TN Family Vacation Itinerary

Traveling to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area for vacation??? I have spent quite a bit time researching, reaching out to others for fun things they saw/great places to eat and compiled a fun-filled itinerary that I’m sharing.  If you are headed there soon, feel free to enjoy. If you have already been and see something I have missed that is a must, comment below.

Saturday

  • Drive to house — Sevierville TN 37876
    Sevierville to Pigeon Forge is 7 miles.
    Sevierville to Gatlinburg is 14 miles.
  • The Old Mill Restaurant164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863


Sunday

 

Monday

  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park – Gatlinburg is where entrance is (NC, TN)
    • Cade’s Cove (11 mile scenic loop) – find some short hikes as well
      Do Cade’s Cove in evening to see bears
    • Swim Hole – 2 options close to Cade’s Cove
      The Wye OR The Sinks
    • Abram Falls (part of Cade’s Cove Loop Rd)

Tuesday

  • Great Smoky Mountain National Park (NC, TN) – 107 Park Headquarters Rd, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN 37738-4102Walk the hike of Grotto Falls & Laurel Falls (look into rainbow falls)
    • Newfound Gap – NC/TN line
    • Clingmans Dome
    • Roaring Fork Motor Trail
    • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad scenic tour (NC side)
    • Picnic lunch at Chimneys Top Picnic and Chimney Tops Trail
  • Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen 131 The Island Dr #8101, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863


Wednesday

Thursday

  • Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park 3757 Thomas Lane, Sevierville TN
    10% off coupon available on TripAdvisor
    (“lite zip line” tour, ATV tour, swinging bridge, whispering winds covered bridge to make a wish, waterfalls, family outdoor games, trails and river walk)
  • Tanger Outlets 1645 Parkway Ste 960, Sevierville, TN 37862
  • Mellow Mushroom  2485 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Wife. Mom. Boss.

It’s no secret trying to juggle those titles is a challenge. It’s chaos some days but it’s always fun. And I’m quite proud to wear all 3.

Today I’m sharing how I balance it all…

  1. I try to eat healthy. Do I every single day and never cheat? No, but for the most part I eat healthy and drink plenty of water. I love to enjoy a protein shake for dinner.
  2. I keep my calendar/schedule organized. Being organized is huge with handling all the events we have as a wife, mom and boss. Being organized = success. Those 2 go hand in hand. I have my own personal calendar, we have a family calendar so my hubby and kids know what we have going on and I have my work calendar. I schedule events/appointments in advance and they immediately go on the calendar so I can plan ahead and around events so I don’t overbook or miss an event at home or deadline at work.
  3. I keep a task list in a notebook at work and home. This list is always up-to-date with tasks I need to complete. Having these visual reminders is important and a huge reason I get so much done at home and work every day.
  4. I start my day with coffee. Yep, it’s a guilty pleasure and goes totally against my #1 but a mama has to find balance.  While I try to be good the rest of the day, I need to rise and shine with a coffee cup in my hand.  Find a small guilty pleasure and treat yourself.
  5. I take some time to myself. I try to every day but some days it doesn’t happen.  This one can be hard to do especially depending on the ages of your kiddos. I promise it gets easier if you have little ones.  As they get older they can entertain themselves to it’s easy to sneak in a book, bubble bath or they can work out with you, etc.
  6. My hubby and I are a team. We share the workload at home and the kids’ schedules which makes the mom hat wearing much easier. As our kids are getting older they are helping clean, do laundry and work outside so again mom hat getting easier. If you are overwhelmed, have your hubby fix dinner, schedule some doctor appointments, take the kids to practice, etc.
  7. I focus on the positives. I’m challenged in my job every day and I love it. Working full-time and doing photography on the side makes me quite busy and I have less time at home wearing my mom hat that I love wearing every day, too. Some days I feel guilty that I miss so much time with my kids and this is when I have to focus on the positives. I’m blessed to have a great job that I love. I have a strong work ethic and setting a great example for my kids. Our kids need to learn to work hard and how to take care of themselves, their home, their family. I’m also building a strong foundation to give my kids the best possible start when they get their wings and fly.  We are working hard to be able to pay their college for them so when they graduate and land their 1st full-time job they don’t have all this debt hanging over their head. We are doing a great job so we need to give ourselves credit.
  8. Indulge in some pleasures. One of my happy places is spending time at the lake. I am an outdoor kind of girl so I love summer. I enjoy spending time at the lake as a family. It’s great quality time together and it’s a nice getaway when I’m not at the office.
  9. Be thankful. I’m thankful for what I have, what I’ve accomplished, what I’m capable of and thankful for my family and friends. This is an area I am working on every day. I’m thankful but could I be even more grateful in all areas of my life, yes.  So I’m a work in progress.
  10. Last but not least, limit your time on social media. We all spend time on social media. It can soak up so much of your precious time with your family. Instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing on FB, IG, Snapchat, etc focus on your family sitting right in front of you. Catch up with family/friends, post your pics but then turn it off. My other suggestion is turn off your notifications. I do not have mine turned on that way my phone isn’t buzzing and I’m not side-tracked by seeing the notifications. I also try to catch up after my kids go to bed, at practice, doing homework, etc. (basically when they are busy) I’m not saying I’m never on my phone because I do check in with work from my phone as well. I just try to limit social media as I feel like that is optional. Finding balance between it all isn’t easy.

Last, this is how I’ve found balance with juggling all 3 hats and living my best life. You just have to find what works best for you and makes you happy.

Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what we do consistently. — Marie Forleo

Take the trip.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received? ‘Take the trip.’ Since my daughter was 2 years old we started vacationing. Going on vacation was not something I experienced growing up. My first time flying was on my honeymoon and I remember telling my husband when we have kids I want to take them places. I want these firsts for my kids to be with us so when a co-worker said her best advice was to take the trip, it stuck with me.

If you ever question whether or not you should take the trip, just do it. Spend the money. Take the time. You only have a limited number of years together as a family before your kids get busy with their own lives and building those memories and experiences together is something you will never regret.

Here are the benefits I see from taking the trip…

  1. Traveling is all about family time. Even the closest families sometimes have a hard time spending quality time together. We are sometimes pulled in separate directions with the kids being in sports, etc. There are always things to do at home, too. (Laundry, cleaning, grass cutting) Getting away from those schedules and chores means you can truly focus on your family.
  2. Leaving home gets everyone out of their comfort zone. Traveling to new areas are great experiences for all. It’s good to see different cultures and different sceneries.
  3. Dealing with the unexpected builds character. Traveling will always present some surprises. Funny story last year when I took my family to Mexico. There was a sign that if you left your items unattended the staff would take them off the beach. We found an empty hut and a lady came back and only spoke French. We had no idea what she was saying but it was very clear with the tone she wasn’t happy with us. Luckily another lady knew French and English and helped us but a great experience for my kids. Not sure their eyes could get any bigger though.
  4. Seeing how others live keeps us grounded and humble. Our kids have seen how some live with a lot less. When they think they don’t have as much as some of their friends I like to remind them they could have a lot less. Leaving our communities helps us see the similarities and differences we all experience.
  5. Experiencing new things builds memories. Our world is full of beauty. I can take pictures and share all day but nothing beats seeing the mountains or ocean in person. Pictures just don’t do it justice. When we travel we see, hear, smell and taste new things. Our kids love talking about the trips they have been on. We have so many memories together. We have so many firsts together. Two years ago we took our kids zip lining. They were asking all kinds of questions and I told my kids this is my 1st time as well. We were all 4 experiencing it together.

