Sunday, November 30, 2008

update on Sarah and Christmas shopping

Last night, Sarah began wrapping the presents she had selected. She had a great time with the paper and ribbon and telling us what was for whom (I guarantee you most of you will be surprised by her choices!). ;) The last item was a Disney coloring book. By this point, neither Nelson nor I were surprised by anything. So Nelson asked, "So who is this for?" Sarah looked at him like he was slightly crazy. "It's for me!" she proclaimed. We both got tickled at that. Nelson handed her the book, figuring she would start coloring in it. But no. Sarah insisted on wrapping a present to herself to put under the tree! :)

Check Spelling
I told you she had all the important people in her life covered! ;)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sarah and Christmas

Tomorrow marks the official beginning of Advent. I have once again downloaded an Advent Bible study for Sarah and me to do together, and I am really looking forward to doing it again. Like many families, we have already started our Christmas shopping (I am actually almost finished! Woo-hoo!). We even ended up at the mall yesterday, with all the Black Friday craziness.

I thought Sarah would be all excited about what she wanted for Christmas this year and that she would start making a lengthy list. But no. She actually doesn't really want anything terribly much long term; she only wants what she sees in front of her at the toy store that moment. Once we're out of the store, she forgets pretty quickly.

But she is excited about choosing gifts for other people! She has picked out presents for all the important people in her life. However, some of her selections are a bit strange. So fair warning: if you receive a present labelled "from Sarah" and you wonder what in the world you are supposed to do with it, just know that she did the best she could and she picked out exactly what she wanted to give you. At least her heart is in the right place, and she understands the spirit of giving at Christmas! :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a bit late in the day, but I do wish everyone a blessed and very happy Thanksgiving. :) Count your blessings, enjoy time with family and friends, feast on good food. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

pondering personality

Before having children, I probably would have said that personality developed over time, based on how you were raised, your experiences, etc. Having Sarah cured me of that notion. Although parents certainly have a responsibility to mold and shape a child's personality and to develop their character and instill values and what not, the personality is pretty much there at birth! Sarah came into this world already being Sarah. And for those who say a fetus is not human, well, all I will say is this: she was already Sarah even in the womb.

I have shared before how Sarah is NOT a morning person, and she does NOT like having to get up early or engage in any sort of activity right at the start of her day. As I was looking at pictures of our new baby's ultrasound from last week (yes, I know we need to get those posted), I remembered a story that proves Sarah has always been this way.

Because of the health problems I was having with my pregnancy, I had a myriad of ultrasounds with Sarah. Toward the end, I was having at least one per doctor visit; the doctor wanted to ensure that my issues weren't negatively affecting Sarah. One of the last ultrasounds I had was a biophysical profile. There were certain things the technician needed Sarah to do, and then a score was given. This particular ultrasound was conducted at 8:00 a.m. No matter how the tech poked or prodded, Sarah would not do any of the things needed. She "failed" the profile, for lack of a better way to put it.

The doctor grew deeply concerned, as this could indicate that Sarah was having some sort of problem as a result of my own. He ordered another biophysical profile to be done the next day. If Sarah "failed" this one as well, he would induce labor.

However, the next ultrasound was scheduled later in the day. And this time, Sarah cooperated beautifully, doing absolutely everything the tech needed her to do. The tech concluded that the previous day, Sarah had simply not been awake or alert enough at that early hour to do the tasks successfully.

So even in utero, Sarah wasn't a morning person! ;) It will be interesting to see what kind of personality baby girl #2 possesses at birth--and even before!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

my daughter, my hero

I managed to get myself stuck yesterday. Looking back on it, it wasn't the most major crisis ever, but it sure FELT like a huge deal at the time. But never fear, my dear daughter came to my rescue and saved the day! :) I am very blessed that Sarah is 1) obedient (most of the time--she is by no means perfect. But at least she did obey yesterday when it really counted!) 2) persistent and 3) capable of doing exactly what I needed her to do in my hour of need!

