52 Family Adventures Halfway-ish Point Update

 

So, um. I am bad at timely blogging.  But my family and I have had some amazing adventures this year! At my count, we’ve had 28 adventures together so far.  We’re 28 weeks into the year, so we’re right on track to have 52 amazing experiences before 2020. Life has been a bit insane. Some of has it good, like my publishing contract. Some of it has been stressful, like multiple hospital says for my kiddos. But through it all, we’ve stayed positive and we’ve had a lot of fun.

I love that homeschooling has allowed us the freedom to do this. Our hands-0n approach t0 life and learning not only makes education fun, it makes it impactful as well. And the time we spend together is precious! We’ve seen and done so much. I am so happy we decided to make adventure a priority in 2019.

Here’s a fast rundown of our adventures so far this year. These are in no particular order.

#1- A bear program in a National Park (Shenandoah in VA)

#2- The Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC

#3- Fishing at the KOA in Harriosnburg, VA

 

#4 Lake Gaston, VA

 

#5- Meeting a hungry groundhog while exploring Gatlinburg, TN

#6 Playing with goats and alpacas in Durham, NC

 

#7 Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Gatlinburg, TN

 

#8 Learning about history in Shenandoah National Park, VA

 

#9 Hiking Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park, Va

 

#10 Exploring the wilderness near Harrisonburg, VA

 

#11 Embracing nature at The State Arboretum of Virginia

 

#12- Taking in the Great Smoky Mountains (and dancing, of course)

 

#13 Hiking to High Knob Tower in WV

 

#14 Climbing Stony Man in Shenandoah National Park

#15 – Dance nationals in Pigeon Forge, TN. And coming home a National Champion!

 

#16 Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Or as my six-year-old called it, the “Application Trail.”

#17 Finding our own private waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, VA.

 

#18 Hiking Mary’s Rock in Shenandoah National Park

 

#19 Exploring Durant Nature Preserve in Raleigh, NC

 

#20 Mountain Coaster in Pigeon Forge, TN

#21 Exploring Yate’s Mill Park in Raleigh, NC

 

#22 Loving Science at The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

 

#23 Meeting author Adam Rubin at Page 158 books in Wake Forest, NC

#24 Hiking in Raleigh, NC

 

#25 Trying out a drama class in Raleigh, NC

#27 Nature journaling  in Wendell, NC

 

#28 Exploring Luray Caverns in Luray, VA

Thanks for reading! I plan on giving a more detailed account of our time in Shenandoah National Park soon.

How is your year going? Has it been full of adventure?

 

52 Family Adventures- Week One

Our First Week of 2019

If I am going to be completely honest, our first family adventure of 2019 almost didn’t happen.

I had plans to visit a specific nature center Thursday or Friday. But it was raining Thursday and the forecast for the weekend was great. I decided to rearrange our plans to go on our adventure on Sunday. But then, on Friday I woke up with a cold. I spend Friday and Saturday feeling pretty awful. My throat felt like someone shoved a wire brush down it. My nose was clogged, and my head throbbed with every movement. But Sunday morning, I woke up and felt better.

But my six year old didn’t. My poor youngest son started feeling sick on Saturday and was not doing well Sunday. I thought about skipping this week. Or going on two adventures next week to make up for it. But here’s the thing. There will always be obstacles in the way of my goals. Skipping the first week was no way to start my challenge. Even if the whole family could not go, I knew I needed to start this challenge off right.

So I made the choice to visit a nature preserve closer to home with the older two kids. It’s been on my to-do list forever. And I am so glad we did!

Turnipseed Nature Preserve is beautiful! The 265 acre preserve is located in Wendell, NC, about 25 minutes from Raleigh. There are a few different trail options, but we took the Boulder Trail.

A sign at the beginning of the trail showed us how to spot signs of the wildlife that lives nearby. While we saw a few birds and squirrels, that was it for spotting wildlife. But we did see lots of beaver lodges and dams! The kids were so excited! Once, years ago, a friend of mine who works at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA gave us a private viewing of some animals, including a beaver. The kids loved the beaver and have continued to think that beavers are pretty cool animals ever since.

After observing the lodges and dams, we decided that we’d dedicate some time learning about beavers this week.

 

Even though our adventure was not what we planned, we had a great time. The kids are so excited to learn more about beavers, and they can’t wait to come back with their dad and little brother.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!

 

I am already working on more free printables for hiking and learning about animals! If you’re interested in getting your hands on these free printables, be sure to follow my blog!

 

Have you started your own adventuring for 2019? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

Preparing for 52 Weeks of Adventure

Planning Can be Overwhelming!

