Saturday, August 30, 2008

College Football Has Arrived

It's the first weekend of September, and that means it's time for the college football season to kickoff again. As Jill and I await our baby girl's December arrival, we'll have 4 months of college football to watch. Now, I know that doesn't excite Jill, but I'm ecstatic about the start of Auburn's new season. With both new offensive and defensive coordinators, as well as new players, this Auburn team will be much different than last year's 9-4 team. The main excitement is due to Auburn's transition to the new spread offense system under OC Tony Franklin. This is huge because Auburn has always been known for their "3 yards and a cloud of dust" style offense for the last 20+ years. Does this mean Auburn's run of being considered "Running Back U" is coming to an end? Will Auburn now begin producing talented QB's instead? Lots of questions remain as I wait for the 6pm kickoff this evening. Of course, winning is key, and this team has the potential to have a special season. For those checking in on our road to becoming parents, be prepared to read over some serious football talk as well. The season is officially here! WAR EAGLE!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Matt Goes to Prison...Again!

Tennessee State Prison

Yesterday I joined two fellow photographers for a photowalk inside the walls of the incredibly cool, yet abandoned Tennessee State Prison. My first visit was made back in May ended abruptly after I fell down the stairs of a guard station resulting in a nasty scrape on my left wrist. Thankfully, my wrist took the brunt of the fall instead of my camera. I left minutes later with my tail tucked between my legs, especially since I was there by myself and technically trespassing on state property.

A few weeks back I warmed up to the idea of going back as long as I had someone else with me, and so Sunday morning I joined two of my Flickr friends for revisit. Knowing the schedule of the guards helps, and so we had a window from 8am to 4pm to work with on the prison property. After parking inside the walls at the back of the prison the three of us opened up the camera bags, powered up the DSLR's and got to shooting. Now let me just say, this place still remains one of the creepiest places I've ever walked around. Not only is the abandoned prison 110+ years old and therefore falling apart, but it also has the best collection of buzzards and blackbirds I've ever seen grouped together. It definitely adds to the already haunting appeal this place has on anyone.

Amie V Shoots

Despite the creepiness, we instantly began our "urban exploration" by walking the walls and climbing into the guard stations atop the walls. The views from there were surreal knowing that once upon a time there were actual armed guards looking down into the yard at the state's worst criminals. This place housed some insanely dangerous criminals during it's nearly 100 year operation, including death row. Lets just say that most of those thoughts were blocked out of my mind while I walked around and inside this place. No need to freak myself out anymore than I already was, right. And so early on I returned to the infamous guard station to get some more shots of the cell block inside. Thankfully, no injuries occured, but some cool photos did. Below is one of my favs from the entire walkabout.


Anyways, we continued towards the front and was able to get inside the fenced gate thanks to the newly demolished front gate building. Granted, we had to climb the rubble to get through the gate, but that's easier than trying to squeeze through a chained gate or over the barbed wire on top. More walking around eventually led to the mischievous entry into the building itself via the side fire escape. Once inside, I was on another level of awe. The freakiness of being inside was lost thanks to my eye constantly being attached to my viewfinder. One scene that I captured really brought me back to the time when the prison could've been in operation. That scene is below.

Office Lost in Time

After exploring many of the offices inside, we found a curiously dark tunnel that led to even more darkness. Didn't stop us, though. Yep, Matt made sure to bring his heavy duty flashlight and even led the others through the wire mesh walled walkway, carefully choosing my steps on the wood-planked path into a seemingly closed off room. Once inside, there was collapsed ceilings and a spongy floor to greet us (due to the delaminated linoleum tiles). At this point I handed out the breathing masks I had remembered at the last minute before I left from home because the air was definitely not what I would consider "healthy." Minutes late I found another staircase with some visible light, so we followed the stairs to what ended up being the rooftop of the great prison. Again, normally I am completely freaked out about heights, but somehow led the charge out the rooftop door and onto the mammoth roof. From there, the sights were incredible. Off in the distance (6-7 miles) was the skyline of Nashville, which was so cool to see.


Not too much time was spent there, though, because we still had plenty to explore. Back down the stairs we went and back into the creepy, spongy floored office where we again tried to figure out what to do. Our main goal was to find a way into the actual cell blocks, and so we made our way back into the main offices only to find the one visible access point to be locked. Having no keys worthy of opening such a door we kept looking around for another way inside, which ended up leading us right back to the creepy, spongy floored room...again. Yeah, at this point I really didn't like this room. But Amie persisted we look harder for an access point via this room. And our persistence payed off when Amie noticed an "EXIT" sign on the back wall. There along the dark back wall was a semi-hidden stairwell to another level. We climbed through and over so much junk (waiting for someone of something to jump out any minute) and into yet another dark, creepy, spongy floored office room. But this time the bright light of one door welcomed us with the view of the left cell block. Woohoo! I went back to get Kim who was still back in the offices, and then we went inside the cell block.

Once inside, we roamed freely searching for that sweet shot we really wanted. My main interest, though, was the individual prison cells. More than likely finding anything original would be hard, but I searched anyways. And what I found were a few crazy prison cells including one that stood out by having a naked woman painted on the wall. From what it looked like, someone (former prisoner?) had painted a scene (Titanic movie type pose) of a woman lying on her side with bottles of wine, fruits and other stuff in the foreground. Now, this was only exposed (good choice of word, eh) only because the other layer of paint over it had begun peeling away. Very interesting to say the least since the scene made me think of a gifted artist/inmate painting a lover on the walls of his cell to remind him daily of what was waiting for him if he ever got out. Of course, there were a few others including one with pictures of Jesus & Mary, as well as bible pages stuck to the ceiling and walls. Definitely a close 2nd in the weird prison cell category.


Eventually, the heat and stagnant poisoned air got to us enough that we made our way out...all the way out to the fresh air that awaited us back at the front gate. Really, at that point we had reached our peak of creative photography and just wanted to call it a day. And so we made our way around the eastern wall back towards the car, only to stop again at the power station next door. This building housed huge coal-burning furnaces that apparently generated the energy needed to sustain such a large facility. Very cool, yet again we were low on stamina and made our way back outside and back to the car. As we rode back out of the prison walls and back into civilization we all just couldn't comment enough on how cool of an experience that just was. To know that we not only survived, but came away with a great collection of photos made it all worth it.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Babies R Us by JILL

Registering -- I honestly think this is one of my most favorite things to do! I really wish it was possible for more occasions. Many of you know I'm a present person, and yes, I like giving as much as receiving. Really, it's as if you're a kid in a candy store...all the goodies to choose from...and since you're "paying" with a scanning's as if everything is free (at least temporarily).
I love guessing what's wrapped in all the different size packages & bags! (My favorite from our wedding shower was finding the coffee maker, I couldn't wait!!! I just HAD to have it!) Luckily, our baby girl has many things cousins Mason & Melina have out grown (and man, they grow so much in between our visits!). On our next visit to Tampa we really need to inventory what we have...and what we still need. Either way, this hasn't stopped us from registering for more goodies! We previously registered online at Target...but seriously, online isn't as fun as the scan gun! We headed over to the local Babie's R Us to register today. I wasn't sure if Matt was going to be "into" it. Of course, he didn't know about some of the really cool gadgets I've learned from newer, more seasoned parents. He did have a preference on the stroller, liked the 3 wheeler better - so we picked the one with the iBaby sound system. I will admit, it has a MUCH better turning radius than the 3 wheeling alternative and it folds SO much easier too! We had fun picking out bath toys, bibs, some cute little outfits and books! I had too much fun checking out the baby girl shoes, Matt's really will be out numbered - I LOVE SHOES!
And diapers! The Pampers Size 1 Value Box has a 216 count. From what I've heard, newborns go through approx 10 diapers a day for a this giant Value Box wont even get us through the first month! That's just crazy!
As you all know, we are excited about our new arrival...and all the fun & eventful things that are coming along with her! But still, the most fun will happen once she does arrive! :)

The Baby Barnes Registry:
Babies-R-Us Registry & Target Registry

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Money Shot by JILL

Matt & I have spent the last 2 weekends revealing to our families WE ARE EXPECTING A GIRL! From the poll, everyone thought boy. Matt's family thought boy too, since "everyone" has a boy first - they described Matt as "the rebel" for breaking tradition. One cousin, Alexis, cheered Matt for "breaking the curse." Either way, our families are most excited just to have the little one on the way.

I'm 21wks tomorrow. She was moving all over the place in the ultrasound we saw 3wks ago. Since then I've finally started to feel our little girl squirming a bit. She usually kicks right under my belly button. It'll be nice when Matt can feel it too, but that should be in another week or so.

Now the most popular question is, "Do you have any names picked out?" We are quick to respond NO. We have still another 4 months to make that very important decision! Please be patient with us.

To understand the picture, think as if we sat the baby on a copy machine. Her booty is on the left, with her legs sticking out to the right. The highlighted line on the bottom leg is her thigh bone. The blurry portion between the legs/knees was her hand, she was moving it when the picture was taken.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Marcel & Jill @ Griffin Booth
Originally uploaded by crashmattb

This guy is a new country artist, his name is Marcel. We met this guy at the Griffin Booth in early June. I had pulled up websites of any artists I wasn't familiar with. I was driving to work today and Marcel popped up on XM Channel 16. It took me a second to realize, oh yeah, we met this guy.

It was really interesting to meet some of the country artists, even though I'm not one of the star-struck types. I think my favorites of the experience were Bo Bice, Little Big Town, Phil Stacey and Julianne Hough. The "biggie" I could have done without, Jessica Simpson - I'm just not a fan.

Overall, it's been nice seeing/hearing some of the artists on XM that we met. :)

BMW Should Totally Hire Me...

X6 @ Tampa
Originally uploaded by crashmattb

Alright, so this post has nothing to do with the baby, but I wanted to go on record for asking BMW to officially name me their next corporate automotive photographer. Just take a look at this photo. I snapped it while holding my camera below my hip while walking across Kennedy Blvd in Tampa, so I think I could do much better if they were to give me an upgraded DSLR camera and a flashy M3 (matte black paint finish) to drive around. Now that's motivation...haha!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Music Monday - The Kooks

We made it back from Tampa on an early flight this morning, and things haven't really slowed down since (well, except for a few minutes to blog this, of course). I missed last week's "Music Monday", but here I come roaring back with this video from one of my new fav bands, The Kooks. They're a indie rock back out of the UK with a great sound. Enjoy!

BTW, Jill said the baby is swimming laps inside her tummy today. Looks like we're gonna have an active baby on the way! Yes, I'm now wondering how soon he/she can start swimming, golf, soccer, or anything else. :-)

Here's a sneak peek at one of the photos I took over the weekend. More to come...

First Christian Church of Tampa
Originally uploaded by crashmattb

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Short Weekend in Tampa

Christina & Family
Originally uploaded by crashmattb

We're back in Tampa this weekend for Christina's (far right in photo) wedding shower and bachelorette party, along with the revealing of our babies gender to Jill's side of the family today. It's a short weekend trip, but we're squeezing as much as we can into it.

We'll fly back into Nashville tomorrow morning just in time for me to get to work, woohoo! At least our A/C was replaced on Friday, so no more hotel stays (hopefully, knock on wood). And next weekend we're driving down to Georgia to see my family and do the baby gender reveal to them as well. By that point Jill and I will be able to proclaim to the world if we'll be having a baby girl or baby boy in December. It's another step, which reminds me....we need to pick out a name. That'll be out task for the upcoming weeks or so. I've realized we're extremely picky about names based on conversations to date, so this may take a while. We'll keep you posted. Until next time, later!