Monday, April 7, 2008

Our Texas Vacation!

Warning: This is looooooong…

Our trip to Texas was awesome. We had such a wonderful time with all the friends and family we were able to visit with. We thank you all for your amazing generosity and making our trip so memorable. But I guess you’re here because you want to know what happened. Well let me tell you.

Our trip started off Tuesday March 4th, in the early early morning. My brother, Andy, had agreed to drive us to the airport and we were to pick him up at 4:00am. (Yuck.) Our alarm went off at 2:30am, and we got going. I had gone back in my room to grab something and picked up my phone, as a habit, to see if there were any missed calls or messages. Nothing like that, but I did see something that caught my attention and confused me. Horrified, I rushed out to the family room to see if it was true. A quick look around the room confirmed it. It was only 2:00am, not 3:00am, like our bedroom clock claimed! We’d gotten up an hour early!!!! ARGH!!!! And of course, by that time, we were both showered and it was too late to go back to bed. Grrrr…. So that was an amusing start to the trip. I guess it’s lucky that we woke up an hour too early, rather than too late. But here’s the kicker, Jilly woke up around then, and was fussy, not wanting to go back to sleep. So she was up at 2:00am, along with us. This was not boding well for our day long trip.

We got down to the airport wthout further incident, and managed to drag all our stuff into the airport. As we’re checking in, the Southwest Airlines agent tells me that we won’t be able to get on the first two flights we were looking at, and we’d have to go with the third. I wasn’t that bummed, because all three left within 30 minutes of each other and roughly similar travel lengths. So it wasn’t a problem. Plus, all the flights (it ended up being three) were clear, all the way to San Antonio. No sweat. We checked our two suitcases, and then took off for Security. We were quite a funny sight. Steve pushing the stroller, with Jilly strapped in, the diaper bag (full to bursting point) in the basket, along with his backpack and her blanket, sippy cup and Cheerios as well. Then there was me, with my backpack strapped on, carrying the car seat across my stomach. It was a big fat giant hassle, but we had to keep them with us, for fear we’d end up stranded somewhere without her car seat. So into Security we go, where we completely dismantle our little arrangement. We had so many bins and other apparatus’ (apparati?) it was ridiculous. Off came our shoes, belts, our pockets emptied, bags of liquids pulled out from our back packs, our back packs sent through, with the diaper bag. Because we were travelling with a baby, we were allowed to take her sippy cups and bottles through Security even though they were more the 3 oz. But we had to pull them out and declare them separately. So one more thing to pull out. Not to mention, removing Jilly from the stroller, collapsing it and sending that through, before finally walking through ourselves. Then, we got to put it all back together, without slowing everyone else behind us down considerably. Yeah….. That was the single most stressful part of our trip, both ways. And while it was a fracking hassle, it went smoothly and was just fine.

We settled into the waiting area for our flight to Albuquerque. We got breakfast and soon enough, were boarding the flight. The flight was maybe half way full, so we were able to get a whole row for the three of us in the back of the plane. We strapped in her car seat and were ready. I was worried about Jilly and her ears, as we took off and landed, but she was just fine. We flew from Seattle to Albuquerque to Dallas on one plane. The flight attendants were in love with Jilly (of course) and she behaved pretty well, even sleeping a little bit. We arrived in Dallas a few minutes early, and decided to check in for our next flight, at the beginning of our nearly 2 hour layover. We quickly were told that there was a flight to San Antonio leaving within 20 minutes, and we rushed over to jump on. No layover! SWEET! The only bad thing was that our luggage had been tagged to go on the later flight, so it would not arrive with us. We called Karen to see if that was okay, it was, and we decided to get on anyway, and we’d go back to the airport later for it. Ah ha! All my planning, packing and overall neurotic-ness paid off. We were just fine to do that, because we’d packed enough in the diaper bag and our backpacks to be without our luggage for awhile. And most importantly since we’d kept the car seat with us, we were able to leave the airport safely. An hour later, we touched down in San Antonio and were greeted by Karen, Steve’s mom, and Ferron, our brother in law, who happened to be visiting from New Zealand at the same time. HOORAY!!!

