Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

6/23/14

Cummins Falls

Since we've been in Nashville we've done more hiking and exploring parks than we ever did growing up in Louisville. It's partly because we've made a conscious effort and partly because Tennessee is a gorgeous state with so many great state parks near where we live. A few weeks ago we checked off yet another state park and waterfall from our to-do list when we visited Cummins Falls State Park. Before I go in detail about the trip I should preface by saying the night before I may have had too much fun while out celebrating with my co-workers.


Unfortunately, two of my co-workers were leaving so although I normally don't hang out with the crazy party crowd, I had to be a part of the good-bye celebration. Hands down, my favorite thing about my job is the people and how diverse of a (small) group we are. From all over the world, we've somehow managed to all be at the same place at the same time and it's been a real pleasure to get to know them all no matter how short lived.

So Saturday morning, when Adam decided we should go on a hike on the way to breakfast, I threw my hiking boots in the car and hopped in not having any clue what he had in store for us. As I waited for my egg sandwich at Panera, Adam picked Cummins Falls for our little hike. About an hour and half outside of Nasvhille, Cummins Falls is only a half hour away from Burgess Falls which we visited a few months ago.


Totally unprepared for much of an adventure, we arrived in the parking lot of the state park, put on our boots and headed to the waterfall. It's a half mile easy hike through the woods to the waterfall overlook. When we got to the overlook I was surprised to see people everywhere, as in everywhere on the waterfall.


It's uncommon to see people climbing, sitting. laying out on a waterfall, but Cummins seems to be the "it" place to cool off in the summer. The wide rock slabs of this waterfall allow people to climb and hang out as long as they don't mind getting a little wet. The huge pool below was full of people swimming and relaxing on rafts as well. We were caught off guard by the accessibility of this waterfall and completely unprepared to partake in the water activities. None the less, we decided to continue hiking to the falls just over a mile and half away. Another half mile of the hike was a steady downhill climb through the woods on a beaten trail, but the second mile to the waterfall was along the rocky creek bed which often required wading in the water. This made for a long and tedious mile trek.


At first I was removing my hiking boots and walking barefoot through the water, but the rocks in the creek were so slippery that it was almost impossible to walk on. It wasn't long until we were all walking in the water with our boots on and Landon wasn't a big fan. Wet hiking boots are not the most fun thing.


By the time we arrived at the falls we were all hot and thirsty. Having not prepared, we didn't even have water with us and Landon kept asking if we could go back to the car to get his water and then come back. As we sat there for a few minutes while Adam took pictures I kept trying to decide how easily I could be one the people swimming. Playing in a creek was something I loved to do as a kid, but I'm not all that comfortable with the idea now as an adult. The water was clear and seemed clean, but I just can't fully shake the idea of germs in a creek. I must be in the minority though, because many people clearly enjoy it and as hot as it was, had I had a swimsuit on, I would have tried not let it bother me so much and cooled off a little myself. I was hoping to at least walk across the falls once, but Landon didn't want to and knowing the hardest part (the hike back up) was still ahead of us, we cut it short and headed back.


Cummins Falls is really a pretty waterfall and Adam and I would like to go back in the Fall just to enjoy the setting without so many people. And although it probably won't happen this year, I'm going to be sure to take Landon again next year so he can really enjoy it. If every boy's dream is to explore and play in a creek, then this state park is the perfect wonderland. Despite the last minute and poor planning of this hike, it was an enjoyable adventure and as always, we were happy to have done it in the end.

6/9/14

Before I Turn 30

Today I am 29 which means I only have one more year in my twenties. Tick, tock, tick, tock...I know some people have really tough milestone years like 25 and 30, etc. Thus far, that number called 'age' has never been a big deal for me. Of course, being a year away, I'm not sure if I'll struggle with turning 30 or not but I do realize it's a big milestone.  So I've thought about where I am and where I want to be and because of that, there are some personal goals that I would like to achieve in the next year. One thing I'm really trying to focus on is putting a stop to putting things off. Especially those things that I really want do. For me, this means going against how I feel in the moment and just making myself do it. In the end, I always feel so much better and end up happier. For those reasons alone, 29 is my year to JUST. DO. IT!

