7 Quick Takes — Back to School, Road Trips, and Cheap Sunglasses [vol. 6]


I know it seems as though I have completely fallen off the planet, and/or decided that I would abandon my fledgling little blog.  Take heart!  Such is not the case.  The past few weeks have seen me travelling over 2800 miles to help two siblings get settled in at college, along with our own special little Back to School challenges here at my own home.  If I were a more experienced, better organized blogger, I would’ve navigated this craziness by having a few “back burner” posts just hanging out and waiting for me to hit “publish.”  Alas, I didn’t think of this little trick until like, yesterday, so it was a little late to plan for the already-over hiatus. C’est la vie!

— 1 —

Ahhh, it’s time for back to school fun!  I used to love this time of year as a kid.  School supply shopping was always the best.  Remember Lisa Frank? I was enamored with those gaudy designs and over-the-top technicolor palettes. Of course, my parents didn’t have much money back then, so I stared longingly at the beautiful, colorful folders and notebooks and TrapperKeepers on the store shelves  and daydreamed.  Mom would occasionally get me a sheet of  Lisa Frank stickers or pencil to make up for the “supply envy” I suffered on the first day of school, when I saw Lisa Frank everywhere in the backpacks of my classmates.  So fond are my memories of shopping for supplies every fall that when the order forms for pre-packaged school supplies come home from the PTO, I scornfully laugh and toss them in the trash.  I shan’t deny my babies the joy and the pain of elbowing through a crowd and snagging the last 2-pack of pink pearl erasers.  Our shopping trip was even more fun this year, as we have an incoming Kindergartener in addition to our second grader.  A trip to Target and some kid-sized Starbucks hot chocolate later, and we had a cart filled with fresh, new supplies for a great school year!  Oh, and while browsing, I discovered that these are back in style.

I totally used to have one of these.  Actually, I had two.
I totally used to have one of these. Actually, I had two.

And also these.

I had a pair in virtually every color and print.  No lie.
I had a pair in virtually every color and print. No lie.

Um, hello?  1992 called.  They want their sunflowers and knapsacks back.  Kthxbye.

— 2 —

Last weekend, I made an epic journey to Ave Maria, Florida, to get my sister settled in for her junior year of college.  It was great one-on-one time with my sweet sister, who spent her summer in London and on a FOCUS mission trip to Rwanda, and of whom I didn’t get to see much. Last year we flew to Florida, but this year, I wanted to spend some quality time with her on a good old fashioned road trip.   We rented a minivan with XM radio (oh, how I miss it already!) and excellent gas mileage (miss that too, come to think of it) and hot the road.  We were able to stop along the way to see aunts and uncles, cousins, and some friends.  All in all it was awesome, even if my rear is STILL suffering from PTSD – post-traumatic sitting disorder.

One of my many, many awesome jams.  I love me some XM Radio.
One of my many, many awesome jams. I love me some XM Radio.

— 3 —

Ave Maria University, near Naples, FL, is one of the most beautiful, soul-lifting places on earth.  It’s a little Catholic town that feels a bit like Mayberry – the perfect, sleepy little town where young minds can learn and grow in their love of God.  The beautiful Oratory is the center of the town, and everything else is oriented to and around it. There are Adoration chapels in the dorms. Ave is a safe haven, a place that fans the little flame of your zeal for Christ until it blazes, preparing you to head back out into the world and be a light unto the darkness.  I’ve always loved that Chris Rice song, “Go Light Your World,” and Ave is a beautiful place where you can learn to be that light to others.  If you ever have a chance to visit….or send a kid to school there…DO IT.

The beautiful Oratory at Ave Maria University in Florida.
The beautiful Oratory at Ave Maria University in Florida.

— 4 —

Time zones are important.  I spend a lot of time thinking about time zones – my parents live in London, my sister lives in Florida, we live in Texas, and my brother lives in California.  Anytime I want to call or text any of them, I have to mentally calculate what time it is where they are, to make sure I am not going to be interrupting class, work, or (EGADS!) sleep.  So it came as quite a shock to me when I completely forgot to calculate the time difference when planning a lunch date with my some of my Edel sisters on my way through Tallahassee.  I was so sad, and so discouraged, when I realized that by failing to take into account the time difference, I torpedoed our plans.  We are all in the “lotsa littles and jam packed schedules” season of life, and these sweet ladies had made time in their day for me.  Oh, the guilt!  I babbled an apology and attempted to try and reschedule for my way back to Texas, but alas, it was a holiday weekend and there were too many variables.  Oh well.  I guess this means I need to go back soon, right?

