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We had three full days for our trip and I’m so glad we arranged the days as we did. We had two ski days with a complete off day in-between.
When we first planned the trip we had hoped our off day would be a “play in the snow” day as we’d anticipated having snow for the trip. Our last ski trip had snow and we went sledding and had SO much fun so we’d hoped to do that again!
Unfortunately, there was no snow for us this visit. We didn’t let the kids notice any disappointment from our end of things and they never said anything about the snow at all! So it worked out well and wasn’t something that dampened the trip or disappointed them.
Something that DID annoy us was the stinking weather app. It kept saying “100% chance of snow” all morning yet the snow never came. Don’t get our hopes up, dude! Instead, the day was a total and complete rain day. Which was also fine! We had a nice warm cabin to enjoy and we didn’t mind having the downtime and hearing the rain on the roof.
Kicked things off with cereal for breakfast
Had to say good morning to our deer friends!
Literally looking RIGHT at us!
Since our night the night prior went so late we weren’t able to roast marshmallows outside (we never actually were ever able to do that this trip) so we told the kids we’d do s’mores for breakfast. I mean, how epic is that for a mountain vaca? We snuggled up on the couch and listened to Harry Potter while making and eating our s’mores!
Such a good daddy making it happen!
With the rain, we were kinda stuck but we didn’t mind and made the best of it. The cabin had only one tv and dvd player and did have a few dvds. They had Enchanted which my kids haven’t ever seen and I haven’t watched since it first came out.
Zach has been wanting to watch Hoosiers with Kye as it’s one of his all-time favorite basketball movies and since Kye is loving bball he was ALL about watching it. We decided to split up and have girl movie time on the dvd player and boy movie time on Zach’s Ipad in the bedroom. We all snuggled up and it was just the perfect way to spend the morning.
The girls LOVED Enchanted and I had forgotten what an adorable movie it is! Kye and Zach both came out all misty-eyed after Hoosiers.
The cabin had a great loft area for the kids to play in and they loved having that spot to go and Kye had me come upstairs to see his set up with the random toys they had in the loft. I loved that they had games and toys as we didn’t bring ANYTHING with us and with the rainy day the kids needed to be able to play a bit inside!
I did Tess’s hair in two braids the day before and she was rockin some killer curls!
The rain finally let up a bit and the kids were able to go play outside for a while and do more exploring! It was so nice that Zach and I didn’t have to be helicopter parents and could just get lunch ready and get things done while keeping an eye on them. They had so much fun and it’s one of those things that I know they will remember back on from the trip!
We had everyone have an early nap so we could get out of the cabin a bit that afternoon when the rain was supposed to clear up some. Still a gloomy day but clear enough to get out and see the town for awhile! We looked up some options for things to do in the area and came across gem mining.
My kids have never done any sort of mining and they LOVE rock collecting. I was nervous that it’d be a tough sell to Zach as he cannot stand the rock collecting…but he was all about us going and checking it out!
We headed down the mountain and went to Sugar Creek Gem Mining. It was a super cute set up and so simple, we bought a bucket and were good to go!
The girls had fun playing with the gemstones in the lobby area!
The mining was actually IN a train car! How cool is that? It was all such a cute setup and really fun entertainment for $30. Can’t beat that!
It was all very user-friendly and I liked that they gave brief instructions then just let us do our thing. They had water running and we would just scoop from the bucket we bought, put the scoop into a tray for each child and then they’d dip the tray in the water and shake it to get rid of the dirt. After the sifting was done they’d pick through the stones and decide which ones to dump then toss the rest into a discard bucket and go again! The whole process was super quick and easy and we finished in about 30-45 minutes.
They also had these laminated reference pages to see which stones we found
The kids LOVED it. They were so excited about their treasures and talked about the different jewelry they wanted to make with the stones and the very first thing they did when we got home from the ski trip was to dump their rocks in the sink to get them nice and clean.
So glad we took the time to do this fun activity! I enjoyed our morning snuggling and watching movies but I wanted to make sure we went OUT and made memories DOING thigns so this was perfect!
