Author: Erica Woodward

SHOP LOCAL: Non-traditional Christmas Gifts for little ones

SHOP LOCAL: Non-traditional Christmas Gifts for little ones

Last year my sister kick-started this idea for me as she gave both of my kids a super cute certificate for a date night with Aunt Ra-ra.  It included dinner at a restaurant of their choice, arts and crafts, special dessert, and a sleepover.  BEST 

Regional Recreational Vision: Middle Fork Greenway

Regional Recreational Vision: Middle Fork Greenway

  We attended the grand opening of the new section of the Middle Fork Greenway trail this past week and were excited to see such a large turnout. There have been many people involved in this project that have committed countless hours, resources, and energy 

Winter as a SAHM (Stay.At.Home.Mom)

Winter as a SAHM (Stay.At.Home.Mom)

I just realized the title of this post sounds more like a confessional than a blog post…..and it just might be. I get cabin fever after two days of back-to-back rain and not being able to go outside. So while I love when Fall comes each year, it also brings with it a little sinking feeling that winter is quickly approaching. I have come a long way with winter since first having babies. My kids are now 5 and 3. For the longest time, I adhered to the principle that the time OUTSIDE in the snow must be equal to or greater than the amount of time getting READY inside. So in that regard, life may have gotten a lot easier this past year or so, but it does still require a lot of planning. And for me, that planning starts as early as NOW to make the winter go by smoothly. Here are some things that help me get along. If you have any tips of your own, I would LOVE to hear them too!

 *Wii Fit: This was a life-saver as a Christmas gift last year. You get the winter bonus of being inside AND getting energy out. We only allow them to play the FIT games that require exercise. And it really works! Both of my kids LOVE it and actually start to complain that their legs are hurting from so many squats.

*Craft Enrichment Programs at ASU: My husband first signed me up for a beginner pottery class when my oldest son was first born. It was a great evening activity that lets the creative juices flow and takes your mind off things. I will be taking the spring 2015 pottery class again this year. Give this hint to the hubby as a Christmas gift idea! Their classes include: basket making, drawing, glass, jewelry, beadmaking, painting, photography, pottery, weaving, metalworking and woodworking. Get a group of friends together to sign up for a class and make it even more enjoyable!

*The Children’s Playhouse: We all know this as a great indoor space AND a family membership would make a great Christmas gift! Do you know about the Parents Nights Out? When ASU is in session they usually schedule them once a month on a Friday night from 5:30-8:30. The cost for non-members is $15/first child and $8 each additional. Members are $12/first child and $6 each additional child. We usually try to plan our date nights around this schedule.

*GOOD snow gear: I’m not shy about liking the good stuff. ESPECIALLY when it comes to outdoor and snow gear. I think it pays off and retains its value in resell opportunities.

*APP SKI homeschool days: this was awesome last year. Now that Caleb is in kindergarten, I will get to use these times to teach Ellie to ski! Here is the info from App Ski Mtn French-Swiss Ski School designed for ages 5-18 and family members.

IMG_0593

Dates: Dec.12, 17; Jan. 7, 13, 27-28; Feb.4, 9-10, 18, 24-25; March 2-3, 10.

Pricing: $8 slope ticket (this flex ticket is good for 8 consecutive ski hrs), $7 group lesson (required), $6 ski equipment rental (optional) OR $14 snowboard equipment rental (optional).

Times: Beginner lessons are at 11:15 and Intermediate at 12:30.

-It is recommended that you reserve a spot up to 1 week in advance. You can call the French Ski office at the mtn to do so.

 *Winter hanging cart: My new purchase to make winter more tolerable for my type-A personality. I am sure there are prettier ones out there but I found this guy at Wal-mart. One thing I never like about winter is the coats, gloves, hats, boots, etc. scattered and hanging all over the house. This guy will stay in our basement right next to the door,  Problem. Solved.

IMG_5197

*Baking: Anyone can tell you that I don’t really cook. However, baking is a bit easier for me as it only requires the timing of ONE dish to be the focus at a time. I will be challenging myself this winter to spend more time in the kitchen and involving the children in the process. Added bonus: it heats the house.

