Two years ago, for my mother-in-law’s sixtieth birthday, she took all of her kids and their families to the beach for a week-long vacation, huddled in a house together enjoying each other’s presence.

Shortly into that week, it was decided that we should all do that again in two years. This time, in the Smokies. Sevierville, Tennessee. (Shortly into this trip, we were choosing our next destination!)

Of course, we weren’t sure it would actually happen because of the virus (the house was booked a year and a half ago), but they assured us the house would be sanitized, and we did our own cleaning before settling in.

After 10 hours in the car we arrived at the cabin. By bedtime the house was filled with family and bustling with activity.

The view was our favorite part!!! There was always someone eating, reading, playing games, or simply sitting soaking in those mountains and sky from the main-level deck.

Below are some more photos from the deck…

Watching the rain cross the sky.

Mae and S playing charades while I read my book (and took their photo).

“Mom, wait! I’ll take your picture, while you take mine!”

S trying to get a ladybug to crawl out of the crack. Mae spacing out like her mama does, while wearing Mama’s posture.

S being cute, probably just finished a hand stand.

Speaking of….

She is a master. She did handstands all day long at the house!

The girls also enjoyed the front porch swing! As did I!

Rae bought a hermit crab (which is living the good life back here at home), Dave, named after a character in the show Kipo / S caught that ladybug.

Games were an ongoing thing. The favorite group game (which I actually don’t care for, as it gets loud) is Jackbox (one person must have the app on their ‘device’). Plenty of Mario Cart was played, as well as Wits and Wagers, Farkle, QWIXX, and several others.

We also brought embroidery thread for friendship bracelets and Sculpey clay for figurine and jewelry making.

Same face!

The only photo that was taken of me the entire trip…I am glad to have this smidgen of proof and that it is of a girl who still loves her mama’s lap! The photo Mae took ^up there^ is on someone else’s phone.

Jenny also has a mini-me, and boy, if they aren’t just the cutest ladies!

L was living her best life all week long. Haha.

I love that we always eat supper as a family while on these trips.

Mae desperately wanted to ride a horse so Zack and I took her and S for a trail ride. Mae got scared once on the horse (hers was large and a stinker), so Zack and S went on the trail, while Mae and I got a snack, fed some goats, and waited.

Micah wanted to see a dinner show, and since they truly required distancing, checked everyone’s temperature, and had a mandatory mask-when-not-at-your-table rule, we weren’t so nervous to tag along. The girls loved every minute of it!

Colorful ice cream and cute feet.

On our last day, Aunt Sarah took the girls (along with myself and Shari), to a sterile arcade, up in a very large Ferris wheel, and helped them ‘mine’ for gems – which was their favorite part of the day. Oh, and bought them that ice cream they were posing with!

Our ‘neighborhood’ was so close to Dollywood. They do a fireworks show every night (even during a downpour of rain!). Most nights a car load or two of us drove farther up the mountain to watch the fireworks.

It was so lovely being in a large close-knit group for an entire week. I love watching the cousins interact, and watching my girls socialize with kids again! None of it would’ve been possible without sweet Shari, or as fun and smooth without Sarah. Usually, a vacation with children is so much work, but those ladies really make it relaxing and a whole lot of fun for everyone.

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