Drought Updates from Lake Purdy.

On November 4th, right before it was announced that we were in a Stage Four Drought Emergency, I took a trip to our water supply, Lake Purdy, to see what it was looking like.

November 4:


A few days later, I went back to take sunset pictures.

November 11:

161111e-Lake-Purdy-Drought-SunsetFor more of the sunset pictures, click here.

For reference, this is what Lake Purdy looked like in June:

June 10:


It finally started raining a little over a week ago, and has rained what has felt like quite a bit since. The rain let up yesterday, so the kids and I fled the house for an Alabama History field trip today. While we were out, I decided to take them to Lake Purdy to see how things were looking.

It was fairly disheartening at first – it didn’t look that different.

December 7:


November 4:


The “stream” seemed slightly wider, but not by much.

December 7:


November 4:


But the kids found the whole scene amazing. We pretended to find giant dinosaur bones,

December 7:


And they seriously enjoyed the challenge of “walking on the cracks:”

December 7:


We came upon a couple of delightful gentlemen who showed the kids arrowheads and 1800s pottery they’d found, and tried to give them pointers on what to look for.

December 7:


As we got further down the stream toward what is left of the lake, things definitely started to widen out. This looked much better than last time.

December 7:


November 4:


There were birds chirping and flying overhead,

December 7:


December 7:


and despite the giant expanses of dryness, life seemed to be coming back to the lake.

December 7:


November 4:


But the most exciting moment when we started back toward our car and noticed tiny, vibrant streams seeping up through the cracks.

December 7:


November 4:


The dry earth is slowly giving away, from the inside out.

Alabama History…Err, Geography: Horse Pens 40

All I knew about Horse Pens 40 was that it was one of the places that will live in infamy of the “embarrassing” stories my parents tell about me.

(I’m not really embarrassed but I assume they keep telling the same stories over and over in hopes that I will become so – revenge or something, I assume.)

All our parents have those stories, right? For me, there’s the time I cleaned the kittens with my tongue, the fact that every Thanksgiving they prepared “chicken” for me in the kitchen because I hated turkey (yeah, it was turkey), and the infamous Horse Pens 40 camping trip where I screamed all night long, to the point that one of the other campers called the cops to come check to make sure my parents weren’t beating me.

I had not been there since, and I don’t know that they ever wanted to visit again, either. Perhaps we were on a “Banned Visitors” poster somewhere as well – who knows.

But I decided it was worth the investigation for our Alabama History project.

So Carla Jean and I loaded up the kids and drove to Steele, Alabama – right on the other side of Ashville.

The basic premise of Horse Pens 40 is that there are lots of rocks. And people have used these rocks as hideouts for many, many years – early civilizations, Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, moonshiners, and the like. There were also multiple battles fought amongst the rocks.

Now, it’s a rock-climbing mecca and Bluegrass concert venue. My kids love climbing rocks, so it had to be a good decision, right?

We arrived and the place looked deserted. No one in the ticketing office, or at the entrance. We wandered into the general store and restaurant and no one was there, either.

We tip-toed back out of the abandoned store and walked toward the rocks. Horse-Pens-40_MG_9657_3635

At first glance, it appeared that there was just one wall of rocks and then forest. But we quickly discovered that the rocks went on…and on.



The formations were fabulous. Caves and cracks and footholds and nooks and crannies.


Every formation had its own unique and fun features for the kids to play on – trees to climb,


Troll heads to defeat,


Cracks to wedge into,



Cracks that actually looked like (butt)cracks…


Flat vertical rocks to pretend to lie down on,



Bumpy rocks for learning yoga moves,


Smooth rocks for not falling while perfecting those moves,



Rocks that look just like elephant carvings,


And finally, a rock with the best view.




I can’t say that we learned much about Alabama History on this trip, but we experienced where history happened and oh-my-goodness did the kids LOVE it. They both declared it their favorite field trip yet, and we could have stayed for hours longer had our stomachs not all started growling (the weakest link in our field trip game is that I don’t believe in packed lunches.) The infinite fun to be had on the rocks, the countless caves to explore and paths to walk – it really was just spectacular.


I was ready to go back as soon as we left – and so were the kids.


As usual, Ali’s report tells the story better than mine, so here you go:


Cheer Amidst Chaos.

November and December are the busiest, are they not?

I’ve barely been able to put coherent thoughts together to talk to my children, let alone write. But I have been taking pictures and screen shots. So I’ll share those with you to buy myself some time.

Audible has decided to really hedge their bets on their advertising plan. I think it goes something like this…

“Okay guys. This ad will be directed specifically at moms. But we have no way to know if their children have been cuddling with them or LITERALLY torturing them. Or both.”

Saw this box. Immediately assumed “Take A Kidney, Leave a Kidney?”

That feeling when you agree to meet someone at their house to purchase something off of CraigsList and you show up and you’re not so sure it was a good idea…


Personally, when I go into a public bathroom, I prefer to not need to identify whose poop is in there.


Who doesn’t love a good custom fitting.

IMG_0295 3
I hope Bonnie Ree also has an obscene amount of hand sanitizer.

Confession: I still have a home phone. I do not know why. I never answer the calls.

But WHO WOULD, with the calls I get??


I feel like we’re to the point that biologists are just trolling us with creature names.


Oh – Biologists AND lake namers.


And while we’re at it, candy makers.


Can you really trust a Pest Control guy that seems to be under siege himself?


I have many thoughts about this window.


a. I love being loved, but preferably in a non-violent manner.
b. I am impressed with the excellent window penmanship, but
c. It appears that, although Jess is still loving faces off, Tiff has moved on from the practice. Maybe she’s now just loving people in a standardized way.

Do you really want to be sitting behind your friend the inflatable unicorn? What if it all of a sudden feels the urge to deflate?


I can only assume that there is some seriously championship liquid that comes out of that machine.


Thank you, V-Tech, for teaching vital life skills at such a young age.


We found the most royal tree on a walk the other day.


It’s not simply a Sparkleberry Tree.


It insists on being referred to with its royal name,

Tree Sparkleberry.

I guarantee you that Tree Sparkleberry has her Siri refer to her in the same way that mine refers to me.


And finally, I’d like to say:

My dad is the best. That is all.


…or at least, until I asked his permission to share the above screenshot.