downtown for the day

Last Saturday morning, I woke up with the urge to go explore somewhere different than our usual stomping grounds. The weather was warm (too warm for October, but it is what it is!) and we didn't have any plans so I threw out the idea of visiting Fort Kid, a big playground in downtown Knoxville. Deric agreed and an hour later we were all finally in the car. (I swear, going anywhere with kids is such a production!)

We knew that UT had a home game that afternoon so the city would be much busier but we weren't too worried about it since the playground wouldn't be high on the list for most tailgaters. ;) But it turns out, the parking lot was! There was no parking available in the vicinity of the playground so we changed plans and headed to Market Square to check out the farmers' market.

There was orange EVERYWHERE downtown, and not just pumpkins and fall leaves! UT fans are serious.

I'm so glad Jake loves Reid as much as he does! I can only hope the love continues when Reid gets big enough to steal toys...

I don't know how often we tell Jake to back up a little but he just can't keep his hands (and face) off the baby!

Good thing Reid loves him, too.

We played with these rafting toys for the longest time! The little water display was so fun and Jake was intrigued with how the toys could right themselves after flipping over in the water.

Stealing a sip of Dad's sweet tea after lunch. His face cracks me up! That's a southern boy right there.

As the weather slowly cools off, we're looking forward to spending more time out in the city and the mountains as a family! Knoxville is a fun place to live.


exploring Nashville!

We've lived in Knoxville for five years (plus four more, if you count college years!) and I'd never been to Nashville in all that time-- or Chattanooga either, until this summer! But now that we've visited both cities, we're excited to continue exploring more towns around us as well as going back to both Chattanooga and Nashville again, since you can only fit so much into one weekend.

We have friends living in Nashville who have been out to Knoxville quite a few times and stayed with us as they hike in the mountains or play tourist downtown, and we finally found a weekend to go see them. Because Deric has Fridays off and works Sundays, we drove out on a Friday morning and arrived just in time to get burgers for lunch at The Pharmacy. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood just outside of downtown, it was completely packed at lunch! We didn't wait long though and got a perfect spot in their outdoor seating, which was so charming. It felt like enjoying a meal in a friend's backyard under the trees.

Reid's onesie says "I get my good looks from my daddy". And he does!

Both boys fell asleep in no time when we got back into the car after lunch, so we drove around the city to "sightsee" a little and let them nap. Usually I hate to be in traffic but with kids asleep and no real agenda, it was great timing for Deric and I to relax and just talk.

When the boys woke up, we stopped at Jeni's, an ice cream store recommended by our friend. At first glance I thought it'd be a little too fancy for my vanilla-loving self, but we shared four different flavors and each flavor was incredible! I can't remember the full names of each flavor, but we had vanilla, brambleberry crisp, peanut butter and chocolate. The flavors were so rich that sharing those scoops was plenty for the three of us.

After getting ice cream we headed out of the city a bit to our friends' house after they got off work. Jake had fun playing with their little girl (and all her toys) before we all crashed pretty hard for the night. The next morning we were up and in the city fairly early for breakfast at Puckett's, a favorite spot of our friends. It did not disappoint! I thought of it as a more hip, unique Cracker Barrel-- very country, TONS of food, but less farm equipment on the walls. ;) We walked off breakfast at the Nashville Farmer's Market where we had the best mint lemonade I've tasted! They also had the most creative bike racks...

We really only caught a glimpse of Nashville in our short time there--we didn't even have time for the Opryland Hotel--so we'll have to go again sometime soon! Its always fun to explore new places and visit friends at the same time!


Reid @ 4 months

Rolls over within seconds of being laid down. Its actually kind of killing us because he rolls over so fast and then gets stuck on his stomach. And he can roll over while swaddled in his crib, so he has yet to sleep the entire night in his room. Usually a few hours after we lay him down, we'll hear him on the monitor because he's escaped his swaddle and is trying to roll. So he ends up back in our room for the rest of the night, which we really don't mind.

