The plan was to visit Austin in October with Alex but things got complicated and I was afraid I would be even more stressed out going on a trip like this in the middle of the semester so the trip was postponed to December. I don't know what I was thinking when I booked the trip, but the reality of having to entertain two mobile and short attention spanned children on a plane and be the only adult they feel comfortable with for close to a week, did not sink in. The weekend before the trip was when I became nervous. The morning of the trip I was an anxious mess. Timing was bad and there was no one available to take us to the airport. With the help of so many kind strangers, I managed to get two kids, a stroller, a big piece of luggage, a duffle bag, and four small bags checked in and on the flight to Austin.
When we got to the terminal I went into one of the stores with the girls and let Cati pick out something for Elina and herself. Elina got a blue stuffed teddy bear and Cati picked out a Crayola backpack full of crayons, markers, chalk, and paper. I will forever be thanking Cati for this choice because that backpack was all we needed on the flight to Austin. Well, that and lots of snacks. We had a row to ourselves (no one wanted to sit next to us!) so once the seatbelt sign went off, girls were free to crawl and walk around out little row. I tried to treat the three-hour flight like we were playing at home, just in a much more confined space.
My dad surprised us at the Austin airport and my sister drove us home. For six days, my sister had three car seats in the back of her car. We did as much as we could sanely do and my girls took turns being cranky whenever there was a car ride. We spent the last two days there just hanging out at the house because I could not bring myself to another car ride.
While there, we visited The Capital and walked around the downtown area. We visited Pioneer Farms and ate at The Salt Lick (delicious!!!). We ran Color Me Rad and had a girls night out. I got to cuddle with my niece and see how my girls interacted with their cousin.
It was so much fun but so exhausting. Getting the girls to sleep in a new environment is always fun and for the three of the nights I slept with Cati and the other three nights I slept in an inflatable bed in the girls' room. Elina woke up each morning crying like a banshee (she was the house's alarm clock). The girls wanted to be with no one other than me and my dad would joke around and call them my shadow. The last two days were particularly rough because that's when Elina started teething so she was even clingier and, in general, my patience as the parent doing everything was running dangerously low.
I was nervous again the day of the flight back. Luckily, the flight back had more kids so I didn't feel as bad if my girls acted up. I had more help from strangers and was soon on my way home. When I spoke to Alex that day he asked if I missed him or if I just missed the help. The truth was, I missed both and I missed that feeling of being able to walk away knowing my daughters wouldn't cry out for me and that feeling of having someone else feel the responsibility of parenting this children as much as I do. I missed him having my back and I felt so lucky I got to come home to this amazing man my daughters felt so comfortable around.
The flight back was just as smooth as the flight to Austin. We didn't even need the Crayola backpack on the flight back because the girls were more entertained with playing with each other and eating snacks. The girls did, however, pass out as soon as we were in the car driving home.
What's funny or sad or ironic to me is how quickly we can step back into the old roles and routines of everyday life. I was happy to be home but within hours of being home I was already stepping back into the frazzled-ness that I feel characterizes me at the moment. Again, the trip was great and I am so happy we survived, but I think I will be waiting a long, long, long time before I travel by myself with the girls again.
And after all that has been said, here are pictures from our memorable trip to Austin, Texas:
Flying to Austin
Again, it's feels so good to be home. I love my family and am so thankful for all the time I got to spend with them, but there's no place like home. I think even the girls were starting to miss home. I was afraid they would be thrown off, but even they have gone back to their roles and I can happily report that there has been no banshee crying here.