We decided to book a cabin for a night in the Smokies so we could escape email, phones, and family/friends (no offense) and just be a family shortly before Jesse left to go back to Afghanistan. Oddly enough, we booked a night in Gatlinburg the one night we had a snow storm, so it was insanely pretty where we were! Once I finished teaching my first day back for the Spring 2012 semester, we picked up Ellie, finished packing up and headed out on our trip to Gatlinburg. First stop, Jesse dropped me off at the Stride Rite Outlet so I could pick Ellie up some winter boots (haven't had any need for them up until now). Next, we checked in to our cabin and got unpacked before heading back to Gatlinburg to get some take-out for dinner (thanks to Jesse's parents via gift card to TGI Fridays).
Our family rule was once we returned with our dinner, we would turn off all communication with the outside world and we would hole up in our cabin and spend some quality time as a family. We played downstairs most of the time with all the games that the cabin had. Ellie played pool with her Daddy and I hit up the machine games. Jesse and I also played a rematch game of air hockey and we tied by the end of it. Ellie was our little cheerleader.
Once she went to bed, we watched a movie and then got some sleep. The next morning, we showered and cleaned up our mess before checking out and heading to the amazing breakfast restaurant - Pancake Pantry! Oh man, was it good. AND, kid friendly. I had pecan pancakes, Jesse had wildberry pancakes and Ellie had some "bear" pancakes. We walked around the shops in "The Village" behind the restaurant before heading out to go by a few outlet stores before heading home. It was an awesome family trip that gave us some fun memories!