Category Archives: HC Fun

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 new to the area and have little kiddos:

1. Weather: We get all four seasons of the year and it is awesome. My favorite is coming up soon: FALL! You picked an awesome time of year to be new to the area and will soon see Boone at its finest. We get a decent amount of snow (and ice) in the winter, enough to want quality clothing on your kids to play outside and good tires on your vehicle. Each snow accumulation usually melts off pretty quickly. Sometimes the biggest culprit of harsh conditions can be the wind here in the winter. Here is the link to our local weather source for area information!

2. Churches: If you haven’t noticed yet, you are in the Bible belt of the South. How do you know? Look around almost every street corner and you will find a church. In the summer, I have known some parents that can so carefully string together Vacation Bible Schools, they can last all summer long. We have a wide array of faiths in the area and can say with confidence you can easily find one for your family. I am biased, but I think it dictates a great community!

3. Schools: You will hear it from any parent you ask. We have a great school system with great teachers in our area. You can’t go wrong. If you are looking for non-standard schooling options you can check out:

*Two Rivers Charter School: a tuition-free NC Public Charter School. Go here for more information.

*Grace Academy: a classical Christian school serving students in grades K-8. A homeschool/private school blend. Click here for more information.

*Homeschooling is a wildly popular option for many here and a wonderful support system is in place if that is the right choice for your family.

4. Mom Groups: If you are a stay-at-home mom there are primarily 3 (organized) groups that you can be apart of for fellowship and encouragement.

*High Country MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers): Meet at Mt. Vernon church the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month from 9:30-noon with childcare provided. Their first mtg of the year is coming up: Thursday Sept. 4th! For more information, contact Megan Drake at: mmdrake1221@gmail.com to get more information about this great group of women!

*High Country Mommies: This group offers a simple way to connect with local moms for friendship, support and fun.  Members connect on private discussion forums to share information related to parenting. Each month, they also offer many face-to-face events for their members, their children, and families. Registration is free and you can do so at highcountrymommies.com!

*Blueprint: A Christian group of woman and mothers of all ages who meet together the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month (Sept-May) from 9:30-noon at Alliance church. Childcare and a home-school room is available during the meeting time. Your first meeting is FREE and then $5/meeting or $25/semester. Contact Marci Parker at mparker@abfboone.org for more information!

5. Popular Playgrounds:

-Tot Lot: on Hunting Lane off of State Farm Rd

-Valle Crucis Park: off Broadstone Rd next to Mast General Store Annex

-Downtown Blowing Rock Memorial park

-Rocky Knob mtn bike park and playground: out 421 towards Wilkesboro

-Daniel Boone Park: on Horn In The West Drive off of Blowing Rock Rd.

- Junaluska Park: Located on Bear Trail off of Grand Blvd.

6. Kids clothing consignment:

*Bluebird Consignment: New and pre-loved children’s consignment shop located at the Harris Teeter shopping center. The store carries lots of new eco-friendly items and high quality consignment items from newborn to 18 years. Also offers baby registries. Check it out on their facebook page for store hours, consignment info, etc.

*Wee-Cycle Consignment: semi-annual children’s consignment sale. Location is subject to change at each sale so be sure to “like” their page on facebook to be up to date on the next upcoming one! http://weecyclechildrensconsignment.com

7. Farmers Market: We have a killer Farmers market located at the Horn in the West parking lot on Saturday mornings. Yes, you can get all the fruit and vegetables you need there, but many also go for the fellowship and community comradery. There is also an adorable “kids market” every other Saturday in the corner of the sale. It’s adorable…put it on your “to do” list.  Click here for more information.

8. Chick-fil-a: If you have kids, you will find yourself here a lot. Especially in the winter. It’s also a great place to meet people and let the kids expend energy. They do a great “toddler time” on the 2nd and 4th Thursday mornings of each month. The kids get a FREE breakfast (3 count chicken mini biscuits or cinnamon cluster) AND they entertain them! That’s a score in my book. They also do many other special kids events throughout the year, “like” them on FB to get the upcoming news or you can check out their website here.

9. The Children’s Playhouse: this place has saved my sanity on many an occasion with the kids. I ask for the $100 family membership every year for Christmas. It’s a 3 level house with a wide array of activities for kids of all ages. Go to their website at http://www.goplayhouse.org for information!  Also be sure to check out the fall dates for their Parents Night Out to schedule your next date night!

