winter mystery trip: destination Gatlinburg

Our family enjoys a good mystery trip.  And back in February, as we approached President's Day weekend ~ specifically Darcy's Forever Family day ~ Ian and I had a good one planned.

But darn that school thing.  I keep forgetting that we now have readers in the ranks and one day Kylie asked, "Mommy, what's Gatlinburg?"  I need to remember that my do lists need to be kept hidden if they give hints on surprises.

She may figured out where we were going, but at least I managed to keep our traveling partners under wraps.

On Thursday Darcy's sweet little China sister, Miss E, showed up.  Over dinner that night DQ asked if they could go to Gatlinburg with us.  We winked at her parents and all four adults played along, as if we had to consider the request.

But the surprise didn't end there.  It may have been late when we arrived, and the crew was a little glazed, but they did notice that the seven bedroom house was a little large for nine of us...

How fun was it when the fabulous F twelve showed up?  Eventually we got them to settle down and go to bed, despite the excitement of ten additional friends to play with.

Pretty much everywhere you looked that first morning you found kids in pajamas; playing games,

watching TV,

eating watermelon,

two former New Day boys, now forever friends
 or just keeping warm in their footies.

We adults just sat around over several pots of coffee, conversation flowing as if we had all been together the previous weekend instead of two years before.  It was a slow, relaxed Saturday and it was wonderful!

Sunday we decided to get out and enjoy our surroundings.  While tubing was our first choice, the wind chill made us think twice.  So we laced up ice skates on fifteen sets of feet, plus a few adults, and hit the ice rink at Ober Gatlinburg.  

My crew had never skated before and the tern unsteady may have been slightly generous at first.

But my kids were determined and kept at it.  Before long they were showing some comfort and grace on the ice.

Well...the older set anyway...

Wee one just couldn't quite keep his feet under him and while he had fun, he was ready to join his former New Day brothers on the sidelines to watch the action while snacking on chips and Pocky.

Keith, Kevin and Daniel all lived at New Day at the same time ~ now two are brothers and one is a family friend.
And that night we celebrated ~ just a few days early ~ three years with Darcy, Kevin and Emma, the children we added to our families when we met in Guangzhou.

There may have been a whole lot of us together in that house, but the kids all blended so well.  Somehow it never seemed there were fifteen of them.  There was nary a cross word spoken ~ aside from a few cross sibling exchanges.

It was a blessed weekend, reconnecting with special friends.  We may only have spent about two weeks of face to face time with these folks, but that initial week in China is an intense time.  Just as God knits our individual families together, He has also bonded our families with a friendship that transcends time and distance.  Any time we are able to spend together is treasured.

Our entire family is looking forward to our next adventure together!


Jennifer Taylor said...

Fun trip and great pics!! One day our crew will have to meet up with you all!!!

Emily said...

What fun!!!!!


Lindy D. said...

Kristi: I really admire you for the way you make and keep so many friendships. Keeping in touch with so many different people is not easy. What a blessing for your family!!

likeschocolate said...

How fun! Before starting this adoption process, I would have never comprehended how tight this community is! When I tell people the miracles I have seen no one believes me. I have seen strong friendships form, families reach out to one another, lives changed, and families who didn't have money days before the adoption get the money they needed. This can only be done through the lord and his angels here on this earth.

Heather said...

That looks like so much fun! You and Isn do sucha great job of creating wonderful childhood memories for your kids!

Laurie said...

What a blast! And how fun to make it a secret for the kids! LOVE THAT!!! The skating pictures are so cute!

Laine said...

What a blessing! The entire weekend was amazing...and with so much going on since then, doesn't it feel like forever ago? I miss yall and CANT WAIT to see you!!!!!

Anneli said...

I love seeing these two AMAZING families together. :-)