You may be very curious by now if you haven't already heard the story. :) So as Monk would say, "Here's what happened." Sarah and I were on our way to Greeneville for Kindermusik. However, I needed gas before we made the drive. I only ever use pay at the pump. I do not like the hassle of taking Sarah out of the car seat to go inside to pay, and I like leaving her by herself in the car even less. So, although my beloved Dave Ramsey recommends cash for everything, when it comes to buying gas I am debit card at the pump all the way.

I usually leave the keys in ignition while I pump gas, so that Sarah can listen to music. I don't lock the doors, because I'm standing right there. You can probably guess what's coming now. You're right: I locked the keys in the car. With Sarah still sitting strapped in her car seat. :( It has been literally years since I have done this. The two times most recent were right after Nelson and I got married, and right after I was hired to teach preschool at Head Start. I guess you could call those times of high stress that scrambled my brain cells a bit. But I got in the habit of always carrying a spare key in my purse, just in case I needed it after locking up my keys.

However, we acquired the Taurus that I drive now fairly recently, and I didn't have the spare purse key yet. So there I was, stuck outside the car with Sarah trapped inside. And like most mothers, I panicked completely. I frantically called Nelson, who really wasn't in a good position to help. He works in Bristol, not Kingsport, and so was 40 minutes away with his key. And although he was perfectly willing to come to the rescue, he was at work and he was right in the middle of something.

But he at least was thinking more clearly than I was, and he came up with the idea of seeing if Sarah could get out of her car seat and unlock the door for me. So I (yelling through the window) told Sarah to undo the chest clip on her seat.

She struggled with this. Sarah can snap the clip shut like a pro, but pulling it apart is much harder. I really didn't think at first she was going to be able to do it. But after several minutes of struggling, she did manage to get the clip unhooked. Step 1 accomplished.

But she still needed to reach down to press the button to release the harness over her head. And although she tried, she simply could not reach it. At all. Sarah is small for her age, and her arms just don't stretch that far. I thought we were truly stuck now.

But again, Nelson came up with a solution. "See if she can wiggle out of the shoulder straps, then pull her legs up and climb out over the harness." So once again, I called instructions and encouragement to Sarah. Once again, she wrestled with following through, looking for all the world like she simply was not going to be able to accomplish it.

But she finally did it. Part of me still can't believe I taught her how to how to climb out of her car seat, but desperate times call her desperate measures. After a solid fifteen minutes of struggle, she made it out of that seat. I told her to come unlock the door.

I really only expected her to pull up the lock on the door to the backseat. I could take it from there. But if Sarah does something, she does it completely. She climbed up to the front seat so she could hit the button to unlock all the doors. She got to the front seat and tried to figure out which button it was she was supposed to push. I told to her to look at the door and find the letter U. "Once you've found the U, push it!" That did it. She studied the buttons, found the U, and unlocked the doors! Whew! I think I almost collapsed in relief.

Sarah was soooo proud of herself for doing the job, even though it was hard, and saving her mommy. I was pretty proud of her too! Not to mention extremely grateful.

And thanks to my mom, I now have my spare purse key for the Taurus. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

October in Pigeon Forge--last day

So we roll around to Saturday, October 18...time to head back home after a long, enjoyable, exhausting week. Sarah was in tears over leaving our lovely mountain cabin (to be honest, she still asks if we can go back).

I hope I have given an adequate glimpse of our week's activities and experiences. I wasn't able to include as many pictures as I would have liked, so I tried to make up for it with descriptive text. Not sure if I succeeded in that or not. But hopefully you were able to tell that we had a great week overall (one or two things didn't go quite as planned), and we're looking forward to wherever we go in 2010 (although Sarah is rooting for the cabin again!). :) Cue the music: "Thanks for the Memories!" ;)

One last family photo before we saddled up to leave:

We all arrived home safe and sound (although I did have a Coke spill in the car, and I had a very long, wet ride home). :-p I've already blogged about the rest of our Saturday back at home. You can find that here if you want to read it again.

