Thursday, July 31, 2008

Our Vacation Post #3

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We had a delicious breakfast at our hotel. We had an easy trip from there to New Orleans; this should have been our warning that something bad was about to happen. Ty napped when we needed him to. Emily didn’t nap, but she can survive without one. We did have some getting lost issues in New Orleans because the GPS told us to exit too early. There were no exit numbers or street signs on the exit or the next several streets. So we had gone several blocks before we knew that we were going the wrong way. We eventually found the Louisiana Children’s Museum in spite of the messed up GPS, lack of street signs, and the rain!

I would definitely recommend this museum for any families traveling to NOLA. They had a toddler play area with things for them to climb on, ride-on toys, slides, etc. Dee took the following pictures of Ty having a blast. This is Ty in action--he is definitely a busy boy!

I look at this photo and think of my little brother when he was a kid.

And this face is Ty's signature look lately.

There was a little room decorated just like the room in Goodnight Moon. You may recognize the painting on the wall if your kids like that book as much as mine do. Ty was taking a little break in the rocking chair.

That about sums up the toddler area other than a huge library that took up an entire wall, surrounded by cushy bean bags for the kiddos to do some reading.

While Ty was playing there, Emily got to go to a pretend grocery store and “shop.” Some children were play shopping, and other children were pretending to be the cashiers. They had little metal grocery carts, working cash registers, and aprons for the children (pretending to be cashiers) to wear. Emily made me laugh with the items she chose to “purchase.” She bought 1 bottle of water, 1 gallon of milk, a crab, crab boil, a kid’s cuisine, a fish, a gallon of ice cream, eggs, cereal, and graham crackers. She paid pretend money to the girl that rang her up, and that little girl gave her pretend change. She told Emily her total was 21.83 and gave her 15.00 in pretend change. Wow! My little Em is a bargain shopper! It was funny because both the girl playing the cashier's role and Emily were calling each other ma'am. And since Dee had the camera, I don't have any pictures of this play area.

They had a bubble station where the kids could blow a huge bubble up around themselves. Emily said this was her favorite. This is her Daddy helping her form a big bubble all around her body. I couldn't back up far enough to get the actual bubble in the picture (it was very crowded at this activity), so she is standing in the middle of a large tire that has been sliced open. There is bubble solution in the tire, and a gray hula hoop-type thing is laying in the bubble solution in the open tire. There is a rope attached to the gray hula hoop, and her Daddy is pulling on the rope which raises the hoop which pulls the bubble solution around the child. Clear as mud, huh?

Then, they had a restaurant where the parents sit down and the children pretend to be waiters, hosts, cooks, and even bus boys. Emily gave us our menus, took our orders, and brought me a hot dog and a slice of melon. She brought her Dad 2 slices of pizza. She brought her brother a hamburger and ice cream cone (all plastic food). You can see what cramped quarters the little cooks were working in. Emily has actually squeezed herself in under a taller girl.

I believe this was sweet tea that she was pouring!

After serving us, she sat down and asked me to bring her some lunch.

She was looking over the menu.

Note to self: Teach Emily to drink pretend drinks without actually putting her mouth on a cup that has been played with by hundreds of children.

I guess we can call this Emily's signature look. I cringe any time I am trying to take a photo, and some well-meaning individual says SMILE because this is what you will get.

Although he can not verbalize his thoughts, I am pretty sure that Ty's favorite part were the many cars, boats, firetrucks, etc. scattered throughout. He jumps at any chance to "drive." I promise he was having more fun than what it looks like!

They had an area that was decorated just like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. They had his door to walk into, the bench to change your shoes, the trolley, castle, tree, everything. Both kid enjoyed playing here for a while, and we loved playing with them in this area, too. In fact, we were so busy playing that no one took any pictures here.

Those are the main highlights of the children’s museum. This is also where our lovely family vacation takes a turn for the worse. We arrived at our hotel, the W New Orleans, and valet parked our car (required, $29/day). We unloaded all of our stuff and headed into the very crowded lobby where I tried to keep the kiddos interested in some Chex mix. Dee waited in a long line and was told that none of the rooms were ready (this is why the lobby was so crowded). They would not give an estimated time for this to be complete and said they could lock up our items while we go out for a while. Keep in mind, we had arrived an hour past "check-in time." Here we are, stuck, without a car, with 2 kids (one of whom has not had a nap), in New Orleans.

My thought was when you are paying over $30/day for parking if you include tips, why couldn't the valet give us a heads-up that we weren't going to be able to check in just yet before we gave up our car. It MIGHT have been helpful if he had suggested that we go out for ice cream or an early dinner first. Sure, we could have gotten our car back out of parking, but that would have meant more tipping of the valets. I sure hope that this is not why they didn't inform us of the situation when we pulled in.

