Don’t Mess With Texas!

We spent the last five days in Katy, Texas with Jason’s family, visiting, eating, touring, eating, and taking lots of pictures…did I mention eating? Despite the rushed start it really was a wonderful time…and we escaped the incredible California heat wave! So, here’s the recap (fair warning, it’s long)…

We arrived in Houston early on Friday morning. The flight was extremely easy, and was so late that Hannah slept almost the entire time. She wasn’t thrilled with being confined to her car seat while everyone was boarding, but once we began moving she was fine. We changed a diaper, picked up our bags in what must have been record time, and were out the door to find our rental car in a matter of minutes. Even finding the car was fairly easy, and we got it packed up, and headed off to the hotel. That was the end of our easy morning. About 30 minutes into the car ride, in morning rush-hour traffic, on the Houston freeway, Hannah threw up. I’ll spare you the details, simply because I’d rather forget the whole incident myself! Let’s just say we ended up pulled over on the side of a very crowded freeway, for a major clean-up operation. We stripped her down to her diaper, covered her car seat with a plastic bag, and again headed for the hotel. When we arrived, I immediately put Hannah in the bathtub, and Jason headed to the Wal-Mart (conveniently located just across the street) for Lysol, Febreeze, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc…. After a bath Hannah was as good as new – totally unphased by the events of the morning. I, on the other hand, am still recovering! This was the one part of motherhood that I had nightmares about…and it finally happened – worst case senario. And, yes, it was as bad as I thought it would be!

After a short nap, we spent the evening with Jason’s family. We had a great time visiting with them, and Hannah enjoyed playing with their dog (Katie). They had a “few” presents for Hannah, her favorite being a little rocking horse. (She made it very clear that I was the only one interested in the cute little dresses and polka-dot shoes.) She was very happy bouncing on her new “horsie” and going “back-and-forth” (one of her all-time favorite activities).

Hannah decided not to play along when bedtime came around. It was, after all, a new place, with a different bed…and I half expected the tantrum after our little trial-run at my parents a few weeks ago. So, it didn’t take long for us to give in, and put her in bed with us. It was a king-size bed, which seemed huge compared to our normal queen-size (which we share with 2 cats on a nightly basis!), so there appeared to be plenty of room. Hannah slept great, a solid 11-12 hours…we on the other hand, did not do so well. But, I’ve learned that sometimes one must become a pragmatist – and as a parent, there are times that you just have to do what works. So, this was our sleeping arrangement for the entire trip…And I have yet another reason to add to my list of why I absolutely do not comprehend the whole “family bed” concept!

On Saturday we let Hannah sleep in (until 9:30!), which proved to be a good choice, since she never really adjusted to TX time. We spent the afternoon touring “Old Katy,” in an attempt to show Hannah where her daddy grew up. We saw his high school, parks where he played, his old house, the MKT train, and then ventured on to some of the newer parts of town that Daddy hadn’t seen yet! Hannah was less than impressed, and spent this little trip down memory lane napping!

Sunday, our plan was to visit Redeemer Community Church. (Jason’s former youth pastor is now the new youth pastor at this church.) But, Hannah has been having a difficult time adjusting to her new nursery class at our church, with familiar faces, so we weren’t too sure how she would new in a brand new place. Besides (here is the pragmatic influence again), we thought it would be best to let her sleep, since she was jumping on the bed and giggling until about 11:00 the night before! (I asked her at one point, “Do you like vacation?” She squealed, nodded her head, and said, “I like, I like!”)

So, we didn’t make it to church. But, we did get to spend a wonderful afternoon with Bill and Jean Freund, and their kids, Drew (10) and Jessica (6). We had a good, southern lunch (fried chicken), and great fellowship. It was great to hear about their new ministry, and see their excitement for their new church. Jessica kept Hannah entertained, sharing her toys, and reading to her. It was a great afternoon, but it definitely ended too soon!!

On Monday we headed out to Galveston Island, and Moody Gardens. We visited 2 of the 3 pyramids – the Aquarium and the Rainforest.

Hannah loved looking at the “feeshies”. She was absolutely mesmerized by them. We would push her stroller up to the window, and she would point, and clap and squeal, “Meemo! Meemo!” (translation: “Nemo!”) when the various sea creatures would swim past. One seal seemed particularly interested in her, and kept swimming by her parking spot.

From there we moved on to the next pyramid which is designed to simulate the Rainforest – plants, wildlife, and climate. So, it was extremely warm and humid in there. (Yes, more so than it was outside!) But, we enjoyed wandering around, looking at the birds, and the flowers.

As we looked at God’s beautiful creation, I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 8,

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We stopped for dinner at The Rainforest Cafe! Hannah got a kick out of the robotic animals as they began to move just before the “thunder storm”. (The Rainforest Cafe has a thunder storm every half hour. The lights flash, thunder booms, and you hear the rain falling around you as you eat. It’s pretty cool!) She wasn’t a bit bothered by the thunder, although her grandparents were a little concerned. She started getting a bit antsy while we were waiting for the food, so mommy took her on a little walk around the gift shop…Daddy came out a few minutes later and took over. Hannah came back to the table with a sweet little (beanie baby) puppy, appropriately named “Houston”.

We woke up to a real thunder storm on Tuesday morning! Again, Hannah was unphased. She loved watching the rain on the drive to her grandparents’ house. You would think she had never seen rain before…Oh, wait, she lives in Southern California–she hasn’t!

