One of my big goals for 2014 was to give Kye and Britt a chance to see snow. We’ve done the snow days at the local library but, let’s be honest, that’s just straight up ice. Zach and I talked a lot about what having 3 kids would mean and how we couldn’t expect to go on as many trips on our own just the two of us like we usually do. It’s a lot to ask someone to keep three kids!!! We decided on years that we go to Presidents Club with Aflac (which is always in April) that we wouldn’t go on an Anniversary trip (our anniversary is in May) and we also decided that on years that we go to National Convention with Aflac (which is in October) that we won’t go on our little Christmas getaway together.
Since we went to Hawaii this year with Aflac we decided to take the big kids with us on our “Christmas trip.” Tess stayed home with G-Mama for several days and we took Kye and Britt to see Banner Elk which is such a special place to us!
Our kids have never been on longer than a 4 hour drive (Kye went to South Carolina when my uncle passed away which was 6 hours but that’s the furthest) and this was an 8 hour drive. It worked out PERFECTLY to leave a day early and stop at my dad’s house to spend the night. I looked it up on Google and his house is legit only 13 min out of the way on our drive! So perfect!
I do not get to see my dad and Audrey enough. Especially now that I don’t have any other family, it’s SO important to me for my children to know Dad and Audrey. For them to make memories with people who are from my side of the family. It was truly a gift to me to be able to stay with them for that night. We ended up having an AWESOME ski trip…but this portion of the trip meant the most to me and was my favorite part for sure 🙂
We headed out when the kids got out of school and got there close to dinner time. Grandpa and Grammie may not be around kids often…but they have the spoiling thing down pat! Audrey was beyond sweet and had made homemade cookies for us and they had ice cream with all the fixins’. You guys know the way to Kye’s heart is through food! Haha!
Dad has lived in many places since my childhood but it’s so awesome to me that it all came full circle and that he and Audrey are now living in the same house I visited when he and my mom divorced when I was 9. I also lived in that same house when I moved in with Dad in high school. They’ve done a good bit of renovating and some changes (my room is now an office) but SO much is still the same. I hadn’t been to their house since Kye was very little (2010! I found the post here!) and SO many memories immediately flooded back when I walked up. The whole visit just made my heart SO HAPPY in ways I can’t even fully describe. I guess it’s the feeling of coming home after a long time away.
My dad is a collector of things. Like a lot of things. He loves polar bears, Portland Headlight lighthouses, decoys, Elvis, Corvettes, and several other random things. There are a lot of breakables. And nick-nacks. And it’s all sentimental to him. Which makes it very nerve-wracking for me from a mother perspective. I remember going to visit when Kye was little and being so nervous the whole time that something would get broken! I wasn’t as worried this time since the kids are older but it was a task to get Britt not to try to play with everything 😉 Thankfully Dad and Audrey still have the pinball machines from when I was a kid and they still work great! Kye was in LOVE and it provided him something to do so he wouldn’t get into stuff 🙂
Bonding time over some pinball 🙂
The kids had both skipped naps that day for our drive up so they were PLENTY ready for bed! We didn’t have a monitor with us and were a little nervous about the sleeping situation. We had the kids sleep in the basement and we slept up in the loft so we were really far from them. It made me SO thankful that we’ve always raised our children to never get out of the bed. We went down and checked on them a few times and my main concern was that they might get scared in a new place. I never, once, was worried that they’d get out of the bed and get into stuff! I totally trust my kids and they didn’t disappoint. They both said they slept great!
Britt was PUMPED to have the Elvis room all to herself. When I was a kid this same room was the “Barbie Room” where I’d keep ALLLL my Barbies. When we’d come up for the weekend my brother and Dad would be off doing boy things (like hunting squirrels) and I’d be content playing Barbies all day long. I loved that room and I love that we sleep in that room when we come visit.
It was pretty cold and Britt was lucky enough to get to use a special quilt that a close family friend of ours who lives in Maine, Mrs Cathy, made for Dad and Audrey! I have several pot holders she made for me and they are so special to me 🙂
Kye got to sleep in the same room as the pin ball machines. We gave a nice little lecture to him that he wasn’t allowed to play them during the night haha. I’m sure he was probably playing them in his dreams anyway!
