Thrills, Chills and Fun Times Ahead!

Thrills, Chills and Fun Times Ahead!

I grew up a relatively short distance from Williamsburg, Virginia. This meant that summertime often included trips to Busch Gardens. Being a thrill seeker, these trips have left some awesome lasting memories. As an adult, I still enjoy the thrills and now I get to share them with my kids. But, over time I stopped going as often. Eventually it became a thing for the kids to do with their dad. They would take off early in the morning and come back with pictures and souvenirs and I’d enjoy the stories they would tell me about riding the little Clydesdale horses, the tea cups, and whatever awesome new coasters have been added.

This time, however, I had the chance to tag along. When your kids’ ages range from 6 to 14, you expect to split your time between the smaller rides and the larger ones. Otherwise, someone is not going to have such a good time. We were able to kind of ‘tag-team’ the rides. Maddie got the unlimited quick queue pass and we got 2 one-time quick queue passes. This meant that we could each ride the big coasters with her at least once. It worked a lot like the kid switch at Disneyland.

Maddie and I started out on Escape from Pompeii. It was a fun, albeit wet, start to the day. I lost my beloved orange Roxy hat in the last big wave though, so I ducked into a shop and bought a pink BG hat. No biggie.

Carousel at Busch Gardens

The kids ride the carousel with their dad at Busch Gardens

The first BIG surprise of the day was when David talked Maddox into riding Pompeii with them. At first he wanted nothing to do with it but then decided to give it a try. I tried convincing Lexxie to ride but she wasn’t having anything to do with that one. She and I waited in the glassed-in viewing area. The little goofball would walk out to the railing to play chicken with the splash. It finally caught up with her and splashed her from head to toe. She was more soaked from that splash than I was from riding the actual ride.

We watched them come down the drop and then ran over to check out their picture. It was priceless. I should have bought it. There are no words to express Maddox’s face…it would have made a meme…I’m sure of it.

After a few more rides for everyone, we convinced Maddox and Lexxie to give the Roman Rapids a try. It took a lot of convincing to get her onto the ride and in the end, she thanked us over and over. In fact, when we were leaving the park later, she said it had been her favorite ride of the day. It seats six, so she sat with her daddy and Maddox sat with me. Maddie got to ride without anyone directly beside her. Lexxie and daddy ended getting the most splashes AND the waterfall part…but we all came off there pretty darn wet.

Our visit landed on the Food and Wine Festival dates, so as we made our way around the park, we were able to sample some pretty delicious food. We passed a crepe stand in France and took notice, but didn’t stop. As the day was winding down, Maddie was getting a henna tattoo and Maddox was considering riding a roller coaster with his dad (something he has NEVER done before). And Lexxie was “starving.” So, she and I went back up to France so she could try a crepe. They had 4 options – 3 dessert crepes and 1 savory crepe. To my surprise, she chose the Poulet Cordon Bleu Crêpe. I honestly thought there was no way she was going to actual eat it but it was her choice so I let her order it. We had to wait at least 40 minutes but if you ask her…it was worth it. She devoured it like nothing I’d ever seen before. Afterwards she laughed and said “I tortured that crepe!”

Airplanes at Busch Gardens

Lexxie and Maddox at Busch Gardens

During our 40 minute wait for the crepe, Maddie was still waiting on her henna and David’s phone was dead so I really had no idea if they were sitting down the hill waiting for us or if they had found something else fun to do. It was a HUGE surprise when I got to the bottom of the hill just in time to hear Maddox tell me all about riding the Loch Ness Monster! No, seriously…Maddox rode a REAL roller coaster…and with two (not ONE) loops! (Ok, compared to other coasters these days, the Loch Ness Monster is pretty tame…but when I was a teenager, it was one of the most sought after rides in the world.) He told me all about how he wasn’t even scared to go upside down. I’m just sitting here thinking “who is this kid?!”

We all convened there as Lexxie was torturing…err, consuming…her crepe. The kids were steadily coming to the end of their fun meter. Legs were tired, little ones were sleepy…well, I’m sure you know the story…so we made our way to the car and headed back to town. Between the road construction and detour (thanks to the closed Veteran’s bridge in Chesapeake), it was a little past 12:30am when we finally got back into town. They dropped me off at home and the kids went on to enjoy the rest of their weekend with dad.

The entire day reminded me of our once frequent trips to Disneyland. It was nice to sit back and think about those days. Much has changed…no more strollers or diaper bags…no more finding quiet, cool spots to nurse babies. A part of me misses the days of the littles but mostly I’m excited to see how they will continue to grow and discover their own favorite thrills and chills in the park.

On an Island in the Sun

On an Island in the Sun

Weezer

Weezer 2016

Here is to another great musical adventure!

To keep up with my awesome concert trend, my latest adventure was Weezer / Panic! at the Disco in Virginia Beach. This marks the second time I’ve seen P!ATD within the last year but surprisingly it was my first time seeing Weezer. I’ve been a fan since my teenage years. They definitely didn’t disappoint.

Between seeing Weezer and the Offspring lately, I have come to realize one very alarming thing. We are ALL getting…OLD. It is so funny thinking about how those guys looked when I first started listening to them. But some things will never change. I will always <3 Dexter. Hahaha

On a serious, or at least less-joking, note…I learned that VIP is the way to go. We went all out for this concert with front row seats (behind the pit…I’m too old for the pit) with VIP access. The VIP entry and lounge make it all worthwhile.