When I decided to to embark on 52 adventures with my kids this year, I wondered if it was too much. It’s hard to plan so many day trips, hikes, road trips etc. Even though I was overwhelmed, I knew that I really wanted this- for my kids and for myself. I started googling and found so many resources that have helped me  get started on my new journey. I’ve heard from some of you on social media. A few of you have expressed an interest in trying your own 52 Weeks of Adventure challenge! I am sharing some of my resources. Hopefully, they will inspire you!

 

 

When in Your State / Only in Your State

When in Your State has listings for each of the 50 US states. There are categories for everything from gardens, to waterfalls, to “haunted” places. Only in Your State has a very similar set up. Thse are great not only for finding fun places to visit nearby, but also for seeking out adventures when  you’re on a a road trip.

Find a Park

The National Parks Service website will help you find a park, trail, battlefield, trail, or memorial near you! Better yet, if you have a fourth grader, all National Parks are free with the Every Kid in a Park program!

Museums USA

Museums USA has a database of museums in every state! There are subheadings for Zoos, Nature Centers, Planetariums, and more!

Hiking

US News lists their pick for the best hike in every state! Thrillist has their own list of the best hikes in each US state. Backpacker has a list with multiple hikes in each state.

Macaroni Kid

Macaroni Kid has listings for several cities. Each area is covered by a different publisher, so content varies from city to city. Many areas have great coverage and are full of info on day trips, local parks, events, and more!

January Adventure Planner

I have created a fun, free printable for anyone who signs up for my email list before 1/5/2019. It will help you plan your first month of adventures!

Sign up for my mailing list here for your free printable! Be sure to check your spam folders. It may take up to 24 hours for your free printable to arrive.

Do you have any resources you like to use to plan your roadschooling/adventures? Let me know about them in the comments!

A Year of Family Adventures

 

The World is Our Classroom

As a homeschooling mom, I love to take my kids on adventures. We go on lots of day hikes. If we get the opportunity, we will hop in the car for a road trip or board an airplane for far-away destinations. We spend many days in museums, at festivals, or attending local performances. Our homeschool motto is “the world is our classroom.” We try very hard to make sure that we live by that idea.

We’d love to roadschool or worldschool full time, but it’s not possible at this point for our family. We have medically complicated kids and need to be near a home base regularly to meet their medical needs. We’ve made it a point to be sure that these medical complications don’t limit their experiences.

In 2018, we worked hard to expand our horizons and explore the world as much as possible.

 

 

We flew to Seattle twice. Our road trips took us to eight states. Our biggest trip of the year was my favorite to date; we flew to Saint Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Not all of our trips were big, of course. We visited the Botanical Gardens at Duke University, many local museums, and visited the Jamestown Settlement to learn about colonial history.

Adventure as a Way of Life

I truly believe that these experiences are vital to the growth and development of my kids. Children who spend time in nature will learn to value our planet. If kids see the world beyond their front door, they will understand diverse cultures and learn to respect then. Kids who are exposed to the arts will appreciate not only the beauty behind art, but the importance of art in our culture. Exposure to museums, zoos, and aquariums can bring science and history off of the page. My kids learn more from these experiences than they do from textbooks.

My Challenge for 2019

This year, my family will have fifty-two adventures. I will post an adventure every Sunday evening at 52familyadventures.com or you can just check out the home page of stepheniepeterson.com to find the newest posts. For the purpose of my challenge, an adventure can be as simple as a hike in the next town, or as grand as a trip to France. I mean, I don’t currently have plans to go to France this year, but who knows! If I did fly to France, I could use a trip to the Eiffel Tower as one adventure and exploring Norte-Dame another adventure. Because of this, though I will post one adventure a week, they might not be chronological. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more frequent updates. I’ll be posting with the hashtag #52familyadventures so be sure to follow the hashtag too!

Do you want more adventure in your life? I’ll be posting tips, printables, and ideas to help you experience adventure with your family! I hope you’ll follow along as we dedicate 2019 to adventure!

 

My Texas Book Tour. Alone. With THREE Kids- or- The Diary of a Crazed Author

crazed

It’s been awhile since I posted last.

Because I have been in recovery, y’all.

My tour to Texas was amazing. I met so many wonderful people, saw old friends, made connections and met sweet young fans. I loved it.

But.

I went alone. With my three kids.

I knew this going into it.

I’ve traveled alone with my kids before. But this was hard. This made me question my sanity.

The first day of travel from NC to TX went fairly well. The kids were excited. They were happy. They joked. They laughed. They happily listened to their audio books. The older two journaled about what they saw. We hit no traffic. We flew from state to state.

