well, hello, from Texas.

Well, Hello.  From Texas.

Boy. I never thought I would write that phrase.  But hello.  From Houston, Texas.

We have arrived in our new home. All six of us have survived the journey from Washington, DC to Houston, Texas. Intact. Exhausted. Excited. Sad. and Ready.

But this blog isn’t about Texas. This blog is about getting to Texas. Literally. Getting here with two adults, three kids and a dog.   Has no one on earth ever travelled with three kids and a dog before?  That thought crossed my mind a few times when I tried to book an above average (say better than Motel 6 Hotel) for our cross-country road trip for four days.  I sat down at my computer, pulled up my ever trusty tripadvisor.com and typed in each city we would be staying in (Knoxville, Birmingham, Baton rouge and Houston).  Granted, these aren’t huge metropolises, but I thought we would be able to find a decent array of accommodations to choose from.  Then I had to check the number of persons boxes (number is five) and amenities (pets allowed).  Well, our vast array of choices went down to a small handful (if that).

Now, I’ll caveat this by saying I am a bit of a hotel snob.  I have a few criteria by which I judge hotels.

#1) The last time it was renovated.  If it has that carpet. You know that kind. The one that smells like the 70s. It’s not the hotel for me.

#2)  It doesn’t offer free conditioner.  Maybe this is a small thing to all the men out there; but I don’t know a woman who doesn’t use conditioner.  And all-in-one shampoo conditioner doesn’t count.  I need to brush my hair the next day.

#3) It has one bed in one room.  I’m sorry but my 5-person-family can’t fit in one bed in one room.  Even if we put the baby in the closet (and I’m not above that) we still can’t do it.  We need space.  And not the living-room or kitchen type space.  We need the bed-type space.

So, even with my above average hotel snobbery, it was tough to find hotels between Washington, DC and Houston, Texas.  It was mostly due to the dog/large family combo.  I’m sure if we had one or the other, it would have been easier.  But the dual whammy made it trickier.  Luckily the Homewood Suites in each city came to our rescue.  And my personal hotel diva got a touch of her inner love in Houston at Hotel Zaza (which, if you are ever in Houston, is absolutely, positively worth a visit).

Zaza

Hotel Zaza view of Houston (kid and pet friendly)

I guess what I’m saying is I get why Airbnb is so popular.  Hotel people, get with the program.

 

 

 

texas

In January of the new year our family is moving to Houston, Texas.  So, in the interest of fair and balanced blogging, I’m going to start this blog on a uber-positive note by identifying three positive things about Houston.

  1. No snow
  2. Good food (I do like Tex-Mex)
  3. Nice people (they have to be better than DC politicians)

Now I’m going to get real.  Since the idea of moving to Texas has completely shaken me to my core.  I’ve spent countless weeks on an emotional roller coaster, with random useless (and obviously ridiculous) thoughts going through my head.  How will I make a life for us?  I vehemently dislike Ted Cruz.  I’m for Gun Control.  I’m Pro-choice.  Where will I find my people?

Texas

When J. transitioned from active duty military three years ago, the job he took was located in Houston, Texas.    We chose Arlington, VA for our family.  My family lives here; I grew up here; and simply put – this area of the country is pretty darn awesome.  Yes, there is a high cost of living, but schools are great, neighborhoods are walkable, climate is mild, and you have all the cultural/sports/newsy etc. benefits of Washington DC.   We wanted to raise our kids here.

So this meant for the last three years, J. has been commuting to Texas.  And that has sucked.  For all of us.  The kids have taken notice; I’m tired of being an only parent during the week; and J. is tired of Hilton hotels.   We originally figured that the commuting job was better than a deployment, but in terms of quality of life, that wasn’t exactly a high bar.

For better or worse, we have decided three years is all we can manage.  So we made the collective decision that it’s in the best interest of the family to move to Houston.

