Freakazoids people, I feel like life has swallowed me whole and that this blogging world of mine was fast becoming a distant memory. Just trying to get this post out – one I wrote weeks ago- has taken forever. If I keep it up at this rate, you’ll only get to hear about the Mexico leg of our trip in about five years – give or take. But at least I could tackle one very important post though, that is #CarseatFullstop. Thankfully though, I’ve managed to get this post here, it’s live, it’s out there blowing in the internet wind, making me still alive and kicking in this here blogosphere. So without further adue, the start of Houston Summer:
There is just something about driving through an American suburban area that makes me feel good in my innards; That makes me feel like home. Maybe it’s the simplicity and aesthetic appeal that it so effortlessly and undeniably holds, or maybe it’s because it’s home to my family. Maybe I love it so much because each time I visit, I get to see my sister’s new abode, and there’s a certain excitement I hold in that. (I’ve seen every home they’ve ever moved into since moving to America 18 years ago.)
And without fail, each time I visit, the American suburban life wraps its welcoming arms around my little heart and gives it a warm hug. This time, it was obviously more special as I had my very own little happy family in tow – our momma included!!(yay!)
Pulling up through the driveway to their beautiful home, having my crotch sniffed by their family dog (pleased to meet you too, Kelsey), and walking through their front door only to be met by the very same welcoming scents my sister’s home always has (is it the candles?), with lunch ready and waiting, was like the red carpet of welcomes in family speak.
Now, anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a crammer of note. I’ll cram the last bit of oreo that my stomach can stand (and then maybe some more), the last bit of exam material five minutes before the test, the last bit of my to-do list before I collapse at night…as well as whatever last bits of time I have left in a day, I’ll cram what I can into it. In fact, I had a very good friend once say to me that it’s as if I’m in constant competition with myself to see how much more I can accomplish in a day. (Ah, those were the days, my friend!) And when I travel, that’s pretty much me as well: I want to experience as much of the country as I possibly can. I would easily forego sleep to savour every last drop I can out of a place I visit.
But this time? A mommy now, who’s no longer in her bullet-proof twenties? Not so much. Also, factor in the more-than-one-kid facet that plays a huge role here in the sudden slowing of pace. But, mostly I shouldn’t be surprised actually. Because, it happens every time I visit my sister. (Every damn time. ) The concept of time (and rush) just seems to escape me. I blame her and family of course – them, and their bloody interesting selves that make me want to chill, relax and just catch up with them all day. Also those awesome smelling candles my sister has all over the house! (Gahd, they are so good, even when not lit!!) And this time was no exception. Not that Mike complained, that’s more his style in any case. (It’s a constant balancing act for the two of us on vacation.)
But I thought maybe being armed with our refreshedSummer Bucket list we’d conquer, but alas… someone still somehow leaned on that blasted fast forward button and our time there hyper-spaced us back to the airport to say our goodbyes. Not to say it wasn’t awesome, though. In fact, we as could be expected had a bloody great time, even if the pace at which we went was far from cram –levels.
Instead, as usual, when in my sister’s house on vacay, you start your mornings real slow. The wafts of freshly brewed coffee is the only thing that finally stirs you from your deep sleep. You wake to find that your kids have been whisked away, are being fed and giggling away downstairs with family they have only just met – but are completely at home with. I would be lying if I said that wasn’t exactly as I had imagined it would be. A life I imagine so very often actually– one where my sister and I live mere minutes from each other, and “swop” each other’s kids often.
Breakfast in their abode is of course as American as it gets: turkey bacon, eggs, pancakes/waffles and whipped cream. All wonderfully savoured by all amidst the clatter and chatter of my sister’s now crowded breakfast table. That first breakfast there alone took us all the way into the afternoon. An afternoon which melted into a very late evening, where the sun never seems to set –thereby solidly screwing over my internal mom-o-clock. (As in, kiddy bedtimes became a bit of a flexible matter.) Life just all of sudden took on a more gradual pace.
I’ve got to be honest though, sometimes, that little wanderlust bug in me begged to be let out and just let loose to just go, go, go – explore. But the reality of having a two year old and five year old in tow reminded me to keep that bug in check. Getting their jet-lag sorted was the first thing in line. So flexible routines and taking it easy it was. Lord knows, there’d be not much fun if we had TWO littles that were overtired and losing their mind while we were exploring. More stress, in fact, so I gagged that little bug of mine for a bit.
That also played well with the truly unseasonal amounts of rain Houston was getting. Like backyards flooded and you can’t go anywhere – perfect for indoor catch up. Think I’m kidding? This is what their streets looked just before we came to them:
Yes, that’s a boat floating down their street.
But I told my sis, not to worry about entertaining us, we just wanted to be with them, in their space, in their life. Soaking up time with them in ordinary life day things. And we got to do some of that too…
But, in the mean time when the heavens weren’t opening up, we started knocking off some of our smaller Summer bucket list items, and enjoyed the incredibly hot weather of Houston, Texas!
In fact, guys, it was so hot and humid that there were times where I couldn’t even take photos! Like seriously. It was so humid my lens misted up. So out of pure fear of damaging my camera equipment (and phone) I just didn’t risk taking it out at times. So there aren’t many photos of our first few days in the city.
Which to me, as a photo-person, is a real bummer. But,guys, it got so bad at one point that the viewfinder started steaming up… from the INSIDE!!! So that’s where I drew the line and left the camera. The weather there was proper sweaty-thighs-and-don’t-bother-styling-your-hair though, so maybe it’s a good thing there weren’t all that many photo evidence of that! : ) (Ok, maybe I was just lazy about the hair – so fair warning here guys, I look pretty unkempt in most of our vacay pix.)
