I just received a letter from my college, asking me to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society!
I am in tears. I am so very happy about this.
It has not been easy, but it has been worth everything.
Now back to the grind.
Several of my Facebook friends have been doing the whole things they’re thankful for throughout the month thing. I usually do this as well, but I figured I’d do all 30 days here, in no particular order, in one fell swoop. Tell me, what are you thankful for?
I know, I’ve been away for quite a bit, but I can explain.
You all know that I’m a single mom to three amazing boys. You all know I work an 8-5 full time job. You all don’t know that I recently returned to college. And like anything I do, I returned with a vengeance. Enough so that I’m now a Crimson Scholar. Basically, I’m an Honors college student. I’ve been aiming for that for I don’t know how long.
While doing all of the above, life happened. No, no boyfriends. No parties. Nothing fun like that. Instead, I almost lost my dad to another heart attack (he’s hanging tough, but he’s not out of the woods) and I had some oral surgery done.
Plus, my autistic 5 year old started regular kindergarten, and he has an insane amount of homework each night. Yes. You read that right. My kindergartener has homework. Every. Night. My 7th grader with honors classes doesn’t ever have homework, but yeah, my 5 year old has almost as much homework as I do. And throw in the autism, and you may get an idea of just how overwhelming, stressful and tear inducing my nights have become. But we push through.
I am working on time management, I just don’t have a lot left to manage lately. But I will be back. In the meantime, enjoy some random photos I took when we all went on vacation.
The day we headed back home started with the loading of the car and heading to breakfast at a place we can’t eat at regularly. This place was mainly for me, but we all loved it.
Mad Hatter’s Tea House and Cafe was awesome. Fantastic options, many of which were healthy choices, plus you pick your own tea cup when you order a pot of tea.
The decor was right up my alley. My favorite book since childhood has been Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and to start the end of our trip at a place based around this book was perfect for me.
After a lovely breakfast we filled up the gas tank and started the 10 hour drive home. We made a lot of bathroom stops for my middle son, and found some interesting places along the way. There were no check-in times to worry about, no schedule to keep, so the stress of “go-go-go” was a non-issue.
At one of the stops, my mom, the middle, and the oldest went on a potty break, and the youngest and I walked around to get the blood flowing into our legs. There were hundreds of yellow butterflies flitting about, and his squee’s of joy echoed back to us. The beauty of the butterflies and his delight in them made my heart smile.
We had a plan to take the boys to a lake my dad used to go to as a boy, so we could give them a piece of his history, and show him photos of the boys enjoying a place he once played at. The rules have changed in the decades between his time there, and ours. So the boys didn’t get to play in the lake. But they did fly a kite and we had a picnic in the shade.
Mom and I knew the next leg of the trip was going to be quite barren, so we hoped the lunch break and play time would help wear them out enough for a nap. It didn’t quite work out this way, but there were a few moments of peace.
I had planned the money out perfectly, as the last gas tank refill was the last of every dime I had saved and pinched and budgeted for the trip, and it was the last fill we needed to get home.
We hit the border patrol a little way from town just as the sun was setting, and pulled into the driveway just as the sky grew black. The cat was ecstatic to see us, and the boys kept her busy while mom and I unloaded the car, got our things separated, unloaded the ice chest, and put some things away.
The boys got ready for bed, and we all called it an early night.
Our first family vacation. It was perfect, even with heartbreak and surprises thrown into the mix. I wouldn’t change a moment of it.
We woke a bit later than we did on those days along the beach. We dressed and headed to the hotel dining room for self-made waffles and the adults drank their fill of coffee. Then we went back to our room, gathered our things for the day, and called for another cab. Today our agenda was full.
We arrived at the Alamo, before the heat and humidity had really made its mark. We chose the self guided route, as it’s just easier with the kiddos.
We found a place that looked like it could have been a temple from Indiana Jones.
We marveled at all of the trees and greenery that surrounded us.
We walked through the crowded buildings and looked at artifacts from a time that feels much further removed than it actually is. We sat on benches and watched the squirrels scurry about. We checked out the cannons and wishing well, and bought souvenirs.
I tried to take a picture of the kids in front of the Alamo for my dad, but the youngest two just weren’t having it.
After this we headed for the part of the trip that was all for the kids. The Children’s Museum.
We have nothing remotely like this where we live. And I only learned about it when I was researching and planning for the trip. I am so glad I discovered this gem.Mom mom and I switched out kids several times, and granted each other breaks, in the few hours we spent here.The children LOVED it. They drew, they “shopped”, they built things, destroyed things, played instruments, and used their imaginations in a way that everyday life doesn’t quite allow.
After that amazing adventure we had one more treat planned for them, on this, our last outing before the long trip home the next day. They got to ride a riverboat.
Our tour guide was amazing, funny, and helped bring a genuine smile to my face and eased the cracks of my recently shattered heart.
He told us bits of history both old and fairly recent, he pointed out amazing architecture, and he was hilarious.
He chose me for a few of his stories (I was the gorgeous woman who killed a shark the week previously, and hung it on chains in front of a shop. I also tend all of the plants along the Riverwalk.) He made the other riders applaud these “skills”. Twice.
After the ride he stopped me and told me how beautiful I am. And that I have a great smile. He really did brighten my day. (Thank you, again.)
