Friday, October 24, 2014

Stone Mtn Spookley Fun

Since we were back from camping and Hubby had to work today, I decided to take the kids to Stone Mountain to enjoy their fall Pumpkin Fest activities before they closed for the season.  The theme of this year was Spookley the Square Pumpkin.  We love that book and the kids had a lot of fun doing the Spookley activities!

 Making it through the maze...

 Coloring our own Spookley pumpkins and learning that it is fun to be different!

 Scarecrow Sister and Brother

 Meeting Spookley! So fun!  We got to participate in Spookley's Pumpkin Parade Dance Party too! I carried a pumpkin puppet and the kids were the arms.  I loved the idea and the kids had fun participating!

 We also ran into friends at the park, which always makes the day more fun :)
 Sister's first time climbing the rock wall...she finally weighed enough.  She did great!
 All 4 climbing together...doing an awesome job!
 The boys making it to the top!
 Sweet girl waiting on the big kids :)
 The girls getting ready to climb.

It was a great day.  We got to visit with my MIL, renew our season passes, play putt putt, watch some fun shows, eat a picnic lunch, complete a pumpkin scavenger hunt,  and so much more! I always love celebrating the seasons at the Park.  Before we know it Christmas will be here, they were hanging more of the lights today!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cloudland Canyon #unplugged

Our family just returned from probably our favorite camping trip we have ever taken.  It worked out this year that Hubby was able to take an extra day off during our school fall break.  We were looking at places to camp, since we love the outdoors this time of year, and remembered someone mentioning Cloudland Canyon near Chattanooga.  Since we were going from Sunday- Thursday it worked out that we were able to get a spot, we have heard it is much harder on the weekends in the fall!  Hubby's wonderful parents passed the camper to us (they had it Friday - Sunday) and we were off after church for a fabulous adventure!

The first step was to leave ALL technology at home...all, as in my kindle, laptop, and ipad.  Only my phone made the trip.  Our goal was to unplug and spend some time in the word and nature with the kiddos. We focused on morning devotions, hiking in the amazing scenery, and spending time playing and laughing together.
 We stayed in the East Rim campground at Cloudland was perfect for the kids to ride bikes, play on the playground, and for the whole family to jump on the hiking trails.  We picked a different trail to explore each day and the boys even squeezed in an extra one one afternoon :)
 Home sweet home...
 The kids got straight to work, ha!

Trail #1 - Our trip to the waterfalls.  This was my favorite trail, even with the 1200 steps.  It was beautiful! (and a workout :)

The best family picture we could get on the trail...the camera was propped on a rock sticking out of the canyon wall!
Cherokee falls... I loved how close we could get to this waterfall.  We could actually hear it from our campsite.  The another waterfall was Hemlock falls closer to the bottom of the canyon...more steps, but another beautiful view!

These pictures are on the Overlook trail.  The best view of the canyon walls and the trees changing colors.  We followed the trail a couple of miles to the Bear Creek trail, but we got a surprise phone call that my Dad was close and we were able to have lunch together...yay! 

 The boys spent one afternoon hiking the Sitton's Gulch Trail.  It took them 3 hours (and another 1200 steps), but they loved every minute.  I was impressed that were able to keep going!

The next day we opted to hike the 3 miles around the West Rim of the canyon.  There were some great overlook places and a wooded trail that lead us beside a stream and wooded area.

 My sweet boy and I got matching sweatshirts.  We had fun being twins!
 Our last campfire we asked the kids to gather sticks (like we did every night)...I guess they didn't want to hunt too long tonight, ha!
 Sister got her new raccoon "Bo Bo" to help her remember the trip!
Last campfire...still full of smiles and laughter.  We played games, prayed together, and reminiscent
about our favorites from the week.  We were extremely blessed to have this time to renew, refresh, and unplug!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Education Station WDW

Our family has always looked for opportunities to learn while we are having fun, but since we have been homeschooling I feel like I have been more aware of these circumstances.  Our family found lots of great educational activities at WDW.  Here are a few of our favorites if you are planning a trip and want to add in some school time :)

(1) Wildlife Passport Books at Animal Kingdom- There is a "motto", hand signal, and fun stations all over the property.  The kids moved around to certain booths and earned badges (stickers) for their books.  We definitely could not have finished in a day, so they are something you could use on multiple trips. The kids learned about different animals, countries and met employees who enjoyed interacting with them on their level.

