Thursday, June 4, 2015

Houston, We Have a Long Overdue Vacation Recap

My kids' spring break was about two months ago. (When I started writing this post, it was only a month.) My family took the opportunity to visit my mom and stepfather in Houston. This is the story of that trip. It's going to be really long. It's mostly for my mom. Settle in.

On trips past, our day of travel has often been full of drama (and barf) and trauma (and barf) and stress (and still more barf). This time, there was one tension-filled moment after Sam bolted from the cab that took us to the airport to stand queasily over a garbage can, but after we filled him with lunch food and Dramamine, the rest of the trip was smooth sailing.

(We've learned some lessons about air travel with Team Stimey since our first expeditions. You can read about one such nightmarish expedition by clicking this here link or by Googling "stimeyland plane doritos barf.")

I mean, sure, Quinn ripped a piece off of the airplane almost instantly upon sitting in his seat, but it didn't seem totally necessary to the safe operation of the plane, plus we were able to reattach it pretty quickly.

IMG_9343
I became aware that the plane was at risk when Quinn held up the ring that adjusts the air vent and said, “What do I do with this?”

Quinn didn't remember flying on an airplane before. His palpable excitement and joy in taking off was super fun and infectious. When that kid is happy, he can light up a good three rows of airplane seats.

I don't think there is anything quite as good as seeing your own kid be incredibly delighted by something. This plane flight was one of those things for Quinn.  Then we landed and it was my mom's turn to be incredibly delighted by her grandchildren.

IMG_9345
Smiles all around. (That’s my mom on the right.)

We flew into Houston the day before Easter and although we're not big Easter celebrators, we *do* color eggs and eat chocolate, so there were some things we had to take care of instantly upon arrival.

IMG_9359
The best part of dying eggs is obviously watching the dye tablets dissolve into vinegar. I think Jack agrees. He watched this for a long time.

We usually just color the eggs, each of us in our own way.

eggs2
1. Jack spent a reeeeaaaally long time on one egg. 2. Quinn worked hard on creating the special GOLDEN egg. 3. Sam whisked through his eggs, then stared at me derisively.

We experimented with actually eating and/or poking at the eggs as well this year.

eggs
A couple of the eggs didn’t make it due to issues with their structural integrity. We may not have eaten them, but we definitely got our money’s worth through tactile exploration.

Also, there is actual proof of my being on this vacation because my stepfather (Richard) takes photos like I take photos, in that just like I take a lot of pictures, he does too, but his are high quality and well composed whereas mine are like this:

IMG_9351
If you are impressed with a photo in this post, he probably took it. If it is merely functional, chances are it is mine.

This pretty much wrapped up our first day in Houston, except for a debacle involving a jacuzzi tub and waaaaay too much bubble bath. I would like to state for the record that said debacle was not my fault.

Easter morning brought many fun activities:

IMG_9428
The customary egg hunt wherein at least one egg gets left behind to rot.

Candy eating.

[Photo not available, but trust me, it happened. Aaaall week.]

IMG_9440
Walking in circles on this most excellent rug that was placed as if it were meant just for walking in circles on it.


IMG_9445
Fine-motor activities in the form of peeling eggs for egg salad. These eggs were extraordinarily difficult to peel.


IMG_9454
Gonging. My mom had a whole story about how she acquired this gong in Indonesia, but I couldn’t hear it because, you know, Sam was hitting a fucking gong.

Before I carry on to the rest of our day, I need to tell you about this place that my mom and Richard go to ALL THE TIME. There is a state park near them where there are wild alligators and birds and other animals. They go there to walk and take photos a lot. Frankly, the possibility of seeing this place in person instead of just in photos posted on Facebook was probably 60-65% of the reason we chose to travel to Houston in the first place.

Mostly I wanted to meet this guy and all of his friends.

IMG_9544
This guy came walking up the shore as Alex and I were walking by. It was pretty cool.

He had a lot of friends.

We ended up taking about a five-mile out-and-back walk, which was all well and good until Quinn decided at the 2.5-mile mark that he was DONE. Part of that had to do with the heat and that he was tired. And part of it had to do with the fact that we wouldn't let him rip a shell off a turtle and take it home. We're extremely unreasonable.

It was about this time that Jack lost steam as well.

IMG_9538
Evidently we’re not “Texas heat” kind of people.

They pulled it together though, which I assume you know because you are aware that I didn't leave them out there with the alligators at mile marker 2.5.

IMG_9548
Although I did spend some time in the relative peace and quiet of an observation deck. Most of them didn’t have the energy to chase me. (Hi, Sam!)

Naturally, you don't go wading and pet wild alligators. You do, however, go to the visitor center and pet baby wild alligators though.

IMG_9578
Isn’t he cute? This makes two baby alligators I’ve petted.

Then we went and got ice cream because that is also what you do. We ate a LOT of ice cream while in Texas. I'm not saying we bribed our kids, but that is one reason why Quinn and Jack aren't still living with the alligators.

IMG_9588
That’s my mom with my kids and their cousin, who also lives in Texas. He’s a cool kid.

The next day was Travel to the Ocean in Galveston Day and also Alex's birthday. That was a good day. My kids love them some beach time.

IMG_9695
It was also the day we re-established that my kids have exactly the opposite sensory reaction to sand as me.

Quinn also tried to sneak up on some birds.

IMG_9726
It did not work.

