Little Monsters at the Zoo

ghouls

I am falling more in love Nashville everyday. We have been super busy with all the fall festivities in and around Nashville. Everyone told us that having Luna would slow us down, but the truth is, she keeps us motivated to do more. Thanks to Nashville Parent and the various flyers hanging up at Starbucks, I am constantly finding new family-friendly stuff to do in middle Tennessee. Last weekend kicked off the Ghouls at Grassmere annual event at the Nashville Zoo, and we decided it was a perfect time to take Luna on her very first zoo trip.

zoo

The Ghouls at Grassmere event is geared towards kids and is a really unique Halloween experience! The kids get to dress-up, trick-or-treat on the trails, see the zoo at night and participate in many other activities. They have a haunted hayride, a spooky house tour, a “scary-go-round”, carnival games, a dance party and more. Luna was a little young for most of the activities, but that little detail did not keep us from enjoying ourselves, or from trick-or-treating.

trick or treat!
trick or treat!

I have never been to the zoo at night, but OMG, it is SO much better! It’s not too hot, you can’t get sunburned, it’s waaayyy less crowded and kind of cool to see what the place looks like a night… also, a little creepy. It’s a really cool atmosphere for a Halloween event. There were lots of lights, light designs, Halloween decorations and really good music. It was full of activities, yet very relaxed. We took our time walking around, ate dinner and just enjoyed ourselves.

Foam party for kids!
Foam party for kids!
They had tons of popular characters for kids to take photos with
They had tons of popular characters for kids to take photos with
a scary spinny tunnel!
a scary spinny tunnel!

The best part had to be watching all the kids run around in their costumes! If you know me at all, you know I love dressing up and celebrating for just about any reason. It was sooo much fun to see how the creative costumes at the zoo.

Mary Poppins AND Napoleon Dynamite...love this family
Mary Poppins AND Napoleon Dynamite…love this family
yup...definitely doing this for Luna one day
yup…definitely doing this for Luna one day

Our favorite activities for us and Luna were definitely the “scary-go-round” and the “Monster Mash”. The “scary-go-round” was the carousel with creepy music and lights that blinked on and off. Come to think of it…I guess that was Luna’s first ride! The “Moster Mash” was a huge dance party. We all danced together and taught Luna how to shake that little tush.

scary go round dance party

The only downside to being at the zoo at night is that the animals aren’t out. We got to see flamingos and camels, but that’s all. I was hoping for Luna to see more animals, but we will just have to back. (As a matter of fact, we went back today! But, that’s another blog…)

flamingos

Anyways, only 5 more days until Halloween! How is everyone celebrating this week??? Oh, and if you are planning a trip to the Nashville Zoo soon, you’ve gotta check out their calendar of events here. They’ve got some really cool activities coming up!

I was so excited to find this perfect picture spot!
I was so excited to find this perfect picture spot!

Cheers!

Pumpkin Patch as a Family of Three

gentry farm

I am just returning from a whirlwind of a trip to NYC, and oh my do I have LOTS to share and review! But, first, I’ve got to share our first experience at a pumpkin patch as a family of three. We visited Gentry Farm for the first time last year on the day I found out I was having a girl. I told Husband that visiting Gentry Farm and picking our own pumpkins is going to be an annual tradition for us. One year later, we’re picking out pumpkins with our baby Luna.

white pumpkin

We went to the farm with a couple of our close friends and we all walked around the patch picking out green, white and orange pumpkins and crazy looking gourds. I decided to mix it up this year and get a little bit of everything. I loved walking around and showing Luna all the different colors and sizes. I think we ended up with seven pumpkins to take home. (Don’t worry the pumpkin carving contest will be soon!)

wheel barrow

I love the pumpkin picking, but there is so so so much more to at Gentry Farm. The fun really began after we picked our pumpkins and entered the farm. They had tons of activities for kids of all ages and grown-ups too. The corn maze is always one of my favorite activities, and this year we did the “munchkin maze” too.

corn maze

 

This was the first year we did the Nature Trail and I was thoroughly impressed. It was gorgeous, had a nice view of the Harpeth River and cute little signs with Tennessee nature facts along the way. It was shaded, a good walk and very enjoyable.

love simply trees water

 

After the mazes and the trail we had fun playing on the farm. We played horseshoes, talked to chickens, explored the barn, ate snacks, played on little wooden tractors, looked at the sheep and took lots and lots of photos.

chickens tractor teepee

I’m already looking forward to next year. I hope Luna always loves our family tradition at Gentry Farm. The Gentry family is so sweet (you can always find many of them working when you visit) and it’s a family-friendly, fun and education environment. I see enjoying the farm for many many years… and if the weather is a nice next year as it was this year, than I think we will pack a picnic to enjoy near the pumpkin patch.

truck

If you are planning a visit to Gentry Farm, check out their site and keep in mind that they are open Saturdays, Sundays and Monday mornings.