There is a large elk statue in downtown Banner Elk and I wanted to make sure we got some pics with him as it’s a tradition (yall know me and my traditions!). I try to minimize group pics when one child is missing. I just don’t like seeing most of our kids but not ALL of them together so instead I try to do individual pics during these kinds of experiences!
Yay for older kids to take pics of us together…my fav guy in one of our most special places!
We walked around Banner Elk a bit and happened to stumble across an arcade. I mean what are the chances of that? So perfect for Kye’s birthday trip to have an arcade experience! And I happened to have cash so I was able to get the kids some tokens and just let them go!
When we walked in a big dog came running towards us and Tess screamed! It scared her and shocked her and she was okay after a minute but it was alarming to her. It reminded me that our children have very little experience with larger animals!
For dinner we wanted to eat local in Banner Elk and went into The Banner Elk Cafe. I was excited to eat some crab cakes but they were out! We had spent a lot of money on food (I mean eating lunch at the ski school the day before was $50. FIFTY DOLLARS FOR LUNCH) and wanted to keep it cheap and this location was perfect!
A rare moment: the girls actually let me sit with KYE for a change! Usually they always fight over getting to sit with me 😉 I soaked up the moment!
My handsome almost ten year old!
Something that always annoys me is when restaurants have tvs on and it’s where you can’t avoid looking at them. This particular tv was showcasing a wrestling match. I mean who wants to watch this while you eat?
Turns out… TESS DOES. She couldn’t take her eyes off of it and we asked her why and she said “I like muscles” Um we might be in trouble haha!
Since crab cakes were out I went with a burger and I loved the curly fries too!
Sweet sweet sisters!
Another stop by Fred’s on the way home to grab some basics as we decided in order to save money the next night we’d just eat at the house the next night 😉
We had a little hot tub time before bed! Tess has always been the child that’s been the most like me and ask she gets older I keep waiting for that to change but, nope, instead she’s only more and more like me. The whole crying at ski school? Totally something I would have done. And when it came to the hot tub? We both just weren’t into it for very long!
We had dessert and hot cocoa!
At tuck in time Tess said she really wanted this book for Christmas and I cracked up when I saw it because it’s in a totally different language!
Our last full day was our day for Ski Beech which is where Zach and I usually go skiing when we visit the area. I had already pre-paid for the ski school for the girls and I tried to call them and see if they’d let me cancel Tess’s class. It was $120. And she did NOT want to go.
I had thought she and I could just hang at the cabin rather than take her to ski school and have her cry and quit again. But when I called they refused any sort of refund and told me that they didn’t have to focus on skiing with her and could instead just make it a fun day.
Yall I was pretty annoyed because hello $120 is SO EXPENSIVE. That’s a day at Disney. And all she was going to do all day? Play. Color. Watch movies. UGH. But I was at their mercy with it since they didn’t allow for any sort of change.
I just pumped Tess up about it being a SNOW FUN day rather than a SKI SCHOOL day. Britt was not an issue at all and she was so excited to learn more about skiing. Kye did not do ski school and instead was super jacked about having a day with Daddy to just SKI!
The check in experience was SO MUCH smoother than the first day was and it was quick and easy to get everything. I took the girls to their classes where they were fitted there with their teachers for their gear. Both girls went happily to their classes and were excited and happy about it!
The guys got ready while I was dropping off the girls and were super excited to have their fun day together.
I headed up to the lodge which was a nice memory for me. I’ve spent many a day in this lodge reading and resting many a times! I had my book club book and was ready for a super chill day. I met another mom there who was also just taking a mental relaxation day 🙂
The boys came to check in with me and they could NOT stop SMILING. Zach said it was the most fun he’s EVER had skiing. Kye was BEAMING. He was in HEAVEN. Having a BLAST. Zach said Kye was KILLING IT on the slopes and they were just having SO. MUCH. FUN.
Y’all. It’s the happiest and most full my heart has felt in so long! Zach and Kye really have needed a “thing.” Kye really is at an age where he’s needing that same-sex bonding and he’s felt like he hadn’t found a “thing” with Daddy yet. And skiing is IT!
