Archive for the ‘ Trips We’ve Taken ’ Category

Fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains (VA)

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

We had two weeks of school and then almost immediately put things on hold to go to a timeshare (thank you, Grams!!!!) with our homeschool friends.  We do lots with this wonderful, inspiring family. The kids all had fun together and I can’t tell you how amazing it is to spend countless hours talking about homeschooling, good books, our past, the news… and just about anything that comes to mind!

This timeshare was nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The mountains really do look blue there, don’t you think?!

The deers were so docile there that they would come right up to the door and follow you around outside!  The kids loved that.

 They had so many great programs available. We went to a campfire and listened to a storyteller tell tales about Appalachia. We also went to a show about the animals of Appalachia. The woman had some really great stories to tell us. The snake below is a hog-nosed snake, in case you’re wondering!

The kids spent a lot of time just playing outside.  ED learned to roller skate (well) for the first time. I strapped on some roller blades too (that I got at a thrift shop a couple of years ago) and had a lot of fun rolling around on the roads! ED and I had a lot of “races,” but wouldn’t you know, she won every single time! There she goes…

LD and K and DD and C played an elaborate game about dragons. It went on for days and they created dragon’s nests, food storage areas, playgrounds and all kinds of things!  Their creativity was really fun to watch.  The kids have such great imaginations.

One morning, ED and I left the other kids with Ms. J and headed off to a petting zoo. I don’t get to take the kids out individually very often and we had a really lovely morning together.


Do you know those projects the kids beg you to do and you put off and put off??  Well, I also tossed in my sewing machine to help the girls make stuffed animals while we were away. I did the sewing on the machine, but the girls helped with various steps along the way (cutting out the patterns and materials, stuffing them, sewing on the eyes).  K sewed the entire face on her kitty. ED discovered her new felt puppy sticks to trees!

The kids absolutely loved the adventure ropes course and rock climbing wall.

LD decided the wall wasn’t challenging enough and said he wanted to climb up it without using his feet! He got a fair way up the wall before he had to plant his toes on the rock! The girls loved the rock climbing as well. They all got to the top and hit the buzzer.  The also gave the bungee trampoline a try. That’s LD flipping round and round.

The absolutely best part of the trip — was just spending time together with our friends. I came home incredibly motivated and inspired — and can’t wait to show you what I did in our homeschool room after a whole lot of conversations with my friend.  I’m out of time — so I’ll share that tomorrow.

Oh–and we are back in school now… we’re doing some basic review work as we get back into the swing of things.


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Garden of the Gods – Manitou Cliff Dwellings (Colorado Springs)

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

We love traveling and really try to the make the most of any trip we take.  As I mentioned several posts ago, Hubby’s cousin got married up in the mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado.  After the wedding, we stayed with Hubby’s sister (husband and son) who live in Colorado Springs.  Joined by his other sister (husband and 2 kids) and Hubby’s parents, it made for a lot of kids, a lot of chaos and a lot of reasons to get out of the house to see things!! We hit both the Garden of the Gods and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings on the same day.

Garden of the Gods: In the late 1800s, Charles Elliot Perkins owned about 480 acres including a portion of the Garden of the Gods. Upon his death in 1909, his family donated this land to the city of Colorado Springs on the condition that it would be a public park.  The city of Colorado Springs additional surrounding land and the park is now over 1,300 acres. It is free to visit.

It really is a beautiful park!

On our way into the park, we saw bighorn sheep. The kids were pretty excited about that!

We spent a LOT of time wandering among the red rocks and taking family photos!  I’m not going to make you sit through the dozens of pictures of the kids, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents (whew, right?!)… But overall, we loved the park!

The kids can’t wait for the day that they can do some rock climbing. It is allowed in the park, but proper equipment and a permit is required.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings: Since we didn’t have time on this trip to head down to Mesa Verde (in southwest Colorado), we had to be content with a visit to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.

In the early 1900s, the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings were relocated to Manitou Springs as a museum and tourist attraction. The stones were taken from a collapsed site in southwest Colorado.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed exploring the dwellings and loved climbing up the ladders and through the various windows.

There was a museum and large gift store on the premises as well.  All of us adults traded off watching the kids and spent quite a bit of time enjoying the museum.

