To Grandmother’s House We Went

As my mother repeatedly pointed out, Connor had a lot of “firsts” during our trip to Dayton last month, not the least of which was his first overnight stay in a hotel.

Mom arrived at my house around 9am on Thursday — it takes her just about as long to get to my place from hers as it does to get to Grandpa and Grandma Cook’s house from mine. We packed up the Sportage (which Aaron had thoughtfully gassed up the night before), loaded up all our drinks and snacks and road entertainment, and headed out for an uneventful drive to Dayton.

Connor, of course, needed to potty about an hour into the trip, so First #1 was his first truck stop. His quotable upon entering: “It’s a store, too?!”

We arrived at Grandpa and Grandma Cook’s house at noon on the dot. (First #2: First visit to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.)

Visit to Dayton

Lunch was to be served at their house, so Grandpa made us soup and build-your-own sandwiches. (First #3: Connor’s first bologna sandwich, and first sandwich on white bread — that I know of.)

They’d told Mom earlier that they thought going to the Air Force Museum would be a good outing for all of us, but they hadn’t given us an exact agenda for the couple of days we’d be there. Turns out, their plan was for us to “visit” on Thursday, go out to dinner Thursday evening, then go to the museum on Friday.

Visiting, while expected for grown-ups (and older children), is painfully boring for preschoolers. That was a seriously long few hours. Connor got the grand tour of Grandma’s house, during which he learned about storage spaces even my Mom didn’t know about. (I say “Grandma’s house” because her parents had it built in 1962 and she’s lived in it ever since, as far as I know.)

We visited on the sun porch for a while, and Connor showed Grandpa his tablet.

Visit to Dayton

Visit to Dayton

Eventually, Grandpa and Mom and I retired to the kitchen table to look at family photo albums (a traditional pastime during visits with Grandpa), and Connor went out with Grandma to plant flowers. Mom and I saw some pictures of Memaw that we’d never seen before, so that was awesome. (Memaw was Grandpa’s second wife; Grandma is his third.)

Visit to Dayton

Quotable from Grandpa: After seeing a photo of me in the early 2000’s, he looked up at me, genuinely surprised, and said, “You’ve lost a lot of weight!” Mom and I just laughed.

Visit to Dayton

Around 3:30pm, we decided we’d head off to the hotel and check in, and we agreed to meet at Golden Corral — or, as Grandpa called it, the smorgasbord — at 6pm. Connor was just running rampant, even after having a snack and playing with both his tablet and my phone in intervals, and we felt like we needed to get him a change of scenery.

The scenery we weren’t expecting to see at the Best Western Plus Dayton South was a swimming pool. Their website hadn’t said anything about it!

Visit to Dayton

Luckily, I’d packed Connor’s swim trunks and rashguard, so once we got settled, I threw on my jammie-bottom short-shorts in lieu of a suit and we headed downstairs for a dip in the pool. (First #4: swimming in a real pool.)

The shallow end was three feet deep, and Connor’s only right around four feet tall, so I knew it would be close — he made it all the way into the pool, though, and the water came up to his collarbones.

Visit to Dayton

I dangled my legs in the shallow end of the pool and he played along the wall for probably 20 minutes, until it started to look like rain.

When we got back upstairs, Housekeeping had delivered the rollaway bed we requested for Connor. (We have a rule in our house that everyone sleeps in their own bed, and I didn’t want to set a co-sleeping precedent for hotel stays. And before you ask, Aaron and I do share a California King bed. Connor isn’t invited, though — and I’m not allowed to fall asleep in Connor’s bed, either.)

Visit to Dayton

By that time, it was just about time to head out to meet the grandparents for dinner. Dinner at the smorgasbord was delicious but uneventful, and Connor was well behaved, as he usually is in restaurants.

Bedtime, however, was more interesting.

We got back to the hotel after dinner and did the typical bedtime routine sans bath: got him into his jammies, read a book, sang a song, and tucked him in. Since we were all in the same room, though, he wouldn’t just roll over and face the wall and go to sleep. So we eventually ended up drawing the blackout curtains and having lights out for everyone by 8:30pm — or maybe it was 9? At any rate, it was way early for us grown-ups, but way late for Connor.

The next morning, we were all up at the butt-crack of dawn, of course.

We had agreed to meet Grandpa and Grandma at their house (ten minutes away) at 10am, then drive the half hour to the Air Force Museum — because, for some reason, Grandpa didn’t think we needed to get there right when the museum opened? At any rate, that meant that even after packing up and enjoying (sort of) the continental breakfast, we still had a good hour to blow before heading to Grandpa & Grandma’s house.

Luckily, Google showed us where the closest park was.

Visit to Dayton

Visit to Dayton

We spent probably an hour at the park before driving up to the grandparents’ place.

I loaded up driving directions to the Air Force Museum on my iPhone, which was whiz-bang technology for my grandparents. Surprisingly enough, both of them fit in the back of the Sportage with Connor, while I drove and my Mom rode shotgun. (We really didn’t want to have to take two cars.)

I must say that driving four generations of my family along highways that I vaguely remember travelling as a kid with Grandpa driving was surreal and awesome. That feeling of awesome was only slightly diminished by Grandma repeating and confirming every direction Siri gave me along the way.

Once we arrived, we got to park waaaaay out since we’d arrived a good hour or 90 minutes after the museum had opened. I knew it was going to be a lot of walking, probably too much for a four-year-old and a couple of septuagenarians, so when I found out that the museum had a new fourth building with a Space Shuttle mock-up and NASA-related exhibits, I took charge and led the clan straight past all the other stuff and all the way back to the rockets and fun stuff.

Visit to Dayton

Visit to Dayton

Of course, after maybe an hour, we’d seen most of the new fourth building and a tiny fraction of the rest of the museum, and my grandparents and my son were done with the walking. So we traipsed all the way back to the front, bought our souvenir photos, hit up the gift shop, and made our way back to the car.

Visit to Dayton

As we were walking to the car, Grandpa asked me, “Can that computer of yours tell you how to get to the Wright Brothers Memorial?”

Consider it done, Grandpa. Next stop: Wright Brothers Memorial Museum and Overlook.

Visit to Dayton

Visit to Dayton

By this time, it was after 1pm and we were ready for lunch. Grandpa was really stuck on the idea of going to McDonald’s for lunch — so that’s where we went. (Another first for Connor!)

The quotable that made me seriously feel like I Win At Parenting was when we told Connor we were going to McDonald’s for lunch and Connor replied, “What’s McDonalds?”

Visit to Dayton

Alas, this McDonald’s didn’t have a Playland, but they did have some touch-screen kiosk games. So, after Grammy bought ice cream for everyone, we went over and gave the older adults a Connor break by going over and playing the games for quite a while.

We were planning to meet my bestie Amy for an early dinner, so after our late lunch, we dropped Grandma and Grandpa off at home, said our goodbyes, and headed off to Chuy’s for dinner.

Unfortunately, we headed to the wrong Chuy’s first, so we ended up being a little late to meet Amy — but not by much, luckily. I somehow managed to forget to take any pictures of Amy while we were in her company, but the food and the conversation were welcome.

The trip home was just as uneventful as the trip down, punctuated by a fill-up, another truck stop potty break and a detour when one of our interchanges was closed for construction. We got home mighty late for Connor, but bedtime went well, anyway.

Overall, a successful trip, I’d say. Proof that Connor can handle an overnight stay in a hotel — although I’d prefer to get a suite next time, so everyone doesn’t have to go to bed at Connor’s bedtime. We may make this a regular annual trip… but I’m not totally sure. 🙂

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