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 7

We've almost reached the end of our week. Friday we woke up to the only chilly, dreary, rainy day of the entire week. :-p So we did what anyone would do on a chilly, dreary, rainy day--we went on a hike!

Oh, wait. Maybe that isn't what most people would do. Oops.

But we did figure that maybe the drizzling rain would keep other hikers away and that the "easy"" trail we had picked out would not be as crowded. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So off Sarah, Tara, Nick, Jeannie, and I went to tackle the hike up to Laurel Falls. For some reason, Darrell and Nelson did not want to go hiking in the rain. I cannot imagine why not. :-p

Good points about the hike: 1) The scenery was beautiful. 2) The trail was paved. 3) We didn't die.

Bad points about the hike: 1) "Easy" isn't all it's cracked up to be. We struggled. A lot. 2) Somehow, we forgot to eat lunch. Or take lunch. Or anything remotely related to lunch. OOPS! 3) We felt like we were going to die! :-p

Truly, we did see some lovely fall colors. I took a ton of pictures of all the trees sporting their fall finery. I took way more pictures than I could ever post here. And frankly, I can't guarantee that I'm even going to be able to select the best ones to post, because there were just so many that are amazingly beautiful. (Plus, stopping to snap another photo gave me lots of opportunities to rest along the way!).

As you can see, we picked a short hike. Only 1.3 measly little miles. Total round trip 2.6 miles. Why wasn't it easy for us?! Surely it couldn't be the fact that it was 1.3 miles UP the mountain. Or that I'm pregnant. Or that Tara has other issues to deal with. Or that we hadn't eaten any lunch. Surely none of that could have anything to do with it. ;)

Just what every mother wants to see when she's hiking with her 4-year-old child. :(

Ah, the leaves in autumn...

And finally, the waterfall itself...

See? We all made it! (Barely.)

Sarah out-hiked us all, charging up the mountainside the way she charges through life in general. Thankfully, her grandma was able to keep up with her, because her mommy and Aunt Tara certainly weren't! :-p (Uncle Nick no doubt could have kept up with her as well, but he was being very chivalrous and hanging behind with his wife and sister-in-law!)

However, at the end of the hike, Sarah was apparently as worn out as the rest of us. Here she is in the car, once we were headed back to town to get some food!!!

So yes, we were very exhausted and very HUNGRY people as we headed back to town for sustenance. After bandying about several restaurant ideas, we decided to head back to the Old Mill. Only Jeannie, Tara, and I had eaten there--we needed to share the experience with everyone else!

Old Mill is so good that it always has a wait. Even at 3:00 in the afternoon, we were told it would be about 1.5 hours before we got a table. I think I wilted at this news. Those who know me know I don't do well if I don't eat. I was in full-blown crash mode as we sat and waited. Fortunately, my marvelous mother-in-law managed to bribe, beg, or steal a basket of corn fritters for me. I ate them and managed to survive until our table was ready (far sooner than expected! YAY!!). :)

Nelson and Darrell met us at the restaurant for whatever our meal was (what do you call it when you combine lunch and supper, anyway?). And this time, I remembered to ask about ingredients! Old Mill uses MSG in only three of their dishes.

I had eaten two of those three dishes on Tuesday. No wonder I was in such bad shape that night.

And yes, the beloved dumplings were one of the poison-laden items. Sigh. I will never again be able to eat the world's best dumplings (no wonder they were so good, huh?). :( Tara ordered them again, and I lived vicariously through her for a few moments.

But I did have a perfectly fine meatloaf, and some darn good yeast rolls that evening, so all was not lost. :)

Ironically, while we waited for our table, I overheard a gentleman talking about how good the Apple Barn was. Oh, sure, just rub in the fact that I picked the wrong apple restaurant! (Sorry again, Nick.) :-p

As always, you may go to Tara's site for additional pictures and commentary about our day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 6

I can't believe that in the Day 5 post I forgot to tell about our restaurant mix-up! After our day at Dollywood, we were ready to eat "real," non-park food. I didn't have my restaurant list with me, so I was working from memory (not a great idea). The Pigeon Forge area has 2 "apple" restaurants. One is the Apple Barn; the other is Applewood Farms. Both had received some positive feedback in my research, but the Apple Barn ranked higher in the reviews.

