You read the title correctly, we made family memories, not going around the globe, but gathered around the table. We had the blessing as a family to enjoy our third annual HamFamVacay! That simply means, Cunningham Family Vacation. We spent three nights in Sevierville, TN over the Labor Day weekend. We stayed at a Wyndham resort again. We were a little crowded in our two bedroom space, but everyone made concessions for one another, and we made it work just fine (we like each other!). Who could complain with a view like this…Continue reading “Family Times Around the Table”
Who doesn’t LOVE going to Pigeon Forge in the Smokey Mountains?! Last weekend we were blessed to gather there for a family vacation. After all the restrictions, I have truly rejoiced each time a planned event actually gets to happen! This time away was our 2020 Christmas gift to our children and their spouses, so we’ve been planning this for many months. What a precious time it was and how full our hearts are after four days and three nights together! This is hard, but I’m just going to share five highlights of the many fun moments we shared.
We opted to have all but one meal in our condo. We divided up the days and mealtimes and each contributed food for that meal. The first night we made it easy and brought pizza in since we had just checked in an hour before. I added a salad to round out the menu. Here is everyone (except my husband who’s taking the picture) at the table. We were a happy clan!
Whitney and I both have September birthdays, so we celebrated with a delicious Lemon-Raspberry Cake from Blackbird Bakery in Bristol, VA. How special to have the whole family there to celebrate with us! That in itself was a precious gift!
For a little added fun, we had a game competition that lasted the whole weekend. That was Whitney’s idea and it turned out to be a great plan! We played Sorry, Dutch Blitz, Spot it, Miniature Golf, Scrabble and Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. That last game is hilarious and great for a crowd!!!
I loved our game time because it kept us connected even at hours when we were really tired. Instead of scrolling on our phones, we were playing games, laughing ourselves silly, and pushing up our competitive sleeves to gain more points on the scoreboard! Whitney kept an ongoing tally of the winner and second place contestant of each game, and then awarded the first and second place champions on Monday morning. Who do you think won???? Keep reading!
it was really great that the condo has a putt-putt course on site. Beside it is a playground, and just up the way was the pool. It was all literally outside our door! Our little guys enjoyed all of those fun activities and the Lord was gracious to give us beautiful days in which to enjoy it all.
We had several special times in God’s Word and prayer as a family. How sweet to gather together to thank the Lord and also leave our burdens and requests. I’m so thankful for a family who loves Jesus. Equally special was seeing individuals open the Bible in their own little space and spend time with the Lord before our day began. Yes, my heart is full.
I’m not boasting and don’t desire to make you envious of our family time. It was truly a gift from the Lord and we praise Him for it. There are heartaches and burdens, needs and concerns in our family, just like in yours. How precious to be reminded even this week that as the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and told him that He saw his tears, our God hears us and sees our tears, too.
Whatever may be grieving your heart today, refresh your spirit by remembering that the Lord cares and is at work in your life. Cry to Him as Hezekiah did, then watch to see how He will comfort you.
I pray your weekend is refreshing as you fellowship with believers and worship our great God!
Oh, wait…the first place winner of our game competition was Alli, and anyone who knows our family will not be surprised at that! Second place was awarded to her equally competitive mother!
What are some ways you keep everyone connected during family times?
Like most families, we’ve pretty much always had to be very frugal and wise with our money. It’s so ingrained in me now to shop the bargains that I just can’t stand to overspend on anything. I want quality at a bargain price! (Thanks, Mom!)
Going on vacation is no different – it has to be done wisely, but we can still have the BEST time when we get away, and we also enjoy some splurges,at a fraction of the cost! Here’s how we do it:
- Go to your destination at times when it isn’t peak season. One place we stayed this month was going through some renovations, so we got a reduced price. The renovations were on the outside and never even affected where we were. I can still swim in the pool while they paint the outside walls of the hotel!
- When eating out at the restaurants that everyone has raved about,
- Go at lunch time. The portions are plenty and the price is greatly reduced.
- Share a meal. 90% of the time, we share an entree. Most restaurants serve way more food than one person can eat. We like the same things, so we generally always share a plate and go away completely full!
- Avoid the appetizer. If they bring bread to the table, let that be the starter for your meal.
- Drink water. At $2 or more for a beverage, that can add lots to your bill!
- Eat the other two meals in your condo. We usually stay in a place where we can cook. I’ll fix simple meals, but delicious food for breakfast and supper meals.