Gums his fists, his feet, his blankets, our fingers...anything and everything with his reach. We're waiting for teeth to show themselves virtually any second. He's taken a liking to the Sophie giraffe teether which Jake never really cared for.

Smiles the biggest smiles for us anytime we catch his attention!

Loves to watch Jake and will bend himself all around to catch a glimpse of his big brother.

Does really well if I take him into his room, close the curtains and rock him to sleep about an hour after he's eaten. His little eyes will droop usually within a minute or two, but if I don't catch him in that window, he gets overtired easily and has to be convinced to fall asleep with a combination of rocking, swaying and shushing.

 Losing his hair slowly but surely! Its got a tiny hint of red in the sunlight. His blue eyes are still bright blue though and are commented on frequently by people!

Answers to Reid, Reidles, Reidle-deedles, Deedos, baby bur-Reid-o, and Toot-toots (that's Jake's favorite, thanks to the movie Zootopia).


Disney Day Two

I've got a whole batch of photos from our day at Hollywood Studios and Epcot! After visiting Magic Kingdom the day before, it was noticeably calmer at both of these parks which was nice. We started the day at Hollywood Studios which has more shows and really no rides, which translates into plenty of time spent in the air conditioning.

To kick off the day we watched a Disney Junior show. Jake loved seeing Jake and the Neverland Pirates, the girls got to see Sophia the First, and everyone was happy to see Mickey and all his friends. All three kids were majorly into the show. Every so often they would rain down something like bubbles on the kids and during the Pirates portion, gold circle confetti (or "gold doubloons") came floating down. Jake spent the rest of the show crawling around and gathering all the confetti to bring back to us. It was hilarious and thankfully he didn't request that we carry the confetti around for the rest of the day, he just wanted to give some to his grandparents (who were in the back of the theater with a napping Reid). So sweet!

The only character Jake wanted to meet was Pluto! He was a little hesitant at first but Jake got up the nerve to hug him. As we attempted a family photo Jake tried to walk away from Pluto which explains his little grimace and Pluto's subtle hug. ;)

Deric snapped these pictures while Jake (and Reid, you can barely see him asleep in my arms!) and I waited to meet Pluto. And I love them so much I want them blown up and plastered around the house.

These stormtroopers marched around the park throughout the morning and it was hilarious to watch people's attempts to get pictures with them because the stormtroopers wouldn't stop and pose. So when Deric jumped next to this one, the stormtrooper kept marching and said "Calm down, citizen!"

This time we did stay together for all the attractions! 

We rode Toy Story Mania together and it may have been my favorite ride, only because I actually beat Deric's score. ;) As you went through the ride you had to shoot at arcade-style games and compete against the person sitting with you. Deric and Jake teamed up and I beat them by like 10 points! (Which is actually a little pathetic because the 3 year old did most of the shooting...but a victory nonetheless!)

After Hollywood Studios we jetted over to Epcot for the remainder of the evening. First up was a Finding Nemo ride and "Turtle Talk with Crush", an interactive show with one of the characters. It was really witty! I think the adults in the audience may have enjoyed it more than the kids. At one point in the show, the turtle (AKA a guy somewhere behind stage controlling the turtle on screen) asked the kids if they had any questions for him. A little girl asked how the turtle can breathe underwater. The turtle begins to say "Oh, I can swim for 10-15 minutes under water before I..." and then he suddenly jetted up to the surface of the water and off screen. The turtle comes back and says "Oh my gosh, I am SO glad you reminded me!" The joke probably doesn't translate well on here, but the adults in the audience were dying. It was really well done.

While waiting for the show to begin, we checked out the fish in the aquarium! 

After we finished seeing Nemo and his friends we got caught in a rainstorm that felt so good! Just enough rain to cool us off...and completely soak our stroller that was parked outside. We laid our rain jackets on the seats so the boys weren't too wet and kept on going. It was perfect timing to let Jake play in some fountains since he was already wet. I think this may have been the highlight for him--he played for a solid twenty minutes or so before we finally tore him away to head home. 

Once again we left earlier than the rest of the family who were staying for a late dinner with some princesses. Since Jake really has no idea who the princesses are, we capped off the night with a "late-night" (by three-year-old standards) swim back at the hotel before crashing early. Two days at the parks was plenty for us, we don't have the endurance that some families do!

It was so fun to experience Jake's first rollercoaster and to see him interact with the characters he knows, but just getting to play all day as a family was probably the best part for us!


Disney Days

We spent all day Wednesday at Magic Kingdom and then split Thursday between Hollywood Studios in the morning and Epcot in the afternoon. Today is all about Magic Kingdom since there's just a *few* photos to share...

I'd never been to Disney before so it was just as new to me as it was to Jake (and Reid). So I had no idea you could take a ferry to the park entrance! I took that time on the ferry to adjust settings for the camera and make sure we could easily reach what we needed from under the stroller.

Reid's little feet sticking straight out of the stroller just kill me. ;)

Talking to Grandpa!

As soon as we got to Main Street, the Dapper Dans started up a show so we paused for a moment to watch. All I could think was how hot those dancers had to be in their costumes! I don't envy them one bit. It was only about 9:00am and that sun was searing hot already.

Jake's first real ride--at Disney or anywhere else--was Aladdin's Magic Carpet. When I showed him the handle that lets you control moving yourself up and down, he was thrilled! When the ride was over he quickly hopped back in line to ride with Deric.

Reid's first order of business was to take a stellar nap. I love that kid! I was anxious about how we'd handle his naps during the day because of the heat. I had brought our Ergo carrier but really didn't want to carry him in it because it would be way too hot for either of us. Thankfully the stroller could cover him all the way to his feet and we had stroller fans to blow on both his head and his feet. So he had a nice little situation going on, better than the rest of us schlepping around in the sun! ;)

Family photo in front of the castle! Reid was grabbing Jake's hair and making him laugh. I'm sure this won't be the last time that happens. 

The whole family! We didn't stay together as a group for most of the day because the girls wanted to do different rides and meet the princesses, plus we had to be a little more flexible for nursing and whatnot. So we coordinated a few rides and meals together, and the grandparents hopped back and forth depending on what rides we were doing. It worked out really well this way!

While the girls were meeting a princess, we took Jake to the Tomorrowland Speedway. Jake and I rode first and I was a terrible driver! Trying to keep those cars from banging on the track was harder than I expected. And then Deric totally one-upped me in the fun parent category and let Jake drive the car on his second time through! How cute is he?? I'm not sure Jake could even see over the steering wheel.

I'm pretty sure Grandma didn't mind sitting this ride out...

 As we waited for the carousel to start, Jake named our horses and declared it a race. Somehow I lost the race...I'm pretty sure we tied. ;)

It's a Small World with his cousins!

We ate "dinner" around 3:30 and it may as well have been a Thanksgiving meal. So. much. food! It was delicious but despite our best efforts, we barely put a dent in it. 

Thanks to Disney's Fast Pass system, we didn't wait in too many long lines. And because Reid was too small for a lot of rides and someone had to stay back with him, we were able to ride most rides twice in a row without any wait and just swap out the person who stayed with Reid. 

By this point it was late afternoon and Jake was definitely feeling the heat and lack of a nap, but he kept it together really well! Deric, Jake and I rode the Barnstormer rollercoaster together the first time while Grandpa stayed with Reid, and then Grandpa and I switched out for the second time through.

Thankfully this roller coaster lasted all of thirty seconds because Jake started to cry after the first drop! But by the time he probably even realized what was going on, we were pulling back into the station. Deric and I praised him over and over for being so brave on his first roller coaster that he was able to get over the shock and he was up for going again! 

Equal parts terrified and brave...:)

We called it quits a few hours earlier than the rest of the family so we could get the boys into bed and get ready for the next day at the parks. The girls stayed through fireworks at the castle while we showered and headed to bed, and everyone was plenty happy. ;) More on Hollywood and Epcot tomorrow!