Informe de Progresso 2015

We got our summer vacation in early – a weekend in Nueva Progresso, Mexico, where we’ve gone several times before.  Yes, we know about all the travel warnings, but (1) we’ve never had a problem there and (2) we cross early and leave by 4 p.m.  We are not looking for trouble and blessedly, it has not found us.  We had a muy bueno time!
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On the way to Progresso – I think this is the single most (or perhaps doubly most) puzzling/interesting convenience store bathroom I’ve ever visited.  Enter as strangers – leave as the most intimate of friends.

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The girls and I share a Vera Bradley obsession, as proven by our weekender bags.

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The Rio Grande river was “up,” thanks to the recent Texas rains. 

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“Mom’s taken this same picture of us forever.  Just humor her and get it over with.”  True.

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Entering Progresso – The “Arizona Restaurant Bar” always makes me think of my strict teetotaler Aunt Zum, whose given name was Arizona. 

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We saw even more dental office signs than in years past, if that’s possible.  Keith talked to a snow bird whose wife was getting $2,000 worth of dental work done.  It was priced at $20,000 in Michigan.

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We always pick up a few Z-packs as souvenirs.  For the first time – Border agents opened our bags on re-entry to the states.  And somebody behind us set off the radiation detector, so out came an agent with a portable Geiger counter.  Turns out my formerly-broken left wrist is still carrying a bit of x-ray residue.

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“Real” Ray-bans for $5?!  Si!

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Lots of pretty ceramics – wouldn’t this look beautiful in a nursery?

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Glassware styles change frequently in Progresso, but this colored bubble pattern has been out several years.  Every year, I pick up a glass, then put it back.  I would so, so love to have a set of glasses, but have nowhere to put them.  Good thing there are no colored bubble plates, because I’m not sure I could resist.  There is no such thing as too many plates.

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Solid assortment of pewter this year, and no real weirdness – no horse heads, golf clubs or Greek god profiles. 

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An 10-piece $100 pewter wedding gift like nothing you could get in San Antonio for that amount.

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I fell in love with these metallic gift bags.  I stood drooling at them until I thought of two “girl gifts” I knew I’d be buying. 

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One of our favorite stores – the Crystal Shop – will transform any of their rocks or fossils into jewelry or a paperweight. 

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Most of the knock-off purses were “MK” (Michael Kors) this year, plus the eternal Coach.  The girls really aren’t into knock-offs any longer.  They carry more Vera and Mexican craft purses….


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….like this pretty pastel number Hannah snapped up.

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Lois and I decided we must have this small, jewel tone pop-up Day of the Dead decoration.

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Lots more pastels in the decorative crosses.  Loved this one, but couldn’t justify buying.

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Julia and Hannah adore Kinder eggs, and they’re banned here because people don’t have the common sense not to give a toddler candy with a swallow-size toy inside.  Each bought a box of 12, and Julia’s were gone in two days.

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No adult beverages sold during election weekend.  Sigh.  So….

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……that explains our drink choices at our very favorite restaurant – Angel’s.  Every family should have a restaurant that is “theirs.”  For us, it’s Angel’s.  And we don’t have to skimp.  Prices are very reasonable – no shooting dirty looks at the girls if they order soft drinks  instead of water.  And the food – awesome!

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Queso Fundido – One of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Bits of tender steak, peppers, onions and seasonings swimming in a wonderful cheesy broth cooked and served in a heated stone bowl.  Scoop some into a tortilla and go ahhhhhhh.   Super picky Julia discovered she liked it, and even asked for seconds.  That n-e-v-e-r happens. 

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Quite possibly the best tacos I have ever devoured.  Five tacos stuffed with bits of braised beef, avocado and white cheese with onions (grilled and chopped) and cilantro on the side, plus charro beans and Spanish rice – $8.  Hannah got a chicken dish lathered in guacamole that I “helped” her with.

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 Pedicures for everyone – but no polish for Keith.  He’s just not in touch with his feminine side.  Sorry, Caitlyn.  We’ve tried a few different places at $10@, but this place – Erica’s – was $12@, and worth every converted peso.  I kept their card because we want to make sure we come here again.  If I were rich, I’d have a pedicure every week.  A pedicure and a good book is the world’s best therapy.

Now we settle in for the long, hot summer after one really cool trip.

Posted in Away from Home, Family | 2 Comments

Sister’s Day – Part 9

Last weekend, we celebrated our ninth annual “Sister’s Day,” our version of “Gotcha Day” – the anniversary of Julia coming home from Russia.   The Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend may not seem the ideal time to do so, especially since Julia came home in May.  But it was the weekend we could get everyone together and with five jobs and four school schedules – necessary.

