Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Family Vacation and William's Birthday

About a year ago, we had gone on a small family vacation and Chopper had been impressed by a family reunion at the hotel we stayed at.  For the past year, he's been organizing one for his family and we were able to go in June.  We had decided to do it in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to take advantage of so many different things to do and we had a really good time.  Perhaps in hindsight it was more expensive than we anticipated but you live and learn right?

It took us 16 hours to drive there but the kids handled it well -- mostly thanks to movies in the car.  The first day that we were there we all decided to go to Dollywood Amusement Park and it was worth it!  It was such a kid friendly park and although it was busy for the summer, the kids had a good time for their first trip to a theme park and we would definitely recommend it!

The first ride we went on what the water rafting and their faces say it all!!  I was worried about them being scared but they were so excited and loved every minute.

They also have an actual working steam train that does a drive around the park in addition to more amusement park typical rides.  William's favorite was probably the cars that you drive on the track -- he cried when he had to get off.  Megan's was the swings and Abby's maybe the rafting.

We also discovered that William loves maps.  He walked around telling us where to go with his nose buried and wanted it every time we tried to figure out where we really were going!

He also had to give the puppy hugs.  He loves dogs although lately he's had a few run-ins that have made it not quite so fun.

We only had 2 days together with everyone and only half the family was able to make it.  We ended up with Chopper's mom, all his sisters, Danny and Joanna's kids (except 2) and us.  Our second day we went into the Great Smoky Mountains and had a picnic lunch all together and took an easy walk to see a waterfall.

 Megan usually hates to have her picture taken of course but when we all came together for this picture she just stepped right in.  She didn't smile of course, but she was there!

The Great Smoky Mountains were indeed beautiful!!  We stayed one extra day and did a waterfall hike on our own that ended up being about 3 miles round trip.  William had to be carried down because he got bitten by something and then he fell asleep on Chopper's shoulder.  But overall they did really well and said they wanted to do more . . . another day!

 We also tend to be a family that visits Aquariums.  We went with Grandma Whittacre to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg and it was fun (if overpriced!).  

Pretending to be trees on the hike.

We made it to the waterfall!!!

The kids all wanted to touch it but it was pretty slick.

The original plan was the drive from Tennessee to Ohio to spend a few days with my parents and celebrate William's birthday.  The day before we were leaving, we got a call from the moving company that we needed to do an on site survey of our household goods no later than July 1st!  Wish we had known that beforehand.  So we drove to my parents as planned, but because it would take us 2 days to get back (they're further away), we ended up leaving the next morning.  Needless to say, I was angry and upset but I guess it's ok.  After all, they've promised to come visit us in Germany!!!

Poor William has to live through everyone else's birthdays before his comes around.  Originally I told him his birthday was in the summer, but when the girls got out of school and started talking about summer he thought it was his birthday.  So then I revised it to when we're at Grandma and Grandpa's house!  So literally, the night we arrived, mom and I went on a birthday present and cake shopping spree and we had the most impromptu birthday party ever -- and guess what?  He didn't care!!  He just loved finally having his birthday!!

Finally blowing out his OWN candles!!!

That last day of our drive home, my best friend Jenn was driving out to go to her parents in Pennsylvania and we were on the same road!!  We literally had to figure out a word problem (first time in my life it hasn't been associated with school by the way) and another friend did it for us anyway, but we were able to meet up at a gas station in Little Rock and say goodbye one last time!!  Yes, we had already said goodbye before but it was fun to get another one in.

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