Since purchasing our home at Disney we have planned for the kids to have their birthday celebrations at Disney World. However, this year Kye is turning TEN and TEN is a BIG milestone birthday. We talked about making milestone birthdays special and using them as an opportunity to have a different experience either as a family or just for the birthday child.
At some point (I’m thinking 13?) I’d like for each child to get to travel somewhere with JUST Zach and I. I think it’d be very special and a chance for bonding and I feel like 13 is a good age for that as it’s a transition into teenage years. But for 10 we wanted to stick with it being a family-centered trip.
We talked with Kye and agreed that going on a ski trip was a perfect way to celebrate his birthday. We hadn’t been skiing since he was 6 (you can read about that trip here) and Tess was an infant so she didn’t go with us. This time we decided to let Spear stay back and just take the three oldest kids. It’s an 8 hour drive and ski slopes and fresh toddlers just don’t mix well!
We planned the trip for over Winter Break which is where the kids had three days off from school. It worked out PERFECT. We drove up halfway on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, and stayed in a hotel room for the night and then drove up the rest of the way and were able to check into our cabin early and just enjoy it. We had two full days of skiing and a day off in the middle and then drove straight home on Tuesday.
The kids didn’t miss any school and we all agreed it was plenty of time for the trip!
On the way up we stopped for dinner at Zaxby’s which is one of Kye’s favs!
I wanted to stop and check this out SO BAD. Next time we will plan time for it!
We pre-booked the hotel in order to make sure we found a room that could fit us all. Zach couldn’t believe the small amount of luggage we brought in!
Kids are so fun and just appreciate every little thing. I knew the hotel night would be so exciting for them and it def was! The girls shared one bed, Zach and I had the other bed and Kye slept on the pullout couch.
The brief snuggle time before sleep time!
The next morning we took our time getting up and getting ready. It was nice not to have to feel rushed. We had a few hours left to drive and knew we’d make it there in plenty of time to enjoy the cabin so we just took our time!
Britt’s favorite restaurant is Waffle House. Girl LOVES it. We thought it’d make for a fun stop for breakfast.
On the way up the day prior I received an email from Universal. I was shocked and honored that they reached out to me! They want our family to come visit their parks and stay in one of their resorts! Yall know we are Disney people and haven’t ever done Universal. Such a great opportunity for us to see what all it has to offer and I’m SO thrilled and just so humbled that they’d want us for this opportunity!!!
As I worked out the details with them via email I realized we had to read Harry Potter. I’ve never read it and neither have the kids and I know I have heard that the Harry Potter area at Universal is INCREDIBLE. So we downloaded the audio book and started listening to the first one on the second day of the driving.
We have NOT told the kids about this Universal situation so if you know us in real life PLEASE do not mention anything to them. I know these kinds of things can sometimes fall through or not work out and I don’t want to have them excited only to be let down. BUT if you have ANY tips for Universal PLEASE send ’em my way as I AM CLUELSS!!!
We downloaded the book and the guy who does all the voices is super talented!
Banner Elk, NC is a very special town for Zach and I. We went on a ski trip in college for a PE credit and had such a great time that we did it again while college students and then started going on our own after we graduated. We went yearly for several years and just really love the area and love the memories tied to the early days of our relationship.
We LOVE the chance to bring the kids to an area that is so special to us and create new memories there together. We got excited talking about when Spear is old enough to come too!
One year we stayed at this bed and breakfast 🙂
We stopped at the grocery store on our way to the cabin to get groceries. Usually we hardcore plan out all our meals and such before traveling but Zach had been gone so much the weeks prior to the trip that we just didn’t get the chance to hash it all out so we just roamed the aisles together and thought up things to buy and kinda meal planned as we went 😉
A must-stop on the way up Beech Mountain is Fred’s General Store. I had ordered everything I could gear-wise in advance but the mittens I’d gotten Tess didn’t fit her so we had to buy her some at Fred’s!
Zach and I booked this cabin several months ago and it was literally the first place we looked at on VRBO. We didn’t even look at anywhere else, we just booked it! It had everything we needed and the location is so great – super close to Ski Beech!
It’s truly a LEGIT CABIN IN THE WOODS! I mean how adorably perfect is this place?!?!
