Warning: This post will contain lots of pictures from my phone and play-by-play of a recent trip we took (think, trip slideshow) to Houston.
I've mentioned before how my hubby and his brother started a company last year. The change has been great. Our overall quality of life has improved--he's home more and even when he's at work, we're able to visit him whenever we want to. Don't get me wrong--obviously starting and managing a business comes with a lot of stress, too, but it's still ... better. We're abundantly thankful that he's taken this opportunity to forge his own path. Now. That being said, his hours can be crazy sometimes. More than once he's worked the night shift for several nights in a row, or, he's had to drive long distances to make a delivery (when there are only three employees, including yourself, everyone wears a lot of hats!). And these occurrences are often unpredictable, so we've learned to go with the flow.
Last week, he had to make a last-minute trip to Houston.
We decided to make it a family trip. I love a good road trip.
Even with kids.
On Monday we found out he would be going, on Tuesday we decided we would all be going and make a trip of it, and after a false start on Wednesday (again, unpredictability!), we headed out at the crack of dawn on Thursday. Rushed planning, rushed packing, all totally worth it. We loaded up in Dadda's truck, and headed out.
As I threw stuff in the kids' activity bag, I tried remembering what sort of in-the-car things they could do. Didn't I write a post about this once?! Alas, my rushed brain was toast, so I tossed in their library books and the iPad and brought along a cooler full of fruit and snacks for the road. Crazy enough, the books and snacks were enough. They never once asked to watch a movie or play a game on the iPad, so we never offered it. I think they were just really excited about the trip. I read lots of books to the kids, too, which they loved. When they're strapped in, I have their undivided attention, ha! We were just north of Houston when my hoarse voice and I decided to download this:
Did any of you ever listen to Adventures in Odyssey as kids? I didn't, but my sister-in-law has always talked about it, and she's great, so I downloaded an album. Oh. My. Goodness. We were all hooked and listened to it over and over again through the rest of the trip.
We finally arrived at our hotel, stretched our legs, and took the kids to The Rainforest Cafe for dinner in the Houston Galleria. We were all equally excited for this one. The kids loved it.
We meandered around the mall, making a quick stop in the Disney Store. Naomi immediately ran to the mirrors and started twirling. So cute. The kids were already asking which toys they could take home (sigh!) and we told them we had lots of fun activities planned for the trip, and after we had done all of those things, they could pick one toy from their favorite place and we would go back and get it.
(In the end, glow sticks from the Space Museum won.)
Our hotel was located on Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, which put us within walking distance of restaurants and shops. The kids and I hit up Starbucks every morning! We all shared one hotel room and Mommy needed to stay caffeinated.
We ventured to the Houston Aquarium the next day. The kids loved the massive fish tanks, train ride through a shark tank, plus there were carnival-ish rides outside, so we hit up the ferris wheel and the carousel. It was HOT, but it was fun! Cub was all about the rides! Oh, they also had a real white tiger. And a fake white tiger you could pose with (check out my husband's awesome pic below):
After we came home and cleaned up, we piled the kids in the jogger and walked to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Their margherita pizza is my frozen favorite, but never had I indulged in an actual California Pizza Kitchen restaurant. I had the VIP (complete with avocado, oregano, chicken, etc.) and it was absolutely the best pizza I've ever eaten. The kids devoured each of their small pizzas. Everything was so good!
(Check out the kids' fantastic cheese smiles. It's our latest thing.)
The next day, we loaded up and headed to the Houston Space Center. This is a large, open museum with tons of space exhibits and artifacts, plus a food court and play area. From here, you can take a shuttle to the Johnson Space Center. Yes. WHERE NASA HAPPENS.
(Cheesy smiles all around!)
And then Lydia started crying so I spent the remainder of our time at Mission Control in the stairwell, singing "Itsy-Bitsy Spider".
TOTALLY WORTH IT.
And, I have to give props to the Space Center for assembling this bad boy in the museum:
Our kids played on that thing forever. See that big yellow slide? It's massive. Space Angry Birds in the Space Center. Well played.
Some of my other favorites were the Saturn V rocket at Rocket Park (it never went in space, but it's the real deal, before the space "shuttle" was created) and posters of the different teams who flew into space, with quotes and information about the astronauts.
Um, wait. What's this? The Galileo Shuttlecraft from Star Trek's "The Galileo Seven" episode? Hm? How did this picture make it in here? Wait, is that drool on the corner of the picture?? What kind of geek would be so excited about a prop from Star Trek that took over a year to renovate before finding its permanent home at the Space Center, that is coveted by Star Trek fans around the world??
(Raises hand meekly.)
I may or may not have jumped up and down upon seeing this, and my husband may or may not have immediately steered the jogger in the other direction. I stood there for a minute to take it in. Along with a balding middle-aged man with a man purse and horn-rimmed glasses.
We shared the moment.
After an exhausting day, we headed to Kroger to buy non-restaurant-eating-out food for dinner, and, after a swim, a picnic and glow-stick dance party in the hotel room and my first sampling of Mexican Coke (yum!), we crashed.
The next day was one of those "unpredictable, so let's stay flexible" days. We were supposed to be driving home that day but had a delay, so, after a quick hotel change, we took the kids to see the movie "Planes" (so cute) and wandered around a store called Gander Mountain. Think Bass Pro, for my okie friends. The kids played in the tents. Win.
(Please note my kids covering their eyes while standing below the "Planes" movie poster. We had just walked out of the theatre and "the sun is just so BRIGHT!".)
We were finally able to head home on Monday. I have to admit, I was a little sad. Granted, we were out of clean clothes and had that "road trip" odor, but the trip was so much fun. It was so great to be together. It was exhausting--I don't think we really every sat still for very long, unless we were eating or sleeping, but it was all worth it. I'm so thankful we were able to drop everything and go.
And I'm thankful for this guy, who works so hard for us.
Have a lovely day!