Alex had a good birthday and was served a way fancier dinner than he ever would have gotten at my house.

Alex-birthday-6-rd
I think that everyone even kept their shirt on, which isn’t a guarantee with my crew, although most of them were wearing pajamas.

I even gave him a small version of sad cone.

IMG_9735
It’s supposed to be an iPhone stand, but that is not its Team Stimey Approved Function.

One thing I find amusing about traveling to new places is that people often go to the zoo. I find that amusing because animals are the same no matter where you are, but you still go to see the new ones in the new city.

On Tuesday, we went to the zoo.

The Houston Zoo is delightful. I mean, it's a hundred million degrees even in April, but it is absolutely lovely. We saw otters and elephants and cheetahs and all kinds of great animals, but the best thing we saw, in a sort of gift from the universe, was this squirrel eating a chocolate chip cookie.

IMG_9787
Then Quinn tried to steal the cookie from the squirrel and the squirrel ran away. This sounds like I’m making a joke, but it really happened.

Quinn also found a goat he wanted to bring home as a pet.

IMG_0018
This goat.

I was all, "You can't take that goat home; he lives here," and Quinn was like, "Can you at least ask the zookeeper?"

I did not ask the zookeeper. With my luck they would have given us the goat.

You can't spend every day on vacation chasing squirrels and birds and...hey, wait a minute. Maybe I should take a closer look at how much of Quinn's time he spends chasing animals.

Anywho, we did spend some time relaxing as well. We took in a movie, we ran some errands...

IMG_0142
I have absolutely no recollection of why we were at Home Depot, but I do enjoy Jack’s use of the self-checkout monitoring system.

We tested out a hair-containment system for Jack...

IMG_0138
I loved it. He found it onerous.

We took advantage of more than one swimming pool in my family's fancy community...

IMG_0053
And because Houston-area children were all in school during Team Stimey’s spring break, we had very little competition for the pool.

We learned new things...

IMG_0343
How lucky were we to find not just a banjo, but someone who knows how to use it?

We played spin the bottle...

IMG_9773
The bottle landed on me every time. It was delightful.

Some members of Team Stimey discovered sopapillas...

IMG_0313
I would travel almost anywhere for a good sopapilla.

And we waged silent wars with vaguely threatening birds...

IMG_0350
There’s always a shifty looking bird around, isn’t there?

My mom and Richard are building a new house and we got to go visit it, which was really cool because construction sites are super fun!

IMG_0173
I can’t tell you how much I love Jack and the way he finds interest in very specific things.

I loved being able to see my mom and Richard's vision for their house. It's going to be beautiful. There is a bathroom in that house that I would sell a child for once it's done. Not my child, but a child.

For now, though, it's merely a neutral backdrop for a stunningly attractive family.

at-Bentwater-rd
Look at that wacky bunch. (Photo © Richard)

Our last big outing was to Johnson Space Center, which was totally cool. I highly recommend going if you get a chance. You can do all the things that we did. We went to Historic Mission Control, which was super, super cool.

IMG_0213
Here, Jack, stand in front of historic mission control.


IMG_0214
Here, Sam, stand in front of the historic mission control sign.

We went to see the Saturn V rocket, which is bigger than you can possibly imagine. It was so cool.

IMG_0223
It’s in a huge building and I imagined that the rocket would be in there with some other stuff, but the only thing that fits in there is the huge-ass rocket. It’s really cool.
IMG_0227
Here, Quinn, stand in front of the rocket. This is only one of five engines that launch this thing.

After our tour to mission control and the rocket, we ate lunch, which included a moon pie. This space center is probably the last place where they sell moon pies. (It didn't really taste very good.)

After moon pies, we wandered around the exhibits for a while. We briefly lost Jack, which was heart stopping and terrifying. That kid is quick and sneaky. Fortunately we found him and quickly switched from a zone defense to man-to-man and no one else got lost. Something terrible did happen to Quinn though.

IMG_0270
We’re going to miss him.

I was on Quinn, so I got some excellent photos of him in a variety of locales, but interestingly enough with the exact same expression.

PicMonkey-Collage
He was happier than he looked.

And, yes, those are weird exhibits for a space center. I didn't get it either.

We had a really good trip. My mom has lived in Houston on and off for a long time now and it was really great to finally get to visit her there. Plus, we had bonus relatives we got to hang out with. I'm really lucky to have such a wonderful family.

IMG_0322
Big love to a big, wonderful family.

Phew. Thanks for sticking around and reading. As a reward I give you this photo of me and Alex where Alex was afflicted by some sort of painful eye injury that left him with one eye swelled almost shut. He was also afflicted with kind of an asshole of a wife who makes fun of him and then posts photos of it on the internet.

IMG_9585
File under “Alex, being a good sport, photos of”

Thank you Nana and Grandpa Richard. We had such a blast visiting you. Thank you for everything.

IMG_0152
Thank you both. We love you!

4 comments:

  1. And thank you for coming. We had the best time!!!!! Also - loved reading this post and reliving the visit through your eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think your next vacation must involve alligators too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Barbara SigelbaumJune 4, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Did Sam turn 30 while I wasn't looking?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay, trip report! *claps excitedly* There's so much to love here... Jean's mom! Baby alligator! Space stuff! SAD CONE!! But you know the thing that made me squeal, right. Need I even mention that it's OMG A SQUIRREL EATING A COOKIE. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! May you be visited by unicorns and kittens.