O Eclectic Tannenbaum in July

I call Christmas in July!  After all July 1st is tomorrow and it’s my blog, so I can do that.  Right?  Right?  *wink*  Plus, you all know that I LOVE Christmas.  It’s by far my most favorite holiday.  I do also really like Halloween, but I’m pretty sure you know that already, too.  There’s just something about the Christmas season.  All the Christmas decorations, Christmas smells, and ChristmasLightsEtc.com sales this month.  What’s not to love?  Anyway, today you are in for a real treat.  Are you ready for it?  I’ve decided that I’m going to share with you a part of my life that I’ve never done before.  I’m going to share with you something from my family blog.  A hush falls over the crowd and then…  The crowd goes wild!  Some of you may not know this about me, but before this blog I was actually already a blogger.  I had a little family blog that I maintained while we were living in San Antonio, Texas.  Far away from family and friends.  I should specify that I mean prior friends.  We did make friends in San Antonio.  I’m not that anti social.  *wink*  We lived in SA for 6 years.  I started a blog to share our lives and growing family with loved ones who lived elsewhere.  My very first blog posting was on April 8, 2008.  This was exactly 6 days before Banjo was born.  So I have been blogging for quite the long while.  For my Christmas in July special I’ve decided to share with you an excerpt from my little blog.   And here it is…

Monday, December 1, 2008

O Eclectic Tannenbaum – I love Christmas ornaments!! I’ve always been fascinated by the way the glass ones glint and reflect the lights. My mom was always one of the room-mothers when I was in elementary and she would give out these great handmade ornaments at the class Christmas party. I have one creative mother! However, why is the grass always greener…or in this case someone else’s Christmas tree always greener? I will admit that while I was growing up there were some years I envied others’ Christmas trees. They were all fancy and put together right out of a decorator’s magazine. Our tree was always quite eclectic. We put our school made ornaments on the tree no matter how they looked! 


My brother and I even had our own box of ornaments to place on the tree. These were random ornaments we had collected over the years; first Christmas, special ornaments, gift ornaments, etc. We had so much fun picking just the right branches to hang our ornaments! Looking back I wonder why I ever had Christmas tree envy??? We had a great tree and a great family tradition! One that I will always remember and hold close to my heart. My parents made sure that it was about us feeling special and included around the holidays. And the tree itself displayed how we had grown over the years. I’m so thankful to my parents for instilling in me these valuable traditions and for giving me the type of tree that I want my own children to have!

A Smith Family Christmas Tree
Our tree has also become very eclectic. Anyone who comes over around the holidays will find that I just love Christmas ornaments in all their randomness! When Audi and I got married my mom sent us my ornament box. Every year we have even gotten more memory making ornaments as gifts from people; our first Christmas married, in our new home, etc. I can’t wait for Banjo to one day bring home his beautiful school made ornaments and store them away in his very own box! We also started our own tradition of collecting ornaments from the various places we have vacationed. It is fun to decorate the tree together every year and remember what we have done and where we have been throughout the years.
*The End*
These days our Christmas tree still looks exactly the same.  With the exception of the additions of new ornaments from new travels and ornaments that Banjo has made.  Yay!  My wish came true!  I’ll have to share those with you sometime.  We’ve also embarked on the adventures of decorating the outside of the house.  I guess that comes from living in a more established neighborhood with children around.  Plus, we have to compete with all the St. Louis neighborhood light displays.  Not really, but we can try.  Or rather… dream, right?!  We still need to perfect getting the light strands to the top of the columns:
That will come with time I’m sure.
Despite our failed column lights attempt…
We are so very grateful to finally live in a neighborhood that has a Christmas tradition of its own.
Luminaries line our street every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
*This post was brought to you by MBN. All of the thoughts were completely my own.

Little Tikes Garden Chairs {Giveaway} – CLOSED

Can you tell that we like to read?


Yes, we like to read lots.

