Saturday, September 13, 2014

Touring the World War II USS LST-325

On Friday we had the opportunity to tour the USS LST-325 at Ross's Landing in downtown Chattanooga. It is the last functioning Landing Ship Tank (LST) left in the world.

According to, LSTs are U.S. Navy ships that were designed for World War II in an effort to deliver battle-ready tanks, vehicles, soldiers and supplies directly onto enemy beaches. 

My dad told me that these types of ships were often used around Papua New Guinea to move bulldozers to different sites around the island.

Another interesting fact is that these ships can hold enough diesel fuel to travel around the world 1.5 times without refueling. Click here to read more facts about the ship.

To enter the ship, we walked in through the open door that would be used for loading tanks or trucks. We then made our way up through the decks of the ship. 

Seeing where the sailors would have slept, ate and worked.

There was even a jeep from the TV show M.A.S.H. on display.

As we made our way through the tour, we realized that one of the men walking behind us was actually a vet from WWII. We stopped and chatted with him for a bit, to learn some more history and to thank him for his service.

If you are interested in history, or just want to see a large ship, this is worth taking the tour.

The cost of the tour is $10 for adults and $5 (ages 6–17); children 5 and under are free. There is also a family rate of $20 for two adults and two children. 

The tour will be running from 9-5 daily through September 17.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Chats with Jack⎮ August, 2014

Jack's little personality continues to blossom with each passing month. We are learning more about his stubborn side, his joy in fixing things and an inkling that we must be teaching him right thanks to his positive notes home from preschool.

Now that Jack is potty trained, there are days that accidents are frustrating to me. Typically because he gets distracted from playing. Then there is the time he took care of business himself and thought it would be helpful to put all of his clean underwear in the toilet – to wash. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I took a picture instead.

Jack is really starting to get into imaginative play and enjoys dressing up – especially if it involves toy guns. He recently brought a notebook and a pen over to me and asked what I wanted to eat for dinner. He proceeded to role play being a server at a restaurant. 

Things of note in the month of August included a road trip to Arkansas, starting preschool and a canoe trip to the Bat Cave.

Right now Jack fully believes that a screwdriver can fix almost anything... He will tell us that "we can get one in the garage." If a screwdriver won't work, Jack thinks that batteries are the answer. He will be so amazed when he realizes that his daddy has an entire garage full of tools that do different jobs to fix just about anything.

Two of Jack's favorite phrases right now are: "Because why?" and "What's that mean?" He will ask these questions repeatedly (even after we have answered). We sometimes turn this around and ask him what he thinks. I think the coming years will be interesting because of his never-ending questions.

A funny question at the end of our canoe trip was: "Are we going to paddle home?"

After we told him no, we asked Jack if he would rather paddle home or drive home? He immediately said: "Paddle." We love that he is starting to enjoy, and embrace, our hobbies at such a young age.

We live on a mountain and there are two roads that we typically drive up to get home. Jack has started specifically asking "Can we go up the W road?" whenever we drive by it. He knows we live on Signal Mountain and will tell you that we have entered our neighborhood when we turn on to the first road leading back to our house.

Last weekend Jack displayed his truly stubborn side. Daniel and I were trying to get him to put his blocks away before bedtime when he looked up at us, grinned and started singing "Jesus Loves Me." This was in lieu of cleaning up and it took a lot of self control for me and Daniel not to laugh.

Up until last Sunday, Jack still used a paci for sleeping. We had been telling him that if the last paci we had got lost or broken then there would be no more paci. Our master plan was to get rid of it once he turned 3. Well the situation was resolved when we couldn't find it at bedtime on Sunday. Thankfully Jack took it in stride and has been sleeping great. We are struggling with naptime, but bedtime has been fine. I'm glad it wasn't a huge struggle once it was gone.

Since Jack started preschool, he has been displaying more rambunctious behavior at home. At preschool he is an angel – his notes come home saying that he is sweet and listens well and plays well with other kids. I suppose it is better for him to be behaved in public, even if it means some extra time outs at home.

A few videos from this month:

See Jack practice singing his ABCs.

See Jack play in the rain, an activity he loves. This month he also started taking showers instead of baths. This makes our evenings so much easier.

See Jack's response as to why he threw all of his clean underwear in the toilet. 

See Jack practice drawing circles.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

It is so fun that Jack is talking so much these days. I can whisper in his ear and he will do things like tell Daniel, "Happy Birthday Daddy!" We are working on learning the tune to the Happy Birthday song, but we aren't quite there yet.

In the past Daniel and I haven't really celebrated our birthdays in a traditional way (we never do cake or presents). This year Jack really wanted to have a cake, 3 balloons and 3 candles. He was very adamant about the number of balloons and candles. Too bad Daniel is 34 for this year instead of 33.

On Daniel's actual birthday, we celebrated by having lunch at the Olive Bean Cafe on Signal Mountain. Daniel had an open face roast chicken sandwich while I tried the chorizo and potato frittata. Jack had a ham and cheese sandwich with a smoothie. All of it was on the lighter side, but delicious.

As an added bonus, we saw a woman riding a horse down James Blvd. while we enjoyed our lunch on the patio.

Friday night we celebrated by going to eat dinner at Cracker Barrel (where Daniel got a free slice of chocolate cake)...

and then we went on a short night paddle to the Nickajack Bat Cave. It was a fun, low-key evening.

Saturday night I made Daniel grilled salmon (per his request)...

and my family's traditional pistachio birthday cake (per Jack's request).

Sunday was more birthday celebrations when we met up to celebrate Daniel's dad's wife's birthday at Provino's Italian Restaurant. Her kids brought a cake, so we had 3 days in a row of cake. Jack was in cake heaven!

Pistachio Cake Recipe
My mom has been making this cake for over 40 years.

Cake Ingredients
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 pistachio pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Sprite

  • Mix for 3 min.Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
  • Cook for 40 min. @ 350º (or 25 min if using 2 round 9" cake pans)
  • Cool cake before icing.

Icing Ingredients
  • 1 pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 8 oz cool whip

  • Mix milk and pudding until combined.
  • Add cool whip, then put on cake.
  • If making a layered cake, put layer of icing between cake layers.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...