But of course at the end of a long day I got confused. We ended up at Applewood Farms instead of the Apple Barn. :-p Fortunately, it worked out fine, for everyone except Nick (sorry, Nick!). He did not enjoy his meal at all. :( But the rest of us had a good dining experience. Applewood Farms has some really good apple fritters. I think they were really good anyway--I only managed to eat two before Sarah got a hold of the basket and finished off every last one of them! :) They also had delicious homemade apple butter and a unique beverage called apple julep. I remember to ask about ingredients this time, and Tara and I both sampled the restaurant's chicken and dumplings. Sadly, they were not as good as Old Mill's, but they were good. So at least our little mishap didn't end too badly. Nelson and I will try to eat at the Apple Barn one of these days; we never actually made it there on our trip. I do think I vaguely remember eating there as a little girl though.

Sarah in one of the rocking chairs outside of the restaurant.

Okay, moving on to Day 6 now. We wanted to head back to Gatlinburg for three very important reasons: 1) Ripley's Aquarium is there. 2) I love shopping in the Village. I also love the doughnut shop that is there. :) 3) We needed to eat at the Pancake Pantry! Like Bennett's and the Old Mill, this restaurant showed up everywhere I did research. People raved about the incredible pancakes this place offered. Who could resist checking it out? :)

YUM. It really was delicious. I had these fantastic blueberry pancakes. Sarah ordered an adorable dish called "bears in the snow": bear-shaped pancakes dusted with powdered sugar. Nelson got a combo plate of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. ALL of us were happy with our selections!

Then it was on to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. What a fascinating place to visit! They have some really great exhibits. Sarah especially loved seeing a diver go into a tank and swim with the fish. We rode a moving sidewalk through the shark tunnel (which also had swordfish, sawfish, and other large ocean critters). We spent time in the interactive area. We browsed the incubation area. They had so many interesting tidbits to share and beautiful ocean creatures to see. We all really enjoyed our visit.

Unfortunately, Nelson left our camera in the car that day, so I don't have any pictures to share! But don't fret; just head over to Tara's website and look at her pictures. They're definitely worth seeing! :)

After the aquarium, we headed over to the Village to do some shopping. I have always loved this part of Gatlinburg. It seems so quaint and old-world. As a little girl, I used to pretend I lived in some long-ago time when we visited Gatlinburg and walked through the shops. (Okay, now I've really embarrassed myself!)

We hit the doughnut shop first. I think the Donut Friar has been in Gatlinburg for as long as I can remember. I wouldn't say they were the best doughnuts I've ever had, but I have such strong childhood associations with the shop that I can't go to Gatlinburg without stopping in for one of their pastries. :) I'm so nostalgic.

We also visited this fabulous little cheese shop (there's a restaurant upstairs; one day I shall have to eat there!). I chose some delectable smoked gouda and smoked cheddar. Tara picked out some chocolate for Nick and also a treat for herself. What was it? Well, it was a pickle. A big, fat, homemade pickle. I'll confess that I will probably never choose a pickle over cheese--or chocolate. But she shared a bite, and it was a darn good pickle. :) Gotta give the pickle maker credit. But my cheese was better. ;)

Finally, after another long day, we headed back to our cabin home. Only one day left in our vacation!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

it's a....

GIRL! Sarah will be having a little sister. The ultrasound tech said she got a good, clear shot (plus, my dad thought it was a girl, so what more do you need?). ;)

The baby seems to be doing well, is growing nicely (now a whole 10 oz.!), has all the essential body parts, etc. The heartbeat is good and strong, and we even got to see some wiggling fingers. :) Fun!

