In July we started planning our New Year's Eve trip with our friends that we went to Helen with last new year (2016). We settled on a cabin in Pigeon Forge and it looked like it was going to be the perfect place for our families to ring in the new year together. Our kids were excited and were making all kinds of plans. Well, sometimes God's plans are different from our own. Starting on the 23rd, their family came down with the stomach bug and every few days a different person got it. Unfortunately, the day we were supposed to leave someone else woke up sick and their family was unable to make the trip with us. There were many, many tears shed (and not just from the kids). We were so sad for our friends because we knew how much fun we had last year and we just wanted to get to do that again this year. We ended up leaving about an hour later than we had originally planned and as we drove we talked about inviting other friends to join us in hopes that they could at least reimburse our friends for the money that they were losing out on due to being sick. I texted a friend who has kids the same age as ours (plus one who is older) and asked them if they would be interested in joining us and they were on board! Three hours after my text they were on their way to Pigeon Forge...I was impressed.
We arrived at our cabin just before 4:00 and it was gorgeous. When we walked in and scoped it out, we loved everything about it. It really would have been perfect for our two families and that is when I got a little emotional about our friends missing out. But I had to trust that God was in control and that we were still going to have a great time.
He is such a goofball!
After we unpacked everything we decided to head in to Pigeon Forge. We had no idea what we were going to do but settled on getting some dinner at the Old Mill Restaurant. It turns out a lot of other people had those same plans because our wait was an hour and a half. While we waited we ran through Patriot Park and then walked around a few of the shops near by.
That night our friends arrived around 9:00 and the kids were excited to see them. We visited for a while and talked about what our plans were for the next day and then we all settled in for the night.
The next morning we got up and moving. Around 9:30 we left for Ober Mountain in Gatlinburg.
This drive gave us a first hand view of things devastated by the fires. There were burned down houses with just stone columns left standing, burned out cars, and you could see the mountain across the way covered in charred trees. It really was so sad to see up close.
Once we arrived at Ober Mountain, we made a plan. The first thing we wanted to do was the Ski Mountain Coaster. After a quick picture of the kids we headed to buy our tickets. We had been warned on the phone earlier in the week that this was the busiest time of year and to expect big crowds. Well, I'm not sure if our definition of crowds is different or if the fires effected the crowd level but it just wasn't as crowded as we thought it would be. When Matt and I went up to the ticket counter to by our Ski Mountain Coaster tickets the girl asked if we wanted to buy snow tubing tickets as well. We told her we thought they were sold out and she said she had some tickets available for 7:00 that night. Without even asking our spouses we said yes to the tickets because that was the one thing we all wanted to do and were bummed that we weren't getting to do it.
Poor dads carrying around their daughters cameras.
We got in line for the coaster and it was a bit of a wait but we were so excited.
Lance and Hayes rode together and Hayes loved it.
Reese and I rode together because of her broken arm. If her arm had not been in a full cast she could have ridden by herself but her arm could not control the break with the cast. Sam opted out of this fun adventure because he was scared. He was the only one out of all 11 of us that didn't ride. I hated that he did that but decided not to push it. It was SO fun! We giggle and screamed the whole way down. I was grateful for that little bit of time with my big girl!
Our whole crew...
Heading back to the car...
We decided that we did not want to spend eight hours on the mountain so we headed back to the cabin to have a late lunch. We made some chili when we got back and ate around 2:30 so that we could enjoy our evening snow tubing. We relaxed in the cabin by watching football and the kids played. Hayes was being a little whiny so I tried to get him to nap but he was having none of that. He could hear the kids playing and having fun. While I was laying down with Hayes, Sam came running in and showed me that he had pulled his front tooth. It is the second year in a row that Santa and the Tooth Fairy visited him in the same week!
Each time we left the cabin it would take about 25-30 minutes to get where ever we were going...even though everything was only 5-7 miles away. Some of those winding roads made me car sick especially with lots of warm layers on so we would ride down the mountain with the windows open.
Hayes and Annie both fell asleep heading back to Ober Mountain. We got there a little early (again because of the crowd warning) and it was raining on and off. Since both babies were sleeping, we just all hung out in the car. We played musical cars for a second but this is how it ended up. See Hayes sleeping over Sam's shoulder.
We finally woke the sleeping beauties up and headed inside towards snow tubing. Hayes was a huge grump and even fell back asleep in my arms for a little bit.
Our tubing time was 7:00 and they told us to arrive about 15 minutes early. This is while we waited.
Finally it was our turn to get on the slopes and we couldn't wait!
We were the very first people in line. It was a little tricky sitting at the top of the slope and waiting for them to tell you to go. Reese slipped right in to her tube and away she went before she had the go ahead. We all giggled and giggled...she wasn't too happy!
Once this guy was in the tube, he had a blast! We were the last two standing. Kids six and under had to ride in a double tube with their parent so we were a team all night. I think that made it even more fun for me. Our session was for 90 minutes and we got about 10 runs in. All of the big kids, except for one, threw in the towel about 50 minutes in saying they were cold...and it wasn't even that cold. Lance took them in while Matt, Stephanie, Annie, their Sam, and Hayes and I stayed out for the rest of our time. Hayes loved it and didn't even complain that his bottom was soaking wet until I put him down to walk and he didn't like how it felt. I would have to say this was my favorite thing we did the whole weekend.
We went back to the cabin when our time was up. The kids changed in to pajamas and we got ready to ring in the new year. Every so often another kid would fall asleep. The other Sam was asleep when we got back to the cabin. And then Charlie (the 12 year old) was off to sleep. Around 10:30, Hayes said he wanted to go to bed so I took him up and he fell asleep quickly.
Cute little Annie fell asleep right in the middle of the floor.
And then some time after 11:00, Sam fell asleep on the couch.
The girls were the only two kids who made it to the new year. They were so cute watching everything.
We did the countdown and then I was straight to bed. Stephanie stayed up with the girls for a few extra minutes to watch some of the musical performances. Then realized it wasn't exactly age appropriate and they headed to bed too.
We were all slow moving the next morning and I think the last kid woke up around 10:00. We ate breakfast, got dressed and headed out for the day after noon. We went to the Apple Barn for lunch and had about a 45 minute wait. All of the kids had turns playing checkers but these two competitors were the cutest. The sisters kept calling this their first date.
Goofball Hayes wanted his jacket on backwards. It was funny to see him walking around like this.
It was finally our turn to eat lunch and we all enjoyed it. The best part were the apple fritters with apple butter.
After lunch we went to Wonder Works. I guess you would call it a science museum. There were tons of things to do and the kids enjoyed it all. Reese was a little disappointed when she couldn't ride some of the rides because of her cast.
We stayed there for about four hours. The last thing everyone but the mom and babies did was laser tag. The little ones were not old enough for it so they got to play in the arcade instead.
When we got home, Matt made us all an amazing Italian dinner of pasta, meatballs, and Chicken Parmesan. That night we all went to bed with full bellies a little earlier than before because we were exhausted. We got up and moving on the 2nd because it was time to head home. We snapped a few pictures before we left.
Family picture but Hayes pooted right when we were smiling...
Even though we were so bummed about our friends not being able to enjoy this with us, we had a great time. Now it just means we get to do it all again next year and pray that every one is healthy!!!
Happy New Year! We are looking forward to this year with hope and love!