Dear Holly: You are Glad Your Brother is Back, After He was Gone a Week

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

This weekend your brother returned after a week of summer camp at Nonna’s and Papa’s in Alabama.

It is true I could tell that while he was gone, you didn’t mind having all the attention from Mommy and Daddy. Somewhat ironically is that you were more independent; being able to play by yourself while Mommy and I worked on dinner.

However, by the end of the week, you started mentioning to me that you wanted to see Jack again.

And he definitely felt the same way about you. The two of you are glad to be back together.

 

Love,

Daddy

Advertisements

2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport with Top Off, Doors Off: Little River Falls in Fort Payne, Alabama

After finishing our 16 mile ride along Little River Canyon Rim Parkway, the journey officially ended when we arrived at the bottom of the mountain at Canyon Mouth Park.

We had planned to enter the park to play in Little River. However, we learned that it now costs $15 per vehicle to enter; whereas I remember it always being free my entire life.

But finding a Plan B didn’t take long at all. We had to drive back up to the top of the mountain anyway, so we simply drive a different route to Little River Falls.

It was a perfect day to play in the river, just a few hundred feet before the river became a waterfall.

So much fun… and totally free to park!

2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport with Top Off, Doors Off: Family Drive Along Little River Canyon Rim Parkway in Fort Payne, Alabama

For Memorial Day weekend, we started things off right on Saturday morning by refusing to take showers, but instead, throwing on hats and sunglasses and hopping in our Jeep Wrangler.

This made the very first time I took off not only the complete top, but also, the doors too. As you can imagine, it was a great family experience.

It was like going on a roller coaster ride! And yet Little River Canyon Rim Parkway is only 5 miles from my parents’ house, where I grew up in Fort Payne, Alabama.

This 16 mile drive along the canyon and river is a well kept secret, yet the perfect place to take the family in a Jeep Wrangler.

Dear Jack: Creeping Critters are Easy to Find in Alabama

8 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

One of your favorite things to do when you stay at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama is to go outside and find wildlife.

I’ve noticed it never takes much effort nor time for you to come back from the yard with a collection of bugs and/or lizards.

Granted, some of the bugs end up becoming the dinner of the lizards.

So for a 2 grade boy spending his Spring Break in the mountains of Alabama, what better way to spend hours of daylight then to go out explore nature… and then to bring that nature back with you!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Taking About Boots is a Fun, Self-Imposed, Activity

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

This past weekend while we were spending the weekend in Alabama to celebrate Aunt Dana’s 35th birthday, you got to spend plenty of time with your cousins.

While your older cousin Calla was hanging out with your brother, you teamed up with Darla who is just a few months older than you.

As the two of you made your way over to the other side of the room to play in the toy corner, your cousin Darla enthusiastically and confidently suggested to you:

“Let’s talk about boots!”

Immediately, everyone else in the room began laughing.

It was so funny, and relevant, that the two of you would be excited simply to talk about boots!

Obviously, you were happy to oblige to her cousin’s idea.

Love,

Daddy

My Wife’s 37th Birthday Gift from Me: Tickets to the Kenny Chesney Concert in Nashville on August 11th, 2018

Without question, the biggest fan of Country Music I’ve ever known is my wife, Jill; who was born and raised in northern California; near Sacramento. (I suppose there’s some irony in knowing that I myself was born and raised in Fort Payne, Alabama; the hometown of the country group Alabama.)

Her favorite artist is Kenny Chesney. And amazingly, he just happened to be having a show in Nashville (where we live) on her 37th birthday, which happened to be on a Saturday.

In other words, the stars were aligned just right for my wife to have the perfect birthday gift for her 37th birthday.

My parents came up to take care of our kids while we were out having fun for over 11 hours, so we didn’t have to worry about getting a babysitter.

We were able leave our house early enough to find a place to park and stop for dinner, without feeling rushed.

The opening acts were Old Dominion and Thomas Rhett.  They both served as perfect openers, as their style shares the same laid back rock feel of Kenny Chesney’s music.

Earlier this week leading up to the concert, my wife already stated that this was going to be the best birthday gift she’s ever gotten. She confirmed that statement throughout the concert- and a few times since we got back from it.

An interesting side note: Kenny Chesney’s show broke the all-time attendance record for the Nissan Stadium where it was held; as we were part of the 55,182 people who attended.

I’m happy that my wife loved the concert so much. Despite living in the Nashville area, it’s seldom we ever actually get to go become part of the action downtown. We had a great time together!

If only Kenny Chesney did a show every August in Nashville, I’d never again need to wonder what to get her for her birthday. I’d be set…

Here’s to a great way to start 37!

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary (Featuring the 2018 Mazda3) by Nick Shell

It’s somewhere between ambitious and foolish to travel from Tennessee to California for a 2 week long trip when you have 2 young kids. But since that’s exactly what we did, my wife and I decided to make the trip our official vacation to celebrate our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary on July 5th.

Going in to it, my wife and I knew it would be a mix of both challenging and rewarding, as parenting itself is in general. So we drove the 40 miles from our home in Spring Hill to the Nashville airport, then took a 5 hour flight to Sacramento, California (which included a layover in Las Vegas), then another 40 mile trip to my mother-in-law’s home in Walnut Grove; which would serve as a our base for the 2 weeks.

From there, we embarked on another 2 and a half hour journey to Truckee; where we rented a cabin (which my next blog post will focus on) just 25 minutes from King’s Beach on Lake Tahoe. Just imagine what all that must have been like with a little girl who, despite being extremely adorable, has officially begun the Terrible Two’s.

Whatever you can imagine that part of it was like… you’re probably right.

But we survived! And not only that, we truly had an amazing time as a family.

One thing that definitely made things easier for us is that we got to a drive a Mazda3 during our first week of the trip. It was the perfect size for our family and our ridiculous amount of luggage we had to take, including a travel bed for our daughter.

Yeah, we lived it up though. My son decided he wanted to go out on a pedal boat on Lake Tahoe, so my wife and I took turns with him on on the water, while our daughter played in the sand.

My wife was born and raised in northern California. As for me, I was born and raised in the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains in Fort Payne, Alabama; but Lake Tahoe reminds me so much of where I grew up.

Lake Tahoe is truly an extension of our family’s identity. It was worth the trip and I am really looking forward to returning next year; especially since my daughter will be a bit more independent.

I’ve still got more to say about our family’s trip to Tahoe, so stay tuned for two more blog posts about that, with more fun pictures…

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mazda 3? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Lake Tahoe Family Road Trip for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Cabin Life in Truckee, California for Our 10th Wedding Anniversary 
Plant-Based Millennial Family Checks Out Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Called “Squeeze In” in Truckee, California