I have several pics, and if Nelson will help me scan them in tonight, I will post them. :)

Sarah is adjusting a bit to this girl idea. Although she started out insisting it was a girl, she soon changed her tune and decided she wanted a brother...and she was just as insistent about that! At some points, she said she wanted one of each (which may happen one day, but not this pregnancy!). But mostly, she just wanted a brother. So she was a bit taken aback by this whole sister thing. But she's coping. :) And she's got several months now to get used to it. So I think she'll by fine by April. :)

And we have a ton of hand-me-down clothing we can use!

Happy Veteran's Day!

Happy Veteran's Day. To any veteran who might be reading this, I thank you for your service (past or present) and honor you as the hero you are. I wish you a very special day.

Too often, today gets overlooked. People don't notice, remember, or care that it is Veteran's Day. I know when I taught at Head Start, we got the day off (government holiday). So many parents could not even think of any holiday that might fall on Nov. 11. This is a tragic shame, for we are so indebted to all of the fine, brave men and women who serve in our military, whatever the capacity. So I choose not to overlook or forget the significance of today. I pray for the safety of those currently serving, say another heartfelt thanks to those who served in the past, and honor the memories of those who do not make it home. Thank you.

So if you know any veterans, be sure to remember that today is all about them. And make their day special in some way if you can. At the very least, show your gratitude. Happy Veteran's Day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 5 (pictures)

Dollywood, all decorated for fall...

The water tree...

A view from the train...

The bald eagle sanctuary...

All wet from one of the water ride...

Sarah enjoyed the playground in the middle of the park.

Fun on the kiddie rides.

Practicing for when she turns 16...

The kiddie coaster.

Sarah's very favorite ride. She loved riding on Aunt Tara's lap while Uncle Nick pushed the wheelchair. Whee!!! Uncle Nick drives one mean wheelchair. :)

Sarah chose this hat as a souvenir of the day.

Pregnancy "loosens" a lot of things. After hours of walking through the park, I pulled something. I was really hurting. Nelson is a very concerned, chivalrous husband. He rented a wheelchair for me as well. So here I am in my wheelchair, wearing Sarah's hat (she wanted me to try it on).

Our family photo at the end of the day (Dad, aren't you proud of our UT shirts?).

For more photos and descriptions of our day, check out Tara's site. :)

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 5

Dollywood! I think we all looked forward to this day. Dollywood was on our list of "must do" attractions. Nelson even said he would get up and make omelets for everyone for breakfast. Is he a great guy or what? :) The day seemed full of promise.

Unfortunately, I woke up with my head throbbing and my tummy nauseous and my mood cranky. There are so many things that can trigger a migraine. Change in routine (hello! We were on vacation!). Stress (hello! We were living with people we weren't used to!). Too much sleep. Too little sleep. The weather. Etc. As my beloved show Farscape once said, "Too hot, too cold, too happy, too sad--boom, boom, boom." (Bonus points if you know who said it and why. Nelson, give everyone else a chance!).

But a common trigger for me is food. Particularly food containing MSG in any form, be it monosodium glutamate itself, or autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed proteins, protein concentrates, or even brown rice. And as I sat crying in pain and trying very hard not to hit anyone (congratulate me--I succeeded. No one got struck), I realized that I had made a terrible error at the Old Mill restaurant the day before. I had never asked about any of their ingredients. I ALWAYS ask about ingredients when trying a restaurant for the first time. I know better than to leave it to chance. But in the enjoyment of the "girls' day," I had simply forgotten. Oops.

So I wasn't in the best condition to head off to Dollywood. But I went anyway. :) And thankfully, I finally began to feel better as the day wore least in the headache department.

And we did have a very fun day at Dollywood. There are quite a few rides that I can't ride being pregnant, but I was able to enjoy several. We started with a ride on the train, we rode the River Rampage, and a few other rides I can't remember. Nelson, Nick, and Tara enjoyed the roller coasters. Sarah got to ride some of the kiddie rides (including the kids' Veggie Tales roller coaster!). We looked at the birds in the sanctuary and browsed through some of the shops. Fun day!

