Thursday, July 24, 2014

Surprise!!! Connor's First Plane Ride

Every summer, my parents rent a condo down in Tampa Bay. I've gone most years, but of course was not able to last year with plans to take 2 weeks off work for the wedding and honeymoon in Italy. We decided we could join this year and that we would take Connor - making it our first family vacation!

We love surprising Connor, so we decided to not tell him. This was also going to be his very first plane ride! We managed to get the three of us packed on Friday evening without him knowing, and we put him to bed in a t-shirt and athletic shorts so that we could just carry him out of bed in the morning.

We had to leave the house around 4:30am, so Adam wrapped him in a blanket and put him in the car. He didn't even begin to stir through it all.

Once we got parked, we had to wait and then ride on the shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal. He still slept in Adam's arms the whole way.

As we got into the airport, he started waking up and it was really fun seeing him look all over the place, take it all in, and put it together that it was an airport. As he woke up, he started asking questions and seemed really excited we were getting on a plane! It ended up being 30 minutes before he finally asked where we were going, haha! We told him he had to figure it out (and he's so laid back that he doesn't really care so this wasn't a mean thing, but it made it fun for him!)

He was pretty excited about being on the plane and had a million questions - so cute!

He straight up studied the safety card. It was like he wanted to take in every possible part of the experience that he could!

He loved when we took off and eventually being able to see us rise above the clouds. It was about a 2-hour flight, and he was content to mostly just look out the window the entire time.

He thought it was pretty neat you get a drink and a snack on the plane, too!

He thought the landing was neat, too. I wish there was a way to explain how his little face just lit up with smiles! We explained we had to go get our bags in baggage claim as we made our way off the plane.

He still hadn't figured out where we were when we left the "secure" area, but as we walked along he looked up and saw my parents standing and waiting for us. I think he was more surprised and excited about seeing them than he was about riding on the plane! I think for a 6-year-old, knowing you just flew somewhere else and then seeing someone else you know that didn't go with you is really surprising!

He lit up and ran over to them, saying, "I didn't know you were going to be here!" and gave them big hugs. We collected our bags and he was finally piecing it together we were on vacation. As we left the airport, he saw the palm trees and then a sign or two and figured out we were in Florida and going to the beach!

Within another hour or so, we were in our swim suits and standing with our toes in the sand on the water!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Fun with CJ

Little man spends part of his summer break at home with us, and we enjoyed a nice long stretch this month. After kicking off our time back in TN with the 4th of July festivities, we made the trek back to Indy for another week.

We did all sorts of fun things... like go to the library so that we could pick put books. They have a great summer reading program where he can earn points for the books he reads and then pick out prizes! We went back at the end of the week and he was able to get a few books he could keep along with some things like temporary tattoos, light up bouncy ball, and other little things like that which kids like!

We went for ice cream one night after dinner and sat on the back of the truck to enjoy it!

Connor and Daddy played several different video games throughout the week.

I took him to the pool one day with the free pass we got with some of the library summer reading points.  We had fun for a little over an hour, but then a kid (not ours!) pooped in the pool and we had to leave.

We did some science experiments - we try to explain the chemical reactions, but at the same time he just thinks it's cool. We have fun watching him get excited as the Wizard's Brew foams over.

We finally finished building the lego set he got from Nana and Papa for Christmas! It's been a work in progress each time he's been in Indy since he got it.

And we went to Famous Dave's to dinner one night with the gift cards he bought Daddy for Father's Day.

Otherwise, we spent the rest of the week hanging around the house. We watched Annie with him for the first time ever one evening, and I was excited that he loved it. We had a few rainy days, and Adam and I still had to work, so he spent some time playing in his room or watching another movie or two.

We love having him home with us, and we're so glad that we were able to do some fun things with him. Little did he know that as this particular week ended, we had a BIG surprise in store for him...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sailboat Adventures

The day after the 4th of July, we joined our sweet friends Brian and Lu on the sailboat for the afternoon! We love being on the water, and it's so great to be able to do so with good friends.

