Thursday, November 20, 2014

Over the river and through the woods... grandmother's house we go!  Oh. My. Gosh!  We just got back from our first ever (non-Colorado) family vacation.  And I am tired!  We packed a ton into 10 days and were never more than a few feet away from each other.  Day and night.  In the the tent...all day and all night long...for 10 days, folks.  That's a lot of time together!  And it was really more like 3 separate trips. 

First Trip; Swim Meet:
All four kids swam at a three day swim meet at the University of Tennessee.  It was an awesome pool!  Together they swam 40 races.  It was a bit exhausting, but they all did really great and Sam got to swim at his first big meet!  And the funny thing is, he's even ranked as one of the top 10 (6 and under boys) swimmers in the state for the events he swam.  There just aren't that many little guys competing! 

Second Trip; Tent Camping:
When we left the swim meet we started on our camping trip spending the first night in the Smoky Mountain National Park.  It was gorgeous!  Chris and I had honeymooned there, so it was nice to visit again.  We camped in the to a river.  It got cold at night, down to 34.  And it sounded like we were sleeping next to a waterfall.  But it was awesome!  Hotdogs, s'mores and hot chocolate all taste better by campfire!

Travelling....we were packed in there with all the swim meet stuff, camping gear, food, clothes and, of course, Max.

This was our campsite in the Smoky Mountains.  Beautiful, but a little cold!   

We left the swim meet with a lot of wet swim towels so we tried to dry them on a line.  It was just too cold and wet though and a few hours later when we took them down I think they were actually wetter! 

Aren't they cute when they're asleep?

The next day we headed over to Charleston, SC to camp.  It was a more "citified" campground, but nice just the same.  In the morning the kids got to see the ocean for the first time!  The water was cold, but they were able to get their feet wet, find seashells, and watch people surf and kayak.   It was a lot of fun!

When we travel, we rarely eat out.  We pack lots of food to make sandwiches.  It's nice to find a city park or a nearby lake to eat at and lets us see a little more than just the highway. 
We also get to play really fabulous games Chris makes up like "kick the pinecone!"  Friends, we are nothing but cool!
Third Trip; Florida Tourist:
Next we went down to visit Chris' parents in The Villages - a gigantic retirement community where they live most of the year.  Our first day in Florida we went to Disney's Magic Kingdom.  We had one-day passes as Christmas gifts and were excited to finally use them.  And, um, just wow!  There really aren't words, are there?  From the amazing design and architecture, lights and sounds to the crowds, lines and oh the stores!  It's quite an experience and the kids loved every minute of it! 

We all rode Space Mountain.  It. Was. Awesome!  Sam sat in front of me, and honestly, I'm not even sure if he was tall enough to ride the ride.  We never looked and nobody asked us.  What kind of parents are we?  He cried the whole way...I felt so bad for him.  When we got off the ride (and he finished crying) he said, "Mom, I don't think I was ready for that....and I don't think I want to see stars for a really long time."  After buying a hat and a watch, the teller gave him a big button to wear that said "I conquered Space Mountain."  He loved it! 

Papa and Gigi had a lot of fun riding all the rides.  Each adult had a partner for the day to ride rides with and keep track worked out really well!   
Our "littles" had a great view to watch the parade.

Aren't they adorable?  Talking about all they stuff they just bought!  They finally understood why I made them save all their Christmas and birthday money. 

We survived!  Waiting for the tram back to the car with really sore feet! 
The next day we headed down near Tampa to go to Clearwater Beach.  It really was beautiful and warm enough the kids could swim in the ocean.  

Then our last day in Florida we spent in Jane and Howard's retirement community where more people drive golf carts than cars!  This is the parking along the streets! 

And for my UK friends...
And, just because...
We saw a movie, went swimming and the kids went to listen to music and dance in the square while Chris and I went on a date night.  Nice!  

Finally, we headed home.  We had originally planned to camp one more night...but we were tired and ready to be in our own beds so we drove all the way home and got in around 1am.  And we are celebrating tonight because we are finally caught up on all the laundry and missed homework! 

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