Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 7, Is it over yet???

After another bad night's sleep, we woke-up Thursday morning and took Samuel to the walk-in clinic.  Ear infections in both ears as well as swimmer's ear in one. 
He is just miserable.  
A quiet day today just hanging out in the hotel room. 
That was the plan.  
The hotel room was not the most comforting place for our little boy with autism.
The air conditioner may as well have sounded like this
The whole corridor and rooms had a funky trying to mask that you could once smoke in these rooms smell.
  So, we decided to go for a drive to Gatlinburg, grab some lunch and then come back to the hotel.  We all enjoyed strolling down the main street looking at the different shops.  There was a historic cabin with a very nice lady guide.  She let Samuel make bubbles with a bubble wand and didn't get bent out of shape when he tried to sit on the hundred-year-old (or there-abouts) rocking chair.
If you want a blast from the past, or are a "Dukes of Hazzard" fan,
Cooter's Place is a must see.
Subway for lunch and then time to head back.
But, the best laid plans..........
A car had crashed into a store and the whole area around our car was blocked off.
Soooo, we decided to check out
It was actually a very cool aquarium.  I wish that Sam had been feeling better because he would have had a blast.  But, as it was, we had to rush through and hope that we could get to our car.
We made our way back to the hotel.
Jessica and I went and did some souvenir shopping.  We stopped at a  
 Christmas shop called The Christmas Place and had fun wandering around there.
Went back to the hotel and then Jim and Jessica went souvenir shopping!

I forgot to mention that on Day 6 we rode the trolley around for a bit.  It was very quick taking us to the Old Mill, but on the way back we got to see a bit more of Pigeon Forge than we really wanted to!

That evening Jessica was kind enough to watch Sam for us so Jim and I could go out together to a restaurant.

That night Samuel woke-up at 1am.  Jim and I looked at each other and made the decision to end the misery and drive back to Tampa, then and there.  The only disappointing thing about that decision is that we wouldn't get to see Joshua and Courtney.  Sam and I were going to stay with them on Friday until our flight out of Asheville.
A little excitement on the drive.  A tree had fallen across the road.  But, otherwise it was just a long drive.
Home had never looked so good.

the END
We got to see some beautiful scenery and see some fun touristy places.  We got to attend Joshua and Courtney's wedding reception in North Carolina and spend  a little bit of time with them.  We got to spend time together as a family and white water raft down a river.
But, it was the longest 7 days of my life.
P.S.  Next year we are staying put in Florida.........on a quiet beach somewhere. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Nothing profound to say today. 
Will get back on the band wagon in updating my blog tomorrow.  
But, have been thinking a lot today about gratitude.  Not just because it is Thanksgiving this week, but because it is good to sit back and remember that we need to be more grateful for the things that we have, grateful for the kindness of those around us.  Grateful for the things that are offered and given to us.  Grateful for the sacrifices of others on our behalf.  Grateful for the thoughtful word, the quiet acts that go unnoticed except to those on the receiving end.

Thank you to all those who  touch my life. 
You make a difference.
It doesn't go unnoticed.
I am grateful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 6 continued: YEEHAW!

Wednesday evening, the boys stayed at the hotel.  
Jim was going to get a pizza and watch TV.  
Samuel wanted fries, go for a walk and play.
I think you all know who won that brief, but intense, negotiation.
Jessica and I took a short walk across the parking lot to spend the evening at.......
 Jessica and I enjoyed the Dixie Stampede more than Dollywood.
 It was fun from the very beginning.
The pre-show entertainment was fantastic and a lot of fun.
We got caught up in the moment and even bought their CD.  How much have we listened to it?
Once, on the way home. 
You have to like a place that serves their soda in a boot.
How many times do you think we have sat and drank out of our boots since??
But we have the boots if you ever get the urge!
 There was horse riding, stunts and singing
 The arena.....the action was about to start.
It was a reenactment of the Civil War.
This time the winner was chosen by much more civil means!
Chicken catching
Pig races
Wood cutting
just to name a few........

Jessica and I sat on the South side because we are from the South. 
One of us a little bit further South than the other!!
The grand finale.
With Dolly Parton singing on the screen.
And the winner???
We helped rewrite history that night.
Yeehaw ya'll
PS.  Jessica loved the gift shop, she went back the next day

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Home Run

 Will blog about the Dixie Stampede tomorrow.  I found this story today and wanted to share it.  It touched my heart.  Jim and I have been talking about the possibility of Sam playing a sport and this gave me hope of a good experience for Samuel.
  I assume that this is a true story. 
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and it's dedicated staff, he offered a question.
"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done in perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. "I believe, that when a child like Shay comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child."
Then he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball.
Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?"
Shay's father knew that most boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son was allowed to play, it would give him a much needed sense of belonging.
Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play.
The boy looked around for guidance and, getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try and put him in to bat in the ninth inning."
In the bottom on the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield.
Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in a game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on based and Shay was scheduled to be next to bat.
At this juncture, let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible 'cause Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly to Shay.
As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and turned and threw the ball on a high arc to right field, far beyond the reach of the first baseman.
Everyone started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!"
Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.
Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!"
By the time Shay rounded first base, the right fielder had the ball.
He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions and intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.
Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases town home.
Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!"
As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay, run home!"
Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the "grand slam" and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face,"the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world." 

 If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
If you don’t talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev’ryone.
So I will! I will!
Jesus blessed all he could see,
Then turned and said, “Come, follow me.”
And I will! I will!
I will! I will!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 6: Hooray for Dollywood....

On Wednesday we headed off to........
We didn't start off the day very well.  We had yet to have a good nights sleep.  The air conditioning unit in the hotel room was very, very loud.  Sam has issues with fans clicking on and the noise they make.  So, we had to turn our air conditioner off when Samuel was awake and this made the room warm to say the least.  Samuel also felt like he was starting to get a fever.
Standing in line to get on the trolley was not a pleasant experience, we probably should have turned around then, packed our bags and headed off home to Florida.
But, NO, we will have fun if it kills us!
I'm H A P P Y
I'm H A P P Y
I know I am
I'm sure I am
I'm H A P P Y!!

Here is tip #1 for going to Dollywood
Do not go to Dollywood if you do not like Dolly Parton's music.
It is all they play and if you don't like Dolly's music, you will go INsANe.

Luckily for us, we do like Dolly Parton's music.  But, I was a tad sick of it by the time we left.  I am not sure if Jessica had ever heard any of Dolly's songs before.........she had a baptism by fire and decided that she liked it.

Not very many of the photos that we took on the disposable camera came out, but here are some!
Samuel loved spinning around with Jessica.  Jessica is a good big sister!
Samuel loved spinning around with Jim.  Jim is a good Dad!!
If all the photos had worked out, you would see Samuel going around and around with Sally.  Sally is a good Mum!!!
The train that we did not get to ride on.

I have no idea who these people are.  We didn't get to ride on this ride either.  We stood in line and waited.  We waited and waited and waited.  The line did not move.  Samuel was not impressed about the lack of movement.  So, we moved on.
Sam and Jim rode on the Veggie Tale ride twice.  Two thumbs up.
Sam and Dad also did the Tree Top Adventure.  Two thumbs up as well.  It helped that they gave some special considerations to a little boy who wasn't feeling all that well.
While the boys were climbing around, Jessica and I wandered aimlessly through the milling crowds......desperately searching for a cool place to sit.
This was everyone's favorite ride.  It was raining.  No wait.  We got wet, therefore, cool.
We also ate some OK BBQ that was very expensive in there somewhere.
Sam got a very cool Dollywood plate to take home.

We left.
We had visited Dollywood.  
We can now cross it off our list of places to see.

I am sure I would have enjoyed it better if........
I don't know. 
I was disappointed, I had actually been looking forward to it.
I do love spending time with my family and that is what makes the memories.  I love watching Samuel on the rides, his little face lights up.  I love watching Jessica in gift shops.  She cracks me up, I don't think Jessica has ever passed by a gift shop without going in!  Jessica goes on rides with her baby brother.  It brings back memories of Joshua being a good sport and going on rides with his little sister.  Jim is a good Dad and husband.  He wants everyone to enjoy themselves and does his best to make that happen.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment.  Jessica and I go to the Dixieland Stampede!   

PS.  Very disappointed that there were no Dolly Bobble Heads to be found.  We searched and searched.  Sorry everyone, we will have to go to plan B for Christmas presents this year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 5, or, PADDLE FASTER!!! I hear banjo music!!

On the Tuesday of our vacation we met-up with Joshua and Courtney to do a little white water rafting down the Pigeon River.  We chose 5 Rivers Adventures  to raft down the river with.  We only did the milder lower section, but it still gave us plenty of thrills and near spills!!
You may have noticed that I was not paddling during our adventure.  I had the task of keeping Samuel in the raft......this was not a easy task.  He wanted to swim.......
Samuel trying to make a break for it once again!!!
Our guide was Chase.  He was fantastic with Samuel.