12814147_10207526391613694_3903078495932968705_n

 

They absolutely loved stopping at each state line to pose for a picture.

12802968_10207526957107831_7698521981301377745_n

 

12814456_10207528099296385_7956873893059640881_n

In all honesty, it was fun. We were all truly enjoying ourselves.

We stopped for dinner that night in Birmingham, Alabama. The kids were chomping down their food when I heard thunder. I wasn’t worried. I spent six years living in Texas. I’ve been through storms. I was sure we’d be back on the road soon. Then the rain came down in sheets. I still didn’t worry. Surely, the storm would pass and we’d get back on the road soon. Then I checked the weather app on my phone. I found out that we were in the center of a severe thunder storm with a tornado watch and it would be moving towards Louisiana along the same path we would be taking. The storm worsened as we ate and when we finished eating, I found a hotel nearby and we called it a night. Slightly defeated, I went to bed vowing to get up early to make up for lost time.

Which of course didn’t happen. The kids were not looking forward to another day on the road and my oldest kind of lost it. He wanted to stay in bed. Then he did not want to eat breakfast. Then he didn’t want to leave the hotel dining area to get in the car. When all the tears and tantrums stopped, we were about an hour behind schedule.

Determined not to let it upset me, I sang silly songs with the kids. I played a new audio book. I pointed out interesting landmarks as we drove. We entered Mississippi early in the day.

Soon we were closing in on the Mississippi River and the Louisiana border. The kids were gleefully trying to spell Mississippi in the back seat. A sign indicated we would be to the border in about 20 minutes.

Then it happened. 

My map app chirped at me that my ETA was four hours later than before. Confused, I thought I had missed a turn. Just then, the traffic stopped. Not slowed. Stopped. We were stopped on the freeway. I checked the app and saw that the traffic was stopped for about five miles.

We stopped behind a truck load of livestock. Very stinky livestock.

We waited. The kids started to get fussy. My daughter cried about the smell.

(I wanted to cry about the smell, but I am a grown-up and I am not supposed to cry about such things.) 

After about an hour my three year old began to scream,

I…have…to…POOP!!!”

Over and over again.

He’s well potty trained. I did not bring diapers.

I looked around me, cursing the landscape for not providing trees to poop behind.

More screaming. For another TWO HOURS.

My map app chirped that I could save time if I got off the highway.

The exit was ahead about 1000 feet. Maybe more. I am a terrible at judging distance. I’m a writer, okay? It’s not my thing.

I drove on the freaking shoulder, desperate to get off the highway and to a a toilet.

I don’t do that normally. Usually, I silently curse the people who think they can create their own lane on the road by driving on grass. But I did it. And I am not sorry.

So I get off the highway and realize that there’s not a toilet in sight. There’s nothing in sight. In fact, I start to worry that my map app has tricked me into a slow death in backwoods Mississippi, because this is the road it took me on:

12794418_10207533561552938_943470998001794283_n

For three miles, I drove down this dirt road, fearfully wondering what I’d gotten myself into.

After what felt like hours, the dirt road intersected with a real road and took me back to the highway. And a gas station. With a toilet.

And you know what happened?

My son refused to poop.

He “didn’t like” the toilet, so he would not go.

After bashing my head into a wall repeatedly,(*not really*), I got gas, got back on the road, and soon found myself in Louisiana.

We didn’t stop for a picture.

We made it to the Texas border before sunset and made it to Dallas before bedtime.

My eye may or may not have been twitching when we got there.

12801401_10207534673660740_7644021660713681250_n

(Yes, we stopped at the TX border. My three year old still had to poop. He didn’t like the toilet in TX either.) 

We had a great time in Texas. The tour was wonderful, really. I had so much fun meeting young fans and hearing what they had to say about my book. One sweet little girl came up to me, hugging her copy of my book and told me it was her favorite book ever. It made my day week year.

I loved the actual tour part of the trip. I can’t express fully how much I love these speaking engagements.

We also saw so many great friends and got to visit some of our favorite parts of Dallas.

 

12809610_10207562380593396_7937919917723298610_n

The drive back was filled with more storms, but otherwise went okay.

Plus, we got to stop in Bucksnort, TN. Don’t be too jealous.

12799360_10207587193013691_8566267461748269613_n

(In all seriousness, Bucksnort seemed like a nice little town, but what is with that name?!) 

We made it safely back home to North Carolina and we were all relieved.

12802859_10207589771918162_7688038041671391032_n

And here’s the part that makes me question my sanity:

I can’t wait to do it again.