he knows me so well {greatest way to celebrate turning 30}

I don’t write a lot about how amazing my husband is, but let me tell you – I’ve got it good. Every birthday isn’t a huge deal, but he has come up with some pretty incredible gifts over the years. When I turned 20 he took me skydiving. When I turned 25 he got me trapeze lessons. And 30 is only a couple of days away.

Over the weekend he handed me the following envelope:

That clue led to several others. One led to my local camera store, where I got into a conversation with someone about blogs (he didn’t know I am a blogger). He said, “Ya know, I don’t know who has too much time on their hands the people who write blogs or the people who read them.” I just smiled. The clue he gave me led the last one:1009clues-02

Which led to:1009plane-01

I have always DREAMED of flying in an old biplane…the kind where the wind hits your face and you can lean over the edge soaking in the beauty of earth below. With tons of phone calling, connection making and time he found a pilot willing to take me for a ride! When I first saw the plane my insides did the happy dance (my insides did, because trust me you don’t want to see my outsides dance!). I was totally giddy…uncontrollable smiling! While we waited for things to get ready, the boys were entertained by the sights – and the only water puddle in sight.1009plane-02

We did a run through over the parachute and boarded the plane. I sat in front – total awesomeness! The pilot pulled out a bag of marshmellows and said if we have to bail the plane and parachute down we’d meet back up at the burning plane and roast marshmellows until someone came to rescue us….we’d roast them because due to our parachutes we’d be fine in a crash. It made me laugh. He also gave me a bag to throw up in if needed. I stuffed it up my coat pocket – no way I’d be using that. Seriously.1009plane-03

My best Top Gun pose. Yes, I know they didn’t fly these in Top Gun, but I felt pretty cool in my mid-century war plane and earphones.

I like it vintage you know πŸ™‚1009plane-04

And we’re headed to the runway…Biggest Brother ran after the plane. He was pretty excited to see me fly.1009plane-05

After a long flight over the city & surrounding areas we ended the flight with some acrobatics. He said most people don’t really want to do these, but HELLO it was my favorite. He said he’d do a trick and then I needed to give him a thumbs up or a thumbs down so he’d know if I wanted to do more. He started with a barrell roll (not the techinical name). My thumbs were up before he even finished it. Then he did a flip. I can not even put into words how cool it was. Remember I am in the front, so one minute I am seeing nothing but clouds and then BAM the earth is directly in front of me and we are doing what seems like a nose dive into the trees…and then he pulls it up and we are soaring again. He got 2 thumbs up after that – 2 arm-pumping raised high in the air thumbs up. He asked if I wanted to do it again. “YES. PLEASE!!!” Instead of one flip this time he did 2 in a row, I screamed in the middle of the second flip “THIS IS AWESOME!!!!” I could hear him laughing. Then it was time to head back. I like rollercoasters, but this was unreal. Rollercoasters are MUCH faster…just doesn’t compare.1009plane-06

Once back on the ground he told Chris, “She’s a keeper. She’s got game.” Oh yea, I got game. Whoop. Whoop!

My friend Cindy saw me land, she said I looked like Amelia Earhart – happy dance again.

So I know you many of you moms reading this are thinking, “I would NEVER do that, especially now that I have kids.” I know. I know. I’ll admit as I was about to take off and Big Brother was crying that he was going to miss me, it did cross my mind “I really hope I see Chris and my kids again.” However, the reality is I am more likely to die on the highway due to someone texting while driving than I was on that plane with a veteran military pilot/current commercial pilot with 30 years of experience. I could have let irrational ‘mom’ fears keep me on the ground and I would have missed out on one of the greatest adventures I have ever gone on. I have spent most my life in this area and I have taken countless commercial flights to and from it. BUT nothing compares to being in that open biplane flying over the area of the world I call home. We flew over my schools, my friends homes, the reservoir where I hung out with friends, my church, the river, etc… And then we flew over my house. We live on a couple of acres in the smack dab middle of town – so I could spot our yard and house from about 5 miles out. As we flew over and I looked down at where I live and play, it dawned on me that though I was having an amazing adventure in a biplane – that white house below is where my real adventure is. It is a crazy, beautiful and dangerous adventure – and I get to live it everyday!

There is a gazebo and picnic tables near the runway. Chris had planned a big party right there at the end of the runway. He worked hard to get all the details together for my friends and family to wish me a Happy Birthday as the plane landed. Sadly, it was very cold and he had to scramble to move the party to an indoor location. It was still super fun and I felt so loved by all of you that came out to celebrate with me.

Thanks babe – you know me all too well.

For those of you with time on your hands here is a little YouTube video I found with the type of plane I flew in. The first roll he does is the one we did. We also did the flips…the other stuff I am hoping he’ll do with me next time. I got game πŸ™‚ I am not sure what the smoke is on this video, I think it is just something for the air show. My plane didn’t smoke – at least I couldn’t see any smoke! πŸ™‚

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  • amanda torres - Awesome post. Awesome adventure. Awesome husband. Congratulations on turning 30!