10. Other ongoing activities:

*Story time at the library: Every day at 11am on the story steps and Baby Lap Time every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am.  http://www.wataugacountylibrary.com/childrens

*Fun Factory: indoor inflatable bouncy house playground and birthday party facility.  http://www.funfactoryboone.com

*Lowe’s Build and grow: register your child(s) for a FREE Saturday morning wood working project and your child receives a apron, googles, patch and much more. 10-11am.  http://lowesbuildandgrow.com/pages/default.aspx

*Michaels Arts and Crafts: check out our local stores kids crafts programs here.  https://classes.michaels.com/OnlineClasses/control/dateView?storeId=1047&zipCode=28607

*BRAHM: (Blowing Rock Art and History Museum) Doodlebug Club is an hour long class for preschool aged children on Tuesdays from 1-2pm. Projects concentrate on basic art skills and children are introduced to different art mediums. It’s a great way to introduce your child to art and meet other children and parents. Targeted for children aged 3-5. Doodlebug Club is $5/child. For additional information, contact Ethan Brooks-Livingston at 828-295-9099 ext 3004 or email ethan@blowingrockmuseum.org.

Last but not least, High Country Mom will be hosting a potluck for local families at Honey Bear Campground you will not want to miss!  It will be a great time to meet some other families and kids if you are new to town.  So save Sept. 28th at 4pm on your calendar and check back to High Country Mom soon for more information!

 

Family Camping

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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 spacious, clean, and staff is friendly. The forecast was calling for several days of rain during the stay so we were thankful for our check-in day of sunshine so we could get as much tarp coverage underway before the rain set in. Clearly being over-prepared runs in the family!

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There is A LOT to do in Damascus. The priority this trip was having quality family time. If we were able to get good weather, we had hopes to get some climbing done here. Due to a lot of rain, we narrowed our activities down to the last leg of the Creeper Trail, and Smokey the Bear’s birthday party (he turned 70 this year)!

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The Creeper Trail is VERY popular and can sometimes be really crowded. It is 17 miles of downhill beauty and perfect for kids.  We’ve found that the best way to take advantage of the Creeper Trail, while traveling with young children, is to put on about 5 miles up from Downtown Damascus at the Straight Branch parking area off of Hwy. 58. We put on early in the morning while the commercial shuttles are taking their first groups up to Whitetop Station to begin their 17 mile decent back to Damascus. By the time we are finishing the trail, at the downtown park, we have out-paced the first group from the top and practically have the trail to ourselves. And it’s the perfect distance for our 3 year old to ride at just under 5 miles. The choo-choo train and playground at the end of the ride are great incentives for her to finish as well. Since it is only ~5 miles, my husband just bikes back UP the trail to get the truck back (so we don’t have to pay for a shuttle) to pick us up. We didn’t think of it this time, but my 5 year old will be biking back up the trail with him on the next trip to really burn off some that energy. If you are needing a shuttle though, I suggest JC’s Outdoors. It is right off the Creeper trail at the end just as you enter Damascus.

We have been camping as a family since Ellie was in a playpen. We have developed our own little “bag of tricks” when it comes to camping with kids:

  •  Baby Wipes, and lots of them. (Nothing ground breaking here, but a real tragedy if you forget them)
  • Peanuts in the shell. Kids love them and it keeps their little hands busy while you are setting up the tent.
  • Chem Lights. I grew up with them as my Dad was in the military and we always had them on hand. They are great for kids at night and they don’t use batteries. They also make great lanterns that have to be “wound up” to be operable. Any light without batteries is great for kids.
  • Earthworms: You can buy them here in Boone in several places including Walmart. They will last for a few days in the tub if they stay cold. Great for fishing, worm races, measuring, wiggling. So on and so on.
  • GORP: An essential piece to all our adventures. This became a staple for my husband and I going through Outdoor Programs at ASU. Granola, Oats, Raisins, Peanuts. Extra bonus: M&M’s.
  • Ropes, and Bungee Cords: This keeps our 5 year old busy for FOREVER. You can make a swing, a bear trap, a zipline for stuffed animals, practice knot tying, etc. The possibilities are endless.

