We're just back from our Big Texas Vacation. If you sent me an email or a direct message last week and I didn't answer it yet... now you know why! I'll try to catch up this week, but the other reasons for the predicted sparseness of my online presence in May continue unabated, so please be patient. Also, despite the fact that we did laundry twice- TWICE!- on the trip, we had three overfull loads to do today, and have two more waiting. I'm not sure how that happened. I think some fundamental laws of physics have been violated.
Anyway. We spent two days each in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, and two travel days in between, and we had a great time. Our biggest problem was the fact that Petunia bit her cheek about halfway through the vacation, and cried big heartbreaking sobs every time she tried to eat for the next three days. She was otherwise reasonably happy, and we had no trouble getting her to drink milk and juice- so really, it was no big deal- and, per my rules for happy traveling with children, this particular suckiness could equally well have happened at home. But it did stress me out a bit, because, you know, she's my baby and she was sad and not eating. I kept trying to buy ice cream for her, which she kept refusing to eat, despite the fact that we'd had ice cream one night in San Antonio, before the mouth-biting incident, and she'd loved it. Pumpkin and I enjoyed our windfall of extra ice cream, though.
Other than Petunia's mouth pain issue, the kids did great. They saved their meltdowns for times when we were in private or could easily remove them to someplace away from people (i.e., not on the airplane rides). Petunia was cute and Pumpkin was for the most part polite and charming to strangers. Bedtimes were a bit of a struggle, but they aren't always a piece of cake at home, so again I don't hold that against the vacation.
We got to see some cool things, but we missed a lot, too- the only live music we saw in Austin was some dude playing guitar and harmonica in the park next to the kiddie train tracks, and despite being in San Antonio for Cinco de Mayo and the big Luminaria arts festival our big nightlife event there involved eating ice cream by the river. I was feeling a little sorry for myself in San Antonio, when we couldn't convince Pumpkin that she wanted to go see that arts festival on our way back from dinner. But then I remembered that I'd just eaten an unbelievably good hamburger (really- I had no idea a hamburger could be that good), accompanied by a decent locally brewed beer and followed by scrumptious pecan pie and a stroll back to our hotel along a beautiful river. Sure, we would have enjoyed the nightlife in San Antonio more if we'd been there without kids, but we still enjoyed what we did get to see. I think I need an addendum to my tips for happy travel with kids: don't compare your trip to what it would be like without the kids along. Compare it to what it would be like not to take any trip at all. That's just a special case of my philosophy about only allowing comparisons to real options, I suppose.
Regardless of what we didn't do, the trip was fun. We saw some fun and interesting things, ate too much good food and drank some truly awesome margaritas. The kids also really enjoyed the pools in the hotels. Because of this, and the unseasonably warm weather (90 degrees and humid!) at the beginning of the trip, we fell into a pattern of showering in the evenings. This did wonders for getting us down to breakfast before Petunia melted down- she is used to eating mere seconds after she opens her eyes, so really, waiting for everyone to get dressed showed quite a bit of patience on her part- but it didn't do much for my hair style. People of Texas, let me assure you that my hair does not normally look so dorky. OK, that is a lie. My hair often looks dorky. But it does not normally have quite so many cowlicks in it.
We really enjoyed all of the cities we visited, but I came home happier than ever that I live in San Diego. This isn't because of the weather (although it was a glorious day in San Diego today) or the politics (although my husband has a funny story about someone at the Space Center in Houston kvetching to him about the fact that the retired space shuttles all went to the blue states), or even the proximity to the ocean. It is the lack of mosquitoes. You see, I am a veritable mosquito magnet. If there is a mosquito anywhere in the general vicinity, it will bite me. By the time we left San Antonio, I had 8 or 9 mosquito bites on my legs. No one else in the family had a single one. The bites are still there, albeit less itchy now. Whenever I am packing for a trip to some place likely to have mosquitoes, I somehow manage to forget about my special mosquito attracting qualities, and never remember to bring mosquito repellant with me. I have therefore amassed quite a collection of the stuff. I bought some more on our way out of San Antonio, along with some cream to make the existing bites itch less. The cream may or may not have helped, but I didn't get any more bites, so I'd say the repellant did its job.
I plan to write several posts with more stories from our trip, but for now, I think I'd better sign off. We mostly kept to our California schedule while in Texas- but it did shift a bit, so I am anticipating an early wake up tomorrow morning. And there is a truly ginormous pile of laundry on my bed, waiting to be folded before I can go to sleep. Someone should come study how that happened. Perhaps our laundry-generating energy could be harnessed and put to use to enable warp speed space travel or something like that.