Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Post ... Finally

Seems like ten thousand years since I've last blogged!

What has kept me away was such a blessing. Jeremy sort of announced that he was going to get to have a very unexpected vacation. You who are self-employed will certainly relate; it's so hard to get away when everything is on your shoulders. Well, if just getting the majority of a week off wasn't enough, he managed to save up some money for a real vacation. We have never even taken a real vacation. A few years ago we were able to visit a close friend of ours who lives in Cincinnati. This time it was a real vacation! I spent the whole week before trying to get the house spic and span while doing all my regular keeper at home and homeschool stuff.

The first step was to decide on the when and where. We needed to stay within a budget and wanted to make it as stress-free as possible. We settled on a Tuesday-Thursday trip (sort of a midweek "weekend" trip) to Chattanooga, TN, then to Atlanta, GA, and then back home. This would help eliminate the stress of being gone on Sunday (trying to find good church for both morning and evening services and making it to church on time) and then it would leave Monday open for packing. It also proved to be a great time for a larger-than-average family to be there. The Christmas displays were not up yet, but their goal was to have them by Thanksgiving. The workers we talked to said that Thanksgiving week through Christmas would be exceedingly busy. With government schools still in session, most of the people visiting were older couples, who are typically much more pleasant to keep company with. At nearly every attraction we went to, it seemed like we were the only people there.

We left at 4:45am Tuesday headed for Chattanooga. The boys were very easy to get up. In them we have very early risers, a trait they inherited from their dad. As I woke Lydia up, she told me that she didn't want to go on vacation, although it was all she could talk about for the entire week before. She even said that it would be okay to leave her there because she was too tired to go. LOL!

Google maps said it should take us 5 hours 40 minutes to get there. That would put us in Tennessee at 11:30-ish, including a time zone change. Trust me, we knew we had no hope of making it in 5 1/2 hours, not with 4 little kids. We ended up arriving a little after 3pm, almost twice as long as what Google predicted. We were reminded how blessed we were as we traveled because we saw a whopping total of 8 wrecks. The Lord's protection for our family never ceases to amaze me.

First I have to sort of brag on the city of Chattanooga. See, we don't get out a lot. For us, the largest city anywhere around is Pensacola, FL. It's not exactly what you'd call a very green city. In Chattanooga there were recycling bins next to every trash can. There was also an electric zero-emission shuttle that came by very often (every 5 minutes) to take you anywhere downtown for FREE! Admittedly, I don't travel often, but I appreciated the effort by the city to keep the place clean.

As I was saying, our first stop was the Creative Discovery Museum. We had a lot of trouble finding it. After checking in, it didn't leave long to explore the museum, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. The children enjoyed it very much. With so few people there, you didn't have to worry when one of the kids wandered off a little too far. Every exhibit we got all to ourselves and we were very unrushed.

They all loved this exhibit demonstrating water currents.

There was lots and lots of learning going on at a dinosaur exhibit.

Digging up dinosaur "bones" with brushes and small shovels.


Simple machines...

And music! (caught you honey!)

That night we stayed in the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, another super treat. It's a historic sort of hotel/depot built in 1905 and is decorated according to that era. It was so pretty inside and out. There was so much that could be learned there, but there just wasn't the time. I really regret not bringing my camera and getting pictures of the lobby and restaurant.

Wednesday morning we took the kids to Ruby Falls and to Rock City. John loved Ruby Falls. Ethan liked the caverns, but not the actual falls. Lydia didn't like it much and held tight to my hand the whole time. Josiah slept through half of it. LOL There were many places that Lydia could have fallen through the railing into a chasm and I think that's what she didn't like about it. Jeremy and I stopped in Chattanooga on our honeymoon which was in August 2000. It was very crowded and we couldn't even hear the Ruby Falls tour guide. This time there was our group of 6 and 2 other couples. The kids asked all sorts of questions to the tour guide and learned a lot about cave formations.


Lydia didn't mind going near the falls as long as John was with her. (pardon photo quality...t'was difficult in the cave)

Jeremy grabbed a photo of my while he had the kids up on the observation deck.

After this we went around the corner to Rock City. It was nearly empty as the staff was feverishly working on decorating the place for Christmas. We could take our time without worrying about holding people up. The kids loved it, but I was very uneasy with them on Lookout Mountain. The kids thought it was neat that you (supposedly) can see Alabama. They said, "It's sort like we can see home."

I love Rock City. It is so beautiful and it really shows you how infinite the mind of God is!

Beautiful view!

Our next stop was to head to church for midweek services. One of my church member friends grew up in Bro. Sammy Allen's church, and since it was on our route, we stopped in at Concord Baptist Church. It so happened that she was also going to be at Bro. Sammy's that week. Lydia was looking forward to the vacation just to see her daughters at a different church. We made much better time than we did Tuesday. We checked in and were still an hour early for church. We got to spend a lot of time chatting with Mrs. Allen and meeting brothers and sisters in Christ. We also enjoyed a very good message and were encouraged in God's Word.

Now, I need to pause for a rant. The hotel we stayed at in Calhoun is very nice and is very new. But it is a pet friendly hotel. It made me think of Zsusanna's post at Are They All Yours?!?? entitled She's Having a Baby. I guess it really gets me since we have allergies to dogs and (majorly) to cats in our family. Yes, we could have booked elsewhere, but it was an oversight on our part. Our boys had been sleeping in sleeping bags, but all 3 of them slept in the queen bed, which was interesting. I don't have a problem with pets. I don't (and won't) have one in the house, but have no problem with you doing it if that's what you want. But as in Zsusanna's post mentioned, it seems like pets are replacing children in many ways. The empty-nest 40 something mom who chose to limit the size of her family to 1 or 2 still has the need to mother in her: get a dog. The couple who has been married for 5 years and is trying to wait til they can "afford" to have kids (when can you "afford" it?) feels that need to parent: get a dog. It makes no sense to me and truly irks me. Okay, end rant. :)

The kids crammed lengthwise in the bed...safe from pet dander and the emergency room!

We drove a bit farther into Atlanta and visited the World of Coca-Cola museum. We thought about going to the Georgia Aquarium, but admission would have cost our family a whopping $150. The Coke museum was sort of like a huge Coke advertising venue, but it was still sort of neat to see how it started and such. We very much appreciated a tip from a member at Concord who said to skip the Coca-Cola commercial presentation. This may have been something we would have avoided anyway, since we don't watch TV. But on the other hand, it had some very old commercials featured, which could have lured us in. The lady at Concord said that there were international commercials featured and that not every nation has the standards that we do. Not that America has much "standards" for anything anymore. We did watch a 4D movie there though. It was really neat to me since the last time I saw a 3D movie it was with the red and blue glasses! Jeremy, John and I thought it was really neat. 3D has really improved a whole lot! Ethan buried his face in Jeremy's arm and Lydia cried the whole time. LOL

Help! I'm surrounded by advertising!

Smile honey! The kids at a soda shop replica.

My favorite cherry Coke, just the way it was when I was little

A real Olympic torch from the 2006 games in Turin. Lydia is upset because I wouldn't let her hold it, since it weighed so much.

And an Olympic torch from the 2010 Vancouver games.

That pretty much sums up our trip. But then there is yet more. We took off last week and are also taking off this week, so I'll be able to write up more about our lovely vacation!

5 edifying expressions:

Aliene said...

Glad you had a nice vacation. Sounds like fun! Do you know Bro Randy Sutherland and his wife from Bro S.Allen's church? They have been here for a couple meetings and camp meeting. He is a live wire. I have several tapes from the youth Group there. About wore them out.

Have a blessed week and Thanksgiving.

Elizabeth said...

The friend of mine that goes to my church I was referring to? She is actually Bro. Randy's sister-in-law. We had Bro. Randy and Sis. Amy in for revival not too many months ago. He and my husband really hit it off and we very much enjoy their company. He is a fantastic preacher and has a beautiful, sweet family.

The same friend used to sing in the youth choir before she moved to Florida. She's probably on some of those tapes you have. So we know the Sutherlands and love them to pieces.

You have a great Thanksgiving as well!

Kimberly said...

I think that one of the biggest benefits of homeschool is being able to vacation whenever! I totally agree with you on the dog thing, we saw one sitting in the child seat of grocery cart recently! Enjoy doing the hotel/motel thing now, as soon as you add another child and your family is larger than 6, they try to make you get an extra room. That is so cool that your children got to hold Olympic torches, we went to the Olympics and couldn't get near one! If we had waited in the 2 hour long line we wouldv'e only been able to look anyway too!

Anonymous said...

I came accross your blog through a friends blog and I enjoyed reading some of your posts. I am commenting only because the hotel/dog rant you gave. I do agree with you on most aspects BUT there are couples out there who cannot have children/God has not blessed them with little ones. My husband and I tried for years to no avail. With the grace of His love He allowed us to adopt and that just happened once. I do know there are people that choose not to have children but there are many more that CANNOT have them. Please keep us'uns in your thoughts! :)

Elizabeth said...

Hi Anon! Glad you stopped by. :)

I sorta see where your coming from. I can also see where a dog can kind of fill in that gap for a couple who can't have kids. I think the root of my beef is that I, and even more so, my husband were raised that animals belong outside. The first time I went into a PetSmart (just a few weeks ago) I nearly croaked at the animals walking around. Then to go and see dogs walking around a hotel...a place where people sleep. It took me back. It's just very different than what we do.

I am very, very happy for you being able to adopt. My husband and I have looked into it before, but more like fostering. I don't know how well we'd do as foster parents. Parents who adopt have my overwhelming admiration and respect.

God bless your family and thanks for stopping by. :)