My girls and I just returned from our sort-of-semi-annual trip to Houston!
We had a blast and made lots of memories, and someday soon those memories will make their way onto this blog, when I have some free time. Probably in March 2012 between 3:00-5:00am on a Thursday.
Meanwhile, this was a similar trip with KB three years ago…
I decided it was time to re-start our annual getaways this year. So, KB and I decided to go to Houston to visit Laurie, Bailey, Kevin, and Blake. The whole family was going to go, but I decided it was important to spend some quality time with my girl….so we left Daddy and Baby A at HOME!
Our trip started out just fine, with some new movies for the road. Halfway into High School Musical 2, we were cruising along minding our own business when we met our first friend in Wells, Texas.
Meet officer K. Fairchild. That’s him in the back window. He was nice enough to give me a little yellow piece of paper, my first souvenir from the trip. Hubby was SOOOO proud…..
Seriously, though….he was VERY gracious to me, seeing as how I was definitely going 70 mph, but he only ticketed me at 61. Thanks, Mr. Fairchild. I learned my lesson. My lesson being, I no longer have *IT*. Whatever *IT* was that used to cause troopers to give me nice warnings rather than real tickets. Dang. It stinks being old and …… middle aged. It also stinks having to have this conversation with your six year old:
“Mommy, why is that police man making us stop?”
“Well, honey…mommy broke the law.”
If you could please go ahead and nominate me for mother of the year…..
First stop (after our ‘unsecheduled’ stop, that is): Starbucks, Lufkin, Texas. Where I got my caffeine fix and KB had a banana-mango smoothie. With extra fiber. Something every 6 year old needs more of.
Somewhere around Livingston, I saw your car’s cousin, A.T. A pearly white Acadia with license plate HBJ, rather than XBJ. I won’t go into what that “H” might stand for, but you know, A.T. Is that weird for me to take a picture of that…..nah.
We drove straight through Houston and ended up at Johnson Space Center. Laurie had told me to call her dad, who works there, so I did. Laurie’s parents were my second set of parents in college, and I love them! God bless Curtis, he told us that the *first* thing we *must* do is to head straight to the back of the building and get in line for this tram ride for a tour of NASA.
We waited in line. In Houston. In August. (Outside). For an hour. Have you BEEN to Houston in August?? I don’t typically mind heat, but its Houston, which I think is located right on the equator. In August. Standing in line. In the heat.
Finally after an hour of standing in line, we board this little train, and
sweat sit a little longer, awaiting our turn for this *FABULOUS* tour that Curtis said we *MUST* take. God bless sweet Curtis, that sweet man. He really, truly meant well. 🙂 We took a very scientific tour of the Mission Control room (you know the room from the movie Apollo 13, where they talk with the astronauts, and the astronauts tell them, “Houston, we have a problem?” THAT room.
If you happen to be a six year old girl who has NOT seen Apollo 13, it might not mean much to ya). And from there, we saw the room where the astronauts train to get in and out of the shuttle,
and in and out of the space station,
and there may have been another room or something, getting on and off the tram a few times in between? Did I mention it was hot? I slipped into a coma somwhere along the way and missed most of it. And, oh yeah, that mission control room was up a flight of 87 stairs, FYI.
I could see how it would be interesting to a boy, or maybe my dad, the forensics chemist who is fascinated with scientific things, but not so much my 6 year old girl. But bless her heart, she was a very good sport about the whole thing. Even though it was outdoors. In August. In Houston. We were a sweaty mess, for sure, but look how cute and sweet she was, though wilted from the heat….
I took a picture of the two of us on the tram, but I won’t post it here because it reminded me a little of Elaine’s Christmas Card picture. I’ve never mastered the skill of taking pictures of myself, holding the camera at arm’s length?? How do you do that?? I usually get a shot up someone’s nose, or 1/2 a head, or…worse.
So anyway, three excruciating hours after we arrived, the tram tour
of hell of JSC came to an end, at which point we had to rush to the car to get to Bailey’s house on time, so all the fun stuff I remember about NASA as a child ~ the getting to climb into and see and touch, and astronaut suits and moon rocks and stuff ~ we didn’t have time to do and see.