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Our favorite time of year for camping is right around the corner… FALL. I will post some more entries on a camping packing list, meal ideas, etc. with our trips to come!

 Have any tips or tricks of your own for camping with little ones? I would LOVE to hear them! Post a comment below!

Kids and Bikes

As my children have developed a passion for bike riding at an early age, I’ve been asked a few times what the secrets been to success. While I would love to give my husband and I some credit, or maybe my children rather, I really am convinced it comes down to introducing the right bike at the right time and getting out and using it as often as possible. While certainly no two children are the same, I do think there are a few key tips that have helped us get started and maybe can help you too:

-Strider Balance Bikes (http://www.striderbikes.com): Great friends of ours introduced us and we fell in LOVE. We’ve often said that the balance bike has been one of the greatest tools we’ve utilized as parents. It really is brilliant and simple… learn balance before proceeding to pedals and brakes. Once balance is learned all that’s needed is a little confidence to make the transition to pedals without ever having to introduce training wheels. We’ve been advocates of the Strider brand since they make the lightest balance bikes in their category (less than 7 lbs.) and have the lowest seat height for the youngest starting age. Kids as young as 18 months are learning to ride!              (NOTE: If you have a child that just stands and walks on the balance bike, adjust the seat height.  I see a lot of people struggle with that.  There is a “magic” seat height that they will sit down on.)

 

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This is our little Ellie on her balance bike at the Rocky Knob pump track. Photo courtesy of Boone Area Cyclists

-Keep it light: When transitioning to a pedal bike, we’ve found that the lighter weight bikes make it easier for the child to manage by themselves. After the Strider we transitioned our kids to a 12” Specialized Hotrock, and then the 16” Hotrock. While these might be more expensive than others on the market, they will still have great resell value after holding up to the abuse of young children. (NOTE: The advice we have been given is to keep them on a pedal brake until a 20″.  Both gears and hand brakes will be introduced then.)

-Carry your own weight:  This next tip really offers no clear benefit to a child, but rather sanity for the parent. From the beginning, we’ve had a “no carry” parenting policy. If they decided to take their bike on a walk, it’s been their responsibility to get it home. It may seem harsh but since that was the rule from the beginning they never new any different.

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-SNACKS: Just like anything else with kids, a good ride can be summed up by the quality of snacks and water readily available. Both of our kids have the children’s version of the Camelbak hydration backpack. They carry their own water and snacks and they LOVE it.

So….looking to get your little one excited about biking?? There are a couple great events coming up for the family you should check out. Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm in downtown Boone. (http://boonecyclovia.com ) We will be stationed at the High Country Recreation booth having relay races and obstacle courses if you want to come play!  Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm

Also coming soon is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Rocky Knob Park. It will be on Saturday, October 4th. More details will be coming as we get closer to the date!

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This was last years crew of kids from Take a Kid Mtn Biking Day. Photo courtesy of Boone Area Cyclists.

 

 

4th of July Ideas

It is hard to believe July 4th is this weekend!  Wow, summertime is flying by so quickly.  Thought I would share some of our weekend adventures we have planned.   We are going to miss a great event: West Jefferson’s Christmas in July.

July 3rd, Thursday “Plans”

We are going to have a relaxed day at Honey Bear Campground!  For $10 ($5 per kiddo) we can spend the entire day at Honey Bear and enjoy their fun activities.  Come on out and join us, we have room on the grill.

12:00 pm, Family Menchies treat

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1:00 pm to 3 pm, Water Tower Time at Honey Bear Campground

3 pm to 5 pm, Art in the Park at Honey Bear Campground

5:30 pm, Family Cook Out at Honey Bear Campground

Here are some recipes for a yummy July 4th!!

App Summer Festival also has some excellent events!