Some memorable points of our trip and some advice for your rafting adventure if you choose to go sometime.........
  • Sam sure loves the water.
  • When Samuel's mother states that he is screaming because he wants to get in the water.....believe her.
  • When a little boy finally gets in the water, he can sure swim fast......away from the raft.......this results in our guide having to take a swim also..........trying to catch-up to our raft as we float, "merrily, merrily, merrily", down the river.
  • There is no way you won't stay dry during this adventure.
  • Rain adds a whole different spin on our adventure.  What parts were dry are now wet.
  • When Chase says, "Paddle!"  You paddle like you hear banjo music coming from the trees.
  • If you hear banjo music coming from the trees.......paddle even if Chase hasn't told you to!
  • Memorable quote......Jim, upon jumping in the water to get Samuel, says, "I can't touch the bottom??"
  • We discovered that you can surf....on a raft.....on a river........
  • Always bring a towel and a change of clothes.

We had a great time and would like to go back and do the harder rapids.
Which members of the family do you think remembered to bring a change of clothes and towels??
After saying good-bye to Joshua and Courtney, we headed back to the hotel to shower, rest a bit and then head off to Old Mill Square to have a look around and find somewhere to eat.
We checked out several of the shops, especially the toy shop and pottery shop.  Then went back to the hotel to chill out.

Always Remember With a Grateful Heart

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 4

Monday morning.  We got up, packed up and loaded up.  
Time to head to Tennessee!!
On our way out of town, we did the following few things.
The local florist shop had put a message for Joshua and Courtney on their sign.  Very nice touch!
 We then made a stop at a local store that I had wanted to visit.
Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree
It was a beautiful drive to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  We had a unexpected pit stop that actually turned out to be one of the most fun things of the trip!  Sometimes it pays to be "spur of the moment".  Some of life's funnest and nicest moments are often unplanned.

We were nearly to Pigeon Forge and we kept seeing signs for......
Now, you have to admit, your curiosity would be peaked as well!!
So, when we were driving through the town of Chestnut Hill and saw the Bush's baked bean Museum and Gift Store......we stopped and went on in.
I must admit, I haven't used Bush's Baked Beans very much over the years, but they may have to change.
The museum was very "hands on" and interesting.
 Samuel had a great time.  I think Jessica even found it fun.
Sam loved getting his picture taken with Duke
Sam blowing a kiss while Duke looked on in the background
We all received Duke's Stamp of Approval.
 After a pleasant, unexpected break, we headed off again to Pigeon Forge.
 We stayed at the Best Western Hotel.  It was right next to the Dolly Parton Stampede.
We settled in, went for a swim, had a look around, had some dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting installment.
Do Jim, Sally and Sam finally get a good night's sleep??
Can Jessica really sleep through anything??
Can we really hear banjo music playing or is it just rustling in the trees??

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 3

 If at all possible, Jim, Sam and I had a even worse night sleep than the previous night.  We thought Samuel would be exhausted and go to bed early and sleep well.  Boy, were we wrong!!!

Joshua, Courtney and Jessica all seemed to sleep well.  It was Sunday and we all started to get ready for church.  One Purdy took an extraordinary LOOONG amount of time  in the bathroom.  There was only one bathroom and 6 people needed to use it.  As a consequence, 4 members of the family were a little late for church and 2 decided to stay at the cottage for the morning.

 Samuel and I played some games, built a house out of legos and had a yummy snack.
Then we went out on the porch and sat in the rocking chairs.  Samuel ran around the yard exploring and having a wonderful time.
 There were the most beautiful butterflies flying around.  All kinds of colors.
Samuel and I sat very, very still and some of the butterflies came and landed on our hands.
It was just like a sharing time that I gave a few weeks before at church.  I told the children that if they wanted to catch a butterfly, they had to sit very, very still.  If they wanted to feel the spirit of the Lord they also had to sit very, very still and listen with their ears and their hearts.
 Samuel and I had a wonderful quiet moment with the butterflies.  Sam declared that it was, "Cool", and I had to agree.

Butterflies were much better than..........

Unfortunately, our peaceful time outside was interrupted by the return of the local dog pack, so we had to go back inside.
The pictures on my blog today aren't actually mine.  Remember?  My camera died and it had the rechargeable type of battery.  4 cameras in our house and the cords were/are missing for all of them!!!!
Jim and Jessica came back from church.  We had lunch, vegged out a little and then went for a drive. On our drive we stopped at a gift shop and Jim bought a disposable camera.......I then stopped whining about not having a camera.
Drove back to the cottage, had dinner.  Not a very exciting day today!
Joshua and Courtney stopped by on their way back to Asheville.  Their car was crammed full of stuff as Courtney had emptied her room at her parents house.