Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bahamas Vacation

Jason and I had a wonderful time in the Bahamas. We stayed at the Sandals Resort in Nassau for five days. It is an all inclusive resort, so we enjoyed the variety of restaurants, entertainment, and beach activities without opening our wallets. En route to the resort we drove past the church where Anna Nicole Smith's funeral was held and we saw the private island that David Copperfield recently bought.
The first day there Jason went with a few guys and played golf at the Cable Beach Golf Course. For the first time in his short golf career, he broke 100, shooting a 95!!!!!!! I stayed at the resort and got a manicure and pedicure at the spa.
The picture above is of Jason & me on Sandals Cay, which is a small island just off the coast from the main resort. We spent a very relaxing afternoon there swimming in the crystal clear water and reading and resting on the oversized, cushioned beach chairs in the midst of a lush tropical jungle. While there, Jason found a sand dollar in the ocean, he was very excited as he had never found one before and named it "Little Buddy". Jason brought it back to our room and was shocked the next morning when the sand dollar was very green. (I explained that the stores bleach them to get them white.) Hopefully we didn't violate any customs laws, but we brought Little Buddy home with us and plan to clean him up and keep him forever:)

The first few pics below are of the resort. It has a distinctive Caribbean feel and isn't on a lot of acreage, which meant all of the restaurants and activities were very close by. They have several restaurants, serving Japanese, French, Italian, and American food, plus they have an English Pub serving Shepherd's Pie and such if you're up for that. There are two huge pools, several whirlpools, tennis courts (we played one day in our bathing suits and flip flops!), shops, and of course lots of sandy beach.
The blond in the picture with Jason is Jennifer Lynn Dawson, nee Puckett. She is Larry Puckett's daughter and is the one who does all of the Larry Puckett Chevrolet commercials. If you're from the tri-county area you know her well, otherwise you might not be impressed. But, it was Jason's brush with fame so we wanted to capture it on film. We enjoyed meeting and hanging out with her and her husband.
Jason wore his Auburn visor and/or an Auburn t-shirt on several occasions and got lots of AU love. On the ferry back from Sandals Cay there were three AU grads, it didn't take long for them all to meet!
Every night there was entertainment at the resort, including bands, an illusionist, and kareoke. One night we came across the Piano Bar and had a lot of fun singing along with everyone there. As you can see from the picture, Jason and I joined right in on the singing. I led the crowd in a spirited version of Sweet Home Alabama and Jason turned out to be a crowd favorite, closing out the night at the piano. The guy playing and singing was fabulous, he knew the words and music to every song by heart!
We left Nassau at Noon on Sunday and should have been back home at 8:30PM that night. Instead, we got home at Noon on MONDAY! It was a long journey home and included an unscheduled overnighter in Miami. Our Delta flight out of Miami was canceled, so Delta put us up in a sketchy airport motel (thanks, Delta). I laid in the bed all night listening to the jets flying overhead, wondering what the winged creature banging into our door was, and waiting for the 4:00AM alarm. When we got up the next morning it was raining (perhaps the front end of tropical storm Noel) so we were cold and wet while waiting for the airport shuttle, which we shared with a very international group of folks who could not speak English, yet were able to convey their desire for us not to sit next to them all the same. BUT, the highlight of our stay in Miami was dinner. We got to the motel around 8:00PM and were directed to the only place to eat within walking distance. It was a Honduran restaurant about two blocks away from the motel. Our six white faces really stood out when we walked in, and we were quickly seated in the back. The Spanish kareoke was blaring and the place was packed. We only had a cell phone camera, so the pic of the restaurant (below) isn't that great, but maybe it'll give you a feel for it. I selected a standard meal of chicken soft tacos, and let me tell you it was one of the best meals I've ever had! The mix of spices was incredible, the cilantro and jalapenos were delicious and the grilled chicken was as good as any I've ever had. And they had a very unusual homemade pepper sauce on the table I can't explain what all was in it (and perhaps I don't want to know) but it was great, just the right amount of fire. So, our experience at the Patio Tipico was a nice oasis in an otherwise miserable layover.
We loved our vacation, but of course we were very glad to get home to our babies, Eli & Josey. Eli stayed with my folks and Josey stayed with her Uncle Darryl and Aunt Jesi. I think mother and daddy had it easier than Darryl and Jesi! Being an only puppy, Josey gets very excited to spend time with her sweet cousins Callie & Angel so I think she was pretty wired her whole stay. Eli did great and enjoyed getting the undivided attention of his grandparents.
Jason jumped back into the real world immediately, as he had to go straight to work when we got home. We decided we must take a nice vacation every year!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eli's Dedication