So here's my list of things I WANT TO and WILL make time for in the next year. Six things I hope to accomplish before I turn 30...
  1. Lose Weight/Get Fit- No surprise that this is on here as I think most women are constantly in a battle to lose weight. I really struggled this winter and gained back some of the weight that I lost after having Landon. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. I've lost 7 in the last month so I'm slowly starting to kick it into gear. I'm trying to eat better, cook healthier, and exercise. I'm not sure which is the hardest of the three, but I know I need to make changes that I can live with long term and not just try a fad diet that will only help me to lose weight temporarily. Since the weather has gotten warmer I've picked back up doing the couch to 5k and I'm currently at the end of week 5. It isn't easy for me and I struggle to stay motivated, but I really want to finish it and run a 5k sometime this year. I don't think I'll ever really be a runner, but I know I can push my body and teach myself to be more comfortable with it. I'm hoping by the Fall to have lost all the weight so I can concentrate more on getting fit. That might mean joining a gym or getting more serious about working out at home, but either way I'm dedicated to entering 30 in the best shape of my life.
  2. Read the Bible- I can't count the number of times I've set out to read the bible only to lose motivation in the family trees of the Old Testament. I've always felt like I needed someone to guide me through it, but after reading A Case for Christ, I knew it was time that I stop making excuses and read it once and for all. Adam suggested that I start with the New Testament so, a few weeks ago, I did. I'm hooked. I'm almost finished with the New Testament and once I finish, I will start over from the beginning. By 30, I'm hoping to have read the whole thing front to back.
  3. Attend church WEEKLY- I love going to church. I always get so much out of it and I know going weekly makes me a better person. I truly believe that church keeps me grounded and focused on the important things. That being said, I've haven't been a weekly church attender since our beloved priest retired. That was almost three years ago...Adam and I have struggled to find a church we like and moved twice to different areas.On top of that, it can be a lot of work to take a child to church and expect him to sit quietly for an hour. But, everything I just mentioned is just an excuse. Now that we are settled in Nashville, we've been attending church more frequently, but I've still allowed little things to be a reason for missing a Sunday here and there. This year, I'm going to stop that and make it part of my weekly routine once again. Not only do I feel better when I do, but I AM BETTER and that is too important to put aside.
  4. Pass the brokerage exam-Oh the dreaded Customs Brokerage Exam. I had planned to sit for the test in October of 2013, but in August Adam took the job in Nashville and it was put on hold. When I got my new job, I found out they paid for the test and I wanted sit for it in April, but they have a year commitment period so I decided to wait until October 2014. It's getting close to the time when I will sign up for the study materials and begin an intense 3 month preparation. With an average pass rate of less than 20% (sometimes as low as 3% nationwide) and the fact that it is only given twice a year, just the thought of the test overwhelms me. I just know that passing and becoming a licensed Broker would be a big step for me career-wise and I want to enter 30 feeling like I'm on a REAL career path.
  5. Learn a second language- Working at a company where English is seemingly a second language has really increased my desire to learn another language. For me, English has never been my strong point so I doubt I will master a new language in one year, but I can at least try. We have dreams of living in Europe so I'm going to start working on German. Ideally, I can pass the Brokerage Exam in October and then focus just a bit of that time and energy into learning a language. Prager says, "just think how much better off you'd be if you spent one hour a night learning a language instead of watching tv." Even a half an hour a day for a year and I would learn so much. I think in this goal I'm going to try and include Landon as well. He'll probably learn at a faster rate than me and he will have a huge advantage if he can learn a second language.
  6. Learn every country and capital- I remember the day when I decided I want to learn every country and capital. I was at my first job at UPS and I received a shipment going to the Federated States of Micronesia...I was 19 and had never heard of such a place and I truly thought I was worldly. Although it's been 10 years since I made that goal, I've made no strides to actually learning the countries and their capitals. Right now, I have no idea how many countries comprise the continent of Africa or where most are located. I can fill out a map of Europe about 95% correctly, but I don't know all the capitals and then there is the rest of the world. I've played a few online games that really help learn the location of countries, but I'd like to either get some flash cards or make some for the capitals. I figure even just an hour a week for 52 weeks and I bet I'd know them all or be darn close. Once again, I'm hoping Landon can learn them along with me at least somewhat. I'm going to start with the states and their capitals. I use to know all the state capitals, but it's something I'm a little rusty on now. And while this might be the least important of my goals for the year, it is the goal I've had the longest and it's time to stop putting it off.


Looks like 29 is going to be a busy year and it starts today! I know how quickly the last ten years have passed. I know how short life is. I know how easily we put aside things we really want to do. How we let our goals and dreams fade away with time. But, I don't want to do that. In a year, when I turn 30, I want to feel like I've achieved the things I've most wanted for MYSELF! If I can stay focused this year, then I will be happy to start my 30's with a whole new set of goals and dreams. Knowing that I've accomplished in my 20's everything I wanted, will make saying goodbye all that much easier. But, more importantly, it will be a milestone worth celebrating.






