Thursday, January 21, 2016

NashVegas Birthday

Normally, I'm all about planning birthday parties.  Since my boys were little, I would get as much enjoyment out of selecting a theme, choosing games, and coordinating decor as I did watching them experience their day.  As Austin grew older his standard request was a pool party at our house with the family.  Being a winter baby, Noah wanted adventure.  And truly, we needed something to entice people to trudge out in the snow.

Over the years we've done sundae and pizza making parties, lazer tag, surprises, excursions and numerous other themes.  One of my favorites (and most popular posts) was Minute to Win It.  The adults had as much fun as the kids.  Noah's all time fave was the hotel trip with his buddies, aka "bachelor" party, although he was only 12 at the time.

But my baby's 16th sort of snuck up on me.  Maybe I was in denial.  It doesn't help that holiday festivities, Christmas, and my birthday are stacked right before.  This year I struggled to figure out just exactly what to do to make his day special.  And he wasn't much help, as "i don't know," or a shrug were the only two answers he seemed to give on how he'd like to spend it.

Realizing we had a three day weekend with the MLK holiday, I offered him a get-away.  A mini vacation in a hotel from the city of his choice.  This idea enticed him.

He opted for Nashville so we wouldn't spend a chunk of our trip driving and because there are so many options to enjoy.  Dog/house sitter confirmed, bags packed, and we were on way.

The only concrete plan we had was where we were staying.  My aunt introduced us to Drury Inn a few years back and it has become our favorite hotel chain.  One big perk is that they serve a hot breakfast and a hot nighttime snack.  For us frugal gals, that means we only have to buy one meal a day and that is my kind of traveling.  Truthfully, with a mini frig and microwave, you could even get by with bringing your own.  At this point, I sound like a paid representative, so I'll move on to the rest of our trip!  (but seriously, if you're traveling, check them out!)

In the lobby, Noah picked up a few visitor brochures.  Between that and a Facebook plea for "fun teenage options" we were ready for wherever the wind took us.

And oh, what a whirlwind weekend it was!

Night one would see us at a glow in the dark teen club-meets-American Ninja.  Noah bounced, tight-roped, jumped, flipped and plopped his way around for a couple hours.  Just watching him exhausted us.  Once back at the hotel, I would've gladly retreated to the bed, but my birthday boy requested midnight waffles.  A tradition he's seen my cousin and her girls do while vacationing together, we bundled up and dodged traffic for craters of maple syrup.

Bellied up to the bar, midway through scrambled eggs, sausage, loaded hashbrowns and three waffles, he manages to get out, "New tradition, mom.  This is awesome."

Day two = Science. Sharks. Sauerkraut. And Statues.

Hoping he wouldn't be too old, we opted to go the Adventure Science Museum.  Noah's always been a fan of anything science and they had a planetarium, although we watched sharks instead of stars.  Three hours later we left impressed and glad to have spent the morning there.

Lunch was an adventure, more in surviving the trip than where we ended up.

Busy downtown venues are not my cup of tea.  One way streets, a delayed GPS, two men barking directions, and nobody wanting to pick a spot had my nerves frazzled to the core.  Finally pulling into the lot of a restaurant we knew and loved, we were shell-shocked to discover parking was around $25!  In the many circles and loops we took to find an empty space, I spied a German eatery and made an executive decision.  The big selling point was that parking was free; however, Noah's always up for a new culinary experience.  Also, he's recently been enamored with the culture, discovering our family tree has some roots there.

With our bellies full, we headed for our final stop, the Parthenon.
Or as I like to call it, the steps of death.

Heredity and old injuries from a wreck have my legs in terrible shape.  As such, steps are not my friend.  The picture above shows before... all smiles, since I'm currently dumb to the fact that those giant doors behind me are locked.  We walk down, around and up the other side only to find that isn't an entrance either.  Back down steep concrete monsters into the basement entrance, I'm grumbling (and hobbling in pain) about the lack of signage this place has.  My physical state at this point certainly didn't enhance the visit but I was grateful to see ramps and elevators once inside for the tour.  The only replica in the world, it was a been there, done that experience.  

By the time we made it back to the hotel, everyone crashed, though I did set an alarm for the free kickback snack.  Tim laughed at me, still full from our enormous lunch but by golly, free is free.  I told him he could eat and store it for when he became hungry later.  

Noah wanted to end the evening in the pool/hot tub but apparently so did everyone else in the hotel.  Every 15 minutes or so he'd trot down and scope out the situation, returning to the room with a frown.  At 9:20 he bounced back excited to report that only one kid was swimming and four grandfatherly figures were watching.  Tim bowed out and opted to relax on the couch bed.  

He didn't miss much.  

The pool was freezing, in my dysfunctioning thyroid opinion, as it connected to the outside.  Noah kept ducking under the wall and escaping into the frigid night air.  My common sense and claustrophobia would not join him.  As my teeth were chattering by the semi-heated flow of water I managed to find, a couple enters with a dog, just as I was about to escape to the hot tub.  Somehow, the thought of eau de wet pooch didn't appeal to me, so I didn't join them.  Yet later, said wet dog jumped in the pool with us to cool off.  Noah thought it was amazing, of course.  Upon returning to the room, I opted to lather, rinse and repeat.  Twice.

With Tim's nap, he was on his second wind so the boys stayed up late watching tv and wrestling each other.  I was thankful for the suite we splurged on and escaped to the quiet bedroom and a comfy bed all to myself.

Our final day, after lingering over our last free meal we traveled to the giant mall that is Opry Mills.  Never one to spend much of his own money, Noah treated himself to a shopping spree.  He's been such a saver since getting a job this past summer, so it was a joy watching him waste a little cash.  True to what I've taught him though, he didn't buy anything that wasn't on clearance!

Last stop was Dave & Busters for some arcade fun.  Noah and Tim enjoyed shooting at zombies and each other, competing over hoops and an aggressive game of ice hockey.  I snuck off to rest in the car, knowing they'd sleep all the way home.

Between the giant bear hug he gave us more than once and the uncharacteristic Facebook tagging of a slideshow with, "Loved today, thank you so much (mom) and (dad) for this amazing trip," I'd say Birthday 2016 was a success.

Hope it brought him a fraction of the JOY he continually brings us.

Trust me, he was laughing just moments before I snapped.  
This is his "seriously, how many pics are you taking of me today" face.


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