July 4th, Friday “Plans” -

Wake Up and Celebrate the 4th of July with Kiddos (activities, books and traditions)

11:00 am, Downtown Boone Parade 

(also going on: 11:00 am, Todd’s Parade, 11:00 am, Banner Elk 4th of July Parade)

12:00 pm, Watermelon and Cake at the Jones House

2:00 pm, Grill Smores’ at Valle Crucis Park and play in the River

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9:00 pm, Tweetsie Railroad Fireworks

(also going on: 5:00 pm, Bethel Blast – this event is FULL of FUN!!,  7:00 pm, Music in the Valle - a more relaxed venue, )

Saturday “Plans” -

8:00 am, Watauga Farmers Market

10:00 am, Honey Bear Campground Holiday Happenings

12:00 pm, Honey Bear Campground Parade (bring your bike / dress up in your favorite 4th attire and join in the fun)

2:00 pm, Blowing Rock Independence Day Parade (Climbing Tower and Bounce Obstacle Course actually starts at 11:00 am to 4:30 pm)

5:00 pm, Mountain Radio, Bluegrass Concert, Honey Bear Campground – Going to be a blast!

6:00 pm, Cool Summer Nights, Tweetsie Railroad

8:30 pm, Honey Bear Campground has two Great Movies – ET & Monsters inc.  Only $5 per car, show up at 6:00 pm, cook out on your grill and then enjoy the movie!  You can also buy smores and roast them on the open fires.  Such a great tradition!

9:30 pm, Blowing Rock Fireworks at the Blowing Rock Country Club

*You may also want to spend the afternoon at Westglow Resort beginning at 5:30 pm or Horn In The West or just found out about The Crestwood Resort & Spa – they are having a Low Country Boil, BBQ, Corn on the Cob, check it out

Whew!  I am excited and exhausted already!  I believe Sunday we will spend on the lawn of Moses Cone Manor with a family picnic!!

What are your family’s 4th of July plans or traditions?  We would love to hear from you!  Subscribe here to stay up to date with HC Mom!

Enjoy our amazing area and have fun with your family growing up on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

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Riverfest: Valle Crucis Park

This past weekend was the 14th annual Riverfest at Valle Crucis Park. It was our first time attending this event but will now be adding it to our list of annual festivities!  Typically, when people inform me of family festivals or grand openings it translates to me as AVOID that location on that day. That being said, Valle Crucis is an incredible host sight for an event. There is so much room to spread out that you never feel claustrophobic or worry about losing sight of your kids.

            The festival was filled with hands-on activities and information for both youth and adults about the benefits of keeping our rivers clean and healthy as a community. Presented by Watauga River Partners, it was great to see the wide variety of non-profit organizations and local businesses come together to teach and advocate on behalf of the natural resources we are blessed with in the High Country. In the hopes of raising my children to be passionate about the outdoors, it is important for me to then extend that passion to preserving it.

            Some favorite take-away moments included the children’s watermelon eating contest for children 12 and under.

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One of my favorite parts of this picture is the “I Love Mountains” temporary tattoo on his arm they gave him at the festival.

 On the other side of the park, River and Earth Adventures (www.raftcavehike.com) provided free tubes for those who wanted to float down the section of the river within the park. I became friends with the owner of the company (Grant Seldomridge) back when I worked with Appalachian State Outdoor Programs in my college years. He and his wife run a stellar business if you are looking for a guided adventure!

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Not sure what YOUR preferences are in a park, but Valle Crucis is at the top of my list.

Well, Valle Crucis and Price Park…

And Wildcat Lake…

And Rocky Knob.

If you haven’t discovered these places yet, I will be happy to introduce you in my future blog posts. I don’t know about you, but I was a little overcome when Summer Solstice came and went the other day. It serves as a reminder to utilize and make the most of our incredible summers and be outside as much as we possibly can!!!

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A special shout out to my awesome friend and local photographer Alicia Greene who took the amazing shots included in this post.   She specializes in outdoor/action photography and is AWESOME with kids!

Her website is aliciaverde.tumblr.com and her email is alicia.verde.photography@gmail.com if you want to contact her for a family session in your favorite outdoor place!

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“Real life is the good stuff, photographically and realistically. When I am given the opportunity to photograph families, I really love being able to find the real moments and bring those to the light. Watching kids navigate the world is one of the great gifts of adulthood. It is also rich to them. It adds richness to our lives. Photography doesn’t have to be complicated to be powerful or professional. My hope is to use my camera to find the real stuff in life and let others know it’s out there. I would love to have the chance to tell your real life story. ”  Alicia Greene

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 a group campsite at the New River State Park take-out and all got on the river the following day

.New River State Park Group Campsite

Between our three families, there were 10 children all under the age of 13. The group site worked out great because it provided A LOT of room for the kids to play and run around. (Group camping reservation has a minimum of 14 people and a maximum of 45 people) Which is awesome. They slept HARD that night but Ellie still needed to catch up on her sleep during the canoe ride down the river the next day.

