Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You MIGHT be a Redneck!

This would be the shoetree. It's a tree with no known significance on the side of the highway near Cherokee, AL where people decided to start hanging their outgrown or unwanted shoes. I'm sure some of them have a meaning. Some of them are just some teens that wanted to waste their parents money and some may be the shoes worn on a wedding day, graduation or the finish of a first marathon (that's the one I'm throwing my shoes for!) I might never have known about this Alabama landmark had it not been for mom's letter boxing hobby. Again we were off "finding treasures" as Jackson says and one was hidden in the rocks near the famous, or is it infamous, shoe tree. Funny thing, when we pulled over, Lincoln pointed with that little finger of his and said "SHOOOES!"
Next, we headed toward Redbay, AL. We wound down some of the most country roads I have ever traveled. At one point we saw a country man with chickens and cows in his yard. He was checking his mail in a full white beard and denim overalls. Jackson exclaimed, "there's Old MacDonald!" We also passed a fence full of bobcat and coyote carcasses. Yes, these were some country folks. Right passed the 7th hairpin turn we saw this sign and I knew we had arrived at the most redneck place in all of Alabama...I was wrong...just wait!
Yes, in 1937, the Coon Dog Cemetery was founded to bury all beloved blood hounds far and wide. Some of the gravestones are just a piece of wood with sharpie writing, others are large concrete tombstones carved with the companions name and bloodline. Some even have photos which make them exceptionally special. I guess I never knew how much people cared for their coon dogs. Now I do.

And now...drum roll please..... I might have landed at the most redneck place in Alabama! I've been hearing about this places for several months but I'm telling you now, you might just have to see it to believe it. I know I did!

We arrived at the Rattlesnake Saloon and parked in a field among several horse trailers. We walked a gravel path and were met by this monster truck that calls itself a taxi. He asked if we wanted a ride and off we went.
We drove down a steep hill to what presented as an underground type cave. It's actually a restaurant down there. They have lots of tables under the cave's overhang and you eat outdoors in the open air. They have a stage for music venues of the country variety. They are open 3 days a week and only serve alcohol after 5 pm. The security fella's take their jobs seriously while wearing some form of camouflage, they keep the patrons safe and under control. One mishap and they'd call that dually taxi to come get you and haul you off. And should you choose to smoke during your outdoor dining experience, here is where you would place your butts. Yes, that's a hand carved 3 ft rattlesnake ashtray.

Yessiree, bob.


Sorry, I just couldn't resist.
You can take a little stroll on top of the overhang/cliff that is also known as the restaurant. Jackson liked this place a little too much. He maintains full redneck potential and began saying "I ain't" as soon as we landed in Alabama.
And here's what we've all been waiting for. The big reveal. The Rattlesnake Saloon. You can get a glimpse of the cooking facility, the tables and if you look closely, the professional bouncer seated on the tailgate of the truck. In the back of the cave, there is a stage. We were lucky enough to show up on amateur night and we got to hear all sorts of karaoke. My nightly favorite was a new song to me called "Cheater, Cheater" sang by a large lady wearing entirely pink and camo clothing. I was forever changed after hearing it. I can't promise it was in a good way.

In all honesty, the places is COOL. Who thought to put a restaurant in a cave in the middle of nowhere? It could defiantly be a fun places to bring a truckload of your friends for the night. I would even go back. But next time, I'd be wearing my wranglers and cowgirl boots. And camouflage earrings of course!

And now on to the few photos we were able to squeeze out of the guys. This was on a VERY stormy Saturday morning before our flight. I just wish you could see the setup. In mom's garage, with the backdrop clipped to chairs and luggage. It's a wonder any of these photos ever turn out well and somehow, they do. Thanks Mom, and photoshop CS5!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chasing Waterfalls (and Salamanders)

If ever I want to take a stroll down memory lane, this is one of the top on my list. I can remember this place fondly even from Jackson's age. I can remember my Aunt Janie taking me here with one of her boyfriends in her dating years. I took Jason here on one of our very first dates. My daddy took Tracie and I here when he was home on weekends from working in Nashville. This places is full of memories for me. I even came here 3 days after Linc was born in one of my first "mom of 2" outings. Now we are back and it's more fun than ever. It was a little chilly so we consumed our Krystal burgers in the car before our walk. I still haven't for the life of me figured out why there are NO krystals in North Carolina, specifically, Fayetteville. It would be a gold mine here. Tons of cheap late night burgers is JUST what this high class city needs! Ok, off my soap box. My cholesterol is happy with the lack of Krystals here. Anyway, we took a little walk to the waterfall and Daddy started looking under rocks for these salamanders. It thrills Jackson to find and hold them. Lincoln, not so much. We didn't' know that salamanders would bite each other. We actually didn't know they would bite at all. That's why I wasn't scared of them. But these two didn't like each other. It made them that much more fun that they wanted to bite each others heads off. BOYS! See, i told you Lincoln wasn't fond of the salamanders. Which made it OH so fun for Jackson to put them in his face. I guess that's what big brothers are for. I give him a year, maybe less until they are not fighting because of the salamanders but are fighting OVER them! They like to hide out under the moist wet rocks so this is the perfect spot for them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Caught on Cell Phone Camera

Isn't it funny to think back to the days of FILM! Loading it, Winding it, buying it, devoloping it! Then there were the days that you had to hold still for 20 seconds waiting on the digital camera to capture the image. How Lucky are we that we can now take our PHONE which is already in hand and take a split second photo of life as it is happening. No searching for your camera, begging the kids to hold still knowing at least one of them is running to hid from mom with camera! Yes, we have to admit, these days of technology will serve us well as our momory fades and we sit back and wonder where the time went. These are some of the latest images caught on my phone. These were chosen among nearly 200, most of which Jackson took of shoes or clocks or anything else while I was shopping. Hey, it kept him entertained.

This lemonade stand was a recycled box we were delivered a sign in. I knew when I saw it that it would make something really fun for the kids. Jackson loved this idea. It never made it into the yard for profit but I'm sure he'll recreate the idea again. I drew the letters and he traced him but the guy with the gigantic hand and mug of lemonade was all his idea! Yep, that's his hand you see there. I was also given the privilidge of seeing a puppet show behind the lemonade stand/stage. Using stuffed animals, Jackson and his dad gave an impromptu puppet show that ended with the monkey and the dog fighting. BOYS! These are Jackson's GI Joe men. They have all sorts of uniforms for their specific jobs. I guess the Army needs all kinds. Thankfully most of them do at least have clothing. These were my cousins and he is now 16. Seriously, I've never seen so much firepower. This is the toybox turned sniper field. These are some talented guys in their marksmanship. They can hit their targets haning upside down off the side of a building. And with those muscles, I'd let them protect me anytime! This scene struck me as ironic. I'm sitting at the computer desperately searching for us a places to live as we exit the Army life. We have been in it for 10 years but Jackson, he's been in it his WHOLE LIFE! I know they will both transition well but Jackson will likely be the only one that remembers Daddy's Army life. I said, "We can take the boy out of the Army but I think we're going to have a hard time taking the Army out of the boy!" My sweet 5 year old let his bear bear look out the window on the flight from Raleigh to Nashville. Bear Bear has traveled many miles with us. Thank goodness we don't have to buy him a ticket! The evolution of "date night". It used to look more like a couple, enjoying time together, without their kids. Lately, it's us been asking the kids where they want to go eat and having dinner at 530 and picking up a Redbox on the way home. It just hurts to spend 50 dollars on dinner and another 50 on a sitter. So our latest date night was the 4 of us at Outback. Hey, I consider myself the lucky one here. I'm on a date with THREE men that I love! Seriously, sometimes I look at them and see a "before" and "after" photo!

Look at that face...covered in pure buttah!

Lincoln's got a Boo-Boo

Can't you see it?
Really because he'd be happy to show you and gain your sympathy. He's really learned the art of getting compassion and ran away with it. He had a little fall outside on our patio. It was his first skinned knee. I petted him about it and went on our way. The next day when we flew to TN, Nana noticed it and it was ON. He proceeded to show his boo boo to everybody in Nashville that would take the time to look. I mean everybody. Waiters, other moms, restaurant patrons even the homeless guys!
It didn't end there.
He would remind us in the car about every 5 minutes that he had a boo boo and needed our attention to it. He would even make Jackson look at it. I'm not going to say that we didn't' play along because we totally did. We realized it was beginning to sound a little like Dory on Finding Nemo because when he told us, it was like he was telling us for the first time! He would show us his little leg (which was quickly beginning to heal!) and then he would jerk his pant leg down and say "bye-bye" to his boo boo. It was always short lived. When we got home to AL he got a whole new crowd to glean compassion for his now nearly healed boo boo. We were beginning to wonder what he would do when there was no boo boo to discuss on that leg. Then it happened...thanks to good ol' rocky soil and a dose of clumsy 1 year old, he now has a fresh boo boo to keep up his sympathy act.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nashville Parks Tour

We landed in our future home of Nashville, TN decked out in our green for St. Patricks day. I was quickly reminded that this is music city as we listened to a 2nd rate country performer try to get attention at the airport food court.
My parents picked us up and we headed out to house hunt. On the way we stopped for a late lunch pickup at a shopping center I plan on getting more familiar with. It was called Nashville West and wouldn't you know, Nana found those boys a playground in a park. We spent a while letting them get our the airport energy before we went to our first showing. It was a house I found on craigslist and would you believe it was right across the street from a playground! Yep, if we rent it, that will be our very own front yard park! We drive further into Bellevue to look at more potential houses and Jackson spots a "castle park" (wooden playground) and begs to go. We drop him off with Nana and Lincoln and Dad and I continue on our house search. Mind you, we've only been in the state for about 5 hours and we've been to a total now of 3 parks and only been inside 1 potential house. (Which just so happens to be our new home!) I looked at nearly 100 houses online and we end up renting the FIRST one I look at! I know how to pick 'em!
We wanted a little walk down memory lane so we visited the Old Spaghetti Factory for a nostalgic dinner with my Mom and Dad. All of Nashville is nostalgic to Daddy and I'm still not sure if it's in a good way or not. You see, Daddy used to work in Nashville. He actually worked there for 18 years before he retired. He spent his week working there and drove home on the weekends. He lived with 4 other men who did the same thing. They slept there, worked and then drove 2 hours home to their families in Alabama. In part of the NO Cell Service area on the way home we actually totaled up the times that Daddy drove the roads in those 18 years. It was somewhere around 4000 trips and about 561,600 total miles driven. Yeah, that was alot. So there are tons of places that Daddy has a story about in Nashville.
Ok, back to the parks. We spent the night out in Brentwood and in the morning we ate breakfast at the MacDonald's nearby that had...yep, a Park! So more playtime for the boys. We went on to our second house showing and then we drove by Jason's future Master's Program at Vanderbilt. Mom spotted the Parthenon so we had to stop, the day was beautiful and she had a motive. There was a letterbox to be found. We walked around the gigantic Greek structure and Jackson spotted yet another park! We let them play before we take off on a lunch hike. As we are winding down, we visit the first house again and put our seal of approval on the playground we will be calling Ours for a few years as we make this move to Nashville. At least we've got a major head start on knowing where all the coolest parks are. We like to keep the important things first!

Breakfast over the Rainbow

Good Sunday morning here in Sweet Home Alabama! We got this fabulous idea from our good friend Mari and I'm pretty sure she got it somewhere out there on the web. Either way, it was a great way to feed the crowd on Sunday morning when the kids are up by 630, thanks to Central time zone. It was SO cute and EASY and nutritious to boot!

We all know how badly I need to have a girl. I mean not only for the smocked dresses and bows but so I can throw rainbow birthday parties and play My little ponies again! Next time, I'm having a GIRL! But until then, I'll enjoy these sweet boys and their very own fruit rainbow!
You can go ahead and assume that Jackson is assembling his favorite part. Yes, the only one that's not in the nutritious category.
He's pretty proud of himself. He is just like his father. Oh. My. Word!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Whatcha Say?

I know, I know, all kids say the darnedest things. But then again, the main reason for me keeping this blog is to remember what MINE say when they say funny stuff. Or in Lincoln's case, when he says anything at all. Jackson is always saying funny stuff and most of it I forget about. Here are some of the lastest chuckles I've had on Jackson's behalf.
-Recently we were driving through at Sonic and he asks, "Mom, why don't we ever go IN at Sonic?"
-At preschool, they had picture day and I picked him up a little early. When I got him he said with pride, "Mom, I had a "highschool" picture made today with a square hat and everything!" (they had preschool graduation photos!)
-I was recently talking to Jackson about how he'd feel about our moving to Nashville. Of course, he asked if we'd be taking our things and his toys and then he asked if we could take the wall colors too because he liked them!
-Along those same lines, we were talking about where we would live in Nashville and he said he thinks we'll live in that place where him and PawPaw could go underground. The story he is referring to is when we stayed at the Opryland Hotel. I don't think we'll be living there but I WISH!
-He likes to talk about the things he's done in the past and recently he asked me if I remembered when he and PawPaw went up to the Mountain House and rode his 4-wheeler in the creek. I told him I wasn't there that day but I've been there before. He proceeded to tell me that he and PawPaw rode the 4 wheeler up and down the creek real fast and made a big splash. He said this was how they scared all the snakes away. Good times in the country are not easily forgotten!
-On the way to preschool Lincoln had his milk cup and Jackson claimed he was thirsty. I only had coffee and I told him so. Lincoln heard this and offered his cup to Jackson. Jackson drank some and we talked about how sweet it was of Lincoln to share. Then I heard Jackson sweetly telling Lincoln..."Lincoln, you used to drink your milk out of mommy's boobies and now you drink it out of a cup like me! Facts of Life...by a 5 year old.
-Recently Jackson has asked to sleep with us. He has NEVER slept with us or anyone and he usually can't. We decided one night to let him and I'm pretty sure he stayed up later than either of us watching TV. Around midnight, I woke up smothered and had to take him back to his bed. Luckily he didn't mind.