It was a relief not to be travelling anymore and to be able to relax. Most of all, I was excited to get back to their house so my sweet Jilly, who’d been up for like 10 hours, with only a short (less than 1 hour) nap, could take a decent one. Alas, it was not to be. She freaked out at being in the strange playpen, in a room she didn’t recognize, while she was over tired. I tried everything, but she never took a nap that day. It was a loooooooong day. But even though she was tired, she didn’t get super cranky and was cute for everyone. Steve and his dad picked up our luggage and dinner later on, and we spent the evening together. I had been worried Jillian would be nervous around Steve’s family, since she hadn’t met them before and this was such a new and strange environment. My worries were unfounded, because she was completely comfortable with them and loved showing off for everyone from the first moment, as if she spent tons of time with them. Yay!!!

Jilly eventually went to bed around 10pm, after crying herself to sleep. I know that sounds harsh, but there was nothing else I could do. I seriously tried everything, and was so worn out myself, that she had to cry it out. It was a relief when she was finally asleep. Of course, her parents didn’t go to sleep soon, we stayed up until like 2 or 3am, talking with Karen and Ferron. It ended up being a 22-23 hour day us. But it didn’t feel like it.

The next morning, we took our time getting going, and eventually by noon or so, Steve, Ferron, Jillian and myself, were on our way to Houston. It was a three hour drive that ended up being tougher than the 6 hours of flying we’d done the day before. I think the reason was that the Air Conditioning in the van wasn’t working and the sun was right on her for a good chunk of the trip. We unrolled windows and I would wet down a burp rag and try to cool off her arms and legs. It helped, but she was understandably fussy until we arrived at Steve’s oldest sister Becky’s house in Houston. Then she took a nice nap in Cameron’s crib. We spent the afternoon and evening, checking out Becky’s new house, which we fell in love with, and playing with the kids. I would say within 30 minutes to an hour, we’d cranked up the video games and Becky’s 6 year old, Andrew, was showing us how to rock at Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Wii Sports. It was a lot of fun, and more people kept showing up. Well, in reality, Erin, Steve’s younger sister, came over after work and then Kevin, Becky’s husband, came home from work. But with Becky, her four kids (Andrew, 6; Ben, 4 ½; Lauren, 3; and Cameron, 16 months), Steve, me, Jilly, Ferron, then Erin and Kevin, there were lots of people around. And we can’t forget Alanis, their golden retriever. 

We went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant at a nearby mall, and rode the carousel after. Jilly loved it! She got to sit on one of the horses, and held onto the pole as it went up and down. You know, she didn’t even need me there, because she held herself steady and would giggle and smile, especially when we’d see her dad watching down below. After that, we went home, put all the kiddos to bed. Then us adults proceeded to stay up until midnight, chatting and relaxing in the kitchen.

Thursday Becky and I took Lauren to her swimming lessons, then went back to the house to drop her off and pick up Ferron. The three of us went to the mall while Steve watched Ben (who was home from school, sick), Lauren, Cameron and Jilly. We wandered around, looking at different kid’s stores, all of us snagging some good deals at Children’s Place for our respective progeny, then to the Apple Store, where Becky and Ferron had a lot of fun. I made a stop at Victoria’s Secret to finally get a non-nursing bra (pregnancy, childbirth and lactation do a number on your body. I now have 3 distinct sets of clothes for each stage) which was my Christmas present from Steve. ;-) Hahaha. Then we got lunch at a yummy bakery and went home. The afternoon was again spent playing Xbox and the Wii. At one point, Andrew was getting beat by Steve at a game, so he was demanding that we change it (let me point out, this is a rare occurrence. Andrew is really good at video games.) But I hadn’t played the Wii yet and really wanted to try it, so I asked Andrew to wait while I played. This is our conversation, verbatim:

Aimee: Andrew, why don’t we hold off on switching games so that I can try it.
Andrew: But I don’t want to play this one anymore. Let’s play this other one.
Aimee: But Andrew, we don’t have at Wii at home, so we’d really like to play it while we’re here.
Andrew: Well, you can just go to the store and get one.