— 5 —

Candy stores are way cool, especially Candyland Cottage and Ice Cream Shoppe in Rayne, LA, the little store where I stopped on the way home from Florida.  They boast being the “Home of the World’s Largest Gummy Bears.”  Since my kids love the movie “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs,” I decided to stop in and investigate these gummy bears myself.  Their large ones WERE pretty huge, easily a good 12-14” tall, but they were a little out of my price range, so I settled for the “small” ones, which measured 2.5” tall.  I also picked up some interesting-looking Tabasco-flavored chocolate candies and some Oreo fudge for Superman. I would’ve loved to explore the store a bit more, but it was late and they were closing.  I haven’t decided if I will bring my kids to check that awesome place out – or keep them far, far away from it!

Mah loot.
Mah loot.

— 6 —

Until I met my husband, I hated sunglasses.  I didn’t see the point.  To me, the fact that they continually slipped down my face when I got sweaty – and hello, I live in Texas, I’m always sweaty – was enough for me to hate them.  My husband wears his all.the.time, and always told me I should wear them to protect my eyes.  Ha.  As if protecting my eyes were good enough a reason to put up with the slipping, sliding contraptions that I never remembered to bring with me anywhere anyway.  Well, one summer, my eyeballs starting burning like the dickens.  They began to burn so badly that it felt like someone was continually stabbing my orbs with chards of glass.  And then, the pain got worse.  After that particularly memorable ER visit, I learned two important things: 1. Contacts REALLY SHOULD NOT be worn three days in a row if they weren’t designed to be, and 2. Keratitis, which is a flashburn of the corneas, can be prevented by wearing sunglasses.  Sigh.  Superman – 1, Cajuntexasmom – 0.  So, ever since then, I’ve always worn sunglasses.  I’ve learned to live with the slipping and sliding, because that whole eye-stabbing-pain thing is a lot worse to have to endure.  I typically buy a few pairs each year, costing about $20 each.  I refuse to spend more than that on sunglasses, because, you know, kids. I figure my annual sunglasses budget is somewhere around $50.  Usually, this is sufficient.  This year, though, was the summer of the WHY ARE MY GLASSES MISSING AND/OR BROKEN YET AGAIN theme.  In a three month timeframe, I’d blown my yearly budget, as I’d already lost or broken three pairs of sunglasses, each costing between $20-25 a pair.  Of course, when I say “I” lost or broke them, you know I mean my kids did, right?  And this momma had had enough.  So, I bought the biggest, raddest pair I could find at the Dollar Tree.  I paid exactly $1.00 + tax for these puppies.  Funny thing is, I got a ton of compliments on how well they fit my face (really?) and they lasted a whopping four months before breaking!  WHOOHOOO!  I’m a Dollar Tree sunglasses lady for life!  Or until my kids are older, anyway.

Alas, poor sunglasses.  I knew them well, Horatio.
Alas, poor sunglasses. I knew them well, Horatio.

— 7 —

One of the fun things we did this summer was to visit one of my favorite historical places, Washington-On-The-Brazos, located in Independence, Texas.  I loved visiting there as a teenager, and this was the first time I was able to bring my kids.  The park boasts a replica of Independence Hall, where the Texas Declaration was signed in 1836; a portion of the famed La Bahia Trail, one of the most historic roads in Texas; the oldest living pecan tree in Texas, said to be well over 300 years old; Barrington Living History farm, where visitors experience with hand-on activities the homestead life of Anson Jones, the last President of Texas; and the world-class Star of the Republic Museum, curated by Blinn College.  I love visiting, the kids loved it, too!  There are homeschooling days in the fall, and plenty of educational and fun events throughout the year.  The best part is that admission is very reasonable, so it’s something we can do time and again, always do something different, and it won’t strain our family budget.  If you ever find yourself out that way, shoot me an email and maybe we can meet up!



For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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