Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall has begun - October 14, 2013

Hey there, hi there and hello there during this wonderful fall evening.  What a last month and a half it has been in the Klein household, I think Lincoln would agree with Jenny and I that September was pretty awesome!
To start off the fun, we, as grown adults (without kids) went to Walt Disney World ... yes, the happiest place on Earth with our friends Tyler and Lucia.  I haven't been in a good six years, so it was a treat to go there and enjoy food, fun and friendship.  We started off with the Animal Kingdom and a fun safari in the wilderness.  We walked into the park, fanny packs in tow, very giddy about the adventures ahead.  The Lion King show was by far the highlight for me throughout the park as my favorite Disney movie, classic!  Then it was off to Epcot for some tasty food in France, character sightings to include my all time favorite Tigger and a ride on Test Track.  We had a blast just walking around all of the countries and ended the evening with a Moroccan dinner and epic light show.
Saturday brought us to Disney Hollywood where we trekked first to the Tower of Terror, where I think Lucia literally bit my arm in fright!  My favorite Disney ride was next, the Aerosmith Rockin' Roller Coaster, so amazing.  Yes, Jenny and I did share a turkey leg, because when you're in Disney, well you have to do that.  More autographs were had, and then we experienced Indiana Jones and the Lights/Motors/Action extravaganza after we stopped by Pizza Planet for a Toy Story pizza lunch.  Saturday night brought some tasty Mexican grub at Downtown Disney for a nice walkabout.
The next day we started off with a character breakfast, yes, we were the only adults without children at the Goofy, Pluto and Minnie character breakfast:)  Sunday was also Magic Kingdom day where we were greeted with a memorable middle of the street parade with some classic characters.  A ride through the Braer Forrest with Tyler down Splash Mountain, the laugh floor for Monster's Inc and a Buzz Lightyear shoot-em-up adventure made for a great day of character sightings, gift shopping and sight-seeing.  That night we had a scrumtrulescent meal at a hibachi joint where the waiter literally made me my own pitcher of splemonade, quite honestly the happiest place on Earth.  It was a great time with great people with Mr. Potato Head shopping, Disney date nights and so
much laughter our bellies ached.
Then just a few weeks later we hopped on an airplane to go see our friends Eddie and Jen get married in Boston.  We met up with some ol' friends from Columbus/Columbia for a Duck tour on the land/water, a visit to Cheers (where they knew everyone's name:) and a walking good time in the city.  Jenny had an extra good time with friends during rehearsal and the wedding day brought many good times as a groomsman.  We had a blast at the photo shoot and the ceremony was picturesque on the bay in Boston, a great celebration of two awesome folks.  That night, we tore up the dance floor that ended with a tie on Jenny's head and myself getting hurt doing dance moves, remind me not to do the splits again!  It was a great celebration that went well into the evening after some JT in the streets:)
The rest of the weekend was spent touring a wonderfully historic city.  We started with the Freedom Trail walk throughout the city which led to Mike's Bakery for a cannoli, lunch in Little Italy and a visit to Fenway Park.  That night we had a ped bike ride and went to the top of the Prudential building for a great nightcap of a wondermous city.

The next week marked the Augusta Half Ironman, yes, 70.3 miles of working out all in one day.  Jenny and I trained together for five months, and while she wasn't able to join me for the workout, her and Lincoln were the best fans a guy could ask for.  It started with a brief 1.2 mile swim in the 69 degree water, luckily it was with the current, so I did way better than I thought I would after not being able to swim for 6 weeks with a cast:)  Next was the 56 miler on the bike, which I unfortunately didn't have a functioning spedometer to know my pace, so I was bookin' it a bit too fast which caught up with me on the run.
After about mile 9 on the run, both legs started cramping up and heel walk/jogging took place for the rest of the 13.1 miles.  With a goal of finishing around 6.5 hours, my time of 6 hours 38 minutes made me feel very accomplished in addition to not finishing last in my age bracket in any of the legs of the race, a big day full of salty goodness!
Back at the Duck, it's been pretty awesome.  Did I mention I have an awesome team that allows me to have a great day pretty much every day, and fun!?  We started Aflac Group's first Toastmaster club with over 70 people at the first meeting and the most engaging charter members of any club I have been affiliated with, it's been pretty amazing.  In addition, we put on a mentoring session and an Expo to improve employee engagement while also completing our first Aflac Group United Way campaign raising over $25,000 in year one with over 10% participation, beating our goals.
The work is going great too between our PIC, Quality and Escalation teams.  The leadership of these teams really helps to make the job awesome, and to reward my direct reports we decided to go offsite for a team building excursion to the National Whitewater Center for some high rope courses, white water rafting and fun.  It was an absolute blast and so well deserved for a group that truly make our teams click.  Just this last week, my boss took all of his direct reports back to the Whitewater Center for business execution meetings and team building.  Great times at Dave n Busters, PF Changs and amidst a canopy tour helped us to bond and focus on the crazy 4Q ahead and busy 2014 on the horizon.  Sadly through all this, we also had to say goodbye to our friend Lena whom passed away just over a month after she retired from Aflac.  She was very wise and one that walked quietly, but when she spoke, everyone listened ... she will be missed dearly.
Outside of work homework continued with the studies at Creighton.  At the beginning of September, I turned in my first chapter of the dissertation.  I've gotten some great feedback and am now waiting on my dissertation chair for some more direction before I move forward.  This week marks the last in my fall term 1 course and to date through this program, I have typed more than 115,000 words ... holy schnikes!!
Well, it's birthday eve and I am about to hop on the grill to make some grub with Lincoln.  October is another great month with a birthday and anniversary surprise that Jenny has up her sleeve, can't wait:)  Hope you all have a great start to the fall and make the most of life!