36 Hours in Nashville

Oh hey, I have a blog! You'd never know by the complete lack of attention spent on this space. Oops?

Anywho. Moving along...

Way back in April my best friends from college lined up an NCAA March Madness bracket. The deal was, the best bracket finisher would choose a location for a long-over due and much needed girls trip. Though we had a winner (hey, Dena!), it seemed we had more of a collective agreement that Nashville would be a pretty solid spot for a weekend sans kids.
We weren't wrong.

Friday (5/11) morning I bolted out the door at 6:30 to catch a ride to the airport. The last time I flew solo Marcus was two. It was nothing short of glorious to casually go through security, snag a coffee, and settle in comfortably while waiting for my flight.

Wheels touched down in Nashville around 4pm, and once I met up with the ladies we hit the ground running.

The first Bucket List item to check off was a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. When we realized Carrie Underwood would be playing (and celebrating the 10th anniversary of her induction to the Opry), we couldn't snag tickets fast enough. The way the show is formatted, a whole rotation of different artists and bands play throughout the show, each playing a couple of songs. I was a little surprised to find out Carrie only preformed three songs, but it was definitely an experience never to be forgotten.
It was then a bee line to Broadway where we did some bar hopping and live music listening. If you've never been to Broadway in Nashville, it's a couple of blocks of nothing but multi-level bars (most with roof top bars), and each level of each bar has a different live band preforming, almost always. It also should be noted that the music we heard ran the gamut of genres, from 80s rock, to 90s grunge, and 2000s pop, we heard it all. I cannot properly formulate with words the vibe of Broadway, but the electricity radiating from each bar was palpable. I think we stumbled back to our room around 2:00AM. My college self would be proud, my mom self wasn't so sure that was the best idea ever.

Not to fret. Come Saturday morning we all woke feeling better than anticipated, and prepped for a full day of Nashville goodness.

Brunch seemed like a solid idea. And Pinewood Social did more than hit the spot. The entire place was so aesthetically pleasing. The food was insanely good. And, the fact that they had an indoor bowling alley, and outdoor boccie court, and a pool, made the experience that much sweeter, considering we didn't have kids to contain and entertain.
Saturday afternoon was spent meandering around Broadway, dipping in and out of bars to catch music, as well as just check out the general scene of Nashville.
I did a little convincing to stop by a couple of walls that have been on my bust list for ages. My friends are honestly the very best. They hoofed (and Uber'd) around town just so I could find some paint on a few walls.
We made a quick stop at the Parthenon. Then it was back to Broadway where we ate at The Feed and Seed (the food there was SO good), and rounded out the day/night/trip consuming tasty cold beverages and listening to more live music.
The next thing I knew, it was 4:30 Sunday morning, my alarm was going off, and back to Los Angeles I was headed.

It felt like we packed a ton into 36 hours, and we did. I could have used another solid two days in the city, I know there's so much more we missed, which makes me desperate to get back.

Aside from the drinks, and music, and kid-less meals, just being around the ladies who were integral in my college experience made the trip one of the very best. We've grown, matured, taken separate life paths, but when together we fall back into step of being those young girls we once were (albeit,  exponentially more responsible and entirely less drunk).

Britt. Dena. Thanks for an unforgettable weekend. Let's not wait another six years to do it again.


Another Sweet Pop Up

When we discovered Los Angeles had yet another interactive pop up happening it wasn't a question of if we could go, rather how soon can we get tickets?
This experience - Candytopia - was dedicated all sugary confections. But, it wasn't just vats filled with candy, though I'm sure my kids wouldn't have minded that at all. There were several rooms with which we traveled, filled with interactive pieces, art works, and installations. All of them made up of different candies. 

The entry was a teaser for what was to come. Plastic figures of massive lollipops. All of them Julia tried to eat. Countless times I could be heard saying, "No, Julia, we can't eat those. They aren't real!"

After a few minutes, it was time to enter.
We were greeted in the Candytopia library, where clocks were suspended from the ceiling, a knight in shining armor was created of candies of all sorts, and a guest book the size of an elephant was available to sign our  names.
After snagging our first piece of candy, we moved into a gallery, where portraits were hung, jeweled beads were suspended, and a throne of mirrors was available to perch upon.