Lincoln's speech has exploded in the last 2 months. He's doing really well getting his verbal point across as well as his nonverbal request (screaming, throwing, etc).
-Lincoln tells me oh, about 5 times a day..."Ma, Ma, I da da Pa pa" This translates best as Ma, Ma, I wanna talk to pawpaw" He calls my dad about 3 times every day and they have conversations that center around 4 wheelers and Ice Cream.
-He has finally gotten the hang of playing with toys or non toys either way, he says "Ma, ma, I ona pay" Which translates as Ma, I wanna play.
-Any type of food is still referred to as "Ma, Ma, I ona nana" or banana.
-He regularly tells me when he has a Poop diaper. He grabs it and says "Ma, poo poo" and "Ewwwwwwww" He also tells me this about dog poop, cat poop and my poop. I don't know about you but I think it's high time Jason get to potty training that child!
-Like any younger sibling he wants to be just like his big brother. So he's been doing a lot of "Ma, I hep" meaning he wants to help!
-Lincoln's always been fond of the outdoors. As a baby, it was sometimes the only thing that would soothe him and we'd leave him out there even at naptimes in Alabama. Well, he can now open the back door all by himself and let himself Ow Si or better heard as outside.
-He now pulls on his carseat straps and says "Ma, ma, get Ow" (out)
-And for the record, we still hear "OH WOW" every single day. Sometimes 15-20 times. Good ol' construction and a thrilled toddler.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our House

This is our house.

It's more than just the first house we bought.

We helped build this house. Well, we chose the specs for inside this house.

It was long before children. We were looking to buy our first house. We set a target price and I did monster research into where we wanted to live and neighborhoods I liked. I found several and set up appointments to go and look at them. I printed the brochures and even printed a few I knew were a little outside our comfort zone. I knew what we liked and I knew this floor plan fit what we were looking for. We went to a showing nearby one day and as we drove around in the neighborhood Jason saw the back porch for this house being poured. He looked and said "that's it, that's the one I want to buy." Luckily, I had already looked at it and thought it was more than we could do at the time. Well fast forward a few months later and we were picking out lighting and choosing cabinet colors. We were able to customize the inside of the house to our liking and believe you me, I liked it! It was stressful and fun to choose all those things for MY house. I was living a domestic dream and by thanksgiving we would be living in our 1st home.

The next summer we spent countless hours landscaping because we both really enjoyed it and it was fun for us to be outside and together. It was all coming along so nicely. We also found out we were expecting our first born! It was late summer when Jason dropped the bombshell from the Army that he was going to be going to Ft. Rucker for a school. It was about a year long and we would return to Ft. Bragg. Are you kidding, I have not even lived in this house for a year and you tell me we're moving? I wanted to bring my baby home to this house! As I digested that info, he found a GREAT renting situation for our house to not stay empty. Great guy, getting married and he only used the 2 extra bedrooms. We kept everything in our master and locked the door. Jackson was 6 months old when we returned to the house. We worked hard over the next few weeks to build him a nursery. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. This is when I really feel like this house became our home. We were raising a family here. I stayed home everyday with Jackson in this house. We took morning walks and I met more neighbors that stayed home too. We built up a whole neighborhood of friends for both him and I. These girls were like me. Their husbands deployed, they cooked dinner and battled naptimes. They were like my family! Over the next several years and more deployments that I care to figure up, the girls that live in the neighborhood where we built our house helped to make me be able to call it home. We all raised our babies up together and paraded the streets with strollers from one side to another. It will be this that I miss most about our house. I love our house. I love the layout and the colors and the landscape but what I love most is our neighborhood and the people that made it up.

So our house is on the market now. It's a slow moving market but we feel like it will sell. Hopefully to someone just like us. Someone who wants a place to raise their own little family. Just hopefully with less deployments!

And now for the photos because I always want to remember our first home!