We stayed up visiting with Dad and Audrey for a few hours. I loved sitting in the living room and just talking with them. Having family who supports me and loves me is so important to my self esteem and my ability to cope when other family members don’t seem to care. Being around Dad was just so great. I loved seeing ways that we are alike. I’m so rarely around people who do share my blood that I just soaked up every second of it I could! I legit wished I could video tape Dad and all his stories and his laugh and the way he does the things he does. I’ve always had this special soft spot for my dad and time and distance hasn’t changed that one bit.
The next morning we had a few hours to visit before we needed to hit the road. My favorite part of our stay was just “putzing around” with Dad in his workshop. He told me about every decoy he has and where it came from. I heard stories about Uncle Spear and I just loved seeing little reminders of my childhood sprinkled around everywhere. It made me feel SO loved to see that he is surrounded by those memories all the time. Even though we don’t talk often, I was grateful to know that I’m on his mind.
My dad was 38 when I was born which is so crazy to even think about! Zach’s grandparents are closer in age to my dad than his parents are. Zach’s grandparents had kids young and his parents had kids young whereas my family was the opposite. My dad’s father died when he was pretty young and even my dad’s step father died before I was born. I knew my dad’s mom but she also passed when I was only 9 and she was 80 years old at that time. Watching my dad get older is hard for me. I remember being very young and worrying about him since he was always older than my friends parents. It’s crazy how time passes, and how I’m so much older, but yet Dad is still Dad! He’s truly the definition of “young at heart.” I’m so glad he stays busy (he works at Home Depot) and that he has so many projects that he works on.
He was very excited to show us this boat that he had worked on. My Uncle Spear (his brother) and my Great Uncle Spear (his uncle) worked on it together. Dad has a scrapbook with the back story of the boat and has put a lot of time, effort, and work into fixing it up to be a display. It turned out great!
I also love that Dad pulled out a yellow flannel shirt to wear while we were visiting 🙂 Uncle Spear wore this dang yellow shirt ALL the time! It was a running joke between us and the more I teased him about it, the more he’d wear it around me. He gave me that shirt during our wedding rehearsal dinner (we did a roast! it was SO fun!) and I still have it hanging in my closet. I love that sweet reminder of a man who meant so much to me and it was so sweet that Dad thought to wear it as well that day. He actually bought it after Uncle Spear passed and had “PMA” embroidered on it as Uncle Spear always lived his life with the motto of having a “positive mental attitude”
Uncle Spear at our rehearsal dinner giving me his beloved shirt 🙂
Dad with his boat
My favorite part of the boat was the hunter Dad put inside it and how he included snacks for the hunter to eat too haha.
The kids had a BLAST playing all the old school games! We decided we need to plan a visit when it’s warm outside so we can all enjoy the lake and play in the woods and such together. Kye totally wants to go fishing too and Grandpa is very good at fishing 🙂
Growing up my dad had a white German Shepard named Christy (short for White Christmas since she was white…and yes, we were kids and helped name her of course!). She was an AWESOME dog. She died way too young and it’s been a tough thing for Dad. Once he and Audrey got settled back in their home they decided to get a new puppy and named her Pearl (Which is my dad’s mom’s name and a name I totally tossed around for a girl name for us! Zach wasn’t a big fan but I kinda love it!). I’ve met Pearl a few times during her hyper puppy stage and now she’s “grown up” and did SO well with the kids! They were the youngest kids she’s ever been around. I think she would have eaten Britt up if we let her haha!
I wish Tess could have been there to spend that quality time with Grandpa and Grammie BUT I’m super, mega glad that I was able to give more attention to having my quality time with Dad and Audrey too. And if I’d had the baby, I wouldn’t have been able to focus as much as I was able to. Audrey has been in my life for most of my life and it’s so neat to see how our relationship has developed over the years. I’m very, very thankful that my dad has someone who loves him so much! She takes amazing care of him and it’s obvious that he’s truly happy. She has been such a shining light in my life the past couple of years and I’m beyond grateful for her love and support as well as Dad’s! It filled my heart with joy to see my kids at my childhood home making memories with my family. I will always cherish these moments and I know they will as well! They keep asking when they get to go back!
We had a GREAT visit! We hit the road to head up the rest of the way to Banner Elk! Thanks again Dad and Audrey for being such wonderful hosts!