We ventured out with Ty in the stroller and nap-less Emily walking. We found a mall, and both kids behaved wonderfully as we roamed around bored because it was a super-fancy mall with super-fancy stores and super-fancy marble floors. I didn’t really want to go in any stores being that I had been in a car for 3 hours and played at the museum for 2 hours. I was in my travel clothes, the kids were in their grungies, Emily’s hair was falling, and Ty had crumbs on his face. I had my bulging diaper bag, and no, I did not feel like going into Coach or Saks 5th Avenue in that condition. We walked around for 90 minutes before heading back to the hotel.

Our room was still not ready (nor was anyone else’s—the lobby was full of angry, waiting people). We waited 30 minutes in the lobby (the kids had been good for so long and were now starting to lose it), and Dee asked the receptionists “What are we supposed to do?” They gave us a comp for the restaurant, so we headed in there. Okay, lots of white linens and candles. Not so sure this is the place for us. With a screaming Ty, mad because we wouldn’t let him play with the knife, and not being waited on for 10 minutes, we left. Dee asked the concierge for the number to the Holiday Inn. Ironically, our room became available as Dee was on the phone about to book us a room there. It’s a good thing for the W because I was about to stop making my kids act right and just allow them to run wild in the fancy lobby. Maybe that would have made them get our room ready a little faster. So 2 ½ hours later, we are finally in our room!!!

So much for our plans for cleaning up and taking the kids out for seafood. We were not about to attempt eating out with the mood our children were in, so we decided to use our $100 comp to order room service. I knew it was going to be bad when our orders came to us with burned fries. For 3 grilled cheese sandwiches, a burger, a cup of French onion soup, 2 glasses of milk, and 2 cokes, it was $98.00. Let me just say it was so nasty, I couldn’t force myself to eat it. The kids’ grilled cheese sandwiches were good, but mine (made with some fancy cheeses and stuff) was horrible. I’ve never had bad French onion soup…until tonight. And my Dr. Pepper was watered down due to melting ice. Dee hated his hamburger as well.

So the bright side was that our kids thought eating in our room was way cool, and the lighting was beautiful for photos!

So just in case you've never noticed, Dee and Ty look kinda sorta similar!

Talk about some tired eyes!

This is what a $12.00 grilled cheese and fries plate looks like.

And this is what a tired but hungry 3 year old looks like.

And this is what the nastiest meal I've ever not eaten looks like.

Surely nothing else could go wrong. Well, when they brought us our bags (they wouldn't let us get them ourselves from the "secure area"), they didn’t bring our portable DVD player, so we had to listen to Emily whine because we had been promising a movie, but all of our movies were in the DVD player case. It took them over an hour to bring us our DVD player and almost 3 hours to bring our crib.

Did I mention that internet costs $14/day here, it's not even wireless, and we did all web browsing from a crummy wireless signal we picked up from somewhere else because we were not going to give this hotel one penny more than we have already given them. Note to self #2: Don't let husband book family hotels on hotels dot com anymore.

I promise we actually had fun on our vacation despite "The W," Dolly, and an oil spill. My next post should be more upbeat! And shorter!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our Vacation Post #2

I hope everyone will excuse me while I spend a few days recording the memories of our family vacation (since this is basically my virtual scrapbook).

Friday, July 18, 2008

We had such a great drive to Lafayette, LA. We had all week to get everything organized and ready, and we got on the road by 9:30 a.m. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center after crossing the LA border, and Emily saw an alligator warning sign. She became very afraid that an alli-gay-lor is going to try to eat her. She was NOT happy here (because of the alli-gay-lors) and had to be bribed to stand here long enough for Mommy to take a picture.

She was somewhat confused as to why we didn’t immediately get on a big boat when we were in Louisiana. I have been trying to explain to her for weeks about how we are going to stay in one hotel in Lafayette, then go to New Orleans and stay in another hotel 2 nights. Then, we will wake up and get on the big boat. I have tried every way I can think of to help illustrate this to her, but nothing has worked. Oh, well, I guess she’ll understand when it happens ☺

This is Dee with the kids at the LA welcome center. It was not exactly gorgeous lighting, but I had to record E & T's first steps in Sportsman's Paradise! Can I give the welcome center props for having a Family Restroom?

Our hotel, Courtyard by Marriot, was perfect. They had a pack-n-play, heated indoor pool, breakfast buffet (kids were free). They also referred us to a yummy restaurant, Lafayette's. We ate a delicious seafood dinner. I had blackened redfish covered in their award-winning crawfish etouffee sauce. It was served over garlic-parmesan roasted potatoes. YUM!

When we returned to the hotel after dinner, we took the kids for a quick swim to wear them out and proceeded to try to get everyone to sleep. This did not go well until we came up with the idea to put Ty to sleep in the pack-n-play in the bathroom. Surely we can not be the first family to put the baby or toddler to sleep in the bathroom when they can’t fall asleep in the hotel room with everyone else! It worked nicely, but we had to use the bathroom by the exercise room which fortunately, was not very far down the hall.

Now if only the rest of our little trip had been this smooth (I am closing with a teaser, so that you will be wondering day and night until my next post, what exactly happened once the Trckas got to New Orleans).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our Vacation Post #1

Well, many of my future posts are already typed up due to journaling while on the trip. However, the pictures are not edited yet to go with them. I will start with a post from the night before we left since there is no photo.

And yes, we did have to ride on a bus from Mobile, AL to New Orleans, noon...with the kids...who had not had lunch...not in a car seat...but thank you LORD they slept

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When I went to check on Emily around 10:45 p.m., I noticed a bunch of “stuff” on her bed. After taking a closer look, I realized that it was ALL of the clothes out of her drawers. Some were packed in her princess backpack, some were packed in her baby doll diaper bags, and the rest were just piled on top of her. Furthermore, she had removed her pajamas and was wearing her nice, dry clean only, silk dupioni dress that she wore to a wedding last fall.

I tried to take off the dress and put on her PJs without waking her, but I was unsuccessful. While I was changing her, Dee was putting her clothes up. She was very distressed and started to cry and become very annoyed. Here is the conversation that followed:

Me: Why are you crying?

E: Daddy, I need those clothes. Stop putting them up.

Me: Why do you need those clothes?

E: I need to take them to the ho-tay-ul (hotel). I will need something to wear when we are on bay-cation (vacation).

Me: Emily, I have already packed your clothes.

E (sobbing): No, you didn’t Mommy. Daddy, don’t put those up. We need to take them with us.

Me: Emily, don’t you remember the special red dress, red skirt, blue dress, blue skirt that we bought for you to wear on the big boat? I have packed all of it into your purple suitcase, and I promise you will have clothes to wear on our trip. We need to leave these at home.

Emily was so tired, she gave up the fight and went back to bed. I think it was pretty obvious that she was extremely excited about our trip! So were we. This is why I had packed her clothes on Monday, so the poor baby had probably forgotten by Thursday and was worried that she wouldn't have any clothes to wear on our trip.

More to come as I get pictures edited.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I am too tired to think of a title

If you want to know why we got off of our ship at 11:00 a.m. Saturday and didn't get home until 2:05 a.m. Sunday, click here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

4th of July Finally

Before we leave for our trip, I needed to get caught up on blogging. The main thing I needed to post were pictures from our time at Dee's sister's house over July 4. I had so much fun relaxing by the pool, shopping, and of course, taking pictures. Since I am posting a ridiculous amount of pictures, I will stop writing and let you look!

Mr. Ty had so much fun in the pool.

Here he is showing off what he learned in swimming lessons. He is holding onto the side all by himself.

My niece is such a ham anytime I get my camera out!

And this niece is too!

We went to the park across the street (literally 20 yds from the house) and popped poppers. Emily was concentrating very hard on this.

Ty was helping to sweep up everyone's mess.

With so many cousins around, someone is always looking after Ty.

The girls had so much fun on the swings.

Ty just had fun exploring the playground. But a scary thing--I was distracted for a minute taking the above swinging pictures, and I looked up and saw him standing at the top of the slide. He had climbed up there in no time. I did not stop to take a picture. I rushed to be there to spot him in case he fell. But he didn't--his cousin helped him slide down. But I have a serious climber on my hands. This is new territory for me as Emily did not climb too much.

Isn't she precious?

Dee and Ty had fun learning about basketball. I want to point something out that you may not notice otherwise. The blurry figure sitting and watching on the bench in the background is Dee's dad. I love that he is watching his son play with his grandson.

Unfortunately, after this lesson, he now tries to throw balls or other round objects into garbage cans, toilets, or any other open container.

This is the oldest cousin on Dee's side. She just got her permit!

My husband playing basketball--I HAD to document this.

I am in love with these pictures of my FIL with his dog Abigail.

And even more in love with this one!

These were all taken the next day when my nieces begged me to take more pictures of them (it did not take much convincing). So I dressed them all up and took them back to the park. I knew better than to tell the 3 girls to look at me and smile or say cheese. I just let them sit and talk while I "got the camera ready."

Then it was time for individuals. This is one of my favorites that I have of Emily ever!

As the girls were getting restless, but the lighting was still beautiful, I stole some flowers from SIL's kitchen table. This re-energized the bunch, and I love the results.

I have been dying to get a photo that shows of Em's long lashes. Finally!

Now it's time to go!

Thanks for looking. The next post will be vacation related :-)