Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Has Sprung: Weekend in Review

A couple of things have happened around here.

1. My hair is growing like crazy and while there seems to be more gray than blonde popping through, I'm just grateful to have a layer of fuzz covering the bald. If you know someone who is shaving their head or is losing their hair during the winter months, the absolute best gift you can give is a super cute toboggan. I seriously wore mine almost the entire time we were on our Staycation a couple of weeks ago.

2. Neal graduated with his master's degree in management. He started in 2009, taking one class at a time. His graduation was postponed due to 1 deployment, the birth of 1 baby, and the shutdown of 1 government, but persistence and patience paid off and now he's a GRADYEEATE! One word: plastics. Oh, no wait. One word: HALLELUJAH! Now life can return to normal around here. I'm not sure what normal looks like but I guess we're going to be in it up to our elbows.

So, we Staycated to celebrate his graduation and we've managed to jam-pack the once-filled-with-homework weekends once again. I hope to share all of our weekend adventures with you on Monday mornings. But, of course, sometimes you need a vacation from your weekend.

Friday night, we loaded Blue, his jogging stroller (which really should have a trailer all unto itself), and a few clothes and headed north to the hometown. Being so close to "home" for 3 years really has its advantages. Door to door is only 2 hours, max. That's a huge improvement over the 8+ we've been driving for the last 4 years.

My Kentucky Monthly magazine arrived last Thursday and one of the weekend events was an Easter egg hunt at Buffalo Trace Distillery. (Also, if you are a Kentuckian and do not receive or read the Kentucky Monthly, you are truly missing out. Even if you don't live here but really like Kentucky, you should have a  subscription. Each edition is loaded with Kentucky fabulosity.) An Easter egg hunt on the grounds of a bourbon distillery? Yes, please! That's something for everyone.

Gates opened at 1 PM for this free event and when we strolled through around 1:15, someone asked the gate staff what her count was so far. 1624. So, there we were...with 1621 of our closest friends. The Easter egg "hunt" (which was less of a hunt and more of a free-for-all as the eggs were scattered in a grassy area, which was roped off to be about 50 square yards) for ages 0-4 years kicked off at 1:20. Parents were allowed to accompany their children into the egg-hunting area. Neal walked Blue through the hoards and bent down to demonstrate how to collect an Easter egg. In the meantime, parents of kids were grabbing eggs in both hands and shoving them into their kids' awaiting baskets. Neal, disgusted with the entire process, helped Blue pick up 2, then turned to me and, exasperated, said, "Let's get out of here!" I couldn't agree more.
 Neal in the bottom left corner, trying to help our 20 month old compete with the 4 year olds.

Within about 3 minutes, the entire area was clean of eggs. Not a single straggler on the field. And we looked. Twice. But Blue found 2 eggs and he was ecstatic to have that. 
We discovered later as we were wandering around, that apparently Buffalo Trace buys their eggs pre-filled....which is absolute genius.

Next up was a photo with the Easter Bunny. Somehow we missed this guy last year. We managed to squeeze in Santa, but with Neal's graduation from Captains Career Course and our move to Kentucky, there was just no time for anything fuzzy and floppy-eared. We observed Mr. Bunny from a distance and let Blue watch as kids of all ages took a turn sitting next to the big guy. Then both boys in front of us ran screaming in the opposite direction...before a single photo could be snapped. It was either going to be fine or a complete disaster.

As it turned out, it was totally fine. Blue rubbed on his white "fur" for a minute, turned to wave at the camera, and probably whispered his Easter basket wishes before we whisked him away to the next thing. The smartest thing Buffalo Trace did was to place multiple Easter bunnies throughout the park so the line for a picture was manageable. We only waited about 20 minutes. I counted 4 bunnies. That was a stellar idea and I congratulate whomever came up with it.

After a couple of minutes on the playground, where Blue was mowed over by kids bigger, older,and meaner than him, we meandered through part of the distillery.

Buffalo Trace is on the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky and plays such an important role in the town and the industry. When I was a child, my parents brought me to visit Santa here. No one seemed to mind that I was relaying my Christmas wish list on the grounds of a bourbon distillery. It was just where Santa could be found. Now they've incorporated tours, a ghost walk, a Valentine's dinner, a 5K run, Christmas lights, and an Easter egg hunt into their business model. It's breathtakingly beautiful and, quite simply, the people couldn't possibly be nicer. If I had it do over again, though, I would skip the "hunt" and go straight for the picture line! Then, perhaps, stick around for a tour and a tasting.

Sunday was church with the fam, followed up by KiteFest in Georgetown. Again, I found the information for the afternoon's festivities in Kentucky Monthly. Neal has been to KiteFest several times. I had never been, but since Big Mama purchased Mary Poppins for Blue (post-Saving Mr. Banks), we've had the lyrics "let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height" rolling around our house, getting stuck in heads and throats for days. Indeed, it was time to go fly a kite.

80 degrees and gusting wind (with a storm blowing in as I type this) is, in case you were wondering, perfect kite-flying weather. All manner and designs of kites flew overhead for several hours...catching wind and sailing off before falling into a quiet spot and sinking to the grass.
Our friends, Mr. Larry and Ms. Martha came out for fun and flying. And also to hold the string when Blue decided to let go.
Our friends Mr. Ranjit, Ms. Rekah (about to burst with the newest family addition), and Miss A are great kite-fliers! I don't know what I was doing at 8 months pregnant but I don't think I was at any festivals. Cheers to you, Ms. Rekah! With this light-wind kite, I had great success keeping it in the air, even when it crossed lines with other kites (which I'm sure is poor kite-flying etiquette but everyone was too nice to mention it). However,  I kept a firm grip on this one since, when the wind blew, it really responded. I needed Blue to try very hard not to float away today.

 Daddy says, "Time to see what this dragon can do!"
Although Neal managed to keep it soaring for about 5 minutes, the heavy nature of the kite needed more wind. Our dragon dive-crashed near some fellow kite-flyers. It was time to return the dragon to his lair. Neal's last challenge was to assemble a tri-plane kite...and find a spot to fly it.
 Up, up, and away!

 Never stop moving with a tri-plane. Keep moving, keep flying.
Boys admiring their handiwork. Yes, you masters of kite-flying, show us how it's done!
 It's so hard to say goodbye, but Blue got a farewell kiss from Lady A. What a perfect end to the day!

Proof that I was actually at the KiteFest this year. I handed the camera to Neal. Apparently, he got distracted and forgot to take a single one of my front. The others were rear shots which, I'm sorry, should be illegal. Also, 3-way mirrors have no place in American society. No one wants to see back there. It's like the Arizona desert...flat and wide. End of story.

Regardless if you have have a tri-plane or a handmade or no kite at all, everyone is welcome to the KiteFest and Culture Festival in Geogetown!
If you go next year:
1. Parking is $6 and cash only. 
2. Bathrooms are porta-potties. Plan accordingly. 
3. There is also facepainting, food, and a pretty fabulous bouncy house. 
4. Food for purchase is available. 

It's hard to screw up KiteFest. Add 3 cups of gorgeous weather, 2 tsps of gusting breezes and a sprinkle of effort and you've got yourself a sky full of dancing color. But the good people of Cardome have made it nearly flawless. I can't wait until next year!

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