My husband packs quickly and typically on the day of the trip. I packed the night before for myself and Gregory. Here, Gregory is saying, "I'm packed and ready to go!"
I asked for advice from mommies who have travelled with babies. They suggested, "stopping frequently, bring new toys and old toys, bring more cloths than the days you are gone, try to keep to your routine as much as possible (bath time, etc)." One of the stops we made was at Cracker Barrel and of course, I had to bring one of Gregory's favorite stuffed animals.
And when your child has been really good and both parents need a sweet treat, try a frosty :)
For the most part, Gregory traveled well. When he was very tired, he would throw a fit. But this is typical for a child who fights sleep, even in a car. Thankfully, the car ride generally soothes him.
When we arrived at Rene's home, Gregory immediately thought he was at a playground, because Rene has a two-story home.
Fortunately, we did have a baby gate packed for the trip too. One suggestion I would add to the others is - bring outlet covers. Gregory is attracted to outlets for some reason. Even if you go to a hotel, no doubt there will be an outlet within a child's reach.
It was so sweet to see Gregory bond with his "Uncle Rene."
Before we arrived, Rene had asked some of his friends who had children, "Where are some kid friendly places for a family to visit in this area?" He had a list for us, which was thoughtful and helpful. Any time we go on a trip, now that we have a son, preparations need to include maps of playgrounds.
In Metairie, there's one huge park and we are fortunate that it's close to where we live. In Rene's subdivision there are a LOT of small parks. This is great, because each time we brought Gregory to a park, we picked a different one and it was new to him.
One thing about Atlanta... it's known as Hotlanta for a reason. Though it was slightly cooler and not as humid as New Orleans, summertime in Atlanta is still warm. Rene suggested the Atlanta mall as another place to bring our son. We figured there would be some children's clothing stores to visit, but it was even better!
Before we entered the mall, Greg and Gregory cooled off with a fountain run!
Then we saw a carousel inside.
We found some great sales for kids clothing and then saw an inside play area in the middle of the mall. At one point, Greg said, "Let's go over here and see if Gregory notices that we aren't by him." Gregory would play with something in the area, then you could tell he was looking for us... then another toy would distract him, then he would look for us, then another toy to play with. We could see Gregory at all times, but I do wonder about my son's vision...
Daddy bought Mommy a hat while on this mall trip :)
When we got back to Rene's home, Gregory took a nap.
Greg and Rene opted to grill steaks. It wasn't a difficult decision given that Rene had bought a brand new really nice grill! Did they read instructions on using it? Heck no.
Gregory enjoyed Rene's house, because one section has an open floor plan and the other rooms flowed into each other so Gregory could walk freely into the rooms. Though we were often times telling him "close that" because if Gregory sees a door, cabinet, drawer, he wants to open it and take everything out.
Rene was really good with Gregory. He was patient and Gregory responded very well to him.
Another day, another park :)
Rene also told us about a place called "Catch Air." I read ahead of time that we all needed to wear socks and the price sounded very reasonable (only 5 dollars for Gregory, free for adults). As we pulled into the building's parking lot, Greg said, "I'm not sure about this. It's in a warehouse area." But it was perfect! The minute Gregory looked inside, he kicked and squirmed to get out of my arms. He knew it was for him. I loved it because all the floors are padded, as are the toys, so we could let Gregory roam to his heart's content. He had a blast!
On another day, Greg suggested that we go to the aquarium. We have been to the New Orleans Aquarium a number of times this year and I didn't think it would be too much different. I was wrong and I'm glad we went.
There was a large section for huge sharks and our timing was perfect for the feeding.
We also went to the Dolphin Show - this was awesome! I love dolphins. The show was entertaining with a good story line, good singing, lots of lights, water and dolphin acts. During the climax of the story, the water fountain was splashing water, wind was churning into the audience, light strobes were going, the singing and music was loud and the dolphins were doing all sorts of stunts. Gregory grabbed my shoulders with both of him arms and dug his fingers into me. He screamed LOUDLY and for a continuous time frame. Greg asked, "Is he upset?" I replied, "Sensory overload." Gregory was excited to the point of not knowing how to handle it, so he screamed. Then he would smile, then he would scream, then he would smile, then he would point to the dolphins, then he would clap, then he would scream. It was an experience for both of us.
Of course, there was a sting ray pond for the kids to touch.
And lots of fish :) Gregory liked one girl who stood next to him, because she had squeaky shoes.
The white alligator received a great deal of attention as well. I thought it was beautiful.
Another huge tank housed the Beluga whales. They are incredible. The whales didn't just come close to the glass walls... they rubbed up against the glass as they passed by, almost as if they wanted the attention. Gregory was tired by this time and back in his stroller, but he still enjoyed seeing these massive creatures.
The Georgia Aquarium was well worth the visit. If I lived in the area, I'd definitely get a membership. I wish the New Orleans Aquarium had large tanks for dolphins. My bucket list includes swimming with dolphins.. maybe one day :)
One the drive back from the aquarium, Gregory fell asleep in the car. We carried him out of the car and he continued to sleep on me as I relaxed on the sofa. Then, when Gregory did wake up, he walked for a few minutes and laid down on the floor....
Then Gregory got up, walked to the front door and laid down again with a yawn.
Rene was at work during this time. By the time he came home, Gregory had a second wind.
There's a pond in Rene's subdivision. We went there to watch Rene kill some ducks. Umm, no, not really. Well, ok, maybe.. See, for supper the night before, Rene decided to try his Dad's recipe for making bread. It smelled good, but it didn't rise. At. All. Rene cooked it anyway and it came out like a brick. When he dropped small pieces of the bread into the pond, they sank. So, he left the rest of the pieces on the pier. When we drove home the following day, Rene sent a text that he went to the pond. The ducks ate the bread and the birds were sitting on the pier, still alive... but he figured they didn't want to swim for fear of drowning. lol
We joked about the bread and I think it might become a tradition to always try to make it when we visit one another. That said, Rene is a good cook :) He made red beans and rice another night. We didn't have a bib, instead used a dish towel and clip for Gregory - who approved of the food.
Thank you, Rene, for a lovely visit. We appreciate your generous hospitality and helping us find kid friendly, fun places to take our son. It was special to see you bond with Gregory and look forward to seeing you again soon!