The Perfect Lake Escape.

There are great lake house rentals and then there is The Dragonfly

We have had a hell of a 2020 – along with everyone else at this point. But in all seriousness, we were separated while John was relocated to start a project. We sold our house and moved across the country and were in a mold-filled corporate rental until we could find and purchase our house out here. During this time, the lockdown happened. We had zero toilet paper and enough food for 3-4 days… for a family of SEVEN. The shelves were empty and we had nowhere to put anything. We lived off the same seven days worth of clothes, had no tv or internet, and were banned from parks and playgrounds. We were a day away from losing our minds. 

We found an amazing house, moved in, and dealt with neighbors who were too scared to bring groceries inside, let alone be our friends. All the while, John was working 16 hour days, 11-12+ days in a row, and having 2(ish) days off… (the -ish is because he was still working 24/7 even on those days ‘off’). It was a 100 day project and we knew it would be intense. The kids and I pushed through and finally made friends in the neighborhood. We schooled throughout the summer to kill time, and we took several little vacations. But it was a LONG 100 days. 

Here we are, on the other side of the project. We were both burnt out. We were in need of a retreat. We booked an amazing week-long stay at Hawk’s Cay Resort in the Keys, but as it approached, we learned the kids’ club, spa, arcade, and kids’ pool were all closed. We also learned that we could reserve a 2-hour spot at the pool each day, masks were required on all over the age OF TWO?!!! (WTAF) – and on top of it all, the prices were the EXACT SAME AS EVERY OTHER YEAR. My mind was blown and we got our money back. 

Everything was booked. We wanted to cry.


Lake Gaston has clearly become a favorite vaca-spot for me, but John had not experienced it yet. A neighbor messaged me about her rental property and offered it to us, leaving a week early from their own planned vacation. I was ready to cry… but I had no idea what this rental had in store for us.

It was gorgeous. Beautifully decorated for fall, full of every kitchen item you could possibly need (a wok?? Who had a wok to make fried rice? I was in heaven!) There was a hot tub, paddle boards, kayaks, a lake trampoline and slide, and a boat ON PROPERTY. The rain may have kept us inside the first day, but the Wii and TV’s all over the house were enough to entertain the kids. We brought games and puzzles that helped too! Once the rain cleared, it was GAME ON.

Since we had an entire week there, we broke it up with great friends joining us for a night. We had 8 kids and 4 adults – and every single person was in love with this house. We made s’mores over the fire pit and listened to music on the speakers (that were located EVERYWHERE.)

Our food was delicious. The boating was peaceful and just what we needed. The entire trip was one for the books. I cannot wait to return.

What made the trip even better? We were able to spend 4 days in North Carolina beforehand! I had an amazing opportunity fr work, and we jumped on it to add on to the trip. We stayed with family and had the best time. 

As I sit at home – a clean home (because you ALWAYS have a cleaner come while you are on vacation) – with a pizza being delivered, I am so grateful for the last 10 days.  

Although, I’m a bit jealous… John headed to the Florida beaches for the next 5 days with 2 of the kids!  However, our soccer kid decided he NEEDED to return home before missing any more practices or games. Insert Mom of the Year award here for giving up a beach trip for travel soccer.

Grab Your Kids and Meet a Friend for a Week.


My skin is a few shades darker, and my babies are all blonder. I’m flipping through over 900 pictures, and daydreaming of buying a lake house (and a boat). 

If you have never loaded your car full of kids, duffle bags, scooters, and snacks to hit the road to meet with a like-minded mama-friend and her kids, you need to, ASAP.


When you escape solo, it is a much needed getaway, but when you take the kids on a grand adventure solo, you are allowing yourself to grow and blossom into the confident and capable mother you truly are. Knowing your kids and their needs will grant you the ability to plan an amazing vacation that everyone will remember.

In times of COVID, one of my besties needed to hit the road cross-country to get some QT with her oldest boy who lives in the northeast. We jumped on the opportunity to meet up for an entire week! Instead of our normal resort stays, we opted for a killer lakefront VRBO. I highly recommend skipping the hotel scene right now and finding a rental where you can cook and live as easy and normal as possible. 


If you have never explored Lake Gaston in NC/VA, start planning. Depending on where you stay, you may be quite isolated as far as food and shopping options are concerned. We had a gas station and a food lion 30+ minutes away – but we made the most of it with one big online order and curbside pickup. 

No matter where you vacation, meal planning is key. It is the best way to make sure you are consuming nutritious foods and staying on budget. There is no way I can feed 5 kids from restaurants for 6+ days – nor would I want to. Instead, I emptied my pantry and brought all of gluten/dairy-free items to bake, and any food I could utilize throughout the week. With limited kitchen items, a wine bottle came in handy as a rolling pin, a neighbor’s pan worked perfect for gf/df brownies, and the blender made great popsicle fillings! We filled the table with buffet-style meals and snacks all day, every day. Waffles, bacon, sausage, every fruit possible, hummus and veggies, etc. But dinners? We knocked those out if the park!  John sent us on vacation with smoked pork butt, and we used it on tacos, burrito bowls, and homemade pizza! We butterflied and roasted a chicken with potatoes and cauliflower, too. Definitely have fun cooking with your bestie – turn on the music and dance in the kitchen!

The kids needed nothing more than rafts, sunscreen, fishing poles, and kayaks for the week. We had an amazing dock to cannonball off of, too! Sunset kayak trips, nighttime fishing, and late night wine drinking were all the rage! I was able to keep my running streak alive and get in great workouts lakeside each day while everyone slept in and relaxed. 

One more giant recommendation: Throw A Party Together.

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Streamers, glow sticks, games, and music. We celebrated 1/2 of 2020 being over (hallelujah) – but you can come up with any reason to party – Taco Tuesday? Wild Wednesday? Sunday Funday? You name it, it’s party time!

But in true Our Lucky Seven fashion, I had to pull off a surprise. After calling every marina within 45 minutes from our VRBO, I found the last ski boat rental available for the week. I woke Emmett up early on Thursday morning and we headed out. His face was something I’ll remember forever when he realized his mama could hop into a ski boat and take off. Pulling into the dock at our rental, we were greeted with squealing kids! We borrowed a few killer rafts and spent the entire day exploring the 21-miles of lake we could access. I threw kids off tubes, jammed out with dance parties, and taught a few of the kids how to drive the boat. Talk about memories.

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We wrapped up the stay on Friday, and I took the opportunity to take the boat back solo… where my soul connected to the calmness of this grand lake just after sunrise. I swore I would not take anything for granted. I am so blessed to have such an amazing friendship and a family that will pack up in a moment’s notice to take on every adventure with me.


We are living in odd times right now. There is great diversity happening in so many ways, and it’s happening everywhere. However, if everyone could take a breath, step back – perhaps even take a vacation – maybe we would all realize that our passions and beliefs throughout everything are all rooted in goodness. Instead of burning things and yelling, let’s stop the panicking and start the supporting. Take your health into your hands. Take the education into your hands. Smile to everyone and find a way to spend time with someone who will help you remember these things. Let’s grow together through these slower days. Let’s appreciate more, together.