(We didn’t actually see this. I stole the picture from the internet.)
$40 in tickets later. Next time, I’ll save my $40 and just stand in the heat for three hours reading a Calculus textbook. It will be less boring. 🙂
But you know what made it all worthwhile…….this sweet angel, my joy, my treasure,
held my hand the WHOLE time. The whole time!! And I knew then that this whole trip was what we needed. And that *WE*, mom and daugher, were going to be ok. Quality Time is her Love Language. Lord, help me to never forget that again….
We arrived at Bailey’s house, and were all so wiped out that we just stayed home and let the kids eat Subway sandwiches and play. It was the end of their first week of school, so though they had not endured the tram tour with us, they were equally tired. This is KB with Blake:
The next day, sweet Kevin ever-so-happily agreed to babysit all three children so Laurie and I could shop, and we *PROMISED* we would be home by 1:00. Being women of our word, we arrived home promptly at 2:15.
It was time to load the kids up to go to the BEACH!!! WHOO HOOOOOOO!!!! When you’re 7, 6, and 4, it doesn’t matter if its Waikiki, Seven Mile Beach, or Galveston, Texas….they’re all the same. This is Bailey with KB in the backseat of Laurie’s car. Look at those blue eyes! She looks like her dad, but way cuter. 😉
We ended our fun afternoon in Galveston with a trip to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. If you haven’t been there, its a little kids’ dream-come-true place to eat. Its dark inside, so I didn’t get any pictures, unfortunately, but really, its a place you just need to see for yourself.
A little side story: I had given KB $20 spending money when we left home, to spend on whatever she wanted on this trip. I want my kids to learn to deal with money and pick and choose what to spend it on, and learn that when its gone, its gone, and I don’t want to have to arbitrarily say “yes, you can have that,” or “no, you can’t,” I want HER to make choices though they may be bad ones, now when she’s young, rather than when she’s 22 with her first job. The last time we went shopping in Dallas, I had given her $10, which she promptly blew the first 3 minutes in the mall, in the first store we went into, on the first thing she saw. Three hours later, she was really regretting that her money was gone on something that she realized was junk after she had seen SO many bigger and better things.
***Edited to say: No, I don’t usually ‘give’ my kids money like this, but this was our ‘vacation.’ I figured if I could have extra spending $$ because it was vacation, then she needed some too, just for free, because I love her. Usually, she has to earn every dime she gets. Believe me, she knows full well how *rare* it is to be given money ‘just because,’ because that bears NO resemblance to the ‘real world,’ and I want my kids to know how to function in the ‘real world.’ As if this post weren’t already long enough.***
SO….long story short….. she learned a little lesson about how quickly money slips through your fingers, and though she had seen a few things she wanted, learned a little more self control and held onto her money ’til the end of the second day. At Rainforest Cafe, which has a Build-a-Bear inside, she decided to spend her money on a Build-a-Bear cheetah. And I approved. 🙂 I was proud that she had waited two full days, kept up with her little purse with her $20 tucked safely inside, and bought something big and nice that she really wanted. Another lesson learned: delay gratification, don’t trade your treasure for the first thing that catches your eye. And I’m sure life will present many more opportunities to practice that habit.
The next morning, we said goodbye to the Blain family so that they could go to church, and we could carry on with our tour of Houston. We went to the Museum of Natural Sciences, which was one of my own favorite places to go when I was a child living in Houston. Here is KB standing outside the museum:
At that time, 30 years ago, admission was free, and it was air-conditioned, which explains why we went there so often as a family. I loved seeing the dinosaur bones then, and KB was fascinated as well. Its really awe-inspiring to see the size of these things in person!
There are also lots of dead, stuffed animals, FAR more and far better displayed than our little Brookshire’s Wildlife Museum here in town. It was really a neat display, and my little animal lover loved that part of it, though I didn’t take any pictures of the animals. One thing we didn’t see that I remember from my childhood: the shrunken heads. Which is probably a good thing…..
