Big Mama Blog

For lack of originality, this was our Memorial Day weekend

So I took Memorial Day off.

But I kind of figured y’all knew that I would because I rarely post on holidays since I try to follow the same schedule as corporate America. I realize it’s been over three years since I worked for corporate America, but I always enjoyed the holidays and vacation so I’ll keep that part.

We have had some kind of busy holiday weekend around here. It was filled with friends and sun and fun and crawfish and sunscreen and felt like the absolute perfect kickoff to summer. Except that Caroline has to go back to school tomorrow.

Dear Texas Legislature,

The answer to this whole education budget crisis might be found if you didn’t insist on making kids go back to school for three days after Memorial Day in what is sure to be nothing more than taxpayer-funded babysitting. My best guess is you could save at least half a kajillion dollars in air-conditioning costs alone. Not to mention the fuel it costs to run the buses.

Sincerely,
Bitter in San Antonio

My plan was to start our holiday weekend with some big fun at the pool. I called Gulley and asked if I could pick up Jackson (Will was sick) and take he and Caroline to the pool on Friday evening. I had big plans of letting the kids swim until they burned all their energy and feeding them some stellar pool snack bar nachos for dinner. So you can imagine the disappointment when we showed up at the pool all sunscreened up and ready for BIG POOL FUN only to discover that the pool isn’t open on Friday nights yet. It was a crushing blow.

There was a lot of whining until the kids finally told me to be quiet and suggested we call Mimi and Bops to see if we could swim in their pool. In the end it all worked out, except there are no pool snack bar nachos at Mimi and Bops’s house but pool beggars can’t be choosers.

On Saturday morning we drove out to the lake to spend the day with some friends. It was around 165 degrees outside so it took us all of four seconds to jump in the water. I spent most of my time in the lake on some sort of float because it is my greatest fear in life to actually touch the bottom of any type of lake with my feet. And I just have to live in denial that the water is also home to a vast amount of fish. Let’s not even speak of the turtles.

Eventually we headed out in the boat to tube. P and Caroline went first.

And I thought it looked like a lot of fun so I decided to go next.

Which explains why I woke up Sunday morning feeling certain I’d been run over by a truck while I slept. My Pa-Pa always said, “It’s hell to get old” and Sunday morning confirmed that he wasn’t lying. My forearms are starting to cramp up even now as I type this out.

After all the tubing “fun” and my possible concussion, we all sat down and ate more crawfish than should probably be allowed in one sitting. There is nothing that feels more like summer than a day at the lake and a crawfish boil.

Sunday morning we went to church and then went to the pool later that afternoon for more sun and swimming. Our pool grill is under new management and the special of the day was ceviche. Which sounded so good except for the part about it being at the pool. I just have a lot of concerns and questions about the origins of the fish and freshness. Food poisoning is way down on my list of things I’d like to experience. Right after going on a paddle boat ride.

I asked one of our friends if he’d be willing to order the ceviche and call me at noon on Monday to tell me how it was, but he declined. I can’t imagine why.

Caroline’s friend, Ella, ended up spending the night with us and then we all got up on Monday, hung out in our pajamas for a while and went to the pool again.

And that pretty much sums up our Memorial Day weekend.

In fact, I might just set this post to repeat about once a week for the entire summer because, in case you’re new around here, that’s what our summers look like. We wake up and go to the pool. Except for the days when we go to the pool. And then there are the days when we go to the pool.

And now I’m off to get some sleep before I have to get up and pack the first of three more school lunches.

That just ain’t right.

__________________________________________

Compassion has taken another group of bloggers on a trip. They are currently in the Phillippines and I have already cried twice reading their posts. Make sure you read Shaun’s post, What Exactly is Compassion International?, if you want to know more about Compassion and how they help children all over the world. I also loved this post by Emily and this post by Kat.

Also, don’t forget to check out my latest post for the Real Women of Philadelphia Community. There are some great recipes to be found.

