Category Archives: so much fun

catch the moment: wk 52

I have such mixed feelings about not continuing this project into a third year. In fact, I haven’t taken a photo with my DSLR since New Year’s Eve. On one hand, it’s been liberating to not have that pic-of-the-day hovering over me but it feels wrong to not intentionally take a picture every day. While I love the finished product, the day to day and week to week obligation starts to take the fun out of it after so long. All in all, it’s been a great year. The time between Christmas and returning to work today has just flown by. We had company or were visiting my in-laws the entire time I was off and I loved the family time. My niece and nephew stayed with us for 4 extra days and it just made me realize how much I’m missing out on with them in Tennessee while I’m in Indiana. I always feel a little sad this time of year. The anticipation of the holiday is over – the Christmas decorations are not putting themselves away. All of the fat food I consumed is now consuming me and I’m mad at myself for having no self-control for the past 2 months. Cold weather and snow are surely on their way. We’ve got a couple of months (minimum) before sandal season returns (and my first baby turns 6??). Can we skip ahead to spring now please?

Gratitude puts you in a good mood, right? Let’s go there. I’m grateful to have a vacation towards the end of this year to look forward to. I’m glad to have a clean slate, starting fresh at the gym this year after finally slowing down on the kitchen remodeling that kept me away for the last couple of months. I’m thankful that the Bachelor is back on. Ha! I’m thankful to be able to have a job I like with great people. I am thankful for another year of good health with my husband and little boys. There, that feels better. Now I can move along.

358/365: Thursday, December 24th. Christmas Eve (and my mama’s birthday!). The gang’s all here…except Penelope was already asleep. The 4 big kids put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. 12-24-2015

359/365: Friday, December 25th. Christmas! Some of Dexter and Penelope’s favorite gifts. 12-25-2015

360/365: Saturday, December 26th. We made the short trip to Richmond to visit family and go to a Christmas dinner/baby shower at my uncle’s restaurant Hometown Dining Co. It was nice to see everyone. 12-26-2015

361/365: Sunday, December 27th. A lunch at Jagger’s before it was time for my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and little Penelope to go home. I hate that they live so far away and will always cherish the memories of this Christmas that they spent with us. 12-27-2015

362/365: Monday, December 28th. Ryan and I were off work the whole week. We took the kids to the Eiteljorg Museum to see the huge miniature train exhibit, Jingle Rails12-28-2015

363/365: Tuesday, December 29th. We took the kids to the YMCA for a little exercise and Dexter wanted to show off his new shirt that of course matched his boots. Lucky for him, it rained for about 5 days straight following Christmas. Not that it would have mattered, he’d have worn them anyway. He can be kind of adorable.12-29-2015

364/365: Wednesday, December 30th. A little shopping at the mall with this cool guy to get those Bath & Body Works deals for mom and some new jeans for dad. 12-30-2015

365/365: Thursday, December 31st. I drove Isabella and Malachi to Lexington to meet my brother-in-law and Penelope so he could take them on home then we went to Ryan’s mom and dad’s to celebrate Christmas with them. This sweet, 10 year old boy knew how much I loved one of his pieces from art camp this summer and recreated it for me to put in my kitchen. I was a split second from crying but held it together. My nephew Spencer is one talented artist and an awesome kid.12-31-2015

So, that’s it guys! The end of my journey with Catch the Moment 365…for now.

xo,

~C~

Smoky Mountain Getaway

Just 2 nights after we got home from Portland, we were packing up again to head south to Tennessee. We spent Oct. 16-21 with family in the Smoky Mountains as part of the boys’ fall break from school. We’d planned this trip long before the opportunity to go to Portland came up and while it was a little tricky managing 2 trips so close together, it was soooo worth it! We had several days away from home and were home in time for the boys (and me) to unwind before returning to real life.