Hahaha, just like that. So matter of fact. Like we were idiots for complaining about not having one, when all we had to do was go to the store and pick one up. Hehehehe. It cracked me up. (Becky, if you’re reading this, please don’t think I’m making fun of Andrew. It was quite cute how it was simple to him, and he seemed surprised he had to suggest the solution to us.) Luckily, Andrew is a good kid and let me play for a little bit. Video games don’t hold my attention for long, so I knew he’d get another chance to play his game soon. Here’s where I take a moment to rave about the Wii. Steve and I had a fabulous time with it! We played it couple different times, and had a blast each time. We just might have to think about getting one now. (Thanks for the suggestion Andrew. ;-))

We hung around and then Becky got us dinner from Texadelphia. Yum. I’m going to take another moment here and rave about the food we ate. It was sooooooooo good. We had great Mexican food, yummy sandwiches, BBQ, and Sonic. (Hey, we get all the Sonic commercials here, but the closest one is in Oregon.) Oh, and did I mention lots and lots of Dr. Pepper? Yeah, it was awesome. No wonder my pants were tight when I got home. I’d gained a couple pounds. But it was sooooo worth it.  Anyway, back to the story. We ate dinner, then Steve and I ran upstairs to watch Lost. Ben didn’t seem impressed with our desire to watch Lost, since he wanted to watch Aladdin. He was displeased when we told him no. Here’s my conversation with Ben:

Ben: I’m gonna watch Aladdin.
Aimee: No, Ben. We’re watching our show right now. Plus you have to go bed soon.
Ben: No. I’m gonna watch my movie.
Aimee: Ben, you can’t. We’re watching right now. Go ask your mom.
Ben: Fine! (Stalks off.)
Apparently, Becky agreed with me, because Ben didn’t come up again. Hehehe. I love conversations with little kids. They’re awesome.

After Lost, some of the other kids came up and started playing in the playroom. I helped pick up some of the toys, where my OCD tendencies got the better of me, and I had to put together all of the puzzles. Not that big of a deal, right? They’re just wooden board puzzles for little kids, not too complicated. Well, Becky has two USA maps. That means each one has 50 pieces, each state. So 100 pieces between two puzzles. One was a little smaller than the other, so I had to figure out which one it went in first. Now, I enjoy doing stuff like this, and it wasn’t hard or stressful while I was doing it. Cue Jilly, enter stage left. She went straight for the puzzles in my lap and all the pieces around me. Great. After trying to fight the tide for a while, Becky or Steve grabbed Jilly and let me finish in peace. Hehehe. I got it all finished though! Again, that night, we put the kids to bed and stayed up late talking and stuff.

Now, the entire time we were in Texas, Jilly slept in the same room as us. The playpen was right next to our bed. And she woke up at least once every single night. Ugh. So at whatever time it would be, I would stumble out of bed and off to the kitchen, make her a bottle and then shove it in her face, so she’d go back to sleep. It worked most of the time, but there were a couple nights when she wouldn’t be sated. One of those times, was Friday morning. It was about 6:30am, so Becky and her kids were awake. But it was still dark, and we were on vacation, so it was still the middle of the night to me. I made Jilly her bottle, but she wasn’t having it. She knew I was right there and kept fussing to be held. So finally, I picked her up and laid her in bed with us. Becky has a wonderful king size bed in her guest room which was about the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. It had tons of space for both Steve and me, so there was room for Jilly. As soon as I put her there, she calmed right down, rolled over and curled right into Steve’s back. He’d been fairly asleep through this all, so I don’t think he realized that she was there until later in the morning. It was so cute, to see them cuddled up together. When Jilly sleeps, she looks exactly like Steve. They have the same sleeping face, and she’s had that since she was a newborn. It’s adorable. And the best part was, she left me alone, so I could get three more hours of sleep in peace. Finally, I started to hear them making noise and moving around. I peeked my eye open to see where they were. Jilly was sitting up staring right at me (freaky baby). Let me point out, she had left me alone completely. She hadn’t poked me or climbed on me or slapped me or slobbered on me, even though she was awake and I was right there. But as soon as she saw me open that eye, and made eye contact, she pounced. She knew Mama was awake and it was okay to play with her. Hehehe. It was fine, because it was like 9:30am anyway, and I needed to get up. So that was our first real co-sleeping adventure.

That morning, we took our time and got everything together to go back to San Antonio. While we were down in the kitchen, Jilly took her first unassisted, unprompted step! Ferron even caught it on video!! Granted it was only one step, but it was from the island over to Alanis, the dog. She LOVED Alanis. That also took me by surprise. She had seemed nervous at Grandma & Grandpa’s, looking at Rusty and Cody in the backyard. But she loved Alanis. Alanis would come up and lick Jilly all over and she’d giggle like a crazy person. Eventually, we all went out for lunch. We ate at another bakery restaurant and had a yummy lunch. Then Steve, Jilly and I took off for San Antonio. Ferron decided to stay longer, and drive down to SA with Erin, who was bringing Becky’s three older kids for the weekend. Apparently, the kids and Erin have a crazy time in the car and Ferron wanted to catch some of it on video. Our plan worked perfectly and Jillian fell asleep in the car before we even got on the freeway. She slept about 2 ½ hours, only waking up when we stopped to get gas. We ended up only getting back to the Halls’ about 20 or 30 minutes before Erin, Ferron and the kids.