*Trip planning: The other three seasons in Boone I really don’t need a vacation or to get out of town. Winter is another story. I NEED to stretch my legs and can usually last till about the end of February. This year we are planning our first BIG ski trip as a family out west to Crested Butte, CO. In my opinion, the winter is when we REALLY need to take a vacation!

IMG_0271

*Time out: You may laugh, but I put myself in “time out” all the time, usually for the same behavior that my children are in time out for. I think it’s healthy for them to see the value in quiet, reflective time. Maybe it’s the lack of vitamin D, but winter usually requires a higher volume of time-outs.

*Potlucks: I have to be really diligent in planning these. I always like the idea but the winter blues keeps me from following through alot. When I DO follow through though, I really appreciate it and it’s well worth the effort.

*Christmas gifts that keep on giving: I am going to do a whole blog post on this topic soon but wanted to get the ball rolling as you might have early family Christmas shoppers who are already requesting a list. We have opted for a children’s theme of “life experiences” this year. That could include a date night with a favorite aunt, ski tickets, ice skating, bowling, sleepover with the grandparents, tea party with friends, the list is really endless. This is also great because it helps fill up the calendar days for the rest of winter with fun activities that everybody gets to enjoy. AND it doesn’t break the bank for loved ones and takes the focus off of gifts! I will roll out that blog post soon and share some more fun ideas we have been thinking of!

I would LOVE to hear any plans or ideas that you have as a SAHM or a family for the winter! Please leave a comment below!

 

Rocky Knob Fall Fest/Take a Kid Mtn Biking Day (Oct.10-11th)

Rocky Knob Fall Fest/Take a Kid Mtn Biking Day (Oct.10-11th)

This was such a great event last year, and you should be sure not to miss it this year! The Rocky Knob Fall Festival combined with International Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day (no joke-it’s for real an international holiday) is coming this weekend ! 

Fall Camping at the Nantahala Outdoor Center

Fall Camping at the Nantahala Outdoor Center

Our favorite time of year is here: FALL!  We tend to kick our activity level up a notch these next couple of months to make the most of the decent weather to be outside.  We just got back from our favorite festival/camping trip of the 

Getting off the Mountain

Getting off the Mountain

I know some Mom’s do this ALL the time. They drive off the mountain just for dinner. I am NOT that Mom. I anticipate and plan a trip off the mountain pretty rarely but always appreciate it when I do. This weeks blog focuses on two great places for families in Hickory.

*Catawba Science Center: I had saved up this plan for when I noticed several back to back rainy days this summer and it was a HUGE hit. And you get the added bonus of it being educational! Pack a lunch to eat there, tour the hands-on science center, and round it out with a film in the planetarium. We went with another family and between all of us adults and kids we got a GROUP Rate (10 people or more)! Everything is better with friends! Check out their website at : catawbascience.org   TIP: If the cost is too steep for your family, the 3rd Friday of each month is FREE!

*Kool Pool: Do you ever go to cool places and think to yourself “why isn’t this place PACKED?” This place has been on my summer bucket list for two years now and I FINALLY made it this past weekend. It is an awesome outdoor pool with a huge natural waterside (long but not steep….even BABIES were on it) and other cool features,  There is an abundance of picnic tables and you can bring in your own packed lunch! If you don’t have any plans this coming weekend (9/13 and 9/14) it will be the last weekend they are open this season. Added Bonus: admission is only $5/person since it is after Labor Day weekend when they typically close. I personally feel like general admission during peak season pricing is too high for my liking (at $15/adults and $8/kids), but they also offer ½ price after 3pm. Also…they only take CASH.  You can check out their website at : koolparkpool.com

NOTE: Directions can be tricky. Lots of turns on random small roads. Keep your directions close at hand. They have some listed on their website and we used google maps and found our way fine.

IMG_5020

IMG_5018

Let’s be real though: you know you go to Hickory for Target. Lordy I wish we would get one in Boone. In the meantime though, strap the kids in the carseat and enjoy the hour drive off the mountain!

10 things to know about moving to Boone as a Young Family.