Friday night, Oct 16: Dexter fell asleep at his regular bedtime (around 830) and slept the rest of the way…then went right back to bed. Crazy! Theo slept for maybe an hour and was ready for bed shortly after we got to my mom’s house as well.IMG_7191

Saturday, Oct 17th. We got to Pigeon Forge around lunch time and had some time to waste afterwards so we browsed the shops at Christmas Place. The boys enjoyed some fudge, ring pops, pressing some pennies, and a free train ride. IMG_7193 IMG_7207 IMG_7210 IMG_7211 IMG_7215 IMG_7217

We got to our cabin around 3 and started settling in. My sister and her family got there a couple of hours later. The front porch with rocking chairs and a swing was a popular hang out.IMG_7245

We went to the grocery then grilled burgers and brats, then spent time just hanging out together. My mom, Ryan’s parents, and my sister and her family all stayed with us at the cabin Saturday night. My sister and her family had to go back home Sunday night because of work and school. I’m very aware of how lucky I am and how unusual it is for my family – the one I was born into and the one I married into – to get along so well and enjoy spending this time together.

Sunday, Oct 18th: A view of the beautiful cabin. We were trying to decide what to do on Sunday. Since all my family lives within an hour of Pigeon Forge, there’s not much they haven’t done. IMG_7260 IMG_7262 IMG_7268

IMG_7271After searching Google and TripAdvisor, I kept coming back to this quirky sounding attraction called Goats on the Roof that I’d never heard of and no one had been to yet. They have goats (yes, on the roof), a gift shop, a mountain coaster, gem mining, and and ice cream shop. Free to get in and look around so we gave it a shot. It was an interesting and fun place. The coaster was kind of expensive but we decided to do it anyway and we were so glad we did. It. Was. Awesome. I don’t know how to explain it any better than the internet did so go HERE if you’re interested.  All the kids enjoyed the mining too.IMG_7279 IMG_7280 IMG_7285 IMG_7288 IMG_7298 IMG_7307 IMG_7315

Did you know you can still buy candy cigarettes? Only they are called “candy sticks” and they are still disgusting. But when they come in a Batman box and cost .99, you go for it. Smoke up, Johnny!IMG_7335 IMG_7344 IMG_7345

Another new-ish place in Pigeon Forge that’s super touristy and fun (what’s not touristy and fun in PF?) is The Island. Lots of shops and restaurants and overall just a nice place to walk around on a pretty day, which is what we were dealing with. Rocking chairs all the way around a big, beautiful fountain. Unique shops. Something for everyone-I think everyone really liked it there. We ate lunch at Margaritaville, which was ridiculously overpriced (what’s not ridiculously overpriced in PF?) but good. IMG_7368 IMG_7373 IMG_7379 IMG_7382 IMG_7396

Theo did this cute ropes course for little kids and really liked it. If I’d been dressed more appropriately for the activity, I would have taken him on the big one. It looked awesome!IMG_7404 IMG_7409

He did great! IMG_7421

Penelope and Dexter were too small for the ropes so they got to ride the Ribbit thingy. Look at those little faces. Pure joy. So cute.IMG_7431

This is a stunningly good photo considering the number of people and the fact that it was taken by a stranger. To his credit though, he was carrying a camera similar to mine, which is why I trusted him in the first place to do a decent job. I love this picture and I LOVE my family!IMG_7463

Penelope, Steve, Cher, Malachi, and Isabella.IMG_7465 IMG_7467

My mom and all of her grandchildren. IMG_7473 IMG_7478

Back at the cabin, it was chili for dinner and games for fun. My sister and her family left after dinner. Early to bed for me, knowing we had a big day at Dollywood the next day. IMG_7488 IMG_7489

Monday, October 19th: Dollywood day! I was a little worried that the park had short operating hours (10-6) but that proved to be more than enough! I couldn’t believe it and I have never seen Dollywood so deserted. I’ve been to Dollywood a lot – we walked onto every ride or maybe had to wait 1 turn. It was fantastic. Dollywood is wonderfully themed and maintained which means a lot coming from someone so obsessed with Disney and their standards of excellence. Dollywood is right up there for me. IMG_7501 IMG_7503 IMG_7507 IMG_7514 IMG_7523 IMG_7534

Other than looking pretty and having cool rides, there’s even more that I love about Dollywood now that I have kids. There are a handful of rides that they are still too small to ride but Ryan and I don’t want to miss. My mom and Ryan’s dad were all about riding while Ryan’s mom browsed through Craftsmans Valley. We were able to take turns riding things while 1 or 2 people stayed with the boys at one of 4 different play areas. They also do the parent/rider switch thing (similar to Disney) but with no lines, it wasn’t necessary. It kept the kids moving and occupied so the person who stayed behind with them wasn’t getting bombarded with a million complaints about being bored. IMG_7543 IMG_7544 IMG_7558 IMG_7567 IMG_7580

