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!

Summer Camp

Tuesday, June15, 2021

The closest thing to summer camp I ever experienced was in the backyard, curled up-fetal position-in an aluminum arm chair screaming my head off when those horrid June bugs whirred around me and crashed into my arm or leg or forehead. It’s always the forehead because everything in the universe has a special attraction to it. My uncle bought sparklers a week before 4th of July and he’d light them for us. I was afraid of those too. I’m no dummy, I didn’t want to catch myself on fire. Lights, bugs, and fire weren’t my favorite things.

I did want to go to summer camp, though. It looked fun from the comfort of our couch on a hot summer day, flickering on the other side of the TV screen. Pile up in a bus with friends, lug around a ton of luggage (don’t forget the swimsuit), and wave the parents goodbye for a week or two of bunkmates in a rustic cabin with plenty of outdoor activities. Of course, they never show the mosquitos, and you can’t smell the bug spray. It looked fun though.

My sister and I had healthy imaginations and a knack for re-creating and staging things we missed out on. Especially during summer breaks. Long summer days at Nana and Papa’s were the norm while my parents worked. Occasionally, my dad “watched” us while Mom worked twelve hour shifts sewing the pockets onto Levi’s jeans or inspecting the denim to make them. I don’t recall where Mom worked that summer, but we did experience our own little camp. Once. Under the bed.

I took my first-born role seriously and coordinated a real camp-out complete with a campfire. One of my cousins was with us that day, so the three of us grabbed a flashlight, matches, and my mom’s votive candles. Mom’s bed was high off the floor so we easily fit underneath. The bedspread hung down low enough to conceal us. We had the perfect tent. On our tummies, we prepared our camp to tell ghost stories.

I arranged the candles in the middle and lit them. We sang goofy songs and started telling ghost stories, made up on the fly. The candles flickered and went out. Strike, no light. Strike, no light. Strike, no light. We used all the matches to no avail. Without a campfire, we can’t tell good ghost stories. I remembered watching my mom when she cooked and a burner didn’t cooperate. She’d rip up a brown paper grocery bag, twist a strip, and light it with another burner. Then she’d turn the faulty burner back on, the gas flow would pick it up and voilà, it’s on.

Aha, I can do that! We wriggled out from underneath the bed and I retrieved a paper bag. Mimicking the procedure, I handed my sister hold the lit up “match stick” and bring it into the bedroom while I scrambled for a candle. The flame quickly made its way down and before we could light the candle, it found her finger instead. “Oww!” She didn’t quite know what to do as the flame grew and there was no time for the candle. I grabbed her arm and led her to the kitchen sink. “Throw it in!” I ran the cold water, doused the flame and put her finger under it. I went to the fridge and took out the tub of margarine and doctored the burn slathering some onto her finger, another kitchen observation.

I returned to the sink to make sure the flame was completely out. There wasn’t much left of the singed paper bag strip. I was relieved the flame didn’t get worse. It didn’t occur to me that we shouldn’t light candles under the bed either, but hey, we wanted to go camping. We crawled under the bed to try again, but it wasn’t the same. Camping mood extinguished, we didn’t continue with the ghost stories either. Putting the candles back, we left no evidence of our outdoor adventure. Dad didn’t suspect a thing.

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

Truth or Dare Family Style

SOLSC Day 27

“Let’s play Truth or Dare!”

“We’re about to eat dinner.”

“So?” Of course, it’s so because she’s eleven and we’re constantly cat-fighting like good mothers and daughters do when they’re both raging with hormones.

“Okay, I’ll play.”

“Truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Tell the truth. Would you ever choose a dare?”

With an eye roll she couldn’t see, “Well, maybe. I’m not the adventurous type. But I’m also here at home, playing with you so it depends on who’s playing. And I’m not in middle school either so it’s not going to feel the same.”

“Truth or dare?”

“Dare.”

“I dare you to give Dad a hug.”

“A hug? That’s the dare? You want me to give Dad a hug?”

“You chose the dare so now you have to do it!”

I walk over to my husband who is assembling his chalupa and give him a side hug. One of those we’ve been married for years let’s not drop our dinner plates hugs.

“There, done. Why did you choose that? It’s not a very daring dare.”

“I don’t see you hug each other. I just want to make sure.”

‘Tween Momming from the Car

SOLSC Day 16

The place is a “bakery boutique.” I look for the address then poke around their online space. Macarons. I’ve never had one. Maybe I’ll eat one today. Frozen coffee drinks. Boba tea. Smoothies. Fancy cakes for special occasions we aren’t celebrating any time soon. I peruse the menu before we leave to prepare S. with options for today’s, what do you even call it? ‘Tween date? Hangout? Meeting with a friend? I don’t dare call it a playdate because that’s for little kids. Eleven is way too old for a play date.

We arrive and walk toward the bakery, her friend waiting near an outdoor table. Ready to enter and pay for her order, S’s friend interrupts, her giddy personality bubbling from her grin. “You made it! My mom gave me money for us to have treats. She’s in the car.” Okay. I thank her and S. bounces a little, trying to contain her excitement. They walk in. I return to the car.

There’s a liquor store on one side of the parking lot. Should I take a look? I decide against it in case S. returns for more money or something else. I don’t dare go back to casually say she can find me in the liquor store. I don’t want to make an irresponsible adult impression. I also don’t want to embarrass S. Those reprimands are never fun.

My Chiquita Bonita Banana de Mamí, Missy Lou, Fia Mia, Noodle, Oosey-Goosey child is growing up. I’m lucky if she lets me call her any of those names now, outgrown almost as soon as she kicked her feet free out of that infant swaddle. It seems that her feet have always been ahead of her. I snap a picture. Seriously? I’m snapping a picture of my kid hanging out with her new bff.

I roll down the windows and sit in the car, the steering wheel a makeshift desk for my journal. I need a mom-ervention, a sister-vention. I switch between journaling and pinging text messages to my sisters, each one interrupting the other conversation. I send the picture.





Awww...
It gets worse Cat.
Those boba teas are 👎🏼




Sorry to say, it does get worse!  I would've gotten a slushie instead.
I feel like the paparazzi.  S. got invited to hang out with a friend at a little bakery boba tea place.  My pingüilla is a middle schooler who doesn't want to hang out with me.  😩😩😩




She probably hates it lol! 😂  I'm not sure what she ordered.



She's been glued to my side through about the end of fourth grade.  She still falls asleep in my bed.  E is always in his room.  They come around when it's convenient.  Like when they need food or a ride to a boba tea place.

I write a little. Ping a little. Watch a little. It rained earlier. The tables and chairs are still wet. Bff takes off a black hoodie and wipes down the table and chairs. They sip. Laugh. S. waves to see if I’m watching. I am. I wave back. Shrugs her shoulders. Back to the bff. Takes a sip. I don’t think she liked the drink she ordered. They both keep shaking their hands free from what seems to be condensation transferred from their drink cups. Neither one goes back in to ask for napkins. As much as I want to, I don’t swoop in to suggest it either.

Bff’s mom strides toward them. They all go inside. Ah, looks like that mom is swooping in to ask for napkins. Nope. Bff’s mom walks out with a drink. S and bff return to the table. Looks like more giggles and a few minutes later, they both rise and part ways.

S. returns to the car. “I got a macaron! Here, have some.” I take the piece she offers. Delicious.

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.