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This was our first river trip in which our son, Caleb, would be paddling solo in his own kayak. He had attended roll clinics in a pool before but we knew the first time in moving water would be telling whether he would take a liking to the sport or not. The New River stretch from Zaloo’s to the New River State Park takeout is about a 5 mile stretch with nothing over class 1 rapids. It’s shallow clean water that is great for families. There are also other great stretches of the New River that are great for exploring too and outfitters that can provide all the gear and shuttle assistance you need.
Like anything else with young children, the key to success is a lot of snacks. There is a lot of relaxing and listening /watching wildlife and jumping in and out of the canoe for swim breaks. Caleb did great in his kayak but still needed to take breathers in the canoe and have snacks as well. In that case, we just used a line to attach the kayak to float behind the canoe.
On this stretch of river, we have found a great little lunch island just a bit up from the take-out.

 

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The kids get obsessed with this island because they (sadly) find lots of broken glass pieces from bottles that have been sanded down by the water.  They spend very little time eating and most time collecting their favorite glass pieces and convincing butterflies not to fly away from them.  We used the glass pieces from this last trip to contribute to a Fathers Day craft project.

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It was another great weekend spending time as a family! The next event we are looking forward is Riverfest being hosted in Valle Crucis from 11am-3pm this coming Saturday June 21st. Check out all the fun activities planned for this event on the HighCountryMom.com website!

Outfitters for New River float trips: Zaloo’s Canoes in Jefferson, NC; River Girl Fishing in Todd, NC. Checkout camping and river information on the New River State Park website!

The Mystery Behind Tweetsie and Moses Cone Manor

Our family loves Tweetsie and Moses Cone Manor.  Our first year at Tweetsie Railroad, we were in the Gift Shop and noticed they were selling the movies: Mandie and the Secret Tunnel,and Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure.  We decided to check them out on Amazon. Neat fact for kids of all ages, Mandie and the Secret Tunnel was filmed in part at Tweetsie Railroad and Moses Cone Manor.  What kid does not love looking for “secret tunnels?”  During June, July and August, you and your explorers can take a “behind the scenes” tour of the Manor!!! After you all watch the movies, let me know if a hike at Moses Cone or Trout Lake looks a little different.  It is excited to think you are walking in the same footsteps as Mandie did many years ago. Both movies are also Dove Approved.

Mystery Hill Giveaway

Mystifying visitors to the High Country since 1948 Mystery Hill features a fascinating collection of hands on activities related to Optical Illusions, Natural Phenomena, and Puzzles. See your friends grow and shrink before your eyes on the Mystery Platform, experience the “gravitational” pull of The Mystery House, Lose your shadow on the Shadow Wall, learn to fly on the Flying Mirror, stand inside a giant soap bubble at Bubblerama. Tickets also include free admission to the Native American Artifacts Museum and The Appalachian Heritage Museum housed in the 1903 home of the founder of Appalachian State University.

Open 7 days a week year round, rain or shine. Four miles from Blowing Rock on Hwy 321.

Now until May 31, 2014, a family of 4 can purchase a Family Season Pass for $25.  Click here for full details:  Mystery Hill Facebook Offer

HighCountryMom.com will be giving two lucky families a Season Pass.  Enter to win by signing up to receive our e-news.   We will draw our winners June 6, 2014.

Our family is excited to enjoy all the new science events Mystery Hill will be introducing in the 2014-2015 season.  Let them know HighCountryMom sent you.

Strawberry Pickin’ Time

strawberries It is Strawberry Pickin’ Time in the High Country.  There are numerous yummy places to start pickin.  We have taken our kids since they were 6 months old.  There is not anything any better than picking your own strawberries and taste testing along the way.

A friend shared one yummy place to try out this May, Howard’s Strawberries, 250 Crater Road, Harmony, NC!  Looks like they open their Strawberry Season next week!  Be sure to give them a call and I will post some pictures of our family trip soon!  Their number is 704.539.4099!

I am hopeful in the end, my strawberries will look like this(-:  strawberries2

Let us know if you have a “local” favorite.