Cheers!

 

The Bolt

Our Tennessee family Thanksgiving Day tradition is to run the 5-mile Boulevard Bolt race at the crack of dawn Thanksgiving morning. Husband has been running for a few weeks to prepare for the race and I’ve been mentally preparing while doing yoga and Pilates inside the warm house. I have not run in a very long time and I didn’t think my third trimester was a good time to start it up again. In any case, we were all going to run, walk or jog because it’s tradition.

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On Thanksgiving morning it was 16 degrees outside…as in 16 degrees below freezing! We bundled up, wiped the sleep from our eyes and stumbled into the car to meet up with our family. At our Aunt’s house, we were greeted by her many animals, including a very large turkey…

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Grandma (who also ALWAYS participates) handed out our shirts and bibs, and after everyone got together (that is the ones who didn’t weenie out because it’s “too cold”), we drove to the Boulevard, and lined up with 9,000 other crazy Tennesseans.

My favorite thing about races are the people who dress up. We had a poor attempt at dressing up (Santa hats and Christmas socks), but some runners went all out. There were all 4 Ninja Turtles, turkeys, a pumpkin pie, a guy in a tux, tons of crazy hats and tutu’s AND Santa with his eight reindeer and Rudolph. Santa and his reindeer were not only in full costume, but ran the entire race in order (Rudolph in the lead, Santa at the rear), while ringing sleigh bells and singing Christmas carols. I don’t know why I didn’t take pictures…guess I was too cold or too sleepy to even consider it an option.

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When the race began, Husband and Derek took off with the runners, while the rest of us began walking and inching along with the crowd of slower racers. I cramped up and had to walk most of the beginning, but after a while I warmed up, the cramps went away and we were able to walk/jog the rest of the race. It was such a relief to not feel competitive, but to just enjoy a good workout with thousands of other people before Thanksgiving dinner. We got to cheer on the winners, enjoy the costumes and work up a bit of a sweat.

Husband, who is awesome, ran the 5 miles in 40 minutes! I can’t believe he’s only been running for a few weeks. I wonder if this will encourage him to sign up for a Christmas race? I hope so, because I already have some family costumes in mind…

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I, on the other hand, finished in an hour and 15 min. Not exactly Speed Racer, but  better than not racing at all! Maybe next year I’ll actually get to run with Husband.

The race definitely wore me out, but it was so fun and definitely worth it. I can’t say it enough: working out and pregnancy should go hand-in-hand. So future Mama’s, keep moving! Walking is a great exercise for all fitness levels and all trimesters. I just wish I had some pregnant friends in Tennessee to walk with…anyone plan on getting knocked up anytime soon?

Great morning!
Great morning!

Cheers!

Belated Turkey Day

2013

Our first Thanksgiving in Nashville in 5 years was about as perfect as a Thanksgiving could be. First of all,  I cooked two dishes and BOTH turned out edible. In fact, one turned out to be freakin’ awesome. I cannot tell you how many times I read the recipes while cooking. I quadruple checked each step because for once I wanted to not screw up a dish. I still burnt the heck out of the top of the sweet potato casserole, but who really likes the marshmallows and pecans anyways?

I got both recipes from the Chew (spectacular mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes) because it’s the only cooking show I’ve ever actually watched…and if Clinton Kelly can make mashed potatoes then by golly, so can I!

We ran (walked) 5 miles in the Boulevard Bolt Thanksgiving morning (more to come on that later). Then, came home with enough time to watch the last 2 hours of the Macy’s Day parade, which is my all time favorite thing to do on Thanksgiving. Seriously, I don’ t even care for most Thanksgiving foods, but the parade is always so magical.

We had Thanksgiving lunch at our Aunt’s house with about 14 people and about 24 dishes. I ate enough for me and three babies and made sure to ask each person if my now famous mashed potatoes were the best mashed potatoes they ever had….they were, and I’m sure no one was just humoring me, right guys?

pregnant
baby or a soccer ball?

zoey

I was so tired from all the staying up late, cooking, running/walking 5 miles, being pregnant, eating and forgetting the $65 worth of ice cream for everyone (woops!) that I passed out on the couch while everyone chatted around me.

exhausted

There were sooo many deer having their own feast right outside the window!
There were sooo many deer having their own feast right outside the window!

