Well, there we were, newly arrived at Sierra's house, rejoicing in our reunion while the kids ran around getting reintroduced and sharing toys and squealing in delight at mutual love of My Little Pony and trains. We got settled in, had a great dinner, got the kids sleeping situation fixed and the kids put to bed and Sierra and I got down to what we love to do - plan for exploration and fun (and talk! lots and lots of talking)!!
We sat down and wrote out a list: it was pretty long - we were really excited and overly zealous about all the possibilities - and then we circled our top picks and hit the internet for hours of operation, directions and cost.
Here's what our itinerary ended up looking like:
Thursday - Fort Sam Houston for lunch and the historic Quadrangle, followed by a swim in the neighborhood pool
Friday - afternoon of fun downtown checking out the Alamo and then dinner on the Riverwalk
Saturday - Morgan's Wonderland
Sunday - church and rest
Monday - Natural Bridge Caverns
Tuesday - Lackland Air Force Base
Wednesday and Thursday - hit the road again
We really tried to pack in as much fun as we possibly could into each day. I think that we accomplished that - every day was absolutely wonderful and we had a blast.
The first hurdle was figuring out to get five car seats into her minivan. We used Sierra's van because mine doesn't have the third seat in the middle row and hers does. Plus, Sierra lives in San Antonio, so it was easier for her to drive.
After one hot, sweaty hour of finagling/wrestling/shoving/rearranging of car seats, we got them in. Safely. I think we were quite a spectacle getting all of the kids in and out of the van - we had to lift the boys into the back seat through the trunk, and then climb into the trunk (this is a van, so standing room) to buckle them in. The girls could manage just fine, with the climbing, not so much the buckling - we still had to do that for them.
It was girls in the middle, boys in the back.
Then we were ready to go!
First item on the itinerary - Fort Sam Houston and the historic Quadrangle. Before we found the Quadrangle, we hit up Popeye's for some yummy lunch at a nice outside picnic table (outside because then no one cares when you spill a giant cup of lemonade all over the table - which happened). It was lovely though. The chicken was pretty good too.
|They got their own table!|
Warily eyeing us about half way down the Quadrangle was a tiny herd of very friendly deer. We got some pellets out of the machine and with palms loaded, we proceeded towards the deer. We didn't need to head to the birds because as soon as we approached the pellet machine, we were swarmed with about a dozen ducks and a handful of peacocks. So we fed them along the way as we headed towards the deer. This would have been a peaceful and idyllic scene had it not been for Little Man's fear of webbed fowl, and thus there was lots of fearful, almost tearful, whining and quite a bit of clinging. Literally. To my legs. And waist. So I ended up tossing the pellets pretty far away as a decoy for the birds while we headed towards the deer. This also involved simultaneously herding my little herd, except Little Man who was still glued to my leg, towards the deer. Did you know that herding small children is like herding cats?
|"Is there anymore??"|
Fortunately, Sierra and her brave and bold children reached the deer first and they got to feed them. Since Butterfly was with Sierra, she got to feed a deer right out of her hand! By the time I got there, a minute or two later, the deer were edging away from us - must have been the loud, running children . . .
We headed back towards the giant
|Did you catch that universal sign for needing a potty break?|
|This shot isn't hilarious. Very pretty though.|
|This is "Funky Hair Duck", as we dubbed her.|
|This was the 8th or 9th picture, taken by Sierra - I took just as many . . .|
|Getting some personal time with the Huey|
|These pool pictures were taken with Sierra's super awesome fancy water-proof camera!|
After some amazing (it was amazing because we were free to childlessly wander the aisles for an unspecified amount of time) retail therapy at WalMart after the kids went to bed (thank you Ryan!!), Friday rolled around and in the late am Sierra's son had a therapy appointment, so I stayed at home with the kids and fed them lunch and we watched My Little Pony and I prepared for our trip to downtown San Antonio! It was Alamo time!!
I had been looking forward to going to the Alamo for a really, really long time. And it was finally going to happen! In non-characteristic fashion, I did not look up any of the history of the Alamo and was going off what I foggily remembered from high school and early college history class - which was about a decade ago. I feel like I really missed out on some of the essence of the Alamo, but I didn't let that stop me from taking in the sights and enjoying myself. And trying to learn . .
I decided to wear Flower in my mei-tai baby carrier since it was pretty crowded downtown, and honestly, chasing after three small kids is exhausting (mentally). We unloaded the van and headed the few city blocks to the Alamo. Let me know just say now, if you are visiting San Antonio and can possibly go to the Alamo and Riverwalk on some other day than Friday afternoon/night, then do that. Apparently everyone who graduates from basic training on Lackland, and their families, was downtown seeing the Alamo and the Riverwalk. (It's what Mike did when he graduated from basic training.) Also, don't wear two shirts like I did.
We waited in line and finally got into the Alamo. Sierra gave me tidbits of information as went along, which was very helpful. The kids sort of enjoyed it, and I definitely did. Stepping into a building like the Alamo is like stepping into a piece of history. You are walking where history happened. You are looking at the same walls that saw military action, or in the room that housed the women and children during the fighting, and witnessed the fear, the hope, the intensity of human emotions that occurred within those walls. It's just special. I don't know how else to describe it. (Pictures are not allowed inside the Alamo as it is considered sacred.)
After we went through the Alamo, we walked around the grounds for a little bit and explored the cannons, took pictures and just enjoyed being at the Alamo. The kids really loved the cannons!
|I love this picture (that Sierra took) :)|
|Here is one of many pictures of Sierra and I taking pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. See how that works? :)|
|This was the what-is-probably-super-awesome library, which was closed to the public. Sierra and I would have LOVED to have spent quite a bit of time in there!|
|South Texas shrubbery at it's best. Actually, it really reminded me of south Florida . . .|
|They are almost all looking at the camera! Also, therapy chewies are super awesome!! (I can't express enough how glad I am that I had brought that with me for Butterfly - it's the green triangle in case you are wondering.)|
|This was one side of a monument to the men and women who died in the Battle of the Alamo|
I had taken Flower out of the baby carrier to explore the cannons and eat our delicious snack; once we were finished with our icees, I put her back on. And the adventure continued!
Since the Riverwalk was literally across the street from the Alamo, we headed down to the Riverwalk. I was so glad that I was wearing Flower because a stroller would have been a great difficulty. Luckily, Sierra had just been down to the Riverwalk recently when her sister came to visit, so she had a really great idea for dinner. We followed the River for a bit, and then crossed over a very steep bridge.
A little further along and we arrived at The Republic of Texas restaurant (have I mentioned how proud of Texas Texans are??). We were able to get seated immediately inside the restaurant (yay for air conditioning!). The fact that we got seated immediately is a big deal, since we arrived right at prime time dinner rush on a Friday night. (We were very thankful!)
|The menu was very interesting and entertaining!|
The food was pretty good, although I found myself pining for New Mexico chile (apparently I've been acclimated to the culinary tastes of New Mexico) on my enchiladas. The kids were pretty well behaved and Sierra and I were able to do more talking. :D The waiter was friendly and he remembered Sierra from her previous visit to the restaurant.
After dinner, we headed straight back to the van. Although we did pause briefly so I could get a few more pictures. It was past bed time for my kids and approaching bed time for hers and the Riverwalk was very, very crowded. I was wearing Flower, and Sierra and I both had a death grip on our other children. It was so crowded that it was single file only in some places. A stroller would have been a nightmare - yay for babywearing!!
After the kids were in bed, Sierra got me hooked on the TV show "Big Brother" and we stayed up very late talking. It was wonderful!
And I will leave you with that since this post is getting pretty long - so stay tuned to hear more about our amazing Texas-sized adventures! :)
I'll leave with one last picture - I really enjoyed the architecture (for the most part) of downtown San Antonio. Some of it reminded me a bit of Chicago . . . anyway, here's one last picture. :)