We rode every ride, ate a sit-down lunch, and were basically done by 5pm. We milled around until closer to 6 just because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Tuesday, October 20th: Me, Ryan, my mom, and the boys went for a hike up to Laurel Falls in Gatlinburg while Ryan’s parents checked out the Old Mill area and restaurant. We’d planned to eat together but there was construction traffic and the 1.3 mile hike up to the Falls took longer than we thought. It was really fun – I was worried the boys would be super lazy and make it miserable for all of us but it went better than I expected. No complaints on the second half of the hike which was all downhill. If you have to take little kids hiking, that’s definitely the way to do it! Unfortunately I didn’t realize my camera battery was about to die so I only had a chance to snap a handful of photos Tuesday. IMG_7588 IMG_7590

After our hike and a late lunch, we went back to the cabin. We played games and started packing up for the trip home Wednesday.

Wednesday, Oct 21st: Packing up and moving out. When I planned this trip, I was thinking Sat-Wed in Pigeon Forge was more than long enough but there’s so much to do and our time there really went by so quickly. The end of vacation is always a little sad! IMG_7595 hIMG_7598 IMG_7601 IMG_7611 IMG_7615

Until next time, Smoky Mountains!

xoxo,

~C~

#mcdanfamloveswdw: Days 9 & 10 – The End

In case you missed it:

Day 8 – Dexter’s birthday at Walt Disney World. Click back through previous posts to see the ones before that.

Day 9: May 14th, 2015.

We decided that there were enough things that we missed at Hollywood Studios to go back for most of our last day. That’s when it hit me that I really wasn’t going to get a family photo in front of Cinderella Castle this trip and for some reason that made me sad. Not sad enough to use up our entire last day’s pass on it (we didn’t get park-hoppers this time) though, so off we went to Hollywood Studios.

Back to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground – one of their favorites.001 002

More pennies…more souvenirs.003 - Copy

One of my favorite stage shows at WDW – Beauty and the Beast.006 008

We ate at Starring Rolls for lunch – I never realized that they had mouthwatering gourmet deli sandwiches. The cupcakes and treats I knew about. We had to check there one last time for a Star Wars cupcake for Dex. No luck, but we decided to treat ourselves to dessert anyway. Calories don’t count at Disney!010 011 013 015

More Star Tours…016

More watching the Jedi Training Academy participants. This was about the time we realized that both of our kids actually WERE old enough to do this. My nephew Spencer did it last time and for some reason I had it in my head that the child had to be 6 or 8 – then we see these tiny little guys and girls up there fighting Vader. I felt sick to my stomach with regret for not checking into this sooner – my boys would have absolutely LOVED to do this. Mommy dropped the ball. 018 019 020

Slushy Man.021

We were slowly making our way back to the front of the park – really in no hurry at all as we knew we wouldn’t be back here for at least two years. We stopped to watch the Streetmosphere performers. The boys were actually a lot more interested and amused by the slapstick comedy routine that what I would have expected. 022 023

Time to go.024Ryan took the boys to the pool for one last swim while I attempted to figure out how to condense the explosion that was our room back into a few, suddenly very small looking suitcases. I did the best I could and we called it a night.

Day 10: Friday, May 15th. Getting out the door and down to the bus stop by 7am was quite the mad scramble so pictures were not a priority. Once we got settled at our departure gate, the boys had some time to play.

Dreaded Transportation Notice. Evicted.001 002I zoned out on the flight home and as soon as we got back, we were in a rush to get unpacked and the house put back together somewhat – my mom and grandma were in town and coming over for dinner! Having something to look forward to when we got home made the depression of leaving Disney a little less intense. We haven’t stopped talking about every detail of our trip. Every day a different story or moment is mentioned, at least in passing. I can’t believe we’ve been home for a whole month! BUT, hey – I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing these many, many recap posts and getting through all my pictures in 29 days. That’s an accomplishment to feel good about with how busy this past month has been. I can now resume my once a week posts.  🙂

For tips and other specific planning information, please visit me over at The Affordable Mouse. I post in a series called “Disney with Little Ones” every other Monday.

xo,

~C~