10 things to know about moving to Boone as a Young Family.

It seems like there have been a lot of young families moving to Boone recently! I have been able to meet a few of them and thought it might help (from one person’s perspective anyway) to compile a list of useful information if you are 

Family Camping

Family Camping

We had my family camping reunion in Damascus, VA this past weekend. We got a double unit campsite at Beartree Campground which is up the road from the Virginia Creeper Trail. We have stayed at this campground many times and really love it. The campsites are super 

Starting Responsibilities and Chores

Starting Responsibilities and Chores

We have really found a great stride with our oldest child in having a responsibility and chore chart. With school starting back in 2 months, this would be a great time to start if you haven’t already! Here are some of the BIG questions that I worked through in the beginning:

How do you start and how consistent do you have to be?
It all started for us one night about 9 months ago when my son began complaining that he didn’t like bedtime because we would get short and snippy and tell him to “do this” and “do that”. We were happy to oblige him the next morning with his own checklist of morning and nighttime responsibilities. (This later paved the way to adding the option of chores to earn spending money). He is about 5 ½ now so I guess we started somewhere between 4 and 5.

IMG_4549See the X on the “eat breakfast” on the picture? I asked him about it when I saw it, and he said I had given him Cream of Wheat one morning for breakfast which he didn’t like.

With his responsibilities, we are pretty well consistent. But as you can see from the picture of his list (posted on the mirror at his desk in his room), most of these things usually have to get done regardless. In the mornings, he does not get breakfast until his responsibilities are done. He starts kindergarten next month (EEK!!), and we will have to adapt to this system then. I will probably use an alarm clock and if he gets his responsibilities done in time, he can then have the option of doing his chores in the afternoon after school.

We are NOT as consistent with chores (separate concept from his responsibilities). Some days he asks to earn money–other days I could really use his help and will bring it up, and some days both of us just ignore the idea altogether.

When should you start doing chores with your child?
Chores were introduced as soon as we saw that his responsibilities were in a strong enough pattern. We decided for us that chores would be optional. One day work would not be optional for him, but right now it would be. Let me tell you though, he ALWAYS chooses to do them. The only condition we put on chores is that his responsibilities always have to be done first.

IMG_4547

(NOTE: If your child is not reading yet, it would be easy to draw pictures next to the words)

A hiccup I had for a long time in introducing chores was I saw all these fancy/crazy organized charts that locked me into doing laundry every Tuesday and vacuuming every Friday. I don’t really structure my house cleaning that firmly and wanted the flexibility to decide day by day what activity would work best. So…. as you can see from the picture, it is a simple list posted on the refrigerator that has a small black magnet that I put next to the task each morning. By the time he has finished his responsibilities, I have figured out what housework needs to be completed.

How much do you pay them?
We pay him .50 cents a chore and give him that option 6 days a week. That totals about $3/week. We liked that amount because he could go spend it on something right away if he wanted to, but if he wanted something of quality, he would have to learn to save.

Do you let them spend it on whatever they want?
We really do. But that being said, I have never been one to walk him around a toy store in my leisure time. To give you a couple of ideas, his last purchase was from Mast General Store. He had just seen the LEGO movie and became mesmerized by growing his very own crystal.

IMG_4553

I would show a picture of the final product, but it is still materializing in the solution and should be another 7 days or so before finished. Clearly, he is VERY excited.

He also has fallen in love with taking things apart. For awhile, this was a BIG problem in the house and severely hampered my level of peace during “quiet time”. I have since learned to give him different projects of MY choosing for him to take apart and he is also welcome to spend his money at the thrift store purchasing (preferably broken) electronics. Spending all his money at Menchie’s for frozen yogurt isn’t a rough way to spend the evening either!

If you are thinking of beginning this journey of chores, I hope it blesses you as much as it has us!  It might take a couple of weeks to establish a new routine in the mornings and evenings, but the payoff is worth it!

 

 

 

Family Time on the New River

Family Time on the New River

Our most recent camping trip was at the New River State Park the weekend of the New River Canoe Race. We have owned a canoe for the past two years and have enjoyed introducing the kids to moving water. We joined two other families at