- Buy snacks and water bottles at the grocery store and keep them in the car with you when you’re out. Having an occasional treat can be planned for by taking advantage of the next tip!
- Look for specials that are running at your favorite restaurants. Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Sonic, and lots of other places have specials from time to time. Search the Internet and see what deals you can find. Starbucks had half price Frappes when we were at the beach! That was a great treat on a hot day!
- Avoid the tourist-y shops. They are way more expensive than most stores. If I need a hat, sunglasses or sunscreen, I run to TJ Maxx, rather than the Beach Shop!
- Do things in the area that are free.
- Bring your own or rent bikes to enjoy the paths in the area.
- Museums, parks, libraries, outdoor music, gardens, beaches, pools -the list is long of all the things you can find to do that cost nothing extra!
We felt like we truly splurged, but we spent a fraction of the money we could have had we not used our strategies that have become our favorite way to travel!
Were you surprised that not one of the suggestions was to stay with relatives?! If you do stay with family, only stay a night or two! “Fish and company stink after three days!” =)
For a fantastic ending to a great summer, we enjoyed our first Family Vacation! We were blessed to have our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons all join us for a two and half day get-away! Let me just start by sharing a few of the highlights:
- Coming up with our hashtag for the time away! We wanted pics to remember this event by, so we needed a hashtag for Instagram! We settled on #hamfamvacay2017. Some of the other running options were – #picvacay2017 #hammingitup2017
- Having time to just be together. When you have babies in the group, it’s just easier not to be running all over, and we were happy with that! We gladly opted to just stay near the condo and only go out one time. We truly just wanted to be able to visit and be together.
- Having time in the Word as a family. My husband gathered everyone together on the patio and we opened God’s Word to read a chapter and share our “Ah ha” verses. How thankful I am that we could all contribute and share from the riches of the Bible. I do not take for granted having a family filled with believers!
- Meal time! What’s better than home-cooked food, enjoyed at “home” with those you love?
It can be a little tricky feeding lots of people, but we came up with a plan that made it doable. Today I’m linking up with my daughter, Whitney to share how we managed six meals for six people, adding in the complications of two who were dieting, one who had a birthday, and one (kind of) picky eater!
Because we were staying at a Wyndham resort, we had cooking capabilities and decided we would eat all our meals “at home” rather than eating out. Aside from being a money saver, it’s also so much easier to visit in the quiet of the resort, than at a restaurant. But how do you bring enough food and give what everyone likes when there are six adults eating six meals? Here’s what we did:
- I offered to make supper for both nights, knowing that they would be the more costly meals.
- I suggested that the girls either:
~each take a day and make both breakfast and lunch on their day,
~one take lunches for both days and the other the breakfasts for both days. They chose the latter.
Another component in cooking for a crowd is dietary restrictions, or even likes/dislikes. One of the couples was on a diet that restricted grains, dairy, sugar, and several other things. One in our group isn’t too adventurous with foods. We decided that we would do our best to provide a main meat that everyone could have, and then let them fill the gaps with what they could/would eat. It can be nearly impossible to please everyone – right? This way, the options was theirs to eat what the cook provided, or add their own items to the meal.
We were glad to be able to cook, but no one wanted to be spending lots of time preparing the food. For my supper meals, I opted to do a grilled meat one night and an oven-prepared meal the next night. Here were my supper menus:
For that first supper, everyone ate the steaks and potatoes, but the dieters didn’t have corn, bread or cupcakes. We were celebrating a birthday that night, so I got creative with what I had and made a slice of a diet friendly birthday “cake” which also fell on the day of the eclipse!
Oven-Baked Chicken Fajitas –
(Everyone could add or leave off what they didn’t like)
Spanish Rice – (The dieters fixed Sweet Potato fries)
After everyone else left, my husband and I had the blessing of finishing out the week at the resort, so we needed breakfast and lunch meals for those days as well. To keep things easy, I tried to get double use out of items I brought. For example:
- Bacon – Used for breakfast or BLT’s for lunch
- Bread – Toasted for Steak night, Toast and jelly for breakfast
- Leftover fajitas for lunch
- Fresh tomatoes and fruit – salad, dessert and snacks!
Mealtimes were a huge success! There was no flurry of wondering where we would go or what we were going to eat. It was laid out simply and everyone had plenty of good food!
You can go here and check out Whitney’s post to see what she and her sister fixed for the other meals!
What does your family do to make mealtime happen on vacation?
With love from my country kitchen,