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.


  • 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




  • 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)


  • 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



  • 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

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


The best project you will ever work on is…

YOU!!!  That’s right. YOU!

I know as a mom and wife I spend a lot of time worrying and taking care of my family.  Sometimes I neglect taking care of myself. As my kids have grown and don’t need their mama as much as those baby stages required, I have had more time to work on myself. What I have learned is if I take some time to myself whether that is working out, reading a book, hanging with my girlfriends, having a date night, going for a massage – I am able to give more of myself to others if I have spent some time taking care of myself first.

Working on yourself can be personal growth, fitness growth, career growth, etc. Results will happen even if the daily changes you make are small. Working on yourself doesn’t always mean setting big goals or expecting big achievements. It’s about making small positive changes and consciously improving yourself every single day. They can be as simple as waking up each day and asking yourself, “How can I be better today? What’s one small thing I can do to bring me closer to fulfilling my dreams today?”

The best project you will ever work on is you!

I know our days as a working mom & wife can be crazy.  Our jobs can be crazy. You may feel like you don’t have any time, but you need to make time. Your well-being depends on it. Whether it’s starting a new workout, eating better, reading a book, getting outside more, going for a run, taking dance lessons, going back to school, getting a massage, having more date nights, or just going to bed and getting some much needed rest — take some time for yourself.

I am currently under construction. Thank you for your patience.

Today is Sunday. You have a full day ahead.  Carve out some time for yourself. You will still have plenty of time with your family, plenty of time to prepare for the week and plenty of time to catch up around the house.  At the end of the day, you won’t regret it. You will feel refueled, happy and ready to tackle the week ahead.

Do something today your future self will thank you for.

Who says I can’t cook? You obviously haven’t tasted my cereal.

I have no issues being honest and admitting I don’t cook.  I don’t want to, I don’t enjoy it, and I have no interest in starting to cook.  Every once in a while I get a wild hair and think I should start cooking. It doesn’t last long. Maybe I try one new recipe then I move on. Not being the chef in the house does not mean I’m not a good mom or not providing for my kiddos. My kids are happy and healthy.

I know how to cook, I just don’t.

The joke in our house is when it’s my night to cook, it’s cereal. The kids know I’m not the chef and I’m ok with them growing up in a home where I’m not the meal provider. There are 100 ways for a family to function or marriage for that matter and as long as you are carrying your weight and providing in another way, you are rocking your job.

I just don’t like spending that much time in the kitchen. I’d rather be the laundry provider honestly or be outside cutting grass. I think maybe my dislike of cooking started when I was growing up. Being one of seven kids, if you did cook you had to make a spread to feed all the faces at home.  Just took away from the fun for me. I gladly went outside and helped my dad.

Who says I can’t cook? You obviously haven’t tasted my cereal.

So by now you may be wondering what the heck are my kids eating? Well, like many men, my husband rocks. He whips up a meal so fast, makes it look easy and is dang good at it. I appreciate his cooking even though I probably don’t tell him enough.  He is teaching our kids how to cook as well. So with 3 possibilities for chefs, it looks like I can continue to escape the kitchen. I will gladly let those 3 handle it and I’ll clean up the mess.  If you can’t find me, I’m doing the laundry. 🙂

Leave me feedback. Who is the chef in your house?

What is the “right” age for your child to make a big decision on their own?

What is the “right” age for your child to make a big decision on their own? This has been a topic in our house and one that happened this past week.

Background information — My 13 year old daughter has played softball since she was 5 or 6 years old.  Early last season at a softball practice she was bunting left-handed and took a hit.  She had been hit so many times that season and took the hits like a champ.  This one was different. She immediately cried and her hand immediately swelled.  The next day she wanted to go to school so I let her but I set her up an appointment to be seen. Verdict — It was broke and it was broke pretty bad.  

The surgeon called it a boxers break and teased her she was really punching/picking on her brother. He hadn’t seen this break from a softball injury.

She needed surgery which leading up to was pretty hard on this chick with being nervous but after she said a breeze. She missed the rest of the season.  This past fall she ran cross country and loved it. This spring she wants to run track.  The past several weeks we have fought over starting to practice for softball. She hasn’t wanted to practice at home with her dad.


The Talk — One evening I decided to talk to our daughter about playing particularly practicing at home. I explained to her that when you play on a team you need to contribute to the team.  Contributing to the team is practicing so you improve your game.  If she doesn’t practice, she isn’t helping her team to improve or win.  In this conversation I told her if she doesn’t want to practice she should think about letting someone else have her spot on the team. She immediately said she wanted to quit.  I wasn’t expecting that immediate of a response. I didn’t want her to jump into a decision even though multiple times she has said she doesn’t love playing after she took the break. She has the jitters and is scared of being hit again.

My daughter also is more of a one sport kind of girl.  She doesn’t like a crazy busy schedule and takes great pride in her grades/school work. I told her to take some time and really think about it.  This wasn’t a decision to just make quickly because one she walks away, it won’t be easy to get back in if she changes her mind. And if she did decide she didn’t want to play, she would talk to her coach and write her a letter on why.

The Decision — She thought on it and was adamant she doesn’t want to play. She wants to focus on track in spring and cross country in the fall. Last week she talked to her coach and gave her a letter.  That evening we talked and I asked her how she felt.  She said it wasn’t as hard as she thought and she felt great about her decision.

Mom Thoughts — I think as a mom we always second guess ourselves and the decisions we make.  My daughter very responsible to handle a decision like this on her own. At the same time, I sit and think I hope she doesn’t regret this decision or I regret not having her stick with it a little longer but right now I’m not looking back. I will miss seeing her on the field, miss the friendships/families we met along the way but I am looking forward to seeing her on the track this spring and back at cross country in the fall.  What age did you let your child make their 1st big decision on their own?  It’s hard to know when the right time is.

How will you know if it’s the right decision if you never make it?

I know my daughter kept asking me to just talk to her coach for her.  That would be easier she said. She learned an important life lesson handling this one by herself.  Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes you have to talk about something that is hard or uncomfortable but that is part of growing up.