AND because no Thanksgiving is complete without multiple dinners we had supper at our friend’s house with another amazing prepared feast and about 20 more people. This Thanksgiving dinner is more friends than family and more food then 100 people could eat. After stuffing our faces one more time, we retired to the game room for a night of “Just Dance” on the Xbox…another honored Thanksgiving tradition.

just dance me the boys

We danced until midnight, and I have to say that watching Husband and his friends dance to synchronized choreography together while competing for the highest score is one of the most hilarious and enjoyable things we EVER ever do. I think these pictures speak for themselves.

woops, who is supposed to be hugging who here?
woops, who is supposed to be hugging who here?

pandd dance line

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over I am overwhelmed as I lie in bed and think about how so so lucky we are… If I’m being completely honest, the day was not perfect…I was more tired than I’ve been since my first trimester, I burnt things, forgot things, became highly annoyed with Husband for stupid reasons, felt guilty for being so irritable this time of year, missed my family in Texas and accidentally locked my cat out all night in the freezing weather. (Yes, I cried and I feel AWFUL.) However, now that the day is over and I realize how trivial my worries are I can fully appreciate that the good far outweighs the bad in my life… and I have more to be thankful for than I could ever imagine. Oh, and before I forget it’s also the start of Hanukkah! Yay for more celebrations!

hanukah

Hope each of you had a day to be thankful for and many more to come.

Cheers

Day of Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have yet to participate in the daily “this is what I’m thankful for” trend on Facebook… and I don’t want to start now. I AM so thankful for all the things I should be thankful for, but today I am thankful for the tradition of Thanksgiving in general. The history we teach of this holiday is a little screwy if you ask me… pilgrims and Indians are best friends? Having a yearly feast together? Yeah…I don’t buy it. However, I can appreciate what the holiday is now: a time to get together with friends and family, eat some of the greatest foods and be appreciative for the many many things we are fortunate enough to have and share.

This year is the first time in 5 years that we are spending Thanksgiving with our family in Nashville. I am cooking two dishes. That’s right, you read that last sentence correctly. I am very concerned that they will turn out burnt on the outside and raw in the middle (typical of my cooking), but that’s why I’m making two. I figure I’ll have better odds that way. AND, I am thankful I have a Husband who knows to cook and will swoop in at any moment to save me from a kitchen catastrophe. My favorite is when he politely suggests I just stay out of the kitchen for a little while. “Okay…if you insist.”

We are also running/walking the 5 mile Boulevard Bolt at 8am! It’s a family tradition to run this race every year, and it’s the best idea. Running 5 miles in the morning makes stuffing your face with carbs not feel so bad. I am still working on quick last-minute costumes for the family… time to bust out the glue gun! I am thankful that I will not feel obligated to run the whole race this year. I will walk/jog my big pregnant butt along and cheer on Husband as he swooshes passed.

Thank you, each of you, for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you all have a great day with whoever you consider family. Eat all your favorite foods, it doesn’t have to be turkey…I don’t even eat meat. And, take a minute to remember how very lucky you are.

Cheers!

Taking a Time Out

I guess our little surprise hospital visit had a bigger effect on me than I realized. I had post-traumatic sleepiness and anxiety this weekend and I can only guess the nightmares and anxiety I was having stemmed from the “false alarm“. Soooo, we took it easy and had a nice relaxing weekend. I needed some time out to just chill and remember that everything is actually okay. It happened to be one of the most beautiful fall weekends this years too.

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Since Insanity is over, I took Belle on a long walk everyday and even did some yoga, which I miss so much! We walked at the park and all over my neighborhood. Husband went for runs because he’s apparently a big exercising show-off now.

yellow leaves red leaves orange leaves IMG_20131110_110219 IMG_20131110_105912 IMG_20131108_143439 belle

our driveway!
our driveway!

And because we must want to erase all evidence of Insanity, we ate Mexican food twice, my favorite. Saturday, we saw Ender’s Game, which was great. I haven’t read this series yet, but I’m convinced to start them now. Today, we went to one of our favorite boy’s 3rd birthday party!!!

This was the closest I could get to him taking a picture with me.
This was the closest I could get to him taking a picture with me. Don’ t you love the icing smeared on his face?!

Husband had the most fun picking out a present at Toys R Us. I thought I was going to have to leave with an extra toy for Husband to take home.

