Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dixie Stampede

We have been told by many people that we MUST go to the Dixie Stampede now that we live close to Pigeon Forge! With my brother and his family in town, we finally made it happen. We were so incredibly impressed and definitely think this is something we will return to do in the future.

This is a FANTASTIC family event great for kids and adults of all ages. (Kids 3 and under are free so Hannah was a "lap child". She loved it!) The people I was sitting next to had attended many times and said no show is the same.

First up is a group picture. You aren't given a choice whether you want to do this. I will tell you that our pictures turned out really well, but they were really expensive, so we looked at them and then gave them back. :)

You then visit the saloon where a group of fantastic musicians in the group Mountain Rukus perform some fantastic music in a pre-dinner show. You can purchase drinks and snacks here (for an additional cost). It is pretty pricey so we opted to just sit and enjoy the music. 

Then it is off to the arena where you sit around the stage, eat a great dinner (all served without utensils!) and watch an outstanding show. Dinner was a cornish game hen (perfectly done), soup and a roll, corn on the cob, a huge potato wedge, and a turnover for dessert. You can also choose between water, Pepsi, or lemonade for your drink. They even give you a warm, wet rag at the end of your meal.

Apparently the shows change regularly. This was their Christmas show, and it included a live nativity. It was an incredible demonstration of faith and included sheep, camels, horses, pigs, chickens, and more! We were entertained from the moment we sat down. I was impressed with the cleanliness, the professionalism of employees, the efficiency of our waitress, and the show! I loved that the Christmas show was about CHRIST! So fantastic. 

The event includes friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal music productions plus a mouth-watering four-course feast. Included is a bit of a "side show" called SKEETER & NUGGET which delivers a huge helping of family-friendly comedy at every show. 

A few important notes:
  • This is not a cheap event. (Roughly $50 for adults and $25 for children). However, there is a military discount, and we have happened upon some "free kids" coupons. If you can find one/some of these, take advantage of it.
  • There is an opportunity to pay an extra $5 for better seats. I would spend the extra $5. Our seats were definitely a bit more preferable. With our military discount, I think this came out in the wash.
  • Lap children are really not a problem here. There is bench seating so there was plenty of rom for Hannah to move around a bit. The show is very loud so the kiddos noise is not an issue at all. I did notice that some of the seats at the top of the arena
    were not bench seating. I would try to get within the first four rows.
  • Your tip is not included. (We didn't realize this when we purchased our tickets.)
  • Exiting the arena was the only part of the show that was challenging. Since another show is coming in, they limit where you can leave. In addition, the bathrooms (which were a cinch to get into before and during the show) are closed after the show. Only one bathroom is available after the show and the line was incredibly long. They also push you through a gift shop. I would honestly consider either trying to get out right away or just having a seat and waiting for everyone else to leave before you try to fight those crowds -- especially if you are trying to watch numerous children.
Here are a few pictures I borrowed from Dixie Stampede's website (credit goes solely to them):

North Pole vs. The South Pole added a friendly competition element to the performance.

The live nativity was so well done. I was so impressed with how purposeful the truth of Christmas was presented.

There was a toy season that was interesting and creative.

Here we are after the show with one of the horses and riders.

Charleigh made a horse picture for one of the riders.

She gave her picture to the master of ceremonies. He did a great job!

A snapshot of the arena.

Awesome Because of Isaac Fundraiser

I had the incredible opportunity to meet a fellow adoptive mom online during the last year. She was going during a challenging season, and I was able to follow along and join her in prayer and encouragement. When we held our BOI auction, she donated one of these pictures below to our auction. Megan makes these incredible 16x20 images. 

Take a look at some of the ones she has made below:

This is actually the one that was a surprise Christmas gift for me from my friend Julie! I am so excited to get this framed and up on the wall. It is truly one of the most precious gifts I have EVER received.

I have had some of you ask me about getting one of these when I recently posted it on my Blog. Megan and I talked and came up with a plan. We have partnered to do a Because of Isaac fundraiser. We aren't sure how long this will last. It will all depend on how many orders come in and how well Megan can handle what comes in. 

These pictures are $50. This INCLUDES shipping! For each picture she does, Megan is going to donate $20 to Because of Isaac. Interested? 
You can email Megan directly at: 
If you have any issues, please let me know!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Funnies

 Me: "Let's let Hannah open up a present because she's losing it."
(Hannah opens present)
Baylee: "Can I open my present because I'm losing it."


Hannah: "Here is baby Riddick's ba-ba."
AD: "In our house we call it a paci."
Hannah: "What do you call it at our house?"


Hannah: "Mom when I get home can I have a cheesy sandwhich."
Me: "Okay."
Hannah: "And can you not put anything else on my plate. Not even grapes."
Me: "Okay."
(I made the sandwich and Hannah promptly ate all the cheese and left the bread.) 

Bunyan & Babe by Cinedigm™

Our family was presented with the opportunity to watch and review the movie Bunyan & Babe by Cinedigm™. Click below to take a sneak peek at the trailer for this movie:

An HD version of the animated film will be available exclusively to redeem free through Google Play from January 12  thru February 16, 2017. You can redeem it by clicking here.  The movie will also be showing in twelve theatre markets on February 3. 

Here are a few snapshots from the film:

Travis (Johnny Orlando) and his sister Whitney visit their grandparents for the summer and stumble upon the evil plan of a greedy real estate developer (Kelsey Grammer) to steal the land of the town's longtime residents.

One of the two villains

Travis and his little sister comes to spend the summer with their grandparents.

While running from one of the developer's goons, Travis falls through a magical portal which transports him to the world of American hero, Paul Bunyan (John Goodman) & his pet ox, Babe (Jeff Foxworthy). 

Babe and Paul

Bunyan and Babe get wrapped up in a brand new adventure, and with the help of their new friends Travis and Whitney, they save the town.  Together they learn firsthand that you don't have to be big to do big things.   

Paul sees automobiles for the first time!

Blue with Travis

Bunyan & Babe features the voices of the incredibly talented John Goodman, Kelsey Grammer, and Jeff Foxworthy.  It is a modern take on the American folk story of the legendary lumberjack and his pet blue ox. 

While the Dove Foundation gave this a "Family-Approved" for all ages stamp, I didn't feel quite the same. There were a couple of things in the movie that gave me a little pause including hypnotism repeatedly and the use of the word "ass" in a very obvious (and failed) attempt at humor. 

We watched this movie with our family and my brother's family which included three adults and five children. Generally, the kids seemed to enjoy the movie and afterwards told us that they liked it. They were entertained and did not seem to get bored during the film. The adults, however, were not as blown away. We found it a bit slow and lacking some of the fun that we thought it could have had. The dialogue felt a bit forced and stilted, and it felt like it just fell in spots intended to evoke humor.

This movie runs for 85 minutes and is rated PG. To automatically redeem Bunyan & Babe on January 12, click here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Confident style

The best way to be successful on your home decor is to possess confidence. Aside from a few general rules, you can really do whatever you want to decorate your home. So, go ahead and showcase your personality. After all, there is only one you in the world! Don't be afraid of letting your creative juice flow, mixing different decorative styles, or finding the right combination that portraits you. That always makes for a stunning result!

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Audrey.  I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I do!

Audrey lives with her husband and two young children in a two-bedroom apartment in a major city on the east Coast of the United States. She is a former high school English teacher turned stay-at-home mom. When she is not changing diapers or cleaning bathrooms, she enjoys reading, making candles and hunting for vintage treasures at local thrift stores. She blogs about RIE/respectful parenting and raising bilingual children at

1. What makes your house a home?

Deep down, I'm a homebody, and I always say that the best part of any trip is coming home. To me, the word home connotes comfort. So, for me, comfort means warmth, cleanliness, and a connection to family, both past and present. Warmth, be it through homemade beeswax candles lit throughout the living room; or, wool blankets piled up on my bed; or, 1920s jazz and blues coming through the speakers; or, a home-cooked meal by my Spanish husband. Cleanliness: I'll admit, I love a scrubbed-down kitchen and going to bed with everything picked up off the floor; or, the windows open to air out the bedrooms. Lastly, a connection to family: photos of loved ones throughout the house, a painting by my sister, quilts by my mom, and most importantly, having my husband and two children home.
 "Juntos en familia" is what makes our house a home.

2. What is your decorating style and why do you like it?

Vintage. Bohemian. Industrial. Mix those together. For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with the past, and my home reflects that. Not only am I attracted by the visual appeal of vintage and antique pieces of furniture, but I also find that they far surpass modern pieces in terms of  quality and durability. Aspects of industrial design that I am drawn to mostly include the use of iron (example, my 1920s cast iron auditorium seats in our entry way) and the color black. I didn't realize how much I love to decorate with this color until my good friend pointed out. There is something striking and elegant about black that I just love. I've also included Bohemian in my decorating style because I think it's kind of a catch-all for my eclectic taste and my overlapping use of different periods and styles of decor.

3. What decorating accessories are a "must" in your home?

Textiles and textures. Even though I am not a fiber artist, I am drawn to all forms of fiber art, from Persians rugs to Kilim pillows to 1930s feedback bedspreads to one-of-a-kind wall quilts designed by my very own mother. Recent acquisitions in our new apartment include African mud cloth throw pillows, an antique Persian hallway runner, sheepskin rugs, and a wall collection of wicker baskets. I find that a variety of textures add warmth and depth to a space.

