I am so excited!!! We are leaving for Tennessee on Monday! Tennessee has been one of the only vacation spots I have ever know. My parents went there for their honeymoon and that then became our family vacation spot. I remember a few years in Florida visiting my grandparents, I am not sure but we may have went to Tennessee those years as well. I went on a cruise once to the Caribbean which turned out to be not at all for me. I much prefer the mountains. We always went to Gatlinburg and shopped 'till we dropped. Saw shows and swam. On the way we used to stop in Middlesboro, Ky. My grandparents lived in Middlesboro. I have the greatest memories of my grandma and I making mud pies out of red dirt. I remember her singing Rock a Bye Baby while we made them, I remember sampling a mud pie when she went in the house to get something. I remember their piano bench that I once fell off of and broke my collar bone. I remember my Grandpa drying my hair after a bath with a paper towel before he brushed it. I remember going to my Great Aunt's house, also in Middlesboro. She had a caboose out by the road in front of her tire shop (which was next to her house). When we went I always played in that caboose. One year My Grandpa and I were on our way back to Michigan and stopped by her house. My Aunt Maxine told me that she had a little porcelain dish set for me to play with in there if I wanted to. I played in there for our entire visit. That is one of my most precious memories. My Grandpa always referred to it as my caboose. I loved that caboose so much. (When I got a little older one of my teachers introduced me to The Boxcar Children book series. It is a mystery series about four kids who lost their parents and went on the run from their grandfather whom they believe to be awful. They find an old boxcar in the woods, fix it up and begin living in it. Their grandfather finds them and they discover he is a kind man. They move in with him and he transports their beloved boxcar to their new home. As a side note he is also very wealthy and can take them to wonderful spots all over the world where they always find a mystery waiting for them. My kids now LOVE the series. They found some of my old books we read them and added several to our collection. We have been known to read a book in a day. The whole family rallies in our bed or on the couch and begs every time we say we are going to stop reading and because Chad and I are so into it to we read on). Oddly enough Tennessee has also been one of my hubbies only vacation spots. He grew up going to Tazewell. His grandparents owned quite a bit of land on a mountain. They would go and play and explore. What an amazing vacation to be able to have as kids. The imaginative play is endless. The funny thing about that is that he passed "my" caboose every time on the way to his vacation spot. Middlesboro is only about fifteen minutes from Tazewell. We grew up living an hour away from each other and spent much of our childhood summers within a few minutes of each other but 10 hours away from our homes. We also honeymooned in Tennessee. First going to his parents mountain house (it wasn't a home then because they didn't live there yet) and then onto Gatlinburg. Fast forward to present time and his parents now own that land, have retired, moved from Michigan and live there. We now have the opportunity to vacation down on the same mountain that my sweet husband played on with his siblings as a boy. Our family loves that mountain more than any other place on this earth. We are constantly scheming up ways or reasons to go down there. Truth be told I would love, LOVE to move down there. Consequently we are always trying to figure out ways to find Chad a job down there that makes enough to feed us and has health insurance. As a homeschooling mom, I couldn't imagine any better classroom than that mountain. What a wonderful childhood one could have there (if it ever does happen to work out you can expect us to have more babies). On a seriously note Chad's parents have graciously offered to gift us land to put a home on if we would like to. This trip we are going to try to pick out our land. If we find a spot I will take pictures to post. When we vacation now we always stay at my in laws house and make a day trip to Gatlinburg. We try to blend our childhood vacations. This year is a pretty big vacation year for us. Our plan is to stop at the Creation Museum just inside Kentucky and get a hotel for the night then in the morning go to The Kentucky Horse Park (they have two horse museums and a hands on museum for kids). Then head to the mountain. From there we plan on dying Easter eggs, having an egg hunt on the mountain. Painting Nana bird houses. Going on a rock expedition to find smooth, round rocks to paint and make look like ladybugs. Chad parents have graciously offered to gift us land to put a home on if we would like, this trip we are going to try to pick out our land. The intention is that we will one day (in the near future???) put a home on it. I am very excited about We are going to Lincoln Memorial Museum. Then the Historical Society (Chad's mom, Debbie volunteers there) it isn't open yet but we get a sneak peek. We are going to lookout point where we can see where Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia meet. If weather permits we would like to go to the Knoxville Zoo( my kids love animals, they usually can be found crawling barking and most recently eating and drinking out of dishes on the floor, we also have to call them by their specific animal breed and name). Then we are going to Gatlinburg, once there we will go to the Aquarium (which we go to every time because the kids love it). To the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum (I know it sounds silly but it is cheap and we get to buy new salt and pepper shakers). The Old Mill restaurant (mine and Debbie's favorite). Then we are going to the place I am most excited about...The Miracle Theater, I have heard great things about it and can't wait to see it for myself. Depending on how the kids do at the hotel in Kentucky we may stay one night in Gatlinburg. If we do I would like to take them to Cade's Cove because it is nature and history rich (I am trying to make it an educational vacation). I was also considering the Space Needle. That one kind of depends on logistics with a stroller, five kids and four adults. Altogether I think we are going to be gone about 11 days! Please pray for traveling mercies for us. Hope you all have a great Easter! I may post pics of the kids on Easter if I get a chance.