Carter and I had a great weekend together. Since Doug was away on business, I thought it would be fun to go on a little mini-vacation together. I decided that Sea World in San Antonio would be a good place to go, and Doug helped us find a fun place to stay while we were there: Hyatt's Wild Oak Ranch resort, which is literally across the freeway from Sea World. The rooms were surprisingly reasonably priced considering that the place is a resort -- and hanging out at a resort with Carter for a couple of days was exactly the kind of get-away I was looking for.
We headed out first thing Friday morning, which gave us most of Friday afternoon to explore the grounds. The resort has lots of winding trails that we only partly explored.
We spent most of our time on Friday checking out the pools. One pool was a lazy river with a sandy beach.
I brought a few sand toys for Carter, and sat in a sand chair while he played. It was almost like being at the beach!
The temperature was in the low 80s, so it was definitely warm enough to swim. The lazy river wasn't heated, but the water was warmer than I expected.
We had a lot of fun that day! We floated around the lazy river several times, which was really fun. The current was pretty quick, and Carter really liked going fast. He was too small for the tubes they had, but I just put his trusty water wings on and he was fine.
We eventually checked out the other pool at the resort, which is heated, partly indoors, and has several big water slides (all of which he didn't meet the height minimum for, but there will be plenty of time for that).
I wish I'd gotten more pictures of it, but we were mostly in it, and since it was just me and Carter, I was pretty busy! This pool also had a "beach" entry, which is fantastic for little kids. Carter loved running down the slope into the water, and would jump around and splash and squeal with delight. Our pool at home is 3 feet at its shallowest, so he's not used to being able to stand in a pool. He really liked it! He also did a lot of jumping off the side, which is something he's only been doing in the last month or so. The inside part of the pool had a lot of fun water spraying features, and was really set up for kids. Carter loved it!
That afternoon we spent 3 hours in the pools, just playing together. It's so much fun to just play with him like that for hours, with no interruptions, nothing else that has to be done. One of the reasons I wanted to work part-time was so I could do things like this with him, to spend big chunks of time just playing with him, doing the things he loves to do. I know that if I worked full-time, it would be harder for me to do that kind of stuff. I'm lucky that it's been a possibility for me, and I definitely appreciate it!
That evening we met my friend Rita and her son Sam for dinner at a restaurant with a big outdoor play area. Carter and I left around sunset -- he was exhausted and hadn't had a nap that day, and I wanted to be sure he would be ready for Sea World the next day. Of course, we got back to the hotel and ended up watching one of his "Mighty Machines" videos, snuggling in our PJs, and not going to bed as early as we could have. It was fun, though! It felt a bit like camping.
The next day we went to Sea World with Sam and Rita. It didn't open until noon, for some reason, so we had the morning to sleep in and relax. I had brought cereal, milk, and fruit, so we had breakfast in the room. I offered to take Carter to the resort's playground, but he preferred to hang out in the room and play with his trains.
He also spent about 15 minutes brushing his teeth.
We headed over to Sea World around noon. It was a nice day, and I was excited for Carter to see all the animals! Our trusty umbrella stroller, which has been to Europe and South America, was recently retired in favor of this cool Baby Jogger Citi-Mini stroller.
It was my first time using it, and it's an awesome stroller! This trip was kind of a test drive for our trip to Orlando over Thanksgiving, and the stroller will be awesome for those amusement parks. It can even be steered with one hand, which is something our old stroller couldn't do.
I wasn't sure how Carter would like the shows at Sea World, but he really loved them. They last about 25 minutes, which is about as long as he can sit still, and they generally kept his attention. He loved watching the whales and dolphins, and would squeal whenever one jumped out of the water. One of the shows had a lot of Cirque-du-Soleil-type stuff in it, with acrobats and high divers performing along with the animals. Carter seemed to find that interesting, much to my relief. When the show was over, he didn't want to leave! We also saw the Shamu show, which was fun. There was a baby orca following its mother around and trying to do a lot of the tricks its mom did. So cute!
We had lunch and found a playground for the kids to run around on, and then visited the penguin exhibit and the big coral reef aquarium. Along the way we stopped at the dolphin pool, which resulted in one of the only photos I managed to take with animals. The line to feed the dolphins was super-long, but that's something we'll have to do in the future.
I managed to get a good picture of Carter and Sam:
We had our picture taken with Shamu and a penguin, both decked out in Halloween costumes. This was something Carter really loved! He kept hugging Shamu and the penguin, and I had to drag him away afterwards.
We ended our day at Sea World with some ice cream cones.
We went back to the hotel and said goodbye to Rita and Sam. It was awesome to see them and to spend a day at such a fun place to visit! I wish it opened a few hours earlier, because 12-5 is not exactly the best time for an outing with preschoolers. There was a big Sesame Street-themed kids area under construction, so next time we visit there will be even more for Carter to do. There are roller coasters and various fun rides, and it will be a while before Carter is big enough for those. It will definitely be a place we'll come back to every year.
I'd thought Carter might be ready for a nap when we got back, but he seemed to have perked up on the ride back, so we went swimming again. We went back to the heated pool and swam with lots of other kids and families. Carter had SO much fun swimming, and it was just amazing to spend that time with him. There's something special about swimming with him -- I don't know if it's because the water always brings out the kid in me, or if it's that there aren't any distractions in the pool and we have a lot of focused time together to play -- but the pool time is definitely special.
We swam until well after dark, then went back to room and ordered pizza for dinner. Carter finally crashed around 9:00. I stayed up for another two hours, but found it kind of depressing to hang out alone. It was Doug's birthday that day, and he was out of the country, spending his birthday all alone. I couldn't help but think about how much more fun it would have been if he'd been there. It makes me really excited for our trip to Orlando, though!
This (Sunday) morning we got up, had breakfast, and then got the car packed up to go. Carter was reluctant to leave, and kept asking to go swimming again. When we had the car packed, he said, "Let's go back to the room!" I always want to stretch vacations out as long as possible, so it was really sweet to see him doing the same thing!
Once back in Austin, we went to the Domain so I could stop by the Apple Store, and then spent an hour on the playground there. It was a gorgeous day, and Carter really had fun running around and playing.
He prefers to go barefooted whenever possible, so his feet are constantly dirty these days!
After that we headed over to the lake to have lunch at Carlos and Charlies. It just felt like a summery, beachy day, so lunch beside the lake was really fun! We watched people play volleyball on the beach below and watched boats zooming by, and had a nice lunch together.
After that it was finally time to go home. Of course, we didn't go in the house for another two hours! Carter loves playing in the driveway, so he got some toys out while I unloaded the car. He loves digging in the dirt, and after I planted some flowers last week I had to designate a part of the flower bed just for digging in, so he would leave the flowers alone! Here he is playing in his digging spot.
We got the water table out, but of course, the water hose was still more fun.
Here is a cute video of him playing with the hose. He kept saying, "Wherever I go, I make a BIG splash!" I think that was a line from Mighty Machines.
The rest of the evening was typical, and I even managed to get a couple of loads of laundry done and a batch of cookies made. I'm not sure why I made the cookies. I certainly don't need to eat them. It just sounded like a fun way to finish off the weekend!
Spending a weekend at a fun resort with Carter was really fantastic. It was a nice getaway, and something I am looking forward to doing again soon. :-)