This Thanksgiving, Luke & Mel Laesar invited us to join them at their home in Chattanooga, TN. They have a 3 year old named, Layton, and a 6 month old named, Kestrel, so Mel is used to crazy kid-ness. She was also very brave because we had not met in person before this trip. :) Inviting an unknown family to your home for 4 days takes some guts. THANKS MEL! Luckily, we all really enjoyed each other and had a wonderful time! Lucas & Layton were buds and got along so well, it was fun to see.
Cookies were in order before starting the 6 hour trip! Molasses Cookies....mmmmm!
Before heading all the way to the Laesar's, we made a surprise stop to stay with Bentley & Jessica Brackett in Knoxville. They live close to The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and that was also on our itinerary.
Axel loved the puppy dishes.
Lucas was soooo surprised to see some of his favorite climbing friends. He was super wild and crazy and I'm sure convinced Bentley & Jessica to wait a few more years before having kids! Thank you for opening your home and feeding us, it was d-lish! (Lucas is secretly in love with Jessica but don't tell Bentley)The next morning, we were off to the Great Smoky Mts
Daddy loves any opportunity to get his camera out.
Needless-to-say, Mike has WAY better photos but I think they are still on the camera...blog can't wait. :)Lucas also wanted to take a photo...
Daddy was super happy to learn that we would be near Tennessee's High Point: Clingman's Dome at 6,643ft. So, we hiked the 1 mile round trip and it was FREEZING!!
Axel was cozy.
Mommy and the boys headed up the final ramp. The ramp was built so you could see all the beautiful views which are covered by trees down below.
Daddy & Lucas at the summit.
Mommy, Lucas & Axel on the summit.
Daddy & Lucas headed back to the car. This shot makes the Smoky Mts look really smoky!
After our grand hike to the top of Clingman's Dome, we headed to the west side of the park to see Cades Cove. This took lots of patience...it's a very windy road that turns into a one-way loop which is very slow going. It was worth the drive. We saw a bear and loved seeing the big mill in action.
You can see the watermill in the back ground which is connected to a huge mill. Lucas was sooo excited because it was just like his favorite pancake book.
Lucas is truly an engineer. Here he is telling me all about how the water turns the big mill to grind wheat and corn.
Here's the gears...
and the final product...ground corn & wheat.
Our newest hiker!!
Then it was off to Chattanooga! The first day took us to Little Rock City for some bouldering. This is a great spot for kids. It's located close to their home, is on a golf course, has little to no hike and has a bunch of fun climbs for all levels.
Luke & Layton showing us how to do it.
Lucas & Daddy bouldering together.
To the top, to the top! Way to go Lucas!!
Axel was happy to sit on the blanket and look for leaves and rocks to taste.Lucas really loved bouldering, probably because everything is fairly close to the ground and requires no harness or ropes or helmet or time putting all that stuff on. Bouldering is instant fun!
After Little Rock City, we headed home to help Mel prepare for the big feast. She took most of the photos but here are a few...
Daddy cooking sweet potatoes.
Luke & Andy enjoying the apps.
Lucas & Layton at the BIG Boy Table!
Everything was so tasty!! There were 12 adults and 5 kids and a full spread of traditional and non-traditional food. IT WAS WONDERFUL!!
The rest of the weekend was full things like: arts & crafts, climbing at Tennessee Wall, climbing at Rock Fort, playing at the indoor kiddo gym, ice cream, meals including awesome cinnamon rolls and other yummy breakfast creations....and more that I can't think of. It was an action packed trip and we just had such a wonderful time.
On Saturday night, neighbors hosted a bonfire evening so we packed up the kiddos and headed over for some fun. Axel & Kestrel got cozy.
Lucas' first time on a trampoline...SOOOOO fun!!
Then bonfire time but somehow I forgot to take a photo of the actual fire.
Mel, Layton &n Kestrel getting the marshmallows ready.
Nothing better than S'mores when you're at a bonfire. Look at boys watcing that chocolate to make sure Luke sends some their way.
This was seconds before Axel's eyes closed...he was a tired out boy.
What a wonderful trip! Thank you so much for opening your home and your fridge this Thanksgiving. Your hospitality is GREATLY appreciated. To all of our family, we miss you bunches and hope your Thanksgiving was a special as ours was. Love, JMLA
Axel was all ready to drive us home: