I vowed this year not to make the same mistake, and booked our trip to Austin to visit Gu Gu (L's sister) and Uncle C.
We have had a very mild winter, comparatively speaking, but let's just say we were all beyond excited to see that our daytime temperatures were going to be in the mid-seventies all week:
Anna and Aaron, making a run for Lake Austin on a gorgeous Monday morning.
I'd been to Austin once before, and had gotten a sense that Austin was like Berkeley: lots of hippies, lots of great food, maybe not-so-kid friendly. I was wrong about the last one. There was SO much for us to do, and we took full advantage thanks to Gu Gu's experienced navigation.
Duck boat tour of Austin-- the bus went right into the lake! The kids were in heaven and I learned why Texans fly their state flag and the US flag at the same height. (Because they can.)
Hanging out at Zilker park. I'm thinking, 'Hmmm.... how do I get my sister wife on board for a winter home in Austin?'
Austin has an AWESOME children's museum called The Thinkery. The kids were in heaven.
We went to a place called Kiddie Acres, and this amusement park truly deserves its own post. Besides the pony rides, there were maybe five other "rides", all meant for toddlers. Stepping into Kiddie Acres was like stepping into a Stephen King novel, set in 1955.
Kiddie Acres was AWESOME. As I write this, Aaron is standing next to me saying, 'Momma! I ride airplane!' Great memories.
Lots of eating of amazing junk food. An important agenda item when one travels to Austin.
And speaking of food, this is my lunch before Kiddie Acres. A chicken soft taco, but did you know that in Austin 'chips and queso' are a thing? As in, nachos with pretty much every meal, if you want it? Queso might be my new favorite word. I will say it in the depths of winter when I need to be reminded of Austin's greatness.
Now might be a good time to include a teeeny tidbit that might have added to our trip's pleasure. Gu Gu and Uncle C are remodeling their home right now, and because they have put so much wonderful energy out into the world, it has come back to them. What I'm trying to say is that the house we were allowed to stay in was the kind featured in magazines and posters about rich people (real, actual posters, that hang in the house). We were so, so lucky to stay there.
Sunrise, from the kitchen window.
Standing in the backyard, wondering just how many rocks one can throw into Lake Austin.
Blowing bubbles by the pool. Yes, a huge playscape behind that. This place was truly gorgeous.
It feels really weird to post pictures of the inside someone's home, particularly someone I haven't met. But suffice it to say the artwork was fantastic-- like FANTASTIC-- and I may or may not have discovered a picture of the home's owners chillin' with a pretty famous politician whose name rhymes with Phil Blinton. We were beyond lucky to stay there.
But of course, where we stayed paled in comparison to the company we kept. I got to visit with an old friend from Santa Clara I hadn't seen in five years. I met several of Gu Gu and Uncle C's friends, and I realized how true it was that great people attract great people. But most importantly, we got to spend time with family we only see once or twice a year. As I told several people before we left, I want my kids to spend as much time with their Aunt and Uncle as possible, in hopes that they will be inspired by their kindness, generosity, and overall awesomeness.
Despite all of this, I would be lying if I said the trip was complete. I purposely booked the trip when I did because it fell during what I knew would be an insanely long trip for L. Which isn't saying much, considering it feels like the last six months have been one insanely long trip for him. It was hard for us to be with L, and hard for L to see the pictures and not be with us. So the trip served a dual purpose for me: to solidify the importance of escaping the Minnesota winter, and solidify the importance of MAKING SURE L escapes with us, next year.
I'm not sure when we will come off the high of our trip to Austin last week, but based on Anna's obsession with her new cowboy boots and pink-tiara cowboy hat, I don't think it will be for awhile. Grateful for the time away, grateful for wonderful family, and grateful a yee-hawing, giddy-uping, great time in Austin.