So I'm back in the Midwest after a great week visiting family in Texas. Well actually, it was mostly mostly Emma visiting family and doing stuff, but I had fun too. Everything we did was very toddler friendly. So needless to say - having a week full of Nana and Papa focused on her and stuff she likes to do got Emma's complete approval. She seems happy to be home, but asks to return to Nana and Papa's house every other minute or so.
We visited my aunt's cattle ranch (the cows and bluebonnet experience), the Austin Children's Museum, went canoeing on Town Lake, walked around the lake a lot, feed the ducks, turtles, fish, and swans, spent lots of time outside, went to the UT Co-op, and ate lots of yummy food. I know most people go to Austin for the music scene or Sixth Street, but I enjoy being with family, doing lots of stuff outside, and the great food.
Every time I visit Austin, I am amazed at (and very jealous of) the great local restaurants. Granted the suburbs there have their fair share of chains and big box retailers, but the local restaurant is the norm for Austin. Not only are they local, but many of them serve healthy, organic, locally grown, and/or fairly traded food. And caring about those things is a good thing there and does not automatically result in being ridiculed as a "liberal tree-hugging health-nut hippie" (all of which are positive qualities in Austin).
And the restaurants are kid friendly. Usually when I'm out to eat with Emma, she gets ignored unless she is causing an issue. The waiter never asks what she would like to eat, and often starts walking away from the table before I can place an order for this other person at the table. We get seated in the far back by the kitchen door and made to feel like we are a nuisance to humanity. In Austin the waiters engaged with Emma as a person - talked to her and were concerned about her needs. And bunches of restaurants there have outdoor playgrounds for the kids. Not just the McDonaldsy crappy places, but good restaurant that just happen to have a playground off of their patio/deck. It was a very pleasant surprise to encounter that more inclusive attitude.
Anyway, it was a good week. I miss home. And for those of you who read this blog for the pictures, I've posted a lot more from the week over at my family blog