So Long, Summer

Lake Austin

While Labor Day weekend constitutes the unofficial end of summer, it’s a little difficult to get on board with that, since, living in Austin, it feels like summer here pretty much through October. But, with Nora being in school and more of a routine during the week, it does feel like the lazy days are done — for now, anyway. Plus, I ache for chilly weather, layers and non-iced coffee, and I feel like if I accept summer’s end, then maybe November will get here sooner and it will stop being hot.

Maybe.

A girl can dream…

We had a fantastic summer. We’ve had a fantastic year, but summer was really good to us. We took time to stop and smell the flowers (and then we planted them on our deck).

Stop and smell the flowers

We kicked off summer with a weekend in Galveston with friends. I hadn’t been in nearly 15 years, although where we went didn’t even feel like Galveston. It could’ve been a beach anywhere, because we stayed on the far west edge of the island, away from the touristy stuff. It was perfect. Condo on the beach with a pool (and more importantly, poolside drink service) — yes, please! The only downside was that our weekend coincided with high levels of bacteria in the water, so save for digging in the sand briefly, we spent our days in the pool.

Galveston

July 4th was a family and friends-filled fête. Our neighborhood organized a parade for kids and dogs and Nora decorated her scooter — and then her tricycle, after deciding she wasn’t interested in scooter-ing herself that far. My sisters and our friends came over for a BBQ and the neighborhood shot off fireworks til all hours. And then they continued to shoot off fireworks the week after the holiday, and the week after that, and… Seriously, our neighborhood loves their fireworks. But being able to watch them from my front or back porch on the 4th of July is quite convenient!

July 4th

Summers are for short hair. At least, that’s what my mom decided when I was a kid. I always hated my ugly boy hair during the summertime. So while I wanted Nora to lose a little length, we opted for her first bob haircut to keep her stylish!

New 'do

It wasn’t exactly the summer of blockbusters, as far as I was concerned, but we checked a milestone off Nora’s list when we took her to see her first movie in a theater, Finding Dory. Her behavior reminded me of going to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games when I was a kid. She was in it for the food just like I used to be! Once her mozzarella sticks were finished, she had to be (repeatedly) reminded why we were there. But she liked it enough and behaved well enough so that we took her to see The Secret Life of Pets a few weeks later.

Finding Dory

We spent a fun, long weekend at Lake Austin with my whole family, thanks to Mom and Dad. I went tubing for the first time in… more years than I’d like to admit! And KP went for the first time ever.

Tubing

We parked, pooled and did yoga.

Nora said goodbye to her preschool and had a brief hiatus before beginning her new one.

Our hearts and tummies were nourished with a trip to Illinois. We spent time in Trenton where Nora helped Grammie make cookies and peach cobbler. KP and I escaped for a Nora-free, food-filled weekend in Chicago.

Nora got a big girl bed! And I breathed a sigh of relief. So many friends’ kiddos had trouble with the transition, but luckily it was easy peasy. She has only once gotten out of her bed and showed up at the foot of ours, and she chose to do that at 4:40 a.m. But just once? I’ll take it.

Big girl bed

A rainier than normal summer resulted in lots of rainbows. Lucky for us, we often see them in our backyard after a nice rain.

Rainbow

KP and I celebrated six years of wedded bliss. We went to dinner at the now defunct Qui and I started the evening with a Cordial Quarrel — the drink, not an argument with KP! But fitting for six years, no?

Cordial Quarrel

Nora started Montessori school. They have a donkey, goat, two cats, bunnies and plenty of other unofficial animals (yes, snakes). She is not allowed to wear any of her TMNT gear (or any other “media” or “characters”) and she has survived three weeks.

We road tripped to Dallas for the Coldplay concert and explored the Dallas World Aquarium en route. Oh, and we got our Pappasito’s fix!

Dallas World Aquarium

See, it was a fantastic summer! We hosted a BBQ on Labor Day (because, what better way to honor America’s work force) and the fact that Tuesday was like Monday threw me off all week.  Another good summer in the books! You can get here any day now, fall.

You can get here any day now, fall.

Labor Day Weekend in San Antonio

Flag

Spending a day in San Antonio is something we’ve been planning to do since we moved to Austin, so we decided to make it happen over Labor Day weekend.

Spoiler alert: that may not have been one of our wisest decisions.

My sister, a San Antonio native (practically), was our tour guide for the day and suggested brunch at The Guenther House… which had a 1:45 wait. Not really feasible with a three-year-old. So we tried nearby Liberty Bar… which also had a wait longer than Nora could handle. We ended up at Stella Public House, and it did not disappoint.

Prosciutto, arugula, fried egg

You really can’t go wrong with a fried egg on top of anything. It was especially tasty on this savory, salty prosciutto, arugula and burrata pizza. Honestly, they had me at “burrata.” Okay, and “prosciutto.” It was so yummy. Nora was quite content with her chocolate chip Nutella pancakes, too.

Nutella chocolate chippers
“Have Ninja Turtle cup; will travel.”

And Joan, with her mimosa flight. I’m 100% certain that this is the only brunch I’ve ever attended with a mimosa flight. How has no other restaurant thought of this? Genius!

Mimosa flight

Walking back to the car after brunch, we passed so many quaint homes, beautifully manicured lawns and picturesque streets; admittedly, not what comes to mind when I think of San Antonio. The fact that we had to park a ways away from the restaurant was okay because we got to take it all in.

San Antonio

No shortage of crepe myrtles!

Crepe myrtles for days

Our post-brunch plan was to hit the infamous Riverwalk and take Nora on a gondola ride and a trolley ride, and go by the Alamo. KP had never been to downtown San Antonio so the tourist spots were a must.

We missed our queue when every single parking garage and lot near the Riverwalk was full. We persisted and parked a decent walk away from the Riverwalk, still intent on taking Nora on a gondola ride. Because, when you tell a three-year-old you’re going to do something, you damn well better do it!

Nope. We didn’t do it. We didn’t do the gondola. We didn’t do the trolley. The lines were beyond. Apparently everyone thought the Riverwalk was a grand idea for Labor Day weekend. Nora rebounded better than I anticipated. Maybe she, too, was secretly looking for an escape in the AC, gondola ride or not.

Riverwalk

Walking to the Alamo, it started to get downright comical. Thanks to endless construction downtown, there were multiple detours on our path to the Alamo. But we made it!

Remember the Alamo

Granted, this is as close as we made it, but it appeased the history buff in the family. (I am not the history buff. I know, you’re surprised. In fact, upon arriving at the Alamo I said, “This is bad, but I don’t even know the details as to why the Alamo is significant.” Don’t worry; KP filled me in on the spot.)

We ended our day hot, sweaty and tired (and hot and sweaty). So, it was almost like we saw all the sights, anyway!

New Orleans-style Snowballs in Austin, Texas

Sweet Caroline's

After a year and a half of living in Southwest Austin and frequently passing this cute little food truck in Circle C, we finally made a stop. We were hot and sweaty after an afternoon at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and anything frozen sounded delightful (Weight Watchers, be damned!).

Sweet Caroline’s serves up New Orleans-style snowballs, and, despite my former days as a Hawaiian shaved ice maker (Hawaiian in Southern Illinois…), I had no idea what a “New Orleans-style” snowball was. According to the folks who run Sweet Caroline’s, snowballs are light, fine and fluffy, whereas traditional snow cones are coarse, crunchy and granular. Snowballs absorb the flavor instead of draining to the bottom of the cup like a snow cone. And this place is so legit that they even buy all of their machinery and flavors from local New Orleans businesses.

Amazing Grace at Sweet Caroline's

I had the Amazing Grace: peach, strawberry, vanilla and cream. And it was amazing. I’m not a snow cone fan, but I am now a snowball fan.

We won’t be waiting a year and a half until our next visit!

A Visit to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

IMG_7047

We kicked off our Labor Day holiday weekend with a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I had visited a couple of times before — in fact, my first visit there was enough to convince me that we should become members. It’s so close to our house and a great place to take Nora when we both need to get out of the house a great place to go and become one with nature and get our Zen on.

The mission of the center is to conserve, restore and create healthy landscapes. There are walking trails, lush gardens (well, most of the year) and a kid-friendly area that has the dinosaur creek and waterfall.

Dinosaur Creek waterfall

Nora was perfectly content hanging out at Dinosaur Creek. There are stepping stones in and out of the water and she eventually got daring enough to step on the ones in the water. They have plenty of watering pots available to encourage kids to get in and get wet. And she did. Another family was there and showed her the frog eggs they found in the creek, too.

Watering the water
Watering the water

You might think, why go during the hot Texas summer when everything’s dead? Well, the accurate answer is because KP took the day off and we were looking for something to do! But there was plenty in bloom, and I actually learned a thing or two. Every morning when I drop Nora off at school I see these fuchsia berries on these bushes at drop-off and had no idea what they were — until today. They’re American Beautyberry.

American Beautyberry

And yes, it was hot. And yes, we sweated. But I’m not going to not do something because it’s hot. That would be like not doing something in Chicago because it’s cold!

After experiencing the blooms in spring and summer, I look forward to a (hopefully cooler) visit in the fall!