We are a family of nine, myself and my husband, our two kids and their spouses, and the three littles, ages 7, 6 and 4. It's one of the highlights of the year to get to vacay all together for a few days, away from work and business. This year took us to Scenic Hill Retreat near Brenham, Texas with several excursions each day!
Day One - We started early in Smithville, Texas at Old World Bakery for breakfast. It's on Main Street in small town Texas and has all the charm you could want. There's even a little play area for the kids. The place is decorated so cutely (cups hanging from the ceiling) and the food was really, really good! Service was great, too!
From there we drove Jersey Barnyard in LaGrange, where we went on a tour of the farm. The first half was feeding animals from goats, to donkeys, to pigs, and even bottle feeding calves! The second half was a hayride down to where the cows get milked, and we got to milk Peanut, the Blue Bell cow! (She's been in a few commercials.) Our guides were wonderful. Back at the main store, we were able to enjoy a scoop of ice cream before heading on to...
Round Top, Texas - to Henkel Square - where we spent about an hour or so. It's a little village of old houses that are now businesses and food shops. We started with a snack (and got two really cute t-shirts "I Willie like pie" - Willie Nelson's head on it - my daughter in law loved it) and shopped a bit, and made wishes in a beautiful fountain in the center of it all.
By now, it was time to head to the retreat. We rented the Farmhouse (Scenic Hill has several options for cabins, but this is the one for families). It's a huge home with all sorts of charm and stairs, a huge back porch for gazing at the beautiful landscape, and a big hot tub for us all. The kitchen was stocked with breakfast items to cook, and we each had our own bedrooms, bathrooms, and a big family room for gathering. It was really just perfect.
We brought games and a few movies, and lots of food! The first night was hamburgers! It was fun to use some "YUM" plates we found from Target, and to enjoy brownies afterward. We even popped Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove (Have you had it?). It was fun just visiting and talking and remembering God's goodness to us all - which we shared around the table. The night ended in the hot tub, as the sun set. Beautiful breeze. Wonderful time.
Day Two - This morning started out with breakfast tacos out back on the huge table on the patio. We then
headed down to the "Game Area." It was like stepping back in time. There was croquet, but the wickets were made with bricks. There was "bathketball" - an old tub where we tossed rocks for points. An old wooden ladder ball game was there, as well as a soccer field. It was hot, but at least we played in the morning and enjoyed friendly family competition!
Early lunch was turkey and avocado wraps on spinach tortillas with flavored chips we brought from World Market - super yummy.
At noon, we had a tour scheduled for the Texas Cotton Gin in Burton, Texas, not far down the road. There was also a classic car show going on, AND the engine was being started up at the gin - a real treat! The tour started with a film of the history, then an actual tour through the gin to see how cotton was delivered and weighed and bound in bales. They even had tiny bales for sale in the store!
We made it down the road to Blue Bell Ice Cream before they closed, for dollar scoops!
This evening's dinner was fried rice. It was simple to put together because we brought all the veggies chopped and ready to stir-fry, as well as cooked chicken and cooked rice. And, of course, soy sauce!
Again, we found ourselves out back in the hot tub, talking and enjoying the evening. The landscape behind our house was breathtakingly beautiful. We played games with the kids and talked and talked, this time recalling God's character - truths about who He is.
Day Three - This morning's breakfast was biscuits and muffins, and fruit. All on the back patio again - so nice.
We brought small canvas boards, paintbrushes and paints (all from Dollar Tree) and set up around the table outside to paint whatever part of the landscape we saw that we wanted to create! It was one of our most fun activities. Each person painted, we let them dry, then presented and complimented each other. Everyone's was different and so pretty.
Now it was time to clean up, eat lunch and get ready to leave. We ate French bread pizza (French bread with pesto, chicken, mozzarella and tomatoes).
We headed out about 2pm to Monument Hill State Park back in La Grange, Texas. There we hiked down to some old brewery ruins, not long hike, but it was hot so it felt long! And it's quite a descent and incline back up. The kids loved the hike, we all made it, and the ruins were so interesting!
By 4pm we headed to Bastrop, Texas and had an early dinner at Paw Paw's Catfish - great fried pickles and (we think) the best catfish platter around! We even shared brownie sundaes and banana pudding.
We said our goodbyes and headed back home only to encounter a storm - BUT we made it! All safe and sound, thankful and happy, for family time together away from our normal lives.
Highlights? The kids and their funnyness, conversations and good food, and lots of fun activities and memories. And that house. It was fabulous.