This little stream out front is just so awesome and we loved hearing it throughout our stay.
I did this video to show a tour of the cabin:
The kids were SO PUMPED
We dropped our stuff off inside and then immidately went in the “backyard” to check out the woods! It was SO awesome. All the rocks and cool trees and moss and leaves – truly a legit mountain experience.
All. The. Warm. Gear.
Zach and I got things unpacked and settled in and let the kids just explore the area! It’s great that they are old enough to just GO. Kye built a fort and Britt made friends with some stumps haha!
Kye and Britt came RUSHING inside all excited saying “we see an ANIMAL” I’m like “what kind?” and they said they had no idea. Yall. There were a family of deer in the woods SO close to the cabin. I was DYING that my kids didn’t recognize deer haha but we got to see them SO close and they visited us our entire stay. It was so, so cool.
They let us get pretty close to them!
After a couple hours of exploring and playing they all came in for some hot chocolate and more Harry Potter listening 🙂
The kids all did great with listening to Harry Potter. Listening to books can be boring and it meant they didn’t watch movies or use their tablets the whole drive that morning so we let them have some chill screen time before dinner!
Ski Trip Fiesta!
More deer visiting!!!
The cabin had a hot tub which was a big selling point for us becuase we knew the kids would think it was super awesome. Of course when we booked the trip we were invisioning snow on the ground and in the air. I did research and mid-Feb is the highest chance of snow out of the whole year for the area. Butttt instead we had upper 40s and rain our whole trip. Oh well! The hot tub was still super fun!
Fancy milk cups and V-Day treats before bedtime by the fire!
I have no clue if this is based on any sort of factual information but I feel like the evalation change really impacted me in a big way. We live basically at sea level so going to the mountains was a big shift on my body and I was SO exhausted. Like beyond exhausted. I kept falling asleep in the car. I fell asleep on the couch while the kids were playing and I ended up going to bed at the same time the kids did! I fell asleep instantly and slept SO HARD. Crazy!
Our original plan was to have both of our ski days at the same location: Ski Beech. We booked the cabin with this in mind as it is literally 3 minutes away from the ski resort. But then I went to book the kids ski schools and Ski Beech was totally booked solid for our first day.
We decided to take the hour drive to Appalachian SKi Mountain. It’s actually THE place where I learned to ski so I thought that was neat and we didn’t mind the hour drive because it gave us a chance to listen to more Harry Potter 😉
Our little marshmallow children were SO EXCITED!
As soon as we arrived we understood why the ski school said to arrive an hour prior to drop off time…it was a MAD HOUSE. It was very poorly organized and laid out and stressful/overwhelming to get everything rented and tried on etc. We survived but barely 😉
How adorable are Tess’s little ski boots?
I loved that all their equipment included helmets!
We knew it’d make G-Mama proud to have ’em all in their helmets for the day 🙂
For this ski school each child was in class together but then separated by age. They were legit skiing the whole time. It was two hours of skiing, an hour and a half break for lunch, then two more hours of skiing. Kinda a lot! But I knew it’d be GREAT for Kye and Britt…I just was nervous about how the hardcore ski lessons would be for Tess. She did GREAT when we dropped her off though!
Last time we went skiing I didn’t ski and I haven’t actually skiied since my foot injury 6 years ago! I was excited to have the morning just Zach and I to enjoy a sport we both used to love to do together. However, I was SO TERRIFIED of the ski lift.
It’s a fear I’ve always had but it’s gotten more intense with time and after seeing some viral video where a ski lift went out of control and was throwing people off of it.
I faced my fear though and was so glad to have Zach there to hold my hand! I legit opted to only ski for that morning of our trip because I didn’t feel confident enough with the ski lift to be able to ride it without Zach there to help me and I surely didn’t feel confident enough to help one of my kids ride it!
Slightly freaking out
Yay for together time!!!
Faced that fear!
Like I said, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve been skiing but I was really proud of how fast I picked it all right back up. I never fell once and truly ENJOYED it. It started to get a little crowded towards mid-morning which made it less fun becuause so many people were not in full control and I wasn’t able to focus on what was in front of me because I was also having to focus on what was behind me! But overall it was a SUPER fun morning and Zach was SO patient with me and such an encourager!