We are thankful for each trip we have taken. We don’t go crazy on the costs for the trip. We have an awesome travel agent that watches for great deals. If you can cut in one area to be able to take the trip, try it. It will be worth it. With that said, travel doesn’t have to be a big vacation. Even a weekend camping or the lake is great quality time together away from the to-do lists at home.

I also enjoy our adult trips. These trips don’t have to be big either but I think it’s equally important to spend quality time with your spouse. After our kiddos are grown and move out, I still want my marriage going strong. But, if we do adult, I don’t cut the kids. We still do a family trip so we have that quality time with our kids, too.

The tans will fade but the memories will last forever.

Whatever trip you are looking at (adult or family), book it!

This is ME.

Who doesn’t love this song from the sound track of The Greatest Showman??? I love the song and especially love what it stands for. This is ME is all about being who you are, standing up for yourself, being proud of who you are, loving and accepting yourself (the good and the bad). This is easier said than done especially if you feel judged or if you feel you have to be a certain person to fit in with those around you. This song serves as a reminder for all the things we should do but sometimes don’t practice.

This is ME.I’ve got news for you. You are good enough. You deserve to be who you are and to be happy. Stop listening to the voices inside you that may tell you different. Everyone is different and unique in their own way. Accept who you are and embrace it. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a must see.

Today I’m sharing who I am!  So here you go…this is ME.

I’m in my upper 30’s. 🙂 I grew up in a very small town and have 6 siblings. Life was crazy growing up in a big family. One minute everyone was getting along and next a fight would break out.  I learned hard work ethic being in a large family and at a young age starting babysitting. Through my high school years I carried 2 jobs.  In college I worked full time and went to school full time. I graduated with my Computer Information Systems degree. I worked at a retirement system for 15 years and been at the AGO’s office for 6.  Today I’m the Director of Information Technology. This job has been extremely busy, challenging and I LOVE every minute.  I had the goal of becoming a director for years so feels good to be fulfilling my dream.

I’m a mom.  Sometimes I do awesome in this gig and other times I feel like a complete failure. But I do know one thing…I’m doing the best I can and I love my kids more than anything. I’m their biggest cheerleader, I’m the hardest on them but love them the most. I want them to exceed, I want them to be hard workers and good people. I want them to love life most of all. I love experiencing life with them.

I’m a wife. I feel like this role fits the above mom role. Sometimes I’m an awesome wife. Sometimes I could definitely do better.  But I’m trying and I love my hubby more than anything. He’s my best friend. I’ve been married for 17 years and with my hubby for a total of 20 years. Quite proud of what we have accomplished as a team! Mostly proud of the 2 awesome kids we are raising together.

I love to travel. I love to spend time with my family. I love to have fun. I love to joke around. I love to keep my kids on their toes. They never know what their momma will say. I love to be goofy…life is too short to be serious all the time. I love to kick a**. I love to work hard. I love to accomplish goals. I love to have a clean home. I love to cut stripes in our grass.  I’m picky. I’m anal. I hate debt and bust it to pay everything off. I’m probably too much of a perfectionist. I have high expectations. I can have a short temper at home when my kids don’t listen. I wish I had more patience. I regret some things I have said. I don’t cook (Thank God my hubby does). I do clean. I’m a good friend. I love the outdoors.  I love our time together at the lake and farm. I love my family and friends.

I love many characteristics about myself and I have plenty I don’t. I embrace the good with the bad and say screw it. I’m not perfect. But I do strive every day to be the best person I can be…

And that’s the best we can do!

Enjoy your weekend.  Be you and love every minute of it!

Fav words in the song…

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me

 

17 Reasons Why I Think Marriage is Pretty Awesome

My husband and I will be married 17 years in May. Marriage isn’t always easy but I believe the good times far outweigh the hard times. Here’s 17 reasons why I think marriage is pretty awesome….