4. What are your go-to places to find unique decorative items?

eBay, thrift stores, Craig's List, and family heirlooms. My Sicilian grandfather was a skilled carpenter and I have recently inherited several pieces of furniture from my mother. I've scored some awesome vintage and antique finds off of eBay (our living room mid-century armchair) and Craig's List ( my Danish teak dining room and coffee tables, and my 1970s Bentwood Thonet rocking chair), just by being willing to hunt and wait patiently. Thrift stores: I've beed addicted to thrift stores since I was 15. I love the hunt: the sifting, the sorting, the looking. I will often scour Pinterest or other vintage decor blogs for inspiration and then, with a picture in mind, I'll set out to replicate a look I like by shopping at a thrift store. There is one particular second-hand furniture store - the size of three or four airplane hangars - just one mile from my house ) dangerous, I know!). It's currently my favorite store. I walk in the door and the smell "old" lets me know I'm in my happy place.

I hope you were inspired to be you and to reflect the uniqueness of your personality in your home! The result will be no doubt be-you-tiful!


                    Happy New year!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wee-wind Wednesday

This time 10 years ago, I was preparing for my little brother to get married to THIS great gal. And now they are here, at my house with our seven children about to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. 

I was blessed to be a part of their wedding. I have been blessed to be a part of their lives. I truly couldn't ask for my brother to marry a better woman or for their children to get along with my children any better. 

I still can't believe that at their wedding that day, my parents had no grandchildren. I remember what a painful spot I was in during that wedding as we entered into yet another childless year. Through the Lord's great mercy, we adopted Isaac and then I found out about Elijah "Sidge" just a short time before Adrienne found out she was expecting Charleigh. My parents went form zero to three grandchildren in just ten months. And today, those three little kiddos are second graders!

How great is our God.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tribe Life Tuesday: Contending with Duality

It's Tuesday and time for a weekly post from my dear friend Carrie!
I have avoided writing on this topic for quite a while, for a multitude of reasons. The two biggest contributors are 1) I am unsure if it will properly translate in written form, and 2) I haven’t fully grasped it myself. But it seems that the only way I will continue to grow in understanding is to begin to jot down my thoughts.
So welcome to the conversation, an on-going dialogue about duality. This is the first of many posts as I grapple with this stage of life. 
Life has looked so peculiar lately. An onslaught of undefined and deep feelings continue to float to the surface, some new, some old, lots unknown, and all embraced. Not in any particular order but I have felt confusion, clarity, frustration, happiness, exhaustion etc. Contention and duality though, have made a home for themselves. I have consistently found myself contending with duality.
To make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s what I mean. One definition of contention that resonates deeply with me is to dispute earnestly. And when I say duality I mean conflicting thoughts and/or actions. Recently, I have found myself in many disputes with me!
I feel like I am contending for the real me, which is so strange for me to say, because I have not struggled much in the area of identity. I have always been quite confident in who I am and what I have to offer. Though, looking back, some of that confidence was rooted in self-preservation, or was a defense mechanism, fueled by insecurity, to keep others out! 
Let me paint you a word picture of where I see myself. I find myself on a bridge: the bridge of duality.
It’s on this bridge where the intersection of my thoughts began to emerge:
Who am I?
Who do I want to be?
What about who others think I should be?
These thoughts continue to swirl through my mind as I remain perched up on the bridge, looking all around, unsure how to answer these questions or where to go.
So, let’s talk more about this bridge. Being up in the air with nothing around me, is pretty uncomfortable, and a situation I would, as you can imagine, love to get out of. Here are the travel options before me: the foggy chasm below me, the dark forest in front of me, and the dimly lit, well-worn path behind me. I deeply desire to move, yet I only have enough strength to lay down and look up. That’s when clarity comes: in STILLNESS.
None of the aforementioned directions are the outright wrong choice, but they each carry their own set of challenges and dangers. This is where the contention and duality of it all begins to creep in again. I’m laying there, quietly, surveying my options, afraid to make the “wrong choice”. This moment of identity insecurity is causing me to brace for impact when the only thing coming my way is a light, cool, breeze. So I continue to lay on the bridge, grappling with insecurity, contending with duality, sure that someday soon I will have a direction. Until then, I’m okay with just the stillness.
            Shauna Niequist so brilliantly said this on stillness: “The only way through the emptiness               is stillness: staring at that deep wound unflinchingly. All you can do is show up in the                        stillness.
I write this knowing there is no resolution, completely uncomfortable with the level of exposure I am showing. I write this fully in the middle, unsure what step I will take next.
Thank you for sitting with me on the bridge and taking part in this conversation.
Until next week,
Carrie Alford 

Monday, December 26, 2016


December 2016
We took the picture above to "recreate" a similar picture we took a few years ago.

December 2014

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Eastern Tennessee. My Dad and Mom with the seven grandchildren: 
Isaac (8), Baylee (5), Riddick (1), Sidge (7), Charleigh (7), Abigail (5), and Hannah (3)

And a HUGE THANK YOU to all the first responders who are spending the day away from their families today. We love you JB! Praying the hospital is nice and peaceful for you today.