Say "cheese"!
Say “cheese”!

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It was  a stress-free weekend and I feel good-as-knew and ready to start a new week! I have a big project that will be revealed on November 18th, so let’s all be excited about that! Tomorrow, we are starting the Asylum, so let’s all be out of breath just thinking about that. Oh, AND we got a free tour of the delivery and postpartum wings of our hospital, then got to fill out our baby’s birth certificate papers! Geez, time is flying by!

birth certificate

Hope everyone else got to enjoy their weekend too!

Cheers!

The Final Haunt

Saturday night we went to one last haunted attraction here in Tennessee. We have been to eight haunted houses this year, but had to squeeze in one more, even if Halloween had already passed. Why? Well, who wouldn’t want to go on a haunted hayride that requires you to shoot zombies with paintball guns?! Not us. We got our friends and drove to Columbia, TN to get a glimpse of what it would be like if The Walking Dead were reality and not just one of the best things on TV right now.

their symbol

MIller’s Thrillers has, unbeknownst to us, been around for 6 years. They have the Zombie Haunted Hayride, the Haunted Woods and an Entertainment Zone. We paid the $30 for all attractions and got in the long line for the hayride first. We had to wait for an hour and a half, which stunk, but wasn’t terrible. For one thing, smoking was not allowed! Yay! The lines for both attractions are in the Entertainment Zone. So, while we were waiting we got to watch their Zombie drum-line, a comedian Zombie, a juggler and an illusionist. Unfortunately, between waiting for the hayride and waiting for the Haunted Woods, we saw the show about 5 times. When things got boring, we played Head’s Up!

entertainment zone

We saw dozens of people playing Head’s Up in line at Halloween Horror Nights a few weeks ago, so we downloaded the app and gave it a try. Turned out to be hilarious, really fun, and a good way to pass the time. You pick a category (like movie titles), put the phone on your head, titles come up and the people around you have to give you hints or act out what is on the screen. If you guess correctly, just flip the phone down and back up and another title comes up. Try it. Everyone in line wanted to play with us or download the app themselves.

heads up

Okay, the hayride was pretty cool. The concept was genius; everyone wants to hurt the scary people in haunted houses and have the chance to shoot a paintball gun without the fear of getting shot in return. The trip began with 20 of us being split into two groups: The Black Ops and Code Red. Everyone is told that their job is to save the town by killing as many zombies as possible. We were then loaded into a trailer lined with 10 guns on each side. Everyone got 75 paintballs (more if you pay extra) and the ride began! It was fun to ride around hunting for scary zombies, but it went by too fast and it would be better if their were about twice as many zombies. We will have to go back next year and see if it improves from year to year.

zombie paintball

Back in line, we drank hot chocolate and took a bunch of ridiculous photos of us squinting into the flash. They all came out horribly…

surprised

Stilt people and ballon animal/swords
Stilt people and ballon animal/swords

squinty happy crazy faces

We are all just so photogenic.

The Haunted Woods was the BEST, and I mean THE BEST haunted attraction we went to this year. Monster Mountain was cool, Dead Land Woods was cooler, but Miller’s Thrillers takes the prize. It wasn’t even the scariest, it was just so good in so many ways! First of all, it was long. I think it took us 45 minutes to walk through, (although we did stop for a while when we lost our friend Steve). The trail is amazing. It winds up and down hills, goes through huge natural rocks, swinging bridges and thick trees. It’s so nice that I want to go back and walk through it during the day. The actors and scenes were good and unique too. It was unlike any other haunted house/attraction.

They actually take a photo of you at the beginning of the trails right after the jump out and scare you out of your seats. That's a legit scared face.
They take a photo of you at the beginning of the trails right after they jump out and scare you out of your seats. That’s apparently my scared face.
Zombie dance party!
Zombie dance party!

*Spoiler Alert: The trail led up to a haunted building, which then led to a pitch black tunnel that opened up to a dark maze! We didn’t even realize we were in a maze at first. The maze then dumped us into a dance party room and the entire thing ended in a spinning tunnel full of lights that made all of us almost topple over. It was SO good!

Don’t you want to go???

After 4 hours at Miller’s Thrillers we had everyone over for a backyard bonfire and weenie roast. Thank God the time changed; we needed that extra hour.

bonfire

It was such a good night. Husband and I felt completely hungover the next day. I, of course, drank nothing, and I’m fairly certain he had one beer. Just goes to show you that we are getting old and staying up all night is starting to take it’s toll! Oh well, it doesn’t seem to slow us down.

Cheers!