Panic! at the Disco

Panic! at the Disco – Kenneth Harris

For more awesome fun, I found my newest man crush. Kenneth Harris, the touring guitarist for P!ATD is nothing short of awesome. I don’t usually geek out over celebs…and I really don’t consider myself “geeking out” now, but he is definitely on my radar now. He has a sweet collection of guitars too, which never hurts.

The next few weeks are filled with camps, friends, amusement parks, road trips and playing in the sun, sand and water. Next stop…Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.

 

Welcome Summer!

Welcome Summer!

Summer has finally found us!

After a few false starts, it looks like the warm weather is here to stay for a while. I have been looking forward to the telltale signs of the season – the smell of charcoal from the grill in the evening, the sounds of the kids laughing and running around in the yard, lightning bugs illuminating our path during evening strolls…

Of course, the presence of summer also means that the kids are home from school. No more homework after dinner and 8pm bedtimes. Instead, they get to trade those in for extended playtime and staying up late (10pm – because we party like rock stars around here).

This was a pretty big milestone school year. Lexxie started Kindergarten. She put on a brave face on that first day of school as she walked into her classroom and found her seat. There were no tears – a little apprehension – but she held it together. She knew the routine after preschool the previous year. She caught on pretty quick and before I knew it, she was bringing home all E’s in reading and math.

Maddox found his rhythm during the second half of his 1st grade year, so 2nd grade was a breeze. He’s come a very long way from that little guy who cried everyday at drop off in Kindergarten. He definitely hit a stride and struggling through schoolwork became a thing of the distant past. He was an honor roll student all year long. It was a long, difficult journey to get there but once he made it, there was no stopping him.

And that brings me to my…(gulp)…high schooler. I can’t believe that my baby girl is starting high school in the fall. This was a good year for her. She was in the STEM program, the director of the morning news show and an SGA representative. She showed off her incredible musical talents by playing flute and alto saxophone in the 8th grade band and the jazz band. She’s ready to add tenor sax to that list now. During her downtime, she took programming classes offered by Harvard and MIT. This summer she is going away to a major university where she will learn game development in C++. That’s my girl [insert very proud smile here].

So now that school is out and schedules are easygoing, I took the wee ones to the splash park after work on Monday for the first time this season. It is so incredible to see how much the kids have changed in the last year. Maddox was ready to ditch the kiddie area in favor of deeper waters and Lexxie no longer sits on the side waiting for me to join her.

We are looking forward to making some really great memories over the next couple of months. We have concerts, beach trips, camps (band! cheerleading! tech!), friends visiting from afar, amusement parks, and so many other good times on the horizon.

Hello Pool Season!

Hello Pool Season!

Jeep Days

Heading out to beat the heat by the pool

Hello summer. Hello sunshine. Hello lazy evenings poolside!

Summer is finally here and in full swing – that means longer hours in the sun and more time to lay by the pool. Last year I couldn’t quite find the time in my schedule to slow down and enjoy the warm moments of summer but this year I have made the time.

Lexxie at the pool

Lexxie at the pool

So far it has been the perfect solution. The sun is still shining bright when my work day ends and the heat is definitely not going anywhere. By the time we get to the pool, the usual afternoon crowd has left so there is more room for the kids to throw balls, play Marco Polo, or just splash around on kick boards and pool noodles.

It is nice for me too! I can take in a little Vitamin D while I enjoy a relaxing moment…and when it gets too hot…a quick dip in the water brings me right back to bliss. I am definitely loving it.

Welcome to Chapel Hill

Welcome to Chapel Hill

I spend a decent amount of time in the Triangle these days, specifically in Raleigh, but this week was a little different. Rather than visiting my office, I had the pleasure of working in beautiful Chapel Hill. We hosted a conference at the Friday Center and it was quite a success.

This was my first visit to the Friday Center and I was really impressed with the venue. The accommodations were wonderful – clean and spacious – and they even had common areas for user networking. It was refreshing seeing so many people from different industries, backgrounds and locations spanning the globe coming together to learn and share their own knowledge.

The weather was beautiful for the entire event. The sun was shining, but not too hot, for the pre-conference golfing and it was just warm enough to enjoy the Durham Bulls game from our private party area at the Tobacco Road Cafe.

Things began to wind down by Friday afternoon. As sessions were wrapping up, many conference goers were making their way home. Some of them had flights to catch and some of them just wanted to get out before rush hour. After the last session finished up, I also made my way to the door. I was leaving just as traffic was starting to build up. So, what better way to wait out the traffic in Chapel Hill? A visit with my brother…

I was only about 7 miles from his house so I headed out to visit him. He lives on a horse farm that is kind of tucked back in the woods. I had heard all about it and had even seen a few pictures but this was my first time getting out there to visit. He showed me around the property and then we headed to the stables where I got to meet all of the horses. They are such magnificent creatures. It is amazing to watch him interact with them. They love on him and show their affection, much like a puppy would. One even let out a little nicker and snort as we walked away to meet the next. He wanted all of the attention for himself.

It was a great way to end my week. Eventually I got on the road. I left the sunrider on but kept all of the windows off so I could enjoy the night air on the way home. After jamming to my favorite Sirius station (Faction), I pulled in the driveway at exactly 12:04 am.