“The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ”
~Erma Bombeck

It’s the last Saturday when Ben is working a long day, trying to finish up the last of the jobs before we head to Colorado… next Wednesday.

Three months worth of toys and clothes and living will be packed into a white suburban and we’ll drive 24 hours out west where we’ll spend the next three months in a two-bedroom apartment. Exciting? Yes! Scary? Yes!

There is SO much to do in the next few days. I’ve hardly begun packing, because there is so much I can’t pack until the last day or two. I keep asking God for a calm heart and mind, because it looks a bit overwhelming to get everything together in the next 3 days…

So I took the girls to a local festival this morning – good, old-fashioned redneck country festival. It was great fun. :) Maybe just to escape the feeling of all that needs to be done. And then I sit down and blog. Why? When there is a myriad of things to work on? When I could at least bring in the laundry that’s been hanging out for the past, um, three days. Or double-check my packing lists, or…

Well, for one, the girls are napping, and who wants to disturb sleeping children by packing? :)

For two, I just found out this week that our apartment will not have internet access, so I suppose I’ll be going on an online fast of sorts. :) I’m sure I’ll run to a coffee shop or the library, but we’ll only have one vehicle, and trying to keep two little children quiet while I’m on the computer doesn’t sound like my idea of relaxing. So, I’ll be popping in and out, but not as often as before.

So I had thought that I can just do some catching up online after we get to Colorado, but since that’s not going to be happening like I thought, I wanted to do two most posts before we leave. Here’s one, and we’ll see if I get the other one up. :)

Going back a month again….  (thanks for not minding!) Family vacation in Asheville, North Carolina!

We’ve done ocean vacations mostly, and that’s great fun. But we decided to do a mountain vacation this time – and loved it! The beautiful Smokeys were such a restful and relaxing place to stay for a long weekend. My parents rented a house (vacation rental by owner) on top of a good-sized range, and the view was beautiful from the long front porch!

It had been 6 months since I saw some of my sisters, and 2 years since a family vacation. We just loved every moment of being together! Being with my family is one of my favorite things in the world!

Most of the time was just spent together at the house… Plans were being made for hikes and such, but it rained one day, and was really hot another, and Barkmans can get long-winded when it comes to family time… ;)

A few went to see the famous Biltmore Estate the last day, and I was really hoping to go as well, but had gone to bed with a terrible migraine that still wasn’t better the day of the trip, so we had to miss it. That was a bit disappointment. Probably the only disappointment of the weekend though, so it was okay. :)

There is something so refreshing about being with family… when you know you can be you and be real, and don’t have to worry about how someone is going to take you, or if someone is going to hold a grudge against you, or if the weekend will end in chaos. I’m so blessed to be part of an imperfect, but loving family!

So the rest of this will be long on pictures and short on words.

We made cake pops…

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Little girls snuck food with their aunties on the kitchen floor…

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We played games until late at night…

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Evenings were beautiful on the front porch…

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Aunties taught neices how to make faces…

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Aunties loved on little neices…

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I think someone likes me… ♥

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Oldest brother, youngest sisters…

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Children ate uncontrolled amounts of candy…

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And we did a photo shoot one afternoon. One thing about my family – there are cameras everywhere!!

At a sapphire mine, holding a sapphire embedded in a rock…

sapphire mine

Sister pictures were taken…

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Mother and daughters pictures were taken…

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Brother pictures….

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Six-of-Us pictures…

the 6ers

Father & Mother pictures…

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Attempts at family pictures were taken… goodness, it’s difficult with this many people!

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Zoe and Olivia snapshots were taken…

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Attempts were made at pictures of our little family of four. You’d think it would be no big deal, but just check out some of the pictures that made it on the camera…

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“the floppy-knee child”                                          “the run-away baby”

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“the hand-tugger”

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“the case of the missing baby”

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“in need of grace”

And at last, a few that might be okay!! :)




And we’re left with more lovely memories of family time and laughter and talks… God knew what He was doing when He created family!

“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
– unknown

“In some families, please is described as the magic word.
In our house, however, it was sorry. ”
~Margaret Laurence

Today, enjoy your very own family – the quirks, the sweetness,
the wonderfulness that makes them YOURS!
[even if you’re in one of the above moments, “in need of grace.” :)]

~ clarita

22 thoughts on “The Asheville Family Vacation

  1. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    aww!! so many times in the last days i have thought of you and your upcoming trip west….i DO hope things come together for you, and that you will continue to know Peace, HIS peace within your heart(s) as you take this step of faith.
    i like the pictures: all of them! little children and picture taking just do not go together so well sometimes, eh? they just made me laugh, the ones of Olivia in action… and, yet, there stands Ben taking it all in…=)
    happy rest of the weekend and last days at ‘home’ to you!

  2. GratefulToGod

    Blessings and grace to you as you pack…I know that feeling of trying to remain calm and yet silently (or not so much!) panicking.

    Your little family pictures antics at the end made me laugh. Love the one where you’re kissing. The girls expressions are too cute!

    I’m going to miss your posting. Hope your time is CO is wonderful!

  3. grandmas_gurl

    Awww! I love all these pictures.
    What a glorious family. truly. truly.
    And I sure am awaiting your next post.
    Truly. Truly. I miss you and the babies. and Big Ben…

  4. justcallmeM

    Many lovely photos! Had to chuckle at all of the outtakes of your family. :) So sorry you had to miss Biltmore! :( I’ve never been there but hear it’s quite a place.

  5. seekinHISwisdom

    awww, sweet update! family vacation…so dreamy. since so many of us are married now it makes it more difficult so it is expecially great when it actually happens. love the pictures of you and your hubs, I say too someone loves you. :) you are beautiful. The family pictures are very lovely inspite of the cute drama!! thinking of you as you prepare for the west…it does sound fun and scary, yes indeed.