Seeing both of them just feeling so, so happy made me want to cry. It was precious and made me so excited for the future that they have this special thing between them to enjoy together! Kye said skiing is his very favorite sport and kept talking the rest of the trip about he wants to come back with just him and Daddy!
After they met up with me they headed to the BLACK DIAMONDS!
Yay Zach for the picture taking 😉
I was told by the ski school that I could check in with the girls at lunchtime. They had a strict rule too regarding parents bothering the kids during class time. I could see the girls some out of the window of the lodge and Britt spent most of her time falling 😉
I was eager to see them at lunch and see how they were liking things. I was very proud that I hadn’t heard a peep from Tess! When I went to see Britt she introduced me to all her new BFFS and said she was having a great time.
Tess was out on the mini bunny slope and I asked permission to check in with her as well but then when I went to see her the instructors weren’t so great about letting me actually check in. At least I got a good pic AND she was SMILING!!!
The guys came and ate lunch with me (the girls lunches were included with their programs) and then they headed back out for the afternoon. Tess’s pick up time was about 15 minutes earlier than Britt’s so I went and got her first and she was SO happy. She had a GREAT day and really had fun!
They said she went out on the bunny slope a couple of times and did well with it. I just don’t think skiing is going to be her sport 😉 I asked if she wanted to ski at all that afternoon and she said no that she’d rather play on her “tablek” (how she says “tablet”) and watch Mommy read 😉
I was SO PROUD of her for staying all day and having a GOOD TIME!
Britt was still out on the bunny slope when I got done turning in Tess’s equipment so we went to pick her up. She was having a blast and was super eager to go up the big mountains with Daddy. We opted to keep her equipment until turn in time!
Zach and Kye met us to pick up Britt to go ski for a bit the three of them. Kye was at the point of being comfortable riding the lifts by himself so Zach would ski down with Britt and just meet Kye at the bottom! I love that the ski areas are so small and family friendly that it was perfectly safe for this set up to take place and it allowed Kye to really feel like a “big kid” and have the ability to do his own thing at his own pace.
I did ask a random stranger to take a couple of group pics for us!
I am always looking for opportunities for quality time. As a whole family, as individuals, and as different pairings/groupings too. I love chances for Kye and Britt to spend time together. Their relationship has struggled since Tess entered the picture as she and Britt always team up and I know Kye and Britt enjoy each other best when it’s just the two of them. So this ski experience was not only awesome for Kye and Zach but also Kye and Britt!
We had about 30 minutes before Britt had to turn in her equipment so I did some reading and Tess did some tablet playing 🙂
All smiles waiting for Britt!
Zach dropped Britt off with me and I helped her turn in her gear while he and Kye used every last bit of their ski time before they had to turn back in their stuff!
Ski Beech has a little mini town area so the girls and I went on a hunt for a Christmas ornament (we didn’t have any luck) we walked a bit and were SO COLD so we headed back to the ski area to use the bathroom and meet the boys at the lockers to turn in their equipment.
Love getting to watch them having SO MUCH fun together!
We stayed in touch with Mrs Charlotte and Spear the whole trip and he was doing GREAT and was super clingy to her which I know made her feel special. He loves his G-Mama! Big Papa sent us this pic of him with Spear cheering on Colt at basketball!
We went back to the cabin to eat dinner with leftovers we had from the grocery store stop. Beat spending more money for restaurant food and gave us the chance to get everything packed up for the trip home! We loved recapping our trip. A tradition we have every single vacation is to discuss our favorite parts and memories!
Had to end the trip with smores for dessert!
I LOVED the bedding at the cabin and really went on a hunt looking at all the pillows and duvets trying to see how to copy what they had there to get at our house.
Has anyone had any experience with Pine Cone Hill? It seems like all their bedding came from there. Also, anyone recommends any items made with duck feather? I’m thinking that material is why I loved the pillows so much!
