After leaving Las Vegas, we headed south to Austin, Texas to visit S's sister and her family. E had been inquiring about when he would finally get to see his cousins on this trip, so he was super excited when the time came. S's sister has two boys--one a year older than E, one a year younger--so when we got there, we just opened the back door and let them run wild. Actually, they live on a cul-de-sac, which is awesome (seriously, I never really understood the cul-de-sac appeal until now!) so we actually opened the front door to let them run wild. The boys spent a good deal of time riding scooters and bikes, digging in the dirt, playing in the sandbox, and pretty much doing any outdoor activity imaginable over the course of a week. E's cousin O, celebrated his 1st birthday while we were there, and his party was held at a very hipster-friendly barn conversion/brick oven pizza place complete with picnic tables, hay bales and a wide open field for kite-flying and soccer. Since we live in a high-rise apartment here in Adana, and since we used to live in the concrete jungle that is New York City, E didn't quite know what to do with himself and all that space. Once he realized that no, cars weren't going to hit him, but yes, he could run and play, he was happy.
|E and his older cousin on a Dinosaur dig!|
|Having fun on bikes and scooters|
|More digging--the sandbox this time.|
|Kites and soccer|
|Chillin' in the hay|
We also continued on our food journey while in Austin. S and I consumed everything from Chipotle (more than once) Thai food (my all-time favorite cuisine) to BBQ and Tex-Mex. Austin has some amazing Tex-Mex restaurants, obviously, so we just loosened our belts (well, S loosened his--I had the luxury of wearing stretchy maternity pants) and dove right in. My mouth is watering at the memory...
Once our week in Austin was up, we rented a large SUV and drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit my family. S's sister and the boys went with us for a few days, so we were traveling with three kiddos, which wasn't easy. I seriously don't know how people with 3, 4 or more kids do it. Especially when they're all so young! Let's just say with all the bathroom breaks, emergency Wal-Mart stop (the only store we could find in the absolute sketchiest part of Texas) meal and gas stops, plus the numerous attempts to readjust the luggage strapped to the roof, our predicted seven hour drive turned into twelve. Needless to say, by the time we arrived in Baton Rouge, we were all exhausted.
S and E and I stayed with my parents, giving Nana and Grand daddy ample time to bond with the little ball of energy they call a grandson.
|Bedtime reading with Nana.|
The first weekend in Baton Rouge happened to fall on Super Bowl Sunday, and my sister was gracious enough to host a Super Bowl party at her house. Because she is an amazing cook, we feasted on gumbo, crawfish pasta, boudin, crab fingers, fried catfish, pralines and more. I seriously couldn't get enough. I think I ate my weight in gumbo and crab fingers alone. Of course, the game itself was rather boring (except for the Bruno Mars half-time show--love him!) but the kids, of which there were seven at the party, had a blast chasing each other around the house with glow sticks.
|Delicious--my sister really out did herself|
|Part of our Super Bowl crew.|
My dear friend J and her husband, W, drove down from Birmingham, Alabama that weekend too. We met up in New Orleans the day before the Super Bowl, walked around the French Quarter, ate lunch (again, creole and cajun food is so amazing) and let the kids run around the park along the Mississippi river while looking at the boats. We had planned to have beignets at Cafe du Monde, but it was way too crowded and kids were starting to meltdown all around us, so we called it a day. After the weekend ended, S's sister drove back to Austin with her boys and my friend J departed for Birmingham. It was so great spending time with them. I hadn't seen J in nearly 3 years, so it was extra special to finally get to see her. And for her to drive all the way down only 7 weeks after having a baby makes her a superhero in my book, too! You rock J. Love you, girl!
|Me and J and her new baby, B!|
|Looking out at the Mighty Mississippi|
|S's sister and her boys|
|E trying to tip the street musician. He didn't understand that he was|
supposed to put it in the box, lol.
|Awww, these two...(J's older daughter, A)|
|The boys were wrestling and A was not having any of it!|
|Street performers in NOLA|
The rest of the week was spent visiting family and friends all over Baton Rouge, including my grandmother who is having a lot of health issues lately. Shopping excursions involved countless trips to Target and Carter's so my mom could go crazy buying baby clothes and summer clothes for E, and I stopped by the new Trader Joe's to pick up some old favorites. Yes, more food.
E got to spend a lot of time with his cousins--my brother's daughter and my sister's twin daughters--plus he spent a lot of quality time with Nana and Grand daddy who spoiled him rotten. A few days before we left, we took one final trip to New Orleans with my aunt and cousin, where I also got to see one of my oldest friend's and her kids during a quick trip to City Park. That is where E had his first beignet. I knew we would get him one eventually.
|Riding the carousel at the mall|
|Bath time with cousin C!|
|Yummy food at Deanie's|
|Cousin, Aunt and mom|
|Nana and E partying in Jackson Square|
|Beignets at Morning Call in City Park - NOLA|
|E's first beignet! I think he liked it :)|
|E feeding the ducks with my friend's daughter. Look at that sassy pose!|
|Me with one of my oldest friends--looking very preggers in this pic.|
|The geese are creeping up behind him|
|E and his cousins A and B; my sisters twins|
|Celebrating my grandmother's birthday|
|Cake and ice cream time!|
|E and my mom feeding a family friend's horse. |
E reeeallly wanted to ride it, but it was pouring outside at the time.
All told, we were in the States for nearly one month, and even though that sounds like a lot of time, it didn't feel like enough. But I guess that's to be expected when you're trying to cram tons of quality time into such a short time frame. Before we knew it, it was time to go home.
S had left a week before, so I flew back alone with E. I was worried about taking such a long flight while being 7.5 months pregnant, but it was not as bad as I feared. E slept for more than half the trip and when he was awake, he was glued to the in-flight entertainment, particularly Puss In Boots. We arrived back in Adana to a happy, smiling S and two snuggle deprived pets, whom we had missed dearly.