Also, there were times where I was farrr too engulfed in beautiful scenes of watching my girls interact with their cousins. Sometimes it’s three of them crammed into one bed talking about lord knows what. (I know at one point the bigger girls spoke of adopting them as sisters…hashtag, heart melt.) Or two of them caught in random conversations on the lounge floor, or bonding over artwork or the piano and guitar. The scenes were too lovely and so fleeting to still go run for a camera, that I knew these scenes were best captured by my heart instead. So I stared and stared…just until before it got a little creepy. Then I backed it up and left the girls to it.
So many hours spent in their cousins’ bedrooms oggling the tiny hot airballoons dangling from the ceiling, or the planetary system on the other side of the ceiling. All the dragon and Toothless love that was sprawled across the walls. And the ceiling to floor collection of books that kept Morgy enthralled. Mike and my particular fave is still the huge poster of Movie quotes she has plastered up on the wall. (Mike has an ucanny abilty to remember every freakin movie quote, soundtrack, producer, keygrip boy, you freakin name,of every movie he’s watched. It’s for some odd reason stored up in his brain.) Let’s not forget how pretty everything was in the other cousin’s room, and where everything had a precise place, with a clear love for Paris, NY and The Beatles is noted.
Fantastic dinners were had. Where my sister, mom and I shared laughs and Margaritas the size of your freakin’ head! (Every visit to my sister’s includes at least one night with Margaritas!)
This was also the same night where our lovely waitress actually broke down into tears as she watched us as a family. She came over to say how wonderful it was to see us just being so together, and how she could see how much we all enjoyed each other. And she was right- we do enjoy each other so.
The very same waitress later learnt that it was recently Morgy’s birthday and so asked if she could get the restaurant to sing for her. Of course we totally green lighted that, much to a little girl’s delight. The genuine enjoyment of that moment is forever etched into my heart and even more so is her face as the complimentary birthday desert was served.
She of course passed out five min after finishing that bowl (jetlag much?) – right in the lap of her cousin.
So many things to enjoy and love there.
You know what else I love? The fact that you could do a full on nature walk in their garden…like pine cones, frogs, stones and the works. I had great plans for some crafts with our “nature walk” treasure finds, but alas time had a tricky way of slipping through my fingers.
And just as a side note on that, it was very weird, maybe it was the jet lag, maybe it was the sheer exhaustion of our time in hospitala few days leading up to this trip, or maybe just the exhaustion of this past year..or maybe little bit of all A,B and C…but, honestly, whilst very happy and relieved to be there, I was a bit of a mess once we landed. So what would usually be my very ke sera, sera attitude whilst booking flights on the fly ( I did that the last time, where I spent about two months travelling to all four corners of the States, catching flights and road trips as and when needed, completely stress free.), was now replaced with a very high strung mom who had turned into a bit of a worry bug around all aspects of our travel plans. Mike couldn’t understand it (neither could I), as he knows I’m more the relaxed happy little unicorn of travel plans. I just couldn’t put my finger on it…so it was perhaps more our favour that we decided to take things easier and slower in any case.
I know right. Just my mom and my sister laying the table, chatting. Not an overtly vacation scene that would necessarily just scream “your best life”. But, dude, you would not believe how long I’ve wanted this.
Just the three of us – my mom, sister and myself. Just as my mom and I always fantasized – doing the ordinary life, with each other in my sister’s home. Chatting over the kitchen table about life till the cows come home – or till some little person needed to be taken to the toilet, or someone’s bum needed to be wiped. (Needless to say, our fantasies obviously did not include those less than glamourous kind of interludes, but that is our life right now. And I got to share it with my favourite two women, all under one roof. It’s always only been either my mom or either myself. Never at the same time.
Also thinking of it now, I realised we didn’t get the picture I really wanted. The one pic I wanted more than any other pic…the most prized pic would have been of our mother, with us, (her two daughters) along with each of our very own two daughters. How epic would that have not been? I had a special place on the wall for it, and everything. So of all the things I didn’t get to do on this trip, I think that one stings the most.
To keep the sting at bay, I constantly remind myself of Mike’s words of reassurance that we will be there back soon. Soon. I hold tight onto that, and pray for its manifestation.
You know, as I type this post, nestled under my many layers of duvets and faux fur, listening to our Cape Town winter rain pelt down, I can’t help but feel transported back to the melting days we had in Houston but a blink of an eye ago. Where the air and sounds are so apparent in their difference to back home. From the backyard, the smell of grass, and pine, bonfires, pool chlorine, marshmallows, remnant BBQ and the call of birds from the noticeably taller greenery in your immediate surrounds make it smell like summer for sure! A US summer no doubt. My first ever, and we were loving it!
Oh, and before I forget again, let me introduce you to our two tag along travel buddies. Mike’s normally the guy who names everything. Apparently everything needs a name – I didn’t know that until I met him : )…and there’s almost always a “Harry” with him (like our reptilian “room mates” we had at our Muay Thai training camp quarters whilst on honeymoon.) But since we were steeping ourselves in Texan life, we went with some more becoming names, like Terry and Billy Bob.
These two were whipped out just in time to save the entire aeroplane full of people from a major melt down due to a brewing toddler WWIII between my girls somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, and it was headed for epic proportions. Somehow these two Dinosaur lads shut it down immediately and became our much loved travel buddies.
Besides, travel photos are a little bit cooler with dinosaurs in them, right?
More on Houston City, Disney World and Mexico soon. (See here.)