Friday, May 29, 2015

Kicking off Summer in New Orleans!

Right after Caleb's Kindergarten graduation, we hoped in the car and headed towards New Orleans! We were super excited because this trip was our longest yet- 10 days!! Daddy had some important work to get done this time. Plus, we were staying over a weekend, so it was fun to get some special time with Daddy doing a few fun things. We ate way too many nice dinners too. Mmm, I just love eating around New Orleans. We have fine tuned our favorites list by now and it's great!
On Wednesday, the kids and I started out our adventure by going to the Aquarium. It started off not crowded at all, which was super nice. Toward the end, we did run into one school group which got a little hectic. The kids especially enjoyed playing with the penguins- they really interacted with the kids, following Caleb's map along the tank, chasing him! It was also fun to feed the birds with the seed sticks.
Thursday was another exciting day! The kids and Mommy headed to the Children's Museum. The New Orleans one really blows the Huntsville one out of the water!! Some of our favorites were the little grocery store, steam boats, and the gigantic bubble. We played and played until our tummies were starving for lunch. If we didn't have to eat lunch, I think we could have played even longer.
On Friday, we had a low-key day with a slow morning, then swimming at the pool. After swimming, we walked to the River Walk for lunch and a little playtime at the kids area before getting ready for dinner at Emeril's restaurant. For some reason, we had never tried Emeril's during previous trips, but I am SO glad we tried it this time. The food was amazing. I should have gotten an after picture of Jeremy's plate- it was empty! The BBQ Shrimp Appetizer, the Andouille Crusted Drum, and Banana Cream Pie. YUM!! We spotted a horse and carriage on our walk back to the hotel that Kailyn loved. Once we got back, we took a few pictures on our balcony...Caleb had already changed into his pjs- haha!
On Saturday, we had to change hotels. Our first hotel was a little far from the French Quarter, but it was fun to enjoy things closer to the Business and Warehouse districts. It was a little trouble to move, but it all went pretty smooth. We were just excited to have a full day in New Orleans with Daddy to enjoy, so we headed to the Zoo for the day. It was SO crowded. Memorial weekend- oops. There were only a few places that actually felt crowded though, everyone dispersed throughout pretty well. It was a hot day too! We were sticky and tired afterward but still had to check into our new hotel. The Marriot has check in down, it was so easy. After we checked in, we headed to New Orleans Seafood Company for dinner, which was just ok...a fried fish and fries kind of place. I think we were all so tired and we all crashed at bedtime!
Sunday was another fun day with Daddy...and we booked our entire day up again, of course! We started the morning off at City Park. We explored Storybook Land, rode the Carousel and Train in the Amusement Park, and ended by taking a few pictures in the Botanical Gardens. On the drive back into the French Quarter, we stopped and ate lunch.
Once we freshened up a little in our room, we headed back out to take Daddy to the Aquarium. We have the Audobon membership, so we can do the Aquarium, Zoo, and Insectarium as much as we want. Since Daddy had never been able to enjoy the Aquarium with us before, we thought it would be fun to take a little stroll through. Again- Memorial Day Weekend...huge mistake. It was uncomfortable crowded, so we showed Daddy a few of our favorite sea creatures and quickly darted out of there. The birds would not even come for a seed stick- that's how crowded it was!! We ended our day with dinner at Tujague's, which is one of the more historical restaurants in the French Quarter...right down from Café du Monde. Dinner was ok, it has been better on previous trips. But our beignets afterward in Jackson Square were fabulous!!
On Momday, Memorial Day, Daddy went into work. In New Orleans, they get Mardi Gras as a holiday so they work on Memorial Day. Daddy chose to work on Memorial Day since it would count as overtime for him- yes, please! The kids and I decided to head to the Insectarium to check out the bugs. After that we ate lunch at Arby's and went to the Riverwalk to go into a few stores for Mommy. It started getting a little rainy in the afternoon, unfortunately, but it just barely sprinkled on our walk back, thank goodness!
For dinner we enjoyed GW Finn's, a favorite from our last trip. The Lobster Dumplings just melt in your mouth, seriously. Then we ordered the tuna for our entrée. The kids have been so good about eating lunchables for dinners so Mommy and Daddy can enjoy nice dinners out. Seriously, don't judge- they absolutely love them! We usually consider their tastes when choosing a dessert and Kailyn enjyed our Chocolate Mouse Bomb this night!! Girl, better leave some chocolate for Mommy.... **Pictures were taken on our phones so some aren't good quality but still had to include our fun!
