Discovering The Soul of Trains.

Last Sunday was our annual trek out to Calera to visit Thomas the Train. But this year, we managed to get there earlier than usual, and it was much less crowded than it has been in the past. These two factors gave us ample opportunity to explore everything else at the location – something we’d never really done before.


The destination in question is the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. I will readily admit that I have a subconscious avoidance-reaction to any location with the word “Museum” in the title. This can be traced back to my childhood where I, a very efficient and quite impatient child, had to wait on my mother, a person with zero concept of the passage of time (literally – it was a big eureka moment for my parent’s marriage when they figured this out) who greatly enjoyed reading every placard, and observing every angle of the most obscure artifact. Combine this with the fact that I was homeschooled and therefore visited all the museums with my mother and…I have an aversion to the word Museum.

(I’m sorry I was such a naggy kid, Mom. I fully appreciate all your efforts now. But I’d rather appreciate them NOT at a museum, if you don’t mind.)

So that also may be why I’ve never explored the location of our Thomas trips before.

But I can now say definitively that, Thomas weekend or not, every little (and big) train lover needs to visit this museum. Admission is free, and they have some fantastic artifacts of train culture gone by, almost all being open to being climbed upon and explored up close.


(And very few placards to be read.)


They have rows of old rail cars, engines, and cabooses to check out,


and train tracks to (safely) play on – because what kid doesn’t want to play on train tracks?


(Notice Thomas chugging into the station in the top left corner in the above picture. He’s pretty cool, too.)

They have old railway crossing signs that still function, manual track-changing cranks that really do shift the tracks,


and really, really fantastic trains. It’s basically the best playground ever for the train-obsessed.


And all those families who want to get their family photos made on train tracks? This would be the place to do it. (I emailed the museum to see if they allow that, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet. I’ll update if I do.)


Seeing Thomas, of course, was fantastic as well,


Along with meeting Sir Topham Hatt,


getting to buy Thomas umbrellas,


And some Masters-Level golfing.


As usual, Thomas got a Hero’s welcome from Noah…and Ali. Because you don’t get too old for your first hero.


And this year our ride took place on the Double Decker train car, which was pretty much thrilling.


(And it had a nice view.)


The train cars used for Thomas’ rides belong to the Museum, and so there are other opportunities to ride on them, as well.

Since Sunday, Noah has asked me daily if we can go back and visit the trains. He knows he only gets to visit Thomas once a year, but now that he’s discovered everything else out there, he’d very much like to take a daily trek to the train yard, peeking into windows and imagining all sorts of adventures.


And I have to admit…I kinda want to go back, too.IMG_5512

(Especially if I could figure out how to photograph a sunset behind those trains.)

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored or requested by anyone. I’m just so thrilled that I discovered that I, too, can enjoy museums that I wanted to share it with you. Plus it’s a really fun place to take pictures.


An Important Opinion Piece on Emoji.

Emoji have always been a peculiar thing. A thing that I use every day, but that also creates many problems in my mind. A year or so ago, I began documenting these issues in a note on my iPhone, hoping that one day, Siri would read my note and offer an answer for my many perplexing curiosities.

She has not done so yet. But here are my notes thus far, unedited:




Thankfully, last week’s iPhone update was all about Emoji. As it should be – Emoji stand alone as the most important feature a phone can have. But, they didn’t address any of my issues. Although they added a few new Emoji here and there (no bacon or cheese), the main purpose of the update was to fix what had been a glaring lack of diversity in our nation’s ability to emote.


And rightfully so. Sasheer Zamata explained the now former issue perfectly a few months ago on SNL:


Besides, that Salsa dancer was WAY too white before the update.


However, Apple still has work to do if we want to live in a perfect Emojidiverse Universe.

Cats everywhere are horrified at their lack of representation. Gray cats, Tabby cats, Ginger cats, and black cats are all in an uproar – or at least a quiet meow – over the fact that their differences didn’t get addressed.

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And then there’s lipstick. Who says lipstick kisses can only be in hot pink? Coral lipstick has feelings, too, you know!


And don’t even get me started on the Cactus body-shaming happening in the Emoji world. I have been out west. I have seen many cacti. Did you know that I’ve never seen a cactus with a perfect body? No. Not a one of them look like the cacti we all grew up seeing. Or the cactus personified by Apple.

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Some cacti only have one limb. None line up so perfectly diagonal. Some have stubby little half arms. These precious cacti don’t deserve this level of photoshopped perfection constantly shoved down their throat!

Also, spoons still feel snubbed.


And I have an Emoji option for the pager I had fifteen years ago but not for the FitBit I wear every day? It’s time for a wearable device Emoji overhaul, Apple.


And thank you for representing women’s swimwear, but some of us have had babies.


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But by far the most indignant Emoji over the lack of diversity offered to them is the Poop Emoji.

Poop Emoji

So I took the liberty of creating some desperately needed options.

After all, Poop is not always brown. Sometimes, it’s scary-green.