Saturday we pretty much spent with Will. We went over to his house and hung out for a little bit, before meeting his parents Clay and Kathy, for lunch at Pei-Wei (essentially P.F. Changs Express). Oh yeah, that was good too. We had a marvelous lunch with them. They’re such awesome people. Kathy was actually disappointed that she hadn’t know we were going to be in town, because they had just gotten home from Hawaii, and had she known, she would have gotten Jilly a present. How nice is that?  After lunch, we went back to Will’s to try and convince Jilly to nap on the floor (ha) while we played the Wii and chatted. Later on, Steve and Will got Little Ceaser’s pizza for dinner and we stayed until it was quite late. A good chunk of our visit was preventing Jilly from demolishing Will’s house. Needless to say, little kids do not frequent Will’s place. ;-) But once we got the ottoman pushed in front of the entertainment center doors, and gave her the remote for the light/ceiling fan, she did fine. Of course, that meant she was turning the overhead light on and off. But it just kind of fit in with the completely bizarre Wario Wii game we were playing. It’s insane, but hilarious. Finally, we bid Will farewell and went back home.

Here’s where I need to interject with another tale. Saturday morning, while still at the house, I went to go look for something of Jilly’s, when I realized I’d left a ton of things in a drawer at Becky’s!! ACK! Erin had already come down, and we weren’t going to drive 3 hours each way just to pick up some toys and such. I called Becky and she offered to mail them back to our house for us. Phew! But then while we were at lunch, Becky called and struck fear into my heart. I’d left our airline tickets, my work badge and all of our essential documentation at her house with all the toys! ACK!!! We couldn’t fly home without it, and there was no way I could get re-ticketed at the San Antonio airport without my work badge and pass. Oh man!!! So I had to ask Becky to overnight them with UPS to us. I felt so dumb and was so mad at myself for forgetting them! Of all things, those were the most important. Becky, being the kindhearted soul that she is, she took them right over to UPS and sent them to us. We got them Monday, so we were able to go home.

Sunday, we went to church with the family, to the new ward where Mike was just called as Bishop a couple months ago. It was fun for Steve to see people from his childhood. We even got to visit with his kindergarten teacher for a few minutes. She was super sweet and of course asked the question that everyone seemed to ask, “When are you moving down here?” Our answer was undoubtedly, “As soon as we get a job, we’re here.” Being down there just reinforced how much we would love to live there. Now, if we can just find a job. So if you know of anything in San Antonio, please let us know!!! Anyway, after church, we went back to the house and just spent the afternoon relaxing with everyone before Erin and the kids went back to Houston. Steve’s cousin Karen (yes, I know, his mom and cousin have the same name) and her kids, Tyler who’s 17, and Mykinzee who’s 11 (I hope I spelled that right), came over for dinner. It was a ton of fun and they of course fawned over Jilly.

Monday, we went out to Driftwood, which is just outside of Austin, to have lunch with Trey, a good friend and former employer of Steve’s. We ate at the famous, world-renowned Salt Lick. Sooooooooo gooooooooood. It is pretty much my favorite place to eat, and we couldn’t leave without buying 6 bottles of BBQ sauce from them. In our defense, only 4 were for us. Two were for my step-dad Paul, who we got hooked on the stuff. Plus if you bought 5, you got the 6th for free. How can you pass that up? It was a wonderful time with Trey. We were a little sad we didn’t get to see Jennifer and their boys, Nicholas and Ethan, but it was so much fun to hang out with Trey. Reason #647 we can’t wait to move to Texas- hanging out with Trey, Jen and the boys.

The weather while we were in Texas was pretty good. It was warm for the most part, though not hot. There was a thunderstorm while we were in Houston, but otherwise, sunny with some clouds. Not Monday. Monday it poured rain for an extended period of time, while it was in the 60s. So it was crazy humid. UGH. Not to mention that the ground in Texas isn’t like up here in Washington. When it rains here, the ground will absorb the water and if not, it will help drain it decently. Uh yeah, not in Texas. The ground doesn’t absorb anything and it doesn’t drain either. So you get these giant freaking puddles everywhere, which make getting around really annoying. Remember when I mentioned that the A/C in the van didn’t work? Well, we were in the van on our trip to Driftwood, and with the rain and warm temps, the windows were totally fogged. And if the A/C doesn’t work, that means the Defrost doesn’t work either. Great. So lucky Steve got to drive a van who’s windshield kept fogging up. But we survived and made it just fine.  That night, Steve’s childhood best friend, Jon, came over. They hadn’t seen each other in 10 years!! It was a lot of fun to get to know him and hear some stories about Steve that I hadn’t ever heard before. Now I know where to get the real dirt. 

