Dear Holly: Today, You Turned 3 Year and a Half Years Old

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

This week, I turned 38 and a half. I’m now just a year and a half away from turning 40.

And since our birthdays are just 4 days part, that means that now, today, you are officially 3 and half years old!

I just love you at this age.

I love how you sing all the time.

And talk all the time.

And how you love to make up games to play by yourself, even if no one else is watching.

As I look at this picture of you, I can’t help but think what a beautiful girl you are.

I can easily imagine how you will look as you get older.

I love you so much!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Old Abandoned House and Farm, Years Before It Became the Next Nice Neighborhood

8 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Part of the glory of owning a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler is that we get to explore roads most people wouldn’t be able to in their cars. Sunday after church, we drove down the barely visible path to take a look at some land that is being advertised for sale.

I had been noticing that wooded hill for the nearly 5 years we’ve lived at our house. And finally, now I know what’s out on that land that will ultimately likely be developed to become several more cookie-cutter neighborhoods.

We discovered an old abandoned farm and farmhouse; less than a half mile from the main road.

Obviously, we didn’t step foot inside the buildings: They are all on the verge of collapsing after the next gentle breeze.

But using the zoom on my camera, I was able to take a look at a magazine from 1977, as well as receipt from 1982.

In other words, the most recent proof of life at that place was a year after I was born- and I’m only a year and a half away from turning 40.

One of the strangest discoveries was what appeared to be what was left of an outhouse. It was just a small hole leading to a 10 feet deep put filled will some rainwater.

When you’re a teenager, you’ll be able to tell your friends what you saw that day, years before it all became it all was plowed over and became the next nice neighborhood.

Love,

Daddy

 

We Saw Jason Isbell Perform at The Ryman in Nashville on October 22nd, 2019

Despite moving to the Nashville area over 14 years ago, I had never been to see a show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

Fortunately, my wife was able to score some free tickets to not just any show, but Jason Isbell!

I first became familiar with his music back a few years ago when I was heavy into reviewing cars here on my website. Whatever the vehicle they gave me to drive for a week, it always came with SiriusXM.

About half the time, I would keep it on an Alternative Rock station, for myself; and for the other half, I would have it on a Country station, for my wife.

Jason Isbell consistently appeared on both types of stations.

The first song I ever heard of his was Alabama Pines. It naturally caught my attention, as I quickly learned he and I are from the same home state and are about the same age.

Jason Isbell is one of the few modern musicians that my wife and I can agree on 100%. My wife describes him as Americana. I describe him as what good Country Music should sound like.

No obligatory mentions of pick-up trucks and girls wearing their boyfriends’ t-shirts.

Instead, he sings about life and death that make you feel like you’re both alive and dying at the same time.

My wife and I couldn’t have enjoyed the show anymore than we did.

I am convinced that our going to see Jason Isbell perform at the Ryman will be a milestone memory of our shared lives together.

Dear Jack: You Love Helping Nonna Clear the Backyard

8  years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Nonna and Papa have lived in their house for exactly 24 years, as of this month. I was just starting high school when we moved in.

But there are parts of that 2 acre lot that are just now being developed; largely inspired by the industrial grade playground that Papa has starting installing.

You have quickly assigned yourself the responsibility of helping to clear part of the land right beyond the playground; using a hatchet and helping maintaining the fire from the cleared brush.

What you don’t realize is that this is ultimately free child labor…

But to you, it’s nothing but fun and adventure!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Brand-New Industrial Grade Playground Swing

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Having a Papa who works at a playground equipment factory means that you when visit your grandparents’ house in Alabama, you have access to a backyard playground that is above and beyond the norm.

Last weekend, the debut of your brand-new industrial grade swing was revealed.

You loved it so much, you just didn’t want to stop swinging in it.

At one point, you swung in it for a solid hour and a half before Mommy said it was time to go in for dinner.

You have the Cadillac of all playground swings for a 3 year-old girl!

Love,

Daddy

Our Family Visited the “Down On The Farm” Pumpkin Patch in Rainsville, Alabama

The very next day after our family Jeep drive to Noccalula Falls for our son’s Fall Break, we took an even shorter drive from Fort Payne, Alabama; to the neighboring town of Rainsville to check out their “Down On The Farm” pumpkin patch.

While we indeed go to a pumpkin patch every fall as a family, there’s a chance this might have been our kids’ favorite.

I think this had a lot to do with how the whole place was pretty much one big fall-themed playground.

The highlight would certainly have to be what my kids referred to as the “corn swimming pool”. They enjoyed taking turns going down the slide… into a pool of corn. It was also fun to get buried in the cool pool, as well; similar to getting buried in the sand at the beach.

So check out these pictures of the fun our family had if you are considering visiting “Down On The Farm”. I have a feeling your family will have a great time too!

Jeep Family Road Trip Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL: Train Ride, Petting Zoo, and Nature Hike

I grew up on Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama; which happens to be the midway point between Chattanooga and Gadsden- less than an hour from both cities.

A month ago, my wife and I took a scenic drive all the way down the mountain to downtown Chattanooga. But this past weekend for our son’s Fall Break, we simply drove in the other direction, which led to Gadsden -home of Noccalula Falls.

Despite visiting the place throughout my own childhood, somehow I had yet to take my own family there. I suppose our new Jeep serves as constant motivation to discover (or rediscover) nearby hidden gems!

Children ages 3 and under are free admission, so we only paid a total of $16 to enter the park. That granted us access to the petting zoo, the train ride around the park, and the trails that go down to the bottom of Noccalula Falls.

It was a great way to spend an Autumn morning…

So if you are looking for a fun affordable family road trip, I highly suggest Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama!