Golden Birthday Adventures

I love celebrating birthdays, and celebrating my own is no different. That’s why for several months before my birthday, I had been hinting that my golden birthday was coming, which naturally warrants a little something special.

Weeks before my birthday, Ryan told me we would be going somewhere, but the final destination would remain a surprise. So on Friday of my birthday weekend, we headed down to Ryan’s parents’ house, where Charlotte would be staying while we were off on our adventure. At this point, our destination was still a surprise…

…until Ryan talked to his boss on the phone and spilled the beans right in front of me.

After dropping Charlotte off, we headed down to Bourbon/Horse Country in Kentucky. We spent the weekend at Maple Hill Manor, which we can’t recommend highly enough. It’s located in Springfield, Kentucky, which is within driving distance to several cute towns like Harrodsburg and Bardstown.

We spent the weekend riding horses, antiquing and bourbon tasting. Though we’ve spent a lot of time in exotic locales all over the world, this weekend was just as fun as any abroad — and it’s all better told through pictures.

Our beautiful Bed & Breakfast, Maple Hill Manor.
Our beautiful Bed & Breakfast, Maple Hill Manor.
...which is also an alpaca farm.
…which is also an alpaca farm.
Horseback riding at Big Red Barn Stables.
Horseback riding at Big Red Barn Stables.
This wasn't your typical horseback riding excursion. Our 60-year-old guide has us running with the horses. It was equally exhilarating and terrifying.
This wasn’t your typical horseback riding excursion. Our 60-year-old guide had us running with the horses. It was equally exhilarating and terrifying.
Lunch and ice cream at the Kentucky Fudge Company on Main Street in Harrodsburg. Formerly a drug store dating back to 1865, its decor is as equally good as the food.
Lunch and ice cream at the Kentucky Fudge Company on Main Street in Harrodsburg. Formerly a drug store dating back to 1865, the decor is charming in its authenticity, and the food is super tasty.
Shaker Village in Harrodsburg.
Shaker Village in Harrodsburg.
Obviously, the little lambs were the highlight of our visit.
Obviously, the little lambs were the highlight of our visit.
Followed closely by getting to try on some Shaker garb.
Followed closely by getting to try on some Shaker garb.
Bourbon tasting at Kentucky Bourbon House. Though we are not big bourbon drinkers, we're definitely heading back here when we're in the area!
Bourbon tasting at Kentucky Bourbon House. Though we are not big bourbon drinkers, we’re definitely heading back here when we’re in the area!
It was a wonderful birthday weekend that will be hard to top! Thanks to my husband for making me feel like a princess.
It was a wonderful birthday weekend that will be hard to top! Thanks to my husband for making me feel like a princess.

Chasing Sunshine

Last week, Charlotte and I spent the week with some of my family in Florida. Though we were buying our house last week, this opportunity was much too needed to pass up. So I left Ryan home to buy our first house together — I know, I’m a terrible wife.

But toes in the sand are far better, in my opinion, than signing a bunch of papers.

Charlotte and Jack did mostly well on the car ride down and back. Also, Charlotte picked up quite a few more words on this trip, including ocean, beach, Marmee, Abby and Caroline. She knows who “Granddad” is, but each time she says his name, it comes out different.

Charlotte hates the wind in her hair and the sun in her eyes. She also hates wearing hats.
Charlotte hates the wind in her hair and the sun in her eyes. She also hates wearing hats.

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My whole life she's been copying me.
My whole life she’s been copying me.

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I realize the new house is way more exciting, and I’ll have plenty on that soon!

NYE + Valentine’s Day = Getting Caught Up on Holidays

I’ve been a bad blogger. I know, I know. This confession comes every few blog posts, but this winter has been a bit hectic. In addition to moving and getting used to a new city, we’ve been house hunting, I’ve started working part-time for my old job again and Charlotte has dropped her morning nap. Which means I am out of a lot of time. But all of these distractions from the blog are a very GOOD thing.

However, I do want to keep up with the blog. It’s nice to record these memories in some format for Charlotte, and it’s great for me to reference when someone asks me when Charlotte dropped a bottle or a nap from her schedule. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ll reference this sucker when we have Baby #2 — I’ve already forgotten everything about parenting a little baby.