After this, we called another taxi and headed back to the hotel for lunch and naps. Once everyone was awake, we all headed to the pool for one last swim and had a blast. These were not the same boys that had cried about being taken into the water, clinging for dear life to me with every fiber of their being, just days before. They jumped to me before I even had my arms ready, begging to be taken to the deep end, while their older brother played shark attack. They splashed and laughed and were completely carefree. Their laughs echoed around us.
Once we had our fill, and the sun had set, we went back to our room for showers and jammies. Then we had light snacks and cuddled up in the beds, watching tv. Once the youngest two had passed out, the oldest and I found the leftover crab meat and took it downstairs. We had learned the day before that a gorgeous cat had been left behind by a previous person passing through the hotel. This poor abandoned soul deserved a feast of leftover crab.
Having eased the night for this furry friend, we headed back to our room and went to bed.
We woke in the morning and prepared for the drive to San Antonio. Coffee for the adults, strawberry milk and breakfast for the kids. There was some drama with getting our stuff from the condo to the car, as the apartment complex was repainting the outdoor floors on the level we were on. But the painting crew was fantastic and helped me get it all down a flight of stairs and to the car, while my mom stayed in the room with the kids.
After loading up all of the things, doing one last check of the condo for anything left behind, and getting everyone into the car, we headed to the front office and turned in our key cards. Then we drove to the break to grab lots of seashells for memory jars and jewelry. I said my goodbyes to the ocean, and thanked it for the memories and healing. After this small adventure, I demanded Starbucks and fulfilled my caffeine needs, and we headed to our next destination.
I had been to San Antonio in what feels like a past life, and I had loved what I had seen there 16 years before. I wanted time to explore it and share it with my kids. Back when I was 18 and there, my then husband and I flew in, found our hotel, walked the Riverwalk for a few hours, ate, and went to bed. We had an early morning flight the next day, and so we didn’t have a lot of time to do much. I wanted to see and do more this time. I wanted to create a new memory of this place.
Driving into this city named after a saint was much different. I’ve driven to a lot of places in my time. I’ve dealt with traffic that was horrid, ice that probably should not have been driven on, in fog that covered the front end of the car, rain and lightening that would have terrified children if not most adults, on roads where animals play a deadly game of chicken with cars, highways that are filled with endless butterfly slaughter, and even in other countries where traffic laws are confusing and scary. I had never seen a hurricane escape lane before. That was new.
I had chosen a hotel that was cheap but close to the Riverwalk, as I knew that I everything I wanted to see and do this time was within that general area. We pulled into our hotel, got our room, unloaded and made lunch. We used the leftovers from the fish and made some very tasty fish tacos. After cleaning up, we had the desk call us a taxi, and we headed for the Riverwalk.
We did a lot of walking. It was humid. It was hot. I was fairly certain one of us would pass out from it eventually. But we hung in there. We had snacks and drinks at Dick’s Last Resort, where we laughed and mom and I begged the waiter to take the over-stimulated children as payment, but he turned us down. We saw one of my favorite celebrities on a bridge that held a completely different memory for me from years long gone.
There is beauty and life everywhere there. Here is a brief glimpse of it all:
I let the kids pick toys for themselves that were not related to the trip, and we found another taxi and headed back to the hotel. I took the oldest to the pool, and soaked my aching feet while I enjoyed the sounds of slapping water while staring at the stars. Even in a large city, you can find a moment of zen, however brief.
Crawling into bed with my youngest, I fell asleep listening to sirens and traffic instead of ocean waves and wind. I slept like the dead.
Our last morning and afternoon in Corpus Christi was about getting ready to leave the next day, and enjoying the rest of the current one.
When I woke in the morning I called our host and she sent someone out to fix the thermostat. While waiting for him, I made the littles breakfast and enjoyed another morning watching the world become brighter and the waves say good morning from the balcony, while sipping my coffee.
I went down the hall and washed a couple of loads of laundry and when done, we headed down to the pool. The littles had grown more daring over the days spent in the water, and the changes were quite amazing, sometimes scary, but beautiful to behold. They were more confident in themselves, and that’s all that mattered to me. After a bit we all headed out to check out South Padre Island, take my mom to a HEB store, and have another first for the littles, Dairy Queen.
We checked out more of our island paradise and finally headed back for one more evening of beach fun and seashell hunting. If you read the Day 2 blog, you can see the huge milestone that was reached by the littles in just two days of being in and out of water.
My heart could not be more filled with pride.
The oldest was stung by a jellyfish on his neck, and soon after this, we all headed to the hot tub to relax and unwind. We went back to the condo, tucked the littles in bed, packed up more for the trip the following morning, celebrated quietly about all we had managed, and then I prepared myself for one thing I had been looking forward to for me. To mark #99 off of my bucket list.
Considering the man I loved ended our relationship that day via text, and I had hidden it as best I could most of that day so as not to ruin this vacation for my children, I needed this night alone on the beach. To ask for strength, to beg the ocean to take what pain of mine it could, to let the wind rip the sobs away from my mouth, to try to let go of all that I had hidden behind my eyes during the daylight hours. To help heal me.
I stood watching the waves endlessly. Feeling my tears become one with its saltwater friend. I picked up my bottle and heaved it into the night air, unable to make out its landing in the white tops of the waves. I don’t know where it went, I don’t know if it came back to that very shore. But I hope someday, somewhere, someone finds it. And whether they are happy or sad, I hope they find some strength within its glass walls. As I try to find strength within myself to walk on.