The end of January was spent in the most amazing way here at Shalom Farm…
After 17 days away from my immediate family, I had the great pleasure of flying home to Tennessee with my mom, Papa Scott, my sister, Uncle Chris, and my nephew- Baby Dylan. All my most favorite family people were united for the first time since Easter Day 2017. And it just so happened to be in my living room, on the farm that God built. It was magical for me- a very long awaited homecoming, and farm visit, all rolled up into one big day.
We had 5 full days of Southern fun with my sister and her family before they had to head home, and another few days more with my mom and Scott. I was flying high the entire time, and although we’ve been experiencing some cold stents down here- including that week of snow that I missed while I was traveling- the weather couldn’t have been more beautiful while they were here. We may or may not have enjoyed some truly authentic front porch sitting… in rockers.
Monday night, Thomas surprised us all at the airport with my kiddos- which was NOT at all the plan. It was a school night, and he had gone through a lot of trouble to get one of our vehicles up to the Nashville airport, because the 5 of us and a carseat weren’t going to fit in our car if someone was there to pick us up. We needed our very own vehicle. But because he knew just how desperate I was to snuggle those cute kiddos, he made a second trip up to surprise us in a second car. It was perfect. I heard Cay’s tiny voice from behind me at baggage claim and I about died.
Tuesday, we went shopping. Yes, it was necessary! My mom and sister and I actually did something I don’t know that we’ve ever done together- we Christmas shopped. Yes, I realize it was the end of January, but it was Christmas for us, since we didn’t have the opportunity to be together this year for the holidays. Mom insisted on being the grandma I always had in her mother, and bought the kids plenty of ‘fun’ gifts. No clothes or boring stuff, just toys.
We also spent some time trolling through Amish Country. Readers, do you know that I live in Amish Country? Not near Amish Country, but IN it. I’m talking there is not a day that goes by (well, except Sunday) that I don’t see a horse and buggy trotting down a road near my house. We’re like elbows deep in this with the Amish out here. It’s pretty unique and absolutely something I have to take visitors to get a peek at. It’s not about gawking. Actually, the opposite is true. People, myself included, are just absolutely in awe at how they work, what they do, and how they live. It’s amazing and actually, admirable, in a lot of ways. The Lord says we are to live not of this world… well, they’ve got that nailed. So it just wouldn’t be a visit to Middle Tennessee if we didn’t tour the neighboring farms. It’s a must do.
Wednesday, we hiked Shalom farm! Yes, it’s a hike in and of itself. We started with the immediate grounds- the barn, the gardens, the tornado shelter (aka root cellar). Once we stepped out the back door, the turkeys showed up to be our tour guides. The fam was very intrigued at how the male turkeys would literally follow us anywhere in the yard. I’m pretty convinced that they are trick birds- although I would have been their trainer and I am no such thing- because not only do they follow us around, not only do they participate in the conversation via gobble, but my family can now corroborate the story when I tell you that these turkeys can play soccer.
I’ll just leave that there.
After the yard, we decided to go deep into the farm. Would you believe me if I told you that we hiked a section of the farm that I’ve actually never set foot in? And let me tell you what, now that we’ve hiked it, I know exactly why I had never hiked it before and why I show no signs of needing to do it ever again! It’s our deepest, thickest holler. What’s a holler you may ask? I don’t yet know how to describe it other than it’s a holler. I had never heard the word before I moved here, and yet now that I’m here, I have to agree that there really is no other word that fits in it’s place. So you’ll have to google it.
But this holler is for animals only. It really isn’t meant for a family of explorers. I know my kids have gone down there with Thomas before, but I can’t say I plan to go back. Given that it’s currently winter and everything is dead, I can’t even begin to imagine how crazy and treacherous it would be to go down there when everything is a jungle come spring. Chris, Scott, Merit and my sister all came out bleeding- Chris and Scott actually pretty impressively. If that doesn’t paint the picture for you, I don’t know what will. It just isn’t my favorite part of the farm, and I was a little nervous having that be our opening act of our farm introduction to my family.
“Yea, I can TOTALLY see why you moved across the country…” Said no one ever after that hike.
Thursday, we took on a completely different hiking experience. We took the fam to Stillhouse Falls- a state park not too far from our house. It’s one of our favorite hikes and I was excited to show my family the true beauty of the south. What I love about the landscape here are the rock walls. They’re everywhere- even lining the highways- and they’re made up of this layered stone. It’s stunning. And there always seems to be waterfalls trickling down everywhere, and icicles on the cold mornings. It’s one of my favorite natural wonders around here, and no place really does it justice like Stillhouse Falls.
We hiked down to the bottom of the water fall and back up again.
On our way back up, we did my very favorite thing- we walked up the river. It’s just so cool to roll up your pants and get your feet wet!
