We just got back from our first vacation in almost five years and it was AMAZING! I am about ready to bombard you with pictures…really…I’m not joking…it’s a lot! Because as much as I enjoy sharing my life and what it’s like living with a rare disease, this is ultimately for my kids to look back on some day so feel free to skip this blog if need be haha!
But seriously…the week could not have gone any better because everything about it was perfect! We started out in the Smoky Mountains over Labor Day weekend and then stayed in South Carolina! We were very fortunate to get out of our beach resort when we did because just a few days after we left, the towns were asking everyone to evacuate due to the hurricane moving in. I cannot even begin to imagine the traffic we would have had to deal with if we had stayed just a couple of days longer!
This was kind of a last minute trip…we tend to make all of our plans last minute because of cows and my health…both of which have not been the greatest lately. I did have a follow up after we returned home so I will update on that in another blog!
But back to vacation!!!!! Tim and I went back and forth for weeks about planning a vacation and the fact that Skyler graduated, we knew this might be our last chance to have all four kids home for a big family trip.
I was very fortunate that my family did a lot of traveling when I was growing up. My dad worked his butt off at a job he wasn’t thrilled about and our family always did one big summer vacation every year. My parents took us on two week trips and we made it to almost ever state in the US. The only places I have not been to are Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington…oh and Alaska! But those are all on my list to see…and I WILL see them!😉
I love talking with my parents, brother and sister about our vacations because we have a lot of fun and crazy memories!! This is why traveling was something I always wanted to do with my own kids someday! And the fact that I fell in love with the ocean on our trips growing up, taking my kids to see it was at the top of my “Memories in the Making” list. Yes…that is the name of my bucket list!
Tim, however, has not been to the ocean and really had no interest in going. He didn’t understand my passion for it! “It’s just all water, no new scenery” he said and preferred going to the mountains. I started researching and found a nice little cabin in the Smoky Mountains and joked with Tim that we could stay in the cabin over the weekend and then go to a townhouse that I had also found right on the beach near Charleston, South Carolina. Tim’s response…”go for it.” I could not believe he had just agreed to this but I didn’t argue and now we had only three weeks to line everything up!
It worked out perfect that both places we wanted to stay at were available and seriously, they were available only for the dates we needed! Tim had a pretty cool coworker who was willing to cover chores while we were gone and I had just done an eye injection and would not have any appointments until we got back! Plus, it was Labor Day weekend so kids would only miss four days of school yet we could be gone for 10 days with weekends!! Family and friends were also more than willing to take care of our animals at home so now all we had to do was tell the kids!!
We gave Skyler the dates so that she could get work off then decided to wait and tell the rest of the kids on the same day that we would be leaving!! Thankfully it was a half day at school so they had plenty of time to pack! I will warn you right now…my enthusiasm was through the roof so I had been acting like a pretty big dork! Tim and I have had some tremendous stress over the last few months and the fact that he agreed to take a vacation was huge!!!
ANDDD the fact that I was going to be fulfilling one of my “memories to be made” moments, overwhelmed me. I was really taking my kids to see the ocean!!!
So back to me being a dork…I decided that I would get out all of the food and our suitcases that I had been hiding and put them in the living room for the kids to see when they got home from school. And yep…I put on goggles and sat right in the middle of all of our supplies! I figured if anything, the kids would at least remember me in my goggles…sooooo not flattering haha! Skyler came downstairs and very hesitantly asked me what I was doing. She rolled her eyes and left the room…only to come back a few minutes later…
That’s my girl!!! Haha! We both could not remember the last time we had laughed so hard until we realized we had been sitting there almost 30 minutes in our goggles and the kids weren’t even going to be home for another half hour!!
Finally, the bus was here and after the kids stopped staring at us with such confusing yet concerned looks on their faces, we confessed that they better pack their bags because we were going on vacation!!! Needless to say, their reactions were priceless!!
Tim worked all day, did chores and got things lined up then we took off at midnight when Skyler got home from work!
The kids seriously all slept from about 1am until 7:30am and we only made three stops during the 15 hour drive to our cabin. We could not believe how smooth the drive had gone but were still on guard because it had went way too well! Haha! The location and cabin were perfect…
with such breathtaking views…
The cabin had fun games for the kids to play….
We were able to drive through the mountains and Cades Cove scenic loop…
…and do some hiking! I was not going to share some of these next photos because my SVC syndrome really kicked into high gear and I had symptoms pretty much the entire time we were in the mountains but hey…I can say I hiked in the Smokys, a little bit of the Appalachian Trail and up to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. The .5 mile hike up to the dome was extremely steep but I did it and I am alive so I’m sharing pictures even if my face and eyes are puffy!!
One of my favorites of the boys…
I’m just taking a breather but there were quite a few people huffin and puffin so I’d say I did pretty dang good for a one lunger!!😉
So after a great weekend in the mountains we got up early on Monday and headed to the beach!! At this point we were all wishing we could’ve stayed in the mountains longer…until the ocean came in to view!! And Tim immediately understood my passion for it!
Our townhouse was absolutely amazing and right on the beach! And again, the reaction from our kids…smiles and laughter as they all went running on to the beach was a moment that will live in my heart always!
We got settled in to our resort for the evening then the next day we took a ferry over to Fort Sumter…
and then we toured the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point! The whole experience was very surreal and emotional knowing the significance of what had taken place right where we had been standing.
Nathan claimed his plane since it had his initials!
We were surprised at how few people we had to deal with so we were able to take our time and not worry about crowds. Walking for four hours up and down the decks on the Yorktown about did me in as well though haha, so it was nice to get back to our resort and relax just in time to catch the sunset!
And the sunrises were just as beautiful…Leah always joined me for my morning stroll along the beach to search for sea shells!
Then Wednesday we headed in to spend the day at Charleston and the kids did very well given the fact that we basically just walked around looking at old buildings!
Tim and I went back later in the evening to walk on the pier and stroll one more time through Battery Park!
Now that we had done the things we wanted to see while we were in the area…Thursday was beach day!!!! We hung out and got to see dolphins and even a jellyfish and stingray washed up on shore!!
Everyone thought that was pretty cool but Asher wasn’t too excited when he finally realized those things were in the same water we had been playing in! Haha! But the kids splashed around in the waves and we searched for even more sea shells then would catch our last sunset on the Atlantic Ocean before heading home in the morning.
In the morning, we caught one more sunrise, took one more family photo from our townhouse…and headed home! We could not have asked for a better vacation!!
Andddd my husband extended his vacation into Monday so that we could celebrate his birthday golfing!!! Haha, yep…Tim and I used to golf before we met each other but health and our hectic lifestyle prevented us from ever golfing again so after ten years of not playing, we grabbed our clubs and played golf for the first time together!!
Surprisingly we could both still hit the ball…
We were great competition for each other…
But since it was Tim’s birthday I let him win by five strokes!🙃 haha! Couldn’t have wrapped up our vacation any other better way!
It was an amazing 10 days of family time and much needed me and Tim time! And while so many of you have mentioned that our trip was well deserved, while I appreciate your comments…I have to admit I don’t feel we “deserved” it. So many others have more struggles and hardships so I don’t think our circumstances make us any more deserving than the next person.
We are extremely grateful though that the Lord blessed us with an opportunity to take this vacation and that the entire trip went so much better than we ever could have planned ourselves. Beautiful weather, no traffic, no crowds!! Some pretty precious moments were shared between brothers and sisters, not to mention reflection on our own relationship…just something about being removed from our environment really helped my husband and me to reconnect as a couple again and focus on what really is important in life.
Tim has had a rough couple of years since his brother passed away and even agreed with me one night while sitting on the beach that over the last few months he was shutting everything out and not participating in life! He talked about invites from friends that he had turned down. He had been pulling away from everything and everybody…including me. That lead to a much needed discussion between the two of us. He probably doesn’t understand how much that conversation meant to me but I will never forget his words in that moment.
Being able to watch him laugh and play with the kids in the waves…and to see him truly relaxed and flashing that sexy smile of his that caught my attention over 11 years ago…was nice, to say the least…because I haven’t seen it nearly as often as I would like to….but that is slowly changing and I am beginning to see it more and more each day!💕💕
And then of course, being able to experience something I didn’t know if I would ever be around long enough to experience…to watch my kids as they saw the ocean and experience so many great things for the first time…no words to describe it!! I teared up a lot throughout the entire trip, and even now, from being consumed with so much joy, emotion and just pure awe of how good God is!! This vacation was not well deserved, it was an amazing blessing that we will forever be grateful for!