(2) Epcot alone could count in this category, but some of our favorites there included:

Mission Space (Brother is studying Astronomy this year and thought this was AWESOME! We road it a lot, ha!) 
Innoventions- We didn't get to spend much time there (they close earlier than the rest of the park) , but I love the hands on experiences the kids get. 
World Showcase / KidCot Fun Stops-  The countries can be a little overwhelming, so I loved the option of finding the kidstations in each country.  We had to ask where a few were (some are pretty well hidden), but the kids thought of it as a fun scavenger hunt. We made sure to get a stamp from each country and the employees interacted well with the kids telling them about each area. I look forward to going again one day and spending even more time in each country.

(3) Before we left for WDW Brother read 2 different books on the life and childhood of Walt Disney.  He also completed a project focused on what he learned.   He couldn't wait to hear more about him at WDW.  While we were at Hollywood Studios we made sure to visit the One Man's Dream Exhibit.  Brother thought it was outstanding.  We walked around the small museum and then watched a video on his life and the beginning of the Disney enterprise. I loved that the experience wrapped up his study for the last few weeks.

(4) Brother and I also read the first 2 books in the Kingdom Keeper Series this summer.  We both enjoyed them and the trip gave us the opportunity to discuss some of the things we read.

(5) Hall of Presidents - Magic Kingdom.  This actually turned out to be one of Brother's favorite things.  He is a big non-fiction, American history reader (yep, he said that not me, ha!) and being able to "see" the presidents was awesome!  (It was also a perfect rainy day activity.)

(6) Animation Studio - Hollywood Studios  We had a lot of fun in this area at Hollywood Studios.  We had actually heard there is a class you can take, but the line on our day was super long (probably bc it was Saturday).  They have tons of neat art activities though and characters to see too! 

I am sure there are more opportunities that I am not remembering, but I love how many things we were able to discuss while we were there. We actually didn't go on our trip with school in mind.  We wanted the kids to relax, enjoy, and spend quality time together. No school books were packed, but I loved that we could continue learning with the activities around us! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Last, but not least

Hollywood Studios was on our schedule for our last day in the park.  We actually checked out that morning and planned on driving part of the way once we left that evening.  It worked out well and we were all able to enjoy our last day fully.  We started the morning heading straight to Rock-n-Roller coaster.  It was the only ride Sister was too short for, she was a little said, but enjoyed watching all the people's photos while she waited.  We did the ride swap, so we didn't have to wait in line any longer than necessary.  Brother LOVED it and decided it was his favorite from the whole trip.  (It was pretty awesome!)

We knew we had a pretty early lunch reservation, so we squeezed in a couple more fast passes...Star Tours for Brother and I, while Hubby and Sister checked out the Disney Jr. show.  Than we got educated at One Man's Dream and beat each other at Toy Story Mania before we hurried over to not miss our meal at Hollywood and Vine.  It was a fun environment, but one my kids might be too big for next time.  They loved the characters, but I could tell it was more of a younger kid environment.   We don't watch Disney Jr much, so although they knew the characters, I wouldn't say they were their favorites :)

Jake and the Neverland Pirates-
Sophia the First-
Doc McStuffins-
Handy Manny-
One of our favorite rides was the Backlot Tour, the kids enjoyed seeing "behind the scenes" and we got off the ride just in time to see the car stunt show behind it.
We also enjoyed catching the live Beauty & the Beast show and getting everyone on Tower of Terror...even Sister enjoyed it.  Right before we got on a little boy whispered to them "you guys are lucky, you got front row!" ha! 
Flash & Mr. Incredible- The animation studio was another favorite area.  There was so much to see and do.  We were hoping to get into one of the classes, but the line was crazy!

One of my favorite photos from the trip (photo bombed by a green army man, ha!)  Thank you for MANY amazing memories Disney.  We are looking forward to coming again! (someday :)