Since we were leaving the next day, we decided to keep Tuesday low-key, and, because of the rain, indoors. So, we of course headed to the mall. We spent several hours wandering around. I found a Bath and Body Works outlet store, and attempted to buy out the entire stock of my favorite lotion, “Country Apple” which has sadly been discontinued! I also picked up a few bottles of “Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin” lotion (another favorite that is practically impossible to find) for the fall. When the little one started to get sick of her stroller, we found a book store and let her run around the children’s section. Jason found an entire shelf of the “Little Golden Books” and I found several old favorites – including Walt Disney’s Mother Goose! We also spent quite a bit of time in the Bass Pro Shop, where Hannah was once again enchanted by the fish tank. Who knew you could have so much fun in a mall!

As we left the mall, we discovered that the rain had stopped, and we were met with bright sunny skies. So, we all headed back to the house where we had grilled salmon and asparagus for dinner, and individual molten chocolate cakes for dessert! (I can’t wait to try this recipe! It looked extremely easy, and they turned out great!)

We spent some time visiting, and playing with Katie (the dog), and Hannah enjoyed her rocking horsie again. We did make it a fairly early evening, and headed back to the hotel to pack up for our trip home.

We woke up on Wednesday to discover that it had rained so much that the streets were flooded, and Bush intercontinental Airport was reporting that most flights were delayed about 1 hour and 35 minutes! (The drama never ends when it comes to air travel!) By the time we left the sky was still gray and cloudy, but the rain had stopped.

We spent the morning staying out of the rain with Jason’s family, and said our good-bye’s. We made it to the airport at about 3:30 for our flight (which was originally scheduled for 6:09 p.m.), and were (pleasantly) surprised to see that the boarding time for our flight was 5:19! It looked like whatever weather delays there may have been had been taken care of. But, when we got to the gate, the flight was delayed until 6:33 – still not too bad. It’s only a 20 minute delay. When the plane was still nowhere to be found at 6:45, we kind of figured that we weren’t going anywhere any time too soon. Around 7:00 the plane showed up. Hannah was an absolute angel through all of this! She played with the seatbelt in her stroller (praise the Lord for seatbelts!!), and we took turns walking to the window to look at the airplanes, and of course she made friends with everyone there!

We sat for the normal amount of time while everyone boarded the plane, and they loaded the luggage, and all the typical plane “stuff.” And we pulled away from the gate, and got in line to take off! Yay! Homeward bound!

Then we turned around and headed back to the gate. No, I am not kidding!

Apparently, someone in the back of the plane was feeling “ill” and we had to go back and let them off. So, the pilot turned the plane around, and we waited for an open gate. She also had 2 pieces of checked luggage that had to be unloaded as well. Now, “ill” was the reason that was given for this woman being taken off the plane, and was completely accurate. But, being that we were near the front of our cabin, I overheard the flight attendants (okay, I was eavesdropping!) say that she was asthmatic, and didn’t have any medication with her. So, after that whole ordeal, at 8:15, we were finally back in line to take off. (Over 2 hours late!) Hannah, again, was wonderful and slept most of this time. Now, that did worry me, only because we still had a 3 hour flight ahead of us, and I really would have preferred that she sleep through that…

Hannah did actually sleep through most of the flight. She woke up for take-off, and chomped on a pacifier…I think that probably helped her ears, because there was no screaming. The drink service came through shortly after, and was closely followed by the “midnight snack” (i.e., dinner). She had a sippy cup of apple juice and cheese pizza (which she gobbled down!) – that made for one happy girl! After “dinner” she was awake for a little while, and attempted a few escapes from the confines of her car seat…But, we distracted her with a few books, played with her duck and her puppy, and she was out again. In fact, she stayed sound asleep until we took her out of the car seat to get off the plane! I adjusted her stroller so she could continue sleeping.

But, LAX was just too busy and interesting at 9:30…so she just laid there looking pathetic and staring at everything and everyone around her. We rode a few elevators trying to find the baggage claim, and finally found it, and my mom who was there to take us home. Our bags came through without a problem, and the traffic (at 10:00 p.m.) was great, so we were home by 11. Hannah, once again slept the entire way. We even managed to get her out of the car and into her crib (fully-dressed, no diaper change, of course!) without waking her up.

However, that only lasted about 10 minutes. Then, she woke up. And, when I say she woke up, I mean she woke up — she thought that it was time to play!! And play she did!! This child ran all over the house squealing at the cats, picking up her toys and hugging them, like they were long-lost friends. It was so cute…we probably could have let her go quite a bit longer, except that, unlike Hannah, we did not sleep the entire flight, and we were ready for bed. (Not to mention, Jason had to be at work at 7:30 this morning!). So, around 11:30 I decided to try out her normal bedtime routine, hoping that might settle her down enough to get her back into sleepy mode. Amazingly, it worked like a charm! We put on her p.j.’s, brushed her teeth, read a few stories (the ones we didn’t bring with us), and said good night. And that was that. She laid down, alone (I point this fact out for anyone who may have been concerned about her transition back to real life after our vacation sleeping arrangements), in her crib, without a peep! She woke up around 3 a.m., but just for a second, and she was out again…Until about 8:30. Right now she’s down for her afternoon nap…She’s doing great, and seems to be getting back on track fairly quickly.

We had a wonderful time, but, there truly is no place like home.