In some ways, we have moved so often, another move to another city seems almost routine.  Generic, even.  It’s an adventure (we like adventure, right?) And in other ways, with the intentionality that we set to establish our home in Arlington, VA, this move is the hardest of all.  It is hard for the three kids, the dog, and a home in our name.  And it’s super hard for me.

Moving itself is hard.   Moving always forces me out of my comfortable habitat.  My friends, my home, my community, and my touchstones.  Although I love adventure, I’m also a creature of habitat and I like the safe and familiar. I like my daughters’ school. I like my local Starbucks.  I like knowing where the best grocery store is, and where my favorite park with the perfect swing is.

I also like to be in control.  Of everything.  Transitions, and moving, are about learning to accept being out of control.  Moves are chaotic, and my ability to surrender to that chaos is supremely tested.  And remembering that chaos is normal, and (with enough checklists to keep me occupied), I will be fine.  I will be fine.  I will be fine.

It’s a hard lesson to accept.   For me.  For all of us going through life transitions.

So Texas, we are coming for you, and I will learn to like you.  I know it. I will be fine.

Dear Mickey Mouse: I’m sorry, but I’m just not that into you

Dear Mickey Mouse,

Sometime about a year and a half ago, around the time of a C-section/hormone induced haze, I promised my then two year old that we would come and see you.  The two year old would have to be four years old, and the infant would have to be two years old.  It seemed so far off then.  Lightyears.  Time goes so fast.  And kids have memories; really freaking good ones.  Especially when it comes to you, Mickey.

So my precious children who adore you, and my husband who also is openly and enthusiastically into you, forced me to keep my promise and come see you in Orlando, Florida.  32 weeks pregnant with a preschooler and toddler in tow.

I’ll let you down easy, Mickey.  Let’s start at what I like about you.  I really like the fact my kids (and husband) love you.  They way they glow when they look you (especially the 4 year old), and all your princesses, and characters.  Your magic, dancing and singing.  I gotta hand it to you, with the parades and the dress-up; the castles and the rides.  I definitely find myself even humming along to your songs.  You run a fine tuned machine.  I even think the way we can now plan our vacations whizzing straight through your parks with this “fast pass” in advance is pretty ingenious.  If only I could fast pass it through the parking lot, across the lake and straight into Cinderella’s castle for a nice glass of wine and a good book, and a pool.

IMG_6436

But see, there is the rub, Mickey.  For a mere $15 I can get a keepsake photo of my daughter with Elsa that I stood in line for 90 minutes next to 250 of my closest friends with two small children to take.  Let’s think about this.

Let’s start at the $15 for one photo part.  Mickey, you are really freaking expensive (and you just raised ticket prices).   Plus, you aren’t in one place, you are in four! So you want me to take my kids to four different theme parks to see you and all your friends?  If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were taking over all over Orlando.  And let’s be honest with ourselves; if my daughter really loves Elsa, I can ask Elsa pretty politely to come to my house for her birthday. I know people who know people.

And then there are the lines.  Lines for the bathroom.  Lines for the rides.  Lines for food.  Lines for character experiences.  There are lines because there are lots of lots of people.  Mickey, I’m sorry, but I just don’t like being around lots of people.  Like most women, this is exacerbated when I’m pregnant.  Plus, my kids aren’t so patient.  Shocking, I know.

Finally, and most sincerely, while I love the fact my kids adore you and all your friends, I want them to have organic experiences.  Mickey, you construct British cottages and pubs; but let’s face it, Mickey, you live in Orlando, not England.  I want my daughter to go back to England to see where she was born.  Cinderella’s castle is beautiful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, where I have memories of trekking up when our daughter was one years old.  And maybe, fundamentally, that’s why I’m just not that into you.

So thanks for making us smile and laugh.  That’s the most important thing to me.  But I don’t think you are the happiest place on earth (sorry in advance to all the Mickey Mouse fans out there).  I’m pretty sure we will laugh and smile at the beach this summer too (maybe with an Elsa doll or two in tow).

Most sincerely,

K