I do have pictures from the day, but Blogger is giving me fits uploading them right now. I'm going to go ahead and post this, and I'll try putting the pictures in a separate post. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 7, 2008

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 4 continued

When we headed out Monday night to eat at Bennett's and browse Christmas Place, we saw several little amusement park-type places with various rides and go-cart tracks. Nelson and Nick really wanted to try out one of the go-cart tracks. Sarah really liked the idea in theory. I headed off to my spa day thinking that even though Sarah was sad about not joining us, she would surely cheer up once she got to ride the go-carts with her daddy and Uncle Nick.

Or not.

Apparently, Sarah only likes the idea of go-carts. The actual experience itself did not please her. At all. You see, Sarah has a problem with noise. She doesn't like vacuums, or blenders, or even public restrooms with their extra-loud toilet flushes. And a wooden go-cart track is nothing but loud and noisy. Sigh.

But after riding a lap with Daddy, Sarah got to hang out with Grandpa and man the camera. Or woman the camera. Kid the camera, maybe? That part she liked.

But she still hasn't forgiven me for not taking her to the spa. :(

Here are some pictures from the "guys' day out."

Goofy guys...

You can just barely see Sarah riding with her daddy...

So the ladies enjoyed their day, and the fellows enjoyed their day. However, the end to my day didn't go so well. Just before bedtime, a migraine struck. I had been doing so well for the vacation thus far, and I knew we were headed to Dollywood the next day. :( And while I LOVE being pregnant, it does create a problem in the headache department. All you can take is Tylenol. Which in the case of migraines is to say you have no options whatsoever, because Tylenol is worthless. I took some anyway, hoping that if I did that and went to bed, I might get some relief.

Alas, it was not to be. More on that when I write up Wednesday's summary, though.

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 4

We were eager to started with our day on Tuesday. Jeannie, Tara, and I had a visit to a spa scheduled. Darrell, Nelson, and Nick had custody of Sarah for the day (much to her chagrin--she really wanted to go to the spa! My little girly girl!). There are spas available that have services for little girls--but this wasn't one of them. This spa had a "no children" policy. So poor Sarah was out of luck.

Off the ladies headed to the spa. Interestingly, on our way to the spa, we found the missing church from Sunday! Hee hee. We arrived a bit early (we had given ourselves plenty of time), so we spent a few minutes just enjoying the scenery. This spa is in an absolutely ideal location for serenity and relaxation.

The spa itself looked very much like a little mountain cabin.

Looking out over the mountains and trees.

We all three had massages scheduled (mine was a special maternity massage). However, we had chosen different services for our "other." Jeannie had a pedicure, I got a manicure, and Tara enjoyed a facial. I had been told ahead of time that I would be finished first, so I came prepared with a book and enjoyed some nice reading time. We left feeling pampered and relaxed. Aaaahhh...
After our lovely spa experience, we headed off to have lunch. Although Bennett's definitely had the most positive reviews, a restaurant called the Old Mill came in at a close second. So we decided that we should check it out.

A lovely little park near the restaurant...

Like Bennett's, the Old Mill deserved every single rave it got. YUM. It was delicious, Southern homestyle-type cooking. The chicken and dumplings were the best I have ever had. Ever. The flavor was perfect. The texture was perfect. They were amazing. The corn fritters were good too. The meal also came with green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and corn chowder. All were quite tasty. But oh, man, those dumplings...

There was a general store next to the restaurant, and we explored it after we ate. They had some mixes for things they made in the restaurant. I looked and looked but alas, no dumpling mix. Sigh. I did find strawberry butter though (I am well stocked with fruit butters now. Monday night, after Bennett's, we went to Christmas Place. There I bought apple butter and pumpkin butter. YUM). So I bought the strawberry butter, and we headed home to check on how the men and Sarah were doing....

To be continued...

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We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 3

This will be an exceedingly short post. Frankly, we didn't do much on Monday. We were very lazy, and we just relaxed in our beautiful cabin. :) I'll include a few "hanging around the house" pictures, but there's not that much to write up.