Within reason, the girls decide what we’re doing, and they choose a jaunt to Austin.  So many things to do!

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(l-r) Julia in front of Rachel, Lois and Hannah who were (almost) 15, 12 and 10 when Julia (then 6) came home from Russia.  Bluebonnet pictures are required when driving Texas highways in the spring.  I am not a fan of LBJ, but I very much admire Lady Bird’s tireless efforts to beautify highways.  I’d vote for wild flowers over billboards every time.

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Thug life while visiting some of the shops on South Congress.   $30 for a baseball cap?  Mean mom didn’t think so.

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Love this mural on South Congress.  It’s fun just to watch the constant stream of interesting people pose for photos.  Disappointingly, I can’t say much good about the food trucks near South Congress.  The worst was Thai Crepes, where I literally spit my first bite back into the paper tray.  The best was Fry Cactus Navajo Fry Breads, which Keith and I liked well enough, but the girls gave it eight thumbs down.

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No spitting issue at Galaxy Cupcakes, which are the only cupcakes Keith will eat.   Everyone got to pick two.

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Lois’ long-time best friend Jamie attends nearby Southwestern, so she popped into Galaxy for a quick visit.  We met Jamie’s family our first month in San Antonio, when I had swung the girls through Wendy’s for one of our “picnic dinners,” a.k.a., Mom has worked all day, Dad is out of town and we’re eating in the park and throwing all this mess away here. 

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Rachel, Lois and Hannah love Book People, the largest independent book store in Texas.  I could spend days in there.  Everybody got to pick out one book.   Lois – “After The People Lights Have Gone Off,” which I want to read later.  Hannah – The Wizard of Oz – a surprising choice.   Rachel – Room, another I may want to read later.  Me – A Sniper in the Tower, which I am reading now and is excellent.  If we’re friends on Facebook, expect a review soon.  Julia chose not to select a book.  Sigh.  She reads under duress which causes me stress I must confess.

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The girls really wanted to try In-N-Out Burger, so we did.   Very good!  A lot like Five Guys, but way less expensive.  They’ve built one in San Antonio very recently.  Seems like a lot of  little white cups but remember – fries are just a delivery device for ketchup.

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We had to hit the outlet mall in Georgetown.  “Sale” is Hannah’s favorite four-letter word.

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Outlet Mall Babes

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And because the outlet mall didn’t provide enough shopping – the wonder that is Sam Moon.  Omigosh.   The girls had been here before, but I hadn’t.  Sensory overload.  Does it zip, flip or sparkle?  They’ve got it.  That place is insane. 

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Far and away the favorite part of our trip – Puzzle Room Austin.  Kudos to Keith for finding something really fun and different to end our visit.  It’s a major, mentally-taxing hoot!   Our whole family loves puzzles – jigsaw, word games, Sudoku, you name it. So the Puzzle Room…..basically, a team of 10 players (though we had only nine – us, and a family of three plus a no-show) are locked in room and must solve a mystery within an hour to get out.  It’s not for small children, or the disabled – the space is small for 10 ambulatory people to move around in, and kids would not be helpful with clues involving classic comics, Morse code, time sequencing, etc.  Alas, we solved the mystery, but in an hour and 30 seconds.  Thirty miserable seconds too long.  About 30% of the teams successfully complete in an hour.  Wish we’d been among them, but….

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.…they’ll have a new puzzle in a few months, and I’m betting we’re back then. 

This sounds trite, but it really doesn’t seem like nine years since Julia came home.  It’s gone so fast.  It’s hard to recall life before her.  Rachel says that sometimes, she mentally paints Julia into memories from Houston, from which we moved a month before Julia was born.   Next year will be our “Big 10,” and the girls want to do something special.  We’ll see what presents itself.  The older I get, the more I believe that if you leave yourself open to possibilities – good or bad – they’re likely to happen.  I’m glad the original five of us left ourselves open to the possibility of a sixth, because a lot of good has come out of that addition.


Posted in Adoption, Away from Home, Celebrate, Family | 8 Comments

A-Wristed Development

I broke my left wrist November 3 and recently got the waterproof cast off.   I am (blessedly) right-handed, and hey, I could shower – but still not an experience I would recommend.

I discovered that Satan created many of our household items.

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Child-proof pill bottles are impossible to open one-handed.  Keith and the girls were good about opening them for me, but when I was alone one evening with a screaming bone, I admit to clamping this bottle in my mouth to open it.  Note the tooth mark-torn label.  Not my proudest moment.  Still can’t open them.  Doctor said it would be a few months before my hand strength was fully back.

