The first week of March was Spring Break for Santa Fe College students and since my sister Lindsey is duel enrolling there she and I were on the same break schedule so we decided to load up with John Brooks and head north to Tennessee to see our brother Matt and his soon-to-be-wife Paige (yep that’s right we have the same name…). Unfortunately, Ben had to stay back and work so that we could go play so he couldn’t make the trip with us but I have a feeling that he enjoyed having a little quiet time while we were gone galavanting.
We made it to Athens, TN with only two detours (Cracker Barrel and Babies R Us for a new stroller) by Sunday evening just in time for me to realize I had forgotten to pack diapers…really I remembered sheets for the pack and play and forgot diapers??!? Thankfully we had enough for big boy’s tush to stay dry til we could make a pit stop at the local Super Walmart and pick up a stash. After our detour we headed to the ball park. My brother is an assistant coach for the Tennessee Wesleyan College Bulldog baseball team and they were playing a home game that day. Y’all it was fuh-reezing! Like never got out of the 40s that day. We walked downtown to find some lunch but you can’t really buy food if you left your wallet in the car at the ball park 1/4 mile away…John Brooks wasn’t much in the mood to watch “baseyball” but this boy is never one to pass up a ride on a tractor-esque vehicle! He had a BLAST scraping the field with Uncle Matty. After the game we went for lunch and a nap and then we found a playground for my boy to release some energy. Bless his heart John Brooks does not stop running from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed so an 8 hour car ride plus being tied down in his stroller was about more than he could handle.
Side note: I didn’t realize how badly he needed a haircut until we came back from our trip…sigh
On Tuesday, my sister, John Brooks and I drove an hour north (in the freezing 39 degree rain) to visit Knoxville, specifically the University of Tennessee. John Brooks, the tour guide and the other members of the group were such patient troopers as I pushed John Brooks in the pouring rain on the campus tour which included a 30 minute bus tour no less. Y’all I had that diaper bag crammed with every snack and diversionary book I could think of just and even sent an emergency text to my Auntie Di asking her to pray that we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves any more than absolutely necessary. The Lord does hear our prayers because the little
monster man was very well behaved for the entire tour even the walking around in the pouring rain portion. I learned that day that I am a marketer’s dream because by the end of the tour I was wanting to attend UT and if you know me at all you know I bleed orange and blue! Seriously though, the campus is nice and kinda high tech and for about a minute I felt bad for calling the Vols hillbillies for all these years….a little bit. Thankfully (I guess) my sister is not so gullible as I am and has more realistic expectations for her collegiate future.
While in Knoxville, we were able to visit my stepbrother Jeremy, his wife Lindsay and their precious, beautiful little girl Madison. Their home is beautiful and we had such a fun time catching up with them! I am sad that we don’t live closer to each other but they are very happy and love Knoxville which makes me happy for them! Isn’t she soo pretty!
Wednesday, March 6 was my 30th Birthday (ugh)! We woke up to SNOW falling. I was so excited because I wanted to see snow and to see what John Brooks thought of snow (could care less) and because it was just enough to cover my windshield but not enough to keep me from driving away.
Though I was a little sad not be spending my birthday with my husband I decided to make it the best day I could by having a fun adventure with John Brooks. We got up early and headed an hour south to Chattanooga. I’ve only ever driven through Chattanooga, never stayed there or anything, so I had no idea what a fun place it is to visit!
Oh Tennessee Riverrrrrr……everytime I see this river I think of that Alabama song….just me…ok
Within walking distance of the Tennessee River is the Tennessee Aquarium which is actually 2 multi-story buildings that house both a fresh and salt water aquarium. For $25 (JB was free) we were able to spend the whole day exploring the aquarium which had an AMAZING variety of fish and wildlife. We spent the morning on the fresh water side learning about different fish and wildlife including alligators, turtles and otters.
We took a break for lunch and treated ourselves to Buffalo Wild Wings which was just a couple of blocks walking from the aquarium.
John Brooks savoring his hotdog.
The afternoon was spent watching penguins play
and sharks and sea turtles swim in the salt water section of the aquarium.
This is the same cave with and without the camera flash (that I probably wasn’t supposed to be using).
We took a detour on our way home from the aquarium up to LookOut Mountain. I had never been there before so since it was my birthday, we went. John Brooks was asleep before we had made it out of the parking garage so we didn’t get out at Look Out but we saw it…it was a mountain…you could see out from it.
Then we took back roads back to Athens, providing JB with a rest and mama with a peaceful birthday drive (I love the Google Maps app by the way) My sweet soon-to-be sister in law took me out for a birthday dinner and aside from my child attempting to pickpocket the waitress it was an awesome time!
My brother’s birthday was Thursday (yep we are 4 years and 1 day apart…crazy huh) but he had to work (the life of a baseball coach) so JB and I trekked back down to Chattanooga to check out another sight that caught my eye…a Children’s Museum. It was so cool! John Brooks had the best time running and jumping and climbing and playing. They had a water play station with aluminum “ponds” that were about chest high on my boy and had boats and ducks in them. The station included ponchos to keep the little explorers from getting soaked. I ran over to grab a poncho and when I turned around my little water baby had his leg – shoe and all – knee deep in the “pond”…..I couldn’t help but cackle as I flew over to remove said leg and explain that this was not a swimming pool.
This picture just fills my heart with joy and love! Don’t you just want to kiss that sweet cheek!
The museum had a lot of different sections including music and grocery shopping and a dinosaur exhibit where the kids could dig for “fossils”. There was even a special section for kids under 4 that was right up our alley! Everything in this are was geared toward the mind of a toddler including a play kitchen with food and washer and dryer, a “garden”, a “racecar” and a puppy in his dog house that barked when you got too close (hah…kinda scary).
After the children’s museum JB had another lunch date, at one of our shared favorite spots, Chick-fil-a, and then we met future SIL and little sister at David’s Bridal to purchase our bridesmaids dresses. I proceeded to create a countdown on my phone to remind me how many days I have until I have to be in said bridesmaids dress, aka how many days until I can eat Chickfila again. We finished off Thursday with a cookout to celebrate my brother’s birthday. After dinner I put everything back into some symblance of order, then Friday morning we loaded the car up, said our bittersweet goodbyes, and pointed the Camry south.
We were sad to leave Matt and Paige but I have to admit it was nice to see that temperature rise as we got closer to home and it was EXTRA nice to see how excited John Brooks was to see his daddy when we made it back. I was kinda excited too . It was such an eye opening experience to me to see how HARD and EXHAUSTING it is to take care of a 2 year old by myself. It made me extra thankful to have such a wonderful husband who is such an AMAZING involved dad to our boy. We are so blessed!