Trail Race, Thrill Rides, & Taking Trips

By the time October rolls around, we are in the full swing of school, football season, and other activities. The girls continued taking tumbling and gymnastics classes, and had their field days at school. Since Brayden is a fifth grader, she was able to volunteer for the younger grade activities, which was a blast! She and one of her BFFs, Emily, staffed the “wet sponge” station, so needless to say, she was drenched by the time we visited them. Trent participated in the Ragnar Trail Race. This was an extremely cool, and grueling, athletic event consisting of an entire weekend of relay team running on trails. He was on a team with seven other F3 friends and went to set up his tent Thursday evening. Not only is it a physical challenge in that you run a 6-mile lap, a 3-mile lap, and a 6.7-mile lap, but you return to your tent after each “leg” to hopefully get some sleep, maybe drink a beer, and eat some food…all before the rest of your teammates complete their next section. It look place at Anne Springs Greenway, so the guys were navigating through the woods, donning their headlamps, ingesting bugs, watching out for wildlife and other runners, etc. There is an entire “tent city” and some teams dress up in fun attire. While Brayden spent the night with Kaitlyn, Hanleigh and I paid Trent a visit to cheer him on for his first leg (6.7 miles). While he was running, we ate some tasty pizza, checked out all the vendors, and played dominoes. It was really an amazing experience to see Trent and his teammates complete such a challenging running weekend. They even finished first in their age group and were fifth out of 147 teams!!!

While Trent was continuing to run on Saturday morning, I took the girls to the Whitewater Center to watch the “Build Your Own Boat” competition. We had never been before and it was so much fun, despite the rain. The idea is that teams must build their own raft out of materials that aren’t originally intended as watercraft (rafts, floats, etc.). We saw an airplane, a boxing ring, and a yellow submarine with the Beatles navigating down the rapids…some rafts fell apart while others deteriorated and their river guides were launched off the rafts. It was very fun to watch and I hope to go back every year! That evening, we went to a party at the Whitcomb’s house and had a blast! The next day, we hosted a pot luck lunch and Panthers viewing party at our house for Trent’s F3 friends. I think we had about 30 people at the house, including kids. The adults were definitely outnumbered!

We celebrated Myers’ first birthday by singing to him and giving him some peanut butter treats and a new toy. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by! He is such a good boy, except when he’s eating…he growls and it’s pretty vicious! We’ve spoken to one of the people who trained him and he said to lay his food out on a placemat and it should help combat some of his possessive tendencies. I just wish he would realize that we aren’t going to eat his food! Hanleigh had her monthly Y Guides meeting and the girls got their flu shots (always an experience that involves a LOT of drama, hesitation, and pinching of my skin). I went to Houston and attended my 15th Itron Utility Week event, which was a complete success. This is our annual user-related conference which attracts about 1,000 people in total. My role was to organize about 17 sessions as well as coordinate and conduct customer video interviews. I coordinated a group of about 20 us to all go out dancing at a nearby club before the conference kicked off and we had an absolute blast! All went very well and as always, our Monday night party was so much fun!

Brayden celebrated her 11th birthday while I was gone and enjoyed spending some time with Grandma & Grandpa Jones and Nana for dinner at Chopt (a daughter who chooses to eat salad for her birthday dinner…be still my heart!). When I returned from my trip, Trent took Hanleigh to her Y Guides Longhouse for the weekend, which gave Brayden and I some awesome bonding time! I took her and two of her best girlfriends, Cora and Marli, to Carowinds for the day. I convinced one of them to ride the Fury with us and she was an instant convert to the high-thrill rides. It was such an awesome time spending it with these three girls. They’ve been best buddies since kindergarten and even though Cora goes to a different school now, they continue to keep in touch and hang out together. The day continued with dinner at Hawthorne’s where two other friends, Kaitlyn and Emily, met up with us. It was an awesome way to celebrate our big girl turning 11!

Hanleigh took a field trip to the fire station, we had parent-teacher conferences (both with glowing reports!), and the kids participated in their annual Fun Run at school. Brayden volunteered to help a physically challenged kindergartner run the race. She stayed with him the whole time, encouraging him, and cheering him on. It warms my heart to have two children who treat people of all walks of life the same…no matter whether they have different-colored skin, are challenged either mentally or physically, or love someone of the same gender…it feels good to know we are doing something right! I continued training for my half marathon, so the miles really ramped up over October (more on that in next month’s post).

Tonya, Mike, Trent, and I all flew to Chicago the last Thursday of the month for an epic football weekend at Notre Dame. We had been looking forward to this trip for at least two years and the day had finally come! On the way to the airport, the car got a flat tire and Trent fixed it in NASCAR-speed (he may have had a backup job leading a pit crew in a former life!). The lines were so long at the airport, however, that we nearly missed our flight to Chicago. When we arrived, we checked into the hotel, grabbed a celebratory beverage, and went out to dinner. Oddly enough, one of Trent’s friends was also in town with his wife, so they met us afterward for some drinks at a bar that had an awesome view of the city. The next morning, Tonya, Trent, and I did a four-mile run along the river and lake, taking in gorgeous views of the city (and the skyscraper from “Adventures in Babysitting”). After a delicious breakfast, we embarked on our road trip to South Bend. The sense of pride that Mike and Tonya have for that school is very cute (and amusing). It was like they were showing off their newborn baby. They were excellent tour guides and we went to the on-campus bar to kick things off. Then, they took us to the football stadium, the Cathedral, the Grotto, the bookstore, and the golden dome to watch the trumpeteers play the alma mater and fight song. Around 4pm, we rested our legs for some apps and another beverage. I was SO exhausted that I had one of the silliest, blondest moments EVER. I looked over at Trent and said, “So, who does State play tomorrow?” He started to reach for his phone when Mike & Tonya looked at me like I had 10 eyeballs. I realized exactly what I said and we all started dying laughing. I blame it on how tired I was and the fact that we hang out with them so much that it just felt like another weekend back home. Freakin’ hilarious. I have a feeling that will be a joke forever now. That evening, we went to their favorite Italian restaurant and then to Corby’s, the “Cheers” bar for the Farrell’s (their Christmas card is even pinned up behind the bar!). The next morning, we left the hotel bright and early to begin tailgating for the 3:30pm game. Their friends have an excellent setup right outside of the hockey arena and set up a bountiful spread of delicious food! The only thing was that it was FRIGIDLY cold, so we were bundled up big time (handwarmers, boot warmers, scarves, gloves, etc.). Two of my sorority sisters were in town for the game as well, so they joined us for a bit, which was great to see them. One of Trent’s F3 friends was there as well, along with a friend, who turned out to be the cousin of another sorority sister of mine (I’m telling you, it’s a SMALL world!). We went in to the game and had a great time watching it. Despite the outcome not being in our favor, it was a great experience!

The month concluded with the neighborhood gang congregating at Nina & Keith’s house for a pre-trick-or-treating dinner on Halloween. There were some amazing costumes: Trent was “The Rock”, I was a “working mom”, Brayden was “smarty pants” and Hanleigh was a witch. We had an amazing time hanging out around the neighborhood and it’s incredible to see how big our crew grows each year…I’m pretty sure we had over 25 people, at least!

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