You could literally spend two days there and not see it all, it is so massive! We only had a couple of hours before we needed to head toward home, so we made the best of it.
This beautiful spot, I remember from my childhood. I remember walking around it, sitting on the benches with my grandmother, watching the fish. I’m thinking I have a memory of my little sister falling in, but I’m not sure about that? KB loved it just as much as I did, and we spent quite a bit of time here. Its full of these gi-normous gold fish.
We ended a hot, quick tour of the zoo with a grape snowcone.
She requested that we go look through the zoo’s gift shop, and I was quick to remind her that she had run out of money and had no more to spend. She assured me she just wanted to look. So, we spent probably 30 minutes in that gift shop, looking over and touching each and every key chain, pencil, toy, t-shirt, totebag, and sippy cup, when she sighed with relief and said she was glad she had spent her money on her Cheetah, because there was nothing in that store she really wanted. That was a proud Suze Orman moment for me.
On the way out of town, she wanted to see the house I lived in as a little girl, so I gave her a tour of my old neighborhood. I told her stories of my life as a six-year-old the whole way, and it made me feel good that she was really interested.
This was where my grandmother lived when I was a six-year-old, 718 West 38th Street.
Its a little different than it used to be; there was once a one-car garage on the left, and I think the front door was where the ‘718’ is now. Most of my memories of this house are of the backyard, because when my sisters and I were there with our four cousins they threw the seven of us out in the backyard to play. I can’t figure out WHY they didn’t want the seven of us inside a tiny two bedroom house??
This was the elementary school where I went when I was a six-year-old, Garden Oaks Elementary. That big iron fence was not there in 1980. How times have changed….
This little stretch of Sue Barnett Street running beside the school is where I remember learning to ride a bike. It was along this spot where I remember looking back to see if my dad was still holding on to the back of my bike, and he was about six miles behind me, running to catch up.
And this is the cute little house where I lived when I was a six-year-old. I tried to take as many pictures of it as I could without the homeowners calling 911 about a crazy stalker in a white SUV.
Its been remodeled as well. The front porch used to extend from the living room on the front left, across the whole house to the right. Looks like they expanded the master bedroom? And, it used to be white.
Its funny, in my memories this driveway was SOOOO long. We used to rollerskate up and down this driveway. For miles. And now, its about 10 feet long. Its funny how things seem so much bigger when you’re a kid. That cedar tree next to the driveway was once our Christmas tree. My dad planted it there and it grew. At least that’s the way I remember it?
I remember this house being much bigger also…..but it was only around 1500 square feet. More than enough for our little family of 5 back then. Oh, how standards have changed. Everybody knows you need at least double that amount of square feet, just to survive. 😉 HCAD.org says the house is now 1826 square feet. And on the subject of changing times…… My parents paid $18,000 for this house in 1973, and now its only worth …. !!!!!!!!!!
That ditch near the street? We used to sit in that and play in the water after it filled with rain, and try to catch tadpoles.
I only have good memories of this house.
Leaving the neighborhood, we passed this Sears store on Shepherd, with a sign frozen in time. This is the same sign that was there when I was a kid. And probably when my mom was a kid. I remember writing the word ‘Sears’ over and over when I was little, because I saw this sign every time we went anywhere.
It was a fun, fun trip. I hated for it to come to an end….there was so much more I wanted to do and show KB. However …school was starting the next day, and all first graders need a good night’s sleep for the first day of school.
No offense, Mr. Fairchild, but I decided to take highway 45 home, rather than 59. Although you did make me feel quite welcome in your little town of Wells, Texas, I thought it would be best to see some different scenery on the way home. Along highways where they let you drive 70 miles per hour. I thought about you, Steph, along the way…
Looking forward to next year’s fabulous mother/daughter trip, KB! I can’t wait. Maybe I’ll let you have $30.
Meanwhile, let’s watch Apollo 13. I just so happen to own a copy. Curtis gave it to me. 😉