It was a solid 8 hour drive home so we hit the road before 8 am to make sure we’d get home in plenty of time to get settled and unpacked and ready for school the next day. We also didn’t want to be rushed and wanted to be able to stop along the way without hurrying.
We had 4 hours left of the first book of Harry Potter so we alternated listening for an hour and letting the kids do their own thing for an hour. It worked out well and really split up the drive nicely!
Twinning with my Big Girl!
This trip was truly so perfect. From start to finish it just all went SO WELL. The kids had a great time, Zach and I had a great time. Sometimes long road trips can be tough for Zach and I. Too long in the car together can result in bickering. Sometimes traveling can be stressful and cause a strain. But not this trip!
We both GENUINELY had so much fun together and made great memories not just as a family unit but also as a couple! I look back on this trip with nothing but HAPPY, JOYFUL memories and those are the best kind of trips of all.
I’m so thankful for how hard Zach works for our family and that he has a job that is so flexible to allow for these memory making opporutnities. We are all already counting down for Spear to be old enough to go back with us…I’m sure that day will be here before we know it!
We made a pit stop at a gas station and thought it was hailing! It’s something our kids haven’t ever seen before and we were freaking out in the parking lot about it haha. We got in the car and I looked up the weather and it wasn’t hail..it was sleet. But whatever, close enough!
We were originally planning to stop for lunch at The Varsity as the kids haven’t ever had it but traffic hit and it was taking longer than anticipated so we stopped at O’Charley’s instead which was another first visit for the kids. O’Charley’s is one of my favs with that amazing bread they have and it didn’t disappoint!
Britt and I went to the bathroom and while I was still going I heard her go to the sink and heard a woman’s voice speaking to her and saying how gorgeous she was. That mama radar naturally goes up in settings like that, especially with all the talk about sex trafficking and such!
I rushed out and the woman spoke kindly to us for a bit. Then I tried to leave and she kept speaking. And speaking. And speaking. She was nice but, no joke, we had a 20ish minute long conversation in the bathroom. Kinda awkward.
But I’m just too nice in situations like that and I felt bad and assumed she was lonely and just longing for company and companionship. She thanked me over and over for taking the time to make her day and I felt a tad weird about the whole thing but was glad to help someone feel joy.
I got back to the table and Zach could tell by the look on my face that I had a story to tell. The waitress was taking our orders and as I started filling Zach in she said: “oh gosh we’d have complaints about that woman all morning.”
Then when the waitress left the woman came over to our table and started talking with me again. And this time? She told me all about her charity that her grandchildren make bracelets to help raise money. Of course she offered to give a bracelet to each of our children as a gift and, of course, I felt like I didn’t really have a choice but to give her some money.
The whole thing was beyond awkward and it’s one of those times where I normally probably wouldn’t have accepted the bracelets and would have said I didn’t have any cash, but I’m there with my kids and I’d rather be taken advantage of and set that good example for them of being kind and generous then turn someone away. Although truthfully it was SO RUDE of this lady to do that in the middle of our meal.
Zach finally got her to go away and she came back AGAIN with some information written on a napkin for me. The whole situation was so bizarre. Truly she should have been asked to leave the restaurant as it’s just inappropriate. And like I told Zach, it just disappointed me.
Why couldn’t she have just been a NICE lady? Why did she HAVE to have an AGENDA? It made me sad and also made me realize that I feel awkward reaching out to a company about working together and I really shouldn’t. Heck, random strangers feel perfectly fine walking up to someone eating a meal and asking for money! Why am I uncomfortable reaching out to a brand and offering them my service in exchange for income? I need to get over that for sure!
First time at O’Charley’s…for sure not the last!
We had SUCH a phenomenal trip! I tried to do a much better job of getting video footage this trip. Often I take a million photos but don’t get as many videos and this being a trip we don’t take often I wanted to make sure we’d have as many memories captured as possible.
I put together this video recapping our ski trip and I’m so glad we’ll always have these moments to look back on! I’m SO extremely proud of how awesome the kids did skiing, proud of myself for conquering my ski lift fear and just so overjoyed at how much FUN we all had!
Enjoy the video: