Saturday, June 30, 2012

San Antonio & Sea World

I was too busy having fun and holding onto hot, sweaty kids to take many pictures in San Antonio.  We did have a good time, though, despite the lack of photographic evidence!  We left Houston early on a Saturday morning and drove to San Antonio, stopping a few times for "gotta go potty, Daddy" breaks and Buc-ee's.  We got to Sea World not too long after they opened, and parked in priority parking.  (For anyone thinking of taking a trip - priority parking is a few dollars more and doesn't seem that much closer, but it's worth it.  When you're leaving the park at the end of a long, hot day, you'll be more grateful than you can imagine to have 7 or so fewer rows to walk to get to your air-conditioned car.)  The first thing we did inside Sea World was head to the dolphin area.  We bought a couple of trays of fish to feed them, and got to pet them while doing so.  Miles wasn't such a fan, but he liked looking at them.

Feeding & petting the dolphins
Miles isn't in the shot because the dolphin was too close for comfort.

After the dolphins, we went to watch the Cannery Row Caper show, involving sea lions, an otter, and a walrus.  The kids really enjoyed that one; Gisèle still talks about when "the lady got water in her eyes and then she couldn't see and then she was rubbing them and then she still couldn't see and then she fell in the water!"

The two seal lions from the Cannery Row show
The walrus, who played the "villain."
Baby & mama sea lion

After Cannery Row, we grabbed some lunch and then headed over to the big arena for the One World show, featuring Shamu, some other orcas, and - Miles's favorite - Baby Shamu.  The kids especially liked seeing the whales jump during the show.  Gisèle thought it was hilarious when the whales splashed everyone - us included, but Miles was a little put out, complaining, "Dat whale splash me, Mama.  Dat Shamu got me wet."

Waiting for the show to start
Shamu makes an appearance
Getting our section wet
Enjoying the show - while still dry
Just got splashed!
Shamu showing off
Shamu and a trainer
Shamu and baby
Shamu and Baby Shamu

After the Shamu show, we headed to the Sesame Street Bay of Play, where I think the kids had the most fun of the day.  (Bay of Play is the big splash park area in the middle of the park.)  We started our time there a bit unexpectedly when Gisèle told us she wanted to ride the roller coaster next to the splash park!  Miles was too small (and had no desire to go) so he and Jamie headed on over to the splash area.  Gisèle was nervously excited, though, so she and I waited in line for the kiddie roller coaster.  She was interested in every part of it - the line, the trees next to us, the other people in line, the cheers of kids getting on the ride, the color of the track... When it was our turn to get on, we got into the third car and she wasn't nervous at all - just excited.  She giggled throughout the ride, and had an ear-to-ear grin when it stopped.  I was so proud!  The splash area was packed with families, and we had to be careful to keep an eye on the kids in the crowd.  It felt great to get wet, though!  The weather that whole day was HOT and muggy.  After the Bay of Play time, we went all the way to the back of the park to visit the penguins, which was a bit disappointing.  They're all in one big space behind a window, but it was dark and really hard to see them, and you ride a moving sidewalk past the window a bit too quickly.  After the penguins, we headed back toward the front of the park, stopping to see the alligators along the way.  We made a purchase in the gift shop on the way out of the park - a dolphin for Gisèle and a baby shamu for Miles - and then trudged out toward our car, thankful every step of the way for the priority parking we'd paid for.  

Hot, sweaty, tired, and unpresentable as we were, we decided to go out to dinner at Mi Tierra at El Mercado before checking in to the hotel.  We had to wait a little while to be seated at dinner, but at least we were waiting in an air-conditioned building.  After dinner, we headed over to our hotel on the River Walk and checked in.  Next was baths/showers for everyone, and then a very difficult bedtime.  Gisèle did pretty well, though definitely not as well as at home.  Miles, though, was a holy terror.  Jamie and I took turns trying to get him to calm down and go to bed, but it took a few hours.  It was an awful night.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then walked to the central part of the River Walk to take a 35 minute boat tour.  Our guide was very experienced, and kept us entertained the whole time.  Since we caught the first tour of the day (at 9am), the weather wasn't too hot and the boat wasn't full.  The kids enjoyed being on a boat, and had a good time looking for ducks and other birds along the way.

Looking at ducks near the boat

A pretty stage next to the water.  This stage was used in the movie "Miss Congeniality."

When we finished the boat ride, we walked back to the hotel to check out and then drove to meet up with my cousin John and his family (wife Sarah, and cute little girls Juliet and Claire).  We spent a few minutes at a park, and then went for lunch at a restaurant with terrible service.  But the company was good!  We left for Houston from lunch, stopping at Buc-ee's again on the way back.  (With this visit, we were introduced to Beaver Nuggets, which taste a whole lot better than they sound.)  After Buc-ee's we ran into some sort of accident/construction/road closure on I-10.  We drove over the grass shoulder to take some unmarked back roads to get home to avoid the delay on the highway, and it was an adventure!  We couldn't find the road(s) we were on on our map, so we just kept driving - for quite a while - until we eventually hit a road we recognized that would get us home.

We got home Sunday night, completely exhausted from the weekend.  But when we asked the kids to tell us what their favorite part of our San Antonio trip was, they named a lot of favorites.  So it was all worth it. 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Coming Soon

New posts are coming soon!  I just need to add some pictures, and put together a post on our trip to San Antonio/Sea World with the kids last weekend, and I'll update the blog.  Thanks for your patience!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Aubiere, France - 9/2/00


I should write everything down earlier in the day when I'm not tired, but I don't think about it.  Yesterday we (Sarah, Christina, Aimee, & I) walked to town (Aubière - not Clermont) to find dinner.  We found a little fruit & vegetable place and bought some really good fruit, and then found a little café place that told us everything around there served lunch, but not dinner.  We ended up backtracking to a pop-up pizza stand where we got a really good pizza and we ate on a bench near there.  After that, we walked for over an hour in the sprinkles (not quite rain) uphill until we found the dorms again.  (It was dark by this time.)  We were hurting (blisters & sore muscles galore!) so we called it a night.  Later, though, I went downstairs and called Jamie.  I was really missing him.  Today we took the bus down to Auchan in Aubière (the Walmart-type supercenter) and bought groceries, pillows, and dishes.  I also got some melon-scented shower gel at a neat little beauty store.  Clinique stuff, Chanel, Yves St. Laurent... it was cool!  On the way back (we took a bus), we missed our stop so we got off at a Pharmacie and they called a taxi for us.  Then I  put stuff away, ate a pretty good dinner, & called Mom & Dad, Matt & Nat, and Jamie!  I love you, Jamie!

My bed in my dorm room, with all the storage available.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches With Chipotle Crema

This is quite possibly the best sandwich I've ever made.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chipotle Crema
slightly adapted from a Guy Fieri recipe

1 small envelope achiote seasoning (sold in a box of 8 or so; one brand is Goya, found in the intl. food section)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 limes (1/2 of one will be used for Chipotle Crema, below)
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp olive oil (+ additional)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 ciabatta rolls (or 1 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 8 pieces)
roma tomatoes, sliced
avocado, sliced
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco

-Combine the achiote seasoning, garlic powder, juice of 1 lime, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, and 4 Tbsp olive oil to make the marinade.
-Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally; place in a ziploc bag, and pour the marinade on top.  Close the bag, massage the marinade into the chicken breasts, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
-Heat grill to high.  Using tongs, wipe grill with oil-blotted paper towel.  Grill chicken 3-4 minutes per side until well-marked.  Transfer to a plate and drizzle with juice from 1/2 a lime.
-Cut buns (or bread pieces) in half.  Drizzle cut sides with olive oil, and grill 1 minute.  Turn and grill 30 more seconds.
-Slather buns with Crema (recipe below).  Press crumbled cheese into crema so it sticks.  Layer bun with chicken, tomato, and avocado.

Chipotle Crema

1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
juice of 1/2 a lime (from limes used in recipe above)
1/2 - 1 tsp honey

-Mix, and refrigerate until ready to use.  Would also be great as a veggie dip!

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Clermont-Ferrand, France - 9/1/00


I can't remember the last time I was this tired.  In fact, I think I'll put off writing for a while.  Ok.  I called Jamie and I'm doing better.  Talking to him always helps, even with my crying.   I'm really sore now, but I'm going to be even worse tomorrow.  I'm think I'm still going to go to that big store tomorrow, whether or not Sarah wants to.  Maybe Amy will.  Tonight we went down to Aubiere [the suburb of Clermont-Ferrand where the Cézeaux dorm was located] to get food and basically got lost on the way back, so we walked for an hour just on the return trip.  Lots happened today, but I think I'll have to write it all down tomorrow because I'm so tired my eyes are crossing.  G'night, Jamie dear!

[Click HERE to see where Clermont-Ferrand, France is located.]

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