  6. fruitloops115

    i really like those ‘good’ takes of your family photo *wayward child firmly held in place between mummy and daddy* And I had to laugh @ Rachel’s comment about Ben standing there and taking it all in. So funny. And so IRL (the kids not cooperating, not the husband just standing there )
    your family trip looks beautiful. I’ve never been to the smokies.
    We will miss you ‘around here’ on xanga. Hope your time in Colorado is just amazing.


    Oh just a quick look at this post so far, but I love your little family pictures!! So good and way good enough for a Christmas picture if you don’t get any others taken!! I’ve asked your baby sisters to take some of our family but haven’t heard back yet. Much, much grace to you in the next few days of packing and traveling!

  8. SherriMonCheri

    “The run-away baby” and “the hand-tugger”…I can smile looking at the pictures because it’s not me trying to hold onto my last shred of patience :)  Love the real-life you allow us to see!  I love the pink top Zoe is wearing…my little girl wore one just like it to church this morning :)  Blessings as you pack for your trip!

  9. smilesbymiles

    Your family times always seem to embody what family times should … good food, good laughter, good loving!

    I will miss hearing from you, but wish you the best time you could imagine in CO. Oh, and your pictures and captions are adorable! My favorite family photo of you guys is the first one on your ok list (although they are all good). Y’all are just darling!

  10. Elizabethmarie_1

    I was laughing at the “outakes” from your family photo shoot! I think I like the floppy knee child best. =)
    You have such a wonderful family. You and your sisters are gorgeous, really, you girls are so pretty!

    Love the cake pops. I have always wanted to make them but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
    And I know how aunties can be with candy and sweets and nieces! ;)  Healthy eating goes out the window.
    I did however get a little payback when I stuck my sister’s baby’s binky in some canolli! I made sure we were making eye contact so he associated me and the sweetness!!! Hahaha.

    Sorry you had a migraine and missed the Biltmore  Estate. I have always wanted to go there.
    Can’t wait to hear of your adventures in CO. I bet you’re getting excited!

    Enjoyed your post..as always. I love your blog.
    Happy Sunday to you. =)

  11. WasabiBek

    you got some really sweet family photos. loved this post and really loved getting to catch up with you on the phone the other day! thanks for taking the time. praying for you!!!!!

  12. twofus_1

    Oh, I so hope today and tomorrow are super productive for you, and things just fly together! I’m sure you have very detailed lists all ready to follow. :) I was about to say that normally getting ready for trips like this have come together for me much better than I thought they would, but I know circumstances vary…:) and I just hope for you grace for every moment! So it’s an apartment instead of a camper? I’m happy for you. Be prepared to talk really fast on Wednesday because I have a lot of questions, and you probably won’t want this stop to be so long. :) :) I can hardly believe I get to see you! Sorry about not having internet– I will pray for friendships to open up, so you won’t get too lonely. How far will you be from where Ben is studying? Oh, okay, I’ll try to keep my questions for later.

    So glad for your wonderful family time! I especially love the pictures of you and Ben–so cute!

  13. lifeisadance

    @foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown – so funny you caught the thing of “Olivia in action, and Ben stands taking it all in” – because that is so real life for us!! :) Ben, the calm, cool, and collected, and me, the mother flying around after my wild child. :) I love it when people can read things into pictures that I don’t even put into words!


  14. lifeisadance

    @twofus_1 – I can’t wait to see you either!! I’m not sure if Ben has contacted Steve yet or not, but we were thinking of maybe meeting you guys for breakfast?? You can be thinking about it and where and what time in the event that he hasn’t called yet. :) Yes, apartment!! SO thankful. We’re be about 2-3 miles from the campus, so fairly close. Today is fly-around day – errands, packing, lists a mile long……….. but I’m needing a little break, so here I sit. :)

  15. appalolly

    It struck me how in those pictures of just your little family, no matter what was going on, Ben just had this serene smile on his face. Is he always like that??

    And…I did not know you had any brothers. Too funny. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and thought you were a family of just girls.

    I bet your girlies get SO spoiled by their grandparents and aunts.  What fun times!

  16. mytoesareblue

    Clarita…love this post. first of all i’m so excited that you and Ben are almost on this wonderful adventure of a lifetime! how cool is that. I’m sure there will be many changes in the months ahead…but so excited for you guys. is someone taking care of your house while you’re gone?

    loved the ‘while we were trying to get a good family picture’ shots…so true of life ;) and your mom and dad are utterly adorable ;) they look like the sweetest people ever!!!!

    i always love the pictures of you with your family because they always seem so full of joy…i’m sure its just cause you guys love each other so. and the pics of you and Ben are sooo sweet!

  17. redladybug18

    I think that’s great that all of you can get together and have a fabulous time and enjoy each other. All families aren’t like that.
    Your family is so cute! Beautiful pictures!
    Blessings on the packing and getting ready to leave. I always do my best packing a day or two before because it’s like I can focus totally on that and I can make sure I get all the last minute stuff.

  18. baileyandme

    i can`t figure out how i missed this whole post! i came over here to see if MAYBE you posted. well, you hadn`t. :( but this was new– so that`s something exciting in my day!
    looks like a HAPPY, beautiful time with family. you know, i don`t even know your family– but these made my day anyway. :) i LOVE, no adore, zoe pink 3 flower blouse. did you make it? it`s so darling. and the crazy family pictures– can SO relate to the “needing grace” picture. boy, when we took ours i don`t think i have ever been so frustrated with elle. ever. ok, i`ll go before i write a book. such beauty on your blog. as always! ps. love the picture of you on the 2nd to last pic!

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