San Antonio| The Saga | San Fernando Cathedral 

It’s Downtown Tuesday in San Antonio today and I’m sharing one of my favorite downtown sights with y’all. On pretty much any weekend night and Tuesdays, in the Main Plaza of the San Fernando Cathedral, you’ll stumble upon a crowd gathered to view a video art installation on the Cathedral. There’s always amazing things to do in this city. San Antonio The Saga is a beautiful must for residents and tourists, and it’s free!

  

  

Created by artist Xavier de Richemont, you will see his interpretation of the history of San Antonio and Texas. This show has been projecting on the Cathedral front since 2014. It shows every Tuesday, and weekend nights. Runs almost half an hour long, with start times of: 9 PM, 9:30 PM, and 10 PM. Again, this is one of my San Antonio favorites, and anytime I’m downtown around the show times, I’m there. So if you’re downtown on one of these days go check it out! 

XOXO,

Sydney Charming 

What happened to the Golden Rule?

The other day I saw someone post a picture of a guy wearing a white suit in line at what looked like the ER. This poor guy must have been mortified because from the picture it looked like he pooped his pants. The picture was taken from behind so the guy probably had no idea it was taken. Why?

That’s what I asked when I saw the picture. Now the acquaintance that posted the picture has alway posted dumb things. Usually I ignore them, but this one saddened me. What happened to the Golden Rule? What happened to respecting another person’s dignity?

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Do unto others as you would have them do to you. In high school and college and volunteered and worked for a summer camp. Children’s Association For Maximum Potential Camp or C.A.M.P. Camp. A very special camp because we adapted all the activities so that children with disabilities could participate. It was an eye opening experience, to be a camp counselor, 15 years old, taking care of a child that couldn’t community their every day needs. Working with these children, taught me so much about dignity and empathy.

I remember my first camper was a 6 year old girl that had Angelman Syndrome. She didn’t talk, had difficulty walking and always appeared to be so happy. Those are some of the characteristics of Angelman Syndrome. Because of the disability she was born with causes severe intellectual development, I wasn’t sure what she could and couldn’t comprehend. Her parents indicated her mental age was equivalent to about a 1 year old. Stop and imagine this. Imagine being a 6 year old child, now imagine having difficulty walking, not being able to understand words, or any speech. Imagine waking up day-to-day, as a growing human being and possibly not having any thoughts on what’s going on around you and just following along as guided. Not being able to say I’m hungry, tired, full. It’s a very special life. You bring understanding, patience, and beauty to the world.

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One day my camper had an upset stomach and already leaked through two changes of clothes. I already sent her other clothes to be washed but I couldn’t let her skip her activities while we waited for clean clothes. She only gets to experience camp once a year. So I dug through my, trunk of clothes and dressed her in my clothes. They were a little big but she still got to have fun.

That was just my very first camper. Over the next few years, throughout high school and college, I had the privilege of taking care of many special campers. Each one taught me different things about disabilities, enjoying every precious life, and respect others.

Remember, no matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all about yourself. Integrity is everything. Do you feel like people treat you the way you want them to? Have you treated them with the same respect or better if they have not?

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HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD

A meeting was held quite far from Earth! It’s time again for another birth. Said the Angels to the LORD above, This Special Child will need much love. His progress may be very slow, Accomplishments he may not show. And he’ll require extra care From the folks he meets down there. He may not run or laugh or play, His thoughts may seem quite far away, In many ways he won’t adapt, And he’ll be known as handicapped. So let’s be careful where he’s sent, We want his life to be content. Please LORD, find the parents who Will do a special job for you. They will not realize right away The leading role they’re asked to play, But with this child sent from above Comes stronger faith and richer love. And soon they’ll know the privilege given In caring for their gift from Heaven. Their precious charge, so meek and mild, Is HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD.

by Edna Massionilla December 1981 The Optomist- newsletter for PROUD Parents Regional Outreach for Understanding Down’s Inc.

This Is My Confession

Big girls don’t cry right? If only that were true! So I wrote about PMDD in The Fear of Falling Apart II, and how it can bring me to tears. Of course, life must go on, and I can’t let it define me. Even though I can be in an incredible amount of pain, sometimes I have too much going on to stay crying about. How do I pull myself together and look put together?