We were getting in line for one more run on the slopes when we heard the intercom say “Would the parents of Tess Parker please come to the ski school desk.” Truly, we weren’t surprised. I was nervous that she was hurt but when we got there she just was crying and saying she didn’t like ski school and wanted Mommy.
Luckily it was about time for lunch anyway so she and I got a seat in the lodge and Zach picked up the other two kids – who had had an AWESOME morning – and we met back up to get our food!
My little mini me! When I went skiing in Colorado as a kid I cried the entire way down the mountain 😉
Kye and Britt were SUPER pumped to show us what they’d been learning and rushed through lunch so we’d have some free time before they had to be back at school. We headed over to the area and they loved showing us their new skills and had fun racing each other too.
It was upsetting that the school had misplaced Tess’s skis. She was enjoying watching her siblings and was wanting to ski too but couldn’t because we had to spend the whole time looking for her skis and Zach had to stomp back and forth to the rental area to get her some. So frustrating as I truly think if she’d had that bit of time with US on the skis that she would have gone back to ski school more excited for the afternoon.
We literally got her skis back right in time for class to start and we weren’t even allowed to stay for a few minutes to encourage her.
We tried to see if we could get half of our money back for the second session of the day for Tess as she really didn’t want to go back to ski school but they didn’t allow refunds of any kind so we dropped her off and hoped for the best!
I found a quiet spot to read and started my book club book for the month – An Anonymous Girl. I realized after about 30 minutes that there wasn’t any intercom in that room. I felt sure that Tess was still fine at school but I went out onto the outside deck to see if I could see any of the kids. I couldn’t. So I then moved to another area of the lodge where I’d better be able to hear the intercom in case they called for me.
Well. Mom fail. Turns out they called for me to get Tess like 10 minutes into class. Zach ended up coming down the mountain to get her and I felt so bad I hadn’t heard the call!!! I also was pretty annoyed. I mean we paid $80 for that class that day. You’d think they’d encourage kids to stay and do all they could to keep the kids there rather than call for their parents the second they said they wanted to quit. They told Zach Tess wasn’t even crying or upset! It’s super frustrating to let her give up that fast while at the same time they didn’t allow parents to stay during the class. Like let me stay and watch and encourage her rather than make me leave and then allow her to give up!
I told her that Mommy and Daddy had spent a lot of money for her ski lessons and that I didn’t bring anything to entertain her. So she sat quietly next to me for the remainder of the time before we picked up Kye and Britt. She was perfectly content with this arrangement!
After we picked up Kye and Britt all the kids still had an hour or so left of their rental equipment time so we decided to go up the small slope as a family for a little family ski together time. Tess enjoyed that so much more than ski school and she did a really great job too! All the kids loved showing us what they could do and it was fun to all ski together.
After one trip down the mini-mountain Zach took Kye and Britt to the gondoula for a larger slope experience and Tessie and I went to wait for them. Zach handed Britt off to me after their run so he could then have a little solo time with Kye too!
Tess loved having her own chapstick for the trip and kept reapplying it and rocking this face 😉
I love how much FUN they had together!!!
We got all our gear turned in then headed back to Banner Elk. Another hour in the car meant another couple chapters down of Harry Potter! Kye got to choose the dinner and wanted pizza so we went to an AWESOME pizza place on the way back to the cabin.
You could tell the food was going to be good when the line was at the door and we had to fight for a table! We were all EXHAUSTED and STARVING. I don’t think we’ve ever eaten so much pizza…even Tess ate two slices!
SO SO GOOD!!!
We didn’t eat until 7:30 ish which is past the kids’ normal bedtimes. So they were beyond sleepy and went straight to sleep when we got back to the house. I wasn’t far behind them! I read some more of my book as I went to sleep as fast as I could too!
I’m thankful we planned for a down day inbetween the two ski days as we needed the rest and relaxation! We had such a great first day though. It made my heart so happy to see how much Kye was loving it and how awesome Britt did with it. It was so fun having some time just Zach and I and Zach did so great being patient with the kids when they skiied together too!
Tessie may not have loved it but the rest of us all did and she still had an overall great attitude and said she had a fun day so that’s all that matters!