*Note: These photos are obviously not all from Monday. We were extremely lazy that day, so we weren't really taking a whole lot of pictures. But they give a pretty good idea of the things we would have been doing as we lazed around our cabin.

Sarah shows off a moose she got from Grandpa.

Painting at her easel (another gift from Grandma and Grandpa).

Sarah discovers the joys of a slinky. Digression: my 3rd grade teacher bought all the boys in the class a slinky for Christmas that year. The girls did NOT get slinkies. I was really bummed. Apparently I also have psychological scarring, because I'm kind of envious of Sarah's slinky.

Playing a game with Grandma.

Playing the same game with Aunt Tara.

After our lovely restful day, we did get hungry, and we decided to venture out for supper. I mentioned that we had vowed to stick the list of "rave review" restaurants that I had compiled. Some restaurants showed up once or twice on the list. But far and away, there was one restaurant that EVERYONE seemed to love. I read more glowing accolades for Bennett's Barbecue than any other place in the area. So off we headed to see if it really lived up to all that hype.

It did. I'm a Southern girl, and I LOVE good barbecue. And I can testify to the fact that Bennett's is darn good barbecue. YUM!

Tara had never had real Southern barbecue before, and she sure had a good first experience. She took lots of pictures of the occasion. Rather than try to re-post her photos, I will just tell you to click here and read all about our delicious meal! :)

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 2

We had plans to attend church on Sunday morning while we were on vacation. Sarah was excited about this prospect. She asked if we were taking everyone to our church. "No," I said. "This will be a different church. Grandma and Grandpa picked it out."

"Oh!" Sarah exclaimed. "Are we going to their church?"

"No," I said again. And for lack of a better way to explain it, I said, "We're going to a vacation church!" Sarah really liked this idea. She eagerly dressed and got ready to go to the "vacation church." (People who read the post about the party church may be wondering about our theology at this point).

Unfortunately, anyone who has read Robert Burns knows what happens to the "best laid schemes of mice and men." Sunday was definitely a day of plans going "a-gley."

Problem #1: Traffic as we convoyed to church was still atrocious. Problem #2: We couldn't actually find the church Darrell and Jeannie wanted to attend. We tried valiantly but alas, no such luck. We ended up not making it to church that Sunday morning.

This both confused and distressed Sarah. She loves church and really wanted to attend. Plus, we had told her that we were going to church, so she couldn't figure out why suddenly now we weren't. Third, Pigeon Forge has quite a few churches. Sarah spent the rest of Sunday (and a few days after) pointing out every single one. "There's a church! Why don't we go there? There's a church! Can we got to that one??"

Since church didn't quite work out, we drove into Gatlinburg for Plan B. This turned out to be another misadventure for the day. I mentioned that traffic between Sevierville and Pigeon Forge on Saturday afternoon was horrific. Traffic between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg on Sunday morning was even worse! I have never seen traffic this bad. It took forever to drive the few miles between the two cities. Then there was the matter of parking (we actually lucked out on this one, and we managed to park both vehicles in the same parking lot). Finally, it was now lunch time, and we needed to EAT!

And here misadventure #3 occurred. I had done a lot of research on restaurants in the area, and I compiled a list of ones that got rave reviews. One such restaurant was right across the street from where we were. However, it was CROWDED. We're talking line backed out the door crowded. And we were hungry now. We could also smell something incredibly yummy wafting through the air, but we couldn't quite pinpoint where it was coming from (sorry, "from whence it came"). So we took a gamble on a restaurant that had not shown up in any review and did not have any enticing aromas emitting from it.

We stuck to the restaurants that made the reviews after that. :-p That's all I'm going to say. However, we did get a good photo op out of it, so all was not lost. :)

We returned to the cabin after lunch and spent the remainder of the day quite lazily, thank you very much. We napped and read and generally had a "day of rest."

My favorite way to relax...with a good book.

Enjoying the back porch swing on a warm fall day...

Grandpa wasn't the only one who napped that afternoon...he was just the only one who got caught on camera! Sarah, Little Miss Nonstop Energy, can't figure out why Grandpa needs a nap anyway!

And that was Day 2! Day 3 to follow! :)

October in Pigeon Forge--Day 1

I am going to do my best to recreate the week day by day. This may be more ambitious than I really should attempt. We'll see how it goes, I guess.

Sarah looked forward to the trip for weeks ahead of time. So when Friday, October 10, rolled around and she found out we were leaving for Pigeon Forge the next day, she was just ecstatic. We still had a lot of last minute things to do to get ready, but Sarah was at a fever pitch.

Saturday, October 11, finally arrived. Sarah is NOT a morning person. She does not like to get up early, and she does not come bounding out of bed all energetic and happy. If we have to wake her up before she's ready for some reason, it takes a few minutes for her to actually get herself roused.

Except for this particular day. Nelson told her it was time to get up. She immediately sat up and squealed, "So we can go on our trip?!" She practically bounced out of bed, all excited and eager to be on our way.

We completed a couple more last-minute tasks, loaded the car, and headed on our way. Thankfully, we made very good time on our drive. Or at least, we made good time until we got off the interstate at the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg exit!

Anyone who has visited the area knows how horrendous traffic can be. When my family visited Pigeon Forge when I was a child, my dad always insisted we leave early to make the drive. Now I know why! At 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, there is nothing but stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic for miles. I honestly think it took us longer to drive through town than the whole rest of the trip from Kingsport. Needless to say, this made one little miss in the back seat VERY impatient and unhappy.

But we did finally arrive at the cabin. And wow! This house is beautiful. Sarah and I both fell in love immediately upon arrival. It is large and spacious, with four bedrooms, 3.5 baths (including a Jacuzzi), an open kitchen, a back porch complete with swing and hot tub, and an incredible view of the mountains.

Here are some photos of our home-away-from-home for the week.

The cabin itself...

The sign at the driveway. Our cabin was called "Makin' Memories." Appropriate, no? :)

The living room...perfect for kicking back and relaxing...

The game room...complete with pool table and plenty of books.

The kitchen (I suffer from dishwasher envy. Sigh).

The dining area.

Views from the back porch.

After picking our rooms and putting our stuff down, we headed out to said back porch and relaxed in the swing to await the arrival of Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Nick, and Aunt Tara. Sarah had a great time watching the road, looking for "the red shiny truck."
Later I will post Day 2...which includes our misadventures with church and restaurants.

time change woes

Since last weekend returned us to Eastern Standard, as opposed to Eastern Daylight Time, we've had to work out a few kinks. :-p

1) We overslept for church Sunday morning. No, we didn't forget to change our clocks. Yes, we got an extra hour of sleep automatically. Yes, we managed to oversleep anyway! Apparently extra sleep is addictive, and we got sucked in.

2) Sarah and I drove home from Greeneville in the dark Monday evening. Sigh. This necessitated rerouting our drive home, because it isn't a great idea for me to drive my beloved back road in the dark. And unfortunately, the safer alternate route takes longer.

3) Yesterday Sarah napped for a very long time (over 3.5 hours!). I am of the opinion that if a child sleeps that long, it is because she's tired and really needs it. So I let her sleep. But it was getting dark when she woke up, and that really freaked her out. I had to reassure her that she had not "slept all night in her clothes." This took a few minutes. After all, it was dark; it must be nighttime! :-p

We will adjust of course. Unfortunately, by the time we do it will be just about time to switch our clocks back to Daylight Saving Time! :-p

And on a side note, I haven't forgotten to post vacation photos. They ARE coming! :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

more Halloween pictures

Dad emailed me some pictures from his camera, so I thought I would share those as well. :)

Trick or treat! Sarah scored lots of candy.

Always happy to pose for the camera...


She really enjoyed this costume! :)

On another note, I still don't have all of the pictures from the Pigeon Forge trip, but I do have some, so I will try to get those posted either tomorrow or Tuesday. :)