On Tuesday, I tried to be creative. Since it was a longer trip to New Orleans than usual, we were out of our regular things to do. We had always admired the riverboats in the river, so I decided we would ride one. I chose the Natchez, which is the only running Steamboat cruise in New Orleans. We were disappointed the snack bar was closed since we opted out of buying the buffet lunch. Thankfully Mommy packed snacks and drinks! The kids got a little bored at times- I'm not going to lie. But Mommy really enjoyed looking around and hearing some New Orleans history. We also enjoyed walking to the back and watching the paddlewheel turn in the water. The engine room was also fun to tour but a little intimidating for my kids! At the end, the kids had mixed reviews. But by that night, walking to dinner, they were proud to tell Daddy that they rode on "that boat right there." So who knows!! At least it filled our morning and was interesting for Mommy.
Some of the awesome things we saw along the cruise were Navy ships, barges being parked and unloaded, Exxon oil refinery, the Domino Sugar factory, the battle of New Orleans, views of New Orleans from the river, and much more!
We attempted swimming after eating lunch, which didn't last long. I had to make Caleb get out because his lips were purple and he was shaking like a leaf. It seems like the weather keeps getting into the middle of our swimming plans this trip!
For dinner, we decided to try another one of Emeril's restaurants since we enjoyed the other one earlier in the trip. On our walk to NOLA restaurant, Kailyn passed out in the stroller- poor girl! She slept through most of our dinner but woke up as our entrees showed up, but even then she just wanted to rest in the stroller. Luckily, she did pipe up and eat her leftover Arby's from lunch so that we could get Café du Monde beignets after dinner!! I also have to add that Caleb has behaved surprisingly well during dinners. I explained to him that white tablecloths mean it is a fancy dinner and from then on out, each night he has been pretty good! Yes, I have had to warn not to play fire trucks and helicopters with his silverware, it hasn't been perfect, but it's been good :) Back to dinner...I thought it was good and Jeremy wasn't a huge fan. Jeremy insisted on getting the stuffed chicken wings for our appetizer. While fun to try something new, I was craving the delicious barbeque shrimp that I love. The wings were too weird for our tastes- stuffed like a shrimp egg roll or something. But our Garlic encrusted Drum was fantastic. And of course, my favorite part was the Warm Ooey Gooey cake which was a chocolate cake with a marshmallow baked into the middle with chocolate sauce and ice cream on top. Ok, yes, I was "that person" who changed the dessert at a fancy place. It was supposed to come with coffee ice cream, but I don't like coffee (neither does Jeremy) so I asked for vanilla instead. I'm sure the chef rolled his eyes, but it was tasty to me!!!
For our last full day in New Orleans on Wednesday, we really hoped for lots of sunshine. It looked promising in the morning, but it was too early to swim. Believe it or not, we hadn't ridden a streetcar the entire trip, so we decided to ride the Riverfront Streetcar down to the French Market to do a little shopping/browsing. Then we walked back up the French Quarter and grabbed Subway to-go for lunch on the way back to our hotel. I was SO glad we opted to get our lunch to-go, because it started raining on our walk back to the hotel. Instead of eating by the pool, we had a picnic on Mommy and Daddy's bed and watched tv. Then Kailyn took a much needed nap while it rained and rained and rained...Not exactly how we'd hoped our last day would turn out. We really wanted another pool day, but we know we will get plenty of swimming in this summer.
That afternoon, Daddy got back from work a little early and Kailyn was begging to say "Goodbye" to the penguins. So what did Super Daddy do? He took them to the Aquarium...except this visit was the last hour they were open for the day so it was almost empty, which they really enjoyed. And Mommy enjoyed loosing $30 at the Casino and taking a little Mommy Break!
We wrapped up our trip with our favorite New Orleans restaurant- the only one we repeated this trip...Red Fish Grill. Yall, it never disappoints!! I think our little crew is easy to spot and the manager recognized us and sent us a (very tiny) sample of shrimp salad as a thank you for being loyal customers. I thought it was a nice touch! We enjoyed the Seared Tuna with Au Gratin Potatoes for our entrée and our dessert was the Double Chocolate Bread Pudding.
Funny ending to our trip- When Daddy took the rental car back, he found that a bird had made a nest on his car! Thankfully the bird hadn't laid eggs yet, so he tried to carefully move it to a safer spot.