We booked Wilderness at the Smokies for the first weekend of break. It was awesome. We all loved the indoor and outdoor waterparks. The kids made out like bandits from the arcade. But the most memorable part was the surf rider. The kids loved it, Jared loved it (I think) and I laughed until I cried and decided not to give it a try. We made Jared go first and I’m so glad we did! That thing is intense. He jumped on the board like a pro and was living it up, arms out, feeling the waves, until. . . his wiener popped out. I kid you not. He caught a big wave and it slung him like a rag doll up to the top where he rolled and tumbled. All I saw was his naked butt as he stood up pulling his trunks up as fast as he could. I’m videoing all of this by the way. He is laughing as he walks down to where I am sitting and leans in and says “My wiener popped out!” We laughed until we cried. That is when I decided it would be best if I did not give it a try. I prefer to keep all of my stuff from “popping out”, thanks. That was the one and only time Jared surfed. The kids did it several times and thought it was awesome. All of their stuff stayed in their pants.
After all of that excitement we drove Newfound Gap Road to enjoy the gorgeous views and hiked Clingmans Dome. It is the highest peak in Tennessee and smelled like Christmas. The pine trees that lined the trail were so fragrant and we were basically walking through the clouds. It was awesome!
On the way home we stopped in downtown Knoxville, TN, to walk around the park and go up in the Sunsphere.
Wilderness at the Smokies
Newfound Gap Road and Clingmans Dome
Chattanooga, Tennessee. We love this little city. We went up for the weekend and enjoyed every minute together. We walked the pedestrian bridge and the river walk. We hiked to a little overlook called Sunset Rock. Our favorite, though, was watching the hang gliders and little planes. Then we drove to Cummins Falls to spend the day. It was one of our favorite hikes we’ve done and the falls were amazing!
We decided that it would be fun to head a little north for total eclipse 2017 to be in the line of totality. At home we were in the 97% totality. So we Jared booked a camp site. A primitive camp site. Like you walk all your stuff in campsite. Like you have no neighbors in the case of a bear attack campsite. Like the park ranger walks down your trail at eleven o’clock at night to tell you they are having a problem with bears in the area campsite. For real. You know about Goose and me and bears, right? I mean. . hello. . . Yellowstone. The friendly little park ranger tried to convince us that we would be okay just as long as we do not put anything that smells in the tent. No chap stick, baby wipes, lotions, anything. Um. . . We are camping with a 5 month old, a three year old, a six year old, and an 8 year old (who is now clinging to me as if the park ranger is a bear himself). And I’m pretty sure that after being in the woods all day they all smell a little. No one slept that night. Em, all the kids, and I put a big tent in a three sided shelter thing and tried to sleep in there all night. Nan and Pop slept in a test just below us. And Jared plopped himself, a flashlight, and a gun in a hammock. All of this and the fact that it was about a million and one degrees out we headed home early and watched the eclipse from the pool.
We found ourselves in quite the predicament right after Lydia turned seven and we started talking to her about baptism. Every time I would mention it she would well up in tears and say she did not want to be baptized. I just wanted to bundle her up in my arms and let her be a baby forever. She’s too young. She’s too sweet. I found myself thinking. What sins does she need to be forgiven from? She’s never done anything wrong in her life. I was not going to make my kid be baptized. My job is to teach and love and accept and encourage, but it was her decision to make. If she didn’t want to do it; I was not about to make her. The more we talked about it; the more upset she seemed to become. It wasn’t until months after she turned seven that she opened up and expressed how much she wanted to be baptized, but that she did not want anyone to watch her. Gotcha girlfriend. And a thousand times, ditto! It broke my heart that the anxiety and stress of a whole baptismal program with a ward and a half watching was making her so upset. Every baptism we have been to recently had lots of people there and Lydia was terrified to have a room full of people watch her do something so personal. I get it. Sometimes she is so much like me it’s scary. When it comes to spiritual things, things that are so personal and sacred to me, I have a hard time sharing. It’s so personal and intimate and I get so nervous in front of people that I feel that words are not adequate enough to express all the feelings. Plus, I’m a crier. . . an ugly crier. You don’t even want to know how many tears were shed while just discussing and planning her baptism. All the feels! Sometimes I think I feel too much. In October, a whole nine months before Lydia’s eighth birthday, Jared and I were out at a nice restaurant with live music and we started talking about her baptism. Bad idea. The waiter came over at one point to ask if I was okay. Ugly crying over her baptism that was nine months away. Bless my heart! It was such a huge milestone in her life and I don’t think I was emotionally prepared for that. I forgot to pack one of her three dresses that I had already bought her for her baptism when we went to Utah. We wanted to do her baptismal pictures out there. So I bought a fourth one. Sigh. But I ended up liking it better than two of the others I had bought. So I kept it and returned two of the others when we got home.
And these pictures. . . be still my heart! She is even sweeter than she looks and even more beautiful on the inside, if that is even possible.
The day of her baptism could not have been more perfect for Lydia or our little family. We sat around the font, a little semi-circle of all the people I love most (just immediate family per Lydia’s request) singing as Jared played the guitar. I thought right then and there my heart might burst into a billion pieces. The love felt in that room filled every part of my soul. I have no adequate words for the peace, and love, and gratitude that enveloped me as I looked at each precious face seated around that font. As Jared and I walked her to the font she started trembling and sobbing. I knelt down on the bathroom floor and held my baby in my arms and prayed for her comfort and courage. She giggled nervously, the way she does when she’s trying not to cry, into my dress, snotting all over me. Then her daddy walked her into the font. I stood on the steps behind them and watched my baby girl covenant with our Father in Heaven and take upon herself the name of Jesus Christ. What a glorious day. I am so proud of her for overcoming her fear and doing something that she knew was right, and important, and sacred, and eternal. She is my hero. My heart overfloweth.