All winter long and into the early spring we were shut ins around here.  So all of our reading took place indoors.  We didn’t even venture out to the library.  No siree.  Why is that?  First, it was super cold outside.  Second, it was super cold outside.  Third, it was super cold outside.  Okay you get the idea.  It was super cold outside.  Then… Don’t even get me started on the amount of snow that was dumped on us.  Loads and loads.  All winter long.  I thought that it would never end.  We even got a snow storm when I was postpartum in the hospital with Cache.  Oops. I think I must have left that out of Cache’s birth story.   Yes, I know that I forgot to put that part in.  Basically a HUGE snow storm decided to come rolling in the day after he was born and we weren’t sure if we were ever going to get to leave the hospital.  For some reason when it snows in St. Louis the ENTIRE city shuts down.  Does that happen in other cities?  Anyway, back to our love of books… Now that the weather is simply glorious outside (not too hot and not too humid yet) we can take our reading outdoors.

My friends over at Little Tikes sent Banjo and Ruby these adorable garden chairs.


The chairs are the perfect size for their little tushies and are now their favorite reading spots in the backyard.


I LOVE that my sweet littles LOVE books.

Now… for the giveaway!!!

The winner of this giveaway is going to

receive TWO garden chairs from Little Tikes

in the colors red and orange!

(Enter on the Rafflecopter below.)


*This giveaway is open to US entries only.
*The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the evening of Monday, June 23rd and will be emailed.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.
*This posting and giveaway are sponsored by Little Tikes, but all opinions are strictly my own.

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Little Tikes Picnic Table {Giveaway} – CLOSED

We finished our patio late in the season last year, so we didn’t really get to enjoy it before it started to snow.


But this year we were ready for the spring and summer!  In fact we have been dining al fresco for quite a while now.

littletikes6Basically as soon as it stopped snowing.

That’s why when my friends over at Little Tikes  (Yes, I said LITTLE TIKES *squeal*) offered to send us a picnic table for our kiddos I jumped at the chance.  And of course you know what that means…  If I get one then one of YOU gets one, too!  *SQUEAL* from you, right?!

The Easy Storeâ„¢ Picnic Table with Umbrella is amazing.  Seriously dandy.  As soon as it came Banjo had to open the box immediately.  He even starting dragging the pieces from the front entry to the back patio.  Fortunately for me it require no tools to put together.  I’m all about the ease of things like that.  The entire table just snaps together and the instructions were super easy to follow.

Here we are at snack time:


And then dinner time with cousin H:littletikes

My kids cannot get enough of their new table!

What’s more???  It stores aways really dandily.

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 1.48.47 PM

And now… The moment you have all been waiting for…


The winner of this giveaway is going to receive an…

Easy Storeâ„¢ Picnic Table with Umbrella

from Little Tikes!

And the crowd goes wild!!!

(Enter on the Rafflecopter below.)


*This giveaway is open to US entries only.
*The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the evening of Monday, June 16th and will be emailed.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.
*This posting and giveaway are sponsored by Little Tikes, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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Cache Memory

Have I got a cache memory for you!  Shortly after the baby boy’s birth I requested that people help to give him a blog name.  Did you catch the announcement on the Facebook page where his name was chosen???  Well, in case you missed it… The name that was randomly selected…

Drum roll please…

Baby Cache!

I took the liberty of changing the suggested name’s spelling from “Cash” to “Cache”.  Mainly because I thought it would be fitting being that this is a blog, on the computer, and his birth was so very memorable.  Get it?  Cache memory?  Ha ha!  I know.  I crack myself up sometimes.  And it’s totally fine if I’m the only one laughing.  That happens a lot.

So now is the time for the dandy introduction of:




And here is why his birth was just so memorable.