Green Poop Emoji

And sometimes, it includes vegetables.

Corn Poop Emoji

Then other times, it’s not at all well-formed.

Brown Not Well Formed Poop

And who can forget those newborn diapers filled with Meconium? NEW PARENTS NEED AN EMOJI FOR THAT EXPERIENCE.

Meconium Emoji

And then there’s the issue of lack of fecal emotion.

Here’s a newsflash: Poop is not always happy.

Sad Poop

Poop has feelings too!

Crying Poop

Sometimes Poop has a downright bad day!!

Weeping Poop

And yes. Sometimes, poop even gets angry.

Angry Poop

So until we get our proper range of crap, we cannot rest.

Poop Emoji Choices


And we cannot quit fighting.

Poop Emotions

For the sake of the poop.

Bits and Pieces Of Life.

I’m seriously behind at life right now. Despite the fact that I feel like I’ve been breathlessly working all week to get caught up.

Okay no I lied. I’m too obsessed with outdoors and Springtime and my new hammock to try and put together thoughts anymore.


(But that’s Ali, not me. I can’t take a picture of myself.)

We’re all extremely obsessed with my new investment in happiness – I now want four hammocks so we can quit taking turns already, and I wonder why I didn’t buy one years ago. Also? It’s my new place to be while the kids spend hours playing in the front yard. Because I’m lazy like that. And it’s that easy to put up.

And the children believe a hammock should be used continuously, no matter the weather.


But back to being behind.

I lost an entire week to my tonsils, before that I lost a lot of time to a hurt ankle. I also bought a new computer which I’m only about 10% transferred over to because it’s….my first Mac and I don’t know what I’m doing.

That’s right, I bought a MacBook and an Eno hammock in the same month. I fear my status as non-hipster is in serious peril. If I quit bathing and buy a Subaru, someone please slap me.


However, there have been a lot of intriguing conversations in our family lately, so I decided that during this lapse of ability to compose a coherent blog post, I’d let my children (and husband) do the talking for me.

With regards to talking, I’ve noticed recently that both of my children say pajama as if it rhymes with Llama.This is so disturbing to me as I’m staunchly a pajama-rhymes-with-banana girl, even though the rest of you jeered at me ferociously.

But I’m sorry. Pajama rhyming with Llama makes me feel nervous. I just don’t like it. And I don’t know who taught it to my children. But I’m not happy with them.

Although he’s a pajama-Llama guy, Noah has also been very disturbed by inaccurate language lately, as well.


We were on a walk the other day, and Chris offered him some Gatorade. Noah sneered at him and said, “Uh, Dad, That’s POWERade.”

Then on the way home, we stopped at Starbucks and Chris instructed me to go inside to “buy a Frap.” Noah let it hang in the air for about two seconds until he couldn’t hold it in any longer.


And then last night when he came running in a whiny voice. “Mooooommmyy!! Ali said the word tatttttle!!!”

“Wait a minute. So you’re tattling on your sister for…saying tattle? This is so meta.”

“But tattle is a bad word!”

“No. TATTLING is bad. Which is what you’re doing. But nice try.”

But Noah’s language sometimes leaves a little to be desired, too. Such as his daily scouring of the car floorboard and oft-asked question, “Can I have this candy from the floor? It still has its trash on it!”

And the time that he told me, “Hey Mommy – Bologna is healthier than you.”

(I guess he knows how often I sneak chocolate.)


And the night that we were cuddling in bed and he rubbed my upper arm.

“I can’t feel that you’re married, Mommy.”

“That’s because that’s not where you’re supposed to feel.”

So he started rubbing my boob.

“Is this where I’m supposed to feel that you’re married?”


I held up my ring finger.

“THIS is where you can feel that I’m married.”

“OOOOOH! …..Nope, I don’t think so.”

But despite his rather questionable ideas, he has big aspirations. One night at dinner, he informed us: “When I grow up I’m going to be a doctor because these chopsticks remind me of that.”

Ali was quick to let her opinion be known: “When I grow up I don’t want to be a doctor because I don’t want to see all that gross stuff inside of you.”


But Ali always has been the more logical one. We play an iPad game of Settlers of Catan many nights before bed. One night, I sighed loudly as I got robbed yet again. Which is when she told me calmly,

“It’s just a game, Mom. There’s no trophy.”

Certainly not being a sentiment I’d taught her, I asked where she’d heard that.

“Sunday School. They say it all the time.”

I clearly need to have a talk with her Sunday School teacher.

And then there are the conversations I’ve had with my husband.

Chris and I learned that Apple has very specific Canadian taste in literature – no British or American classics for them.


But my favorite texts with my husband are the ones where I tell him the bizarre stuff that happens to me, expect him to freak out, and he totally doesn’t.


And when he takes my overactive-back-story-creating imagination and turns it right around. Such as the day Ali and I were hiking alone in the woods…

Chris Text

Because it’s a gigantic relief to quit looking around for a dead body and instead, start watching where you step.