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Let me introduce you to my best friend for that, Confessions of a Concealaholic by Benefit. The current kit I have was a little dismembered by one of my Godsons that wanted to color.
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It’s s adorably packaged like a diary. Inside, there’s a mirror! Perfect if you’re using it on the go.
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There’s also a booklet, detailing how to use each product, creatively written like journal entries.
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My knowledge and use of make products is not very vast, but this takes me from a blotchy-eyed mess to a glamorous bright eyed beaut.
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My questions for y’all:

Has anyone else used this fabulous miracle? What did you think?

Any other recommendations?

Taste Texas: Castroville: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery

A deliciously delightful Texas must stop, Alsatian bakery on the drive home. I’ve mention plenty of times before that I am from the city of San Antonio, but my Mom’s family’s hometown is D’Hanis, Texas. Located slightly southwest of San Antonio, a beautiful Texas country side drive down Highway 90. 

 Some thing else I may not have mention, I went to elementary school outside of the city, in the first charming small town going down 90, Castroville. St. Louis Catholic School, now we’re talkin’ real small town, schooling. When I attended, there was only about 100 kids in the entire school. So one class of about 15 to maybe 20 students for each grade level. Yep, I had the same classmates every year. Well, one of my favorite Texas bakeries, was just down the street and around the corner from my school. (Actually, everything in this town is basically down the street and around the corner.) 

    

Last week my Mom and I were driving through town and stopped by. We ended up sparking a petty good conversation with the friendly staff and customers. “The meat market down the street, Dzuiks, how do you pronounce the name?” Everyone pronounced it differently. “The ‘D’ is silent.” “No, the ‘Z’ is silent.” “I’ve always pronounced it with a ‘J’ sound.” I guess next time I’m passing through I’ll have to stop by for some deer jerky and ask the staff. 

 Haby’s Alsatian Bakery! Castroville is a French-Alsatian settled town. Founded by Henri Castro, in 1844. A lot of the original settlers from Alsace, influence is still visible today. Haby’s has an assortment of fresh baked pastries. So delicious, light, fluffy, and sweet. They also bake cakes for every occasion. Oh, the oatmeal raisin cookiesare my favorite! 

 

A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

Taste Texas: San Antonio: Casa Rio

It’s the Riverwalk. It’s family. It’s delicious Tex-Mex food. It’s tradition. What else do you think of when you hear someone mention San Antonio’s Casa Rio? 

My mouth waters, my stomach hungrily grumbles, I feel all warm and fuzzy and I think of the countless memories eating there with my family.  I’ve mostly eaten on the patio, so I picture those iconic vibrantly colored table umbrellas along the river walk. Centrally located, it’s so easy to find. Commerce, “you know right by that big red sculptor, but go down stairs along the Riverwalk.”  If you’re from San Antonio you probably given directions like this.  My grandma and I usually order the Regular plate: “A Favorite Since 1946 – Cheese enchilada, tamale, chili con carne, mexican rice, and refried beans.” Did you read that? Do you see the picture? It’s so much food! Oh glorious Tex-Mex food!

The restaurant was established in 1946. Making this one of the oldest restaurant and businesses on the Riverwalk. They host private events and with their historic space and catering. They even have river barge dinners. Next time your on the Riverwalk of San Antonio, stop by enjoy the atmosphere with some delicious San Antonio Tex-Mex and maybe a margarita while the mariachis serenade you.  

Visit Casa Rio

The Fear of Falling Apart

For the past few months I’ve been struggling with some health issues. Recently, I think a little depression has been added into the mix because of how overwhelming everything has been. I’m so thankful for my friend being there, every step of the way.

We’ve been through a lot of unfortunate events, in a very small amount of time together. I’m talking about Murphy’s Law in full overdrive effect. We’ve also had some little accomplishments, definitely worth celebrating. We don’t live in the same city, but we’re not too far from each other. Through all these struggles, my friend has managed to at least call me everyday. Sometimes to ask how I am doing, sometime to tell me what they are going through, and sometimes just to talk. Occasionally, one of us will make the drive, or will both meet somewhere in the middle. We’ve become best friends and each other’s other half, helping each other with anything and everything from work, friends and family, to should I take a nap? But how much is too much? When a promise is made, to what extent should the promise be upheld?
A traumatizing event made me latch on to my dear friend even more, because they promised they’d be there through everything. For a moment, they were gone and everything went wrong. Well I guess, nothing went as planned and I was alone. I couldn’t get the experience out of my mind. I wanted to recover, but every time I would talk to my friend, they just didn’t understand and it made me feel even more alone. I began to be consumed with bitterness and anger. I desperately wanted to be comforted by my friend, but every time I was around them or even spoke to them I was taken back to that hurt and pain and the fact that they weren’t physically there to help me. Even after a good day, talking to them, I felt watery eyed and heavy. As if I had an anchor pulling me down a bottomless ocean.
Scrolling through some old pictures, I came across a video clip of, This is Gospel by Panic at the Disco, from The Gospel Tour. (Yes, I went to that concert. Definitely a blast from the high school past but still loved it!) I looked up the lyrics:

This is gospel for the fallen ones
Locked away in permanent slumber
Assembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories

If you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives that often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apart
Don’t try to sleep through the end of the world
And bury me alive
‘Cause I won’t give up without a fight

Reading that and listening to the song once again, I thought I need space. I thought I just need time away without communication from my friend, so that I can start to heal. It was like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. Just not going anywhere. I thought make a jump that will help me run out of that toxic dance.  Or back to my other analogy, let go of the anchor so I can float back up myself.
Crazy thing, a few days to clear my head, and I love how God unveils himself in front of me. I came across this article : 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone Fighting Depression . Now I’m not trying to harm myself or anyone. I just feel sad, even though there’s some pretty spectacular things happening around me. Some of the key things the author mentioned caught my attention.

 “Telling someone happiness is a choice just isn’t true. In fact, if we skip passed our pain and grief, we miss out on an opportunity for God to comfort us.”


“Stop putting the pressure on yourself for something only God can achieve. Depression is too big to battle alone. God will give us more than we can handle, but He’ll never ask us to handle it alone. Yes, you can start exercising and eating better and making new friends and all of these things might help for a moment, but they won’t heal the root problem. You need Jesus. He’s the only thing that sustains.”


Right there in that last part, I realized I was putting way to much pressure and expectations on just one person. I am so grateful for my friend even helping as much as they have. Now I realize, what I should have know all along, God is with me. I am not alone and have never been alone. The times I broke down in tears, the anger, the sadness, he’s been there. I just wasn’t listening. Something I’ve written about plenty of times, that God is always with us, His Spirit is in us, and completely lost sight of that. Yesterday’s mass readings, actually made my happily laugh a little (1 John 3:18- 24) : 

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.


As if God, was like are you hearing me now! I am here with you, I will help you through this. And just for some extra reassurance listen to this Gospel reading next (John 15: 1- 8) :

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,


I hope that my friend can forgive me for expecting so much from them. I’m still getting better and I know one day this will just be another hill or mountain I’ve climbed. I know that I’m almost there and when I reach the top all the things that terrified me will just make the view so much more spectacular.

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Taste Texas: Austin: Sway

Sawasdee Pii Mai Ka! It’s Thai New Year! So what’s my favorite Thai restaurant in Austin? I’ve always been hesitant of eating at Thai food in restaurants. Being raised half Thai, I’m used to authentic Thai home cooking. My Dad is from Thailand. Him and my Grandma have always cooked fresh authentic dishes for me. So delicious! image

Thankfully, my Dad has taught me a bunch recipes. It’s nice to go out to eat every now and then, but sometimes it just doesn’t taste up to par. Funny, how a lot of my friends always want to eat Thai food when they go out to eat with me. Well, I’ve tried a few restaurants since moving to Austin. So far my favorite has been Sway.

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Conveniently located a street over from me on South 1st Street. I love everything about this restaurant. Incense burning at the entrance transport your senses. Reminds me of going to the Thai temple, or going to my grandma’s house. Beautiful wood work. Most seating is in groups with benches, perfect for Asian family style dinning. The menu is simple, clean and easy to navigate, again something I love. Definitely has a romantic, sultry atmosphere with its naturally dim lighting during the day and warm lighting in the afternoon.

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Now the food. Oh the food! One of the few places I get so excited about the food, when its placed in front of me I forget to snap pictures. Usually already delightfully devoured before I remember. Oh well, it’s something you have to come in and taste, and experience for yourself. Everything is served family style. Dishes are cooked to order and brought out as soon as they are done. Ingredients are fresh. Even though it’s a modern Thai restaurant, they have fabulously captured the authentic taste and flavors in their dishes.

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According to their Facebook page, they are going to have a special off-the-menu items this week to celebrate Songkran. Any American Thai restaurant that actual celebrate Songkran gets an enthusiastic double high five from me. The Thai New Year holiday is kind of a big deal in my family because it’s also my Dad’s birthday. See y’all out there. (I’ll probably be the girl in the cowboy boots, remembering to snap pictures after I’m done … Again).

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Taste Texas: Austin: Hillside Farmacy

Brunch, it’s just what we do nowadays. Sleep in a little but not too late. Just late enough so that we should call it breakfast. Meet some good friends to catch up and take Instagram pictures of the mouth watering breakfast/lunch infusing meals we call brunch. Yay! Sunday funday!

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One of my favorite places to go for brunch in all of Austin is Hillside Farmacy. Located on East 11th street. Brunch goers paradise. Everything quaint. Outside beautifully painted mural on the walls and few tables and chairs along the front patio. Inside, bookcases line some of the walls with sauces, wine and antique looking bottles, still reflecting the pharmacy image. Order a craft of mimosas and it’s usually brought out in an Erlenmeyer Flasks. Every inch from outside to inside, Insta- worthy.

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Now on to the food! Oh deliciously comforting food. My hands down favorite dish to order is the Mac & Cheese. Perfectly slightly sharp yet still creamy comforting. I usually add pancetta and a poached egg for a little extra fee. Absolutely worth it. I’ve had a few different sandwiches, all tastebud invigorating. The BLT benny, also perfection. Oh hollandaise, making brunch goers “le sigh” with delightful bliss.

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Hey, where have you been Sydney?

I am about a month and a half behind on posting all the articles I’ve written for y’all be cause I’ve been stressing. My work contract ends today, March 26, 2015. Well, get ready for some delightfully delicious, faith and Texas inspiring reading because I just signed the offer to work directly with the company I’ve been contracted with for the last year.

Five years ago, if you asked where I’d be in five years or what’s my five year plan, I never in my wildest dreams thought I be right here. I would have told you “still in medical school, probably just starting residency.” Or Working with autistic children. Of course life doesn’t always happen the way you plan or want it to.

I left undergrad school, with a pretty decent GPA, and MCAT score and just a year left to finish. Starting to look into medical schools. Why did I leave? My family needed me. Faith, family, and food that’s me. My mom was going through a terrible divorce that lasted almost 4 years. I’ve written about her ex-husband, that horrid nightmare, here. My brother and sisters were about 12, 10, and the youngest 7 years old. I moved back home, helping with school pick-ups, drop offs, finances, parenting and still working at the golf course. Eventually shifting my goals to business banking and working my way up.

Summing up the last few years, my family was able to overcome our hardships and move forward. Now what to do, go back to school? I lost that desire for medical school. I guess move to a different city? My friend, Jack, directed me to a contracting job for a pretty big tech company. I was hesitant, told him, I don’t know anything about tech stuff but he assured me that I would do well because I understood the business aspect of companies from working in business banking.

Alright, said a prayer and took that leap of faith.

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So for the last year, I’ve pretty much been competing for my job with other contractors. Now this company is located in Austin, and so many people living in the city and working for this company embrace the “Keep Austin weird” culture and strive to be unique and different from anyone else.

Let’s face it, come on, come in close, group hug, they’re actually all the same. Shocking! I’ve met some really nice and interesting people. Then I met a just a ton of one uppers and realized how little patients I have some times. Jack, was right. I was able to succeed because of my business knowledge and hard work. I also stayed true to myself. Always keeping in mind to stay balanced with the exciting innovations and remembering the business needs.

Finding balance is what I was born to do. Seriously, my mom is Catholic and my dad is Buddhist. Obviously their marriage didn’t workout but growing up I learned a lot of traditions, had culture overload, strong Catholic faith and also learned to always take a step back. Look at the paths behind me, see the possible paths ahead of me, trust in God so that which ever step I take forward he’s right there with me leading me to where I should be.

How do you shine in a crowd of unique individuals lusting to outshine everyone else? Know yourself, hold on to the traditions and culture you’ve always known. Be open minded and acknowledging of different. Balance and you’ll surely emit an incandescent glow shining brighter than the rest.