"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deuteronomy 4: 6-9

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Winter Wonderland Vacation!

We were over the top excited to getaway for 5 days and experience a true winter vacation! We were even more excited that our best friends would be joining us for this fun joint family vacation! Erica and Benson flew from Phoenix to Atlanta, and the plan was to pick them up in Atlanta and stay somewhere within a few hours from the airport. Matt researched, and researched, and finally settled on our home away from home! I did alot of Pinterest pinning on ideas for a somewhat long road trip with the boys. They each had their own clothespin on the visor. If they were good from one stop to the next, and their clothespin stayed on the visor, they got a prize! 
We left really early in the morning, and drove a few hours before stopping for breakfast at Dunkin Donuts (of course!) Since their clothespins stayed on the visor, they earned their first prize! 
Hooray for Crayola Color Wonder markers and Planes coloring pages! Carson acutally colored both his and Tanner's books! He loved it!  
I also made a time tracking ribbon. The top mark was home, each black line represented 1 hour of travel, the clothespin car moved down each hour. This worked like a CHARM! The boys were so into it, that I would actually move it every 30 minutes, because it excited them so much to see it move down the ribbon. This eliminated the ever annoying question "Are we there yet?!" Daddy especially liked it! :) 
The boys were AMAZING travelers! They didn't even need the clothespin/prize activity! They only opened 2 prizes, they just hung out, played games, colored, and watched a movie or two. We were so proud of them and it made for an awesome trip! 
After we stopped for lunch and played on the Chick Fil A playground, the boys fell asleep in the car. They woke up to big airplanes flying into Atlanta! 
Carson was excited to move the car clothespin to the airport on our time tracking ribbon! We had made it to our first big destination, and that meant Aunt Erica and Benson were about to join us on our fun adventure! The timing was perfect! We only circled one time around the airport before her and Benson were outside the baggage claim and hopping in the van.  
Together at last!  
We moved Carson to the back of the van so him and Benson could play and talk boy talk! :) They played with their Spiderman prizes they all earned and we were on our way 2 more hours north to Clayton, Georgia to our cabin! 
Driving through the mountains, and coming to the paved driveway to see our cabin was breathtaking! We were blown away by our cabin (you just go off pictures you see on the internet and never know what to expect) It truly was the most beautiful cabin inside and out! Our home away from home! 
This is the side of the cabin where the driveway was. It had everything we wanted and more!  
Best buds hanging on the front porch while we unloaded the van... 
We couldn't wait to get inside!  
When you entered the cabin, you walked right into the kitchen. It was huge! And it had everything you could possibly think of to spend several days here from pots and pans, to ketchup and mustard, to more cleaning supplies than I keep in my own home! 
When you walked out of the kitchen, you walked into the "adult living room" as we called it! The cabin was decorated so cozy! There were so many adorable decorations, like bear lamps and pillows, and the hardwood floors, walls, and ceilings was what I was really hoping for! 
We couldn't wait to get the gas fireplace going too! Something we are definitely not used to in Florida and Arizona! 
Right beside the "adult living room" was the "kid living room"! We let the boys take over this living room with their trains, puzzles, games, and several other toys! This living room also had a big screen TV and DVD player, so they hung out in here alot and had fun!  
The owners of this cabin had movies, cd's, books, magazines and more. They really wanted you to feel at home and relax. It was wonderful! Next to the kids living room was the staircase.  
The three musketeers checking the place out... 
There were 2 rooms upstairs. The room to the right had 1 queen size bed with a full bathroom. This is the room Erica and Benson stayed in. 
The room to the left had 1 king size bed... 
AND 1 full size bed. We took this room for the four of us.  
We also had a bathroom in our room with a pedestal tub! Tanner kept laying on the ground looking under the bathtub! You could tell he was thinking "Is the water going to stay in this thing?" 
Our cabin also had a back porch, accessible from the living rooms or from the outside. 
It was a little too cold outside to enjoy the porch to it's fullest, but it was decorated so nicely and the view was awesome! 
One of my "requests" when Matt was looking for a cabin was that the porch was either low to the ground or had a screen. This cabin had both! 
After we ran around the place like little giddy kids because it was SO nice, we drove to town to eat dinner and get groceries for the week. The boys took a nice warm bath in the pedestal tub when we got back!  
And then snuggled up for bed... 
Once all 3 kids were down, Matt, Erica and I started the fire and hung out downstairs! So relaxing! 
The boys were up bright and early and ready for our first day of fun! Best buds watched cartoons while Matt made us breakfast! 
After breakfast, we hung around the cabin and got our game plan together of what our day was going to look like. It was raining, not snowing (yet!) so we needed something to do inside. Since the kids spent most of the day before traveling, Matt found a fun place for them to get some energy out. 
Family pictures on the back porch first! 
Love these two so much! 
We headed north to a place called the Fun Factory. There was so much to do at this place it was crazy! There was a mini golf course indoors, bowling alley, bounce house, playplace, a carousel, bumper cars, and an arcade! Needless to say, the boys were in heaven! We were there for hours, it was a blast! 
After our hours of fun, we swung through Chick Fil A for a gallon of sweet tea (Erica and I's favorite!) and headed back to the cabin to eat lunch and put Tanner down for a nap.
This way to Tranquillity cabin... 
Aunt Erica had made pumpkin donuts before she left Arizona, and Tanner quickly realized these were his favorite treats on the planet. Of course Erica was thrilled, just another bond between Tanner and his Aunt Erica... 
See...I wasn't kidding... 
After we put the sugary 3 year old to bed, Matt took the bigger boys on a nature walk and Erica and I began our baking frenzy! We had planned out what treats we wanted to make and enjoyed the huge kitchen to bake in!  
The boys on their hike...
After their hike through the woods, the boys rode their scooters on the driveway! In 30 degree weather!  
Love this sweet face! 
Once Tanner woke up, we headed out for more fun. A must see attraction in the Dillard area is Goats on the Roof!  
The goats are literally on the rooftops of these two little mountain shops!  
To get food up to the rooftops to feed the goats, you have to pedal a bike which moves a chain with a little bucket on it up to the roof. The goats know right where to be when people start pedaling! 
The kids thought this was a lot of fun! But the temperature was drastically dropping so we didn't stay too long!  
You can't visit Dillard, Georgia without eating at The Dillard House. We were excited to eat some warm home cooking!  
The all-you-can-eat menu for the evening... 
Hungry boys! 
The food was great and I especially loved their sweet tea served in mason jars!  
And their blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream wasn't so bad either! Yum! 
When we left the Dillard House, we were hearing people talk about the possibility of snow falling soon. We could see the temperature dropping to 19, and with the on and off rain all day, we were excited at the thought of actually seeing real snow fall from the sky! We left the Dillard House and headed north to let the kids use up the rest of their tokens from the Fun Factory earlier in the day. As soon as we started driving, we saw snow flurries in our headlights! By the time we got out of the Fun Factory, we could see the snow had started collecting on the cars in the parking lot! 
We had some really excited little boys!!!  
Here's where our snowy adventure begins! The wind really began to pick up and the snow was falling faster as we drove back to our cabin. We drove up the winding road to our cabin, got out of the car, got into the cabin, flipped on the lights, then 1 minute later the power went completely out! Thank goodness for a little battery operated Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face! Immediately we all got a bit scared, but used our phones as lights to find candles and flashlights. Matt put us back in the van to drive down to the cabin down the road to see if their power was out too. Sure enough, theirs was out too. We drove up the road a few hundred feet more to see a live power line laying in the middle of the road! We immediately turned around and drove back to our cabin. We were stuck! Power crews were on their way, but we'd have to tough it out until they could get it fixed. We grabbed every blanket we could find in the house, and set up camp in front of the fireplace! The wind was SO loud, it sounded like a hurricane. Thankfully Matt kept an eye on the weather and the fireplace, while the rest of us tried to sleep. What an adventure!  
The next morning when we left the cabin, we saw what had happened. A tree had blown over, snapping the power line and falling onto the road. The crews were busy fixing the line and cutting up the tree that was blocking the road. 
Thankfully, the grocery store in town had a Starbucks. It was a Venti Starbucks for the 3 adults, we were a bit sleepy from the night's adventure! 
We drove the mountain roads for some great views!  
The roads were a bit like riding a rollercoaster, poor Erica even got sick, but she was a trooper!  
The higher up the mountain we went, the more icicles and snow we saw! The kids were in awe!  
We found a spot to pull over so we could pull some icicles off and Tanner even had a few bites of one, haha! 
Frozen water and snow! 
As we got into North Carolina, the roads were getting icy and we were told to turn around due to a wreck a few miles up the mountain.  
We took a different road to Scaly Mountain and stopped at an overlook to see this beautiful view! 
The kids were super excited to play in the snow at Scaly Mountain! It was so cold, but we bundled up in snow suits and were ready to do some snow tubing!  
The boys had a BLAST! They tubed and played in the snow for 2 hours! It was so fun to see them having such a great time together. Their giggles down the hill were adorable! 
And of course we had to build Olaf from Frozen! 
After snow tubing and playing in the snow, we came back to the cabin and the boys made cookies!  
They had fun decorating them AND eating them! :) 
Erica made us a delicious baked spaghetti dinner with salad and garlic bread! It was the perfect hot meal after a day in the snow! One of my favorite moments from our vacation was the time spent together around the table eating and having conversation with the kids.  
Our cabin had an outdoor fire pit, so after dinner, Matt spent some time getting a fire going! We couldn't wait to make dessert over the fire! 
Roasting marshmallows... 
Benson's first s'more! He loved it!  
We had fun around the fire, but it was cold, so we headed back inside for some homemade hot chocolate! 
After we put the boys to bed, the big kids drank our hot chocolate with the white chocolate candy cane spoons that we had made the day before. We also chowed down on our sweets by the fire! We laughed and talked and had a wonderful time together just relaxing!  
The next morning, it was time to pack up. We didn't have to rush out too fast, so we took it slow, the boys played and had fun together. After we left the cabin, we drove through a cute little small town in Georgia and hit up Java Joe's for some coffee!
Our Winter wonderland vacation was pure bliss! It was everything we hoped it would be and more. The memories we made together as families was truly a blessing and we are already talking about making it an annual trip! So thankful for time away in such a fun and relaxing place!

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