6/1/14

Memorial Day Weekend

I'm only a week behind on posting about our Memorial Day weekend. I'm getting better! Since Memorial Day weekend was a long weekend for us, we went 'home' to Louisville to visit with our families. Here's a Memorial Day weekend picture dump.

We basically split each day between different family members. We drove to my Dad's house on Friday night and spent Saturday with him. First thing in the morning, Landon had to take a ride in Papa's new tractor. A tractor that comes complete with a Grandson seat. I'm just wondering how long until it's Landon driving the tractor himself.


Afterwards, we went into "town" to help Papa look for a new ATV. While Papa narrowed down his choices, Adam and Landon both found some toys of their own.



After some shopping, we went back to the house so Landon could take a nap and Adam could work on his car for a bit. Dad and I went to Huber's for our quarterly wine pickup. Since it's summer now, they are back to serving their Strawberry Sangria. It's the most delicious drink!! We got some food (chicken salad, of course), did our wine tasting, and enjoyed some ice cream at the Koi Pond. It was a gorgeous day.



Have I mentioned before how much I love Huber's? It's my favorite place to go when we visit home and I especially enjoy my Dad's and I trips together. It couldn't have been a better day.

Saturday we went to Noni's house for the annual pool cleaning. This year the pool is getting a huge revamping of new tile inside the pool and a new deck. While Adam's sister and I cleaned out the inside of the pool, Adam and Landon worked on getting up the deck.



Landon is getting to an age where he really really wants to be a part of everything we do and is actually a really  good helper. He got to fill the buckets as his Daddy scraped up the deck.


After the pool was drained and we filled all the buckets we could we decided it was time for some fun. Adam's sister, Taylor, and the three of us went to Kart Kountry so the boys could ride the Go Karts. I had never actually driven a go kart before so Adam elected to take Landon while I rode in one by myself. Turns out Landon does not enjoy it when Mommy passes him and speeds away. 


But he got over it and we all had fun. After the go karting we played some games inside. All three boys right in a row playing.


After that, we went over the batting cage. Another thing I had never done and always wanted to try. Brought me back to my short time playing softball.



Taylor's playing baseball this year and got to hit a few balls as well. Poor Landon is still too little to get into the cage, but he really wanted to try.


We might have to sign him up for tee ball next year. Afterwards, we all went to Katherine's house to see her adorable foal.


She is the cutest most little foal I have ever seen and her Momma is a such a sweetie. We all got a chance to see and pet her up close.


Afterwards, we all met up with my Mom for dinner at Senor Iguanas (a favorite local restaurant of mine). Landon went home with Grandma so they could have a fun night with just the two of them and we went back to the farm for the night. The next morning we loaded up our furry son and went to my Mom's for the day. By the time we got to her house Landon, and her were at the neighborhood playground. Even Kaiser had fun playing at the playground.


Her neighborhood just so happens to also have a horse barn were people who live in the neighborhood can keep their horse. While we were there one of the residents came up and let her horses out into the pasture next to the playground. It wasn't long before Kaiser had made a new friend.


video


We only got a little of it on video, but this went on for quiet some time. It was really cute to see a dog and horse playing together like that. Afterwards, we went to nearby Captains Quarters for some lunch and to watch the boats. While the food at Captains Quarter isn't my favorite in Louisville, the setting certainly is.


We watched the boats on the river and all picked our favorites. Maybe someday we will have a boat of our own. After a long afternoon it was time to load up everyone in the car and head back to Nashville. Summer is finally here and Memorial Day weekend was a great way to start it! 



The Weekend I Finally Ate My Words

They say that when you become a parent, it's inevitable that you will end up doing all the things you said you'd never do. Letting your child throw a fit in a restaurant full of people, bribing them to be good with candy, etc etc. I think I may be one of the few parents who hasn't necessarily found that to be the case. Although my little Son can easily make my heart melt, I know I'm a pretty hardass of a Mom and haven't really had to eat my words just because he gives me that dimpled smile of his. That being said, I did have a major mouth cramming session a few weeks when I finally did something I swore I would never, ever, ever, do.

Despite Adam asking every single year for eleven years I've always told him that I would never, in my lifetime, go with him to a Renaissance Festival. No, I had never been, but would probably have made the top ten list of things I'd rather poke my eyes out than do. Why? I'm honestly not sure. I had this preconceived notion of what it would be, the type of people that would be there, and how much I would loath every second of it. On top of that, the only Renaissance Festival I knew of growing up was in Eminence, KY. Anyone from Oldham County knows that NOTHING good comes from Eminence so despite his yearly badgering, I always said there was no way I would ever go to a Renaissance Festival.

Well all that changed when we moved to Nashville. Just outside the city and only 20 minutes from our house is local castle, Castle Gynn. What started as a local man's high school project to draw his dream home actually became a reality when he purchased some acreage in Arrington, TN and in 1980 slowly started to build the medieval reproduction with his own hands. The castle is visible from the nearby highway and looks to be pretty impressive. After driving past it a few times, learning the history, and finding out that each May it is home to a Renaissance Festival which grants you access to tour the castle, I finally decided it was time to eat crow and make my husband's dream come true. Well, maybe not dreams, but I definitely shocked him when I actually agreed and planned to go the first weekend in May. We met up with my co-worker/friend, her husband, and three (one on the way) little girls. Landon enjoys playing with her daughters and being such a ladies man already, I think he especially enjoyed the boy to girl ratio that day (even at one point offering to push Isabella around).


Future wife maybe? She's half Peruvian, but if this Mom has it her way, he'll marry a Croatian girl. It's completely my fault, but the Croatian bloodline is getting way too thin. Still, I can't blame him for liking these little cuties. The girls were really anxious to see the castle and despite the long looking line, we were told it would only be a 30 minute wait so we decided to do that first. After an hour and half wait we finally made our way up to the castle to get a close look.



It's pretty random, this big white medieval castle smack in the middle of Middle Tennessee, but the kids thought it was super cool. Landon kept asking where the princess was and if we could go to the top to see her. Admittedly, while what we saw of the castle was impressive, very little is actually open. The owner is not only still building the castle little by little, but also lives there permanently so only the kitchen and a small portion on the downstairs is open as well as one tower room and the balcony on the second floor. I have no idea what the other 85% of the castle looks like from inside. A small collection of medieval artifacts are on display including a few fun things for kids, but otherwise the castle was just a pretty structure to see from outside and a lot of wasted day. Landon's highlight was the knights helmet.


His lowlight was the whining that ensued when he learned he couldn't go to the top of the castle. So after three hours at the Renaissance Festival, we hadn't managed to see very much festival. We made our way back to the festival and the girls stopped and had their face painted.


We checked the schedule of events and noticed a juggling show was about to begin. We thought the kids would enjoy it so we grabbed some front row seats and kids played for a few minutes while we waited.


It's very hard to get three kids under 4 to sit still even for a second, but all that changed when the juggling started. I have to admit that even I was impressed and glued to my seat. I never would have imagined.


He juggled a multitude of items including knifes and pins on fire. He even juggled while balancing on a ball, but I failed to get a picture. It was surprisingly entertaining for both the kids and the adults. After his show we decided to make our way to the jousting field. While walking there we spotted this guy...


..who was available for rides! I had no idea the Renaissance Fair would have camel rides. Jenny and her family hopped aboard and took a small stroll on his back. They also had a Birds of Prey Tent and we found out that they had given demonstrations earlier in the day.


Adam always says when he gets rich he's going to become a Falconer and I have to admit they are pretty neat. It's really a shame we didn't realize sooner that they had shows through the day. It would have been fun to see.

We watched the jousting for a little bit which actually was the real deal with horses, men in full armor, and charging at each other with 10 foot jousting sticks. Maybe I'm the only person on Earth who didn't realize how much stuff actually went on at a Renaissance Festival. All these years I assumed it was a bunch of people dressed up in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter costumes, running around acting like children, eating turkey legs and buying swords. In reality, there is a lot of that, but that wasn't all it was. There were tons of food vendors selling everything from turkey legs to crepes to roasted nuts. They had a number of different stages with different events throughout the day from the crowning of princesses for children to adult-only comedy shows. They had plenty of activities for children including rides and carnival games and enough things for even adults to enjoy.

We arrived at the fair around noon and wasted almost three hours at the castle. By the time we got done, we could only manage to see two shows and then it was starting to dwindle down. We also made the mistake of not bringing cash with us and everything within the fair was cash only. At $20 an adult ticket it would be super easy to blow $100 there without even purchasing anything for sale (and there was plenty of that). Other than the shows, everything cost money, all the games, rides, animal encounters, etc. The amount of food and drinks alone could cost some serious cash. Had I known what to expect better I would have planned the day a little differently. We would have got there when it opened, figured out which shows we really wanted to see, and skipped the castle. We also would have brought some cash so Landon could have done more stuff and Adam could get his picture taken with a Falcon ($5 per person). BUT, and that's a capital B-U-T, I still enjoyed it and although we won't be going back this year, I we will try and make a point to go again when it happens again next May. And even though I've had to eat my words and have now gone to AND enjoyed a Renaissance Festival, I will say, I will NEVER, go to a Renaissance festival dressed up!