Wednesday, May 5, 2010

travel adventures: Austin, Texas

day 1: it is literally freezing cold as we head out and I keep waiting for the sun to come out as we drive further south. It refuses and the entire drive is cold and dreary. We have no motivation to get out and explore in the wind and cold so we speed on down to Austin stopping only once for gas and lunch. We stopped at Fazoli's at barely after 11 and I found it quite disturbing that the closer it got to the noon lunch rush the fewer people were in the restaurant. The kids did great, Ella Bella was perfect and Moo was nearly so. We quickly realize the lack of potty's meeting Moo's requirements will be an issue. Back on the road and to our hotel with no problems. On the recommendations of dozens of friends, we head out to Chuy's no. 2. Very good. Would have been so much better if I didn't get a pounding headache in the middle of dinner. But we would definately go back! Perhaps this trip! We head back for the last adventure of the day: bedtime. We hope to get the kids in bed and then watch tv while hey sleep. Yeah... not so much. We are all in bed by 8:30 because Moo can't fall asleep.

day 2: We wake up to freezing rain. What. in. the. world. That's ok... we come from up north and are undeterred by the threat of bad roadways and head out for my biannual pilgrimage to IKEA. Apparently, any bad feelings I have towards IKEA due to our memorable last encounter are healed. We get there as it opens and have the entire store to ourselves. Wonderful. The kids aew having a blast and the heavens must be aligned because even Hubs is feigning enjoyment. We checked out the mini home displays, thoroughly explored and played our way through the kids area, enjoyed $2.49 meatball lunches, shopped, played some more and then left. Because they closed the store! Due to the snow it was empty, we maybe saw 100 employees and patrons in our 2.5 hours in the store. Unheard of for IKEA. We checked out the outlets right next to IKEA and discovered even after they had been open for 4 hours, we were the first patrons several of the stores had! No awesome deals, the best score was some $5 crocs for Ella Bella. We head back to the hotel and both kids fall asleep in the car so we take the scenic interstate route to south austin and back. The roads are dry but schools are all letting out for their first snow day in a decade. I don't think the weather was even close to bad enough that a snow day was needed, but I bet those kids were so excited they were impossible to teach. We hang out in the room and then head to Baby Alcopolco for dinner.... it was quite good but Moo was off the whole meal. Saying he was cold and couldn't eat... We try half price books after dinner and he is so miserable he cries every time his dad is more than 10 feet from him. We bail on the books and take him home. He cries, his teeth chatter and the poor kid is just DONE. A little tylenol and a little veggietales and all is right in the world. Ella Bella went to bed for the night but is now up partying with us watching dirtiest jobs.

day 3:
planned for tomorrow:
state capital building
austin children's museum (free with ss pass)
flagship whole foods market
book people
zilker park train
barton springs aquifer exhibit

Day 3 doesn't quite go as planned. Ella Bella is up screaming, hair pulling and definately not sleeping from 10pm to 3am. Not cool. She finally gives in to sleep and we all sleep in till 9. By the time breakfast is done and everyone is ready to go it's 10. We skip the capital and head for the Austin Children's Museum. It's free with our science spectrum pass :). The kids loved it. I had read many reviews online saying it was claustrophobic and filthy. Not so! Clean, organized and very creative. There are many small spaces because it is designed for children. We spent more than 2 hours exploring. Moo loved the train tower best but really enjoyed it all. Ella Bella loved it all but especially enjoyed the pretend grocery store, cafe, and recycling plant. Admission is a little steep but is free if you are a member of other participating children's and science museums.

After the museum, we headed to the whole foods flagship store at 6th and Lamar. Oh my granola.... It's massive! A dozen eateries throughout the store, a playground on the roof, a parking garage and escalators.... Crazy. We went for lunch and if was very busy. It was easily the kids favorite meal all week... I would love to be able to shop there every week! After whole foods, we went to the book people and REI. Both were kinda disappointing. Well, maybe they were awesome but a tired baby and a preschoolers refusing to potty were wearing me down.

We then went to Zilker Park to ride the Zilker Zypher. Moo man was about to explode from refusal to use any public potty and from the excitement of getting to go on a real train. He loved the train, his smile was huge the whole time. It's inexpensive and runs along the edge of Barton creek and town lake. We will definitely go again when we go back to Austin.

After the train we went to play on the playground and Moo freaked. Crying and shaking, demanding we go home home NOW. He wanted to use his potty no other potty would do. Oh eyeroll. Hubs said let's go and I said no way.... He will refuse to go wherever you take him. Moo hadn't gone in 7-8 hours at this point! So.... I locked him in the car with his potty seat and wouldn't let him leave until he made it happen. 15 minutes of crying ( him) and email checking (me).., success. And a vacation memory made....

We finished out the day with a long walk around Zilker Park and dinner at Kerbey Lane Cafe on Guadalupe street. We learned from the previous days and didn't order the kids anything and it was a more enjoyable experience without trying to get them to eat. I got the hippy burger, tasted good... Not sure about the texture of vegan burgers.

Day 4- everyone slept great! Breakfast, pack up the car, and head to the capital building. Parking was a breeze and the capital was pretty empty. The kids liked it.... However I was on edge. Not a safe place for little kids! Moo really wanted to go to the top of the dome. Ummm. No. The craftsman ship of the capital is just amazing. After growing up in New Mexico with it's early 1980's modern and streamlined capital building it's neat to see these massive old buildings of such detail.

After the capital, we head back to IKEA to pick up a few small things for Gran. There is a neat little playground and shopping area in front of IKEA where we stopped for lunch. Just subs, nothing exciting. Moo starts doing the potty dance and crying for home again so we repeat the potty in the backseat standoff again. This time he refuses to even try and I am livid. So. Done. We leave round rock in a hurry and are so ready to get the grumpy kids home. We stop only once to throw a diaper on mr. Not-gonna-pee-in-a-strange-potty and make it home in 5.5 hours. Hooray.

This was our first vacation without any interaction with extended family since our honeymoon almost SEVEN years ago. Which is CRAZY because we travel quite often. Lessons learned: get a suite with kitchenettes and never underestimate a preschoolers fear of strange potties. We spent HOURS sitting on bathrooms trying to dissuade that fear. Not fun. We didn't get to the State History Museum, the Cathedral of Junk, or any thriftstores. And there is always IKEA. So we will definitely go back to Austin.