  • Ryan - That is so awesome! I tend to think the other way: I think you owe it to your kids to live life to the fullest. You’re setting an example they’ll learn from, and they’ll hopefully seize the day as they grow too. We’re only here for a short time, so make the most of it! πŸ™‚

  • Jeannette Swan - Happy Birthday!! What an adventure!!

  • Tess S. - What an amazing gift! And i started crying when i read about your “real” adventures. It’s oh so very true.
    Happy birthday!

  • Shannon Phillips - You are freakin’ AWESOME!!! Happy 30th lovely!

  • joyce - That was exciting,sorry we missed it. Have a great day on Wed.

  • Lori Danelle - That is much cooler than what I’ll be doing for my 30th! Not sure what I’ll be doing quite yet, but I’ve got a couple of months yet to figure it out.

    Happy Birthday!! (early πŸ™‚ )

  • Mandy Metcalf - SO stinkin’ cool Ash!!! I love it and I can just see you riding in that plane shouting at the top of your lungs and enjoying every minute! Would have loved to have been there to celebrate your upcoming bday! Good job Chris!!!

  • Rachel - Oh, girl, you DEFINITELY have game! How AWESOME. I felt exhilarated just reading that post. Happy birthday (well almost) to the spunkiest person I know!

  • Jackie - Happy Birthday! I’ve been wondering…who takes photos of you? My husband is afraid of my camera and quite frankly I’m of afraid of him using it.

  • Liz - What an swesome way to spend your 30th birthday! Happy Birthday Ashley!

  • AshleyAnn - Jackie…Chris takes photos of me. I sat down with him to teach him to use it and I continue to give him pointers (which he just loves πŸ™‚ ) Really, he does a great job and I am thankful he endures my critiques.

    Rachel…you called me ‘spunky’ I don’t think I’ve ever been called that before, made me laugh!

  • Valerie - That is the coolest ever!!!! I am now wishing I had paid the $50 or so bucks at the Biplane Show this summer in B’ville to go up in one (minus all the tricks and cool vintage headgear, which might have set me over the edge to actually do it!). I loved reading all about your adventures, and I love the fact that you were willing to go up there as a mama of four with hardly any reservations. Life is meant to be lived! (Can’t wait for SnapShop this month — I’m dropping my check in the mail today…)

  • bopha - very, very, cool! Hope you have a great 30th birthday, better you than me!

  • Jill R - Amazing! You remind me of Snoopy (which is meant as a compliment). Maybe we have been watching too much Peanuts at my house….it is Great Pumpkin season. πŸ˜‰

  • pamela - HAPPY BIRTHDAY! this post made my day. your kids will look back and think, wow my mom was so brave! i remember when she took an airplane ride and did flips in it! i took a sea plane all around the island of Tasmania and it was so fun. your husband is a good man! i turn 28 in 15 days and doubt i will do anything that fun, maybe i’ll drop some hints : ) good for you!

  • christina larsen - Wow, what a way to spend a birthday. Happy Birthday, by the way. This post reminded me of my grandmother. My grandmother was one of those pioneer women who was a pilot. During WWII she worked at an airplane factory and took flying lessons. She would have been a pilot, had the war not ended. I like to think of my grandma as Amelia Earhart. I know you don’t know my grandma, but she would be proud. WAY COOL!!!

  • Meagan - WHOA!!! Awesome! You made me tear up…Life’s too short…I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to do that…

  • Ben & Noel - Happy Birthday, Ashley! Your Top Gun pose is really cool!

  • meg duerksen - my stomach hurt just reading about htis! i am so scared of new fast high dangerous stuff! i would have thrown up and been crying like a crazy woman.
    but i am SUPER proud of you!
    way to go! how awesome that chris did that for you…and that you loved it that much!
    i was also smiling reading about this. good for you!
    happy birthday old lady.

  • Carla - how very incredible! what a sweet husband.. and i love when bdays are celebrated in a huge fashion. i’ve got plans up my sleeve already for the husband’s 25th…

    happy celebrations and good luck {not that you need it} in your 30s!

  • Mirys - Dear Ashley:

    What can I say?…
    Im just crying… more and more…

    My husband used to be like yours: handsome, darling, sensitive, caring, loved. What you said summarized it: he knew me all too well. Enough about me, though!!!

    I did think it was not a coincidence that your day (October 12) is the kids day in Brazil!!!!! Happy birthday, little lucky girl!!!

    Mirys – http://www.diariodos3mosqueteiros.blogspot.com

  • thrill seeking is her game » ashleyannphotography.com - […] For those that are wondering about that plane picture, you can click here to read that old post. […]

  • Chocolate Bavarian Torte {and getting stuck in a graveyard} » ashleyannphotography.com - […] of Treva and I from my 30th birthday in October. Ignore my lovely hair – I just returned from my Amelia Earhart adventure! We both now have 4 kids. […]