The Story of Cache

Let’s go back to the night of Super Bowl XLVIII… February 2, 2014.  I was 38 weeks and tired of being pregnant.  So very tired.  Just a couple days prior I had been to the doctor and was given the news that I was nowhere near having a baby.  Like probably weeks out.  I know.  Devastating news for a mom wanting to deliver stat.  My body hurt.  My back hurt.  I basically hurt all over.  You get the idea.  So there I was trying to enjoy the Super Bowl food…  Yes, I like the Super Bowl most of all not for the game itself or the commercials, but for the food.  No lie.  I spend weeks planning out the menu of snack food items.  So you’d think that this year would have been a pregnant gals delight.  No sir.  This was not so.  I was sick to my stomach.  (The entire pregnancy was spent with bouts of nausea because of the progesterone injections I received weekly to prevent pre term labor.)  I had the worst lower back pain.  I barely ate anything.  I went to sleep that night feeling sick, slightly hungry, and defeated.  All at the same time.

I awoke on Monday, February 3rd at 5:45 AM to the sound of my husband’s alarm clock.  He headed to the basement to get his workout in for the day and I headed to the bathroom before crawling back into bed.  As I got back into bed I felt a very strange sensation.  Was that a contraction?  I really didn’t know.  With Banjo I was induced at 37 weeks due to pregnancy induced hypertension and immediately given an epidural.  Ruby came at 36 weeks with the only sign of her arrival being that I started bleeding.  At 6 cm I wasn’t feeling anything.  Nothing.  No contractions.  I didn’t want to go without an epidural so I got it at that point.  I can honestly say that after birthing 2 children I still had no idea what a contraction felt like.  Until now.  In the early morning hours of February 3rd.

After getting back into bed I had another one and another.  It was painful.  Enough so that the thought of going down two flights of stairs to the basement didn’t appeal to me.  I fumbled for my cell phone on my nightstand and called Audi’s cell phone.  Silently praying that I wouldn’t hear it ring from his nightstand.  Fortunately he answered.  He assured me that we needed to see first if this was really what it was.  Told me to just try to rest and fall back asleep.  This was at 6 AM.  I called him again just before 6:10 AM to report that I had TWO of those tightening sensations since we had last spoke.  Remembering that my doctor had said something about heading to the hospital when the contractions were 5 minutes apart… I started to become a little bit frantic.  Audi assured me over the phone that it had been way longer than 5 minutes.  After that conversation ended I decided to watch my alarm clock.  I watched as my alarm clock arrived at 6:14 AM and another sharp pain occurred.

How could this be?  I only felt the first sign of these “contractions” at 5:45 AM.  Maybe it was something else?  I called Audi again and told him that we needed to leave for the hospital.  Like STAT.  Of course I had to take a quick shower first.  Why not?  Every pregnant lady takes a shower before heading to the hospital, right?  I had TWO huge contractions while in the shower.  Yes, I knew then that these were indeed contractions.  Nothing else could possibly feel like that!  I quickly got out of the shower, brushed my teeth, and threw on some clothes.  There was no time to fix my hair or do my makeup.  It’s totally overrated anyway, right?

At 6:30 AM I called my sister-in-law to come and sit with our older kids.  No answer.  I then called my brother.  No answer.  It felt like that hilarious moment on ‘Who Wants  To Be A Millionaire’ when the contestant uses the “Phone A Friend” lifeline and only hears an eternal ring.  Yeah.  Only this was so very far from hilarious.  I called my sister-in-law again and got voicemail.  I called my mom who lives a hour away (she answered).  I called my brother again and got voicemail.  At this point I was beyond frantic.  I think the anxiety of the situation we were in was out of control.  I was screaming.  I was in major pain. This was not part of any birth plan.  This was not good.

Audi and I decided that we would have to take the older kids with us to the hospital.  Lovely, right?  He started getting them awake and dressed while I was paralyzed in fear.  Then my brother called.  Hallelujah!  He was on his way to work, but was turning around to head in our direction.  I think my mom had called him, too.

