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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Girl's Trip to Austin!

Nataleigh and I took a girl's trip to Austin, Texas.  I was attending a theater conference and at that last minute decided to take Nataleigh with me.  At home we are outnumbered by boys and I felt we really needed to connect. We were ready for some quality one-on-one time together. 
She was so excited to come. I was too. 
She was a great little traveler.  One lady at the airport stopped her and said, "Well, look at you with your kitty heels, rolling suit case and spring wrap.  What a traveler!"
She actually got lots of comments and I think she loved it.

From the second we entered the Austin airport we knew we were in a new town.  I kept thinking about Cameron who had spent 10 years in Austin and how much he loved it.  There was live music in the airport setting the tone for all the live music we would experience,  and it was easy to see why he loved this city.  I have to admit we also saw some examples of Austin's favorite phrase:
"Keep Austin Weird".

But, we were happy to be in AUSTIN!

My dear TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) friend, Megan, picked us up and gave us the royal tour of the town.  We cruised down South Congress and ate at the famous Home Slice pizza parlor.  Yummy!  We walked past all the unique shops and stopped in at a giant candy store where we loaded up on sweets.  We saw lots of Austin outdoor artists like the world's only peanut carver--he carves images out of peanuts.  Keep Austin weird, I guess. (See for more info.)
We also marveled at all the food trucks.  They were lined up everywhere and you could get any kind of food you wanted.  They even had a cupcake truck!

We did come on business, so we stopped into the hotel where the trade show was taking place and set up our TYA/USA booth.  The conference was organized by a sister organization called IPAY- International Performing Arts for Youth.  This was their annual Showcase event featuring theatre and dance performances from all over the globe.

That night we ate at the famed Hula Hut.  It was such an experience.  The entire place was decorated in Hawaiin decor and we ate on the floating deck.  The food in Austin is as good as everyone said.  I actually ordered a stuffed fried avocado--sound crazy but delish!  We were also introduced to queso--a divine cheese yummy-ness. We loved every bite.

We came back to Megan's house where her husband made us a campfire and we roasted marshmallows.  It was really fun!  That night Nataleigh met Megan's dogs: Lilly and Besos for the first time.  She had been a little nervous about staying at a house with dogs, but Nataleigh quickly feel in love with these 3lb Chiwawas. That soon became all she could talk about!
Megan and her family made us feel so welcome!  We had a relaxing morning painting fingernails and rocking out to music.  We really hated to leave.

We were excited, however, to meet up with my college friend, Heather Staker, and her children.  We trekked to Austin Children's museum where the kids romped and made art projects out of recycled materials.

We then ate lunch at Chuy's--another Texas favorite.  (Um, an order of queso...please!)

It was so fun to hang out with Heather and two of her four kids.
Friendship only gets better with time and I love when we can pick up right where we left off.

We next took the kids on Austin's Zilker Zephyr Miniture Train.  Heather and I enjoyed conversation while the kids enjoyed their blue and pink cotton candy as the train made its way through the large city park.  We even passed Barton Springs; Austin's three acre pool fed from under ground springs.  It is one of the only pools like it in the world.  Heather says it is FREEZING.

We spent a little more time on the swings and playset before Heather left to pick up her other two kids from school.  

Nataleigh and I then went window shopping.  

After Nataleigh's cute friend, Kenlee's, owl birthday party we have had owl on the brain.  
Everywhere we looked... we saw owls. 

It was so fun just to be with Nataleigh.  We weren't rushing in and out, or nervous about getting home to the boys.  It was just us.  I really appreciated watching her and seeing her preferences and devoting all my time to her.  When Nataleigh was little I would send Ethan to pre-school and then tell her it was "Nataleigh Time".  We haven't had that kind of focused time together in as long as I can remember.  What a treasured opportunity!

Okay, I think this picture is so funny!  What a poser.  I have NO IDEA where she gets all her drama from :)

We took a break from shopping to try "Amy's ice cream".  It was a treat.   We then had dinner at a little Italian place in the Warehouse district.  Nataleigh is trying to be more adventurous in her eating (read: picky!).  So, I had to preplan where we would eat.  All she wanted was plain noodles (No butter--that "gives her a headache". Really???).   Italian was the perfect choice.

After dinner we met up with another TYA friend, Roxanne, and her daughter, Genevieve, for a show.  We took advantage of the warm night and walked to the Capital.  Beautiful!
Roxanne and her husband, Carlos, hosted us that night.  The girls played board games and painted nails, while the moms talked about theatre and life and enjoyed being together.  In the morning Carlos treated us to breakfast burritos.  I tried CACTUS for the first time!  It tasted like...chicken  j/k.  It actually tasted great--like peppers.

The theater part of the trip was quickly coming to an end.  We saw a dance performance the next day, and then a theatre piece titled "The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly".  The title should be intriguing enough.  It was fantastic.  You know it is good when a room full of theater critics are standing on their feet at the end of the show.  The writing was cleaver, the set and costumes were well-designed, and the execution was spot-on.  The actor was a consummate professional and held the audience the entire time.  It was a very enjoyable experience.  That show was, as they say, 'worth the price of admission' to the entire festival.  Seeing that kind of theater inspires me and reminds me why I've dedicated so much of my life to this art form.  When it is good--it is great.

Before leaving the University of Texas at Austin, where the conference held its performances, we visited the Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium (formerly War Memorial Stadium) home of the Texas Longhorns football team since 1924.   The official seating capacity is over 100,000 making it the largest football-only venue (by seating capacity) in the state of Texas.  

Go Longhorns!

Heather and the Staker clan picked us up outside the stadium and we went to their home for the rest of the trip.  The Staker kids have lived in Massachusetts, Hawaii, Utah and now Texas--every time zone in the United States--except Alaska.  It's was great to spend some time with them.  That night we left the little ones with Alan and Heather and I took out Nataleigh and Tate.  Those two are like peas in a pod.  It was a lesson for me in how seven-year-olds "hang out".  We did a little shopping and then had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.  Fun times. 

On Sunday we celebrated Heather's birthday and then went to Church.  When it was time to go to the airport we were really sad to leave.  It made me want to live closer to good friends, and to make the effort to connect whenever we can.

As we were flying home I reflected on the trip and my time with Nataleigh.  She is growing before my eyes. During this trip there were multiple times when I felt I was seeing, for the first time,  my little girl quickly growing into a young lady.  Before I know it she will be a teenager.  And then, in no time, she will be grown and having her own adventures.  

What a special blessing it is to be her Mother and to know her as a child.  Hillary Weeks talked about this during Time Out For Women. She reminded us of how lucky we are to know our children as children.  They will spend the majority of their existence as adults.  As mothers we get to know them as children.  It's a sacred trust.

I am so grateful for this trip; for the memories we made, the relationship we forged, and everything I learned about her.

Nataleigh is spunky, smart, silly, sassy, and special.

I love her.

As we flew into St George I didn't want to get off the plane.  Of course I wanted to be with David and the boys, but I didn't want to let go of the moment.  I knew that we would soon be back to our routine and that I would quickly shift back into "Mommy Mode".  There would be a lot competing for my attention, and I couldn't solely focus on my girl.  

However, I find comfort in being able to draw upon the memories we made when our relationship might feel strained.  It's a testament to me of the importance of taking the time, or making the time, to really see each child whenever we get the chance.

1 comment:

  1. You just made me really miss my hometown...

    glad you had fun