ANYWAY, New Year’s Eve happened a long time ago, but that’s ok. We made a trip up to Chicago to celebrate with friends, which also included a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see Zoo Lights. (I have to admit, Christmas in Indy was great, but nowhere near Chicago standards. I have a feeling that a weekend trip to Chicago each Christmas will be in the books every year for us from now on.)

Baby Girl is in there somewhere. But she's bundled up tight against the 14 degree temps.
Baby Girl is in there somewhere. But she’s bundled up tight against the 14 degree temps.

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Sorry, Charlotte, Santa's on vacation.
Sorry, Charlotte, Santa’s on vacation.

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Dinner at Chicago q -- one of our favorites -- with some very dear friends to ring in the New Year.
Dinner at Chicago q — one of our favorites — with some very dear friends to ring in the New Year.

A month and a half later, we celebrated Valentine’s Day as a family of three. No romantic dinner for Ryan and me; we kind of love having Charlotte around.

Our funny valentine.
Our funny valentine.
Lunchtime with my girl.
Lunchtime with my girl.
Apparently, this is what "no gifts" looks like for our family.
Apparently, this is what “no gifts” looks like for our family.
Blurry is not blog-worthy, but this is all I have when it comes to opening her present.
Blurry is not blog-worthy, but this is all I have when it comes to opening her present.
Ready for a date with Daddy.
Ready for a date with Daddy.
I <3 her.
I ❤ her.
Dinner at Petite Chou, which went above and beyond in making Charlotte's Valentine's Day special!
The loves of my life.
The loves of my life.

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My flowers in bloom from Ryan. I think they're symbolic of his love for me -- they started out slow but on March 3, they're still bloomed and beautiful!
My flowers in bloom from Ryan. I think they’re symbolic of his love for me — they started out slow but as of today (March 3), they’re still bloomed and beautiful!

You Better Belize It

So way back in January, Ryan and I went on our first trip sans Charlotte. For Ryan’s 30th birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Belize in November. However, with the start of his new job, we had to postpone the trip to Belize.

So on MLK weekend this year, we headed down to, what we consider, the best beach vacation we’ve ever been on — despite the fact that it was cloudy the majority of the time we were there and most days were a bit chilly. Not only was there SO much to do, but Belize is a great place to bring the whole family. Yes, we will back…and Charlotte and Co. (if there is a Co. at that point) are more than welcome to come along.

We spent a lot of time reading, snorkeling, fishing and riding bikes around Belize. It was an amazing time together, a beautiful place to see and experience but a bit too long for this Mama to be away from her little girl. We spent much of our down time also perusing photos and videos of Charlotte on our phones. Yes, we are those parents.

We had to fly in a little puddle jumper from Belize City to Placencia -- it's the best way to get to the resorts from the capital city.
We had to fly in a little puddle jumper from Belize City to Placencia — it’s the best way to get to the resorts from the capital city.
Have I mentioned I'm terrified of flying?
Have I mentioned I’m terrified of flying?
But it was actually really amazing.
But it was actually really amazing.
Looking so good on our snorkel trip.
Looking so good on our snorkel trip.
Visiting Placencia, the nearby fishing village.
Visiting Placencia, the nearby fishing village.
Harbor selfie.
Harbor selfie.
Riding bikes around Belize.
Riding bikes around Belize.
Ryan with the Placencia airstrip behind him. We had to fly in a little puddle jumper from Belize City to Placencia -- it's the best way to get to the resorts from the capital city.
Ryan with the Placencia airstrip behind him.
Lounging at our resort, Robert's Grove.
Lounging at our resort, Robert’s Grove.
Gone fishing...
Gone fishing…
We didn't even get a bite.
We didn’t even get a bite.
But we did enjoy a beautiful, cloudy sunset.
But we did enjoy a beautiful, cloudy sunset.

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Snorkeling in the deep blue sea.
Snorkeling in the deep blue sea.
Along with a 60-something-year-old sea turtle.
Along with a 60-something-year-old sea turtle.
Snorkle selfie fail.
Snorkle selfie fail.
Last morning in Belize.
Last morning in Belize.
I REALLY wanted to go to Belize on our honeymoon so this was my "campaign" slogan. Little did I know that it's actually a real phrase.
I REALLY wanted to go to Belize on our honeymoon so this was my “campaign” slogan. Little did I know that it’s actually a real phrase. You also get a really great picture of the facial sunburn I acquired after falling asleep on the beach during a break on the snorkel trip. It was probably the only time the sun was shining, and I got it ALL.

