Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gatlinburg part3

Our next big adventure in Gatlinburg was a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Now, everyone knows you cannot go to the Smoky Mountains without stopping for a picture at the sign, so here is our official 2012 Smoky Mountain Family Picture.

 

Rod claims that what we did was not really a hike, but a nature walk.  Well, we were on a dirt path on a mountain.  I consider that hiking.  As I explained to my mother-in-law, I like nature.  Of course I love to look at nature, everyone does right?  I just don't want to touch it- or worse yet, for it to touch me.  I'm not really an outdoors-y kind of girl, so this was a bit of a stretch for me.  A stretch, but still a good time.  I enjoyed watching the kids wander and explore.  And it was beautiful.  I took a lot of pictures.

 getting started...


At every tree or plant that was marked, Will would read the placard to everyone.
It helped him work on his reading, and he felt pretty special.


The kids on a fallen log over the creek.


Will and Paige skipping rocks.


The family on a bridge.


Our ultimate destination on the hike (nature walk, whatever...)
Cataract Falls


Everyone in front of the falls.


When we got up to the falls, there was a cute, young couple sharing a romantic picnic there.  Well, it was romantic until we showed up.  I really hope that guy didn't have an engagement ring he was planning to give her.  We kind of killed the mood...


After checking out the Smoky Mountain museum, we went back to the condo for lunch and to get cleaned up.  Then we headed over to Ober Gatlinburg.  Ober Gatlinburg is an amusement park on top of the mountain.  The kids are still a bit young for some of the activities, but we managed to have a good time with what they can do!
 The kids rode this carousel several times.


The girls all cruising together.


But Drew insisted on his on ride.


While the quads were sticking to the small rides, Will and Rod went off on a bigger adventure.  Ober Gatlinburg has these big, long alpine slides.  You take a chair lift up to the very top of the mountain, then ride down on a sled.  Will is afraid of heights, so I didn't think he would do it, but he said he wanted to.  Rod went with him and I stayed behind with the little guys, worried the entire time that Will would panic or something.

 Rod and Will heading up in the chair lift...


Then racing down, both wearing big smiles!

Will loved it!  That little guy constantly surprises me.  He really is turning into a big boy right in front of my eyes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gatlinburg part2

While we were in Gatlinburg, we stayed in a condo.  Rod and I and his parents each had a bedroom on the main floor.  The kids slept in a loft on the second floor of the condo.  The boys shared a bunk bed (just like at home) and the girls all slept in a queen sized bed also in the loft.  I wish I had gotten a picture of them sleeping.  They were so cute all snuggled up in a row :-).  To get up to the loft, there was a spiral staircase.  The kids had never seen one before, so they thought it was really cool!

 My crew winding up the staircase


The forecast for our second full day called for some rain, so we thought that would be a good opportunity to do some indoor activities we had planned to hit.  Our first stop for the day was the aquarium.  I have to say that I am not always that enthusiastic about aquariums, but the Ripley Aquarium in Gatlinburg was great!  The kids absolutely loved it!

Rod and Julia 


Will really getting into the shark display 


How many kids can you cram into the tube?
We got four of the five!


 We got to the penguin display just as the trainers were feeding them.  This was absolutely the cutest thing!  I could have stayed there all day and watched.  The trainers would throw fish and the penguins would catch them.  They were so adorable!


I loved the little arm band the penguins had on with their names on them.  This one is Nick.  They all had cute little person names.  Nick, Mikey, Doug...
I absolutely loved these penguins!


After the penguin display, we came across a large tank where they had two 'mermaids' swimming.  My kids, especially Izzie, were mesmerized!  Every time one of the girls waved to the crowd, Izzie would wave back.  A few times the girls blew kisses and Izzie squealed, "She blew me a kiss!"  After the show was over, they announced that we could meet the mermaids.  This made Izzie's day.  Probably her week.  Possibly her life!

The kids with the pink mermaid.

The kids with the purple mermaid. 


After the aquarium, we went to dinner at the Dixie Stampede.  This is a dinner show featuring horses and trick riders.  I cannot tell you how much my kids loved this show.  We all had a wonderful time!!  I had one of those magical Mommy moments where I looked around and saw the joy on all of my kids faces and my heart nearly burst.  It was a night I'll never forget.

The show has the audience divided in two.  Half cheer for the North team and half cheer for the South.  We were cheering for the North.  When the women riders for the North team won their event, they threw carnations into the crowd.  One of the riders, looked into the crowd, spotted Drew, pointed to him and threw the carnation to him.  Those who know Drew know that he is an absolute lady killer.  I was not shocked he got the flower.  He was thrilled and loved his flower!
Drew showing off his carnation.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gatlinburg

We took our family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN in the Smoky Mountains this year.  It was a wonderful time!  We brought along Rod's parents and everyone really enjoyed themselves.  It was such an interesting experience.  We went away and didn't take any 'baby gear.'  No strollers- not even a wagon!  My little babies are turning into such big kids.  While I occasionally miss the baby stage, now that we are in the kid stage, it seems like we are able to have more fun with them!  We can go places and try things that would be impossible with four babies.  I'm loving this watching the kids experience these new things!


We stayed four days in Gatlinburg and I took tons of pictures.  I'm trying to control myself and not post every single one, but I'm still going to break the trip down into several different posts.  Here we are on our first full day.  One of the reasons we chose Gatlinburg as our destination was because Rod really wanted to take the kids fishing.  We found a stream where kids under 12 were able to fish without needing to get a license.  The kids were excited to get out there and fish.  Rod was excited.  I was excited for about 15 minutes.  I quickly began to worry that I was going to have a heart attack.  I had too much to worry about!  I was nervous that someone was going to fall in the water.  I didn't trust the vines and growth along the shore.  I was afraid of poison ivy or poison oak or something else, so I kept trying to keep the kids from touching anything.  I was also worried about the hooks.  Rod and his Dad were casting the lines for the kids and then handing them the rods to hold, but several times, the kids swung the rods around trying to cast them themselves.  I could imagine one of them catching a sibling on their hook.  


Izzie holding her treasured Barbie fishing rod.


Rod and Jim helping Will.


Jim and Drew fishing.


 Rod helping Julia.


 My little Drew hanging out on an old stump.


The only fish we caught that day was a bag of goldfish crackers I brought along :-)


While the fishing outing made me extremely anxious, I have to admit that the scenery was beautiful.  The weather was perfect and the Smoky Mountains really are quite breath-taking.

We saw a crane downstream.


Even after all of my worries, it turns out that we all survived :-)



After dinner, we went out to dinner. 
Jim and Judy
Izzie, Paige, Drew, Will and Julia