This past weekend, the troupe and I got to spend four days in a beautiful cabin with a breath-taking view of the glorious autumn leaves of the Smoky Mountains with Hubs’ half of the family for his mother’s birthday. A weekend in the mountains is always on my Top Ten List of General Awesomeness, and getting to spend that time with Hubs’ unbelievably sweet mother was definitely special. I absolutely lucked out in the mother-in-law department. Mine is better than yours.
Just a handful of things that made this weekend a blast:
The view. Late-ish October is always the best time to spend a few days in the mountains. The weather starts mellowing out, the tourist attractions get a bit perkier (but not yet too crowded), and the leaves begin their glorious, blazing death, setting the mountains on fire with rich reds, oranges, and gold. Absolutely stunning. And because of the shorter and shorter days, Bean woke up one morning just as the sun rose, so I bundled her up and took advantage of our east-facing porch and a well-worn rocking chair and watched my daughter watch the sun rise for the first time. If I’m going to teach her to be a hopeless romantic with a slice of dreamer, I better start now.
KarmelKorn. If you’re going to make the hour-long drive from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg, reward yourself by taking a trip to this tiny pocket of flavorful goodness, and make sure you buy the bucket. It is literally a hole on the wall that attacks you with the irresistible aroma of warm caramel. No more than probably six people can stand in line in this little shoppe (not to mention one with a baby stroller) but it is worth it. And if sweet, delectable caramel corn isn’t your style, you bite your tongue! And then try one of their other flavors, like cheesekorn, kettlekorn, or just freshly popped, lightly buttered popkorn. Delish!
Auburn football. Growing up in Alabama, you had to pick early: War Eagle, or Roll Tide? My parents weren’t alumni at either school, and I didn’t have some family tradition to uphold, so it really could have gone either way for me. Since we lived less than an hour away from Jordan-Hare, and I was lucky enough to go to a couple of Auburn games as a kid, and I have an incurable obsession with football, and a disgust that girls couldn’t play tackle, they easily became my favorite. And four years ago, I developed an equally-intense dislike for LSU after a certain head coach stamped his tiny feet over questionable calls. After three straight losses to the Cajun Tigers, I really hoped my guys wouldn’t break my heart all over again. Being able to watch the game with Hubs and his family of Auburn fans and a solid victory to wipe the grin off Les Miles’ smug mug and homemade boiled peanuts to boot puts Saturday night squarely on my Highlight Reel.
Dollywood. I had never been to Dollywood before, so I had this misplaced notion that it was lame. After all, I had been to Disney World. Thus, I retract; Dollywood is so not lame, and neither is the Mystery Mineshaft roller coaster. We got a late start that day and only got to spend a couple of hours at Dolly’s place, but it definitely opened my eyes to its general awesomeness. I hope to take Bug back for a day full of roller coasting, and soon.
Kitschy tourist attractions. Particularly one. We took Bug to one of those Mine Your Own Gems! places on the strip in Pigeon Forge, and he loved it. We bought ourselves a bucket of dirt and “mined” away. Bug walked away with a baggie full of fossils, shark teeth, a water buffalo tooth, and a fistful of uncut gems, including a ruby and an emerald. Bug loved playing archaeologist for the day, and a bucket of dirt was never so much fun.
My flawless children. It’s hard enough for any adult to have a major shift in schedule. In fact, I usually beg for a vacation after taking one, just to recuperate. But despite the action-packed weekend, everyone wanting to go in twenty different directions, semi-organized chaos, and not just a shift in schedule but an entire overhaul, my kids weathered it like champs. Bug is always easy-going, but my infant was a trooper. Despite being the smallest, quietest, neediest one of all amongst a noisy, energetic, wild pack of boys, she showed them all up by pitching exactly zero fits despite her world being turned upside down and the mental incapabilities to understand why. That’s my girl! And my Bug was the oldest out of all the grandkids, and watching him practice patience and leadership made my heart swell. He is by far the best boy I know, and only getting better.
Martha, Martha, Martha! My mother-in-law is one of the sweetest, most selfless and accommodating people I know, and herding her two boys and their collected spouses and children into one place for any given amount of time is nearly impossible, and extra-special for her. Making the weekend about her, and her desire to be surrounded by her sons and grandkids was not only a treat for her, but a treat for us as well to be able to give that to her. Martha is one of the most thoughtful people I know, a firm believer in God and His goodness, sensitive to everyone else’s needs far, far above her own, and absolutely impossible to anger in any way. She has infinite patience and equally boundless time for her loved ones, especially for her full-speed grandsons who keep her on her toes. She has an untouchable soft spot for her only granddaughter, and even though I didn’t do it on purpose, I am so glad I get to give her a reason to buy pink, and lots of it.
And watching the way my husband loves his mother makes me fall in love with him on so many different levels. I know Hubs loves me and his offspring in immeasurable ways, but there is a definite and unique bond between mother and son. I see it in Hubs, and I get to be a part of it with Bug.
And sooo…happy birthday, Martha! We love you!