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Fashion Friday: Edition may the stripes be with you

Caroline and I went to Target yesterday for several reasons, but while we were there I decided she needed a least one more swimsuit for the summer and then she found a maxi dress on sale that she felt like she must have in order for her life to be complete. And I totally understand that. Plus, it was only $7.00 which is 50% of my normal $15.00 price point.

(I realize it’s not exactly half, but close enough. Work with me.)

So we were headed back to the dressing room when she saw one more dress that she wanted to try on. A dress that I did not like AT ALL. A dress that I could tell was made of cheap material and wouldn’t fit well. But I told her she could try it on because, let’s be honest, there are some battles you don’t feel like fighting in Target at 4:15 in the afternoon.

Once we got in the dressing room she tried on the 184 swimsuits she’d picked out until we found one that we both agreed on and then she tried on the first dress. It really was cute and I felt good about it because did I mention it was only $7.00? And she is ALL ABOUT the maxi dress this year which kind of cracks me up but that fashionable apple did not fall far from the tree.

But then she tried on the other dress, looked in the mirror and said, “OH, NO WAY!” I acted surprised and asked, “What’s the problem?” She replied, “This material is CHEAP and I don’t like the way it fits AT ALL.”

And in that moment I felt a little bit like Obi Wan Kenobi as he realizes that he has taught young Luke Skywalker well. Well done, young Jedi, well done.

Also, we have watched a lot of Star Wars at our house in the last three weeks.

So here are a few things that hopefully aren’t made from cheap material and will look good on you. I have no explanation for why so many of them have stripes. I guess I was in a striped frame of mind.

1. dolce vida dress in kaleidoscope

This is awfully pretty and bright. Love all the colors.

2. cable car tour dress

Back in the days when I worked for corporate America schlepping drug samples in and out of doctor’s offices in the blazing heat, this would have been the perfect addition to my business wardrobe. It looks professional and pulled together, but it’s sleeveless and seems like it would be fairly cool.

As in temperature. But maybe like the Fonz cool too.

Plus when the weather turns cooler it would be perfect with a sweater or jacket over it.

3. franco sarto carnival wedges

Nordstrom is in the midst of their semi-annual sale right now which means these shoes are a pretty good deal. I bought a pair of Franco Sarto wedges at the beginning of Spring and they are so comfortable. I’m assuming these would be too.

Not to mention they’re really cute and come in great colors.

4. sanctuary caravan shorts

Someone emailed me this week and mentioned she was struggling to find a good pair of shorts. Which is so funny because I’m struggling to find a good pair of legs to wear with my shorts.

Speaking of, did anyone else notice Carrie Underwood’s legs during the American Idol finale? Sweet mercy. It made me want to do 1,000 lunges a day to make my legs look like that. But then I went to bed and the feeling went away.

Truthfully, shorts are hard to find and I think they’re a very personal decision. But I bought these sanctuary peace shorts a few weeks ago and really like them. I also have an old pair of shorts similar to these denim bermudas that I’ll still wear every now and then.

But what I wear the most are my Nike running shorts. They are cool and comfortable and come in handy if I feel inspired to do a lunge or six.

5. 7 for all mankind bootcut jeans

I know. I know. I won’t let the jeans thing go. But it’s all out of love. OF LOVE.

I believe a great pair of jeans can change your life. Or at least your closet.

And I LONG RESISTED spending a lot of money on jeans. I thought it was ludicrous. But then I gave in and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I still wear the first pair of expensive jeans I ever bought and they’re almost six years old. Which, if you average the cost out over the number of times I’ve worn them, they now make me money.

Anyway, Nordstrom has a lot of jeans on sale right now so it’s a great time to get a nice pair of jeans for much less than they normally cost.

The end.

6. linen blend tunics

I liked this tunic the first time I saw it. But I liked it even better when I found it on the sale rack at Old Navy last week for EIGHT DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS.

7. striped dolman sleeve tee

Like this striped top because the stripes aren’t straight across. Makes it more flattering.

8. emcee tee

This is so pretty and different. Love the detail on the sleeves.

9. alfresco tunic

This is another top that I loved at first sight. And now it’s on sale.

10. big buddha chloe

Apparently some part of me is really wanting an aztec-striped handbag because I am drawn to them. I love the colors in this one by Big Buddha.

But for something different, I also think this Big Buddha fiesta bag has the potential to be cute. Although I haven’t seen it in person.

That’s it for today.

Y’all have a lovely Memorial Day Weekend.

Of course it would be a lot better if we didn’t have to go back to school next Tuesday. Ridiculous.

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I’m not an official San Antonio tour guide, I just play one on the blog

So today’s post is going to be a little different from what I normally write. Which means there may actually be some useful information to be found.

For the last four or so years, the most common question I get via email is something along the lines of “My family and I are planning to visit San Antonio. Where should we go? What should we do?”

And I try to think of the things we enjoy doing but then decide it might be awkward to invite total strangers to come sit on our couch and eat takeout Mexican food while we watch Friday Night Lights together.

Thus, I’ve always thought it would be such a good idea to write an entire post about things to do and places to eat in San Antonio. A sort of informal, possibly uninformed, tour guide if you will. Then I’d forget all about it and just sit on the couch and drink my large drink from Sonic instead. Until the next time I’d get a similar email and start the entire process all over again.

But all that has changed. IT HAS CHANGED. Because today’s post is my official guide to vacationing in San Antonio. And, OH THE PRESSURE, because I’m sure I’ve left out some fun things and great restaurants in my very limited scope of all there is to do in this city.

So, to my San Antonio peeps, feel free to add your suggestions and/or thoughts in the comments. Then we will have one handy and, lo, even dandy guide to the city that I can refer to whenever someone asks me what they should do when they visit and I stare at the computer blankly until I finally email back, “Have you been to the Alamo?”

Let’s start with restaurants. There are a million of them in the city, but these are some of my personal favorites. Yes, most of them are Mexican food.

1. Rosarios

Great food and fun atmosphere. Love their guacamole.

2. Soluna

You can’t go wrong. And they have a great patio when the weather isn’t 115 degrees.

3. Paloma Blanca

Ditto on the patio. I LOVE their fish tacos.

4. Acenar

This is a fun place because it’s on the Riverwalk. And, apparently, people enjoy the Riverwalk.

5. Patty’s Taco House

Patty’s doesn’t have a website. And it’s only open for breakfast and lunch. And it is some of the best Mexican food you will ever eat. If you can find it. It’s on Hackberry Street past downtown. Make sure you order the cheese enchiladas.

6. Mi Tierra

Total tourist spot, but tortillas to die for. It’s located in the Market Square so it’s a perfect place to stop and eat while you shop.

7. Boudro’s

This isn’t a Mexican food place. Surprise! It’s on the Riverwalk and everything is delicious. Make sure you order the tableside guacamole because it will change your life. You’ll never look at avocados the same way again.

8. Barbecue Station

My second favorite food group is barbecue. And I think this is the best barbecue in San Antonio. The creamed corn will make you cry.

9. Chris Madrid’s

I mentioned this yesterday. Order the tostada burger. And be prepared that you will never again be satisfied with a normal cheeseburger.

10. El Mirador

I haven’t been in forever, but when I used to work downtown I’d eat lunch there about three times a week. They have these puffy tacos with shredded cabbage on top that make me want to drive there right now and eat six of them.

11. The Pearl Brewery

The Pearl Brewery is located close to downtown and has become a great spot in the last few years. There’s a Farmer’s Market every Saturday and some of the best restaurants in the city. Specifically, Il Sogno for Italian and The Sandbar for seafood.

So now let’s talk shopping.

If you have time to shop, then you have a few downtown options. Rivercenter Mall is located right on the River Walk and has just about every store you can imagine.

For a fun, unique San Antonio experience, I would head to Market Square. It’s basically like being in Mexico but without anyone carrying around a whole pig’s head in a clear plastic bag. (That scenario is based on a true story) El Mercado has restaurants, shops, and tons of local flavor.

And if you decide to venture outside of downtown, then I would suggest The Shops at La Cantera for some serious shopping including Neimans and Nordstrom or The Outlet Malls in San Marcos where you can find just about every outlet store you could ever imagine. It’s overwhelming.

As for family-friendly activities, here’s the list:

1. SeaWorld

Shamu. What else do you need to know?

2. San Antonio Zoo

I don’t really care for a zoo. But you might.

3. Fiesta Texas

Rollercoasters.

4. Schlitterbahn Water Park

Voted one of the best waterparks in the world. I have the best memories of going there with my dad when I was little. He’d wear sweatbands around his elbows to prevent innertube burn. Good times.

5. Natural Bridge Caverns

We took Caroline there last summer and I’d forgotten how cool it is. Stalagtites and mites and all that stuff.

And then there are all the other things:

You can take a Riverboat cruise down the Riverwalk. It’s a tourist thing, but people seem to enjoy it.

Also, little known fact, San Antonio is home to a little piece of history called The Alamo. And, in all honesty, if you haven’t ever seen it, then you’re missing out. Of course if you’re from Wisconsin it may not mean as much to you as it does to those of us that are proud Texans.

And if you enjoy history and missions and that sort of thing, you can visit the San Antonio Missions. Not to be confused with the minor league baseball team of the same name. Although you could go see them too. But you might be disappointed if you’re looking for old churches.

Another option is La Villita. It’s located downtown and is a historical art village filled with shops and a few restaurants.

Or you could tour the King William District and see some really beautiful historic homes.

And then there are the hotels. You can stay on the Riverwalk. Or you can stay out by Sea World. Or you can stay out by La Cantera. There are approximately six quadrillion hotels in the city and I’ve hardly stayed in any of them because I live here. And I like to sleep in my own bed. But here are three really great resorts that take the whole hotel thing up a notch. Or eight.

1. JW Marriott

2. Westin La Cantera

3. Hyatt Hill Country Resort

If you get tired of being in San Antonio and want to explore, there are so many great small towns close by that you can visit for the day. My favorites are:

1. Boerne (pronounced like Bernie, as in Weekend At)

If you head out that way make sure you stop at Fiddlin’ Frogs
which is one of my new favorite stores ever.

2. Gruene (pronounced like Green, as in Acres)

Eat a chicken fried steak at the Gristmill and visit the oldest dancehall in Texas.

3. Fredericksburg

I adore this little town. Great antique stores.

4. Comfort

And how can you not enjoy a place called Comfort, Texas?

So there you have it. A completely non-comprehensive guide to San Antonio and all it has to offer. But maybe it will help you. Or maybe you’re never planning to visit San Antonio and that’s okay too.

And if I’ve left off anything that might be essential and/or life-changing, please let me know. Then I can kick myself for not being thorough.

_______________________________________

Click on over to read all about the Real Women Philadelphia Community.

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This only adds to my issues with chicken

I feel like I’ve hardly even talked about what we’ve been up to around here lately. I mean other than making habitats out of Cool Whip containers for doodlebugs and then leaving them there to die like some type of roly poly genocide.

(Speaking of, y’all were a wealth of bug information yesterday. And, yes, doodlebugs and roly polys are all the same to us, but I was struggling with the proper spelling of roly poly and so I went with doodlebug.)

(I had no idea it wasn’t a universal term.)

But given the fact that I wrote an entire post about finding doodlebugs, it’s probably safe to assume that not much has been going on here these days.

Last Friday was Field Day at Caroline’s school. Otherwise known as another way to fill the time during these last meaningless days of school that the legislature forces on everyone. So I went up to the school to watch all the Field Day activities and sweat my body weight in 142% humidity.

Fortunately, there were plenty of water-based activities to keep the kids cool.

Even though there were some geniuses who advised the kids they shouldn’t get too wet.

Yes. Because it’s perfectly reasonable to hand seven year olds buckets of water and water guns and ask them not to get wet.

But since I know my seven year old well enough to know that asking her not to get wet in the vicinity of water is like asking Justin Timberlake to not be awesome, I sent her with a dry change of clothes. And a towel.

There were all kinds of different games, races, and that type of thing, but my particular favorite was the Rubber Chicken throw. This involves a net and a variety of rubber chickens being hurled back and forth over it.

This is Caroline demonstrating perfect rubber chicken throwing technique.

That picture was taken right before I was hit in the head by a flying rubber chicken. The combination of the rubber material combined with the velocity of said chicken packed quite a punch. So I spent the rest of the day explaining that I had a headache because I got hit in the head by a chicken.

And, no, I didn’t explain that it was a rubber chicken because I wanted the whole thing to have an air of mystery.

After it was all said and done, Caroline was wiped out.

Or maybe she just had the eye of the tiger. I don’t know.

Then Friday night we picked up Chris Madrid’s tostada burgers (Chris Madrid’s is the best burger place in San Antonio. He’s not like our neighbor or something. Just wanted to clarify.) and watched Prince Caspian in our effort to embrace all things Narnia.

And then Saturday night we grilled fajitas and watched Voyage of The Dawn Treader.

C.S. Lewis would be so proud.

Then Sunday we all read aloud from Mere Christianity.

Not really. On Sunday I was busy having one of my worst parenting days ever. I can’t talk about it right now because it’s still not funny, but let’s just say we had our own d-list version of a four part Greek tragedy. Honestly it was more about me getting my feelings hurt than anything else. We got the whole thing resolved and issued tearful apologies all around and went to go see the movie Rio. Because nothing makes you feel better after a bad day of parenting than to go see some lame movie about two almost extinct blue macaws in Brazil.

Then we went to Gap to take back a pair of jeans I’d bought for Caroline.

(This is riveting. We ate fajitas! We ate hamburgers! We watched movies and returned a pair of jeans!)

Monday we rolled of bed and geared up for the last full week of school. And by geared up I mean that we screeched out of the driveway on two wheels to make it there on time. Barely.

I’ve spent the last few days running all the errands and doing all the things I planned to do all year long while Caroline was in school. But since I felt there was no challenge in spreading those things out over 180 days, I decided to try to get them all done in one week while running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

Or is a rubber chicken with my head cut off?

I’ll never tell.

I like to keep the air of mystery.

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A doodle with the doodles

Before I say anything else, I just want to say that my heart breaks for the people of Joplin, Missouri. After seeing the pictures of all the devastation, I just have no words. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Yesterday after Caroline got home from school (only seven days left, hallelujah and amen) she decided that she needed to find some doodlebugs. She’d spent most of the weekend making various bug habitats for all manner of ladybugs, junebugs and snails so that she could hold them captive until she loved them to death. But for some reason the doodlebugs had been spared.

Until yesterday.

She grabbed her super-classy container/very scientific bug habitat and began the search for the doodlebugs.

Our bugs live large around here.

Please notice that her hair is soaking wet. And so is the rest of her. I forgot to add “don’t get yourself wet” after she offered to water my flowers for me.

Also, we are struggling with the whole growing out the bangs process. And by struggling I mean that she is totally content to walk around like a sheepdog and give me an annoyed look any time I brush her bangs out of her eyes.

She was working diligently to teach her new “pets” how to speak English. Apparently she taught a few junebugs how to speak English over the weekend and believes that doodlebugs should be equally able to master the human language.

I questioned her about this but she maintains that one of her junebugs was able to answer yes or no questions by nodding its head.

This may explain its early demise because, last I checked, I don’t think insects can actually nod their head for fear of their heads becoming detached from their thorax.

Yes, I just used the term “thorax”. I cannot guarantee that I used it correctly.

Before I knew what happened, she conned me into finding the doodlebugs for her while maintained her existing “herd”. Yes, she told me she had a herd of doodlebugs.

And that explains how I ended up digging through the grass yesterday afternoon while she sat on the porch holding a Cool Whip container and naming her doodlebug minions.

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