Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another tractor spotting

  • After our fun filled time at the children's museum, we decided to go to Olive Garden and enjoy a nice meal, just us girls...well, and Tucker. Tucker enjoyed himself quite a bit, flirting with any girl he could find and playing with his Elvis and Prisilla rubber duckies we'd bought earlier in the week at a cute candle shop. For some reason, the men in our family (and in a few others we know) simply don't care for Olive Garden, but every woman I know seems to love it. Anyway, we decided to take advantage of the absence of men and Tucker's inability to express his opinion verbally, and fill up on breadsticks, salad, and pasta.
  • We made a quick stop by the Lifeway Christian Store and Petco (where Tucker LOVED the fish and Ashlynn, Mom, and I loved the dogs), we went back to the playground behind the children's museum for some outdoor play.

  • We were having a grand old time playing when all of a sudden, HOLY MOLY! IS THAT A TRACTOR??!!

  • Well I believe it IS! Just butter me and call me a biscuit! This calls for a rousing rendition of the "Tractor Dance!"

  • After our exhausting day, we retreated to our cabins where the men cooked for, not fish...

...some of the BEST cheeseburgers we'd eaten in a LONG time. Yeah, the men caught quite a few fish on this trip, but they threw 95% of them back...or so they said.

Please play with EVERYTHING!

  • After spending most of the trip thus far doing fun grown-up things like shopping, Mom and I decided to take the kids over to Florence, AL, for some fun at the Children of the Shoals Hands-On Museum. It was a GREAT amount of fun!

  • We started in the music room. There were tons of things to do in there, but the big attraction for Tucker was the HUGE kettle drum...more specifically, he enjoyed hitting everything...and everyone, with the oversized drumsticks.
  • Remember the movie "Big"?
  • In the construction area, Ashlynn and Mom got busy with the hammer and nails, while Tucker "plumbed" his little heart out with the PVC pipes.
  • Tucker and I enjoyed playing with the puppets. Okay, I guess I enjoyed it even more than Tucker. :)

  • Upstairs there was even more fun to be had, beginning with the dress-up and dance area. Well, the dance area really was dubbed that due to Tucker's sudden inexplicable need to break out in the "Tractor Dance," despite the absence of all things "tractor."

  • After admiring Ashlynn in her "hippie gear" (isn't she beautiful?), we had some fun with the woodland puppets (still upstairs).

  • Speaking of beautiful...I can't believe this is my daughter!! When did she grow up??!

  • Here's a little segment I like to call "Pimp My Child," LOL.

  • The Colonial Room was next. As you can see, Ashlynn enjoyed tricking Tucker into thinking she was from the past.
  • Then she felt he should get into the spirit of things. I only wish we could have known his thoughts on the matter...

  • Here is Mom and Tucker in a quiet moment enjoying some art. I wonder if Tucker thinks that cat in the picture is J.W. back at the cabin?

More time at the Tennessee River

  • Here is a photo of Papa David and Ashlynn trying to convince Tucker that he really is a great guy. Back story: Earlier this summer, Ashlynn and David were playing around, roughly, and it freaked Tucker out. He thought David was hurting his sister and he did not like it one bit. Ever since then, he's been rather leery of Papa David. How many years of therapy are we up to now, I wonder?
  • Do you think it's working?

  • After a relaxing dinner of wrestling Tucker at the table, "shhing" Tucker at the table, taking Tucker outside where he did NOT burn his little finger on a spotlight, and then following Tucker around the restaurant as he practiced his possible career as a greeter, we went to the overlook at the dam.


  • Ah, yes. A tractor at the dam. Of course, it was the highlight of the overlook for Tucker. And of course, we did have to get a little closer to inspect it. Just another day with Tractor-crazy Tucker

INTRODUCING...J.W....the cabin cat

  • We had the sweetest little furry companion during some of our stay. We dubbed him "J.W." (for Joe Wheeler) - our little cabin cat. He was SO sweet - never minding for a minute the tugs, pulls, squeals, and other obnoxious (in cat terms) antics of Tucker. I even considered adopting him, but then I prayed about it and realized that I would be pulling this sweet creature out of a virtual cat's paradise - freedom to roam beautiful landscapes, lots of cabin dwellers to feed him and love on him, all the birds and small critters a cat dreams of to stalk...and I realized he was already home.

  • Guess who's ready to go fishing?

  • Gary drove us over the dam that night for supper at Walton's, so I was able to take some photos of the dam and the water...and the EXTRAORDINARILY narrow roadway.

  • I don't care what you say...this road is TOO narrow! :)

  • Yes, I was thanking the good Lord that I have been saved everytime we went over the dam's roadway.

Lemons and Delicious

  • Someone please explain to me the cuteness factor of using a "k" instead of the proper "c" in words like "country" and "cabin." I don't get it. It's just bad spelling. Maybe it's the teacher in me. Tee-hee. Here is Tucker sampling a lemon at Bonnie's. PUCKER UP!