Next to every art piece was a sign indicating how many pieces of candy was used in the creation, along with what types of candy were used. 

I'm kicking myself for not capturing more of the portraits and famous paintings, all done in candy. There was one of Willie Wonka, the Mona Lisa, and several others I'm forgetting. 

Moving forward, we headed under the sea. An entire room where we felt as if we were in the ocean, surrounded by creatures of candy.

Then it was into a room where optical illusions were abound.

Keep in mind, with each new room, we were treated to more sugary delights. And, I was the mom who stopped her kids from eating any more candies after the second one was handed out. 

As we moved along, we entered a room that I can only describe as psychedelic. The music, colors, and pieces of candy art were all slightly trippy.

Last stop, the one we'd been so anxious to get to from the get go... The marshmallow pool!
Just as it sounds. A massive pool filled with marshmallow-esque bits for the kids to jump, "swim", and toss around. Quite probably their favorite part - minus receiving candy every 10 steps. 
The rooms and art pieces were fabulous, the candy so tasty, the colors vibrant, talks of unicorn poop (kids love that unicorn poop), and the kids loved it all. Candytopia may be our favorite pop-up, yet... 

To see even more of the experience, I've included a short (less than 2 minute) video; clips I couldn't quite get in photos, and a better sense of some of what I've been describing.

Candytopia from Desiree Macke on Vimeo.



Another trip around the sun has brought  the sweetest little man I know to year six.
Thoughtful, compassionate, and caring. I don't think I've met anyone with such a big heart.
Silly and sweet, and without a doubt, a momma's boy.
Cheers to my favorite six year old.
Five was good, but I know six is going to be the best yet.
Happiest of Happy Birthdays to my main man.


A Great Wolf Celebration

A few months back we started prepping for Marcus' sixth birthday. We tossed around party ideas, venues to go to, even parks to rent out.

As much as I love party planning, I just couldn't muster the energy or excitement to do the same party we've basically been doing for six years.

Scott and I suggested to Marcus that in lieu of a traditional party we go somewhere fun and experience something we might not otherwise do.

To our surprise, Marcus agreed.

Marcus asked his best friend to join us for a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge.

I briefly contemplated bringing my "good" camera, but ultimately decided that high humidity and constant splashing wasn't probably the best exposure for it. Cell phone pics are all we have. If you followed along on our adventures in my Instagram stories, many of these pics are repeats. So much of the weekend was spent in the moment celebrating Marcus that many times I simply didn't even think to snap a pic.

Upon arrival, the lobby had us all oooh'ing and ahhhh'ing. Antler chandeliers. Large, overstuffed furniture made of knotty woods, a fireplace so massive six people could easily sit in front of its flames.
This wall of flowers gave me a sweet little thrill, and the boys played along with my photo taking shenanigans. 

A peek at the water park had the kids beyond excited. And a look into our room to see bunk beds that looked like a wolf den set the kids all over the top with giddy squeals and giggles.

Most of Saturday evening was spent going down slides, being tossed around the wave pool, and dancing around in the splash area.

Post dinner we were treated to birthday decor and cake all ready for us in our room.
Then it was time for a trip to the arcade where the boys were set on getting as many tickets as possible, while Julia happily pressed buttons and imagined she was truly playing games.
We wound down the night with a bubble dance party which delighted Julia the most.

Sunday morning was much of the same. Another round in the pool had Marcus going down a few slides on his own, as well as Marcus and Scott getting the chance to boogie board.
Before our time was up we made one more stop in the arcade to spend the last few points we had, grab a game of 10 pin bowling, claimed a few prizes, and made a stope in the resident candy store.
As we drove home I listened to Marcus talk about his favorite part of the water park (the wave pool), how much he loved the arcade, and how his weekend was so much fun. Marcus is still talking about Great Wolf, and how much he would like to go back.
Any doubts I had about not having a traditional party were immediately erased. I'm not sure we'll ever revert to traditional birthday parties again.

Marcus' Great Wolf 6th Birthday Celebration from Desiree Macke on Vimeo. (For my own memories sake, a 2 minute montage of our weekend, including footage of water slide and boogie board action.)