A Weekend At Yellowbranch Lodge

We are incredibly blessed that our Uncle Colby and Aunt Laura agreed to open their beautiful lodge in Chelsea, Alabama to celebrate Poppy's birthday. Yellowbranch Lodge is amazing.  Colby and Laura purchased it and completely redid it.  It will eventually include cabins, relocated original barns from the 1800's and a restaurant.  It is available as a rental for family reunions, weddings, corporate events, and fortunately weekends celebrating with family. 

Yellowbranch Lodge
After the boys and I surprised him, the rest of the family showed up as Friday progressed.  Justin, JB, Madison, and GG came Friday throughout the evening and then Ma & Dave arrived on Saturday afternoon. 

The first day was a little chilly but I loved it.  The lodge has the most amazing wood burning  fire place divides the rooms. The smell inside and sitting beside it is divine, especially with a glass of wine or hot tea :-)

The boys had some "Poppy time" all to themselves before everyone else arrived.  They rode the paddle boats first.  Beckett was not a fan but he loved wading in the water.  How amazing is it to have white sand beaches??

checking out the boat

suiting up for a ride

Poppy and his boys

heading out 

Not a fan.  Mommy get me out!!

Off little Eli goes with Poppy and Dee Dee

Happy to play in the water

Gorgeous day to play with my man 

watching for Eli to come back 

feeding the fish 

snack time 
Beckett and I got a great nap Saturday afternoon.  We were both exhausted and we climbed in the "fort/tent" that Poppy and Dee Dee had made in the bunk bed room and crashed.  When I woke up, I grabbed my book and headed to sit out on the upstairs balcony to wait on Beckett to wake up.  The sweetest site below me. Eli and his Poppy hanging out and fishing. I hear they had the best time together while we were snoozing.

sweet buddies for life

Eli even got a boat ride from the lodge's water ski pro.  

my little guy going out on a ride

gorgeous afternoon on the water

We finished our great day with a ride on the "jeep" (the polaris) through the mountains.  My favorite part?  Eli fell asleep in my arms on the ride.  When we got back, he slept in my arms on the back deck.  I enjoyed a glass of wine and watched the sunset with my sweet baby.  One of life's fleeting moments that I am so grateful I could stop and enjoy.

Daddy brought Dreamland ribs

loving the ribs
 Every great day deserves a great bath, right?  I don't believe there could be a more amazing bathroom in my book.  The master is fantastic.  A fireplace.  Huge walk-in shower with 2 separate heads.  And look at this tub!  Heavenly.  As Beckett and Eli said in one of their current favorite phrases "The biggest bathtub I have never seen!!" 

Saturday morning was gorgeous!  I woke up with a little Eli who had crawled in during the night.  He looked out the window and said, "hey! That's poppy out there fishing."  He saw his Poppy out fishing after returning from hunting and that is how we started the day.  

ready for a day of fishing and fun 

Morning paddle boat rides races

playing in the sand in our pj's 

love this kid 

horseshoes with poppy 

more fishing 


the best way to fish!

The boat pros came back out and this time Justin wanted to try it.  We were all giving him a hard time of course.  He hasn't slalom skied in over 10 years. At least.  And the ski was way to small. Even with all of that, he popped right up.  We were quite impressed!

gearing up


Here was my favorite part of the day...

so relaxing 
After the kiddos, well.. most of the crew had great naps it was time to start getting ready for grilling dinner.

But first, the evening sunset watch.  Otis Redding and Jimmy Buffett mixing it up on Pandora.  Drinks in hand, appetizers on the deck.  The sweet life.

Justin and JB 

just relaxing 

my beautiful Ma 
sunset from the back deck 
The boys handled a great dinner for us.  While we girls were up to no good. While they were outside we were in search of the controls for the stereo system but we found a huge drawer full of nerf guns and more ammo than you could imagine.  No pictures but I wish you could have seen us run out and ambush the boys. Unfortunately we did truly scare my little Eli but it was a quick recovery when we showed him he could shoot them and stick it on the window.  Hilarious!

Dinner was awesome.  We all sat around this amazing long table.  We all commented that we felt like "The Robertson" ala Duck Dynasty.  Eli let us in a great blessing.  The highlight of the dinner was this idea I saw on Pinterest that on birthday's the group comes up with things they love about the birthday person.   The idea is you compile them and mail them or put them on a poster at the party.  We adapted and went around the table.  60 things we love about Poppy. It was awesome!  Some were funny, some were silly, some brought tears, some were touching, but all very heart felt. 

When the sun went down we headed out to sand for a beach bonfire.  Marshmallow roasting which the boys loved.  Justin invented mini chocolate donut roasting which they loved even more.  We loved hanging by the fire chatting.  Such a late night but so special to all spend time together. 

please excuse "old man birthday boy's" white socks!
 And even some late night fishing.  Justin scored a "huge one" according to Eli.  Pretty impressive.

Sunday morning brought more hunting.  More fishing.  More coffee by the fire.  

catching minnows in the spiderman net 

teaching Eli the technique

We got some!!
I love this quiet moment I caught out the window.  They were having such a special time together.  Beckett and his Poppy.

One of the absolute highlights of trip was the worship time on Sunday morning.  JB brought his guitar and hymns for us.  We gathered around in our pj's by the big fire all together.  Singing, praising God, worshipping together, and taking time to thank Him. As my Ma said through tears "I feel closer to God this morning here than any church I could have been in."  Poppy shared his heart, we all talked about our faith.  Dave shared a story of testimony.  The boys sang songs from their worship service at church and loved being involved.  I am grateful for a godly family and time together in His name.

And do you know that this whole weekend were hiding the biggest surprise from Poppy?  He had no idea that we were secretly plotting to get him out of the house.  We were putting finishing touches on party decorations and favors while hiding in our bedrooms.  Even after all this great time together there was still one last surprise.  The party pictures should be in soon and I can't wait to see them and post them.  How could we top such a great weekend??  By finishing it off with the perfect surprise party!

More to come..

The Riley's