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Zippers?  Straight from the bowels of hell.  Can’t be done, even if your fingers are semi-free.  Hurts too much to pull.  Ditto for back-hooking bras.  Pierced earrings?  Nope.  Rachel got me a small, cheap pair I just left in all the time.  I’ve been wearing pull-on pants to church – the thought of pantyhose makes my eyes cross.  Buttons…hahahahah.

Other toughies:  Pulling the driver’s side door closed.  Hanging or folding anything heavier than a T-shirt.  Cutting meat – really, cutting anything.  Ziplock bags – crazy talk, I know, but you have to hold a Ziplock bag to slide it open.  Opening cans.  Pulling the top off a Chapstick.  Typing.  Emptying the dishwasher one plate at a time.  Putting on a jacket.  Sleeping with my left arm propped up.

Shaving my right armpit was a day of joyous victory.  No photos, though.

I discovered a few helpful things, too.

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Chacos!  When I realized I couldn’t tie shoes (I basically live in New Balance sneakers), Rachel suggested Chacos.  At first I scoffed.  I have lousy arches and was terrified of tripping again and further injuring my wrist.  I need arch support, darn it.  But Rachel insisted, and she was right.  These sports sandals were godsends.  With the toe strap and the slightly built-up arch, my feet were not “wobbly.”  Naturally, a sparkly pedicure or two was required since I couldn’t cut my own nails and my toes were always visible.  Chacos were the only shoes I wore until last week, when cold weather forced me to try tying shoes again.  These will replace Crocs as my go-to summer footwear, I’m sure. 

Other helpful items:  A wonderful husband.  Four daughters completing the Christmas decorating.  A good friend to help with all the preparatory dirt work of Thanksgiving.   A jar opener, assuming the jar was good in my armpit.  Learning to take Ibuprofen before it was needed.  And a Vadilia Chop Wizard.  My brilliant niece Sarah – who cooked most of our Thanksgiving dinner – has had one for years.  And it’s awesome, whether your wrist is broken, whole or somewhere in between.   Absolutely love it.

I’m looking forward to wearing a watch again, plus wearing my new wedding ring.  Keith and I bought new rings for our 25th anniversary in November.  They’re waiting patiently in the closet for the swelling to go down.

Finally – a parting word of advice from Hannah-the-Compassionate:  “Mom, I know it hurts.  So don’t do it again.”

Posted in Family, Serendipity, Tasty Eats | 5 Comments

Birds Up for the Graduate!

In 1992, she walked around the coffee table.

In 1996, she walked into kindergarten.

This weekend, she walked the stage.

Rachel is now a college graduate.

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The Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center hosted the Winter 2014 Commencement ceremonies for the 2014 graduates of the University of Texas at San Antonio.   Birds up (as seen in Rachel’s hand gesture)!  Luckily, our seats were close to students majoring in Education.

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I found myself wishing about 1M times that my mom or Keith’s parents could have attended. 

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It’s a San Antonio thang – mariachis conclude the ceremony.  Loved it!  Of course, I love living here.  And I love having a major university like UTSA nearby.

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Yes, decorated caps are a thing.  Am I the only one who’d never heard of this?  With a hat tip to our family’s tie dye fetish, Rachel created this colorful message. 

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Celebratory lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant, where Rachel presented Keith her “Stole Of Gratitude.”   I’d never heard of it before but as Rachel explained on the hand-written card she affixed inside….

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Lest anyone think my feelings were hurt because she didn’t award the stole to me – nope.  Keith has absolutely stood in her corner every step of the way, even when my frustration had me googling “medical records school.”  I’m grateful Rachel realized her father’s value in her educational journey.  I am not jealous.  I am thankful.

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My brilliant niece Sarah (far right) came in from Houston to help celebrate.  Apologies for Hannah’s wet hair – she had literally just come home from her job as a swim coach.   Hannah has finished her first semester at UTSA; Lois (far left) is at A&M, and Julia is in her last year of middle school.

Rachel has a few state certification tests to pass soon while substitute teaching.  Then – hopefully – a full-time job in the fall teaching middle school English/Social Studies.   (Having reared four middle schoolers, I believe her career choice qualifies her for sainthood.  I.  Could.  Not.  Do.  It.)

In between “Carol of the Bells” and “Away in a Manager,” I’ve been humming this snappy little tune:

From the hills of oak and cedar
To the Alamo
Voices raised will echo
As, in song, our praises flow
Hail Alma Mater!
Through the years our loyalty will grow
The University of Texas
San Antonio

You made it, Rachel!  Walk with your head held high!

Posted in Celebrate, Family, School Rules | 8 Comments