We will forever know that we left our house for the hospital just after 7:16 AM.  Why do we know this?  Because my brother’s warning ticket for SPEEDING was documented as being that time.  Yes, you heard that right.  A police officer followed my brother into our neighborhood and pulled him over right in front of our house!  Audi had to tell the kids to sit tight in front of the television while we left for the hospital.  He then had to tell the officer to please move his squad car from blocking OUR DRIVEWAY so we could leave.  Not sure why that needed to be explained to the officer, but whatevs.  On second thought… I still need to write that official complaint letter to the Police Chief for the fact that our older children had to stay in the house all alone while my brother was getting his “written warning” from Officer Gray.  Oh and that Officer Gray didn’t ask how I was or even offer to call an ambulance or give us a police escort.  Oh and Audi came this close to delivering our baby in the car, on the freeway.  Wait… I’m getting ahead of myself…

So off we were to the hospital.  In morning RUSH. HOUR. TRAFFIC.  Yeah.  That police escort was sounding really good right about then.  Oh and Mr. Officer Gray?  It’s probably a good idea to remember that next time a labor crazed woman is screaming at you from the top of her driveway (Oh did I leave that part out?  Yeah, that happened.) to move your squad car you probably shouldn’t be worried about continuing to write that written warning.  You move the squad car and then go with the kid’s uncle into the house and then finish writing that warning slip of paper.  Just FYI.  For next time you find yourself in this type of situation.  Otherwise that labor crazed woman just might write about you on her blog.

The entire way to the hospital I kept screaming for Audi to drive on the shoulder, call an ambulance, drive faster, take the next exit, run the red lights.  You know.  All that jazz that a labor crazed woman yells at her husband.  We (Audi and I) experienced it all.  The contractions were unbearable.  Several times along the way I felt the need to push and I did.  Pushed.  I couldn’t help it.  My body was not my own.  It belonged to the baby inside of me.  He was ready to be born.

Everything was in slow motion.  I was drenched in sweat.  I was shaking.  I was in transition.  We arrived at the hospital.  Audi parked the car in the hospital garage.  We walked to and entered the elevator.  I leaned into the elevator wall with another contraction.  We exited the elevator and Audi grabbed a wheelchair for me to sit down in.  He ran for the next elevator banks.  Yelling to those getting on the elevator to hold the doors.  We went up.  The doors opened at the L&D registration desk.  I yelled that I need to PUSH.  A nurse grabbed the wheelchair and rushed me towards the back.  We are going to room 11 she yelled.  Another nurse yelled no.  Not that room.  We took a hard left.

I found myself in a room full of nurses.  Audi was pulled out to the hallway to talk with the registration clerk.  Seriously?  Couldn’t that have waited?  Two nurses stood me up from the wheelchair, one pulled off my pants, one stood at the foot of the bed, and two were at the warmer.  When the two on either side got me up on the bed I heard the nurse at the foot of the bed say, “The baby’s head is out!”  At this point I knew what that meant.  My worst fear (way worse than the clown fear) was coming true.  I was going to have this baby WITHOUT an epidural.

The nurses yelled for Audi to get back in the room.  I closed my eyes tight.  The next second and our baby was born.  There wasn’t a doctor in the room.  The nurses did amazing.  When the house doctor came in she found a baby boy lying on the bed waiting for her to cut the cord.  Registration clocked our arrival at 7:45 AM and our son entered the world at 7:50 AM.  According to the nurses the registration time was off, because it hadn’t taken them 5 minutes to get me to a delivery room.  They estimated our son’s arrival as being 2-3 minutes after we exited the elevator.  There was no time for monitors or an IV.  It was that fast and so close to being in the car.  Here I am with my baby.  The only picture I have of him and I when he was born.


I have no shame.  In this day of deletable photos and camera phones most women get a very endearingly, precious photo seconds after giving birth.  I, however, get a Kodak film age shot from a camera phone.  Yep.  The husband only took ONE picture!  At least it’s a testament to just how fast everything happened.  Hooded SIUE sweatshirt… No time to gown me up!

My recovery was amazing.  Fast recovery just like the delivery.  Since I didn’t have an epidural I could get up and walk around immediately after.  It was awesome.  I think I would actually do it that way again.  Just minus the parts getting us up to the point of the natural delivery. *wink*   Cache was the perfect newborn.  A real dream.  He is the most perfect baby.  We are all in love.



As I write this I can’t help but think of tomorrow.  I’m anxious about our trip into the hospital in the morning.  It’s like deja vu.  Because it is.  Kind of.  Our baby is going into the OR for a laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy at St. Louis Children’s hospital.  He has 7 visible hemangiomas and there is concern that he has one growing in his airway.  I have faith that all will go well.  It’s not in my hands and I have to accept that.  Our baby is followed by one of the best team of doctors in the country.  They will take care of him.  They will have Heavenly Father’s hands guiding them.

One thing is for sure… Officer Gray better not cross paths with me at 6 AM tomorrow when I’m picking up the babysitter to watch our older two.

Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium {Giveaway} – ENDED

Remember how back in April we went to the Kansas City LEGOLAND for Banjo’s birthday weekend extravaganza???  Well, we also went to the fabulously dandy aquarium right next door.


Compliments of the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium, of course!

 Hey, you only turn 6 once.

Not sure what we will be doing next year for Banjo’s 7th birthday, but we have A LOT to live up to.

Banjo has been obsessed with underwater sea life ever since first being introduced to that movie about the little, lost clown fish.  Okay, he used to watch that movie All. The. Time.  There was a point where it was a daily occurrence.  Seriously.  Now he hasn’t watched it in quite some time, but I just know that he still longs for those days.  I know that I do.  😉   My little boy is growing up!  These days he’s all about the educational aspects of things and learning all there is to know about sea life.  I guess kindergarten tends to do that to a little person.


Our visit to the Sea Life Aquarium was the ultimate finale to our Kansas City adventure.  This place was amazing and definitely a place that we will return to.  Seriously.  We are already talking about when we will be making the trek out West to KC again.  One day soon.  I’m sure.

There’s an entire area for “meeting” and “greeting” some of the sea life:



 Sea Life Kansas City is also the home to a Bow Mouth Guitar Shark.  That’s her up above.

Very unique addition to the aquarium, because there are only 8 of these in the entire country!

And what trip to the Sea Life Aquarium would be complete without…



There’s also a really fun quiz throughout and the kids are awarded a prize at the end.

They loved it!

The winner of this giveaway will receive FOUR tickets to the Sea Life Aquarium in Kansas City!

(Enter on the Rafflecopter below.)

*This giveaway is open to US entries only.
*The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the evening of Monday, June 2nd and will be emailed.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.
*This posting and giveaway are sponsored by the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium, but all opinions are strictly my own.

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LEGOLAND Kansas City {Giveaway} – CLOSED


My Banjo is now 6-years-old.  It’s weird to think that my first born is that old.  He’s like a little man who is almost finished with kindergarten.  So very strange for me!  In past years we have always had a birthday party for him.  I was trying to be that mom who threw those big, fabulous parties with lots of friends invited.  Yes, that mom.  I even invited the siblings of the friends, because I didn’t want anyone to feel left out.  Is that a little crazy?  Maybe a little excessive?  (Now there’s nothing really wrong with being that mom.  There are plenty of moms who can pull it off and more power to them.  I’m just not good at being that mom.  For sanity sake I had to take a step back, evaluate what’s truly important, and just say no.)

This year?  No more.  We have three littles now.  All will have a birthday.  All will eventually want to have a party.  All cannot have a party in the same year.  That would be maddening.  I can’t plan for such things.  I can’t decorate for such things.  I can’t organize for such things.  I can’t do such things.  It’s just not going to happen times three every year.  Nope.  Not going to do it.  So I’m thinking that each child has a “friend party” every other year.  Maybe every 3rd year.  Just. Not. Every. Year.

That’s why this year we decided to take Banjo (and the other two littles) out of town for a surprise birthday weekend extravaganza.  Banjo expected to have a party.  We told him we had a special adventure planned instead of a party.  It was a weekend all about him, things he likes, and together as a family.  The best part of celebrating in this way?  Family time!

We went to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City!  LEGOLAND agreed on us coming for a visit, my doing a review on the blog, and giveaway away FOUR tickets.  You will find that giveaway below.  First, here are just a few of our favorite highlights from the place Banjo now thinks is the bestest birthday celebration ever.  At the LEGOLAND in Kansas City you can…

Find out how many LEGO bricks you weigh and your height in LEGO bricks:




Travel to a distant land:






Meet your favorite LEGO characters:



Build and race LEGO cars:

PicMonkey Collage.png

And just have a fantastically dandy time!

Of course you can’t visit LEGOLAND without getting some LEGOS.  Audi came out of the shop with this on my keys:


He said it’s because I’m Wonder Woman.

As I already mentioned, the winner of this giveaway will receive FOUR tickets to LEGOLAND in Kansas City!

*This giveaway is open to US entries only.
*The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the evening of May 2nd and will be emailed.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.
*This posting and giveaway are sponsored by the Kansas City LEGOLAND Discovery Center, but all opinions are strictly my own.

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Hello Dolly!


Another adventure that our family went on while in the Smoky Mountains was to a truly unique theme park… Dollywood!  As you walk through the gates you are transported to the days of Country Fairs and the laid back life in the Smokies.  We just happened to be there on the opening day of the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration.  It was the perfect day to be there!  Dolly Parton was somewhere in the park, but unfortunately we didn’t cross paths.  However, we got to see singer Louise Mandrell!  She was there to receive the James D. Vaughan Impact Award from the Southern Gospel Music Association.  The Association actually has a Hall of Fame and Museum at Dollywood.  In fact before we realized the significance of the day we were surprised that a red carpet greeted us at the entrance.  For a second there I thought the folks at Dollywood were pulling out all the stops to make sure our family (with their “mommy blogger” tickets) had an amazing day.  😉

We did have an amazing day, though!  There’s so much to do at Dollywood.  From the family friendly atmosphere… To the country stores…  To the shows…



To the rides…

photo-83 1374906_10151677309005894_2106872544_n



Hanging out with their cousin!

photo-86 photo-82

There’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy at Dollywood!






While we were there everything was decorated for the fall season and it was gorgeous!  I can’t even imagine what it looks like all decorated for Christmas.  Maybe Santa will send us there in December.  😉


Thank you for showing us a really great time, Dollywood!

This review was sponsored by Dollywood, but all opinions are strictly my own. 

What’s to do in the Smoky Mountains?


Remember that little ‘ole government shut down that took place… Oh, back in October?  Well, we were actually on vacation when that whole thing went down.  Yep.  On Day #2 of our vacation to be exact.  Our vacation to…  Wait for it… The Smoky Mountains NATIONAL Park.  Day #1 we went into the park just fine.  Day #2 we were greeted by this:


Talk about throwing a wrench in someone’s plans.

Fortunately for us there are tons of other fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains area besides the park!  Prior to making the trip to Tennessee we were invited to attend the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show.  So even if the park had been open we were still going to attend the show.  Dinner.  Great show.  How can you pass that up?  Well, it ended up being such an amazing show!  Lots of laughs and delicious food to help us get over not being able to go back into the park.  🙂   Plus, it’s fun for the entire family!

Even the grounds of the theater are fun:




Our Banjo being a mummy.

Now back to the show and the food…




Everything is served family style and it’s what you would expect out of a real Southern feast:

  • Feudin’ Fried Chick’n
  • Open Pit Pulled -to-Pieces Pork Barbeque
  • Southern Style Creamy Soup
  • Smashed Mashed Taters
  • Buttery Corn on the Cob
  • Keep It Comin’ Cornbread
  • No Tellin’ What’s In It Coleslaw
  • Granny’s Famous Specialty Dessert



We couldn’t even eat it all!  You are given plenty of time to eat before the show starts.  That way you can really focus on the entertainment.

The story of the Hatfields and McCoys is told in a way that I had never heard before.  So that kept it interesting!  In terms of entertainment there’s music, dancing, “fighting”, romance, and a great story line.  It all comes together for a feuding good time!

photo-79 photo-78

Will we go back to this Pigeon Forge, Tennessee show next time we are in the Smoky Mountains?  Most definitely!  The kids loved it and it was definitely one of the best shows around.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on another great show…  The Smoky Mountain Opry!  🙂


This review was sponsored by the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud, but all opinions are strictly my own. 

Gatlinburg Falls Resort


Isn’t the fall simply breathtaking?  All the changing of the season going on…  When the leaves take on various hues of splendor.  If you live where there’s no change in season then I’m very sorry for you.  🙂  Because you are missing quite the sight!  It’s one of my most favorite times of the year and here in the midwest we get to enjoy the change in season.  So if you are missing out then get yourself very fast to a climate that changes or just visit one once in a while during the fall months.  😉

My family and I (all 9 of us– my little family, my parents, my brother and his family) spent the first week of October in the Smoky Mountains.  Now that is a sight to be seen.  Remember that Audi and I have been to the mountains of Tennessee before, but it was August.  Definitely pre-season to the change.  The leaves were just starting to change there the first week of October, but we’ve been told that we missed the really gorgeous peak which is happening right now.  I’m sure it’s always a beautiful part of the country, though!

For our stay we were welcomed by the Gatlinburg Falls Resort.  Our accommodations were spectacular and made the trip that much more enjoyable.  Especially since the National Park closed the day after we arrived due to the Federal Government Shut Down.  Nice, huh?  The park is open now, though!  Without the wonderful cabin we would have been quite sad, but it brightened our vacation immensely.  We stayed in the Treehouse cabin:


And was it ever decked out!

It had its very own theater room:


Hot tub:


And game room that we had trouble prying the kids away from!


Plus, all the essentials:

photo-66 photo-67


Washer and dryer, sleeper sofas, 3 bedroom, 3 full baths, and two half baths.

Each bedroom had a king sized bed, its own bathroom and fireplace:


My favorite parts of the cabin came on the outside…

Great porch views:


A cul-de-sac and tree house for the kids to play in:

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Can you tell that we had such a dandy time???  If you are looking for a Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg cabin then look no further than Gatlinburg Falls Resort.

We cannot wait to go back!


This review was sponsored by Gatlinburg Falls Resort, but all opinions are strictly my own. 

New family members!

The end of July we went on our annual vacation to Lake Powell.  It’s in Utah/Arizona and always a family reunion of sorts.  ALL of us stay on a houseboat for an entire week and there are A LOT of us.


This time around there were 28 of us.  Again… all on one house for a week.  Fortunately for us it’s a big houseboat.  🙂


It’s always a fun trip, but this year it was also very eventful!  The second night we were all surprised when my niece’s boyfriend (who joined us at the lake this year…brave boy) proposed!  It was great news and we were all very happy.  After that how could the trip get even more eventful you ask???

Well, the very next day my brother-in-law and his wife received a phone call (on the boat) from the adoption agency they have worked with in the past.  They have been on the waiting list for quite a few years to adopt again and to no avail.  Out of nowhere a birth mother selected them to adopt her 10 month old twins!  It has been over 5 years since their last adoption and we were all ecstatic by the fabulous news.  So now in addition to their two girls they have another girl and a boy!

My friends over at Joovy wanted to be involved in the blessed union of adoption and welcoming the newest additions to our family.  They are the experts on baby gear and knew that twins require double the gear.


Joovy was nice enough to send my brother-in-law and his wife a fantastic welcome home gift for their twins.  The Caboose Too Ultralight!

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Aren’t they adorable?  My sister-in-law said that it’s the perfect stroller for doubles.  It’s really light weight and the back seat can easily be converted to a tandem for when the babies are older.  Most importantly due to the positioning of the seats the babies aren’t able to pull each others hair!  We were able to officially meet the little cuties last weekend at the wedding of our niece.  They of course had their Caboose stroller in tow.   🙂

Oh and here’s a picture of the bride and groom with the happy parents of the bride looking on admiringly at all of their children.


Love them all!

Thanks again Joovy for sending the stroller to my family and helping to congratulate them on their newest additions!