Yesterday we had the opportunity to dedicate Eli to the Lord and dedicate ourselves to raise him in the knowledge of Christ. It was such a special day and we were so glad to be able to share it with so many family and friends.
Jason's parents, two of his brothers and a niece and nephew arrived on Saturday in time to watch the Alabama game. We grilled burgers that evening then watched the Auburn game. It was a fun day spending time with everyone.
The church service was Sunday morning at our church, Vaughn Forest Baptist. Our worship minister, Jonathan Green, did the dedication then our pastor Lawrence Phipps walked Eli through the congregation and made some remarks about Eli and our family. Hugh & Grant got a special charge to be good big brothers. After the service we all went over to my parents' house for a bbq lunch and more fellowship. Here are some more pictures from the day:

Jonathan & our family during service
Ronda, Jason & Eli

Eli & Eli's Uncle (note Darryl's nametag)

Michael & Kim HornEli with Jason's parents, Robert & Jane

Jason's brother Craig & cousins
Three of the four Walker brothers (Jim, Jason & Craig). Brother Rob was at his Harvard reunion.Pastor Lawrence & Eli

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Really Matters

Our family is gearing up for a BIG weekend. Eli is getting dedicated at church on Sunday and we have lots of family and friends coming to be a part of the service. I have allowed myself to be filled with anxiety about the entire weekend. Yesterday, as I was stressing about outfits, meals, house cleaning, and a baby with a runny nose I stopped and realized that I was allowing all the extraneous details of the weekend to steal my joy. God has given us an amazing family, Jason and I have three beautiful, sweet sons and we enjoy a wonderful life together.
This Sunday we will have the opportunity to publicly thank God for our baby son and dedicate ourselves to raise him in the knowledge of the power and love of Jesus Christ. That is what matters, not if we have enough food to feed everyone or if Eli's outfit is perfect or if he spits up right as the pastor takes him.
It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings of this world, isn't it? Satan is so good at getting our eye off the prize. He can't stop us from dedicating Eli to the Lord, but he can take our focus off of what really matters. I have been so distracted by the 'stuff' that needs to get done I haven't been able to relax and enjoy the moment.
Life is about those moments that aren't planned, but just happen. If we think back on the best memories we have, many of them are probably fun times that happened spontaneously. Not the perfectly planned details, but the unexpected surprises.
I am such a structured person, (or at least I was before I had a baby). Now that I have a husband, three boys, and a puppy, God is teaching me about flexibility.
Well, we'll see what blessings God has in store for our weekend. I'll share the pictures and surprises with you on Monday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lake Martin

My parents recently built a house on Lake Martin. Lake Martin is a 44,000 acre made-made reservoir with 750 miles of shoreline located in eastern Alabama. The reservoir was created by Alabama Power in 1926 when they built the Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River and flooded the surrounding area (remember what saved the Foggy Bottom Boys from being hanged in Oh Brother Where Art Thou? same thing). At the time it was completed, Lake Martin was the largest artificial body of water in the world. Now it is a beautiful recreational lake enjoyed by many in the southeast.
My parents' house is in the Kowaliga area (yes, as in the lovesick wooden Indian made famous in the Hank Williams song. And it's pronounced kuh-LIGE-uh). My grandfather, Daddy Mac, began buying land around the lake in the 1960's. Alabama Power leased most of the lots around the lake, but eventually allowed many leasees to buy the land outright. Thanks to Daddy Mac's foresight in buying lake property, we have enjoyed going to Lake Martin for several generations. Daddy Mac loved to spend time at the lake and water skied into his 80's. He created a wonderful legacy for our family and left us a lot of precious memories.
I took all three boys up there this past weekend. Jason had to work on Saturday...as he has for the past several Saturdays. Hugh & Grant spent hours playing on the beach and in the water, mother and I took a hike through the adjacent wooded area, Eli was mesmerized by the breathtaking view and Daddy grilled hotdogs during halftime of the Alabama game -- they were delicious.
We are so glad to have this beautiful vacation home in our family. We have gotten many days of enjoyment out of it and look forward to many more!

Mother & Daddy in front of the lot pre-construction

Finishing the landscape July 2007

Daddy fishing off the pier (last year's water level!)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eli's New Tricks

Okay, I vowed from the start I would not be one of those mothers who brags on her kid and makes him out to be some kind of superhuman wonderbaby. You know the kind...their kids know their ABC's by 6 weeks; start walking at 3 months; and cook their own supper by 8 months. Nobody really believes the feats these mothers (and sometimes grandmothers) say their kids do, but we nod and smile and say "isn't that remarkable" all the same. No, Eli is just an average little baby who, if he weren't mine and so cute and smart, would not be extraordinary at all:) But seriously, he has been doing a lot of changing this past week so I want to share these normal developmental milestones in his life.
He's four and a half months old, I think. He's technically 19 weeks old, which to me makes him one week shy of being 20 weeks or 5 months if you count one month as four weeks, but do you go by the weeks or months? If you go by months he won't be 5 months for 3 more weeks. And, can't we as a society decide to stop saying how many months they are once they hit one year? I ask someone how old their kid is and they say "21 months" and I have to stand there for 10 minutes translating that in my head into "just under two years" because math is not my thing. Hey, let's just say the kid is "almost two" from now on. Anyway, Eli, however old he is, is moving out of the helpless blob stage and starting to earn his keep! He's rolling over from back to belly and to back again, which will be a lot more exciting when he stops flipping over onto his tummy in the middle of the night and deciding he doesn't want to be there and cries for help! He stayed with my folks last night, so they got to spend lots of quality time with him during the night flipping him over. (God bless grandparents!)
Also, I started giving him rice cereal this week. Most of it ended up on his clothes, but it was sure cute watching him try to eat. I've heard it might take a week or two for him to get used to 'eating'. Up until now he's been on a liquid-only diet. So, eating is another fun stage we're enjoying now.
Eli is a happy, funny baby and our entire family is having the best time watching him grow.

Eli Rolling Over
Eli Eating for First Time
Eli Reading...(okay, he's really just holding a book:)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Eli's Favorite New Toy

Our sweet friend Melissa Mc loaned Eli this great exersaucer and he loves it. And since he'll play in it for 45 minutes at the time I love it too!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Outlaw Josey Walker

Several folks have emailed me asking "who is Josey?". I am disappointed in myself, I thought I had done a much better job talking endlessly to everyone about her, apparently not!
Josey is our year and a half old chocolate lab. She is named after the Clint Eastwood character in Jason's fave Eastwood film, The Outlaw Josey Wales. (FYI, her name is pronounced JoZee, not JoSee).
We got her from Crimson Kennels in Florence, Alabama www.crimsonkennels.com. While I highly recommend getting dogs from a shelter, they are a wonderful kennel if you ever choose to get a lab this way.
Josey is a wonderful, very sweet, funny lab. She sleeps in the bed with Jason and me and loves to lick Eli's feet and chase the boys around the yard. I snapped a couple pics of her this morning so you can see her, and rest assured, there will be many more to come!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Going Public

The quote on our homepage was written by Haper Lee, an Alabamian, in her novel To Kill A Mockingbird. Last year Jason and I saw To Kill A Mockingbird performed at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, it was marvelous. My maternal grandfather, Daddy Mac, had lunch with Harper Lee and Gregory Peck when they were filming the movie version of Harper Lee's book in Monroeville, Alabama.
With this blog we invite you to walk in our skin and enjoy our wonderful life with us. You can keep up with us as much or as little as you would like to. We will fill this space with news on everything from Eli rolling over to Grant making a 100 in spelling to Hugh scoring a goal in soccer...and of course lots of updates on our baby girl Josey cause everything she does is newsworthy! We will also give updates on our family and close friends as well, so there should be much fun for everyone.
We will get the ball rolling with our most recent favorite picture of our three boys all geeked up for the opening of college football season! Since Jason is an Auburn grad, our boys have been steered toward the orange and blue. But, I'm pleased to say they are up on Trojan and Warrior football as well.
Thanks for checking out our blog!
More later, Ronda