Saturday, September 8, 2012

How to plan a vacation

 First off.....pick somewhere you LOVE!!  WE LOVE the mountains!  We love hiking!  We love picnics and smores over the fire!  So the Smoky Mountains were an easy pick.
 How far do you want to travel?  We chose the Smokies also because it is only about 12hrs from our home.  Originally we were not going to leave as soon as we did so we wanted to travel it all in one day.  12hrs is my limit for traveling in one day ;).  If it is over that we break it into 2 trips and either have to sell an arm and a liver pay a lot of money for 2+hotel rooms or some unsuspecting family wonderful family takes us in.  Yes we have talked about a travel trailer.....just not sure yet? 

For some flying is a great option, or camping out, or lots of things! 
Have a BUDGET! 
Figure out how much gas you will use, how much flights will cost (and then buy them so they don't go up!)? How much will you spend on food- how many times will you eat out ,or are you bringing food from home, or buying food once you get there? 
How much will you spend on trinkets? 
How much do you want to spend for housing?  Or will you stay with others?

I think the reason we can and do vacation even with a larger family is because we plan looonnnnggg ahead of time.  Sometimes plans change, but for us we will cut out in other months when possible so we can have a vacation.  We save, go without, or whatever it takes.  We just LOVE our vacation time :) 
 For our vacation this time we decided to eat out on the way to and from.  We also allotted to eat out 2-3 times while we were there.  This is a HUGE treat for us as we typically eat out maybe once a month with our family....if that!  We then brought from home the rest of our food except fresh things like milk, fruits, and veggies.  This means we brought boxes of food.  The great news is this was all bought with coupons or in bulk!  So it was much cheaper :).  Worth the effort for us.  
 We paid for the cabin rental with some of tax return money :).  This is a great way for us to travel since hotels for us are ridiculous!  Renting a WHOLE HOUSE is WAAAYYY cheaper than even one hotel room most of the time.  Now, I won't lie, we splurged a bit and got a nice BIG house, but even with that it was less per night than most hotel rooms. 
 I plan for "treats" during while most of you were picking up great deals for school snacks- I was picking up those snacks for vacation!  We typically do not do snack time.  I know you can pick your jaw up off the floor.  We just don't.  Sometimes our youngest Joanna has a few animal crackers or something if dinner gets too late.  We typically eat consistent times, and our kids get desert- fruits at lunch and a small sweet thing at dinner.  We try to make sure our portions are good.  Yes, I know eat little and often, but I guess I just find that hard to do with school schedule, therapies, and other things.  It's all good our kids haven't died or anything ;).
 This I love to see!
 Picnic on Sparks Lane for our 3rd day of vacation! 
 We had got up early before hike Cade's Cove Loop road.  Which on Wednesday and Saturday are closed to traffic until 10am so that hikers and bikers have the road to themselves.  Which is very nice! 
 It is a pretty easy 3 mile loop hike if you take the Sparks Lane cut through.  We then went back and picnicked here later! 

I have to mention in the picture above Michael had a long conversation with me!  The longest ever I think.  I kept saying different things back to him like momma, or dadda, etc.  and he repeated it!!!!!!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!
 OK so I have to explain kids are actually polar bears deep down along with my husband!  You see it looks lovely and warm right?  Except this water has come down from the surrounding Mountains.....and it is FREEZING COLD!!!!!!  No one in their right minds would wade, swim, and play in this.....except ummmm our family usually are not in our right minds :). 
 I however, seem to always volunteer to stay and hang out with the "littlest" of the group, take photos, or whatever so I don't have to get in that crazy cold water! 
 Awww......but it is fun to see my babes enjoying themselves!!! 
 So highlights I wrote down and remember:
Seeing Michael and Joshua snuggle during reading time....
Roasting hotdogs and smores with BIG marshmallows......
 Seeing grave sights of many young people and one family that lost 3 children in 3 years!  2 born and died on the same day- 1 that lived a few months :(  broke my heart.......
 Family worship by the piano!!
 Reading the Wemmick's Book during worship and reminding myself that stars and dots only stick if you let them.  **If you have children and you don't have the Wemmick's books- by Max Lucado- need them!  GREAT lessons with Eli the Wemmick maker that seriously are wonderfully written! 
 Oh and in those books......they have to go see their MAKER!  And HE reminds them that what others say doesn't matter- Can I get an AMEN? 
 What?  You don't roast hotdogs and smores in your pj's?  Or in Joanna's case a diaper?  ;)
 Feeding Michael marshmallow goo........I think he liked it!
 We got to see lots of wild turkeys, and I am not talking about my kiddos!  :)
 One family of turkeys walked right in front of us, and it was stinking cute to hear our kids comment on the "family".  Awww........
 Joanna what are you doing? 
 We got to see several deer too, oh and the big  black thing in the tree- YUP that was a BEAR!!!!!  Hanging out!!!!!!!!  The Great Smokey National Park has a very very HIGH number of black bears!!!!  We have seen at least one every time we have visited (which is 3 times). 
 There is a hammock chair on the porch that let's just say was nice and relaxing! 
 Listening to our Abigail pick out chords on the piano- takes after her daddy and was playing by ear! 
This of course was ummmm.....well big kids playing sword fights with the "sticks" for roasting!  Hilarious! 
 Look at all that marshmallow!!!!!
 Yep, mom going to eat it all right now!
 Another thing that was nice about our cabin is that it was on a couple of acres, and although we could just make out the "next cabin" on one side of us....there was no one staying there- so really we were pretty alone! 
 It was great to only have nature noises each night!!!  LOVED THAT!!!!
And to our biggest "kid" in the family who loves to have fun and play with our babes!  I love that he can have sooo much fun playing and spending time with our children!  This means sooo very much to them and to me and I LOVE IT!!!!!

***Oh and breaking news!!  For those who are not facebook friends:  Michael ate not one, but 2 cheese balls (you know the msg kind).  He ate them as in bit into them with his own teeth and CHEWED them!!!!  PEOPLE I can not tell you how HUGE THIS IS for a boy that didn't want to put much up to his mouth at all 6 months ago!!!!!  WAHOOOOOO - GO MICHAEL!!!!!!!!!!

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