Brian and Lu got married about 2 months after us last year and then also went to Italy on their honeymoon. We all get along so well I think because we're a lot alike! 

We ate snacks. We floated on the water. We talked. We acted silly. 

Connor absolutely loves Brian, so he spent some quality time floating with him.

I love this picture of CJ taking everything in!

It was definitely a beautiful day, and we were so glad to be able to spend some time with dear friends and be out in the water. After the ridiculous winter we had, we try to make the most of these kinds of days whenever we can this summer!

Monday, July 14, 2014

4th of July Fun in Nashville

We have Connor with us for about half of his summer break, and we started one of his stretches of time with us on July 3rd. Adam has never had Connor for the 4th of July holiday, so we were excited to cram in as much celebrating as possible!

On the night of the 3rd, we started in Smyrna with their celebration and fireworks at the park. Little man got to play some games, have some treats, see a big firetruck and enjoy the fireworks. We're not totally sure he's ever seen many real firework shows, and the look on his face and big smiles were awesome to see!

We spent all day on the 4th hanging out with Gram, which of course Connor absolutely loved! We relaxed at the pool for several hours.  Well, some of us relaxed while little man played and played. Our dear friends Grant and Courtney joined us for a while, too. Connor loves Grant, calling him his "sidekick."

We cleaned up, had some dinner and then headed downtown. Nashville has the #2 fireworks show in the country, only behind NYC. I've seen them a few times over the years, but Adam and his mom had never been... and of course Connor hadn't. I knew it was going to blow all of their minds!

We found a great spot on a bridge and sat around for an hour before the 27-minute show started.  When it got started, I'm honestly not sure if Adam or Connor was more impressed! It was an excellent show, and I'm so glad we went.  We knew it would be crowded and there would be some traffic leaving, but we won't have CJ on this holiday again for 2 years so I'm glad we took advantage of doing this with him now so that maybe we can start making it a tradition.

And of course, we had to shoot off some fireworks of our own. I managed to get this flat out EPIC picture of CJ (don't worry, daddy is right behind him and we helped him to make sure he stayed safe). He says it looks like he has a Harry Potter wand!

All in all, it was an absolutely excellent holiday for us!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Race Report: Firecracker 5000

On the 4th of July, Adam and I crossed our July race off at the Firecracker 5000 in Nashville! I was pretty excited to run a Nashville Striders race again, and we were glad the race wasn't too terribly far from our new house.

The craziest thing is that it was NOT hot and humid.  I'm not going to go so far as to say it was cool, but it was just not what a typical July morning in middle TN should feel like. We weren't complaining at all!

One of the things that was also exciting was that I got to see Liz and Matt, two of my Nashville running friends that I haven't seen since our wedding last August! It was so great to catch up and talk about how we'll be able to run together again now that we're moving back home.

I can't say the course was interesting - we literally just ran around the Opry Mills mall. However, it was flat and there was water, so no complaints there. You do get a fun glimpse at the Grand Ole Opry building, so I suppose that's fun.

We ran a decent time - not our slowest and not our fastest. We hung around for a few minutes chatting but then headed out so we could begin our 4th of July festivities with Connor and Gram!

August is going to be a busy month for us with our anniversary and the big move back to TN, but we're determined to keep up our goal of running a race every month. We've got our eye on one or two that might work!

Monday, July 7, 2014

"I've Tried Jack, I've Tried Jim"

Over Memorial Day weekend, we made a few last minute decisions about what we wanted to do with our time for a few days. I had a work event in Nashville that Saturday morning, but the rest of the weekend was wide open.

After finishing my work, Adam and I hopped in the car and drove to Lynchburg to tour the Jack Daniels Distillery. I had never been, and it'd been on our list to go and do the tasting tour that had been sold out the time he went a few years back.  I know I'm blogging a bit out of order here, but we did this before we started the KY Bourbon Trail tours I last wrote about.

