NC – Summer 2017

Last Monday (a week ago) the boys and I were feverishly packing the van to head to NC three days early. We cancelled a few things that were on our calendar for the week so we could get a head start on our long drive. 
Our friends have been moving away slowly but surely over the past year and a half and we had to drive right past one of these sweet families! Of course, that meant we had to stop by and we appreciated the opportunity to rest our heads in their home for the night.

The next day was momentous: Chick-Fil-A’s “Dress like a cow” day… We stopped at the nearest Wal-mart and purchased a package of vinyl letters and spelled out two messages on our shirts:
“Eat More Chikn” and “Cow sez moo.”
The first CFA we came to was a little out of our way in West Monroe, LA. They were so impressed with our idea that they rang the large cow-bell!
Our second CFA was in another state… Alabama, perhaps? They, too, enjoyed our “costumes” and we ate again, for free!
We stopped at a Barnes and Noble for an hour to let Anna run around and for the boys to buy their souvenirs. (When you’re visiting the state you’re from you really don’t need souvenirs, so a book for each kid is a great way to spend a few dollars.)

Our hotel in Alabama had an indoor pool which we made good use of to get our wiggles out and tire us enough for a good night’s sleep. And we did sleep well that night.
The next morning we got on the road and, for the first time, made it through Atlanta in a decent amount of time. We were in stand-still traffic for only about 30 minutes. Best time yet!

We met up with the Ramsey Family at our old stompin’ grounds: Gardner-Webb University. This is where Anna and I first met and it just so happened that Olivia was attending a Volleyball Camp so in order for us to get to see her, we had to meet there.

After some fun catching up we got back on the road. We were excited to eat at a Cook-out after being away from this delectable treat for so long and even more happy about it when we found out Anna and Logan were able join us.
We then drove to my parents’ town.  When we were 40 minutes out I called my brother to see if he wanted in on the surprise.
We met up at the gas station in their town (yes… I said “the”) and drove to my parents’ house. Their driveway is long and gravel and they know the sound of a car on it so we pulled in just far enough to get out of the street and I sent a few back-to-back texts:

We decided to get a head start:

I then sent pictures of every state line we crossed, followed by this one of us with my brother and his family standing in my parents’ driveway: 

We may have thrown them for a bit of a loop as it takes a bit to prepare for a group of six people to come and stay with you for a few weeks, but they rolled with it and we’ve had a blast.
Getting there a few days early gave the kids and me some down time before we start the next few legs of our trip… which start today. (More on that later.) Had we left when we originally planned we would have arrived, then had only 48 hours of rest before the busy legs of the trip began.
Thursday we spent avoiding the car (we were done with the car!) and riding four-wheelers. 

Friday, more of the same, except the bigs did some yard work for Papa to earn some spending money.

Saturday we had “Christmas in July without the presents.” Mom hosted the family with a BIG Christmas brunch and we ate our family’s traditional foods to our heart’s content.
That afternoon my aunt and uncle on mom’s side came to dinner and it was so nice to introduce Anna to them!

Throughout this entire week Parker and my nephew, Mason, have been inseparable. They are the cutest little things!!  My niece, Madison, has really enjoyed being the “big kid” for a change, feeding Anna and helping out when she can. 

Sunday we skipped church to rest. None of us could have made it to church if we wanted to! A friend of ours from way back when I was homeschooled came out to meet my kids and reminisce about old times. Anna adored her and entertained us all with Beverly’s glasses!

A few of the boys took rides on Papa’s new motorcycle and as he was about to put the Harley away for the night, asked if I’d like a ride. The sun was setting, the air was perfect, and I couldn’t turn that offer down! When we got home I glanced at the clock and was absolutely stunned to realize we had been gone an hour. It literally felt like 15 minutes. Time really does fly when you’re having fun!

Monday we took the kids to a park giving Anna her first true moments of freedom since we left home. There really isn’t a good place for her to roam safely here so we have to be right on top of her. 

 (She’s even managed to master escaping from her pack-n-play!) Being at a park and watching her play with dirt and walk where she wanted to walk was so delightful that I hated to end the fun… but the rest of the people (including myself) were hungry… we were breaching hangry. 
We may or may not have eaten Cook-out again (and this wasn’t just the second time… I shall not reveal the accurate number of times we enjoyed their food while on this vacation).
After a run through Wal-mart I got my littles home and resting and made the bigs clean the bonus room (the room that they pretty much take over while we’re here). For the first time this week, Mom, Ashley, and I got to sit and chat with no interruption. These precious moments lasted all of 30 minutes… maybe. And then it was time to get the crew dressed and ready to go swimming!
Last week at our hotel Bailey taught Parker how to dive and Parker’s actually really good!
Today we head on the second major part of our journey: the kids and I are leaving this part of NC and heading to visit Daddy’s side of the family. We are very excited to see Grammy again and we simply can’t wait to meet our new cousin Lincoln! We wanted to get here to meet him when he was first born but we simply couldn’t get away in the spring! I can’t wait to see Anna loving on the younger cousin!
We have a third part of the journey that begins on Friday: we are heading to Virginia to see Mama Kim and Anna’s half-siblings. There are going to be many hours spent in cars over the next 2 weeks and we know the driving time will be worth the experiences we will have, but we do covet your prayers as we travel.
The final leg of our journey takes us back to Matt… we all miss him and wish he were on this trip with us! 

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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