  • Lemon...following by delicious crackers. :)

  • I can't say that lemons and crackers would've been MY first choice of an appetizer, but then I'm not 15 months old, either!

Wednesday at Wheeler Park

  • Don't 'cha hate it when you spend the night in a new place and all the usual sounds and comforts of home aren't present? You know the feeling...every tiny "crack," "creak," and "bump" makes you jolt away and think, "Did we lock the doors? I wonder what that noise was? I hope Tucker's okay. Maybe that was just Ashlynn making a run to the bathroom?"I promise you, that first night we were in the cabins I slept MAYBE two hours. And I wasn't alone - it was the WORST sleep in the history of sleep - can you tell?
  • Combine that with the crib of death...that's what I called it. It looked as though it was created in the early 30's or something...all metal...all squeaky...all the time. Ugh. Definately had to find an alternative.

  • Plan B is pictured below. The "rules" of the cabins specifically said not to move the furniture, but I believe that if the park folks had talked to me after another sleepless night I probably could've moved furniture, danced naked in the yard, and set the woods on fire without much least until they called the cops, LOL. Thankfully, we didn't have to do all that - we simply (quietly) pushed the twin beds together and that's where the kiddos slept the last two nights. Peacefully. As did we. PRAISE THE LORD! :)

  • Shopping kids - guess who had more fun?

  • Ahh...lunch! Homestyle cookin' at its best!

  • Tucker was INSTANTLY enamored of our waitress at Bonnie's Kountry (with a K) Cafe. That child watched EVERY move she made! I don't even know if a tractor could've distracted him. It was so funny!
  • Look at this child's face - can you say, "LADIES' MAN"??? :)

Joe Wheeler says, "Hi."

We had a GREAT time at the Tennessee River. The cabins at Joe Wheeler State Park are actually quite nice (much to my pleasant surprise - quite honestly, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect). Here is my summary of our trip. As always, it will not be brief, LOL.

  • Here is Tucker helping me make the bed that morning before we left. I know - he has a very interesting technique, huh?

  • After an AMAZINGLY smooth car trip (no Tucker tantrums, quiet and fun conversation, etc.), we got to our cabins. Everything was going so amazingly well. Then Tucker decided to make a mess - and in about 1.3 seconds, the living room floor was drenched.

  • Did you know that a relatively small styrofoam Sonic cup holds roughly 500 gallons of water? Well, we didn't either until Tucker got ahold of Ashlynn's cup and poked a hole in the bottom of the cup with her straw. Above is Ashlynn graciously cleaning up the flood.

  • My Nana, Audrey, passed away this past January. Above is a photo of a black butterfly that paid us a visit at the cabins as soon as we arrived. Mom noticed after Nana passed that she began to see a very unusually large number of these type of butterflies. I had also noticed bluebirds almost daily in a variety of places each day. Mom and I decided that these beautiful creatures are just Nana's way of checking in on us and reminding us to enjoy each day the Lord gives us.
  • Below is a picture of Tucker at the outside water source. It's also the same place that Gary convinced Ashlynn that it was our "water pump" and the ONLY source of water...for drinking, cooking, bathing, and yes, the toilet, LOL. She believed him until he mentioned the community showers up the road...then she called him on his bluff, saying, "I've already SEEN the shower inside, THANK YOU." I'm so thankful to have a child with such a great sense of humor!
  • Ahhhhh.....the great outdoors. Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?? :) But wait...where's Ashlynn?

  • There she is! Can you say, "City Girl"?

  • We explored the nearby town of Rogersville, AL and on our first night we discovered a place called the "Tiger Hut." It sold AWESOME ice cream products...including chocolate-dipped cones (Mom), peanut butter milkshakes (me and Ashlynn), and regular soft serve (Tucker).

  • Speaking of the Tiger Hut, you may know that Tucker's life revolves around tractors. He even has his own little "Tractor Dance" that he does when speaking of, seeing, interacting with, reading books about, watching shows and videos about, tractors. Just mention the word "tractor" and he immediately perks right up. That having been said, our first day of our trip Tucker slept most of the time and hadn't had his usual dose of tractor immersion. That all changed at the Tiger Hut. There was a flyer in the window and his little eyes zeroed in on it IMMEDIATELY - HOLY MOLY! IS THAT A TRACTOR? Sure enough, it was a flyer, complete with photos, for a local tractor show and pull that was occurring that weekend. That small piece of paper in that window made that child's whole evening. He broke into the "tractor dance" for all the Tiger Hut patrons to enjoy. :)
  • After that awesome display of tractor love, Mom couldn't resist giving Tucker a new gift when we got back to the cabins that evening.
This is a GIANT tractor book that is taller than Tucker and weighs
twice as much as him (at least). He was THRILLED. It is stocked full of
pages and pages and pages and pages of nothing but tractor pictures.
That day, I believe his Nana was his favorite person
in the whole world...even bypassing "Da-Da" for
one brief and shining moment. :)