Our trip to Austin was SO fun, now excuse me while I inundate you with pictures and a recap.
The secret for getting super-cheap flights? You end up on the flights that leave at God-awful times that nobody else wants. Our flight to Austin left Raleigh at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. That meant that I had to wake the kids up a little after 4 a.m., to make sure we could get to the airport by 5.
As much as the timing sucked, both girls were great.
This picture was taken at 5:30 a.m., right after we boarded. I don’t know why they both look so happy.
There are no direct flights from Raleigh to Austin, so we had a connection in Atlanta. The flight from Raleigh to Atlanta is short, less than an hour. Then we had a pretty long layover, about an hour and a half, but it worked out perfectly. We had time to get breakfast and walk around a little, no rushing from one plane to the next. It was nice.
The flight from Atlanta to Austin is a little longer, around 2 hours. I was really hoping Lucy would take a nice long nap on the plane. Instead, she waited until about 15 minutes before landing to fall asleep.
I borrowed a stroller from Trish for this trip, which was a life-saver because I knew Lucy was going to get tired and not be able to walk the whole time. (My old stroller that I’ve had since Catie was a baby is broken. A spring snapped, so you can’t fold it closed. It currently lives in my parents’ garage, because my dad will still take Lucy for walks in it sometimes, but the child is nearly 4 years old, I’m not going to buy a new stroller at this point.)
When Lucy woke up after the plane landed, she was weepy because she was still tired from not getting a long enough nap. I needed to get us off the plane quickly, because she was just falling apart. The kids each had a backpack with their toys, books, and iPads in it; I had a backpack carry-on, plus my purse. When it was our turn to de-board, Catie put on her backpack and I told her to start walking, then I put on my backpack, grabbed Lucy’s backpack with one hand, my purse with the other, told Lucy to stand up on the seat and grab me around the neck, and I carried her plus all our crap off the plane.
And it’s weird, because I know I’ve gotten stronger with all the working out I’ve been doing over the past couple of years, but it was amazing to me that I was able to do that and not even get terribly winded. I mean, I didn’t do it for long, I just had to get us to the jetway, where the stroller was waiting for us (since I had gate checked it). But I honestly don’t think my arms and shoulders would’ve been strong enough to do that two years ago.
Tracy met us at baggage claim, and we went out to lunch before heading back to her house. She and Everett bought a house last year, so this was our first time seeing it, and it’s really beautiful. My sister’s house is the type that makes me feel like I’m still living like a college kid with random piecemeal furniture sort of thrown together. Her house feels like a grown-up house, everything is put together tastefully, and there’s no clutter, everything has its own little home. I’m kind of jealous, I don’t think I’ll have anything like that until the kids are grown and move out.
The kids wasted no time making themselves right at home, either.
We didn’t have a ton of plans while we were there. On our way to Tracy’s house, I saw a sign for a place called Mt. Playmore, and I asked Tracy what it was. She had no idea (stuff for kids isn’t typically on her radar), so I googled it and found out that it was an indoor playground. So on Thursday, we took the kids there, and it was AMAZING.
It’s basically three stories of climbing structures, everything is made of netting so it’s super soft, and it’s big enough that grown-ups can climb up in it too. Tracy and I climbed up with the kids a couple of times, and it was SO FUN. I found a tire swing thing that I could have stayed on for hours.
Thursday evening, Greis drove over from Houston to meet up with us for dinner. I haven’t seen her since Tracy’s wedding, and I was so glad she was able to come hang out with us for a little while.
After dinner, we took the girls to this famous bridge in Austin, that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of bats live underneath. Every night at sunset, they all fly out, and it’s supposed to be incredible to see.
While we were waiting for the bats, Lucy needed to use the bathroom, so I left Catie with Tracy and Everett, and Greis and I walked Lucy over to this super-fancy Hyatt hotel across the street. I know hotel restrooms aren’t really open to the public, but let me tell you, when you walk in with a 3 year-old and ask for directions to the ladies’ room? No concierge in the world is going to risk an accident in their nice lobby. They will happily point you where you need to go. Just, you know, FYI for you parents of toddlers out there.
I didn’t think the girls would be that excited about seeing a whole bunch of bats, but when they all fly out in swarms, it’s pretty impressive. It’s dark enough that you almost can’t even tell that they’re bats, they could be just small birds, except for the squeaking sound they make. And they aren’t creepy bats that’ll bite you, these are the good ones that eat mosquitoes, so YAY BATS.
Greis came back to the house and hung out with Tracy and me for a while after I got the girls to bed, then she headed back to Houston.
Friday, I had made plans to have lunch with some of my co-workers who are based in the Austin office. These are guys I’ve worked with for nearly 5 years and never met in person, I’ve only talked to them on teleconferences. So it was kind of fun to meet them and put names with faces.
The office is near a big mall, so Tracy had dropped me off, and said she’d take the girls to the mall while I was at lunch. After lunch, my co-workers dropped me off at the mall, and I texted Tracy to ask where they were. She texted back they were at Build-a-Bear and I mumbled out loud, “Oh God,” because that’s a store I’ve intentionally avoided as long as I’ve had kids. I didn’t know much about it other than it’s crazy expensive.
And it is crazy expensive, but I guess that’s what fun aunties are for.
Catie got Toothless from “How to Train Your Dragon,” in a Jedi costume. (He’s in his little carrying backpack in the picture, you can’t get the full impact of the Jedi-ness.) We’ve been joking he’s a Jedi (K)Night Fury. Lucy – surprise! – got an Elsa bear. They were both so happy, they wouldn’t set them down for the rest of the day.
That afternoon, Tracy and I took the kids to a children’s museum called The Thinkery, where a friend of Tracy’s is the executive director. It was a lot of fun, kind of like the Marbles children’s museum we have here in Raleigh, but a little more science focused. The kids had fun.
Friday night, we cooked dinner at Tracy and Everett’s house, and my aunt and uncle (who live in Austin) came over for dinner. That was fun, it’s always nice to catch up with them.
Saturday, we were scheduled to fly back, but our plane didn’t leave until after 4 p.m., so we took the kids to Mt. Playmore one last time to burn some energy before we had to get on the plane to go home.
Tracy and Everett then dropped us off at the airport, and we said our goodbyes.
The flights back were ok. The layover in Atlanta was way too long (2 1/2 hours), and it was late at night, and the kids were exhausted, but they were troopers.
Even when our second plane was delayed and the A/C wasn’t working and we were all sweaty, they didn’t really whine or fight with each other (much). They were just so great.
They ended up not getting in bed until after 1 a.m. on Saturday night, but we had all day Sunday to recover, so it was ok.
A little over 3 years ago, when Dave and I had just split up, and I was alone with a baby and a four year-old, and I had no idea what my life was going to look like, I would sometimes daydream about fun things I could do when the kids were older. One of those was the idea of taking vacations together, just the three of us. Me and my girls, on our own, doing our own thing. So this trip kind of fulfilled that for me. And I know it’ll be easier as they get older – Lucy is still pretty high-maintenance when she gets off her routine, while Catie is old enough to roll with it (for the most part). This trip was great because I know we’ll be able to do this kind of thing again in the future.
Still, when Chris met us at the airport on Saturday night to pick us up, I was pretty damn happy to see him. Going to do stuff on my own with the girls is great, but I also really like having him around.