Instababy

Just because there hasn’t been a whole lot going on doesn’t mean we haven’t taken photos to commemorate every second of Charlotte’s life. So here is what Little Bit has been doing and where she has been going (and what she has been wearing) lately…

We spent Labor Day at the beach. Where else can you get a view like that at the beach?
We spent Labor Day at the beach. Where else can you get a view like that at the beach?
Charlotte & I ran our first 5K...we did not win, but that's ok.
Charlotte & I ran our first 5K…we did not win, but that’s ok.
Charlotte started pulling up...& wearing big girl PJs.
Charlotte started pulling up…& wearing big girl PJs.
She also started snuggling.
She also started snuggling.
We went to Evansville, & hung out with cousin Jack.
We went to Evansville, & hung out with cousin Jack.
The cousins went to a pumpkin patch.
The cousins went to a pumpkin patch.
And we also celebrated my Dad's 54th birthday.
And we also celebrated my Dad’s 54th birthday.
Charlotte got to start wearing some fall clothes -- maybe I'm the only one excited about that.
Charlotte got to start wearing some fall clothes — maybe I’m the only one excited about that.
We went to the beach...for maybe the last time?
We went to the beach…for maybe the last time?
It was quite windy.
It was quite windy.
But a great time was had, nonetheless.
But a great time was had, nonetheless.
Charlotte showing off some more fall fashion.
Charlotte showing off some more fall fashion.

Weekend in Indiana

We spend plenty of weekends in Indiana, but this particular weekend in August was especially momentous. Our annual Phiunion at Abbe’s was held, Charlotte swam in the Randolph pool for the first time and we took our Little Bit to DePauw University, i.e. the greatest little college in the world.

Just four of the seven babies in attendance. Love these women and their families!
Just four of the seven babies in attendance. Love these women and their families!
Preseason Colts game at Lucas Oil.
Preseason Colts game at Lucas Oil.
Swimming in the pool!
Swimming in the pool!
Nana.
Nana.
Playing underwater Peek-a-Boo with Jess.
Playing underwater Peek-a-Boo with Jess.
Poppy.
Poppy.
Josh was behind the camera most of the day -- thanks!
Josh was behind the camera most of the day — thanks!

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First stop at DePauw: DU. For future reference, Charlotte, these are the guys you want to marry.
First stop at DePauw: DU. For future reference, Charlotte, these are the guys you want to marry.
Yummmm...GCBs.
Yummmm…GCBs.
Met & Married.
Met & Married.

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Future Phi Bear?
Future Phi Bear?
Timeless. Swinging on the porch swings.
Timeless. Swinging on the porch swings with Mama & Aunt Marge.

Next Stop: California

We made our way back to Chicago via Evansville, and were home for just 11 days before it was time to leave once again. This time, we headed to California with my family to tour Wine Country. Ryan and I did this trip last year over a weekend to visit Ryan’s friends, David and Phil, but it was great to go back again so soon — especially since I was pregnant last year and could not partake of the amazing wine growing in the region.

We rented a house in Petaluma, California, and this was the first Knight vacation that ALL of us went on together. It was a fun week of wine tasting, restaurant perusing, small town shopping and playing in the pool. To top it all off, we had a few days in San Francisco too. Charlotte did such a great job on the flights, only crying hard for about five minutes one time. It was a treat to take a trip like this with Charlotte and the rest of the Knights!

Eating lunch at Oakville Grocery.
Eating lunch at Oakville Grocery.
With Marmee.
With Marmee.
And with her Granddad.
And with her Granddad.
Playing in the pool -- a little terrified of cold water.
Playing in the pool — a little terrified of cold water.
At Stony Hill Vineyard.
At Stony Hill Vineyard.
The ladies (minus Abby).
The ladies (minus Abby).
Dad and all of his girls.
Dad and all of his girls.

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Charlotte & I want to be Painted Ladies!
Charlotte & I want to be Painted Ladies!
With Aunt Abby.
With Aunt Abby.