The kids were fascinated by the papoose. Apparently, because babies spent so much strapped onto their Mother’s backs, many people wound up with permanent misshapen skulls. The babies heads were often strapped down to prevent them from bouncing around and the result was the deformed skull you see below:

So, that’s about it on our trip out to Colorado! If you’re interested I wrote posts on

Next week I’ll be sharing some of the things we did for our first week or so back to homeschool.

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Olympic Training Center and Ghost Town Museum — Colorado Springs

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I have been super busy since we returned from our trip, but I’m going to wrap up our trip in the next post or two.  Hubby’s sister and family lives in Colorado Springs and we spent about a week with them.  We had a lot of fun visiting some of the sites in that area.

Olympic Training Center: One afternoon we visited the Olympic Training Center and took the tour of the facilities.

Before the tour began the kids tried out some of the equipment — the barbells, rowing machine, bikes, etc.

There was also a display area with photos, etc. We adults spent a lot of time reading through things while the kids tried their best to do the long jump (the record — more than 8 meters or over 29 feet, which was marked out on the floor).

The tour let us take a look at some of facilities — such as the men’s gymnastics training area (part of it, at least) and the weight-training area. Since athletes have to be at least 16 to train at the Olympic Training Center, most female gymnastics (who typically are younger than the male gymnasts when they compete at the Olympics) train elsewhere.  Male gymnasts are typically older 20-25, so many of them train in Colorado.

Ghost Town Museum: This is an indoor museum, so it was perfect on one of the rainy afternoons.  There are store-front replicas of an old gold mining town.  There are lots of hands-on things for the kids to do.

They had an amazing collection of old artifacts from the late 1800s. Each room had different tools, books, clothes, furniture and so forth.

I spent a lot of time looking at the old-time dentist drill. It’s in the picture below on the right. Could you imagine your dentist using a foot pedal to drill your teeth? Ugh!!

At the end, you could pan for gold. All the kids found little flakes of gold to take home:



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Renaissance Festival – Fun Family Day (Maryland Season Opens Soon)

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Have you ever been to a Renaissance Festival?  We went to one in Colorado a couple weeks ago and there’s one starting up in Maryland next weekend (details at the bottom of this post).

I’ve always heard about Colorado’s Renaissance Festival, but never made it there. It was a lot of fun to go with the family!  Lots and lots of people were dressed up in costume and it was a really festive atmosphere. Even the front gate is appealing, don’t you think?

There was so much to see and do… slides and rides for the kids, actors who performed right on the streets, various shows, tournaments, and lots of ware for sales…

One of our favorite performances was the fire-eater.  He really wowed the kids (and adults!) with his amazing skills. And he was really funny too!

We all enjoyed the huge jousting production at the end of the day. The tournament didn’t end well for the poor knights on both sides, but was certainly entertaining for the crowd!

Hubby suggested I use this title… “Renaissance Festival, Where Kids Learn the Origins of Capitalism” because every performer expected tips, every ride required a few dollars and there were lots of (cute stuff, granted) for sale. I nixed the title, but it did come as a bit of a surprise how much we had to spend even after paying the entrance fee. As long as you know that up front, it really was a terrific day and we all had a wonderful time.

Maryland, Renaissance Festival:

We were there in Colorado on the closing day, but if you live on the east coast there is a Renaissance Festival in Maryland opening August 24/25 and running through October. Tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 19th. More details at their website:


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Arches National Park — A Must See for Families!

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

When we arrived in Colorado, we had a couple of days before we had to be at the family wedding. Looking at the map, we decided to do a quick road trip to Arches National Park in Utah.  We set off through the mountains, enjoying the change in landscape from the east coast woods.  At one stop, there was a prairie dog town — which the kids just loved!!

We decided to stop at Glenwood Hot Springs on our way toward Arches in Utah.  We swam for several hours before piling the kids back in the car and heading to Grand Junction, CO. The kids thought it was pretty neat to swim in the hot springs!

The next morning the terrain changed pretty dramatically as we drove into Utah…

 It was hot at Arches National Park, but the kids did an amazing job hiking and climbing around all day!

Both DD and I took hundreds of pictures! This evening while I was going through the pictures, ED said mournfully, “I wish we could go back to Arches.”

All too soon, the sun was setting and it was time to head out… and on to our next adventure!


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