Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Smokey Mountain House

No way we could live in TN for 2 years and not see the mountains!  We had been toying with the idea of either Gatlinburg or Chattanooga for a weekend getaway as a family.  This one was just perfect for us.  
We bid on and won a 2 nights stay at a Pigeon Forge Chalet back in September at Jackson's school's silent auction.   Finding time to go proved to be a little harder.  I wanted to go during Christmas but of course it was booked.  Just after New Years seemed perfect, still decorated for Christmas but not yet back to school.  We were going over our agenda online when I realized that the trip I had planned to Dollywood the following day wasn't going to happen because they had closed for the season.(planning fail!)  Jason, who's good at making diversions, quickly changed our plans and they couldn't have turned out better for the deFoor boys.  We arrived at the house after a short trip to the peak of the mountain.  We started up the wrong driveway and you don't go back down.  I'll admit, there was a time I thought the truck was going to start rolling backward!  As we backed out of the driveway and the gravel under the truck crumbled a little, I squealed and Jason laughed nervously.  They boys thought it was grande but it wasn't something I was willing to do again!  You can see the(giant)  house we first visited in one of the photos above our house.  

Just being out on the porch was a little scary for us.  Again, the kids had no fear but we made strict rules about them not being out there without one of us because I don't know if you can see it but that porch was nearly 70 feet off the ground!

Before dinner that night, we took a spin through downtown Gatlinburg.  I had been here MANY, many times as a teenager for Youth trips so it was a total stroll down memory lane for me.  I can rememeber so much about it back then.  It was nearly the same!  Jason had been with his parents as a kid and ours never having been were enthralled by every single tourist attraction we passed!  They get it honest.  Jason is a bit of a sucker for touristy traps himself.  

We had maybe the largest dinner I have ever had at Old Mill House in Pigeon Forge.  Wow, that was a lot of food!  Afterward, we couldn't get back to the chalet fast enough for these two to get in the hot pool on the porch.  What is it that's so much fun about a hot tub when it's freezing outside?  

I woke up the next morning with Lincoln beside me.  His first words were "Wow, I love this!" as he looked at this view out the window.  You just can't beat it!
Lucy made the trip with us.  She was still too small to leave with a boarder and I couldn't stand to be away from her that long either.  I love that girl!
We made good use of the fireplace at the house.  It was a great heat source but the ambiance it provided made it worth it to me.  I love a real fireplace!
After our Dollywood trip failed, we headed into Gatlinburg to do some of the things the boys were squealing about the night before.  Ok, ok, we might have been a little excited too!  It was a COLD day but the sky was clear and blue.  We jumped on the next chair up the mountain on the sky lift!  It made me wish there was snow on the ground and skis on my feet but I was happy to be sitting beside my little as we headed up the mountain.

I know, you can't see it all here but this is the panoramic shot from my fancy iphone 5.  I don't use this feature often but it's so cool when I do.
Can you really believe that Lincoln could find something to be grumpy about from this high up?  Well, I can assure you if his name is Lincoln, he can!  
After a BBQ lunch, we began our "tour de Gatlinburg" adventure.  They boys played an arcade shooting game, with Daddy's help of course.
Next, Jason and Jackson embarked on a short lived visit to Ripley's haunted house tour.  Lincoln wasn't big enough to go yet so we went on a search for coffee.  Not even 3 minutes later, Jason is texting that they didn't quite make it through the haunted house before he had to call it.  Jackson was loosing his mind with fright and asking him to leave and he couldn't take the torture. 
Next we were all excited about the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum.  I had never been in all the years I visitied Gatlinburg.  I can honestly say it didn't dissappoint.  We all really enjoyed it.  Some of the things were, well, unbelieveable but then there was a spinning bridge that thrilled us all and kept us laughing.

This is one of Jason's ex-girlfriends before he met me.  See boys, this could have been your mother!

Next up was the Ripley's house of Mirrors.  It too was more fun than we anticipated.   We had eaten and eaten and eaten all day and then we got into the house of mirrors and had a ball.  You have to wear plastic gloves so that when you touch the walls to find your way, it doesn't leave marks.  We did pretty good until we got to the disco room.  Then the oldest two knuckleheads decided it would be fun to run through the rest.  That was all fine until Lincoln chased them RIGHT SMACK INTO a mirror.  I heard him hit so I know it was hard.  The mirror maze wasn't too long so we made it last a little longer by taking pictures and dancing in the disco room.

I might have mentioned it was COLD.  Our hands were frozen on the way back to the car and we actually stopped to warm up for a minute.  That's when we found this fabulous mirror to take a family photo in.  How cute are we as "little people".

Then next day we cashed in on the "early bird" go cart racing and took it for a spin.  These cars were FAST but I'll tell you right now, my hands were hurting by the time I was done, they were so cold.  It wasn't something I'd do twice this time of year.