We are definitely Tennesseans at heart, and we enjoy some Jack here and there. I loved every minute of the tour. It's very much about how they make the whiskey, but since this was our first tour of such a distillery I was really excited to learn about the process for the first time.  Additionally, our tour guide was great! He was informative and also funny!  I also think that we're both really over being in Indiana, so it was fun to have a really southern experience.  The tastings were great because we discovered that we like the regular old Jack better than than the Gentleman Jack or Single Barrel.

We also had lunch on the square in Lynchburg and wandered around all of the cute little shops around town before heading out.

We drove to Paducah, KY that evening and found a hotel room.  Adam has a cousin who lives there as well so we went to her house and spent the evening visiting before calling it a night.

We drove to Metropolis, IL the next morning to see where Superman is from!

We took more back roads from Metropolis over to the Garden of the Gods in Shawnee Forest in Illinois and spent the afternoon hiking and climbing. It was beautiful!!!

We finally started heading back to Indy, and we stopped in Bloomington for dinner and drinks and Upland Brewery.  Everything was quite tasty, and we managed to explore Bloomington a bit and can now feel like we can say we've seen it.

To say we slept well that night is an understatement!

One of the things I love about Adam is that he shares my desire to travel and seek out adventure.  It can be as small as just checking out a local tour of something cool or as big as a honeymoon in Italy - it doesn't really matter. I love that we can say, "we want to do this" and then hop in the car and go do it! And it doesn't have to be expensive.  Sure, we spent a little in gas and on a cheap hotel room for one night, and the Jack tour set us back a whopping $20... but in the grand scheme of things we didn't spend any more doing this for the weekend than we do during a normal weekend at home where we might go out to eat or see a movie or something.

All that to say... don't be afraid to decide to do something fun at the last minute. We love to plan things, but sometimes you can have just as much fun flying by the seat of your pants and heading out on an adventure!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Starting the KY Bourbon Trail

One of the things that is on our "To Do For Fun" list (yes, we literally have a list where we add things and cross them off as we do them) is to visit all 8 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  While it's not impossible to do from Nashville, we knew it'd be easier if we could knock half of them out some weekend while we still live in Indiana.

So a few weeks ago, we spent a Saturday doing the first three on our list - we made sure to get our passport stamped at each one, too. They have these cute little passports you can pick up at any location, and when you get all 8 stamps you can get a free t-shirt. I'm not sure I will care about the shirt, but it's still neat to get the stamps and write the date and notes about each visit.

Our first stop was Jim Beam. We took the tour, and the neatest part was that you got to pick up a bottle, rinse it and see it go down the line.  You could also buy it right off the line, but we opted to skip that part as we didn't know if we'd care for the specific type they were bottling.

The tour was really neat - it was the walkthrough of how the whiskey is made, etc., but they did a good job of sharing neat little facts about their history. You also get to try two different samples at the end.

Next, we stopped at Heaven Hill. It was a very different experience - there's not really a tour; instead, we watched a video and were able to sample two types of bourbon.  The only picture I even took was of this barrel display showing the different types they make.

Our last stop that day, and the one we were most excited about, was Maker's Mark.

The tour was pretty standard - you get to see how the make the bourbon, etc. The thing that made this one a little different is they encourage you to stick your finger into the sour mash during the fermentation process and sample it.

At the end of the tour, you are able to sample 4 types of their bourbon - including one they don't even sell and one they only sell at the distillery. After our tour, we purchased two bottles so that we could dip our own. It was a really fun and neat thing to get to do!

About a week later, we were driving through Louisville on one of our many trips back and forth between Indy and TN. We decided to knock out Evan Williams and stopped off for an hour or so.

Instead of taking their standard tour (which would have walked us through how they make the bourbon and is pretty much the same tour we've had everywhere else), we decided to take the Speakeasy tour. You sit at this really cool bar that is made to look like you're in an old speakeasy, and you learn all about Prohibition along with samples 3 different types of their bourbon. The "tour guide" was in character as if he were the bartender, and it was just really neat!

We've decided we can knock out the other 4 distilleries with a weekend trip to east KY where all the others are generally located. It may be this fall before we have a chance to do it, but so far the experience is proving to be a lot of fun!