So this weekend marked our 11th annual trip to the snowy, winter-esque mountains to get our Christmas tree. Ok, so it wasn’t snowy or winter-esque at all, but that really didn’t matter. In fact, we often remember our trips by the uniqueness of the weather – aka “remember that year it was really frigid and snowing like crazy (2010) or the year it was like 75 degrees in Maggie Valley (sometime pre-kids), so while we had no snow, we also had two days of lukewarm temps which meant we could take our time looking for the perfect tree, play in the giant sandbox in the park in the middle of downtown Blowing Rock and enjoy our walks around the lake in front of the Chetola Lodge..

It also meant we could all swim in the pool and not freeze our tails off when we got out (last year, it was so cold outside that even indoors, it was quite chilly compared to the 80 degree pool). This year, Connor took part in the fun and he, like his sister, has no fear of the water. He would get out the pool, walk around and just jump right back in, whether someone was there to catch him or not.

Cailee is really, really into Christmas this year – and LOVES the lights. In our neighborhood, she claims she can “smell” the lights. It was no different in Blowing Rock – we enjoyed walking through town checking out all the lights, sights and oh yeah, the candy store.

We’ve stayed at the Chetola Lodge the last two years and have really enjoyed it. Besides the pool, two room suite (required if JJ and I want to stay up later than 7 PM), room service (also a perk with two young kids the don’t do restaurants real well), and indoor pool, the grounds are great. The lodge is down a long winding road that leads up to a big lake complete with swans. At night, the grounds are illuminated with spectacular Christmas lights. The kids enjoy exploring outside, daring to jump in the lake and freaking out the swans (and us) by venturing much too close. This year, a swan alerted Cailee she was entering his personal space and Cailee turned to me and said – “mommy, that swan just burped at me.”

Obviously, the trip is not complete without getting the tree. This year, Cailee was much more involved in the decision – she picked out every 10 foot tree she could find for us (and our 9 foot room). She also took on the task of wielding the 13 foot pole, typically used to measure the height of the tree. She hit all of us at least once, but it was great to see her so into it.

We played a lot on this trip, inside and out. The park was a highlight, as was the petty zoo at the tree farm, but I think it was playtime at Camp Chetola that took the cake. Chetola Lodge actually has a kids playroom and Saturday we lucked in on playtime, so there were several other kids, a few babysitters (although we stayed and participated), crafts, hide and go seek, trains and more. The kids had a blast (and JJ and I didn’t mind someone else tiring them out – so much so that they slept 14 hours straight that night – black out shades don’t hurt either).