Jackson really wanted to drive by himself.  He's not much of an aggressive driver.  Now, please remind him and me of that when he turns 16.

Lincoln took his turn on a quarter machine because he wasn't old enough to drive just yet.  Gotta be fair!

Taking turns like a good little family, they let me spend an hour shopping at the outlet mall on our way out of town!  
This was a really great and relaxing trip for us.  Just what we needed.  It was one of those trips that the boys won't soon forget!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

We Love Lucy!!

 This girl!  Oh, this girl!  She had BIG shoes to fill.  I knew I wanted her, I had not left that to chance. I probably mentioned her, looked them up and sent Jason emails daily but he assured me we would NOT be getting a puppy until after we moved to Texas.  I pleaded with him that if we already had her, we couldn't get conned into renting a "no pets" place and how much we needed her here.  I say her because only a girl would do for me.  It was always the plan for the next dog we got to be Jason and the boys dog but when push came to shove...well, here's Lucy!!
Loosing sweet Roxy was terribly hard for me.  I felt her absence every single time I walked through the door.  She was a permanent "meet you at the door" fixture.  My mom told me shortly after saying goodbye to her that her best advice for my broken heart was to "get another dog."  I took her advice but Jason didn't .  Until Christmas rolled around   We ARE the couple that claims to not get each other anything for Christmas   To just spend it on others people but we are both secretly plotting to get the other one something and occasionally it's something great.  That was definatly the case here.  I had gone to the gym for my normal Wednesday class.  When I returned, Jason prompted me about my weekend plans (which I had, I always have plans!)  He said I'd need to tweak them because we needed to go on a road trip.  I questioned him about our trip and his feeble attempt at a diversion included the Amish and us needing a new porch swing.  (true but why not in Texas?).  He doesn't know it but I wasn't buying it and I had gotten a clue.  Later that day (like 1 hour later) he asked me if I was happy about our new porch swing (which I would have been, I love them!) and before I could say yes, he blurted out "We're going to get your dog!"  I'm not gonna lie, I cried a little.  It was just the thought of putting my heart out there again and so soon after it had been utterly broken.  Oh, that was 4 LONG days.  Every minute of the coming days I told Jason I was ready to go get her.  Sunday was the earliest day we could pick her up and we wasted no time!  We picked her up in Bowling Green, KY and it was certainly love at first sight.  I was crying by the time I got to the car with her and before we hit the interstate, Jason had to make sure I was ok.  She was perfect, adorable, and I loved her already.  I didn't even know how much!
She had captured our hearts in just the short drive home and she's wasted no time making herself part of our family.  She had a grande time Christmas morning!  We got Lucy and Lucy got her forever family!  She loves the boys and each in their own way.  She knows just when to be rowdy and when to lay low.  She knows NOT to bite me but she really takes it out on Jason!  She loves to play and chew.  We have to surround her with lots of toys to keep her company.  Her latest find is one of Jackson's zhu zhu pets and it's perfect.  It moves and makes sounds as she shakes it around.  It's like her own personal rat to chase!
We have sometimes felt like Lucy was made for us as she has the sweetest individual personality but some of the most endearing "Roxy-like" qualities too.  It thrills us to get out of the shower and find her there waiting to lick the water off our legs just like Roxy did!  She makes an event out of "dancing" for her food.  She ensures NOTHING is left on the floor after the children eat.
Lucy is the true "baby" of the family as she's a big ol' crybaby when things don't go her way and if you'd heard her the first time we put her on a leash, you'd have been convinced she was being severely harmed.  Giving her a bath has similar results.
Just this week, Lucy experienced her first snow and it seemed a little like deja vu as she darted around with her nose to the ground.  She leaped around and had the most fun.  From the looks of this picture, it's almost as if she learned to fly!

At least for now, she's the baby girl in this house and we're all in love with her!  Lucy girl had some BIG shoes to fill and I'd say she's doing pretty well!  She's made a permanent place in my heart and in my arms!

Friday, February 1, 2013

10 years to Happily Ever After

It's tough to sum up 10 years of marriage to your best friend and soul mate.  There are so many things to say but nothing seems to fit, to sum up all 10 years into just a few words.  It just can't be done!
The boys are still bellowing out Christmas Carols well into January and it gave me the idea to try out a 10 years of marriage type blog.  If they can have 12 days of Christmas then surely we have 10 years worth of interesting activity.  It turns out we do but, admittedly it was harder than you'd think!
  Here goes:
Feel free to hum along...

10:  Ten glorious years of wedded bliss!!

9. Memorable Vacations.
We've been skiing twice.  We've cruised, and spent 2 fabulous weeks on amazing resorts, traveled to Disney(much to Jason's dismay), visited the emerald coast on several occasions!  Some were mid tours, and some were in celebration of togetherness after a year apart but each one was wonderful memories I will always cherish!

8.  This is the number of high dollar electronics we currently own.  Yep, there's a laptop for each(4) of us, 3 smart phones between the two of us old enough to have phones and a kindle fire in the mix!  Here's the kicker.  None, I repeat NONE of those electronics counted include a flat screen TV.  Yes, we are probably one of the last couples on earth, including my grandparents, who do not own a flat screen TV.  But...we've got BIG plans when we move to Texas.  Best Buy better hold on to their hats!!

7.  Seven chef acclaimed restaurants!  Our next vacation and 10 year anniversary trip is planned (booked this week!) and we are guaranteed not to be disappointed in the resort we are visiting.  It's Secrets Maroma Beach and we are going to eat to our hearts content at each of those 7 restaurants as we celebrate!  

6.  We have spent 6 of our 10 anniversaries together   Yes, that means we spent 4 of them apart.  It's possibly more but he was actually deployed out of the country for a solid 4 of them.  That is including the first one.  On that occasion, my mom and Aunt came and spent the weekend in Ashville with me to commemorate our first anniversary.  Then when he returned 4 months later, we broke the cake top out of the freezer and pretended to celebrate our 1st anniversary then!

5.  We've made 5 houses our Home!  That's really not much for an Army couple but for me, that's a lot of moving.  I had moved ONCE in my life before marriage so it's been pretty big.  The only house I'm particularly fond of is the first one we ever owned together.  
The first one wasn't much, it was what we could afford.  The second was a step up but I moved us ALONE and Jason came home to a new house after deployment.  The Third one was the house we built to our specs from foundation!  It was highly sought after and we had looked for weeks before we settled on it!  I was thrilled with it and it was our perfect house for our little family!   After we purchased, we made a short lived move to Alabama to a townhouse and had a baby.  It wasn't ideal but it wasn't permanent and we moved back into our house in NC.  Now we're dwelling in a rental in TN that is perfect (albeit small) for the right now.  It was a God-send kind of house with local sweet owners and the PERFECT school district for us.  I still wonder how I got lucky enough to score this place.  I'll never forget the conversation Mari and I had after locating it on Craigslist. "It's affordable and there's a playground across the street."   "Wonder what's wrong with it?"  

Our House in NC!

 Our house in TN!

4. Vehicles Paid Off!  
Well, pretty much.  We had an old thunderbird that was mine when we married. Jason had purchased a Montero Sport out of college.  While paying that little gem off, a humvee ran right smack into it one rainy morning and totaled it.  Jason miraculously walked away unharmed.  Because of some crazy "war clause" the army didn't have to pay us but thankfully USAA insures us and took over the costs.  That's where my sweet mountaineer comes in and I'm still drivin' that baby.  We've raised 2 kinds in that car and it's still running smooth!  (170,000+ miles).  After a couple years and deployments without a car, Jason got and paid for his trunk.  We're surely due a new family car but I'm just not into cars and I'm certainly NOT into $500 a month car payments!  Alas, my car won't last forever.  Here's just hoping it lasts until we have a job in July!

3.We have had 3 amazing pets.  They were obviously our children before we had any and we loved the all to the fullest.  Roxy was our first baby and she spend the full 10 years by our sides.  That sweet girl even came to our wedding before the ceremony to see me in my big white dress.  Cotton was a "pet" for Roxy because she loved cats so much.  They were the best of friends in an unnatural dog/cat way. Cotton is a sweet and lazy ball of fur.  He thinks his throne is on top of my bathroom counter.  Lucy is our newest baby girl and she had BIG shoes to fill and I'll be the first to say, she's filling them pretty well!  We LOVE her!

 2.  We have been blessed with 2 adorable, loud, rambunctious boys!  There is never a dull moment around these two.  I love them to the moon and back!  Most people will say they are the best of both of us.  I mostly feel like they are so much like their father, I think I am raising him all over again.  They have his dimples and his sense of humor.  
Jackson is a science enthusiast and going to be our lifelong learner, he's always eager to discover new things and school for him is fun most every single day.
Lincoln is (and always has been) the total heartbreaker.  I always claim Lincoln can charm the pants right off a snake!  He's as stubborn as the day is long but hardly a person has met him that doesn't fall in love with him.

(a partridge in a pear tree)
Or a Happily Ever After!

I would not change a minute of being married to him.  He's perfect for me and to me.  I want for nothing, he has always taken care of me and put the well being of this family above all else.  He's not only a great husband but a wonderful father.  He's driven, successful and he's going places!  I'm so happy I'm along for the ride!  I'd follow him anywhere!

Inscribed inside his wedding band:
Ruth 1:16

 16... “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.