A Family Vacation

It was a long time coming. Although we’ve gotten together at holidays over the years, we haven’t really been able to pull off an official “Family Vacation” since Ellie was 2. And that was 6 years ago. Two more babies and a new DIL later, we were all gathered at a big old log cabin in Gatlinburg, TN for a long overdue gathering. Even though the weather was quite uncooperative (it rained 4 out of the six days we were there) and by the end of the week a couple of us were struggling with bad colds, I still think it was a great success and filled us up with memories!
Here a just a couple of the highlights –
On the first sunny day, we trekked over to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where we enjoyed the drive out to Cades Cove. The girls had never been to a National Park and really thought we were going to a big playground (sorry, kids!), but I think they enjoyed the day!
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One of the highlights of the day was the special “guest appearance” of my niece Christiana –
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What a treat that she could join us (from Chattanooga) for the day! And how fortunate that it was a sunny day!
More Great Smoky Mountain National Park pictures here if you’re interested.

Between showers one day we checked out a local pottery
and Toby and Ellie tried their hand at some mountain music!
There is a ton of “touristy” stuff to do in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, and we chose Wonderworks as our big splurge of the week.
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There were lots of activities to do, but I think the most fun was watching Hayley (age 6) climb the rock wall. It was a first for her, and she never hesitated for a moment.
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She also went on the High Ropes Adventure with her Mom, Lara and Josiah.
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That Hayley is certainly one brave 6 year old!
Everyone had a good time –
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Ellie practicing her motorcross skills
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Maddie taking on (and winning mostly) the air hockey challenge!
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The big boys playing “Mind Ball” – to see who could think less the longest. It was a long match (really, about 5 minutes!) but Josiah finally won. Is that a good thing?
And Noah was a champ the whole time – just watching all of the activities!
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(You can see more Wonderworks photos HERE if you’d like to!)
But let’s face it – most of our time was spent at “Mountain Dreams” – our home away from home for the week.
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That’s Denali, our “guard” Great Pyrenees. She’s Lara’s dog, and she was wonderful with the kids and all of our inside time. Like when we celebrated Josiah’s 30th birthday –
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the girls made sure she was part of the excitement!
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Yes, it was great having Denali a part of the family vacation!
Then there was the day of the Jacuzzi and the bubble explosion –

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Yep, Dad was in charge of that bubble extravaganza! (Just one more squirt, Dad, please?)
And even though it was cold and rainy most days, that didn’t stop us from using the hot tub on the deck!
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You can find some more random shots of our “Fun at the Cabin” time here, and if you’d like to see the whole “Family Vacation” set, you can check it out here.

Ok, so I guess this was a little more than the “highlights”, but I tried to keep it short(ish), honest. The week had it’s ups and downs, but then with 11 people living in one house (with zero soundproofing!), I guess that’s to be expected. But all in all, it was a grand week, full of hugs and kisses, new adventures, and deepening relationships. I sure do love these guys –
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Love. These. Guys.
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