Tuesday was our return date. We spent the morning doing the last bits of laundry and packing everything up. Remember those things that I had left in Houston at Becky’s? Well, in them was a doll that our niece Tejas had picked out for Jilly and sent from New Zealand with her dad, Ferron. We hadn’t given the doll to Jilly yet, because Ferron wanted to video tape her reaction for Tejas. We were bummed that we weren’t going to be able to do that, since the doll would be in the box mailed back home. Once again, Becky came through for us, and included the doll in the overnighted stuff so that Jilly could see her doll and Uncle Ferron could tape it for Tejas. We hadn’t even asked her too, that’s how awesome she is. Anyway, Tuesday morning, we gave it to Jilly. She did not disappoint. She got so excited, started beaming and crawled over as fast as she could to the doll. She LOVES Upsy Daisy!! Thank you so much Tejas!!! It’s now one of her favorite toys and she starts beaming every time she sees it. I’m sure a big part of it is because her cousin picked it out just for her.  It was nearing the afternoon, and Jilly was starting to wind down, but I was adamant she would not get a nap. I wanted her to sleep on the plane and didn’t want her getting cranky if I had to wake her up. So she stayed up. Good thing Grandma Karen loved playing with her so much. That enabled Steve and me to finish everything else up. Finally, we were packed and off to the airport.

Now doesn’t it always happen that the day when you leave has the nicest weather? Well, that certainly happened to us. Oh well! We enjoyed the weather while we were there. It was nicer than Seattle by far! We got to the airport, checked in without incident and said good bye to Karen and Ferron. Through Security we went and off to wait for our flight. On the flight from San Antonio to Dallas, Jilly fell asleep. She managed to stay asleep as we got her out of the car seat, carried her off the plane, put her into the stroller and moved to our next gate. While we were checking in there, the agent all of a sudden stopped, glances around and then says to me, “Do you hear someone snoring?” I cracked up and quickly assured her that yes, I hear and it’s my daughter, asleep in her stroller. We had a good chuckle over that. There was a bit of time while we waited for our next flight, and we ended up sitting by another mother and her two little kids. The little boy, who was 4, and I became buddies and the mom and I had a nice chat. She was returning back to Seattle as well, after visiting her dad in Dallas. She had a baby girl, who was 8 months, so we got to chat about babies and stuff as well. Then on to the plane we went, flew to Albuquerque and then finally home to Seattle. It ended up being 3 flights each way, but it was fine. Only 7 hours of travel time total. On the flight from Albuquerque to Seattle, we had a hilarious flight attendant who kept teasing Row 3. Whenever he’d be making an announcement, he’d throw something in like, “I see you rolling your eyes Row 3. I’ve got my eye on you.” Stuff like that. It was hilarious. At long last, we landed in Seattle, Andy picked us up and we went back to his house where we ditched him and Jilly for the night. I was going to work the next morning, and it was Granny’s day to watch Jilly. So rather than Steve dropping her off at 5:30am, Granny asked to have Jilly spend the night. By the time we got back to her house, I was in full agreement of that plan. Monday night, Jilly had a really rough time sleeping and cried tons at 2am, bothering the whole house. So I was happy to have a night without having to wake up and get the crying baby.

So that was our whole trip! As you can see, it was an absolute blast! We loved seeing everyone that we did, and wish we could have seen more people. Texas is awesome and we are dying to move there. Hopefully soon! Just gotta get that pesky job now, eh? ;-)

1 comment:

Heidi said...

I had to laugh at the airport security story. I agree, it's ridiculous. You have all this stuff and have to practically undress to go through security. It's craziness.

Sounds like you had tons of fun in Texas! There's lots of family there so it would be fun for you guys to live there.

By the way, there is a Sonic in Tri-Cities now. So if you feel like driving 3 1/2 hours you could go there!!! :) I went for the first time a few weeks ago to get a drink. I love their ice.