  1. You have a best friend for life. If you read my last blog post, I talked about how you get to spend every day with your best friend.
  2. No more dating.
  3. You have someone to go to bed with every night.
  4. You can be yourself and your spouse won’t mind.
  5. I don’t have to fix myself up at home and he doesn’t mind. Actually most of the time he tells me I’m beautiful is when I have no makeup on and lounging in comfy clothes at home.
  6. When you’re sick, you have someone to take care of you.
  7. You have a date for everything.
  8. You don’t have to make difficult decisions alone.
  9. You have someone to share all the special memories with.
  10. You have someone to vent to/visit with every day.
  11. You can create your own family traditions.
  12. After years together, you can communicate with just a look.
  13. Work out partner!
  14. Constantly learning new things about each other. It’s so cool to see how far we have come and changed over the years.
  15. Having children together!!!  There is nothing more special than creating a human being together.
  16. Sharing the chores/responsibility. We make a great team!
  17. Building memories together. Our book of memories keeps growing and has many chapters/pages from the 17 years we have been married.

What is the best thing about being married?

What do you think the best thing about being married is? For me, it’s being with my best friend every day.

What’s funny about that is I don’t think I considered my husband my best friend when we got married. We didn’t grow up together. We didn’t party together. We didn’t go to high school together or even college. When we met Cory was graduated from college and I was starting my sophomore year of college.  Actually, many probably don’t even know that we met on a blind date.  (By blind, I mean we hadn’t met in person.  I may have stalked him 😉 a little before agreeing to a blind date.) After 20 years together  (17 married + 3 years of dating), I’ve lived with my husband longer than I lived at home and I spend more time with him than anyone else. He has definitely became my best friend over the years. It’s an intimacy we have built and earned over time.

Marriage is getting to have a sleepover with your best friend, every single night of the week.

We have been through great days and bad days together. Shortly after we got married, his mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. Life was tough watching her struggle and even harder when she passed away.  We have helped each other through the struggles which only made us grow closer together. The great days have far outweighed the hard days. We make a great team raising our two kids. When life is tough or easy, during the good news and bad — he is the 1st person I want to talk to.  He is the best listener and I probably don’t tell him enough how much I appreciate him always being there for me.

A strong marriages rarely has two strong people at the same time. It is a couple who take turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak. – Ashley Willis

I’m lucky that we both like to joke around. The teasing and laughter are endless in our home. My kids don’t know when to believe their dad and generally come ask me to see if he’s telling the truth or again teasing them.  We believe you need laughter in your home. There is a time to be serious but mostly it’s about fun!

We make a great team. He cooks, the kids and I will clean up, I do laundry, we both clean, we both cut grass!  There isn’t one parent handling it all.  We work together.

Do we fight? Heck yes, who doesn’t?  If I get aggravated it doesn’t take me long to say exactly what I think. Luckily my husband is patient with me. 🙂 And now as I sit here and type I can’t remember what our last disagreement was about. If I had to guess it would be me being aggravated at the planning part. I feel like I have to plan our trips, plan our weekends, etc. He can plan and pack for the farm in advance but not so much a family event/weekend unless it’s going to the farm. 🙂  It’s more about those things. It’s never about money. (as we have the same views on saving, paying house off, etc)

If you focus on the good, the good gets better.

I still love being with my hubby after all these years. I look forward to our lunch dates every day (Monday – Thursday is exercise, Friday is out to eat). I look forward to talking to him about my day and hearing about his.  Our work days are very similar since we both manage and both in IT (Information Technology) divisions. I can talk to him about anything which makes him an awesome best friend.  I guess you could say a best friend with benefits. 🙂

Most of all, he loves me. He’s put up with me all these years lol, supports me in every decision I make even if I scare him at times and I try to do the same for him.  We work together to help each other achieve their goals and dreams.

We both have our guy friends and girlfriends. We love hanging with our friends as couples. Cory also loves his guy weekends as I love my girl time.  But he’s definitely my very best friend! He knows me better than anyone else.

Sharing some pics of us over the years (from wedding day to today)…