That evening, we did my most favorite thing (I think I might have said several things are my most favorite thing during this blog, but just know I was so excited to have my family here)! My sister and my brother in law and I, did a wine walk around the back pasture. The very pasture that is 1) definitely NOT the overgrown, scary pasture, that makes you bleed and, 2) my most favorite part of the farm and 3) the very location where my dream home will someday (soon) stand. I just love to dream cast and show visitors what will one day be. I’ve always been motivated by the things I can’t see, and this is no different. That might sound strange, but in some circles it’s just called FAITH! I’m motivated by faith, Readers! That pasture is my ‘what’s next,’ and it just fills me up every time I get to tell someone what God has planned back there. Now just add wine to that, and you’ve got yourself one of my most favorite things.
Thursday, we did family Christmas. After Cadence got home from school, we opened presents and had a traditional overeating contest. Turkey (that we raised), stuffing, cranberry, wine, appetizers, mashed potatoes… and of course, board games. I guess technically, there was no ‘board’ to this game, but you get the idea. We drank wine and laughed well into the evening. The only thing missing was the Christmas tree.
Friday, we tackled the day like a tight end (did I do that right? Do tight ends tackle?). We set alarms and got our butts on the road to Franklin. I just love Franklin. I don’t know what it is about that little town, but pretty much everyone who knows someone who lives in Tennessee, lives in Franklin. And yea, if I could find a way to avoid traffic, buy 84 acres and NOT spend 3948 million dollars, I would TOTALLY live in Franklin too. It’s beautiful and I’m kind of obsessed with the town and the history of the town.
We headed straight to Starbucks, because those are rare in my life these days and then ate an early lunch at Barbara’s Home Cookin- an absolute MUST STOP if you’re anywhere near the Nashville area. BEST fried chicken you’re going to find, IF you can find it. It’s a pretty inconspicuous place. Every time I go there I feel like I’m on the inside of some cool secret.
After that, we headed to the ‘Battle of Franklin’ Monument, which is essentially the sight of one of the deadliest battles in the Civil War. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that historians started to really discover what actually went down in Franklin towards the end of the war. The Battle of Franklin is basically where the south lost the war. It wasn’t the very last battle, but it was the battle that lost it for them. It was too much at too critical a time.
Either way, the site of the monument is at the top of the hill that overlooks the city of Franklin. It’s actually somewhat eery to stand up there- and this wasn’t my first time standing up there- and look down over the town that was once the sight of an incredibly brutal battle. The commanding officers of the Confederate Army stood up on that hill and gave orders that would be quite costly to their brothers at arms that night.
Over the course of about four and a half hours, around 2,500 lives were lost from both sides, in dang near hand to hand combat. A great majority of that number were Confederate soldiers- as many as 1,750. It’s guessed that as many as 4,500 more were wounded in total and another 1,800 more were missing or captured by the battle’s end.
That’s a lot in such a short time. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to stand on that hill that night.
Turns out that I LOVE history! Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll dive way deeper into the last day my mom and Scott were here, where we spent some good quality time learning, touring, and exploring some amazing historical locations.
But, back to the blog at hand, after that brief walk through history, we headed into Nashville, because you’ve got to go to Nashville, right? Apparently you do! And apparently, when you have kids and a baby in tow, you’re going to be pretty dang limited on what you’re going to be able to do in such a city. I guess we hadn’t really taken that into consideration…
I love Nashville. It’s one of my favorite cities, and I’ve been to a lot of cities all over the world. What I love is the quaintness. I love the food. I love the feel. I love the live music. I love that you can walk everywhere. I love that there is history. I love that there is fun happening everywhere- people are just laughing. I love the museums.
But when you have kids and a baby, you can’t really go to the bars and listen to the music. And you don’t necessarily want to spend $26 a pop on a museum that the kids really don’t care much about. And you’re not really able to hop on a pedal bar and tour the city. And you’re not really able to walk everywhere without enduring constant complaining.
So needless to say, we didn’t stay long. But we came, we saw, we conquered. We went home. That night there was a little more wine, and a little more boardless board gaming. Fun had by all in the end.
The final day we spent with my sister and her family, we headed back up to Nashville because hey, that’s where the airport is. We headed towards the Grand Ol’ Opry and the giant hotel- Opryland- that is nearby, but before we got to explore there, we headed to lunch at this super cool Aquarium Restaurant. I highly recommend it if you have kids- or frankly, even if you don’t have kids. It looks like something straight out of Disneyland. And as a matter of fact, it’s connected in someway to the Rain Forrest Cafe, so that might give you a nice visual. The kids were in awe by the giant fish tanks, complete with sharks and sting rays. And to be honest, the food was pretty dang good too.
After lunch, we had just enough time to check out the Opryland hotel, which is a lovely little hotel to walk through. Again, a lot like one of the lands at Disneyland. There is a river that runs through the center of it- you can even ride a boat around the river if you want to go broke! It’s especially nice on a rainy day because it feels like your outside, even though it’s all under a huge dome.
We dropped my sister, brother in law and baby Dylan at the airport feeling like we had made the absolute most of our time together. It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye, but I know this is just the beginning of a lot of fun to be had by our family on this farm. I’m just SO thrilled that they now have real pictures in their hearts of this dream that we’ve built out here. I can’t wait for what’s to come.
Shalom family… until next time.