getting better at rolling with change, but it’s hard not to be selfish with this milestone. Two more weeks. It’ll be okay. I think I’m fine now. Until the last orchestra concert. This is the last time I’ll drive to the auditorium. Rules required tickets, but all available spaces “sold out.” I prepared myself, but forgot to bring tissue. A mask makes a good alternative.

I decide not to take video of this last performance. It’s getting recorded. I relax and enjoy the concert. Then my kid takes the stage and they play a piece he composed. And I cry, swallowing the little noises that come with overwhelming moments of life. This is what it’s like to birth a teen into adulthood.

The Beginning of the End

Of Another Year

I sent S. back to school in January
the same day I ordered E's cap and gown
for high school graduation
The beginning of the end 
to the first year of middle school
the beginning of the end 
to the last year of high school

E's spring orchestra concert
that was cancelled twice
once for COVID
once for an ice storm
Is that the last time we'll watch him perform?

End of the year contemplation starts in April
not December
Calendars don't go in order around here
The beginning of the end of another school year
Did I do everything that needed to be done?
Is there anything I'm still missing?

Releasing E into the world, even though
he'll still be home for a while
the distance he's created to hang out
with friends one last time brings
the beginning of the end to his dependence
on us

S. turns 12 in June
The beginning of the end of 'tweenhood
We baked a cake on Sunday
at her request for us to spend time together
She cut the last slice in half for us to share
The beginning of endings continue


SOLSC Day 30

9 Weeks, 2 Days

SOLSC Day 22

My oldest graduates high school on May 26th. His high school hosted a drive through Countdown to Graduation this evening. With everything being cancelled this year, parents are working on ways to creatively celebrate a full pandemic senior year. I held my composure and didn’t say much. The first stop along the route in front of the school was a senior yard sign. Then a goodie bag. Followed by a senior t-shirt, topped with a cupcake. It didn’t hit me until today. I’m mourning the busy-ness and frenetic planning of a Mom of a Senior while he mourns the “loss” of a typical senior year. I know we’re not alone and there are others going through so much worse, but it still stings.

“Not too bad. As long as there’s food, it’s worth it.” He chomps the cupcake in two bites.

Spring Outbreak 2020

I’m billing Dad for my room.

Day 1 of Spring Outbreak 2020 and The Hubster worked from home. He evicted Sophia from her bedroom, which she rarely uses other than for throwing her clean laundry on the floor and housing her private library of books, stuffed animals, and abandoned craft projects.

“Why can’t you use Ethan’s room?” she retorts.

“Ethan’s room is a hoarder’s room; there’s no space!” True. LEGO are strewn all over the place, pieces in all phases of LEGO project life: spares, in progress, and completed builds. His book cases are full of books, LEGO, empty QT cups, towers of empty cereal bowls he eats from at midnight, and yes, laundry on the floor. But it’s dirty. His three roommates consist of a keyboard, a cello, and a guitar, leaving little room for visitors. Not that we want to visit.

I’ll visit Ethan’s LEGO room any day!

We don’t have a desk in our bedroom. We bought our home without a dining room, spare bedroom, or home office. Out Sophia went.

Boredom begets creativity. I have plenty to keep me busy. Sophia on the other hand, after watching too much Disney Plus, charged her dad for use of her bedroom.

We’re tight on space to offer Sophia Suites to non-family members, but for those of you having to work from home, maybe a trip to the QT for a cherry lime Freezoni is enough compensation for kids you may have to evict from their, ahem-your, spaces. I’m ready to try it as a beverage mixer.