Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two Weeks of Mostly Vacation

We have had a busy and fun past couple of weeks. There are also lots of things rattling around up in the grey matter so this'll be a lengthy if perhaps a little boring, post.

We left for Austin on a Tuesday 2 weeks ago, after work, and flew until very late into the evening. There are no nonstop flights right now (boo!) and Jambuca doesn't sleep in a lap. He dozed about 20 minutes before we landed. By the time we got the kids into bed, it was 2am Eastern time. Rough night, but still probably the best way to go so you don't lose a whole day to travel.

The first day in town we went up to UT campus and wandered. The place has really changed in the last 10 years. The stores on Guadalupe are entirely different, and the campus buildings are much shinier and prettier than they were before. Even the bus routes have changed. No more number 9 bus, and ER goes past the Texas Swim Center now. But I enjoyed the visit, and we bought some fun Bevo tchotchkes at the Co-op. I spent a few minutes wandering the halls of my old building (where the Spanish and Portuguese departments now live) and nothing inside was the same-- the elevator even goes all the way up to the top now!

It reminded me that I used to have a research assistant who was in a wheelchair, and I wouldn't let her run subjects alone because if there was an emergency, she'd have no way to escape the building. Those were the days, when life was simple and no one on the board of regents gave a rat's toot about the safety of undergraduate research assistants. 

Thursday we went to IKEA and let e-baby play, play, play at the kid area (Smaland). It was the first time she could play- she's barely tall enough (by 1/2 inch). Oh how sweet, to wander the aisles with only one fidgety kid, and 3 grown-ups. Every store should have a Smaland.

That night we walked to Cafe Medici, which is a fairly new coffee shop a couple blocks down from our old apartment in Clarksville. They had GREAT coffee. Beautiful coffee. I think the location used to be a women's clothing store???

Friday we had a playdate with T and E and their 3 kids (A, M, and V). Their oldest child is famous for being The Reason we decided to have kids at all. He's still the sweetest, smartest, happiest, perfect-est little boy ever (except, of course, for Jambuca). Be careful around him. He'll make you think parenthood is so easy. In order by age, it's A, e-baby, M, Jambuca, and V. They got along like a house on fire. They were pirates. They were singers. They were monkeys in trees. They were construction workers. T and E seriously need to move to Raleigh someday.

That evening we walked to the coffee shop in the shopping center at Windsor and Exposition. A shame about that place. There used to be a fantastic little gourmet grocery store, a small hardware store that carried the bits and parts for everyone in the neighborhood's old appliances, a restaurant that was an Austin fixture, an awesome bakery, a post office, and a few other little shops here and there. Then the property was sold to a person in Houston who refused to renew the contracts of any vendor who 1) sold meat 2) sold other (non-milk) animal products, 3) sold products that might be used to harm animals (like mousetraps and bug spray). This happened while we lived there, and one by one all the great places left. Now there's a post office, a coffee shop (that sells only vegetarian sandwiches and pastries), a yoga studio, a holistic health woobie-woobie place, some kind of vitamin thing-or-another, and a lot of chiro-realtor-lawyer-crap offices. What used to be the heart of the neighborhood is now its weird second-cousin that no one want to get stuck sitting next to at Christmas dinner.

Saturday we went to Natural Bridge Caverns with my brother, his wife nd their baby, and my parents. I loved it. So did e-baby. Jambuca fell asleep half-way through. E-baby was great at asking questions throughout the tour, and I could tell she was really absorbing a lot of the information. She's since taught her friends (and some of my friends) about the rock formations you find in caves. Sure it took an hour to get there, but it was worth it.

Sunday, we had another playdate with E and the kids, and had dinner at Kerbey Lane South. Pancakes as big as your head.

Monday, SNG and I left the kids behind and went to San Marcos. Unlike Austin, it has hardly changed in the last 15 years. Sure the surrounding area is different-- there's continuous suburb from San Antonio to Austin now-- but the campus and downtown are essentially the same. I still love that town. I'd still love to live there again someday. If corporate life ever gets too dreary, perhaps there's a teaching job waiting for me... Later that evening later we took a walk to Mozart's coffee shop on Lake Austin. I saw a guy drop his car keys into the lake. He tried fishing them out with a golf club, and finally had to jump in for them. Dinner at Magnolia cafe. Grumpy kids. Mom came by with the van to rescue us from a long walk back to the house with two overtired gremlins.

We flew home last Tuesday. Wednesday I took a day off work so e-baby and I could ride all the rides at the State Fair. It was rainy so hardly anyone else was there. It felt like we had the place to ourselves. No line for biscuits at the Apex Lions Club, no line at any rides, no lines for cotton candy, no lines at the petting zoo, no lines at the Grist Mill, no lines at the Ocean Spray samples truck. We had so much FUN! And I chatted with a rabbit breeder at the rabbit exhibit for a half hour and came away with the knowledge that we need a pet rabbit.

Thursday evening we drove down to New Bern. One of SNG's big projects had a grand opening over the weekend, so we went to the festivities. Lots of boring speeches (sorry, Gov Perdue, you're in that list), lots of lunches and dinners, some fun for the kids, and I'm really glad we went. It was cool to see the project and meet some of the people SNG has talked about in the last couple of years.

We got home Saturday night, too tired to do anything. Pooped.

Sunday, we went to the state fair again. The whole world was there this time and we waited in line for ev-er-y-thing.

Whew! OK, so that's where we've been.

Now other stuff.
In the last 3 or 4 weeks, Jambuca has grown tired of being misunderstood. He has exploded into more signing, trying to say words (with very limited success), and asking us for more words/signs. The number of new words I have seen/heard from him are no longer countable, really. It's all very exciting.

He's also been really affectionate this week. He must have read the post last month about how he prefers SNG, because I've become A-OK again. He want snuggles and hugs and kisses all the time. I recall e-baby was like that at this age, too. She's still very snuggly, but she's also surly at times. Jambuca's just sweet, sweet, sweet.

Whew. brain dump finished.

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