Top 5 Things to Do In Shelby, NC

If you’re within a few hour drive of Shelby, NC here’s a list of 5 attractions that I think will make for a great day trip.  Call it a day-cation if you like.  This list of the Top 5 Things to Do in Shelby, NC is brought to you by MarburgerChryslerJeepDodgeRam.com which just so happens to be located in Shelby.

Banjo

  • 1. Earl Scruggs Center – Music & Stories From the American South

If you don’t know who Earl Scruggs is, I’m not sure we can be friends. I’m kidding…kind of.  The late Earl Scruggs pioneered the banjo picking method that made bluegrass what it is today.  His hometown was Shelby, NC so it’s fitting that’s where this center is found.  They have a very affordable exhibit and they offer free passes to all active military and veterans.  Not only do they have the exhibit open year round but they also offer music camps for kids and adults, coffee with the curator, affordable concerts from local artists, and so much more.  Check out EarlScruggsCenter.org for all the details.

 

Merry Go Round Festival

  • 2. Foothills Merry Go Round Festival

Okay, so a trip to the park might not be worth an hour drive to get to but I think their Foothills Merry Go Round Festival is!  It’s April 27th-28th this year (2019) but this will be their 22nd year hosting it so I’m sure they’ll have many more to come.  They have rides and attractions and it’s only $8 per person for the day.  Everything will be included except for the food.  I’ve never been to a festival that had the rides included in the ticket price.  It sounds like a lot of fun!  Visit CityofShelby.com for more details.

 

Drive In Theater

  • 3. Sunset Drive In Theatre

This drive-in theatre will bring back memories of days gone by while providing a great and affordable evening out with the family today.  Well, not today actually, it doesn’t open for the season until April.  Mark your calendars though because this is one fun outing that you’ll want to have on your to-do list.  It’s only $12 for a car and while they have reasonably priced concessions, you’re even allowed to bring in outside food!  What a deal!  Visit SunsetDriveinTheatre.com for more information. (Note, I’m sure it doesn’t matter to anyone but the picture above is a stock photo and isn’t of the Sunset Drive in Theatre.  I just went with this instead of getting permission to use theirs while they’re on their off season)

 

Bird's Eye Balloon Rides

  • 4. Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides

I did get permission to use this photo from Bird’s-Eye Balloon so if you go there this is what the balloon you will ride on will look like.  When I contacted them they were very friendly!  They mentioned that this time of year is great for proposals and they haven’t had anyone say no to a proposal yet.  I’m just throwing that out there in case any of you are looking to pop the question.  I would love to go on a hot air balloon ride one day!  My dear husband is afraid of heights so I’m waiting till my kids are a little older to go with me.  If you’re in Shelby and have always dreamed of a hot air balloon ride then you should definitely stroll by Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides.  You can find out all the details about a ride at BirdsEyeBalloonRides.com.

 

Cleveland County Arts Council

5. Cleveland County Arts Council

If you love art then I think the Cleveland County Arts Council would make a good stop for you.  They have beautiful art to look at, a gift shop to take some home with you, music and film festivals, art classes for kids and adults, and even art camps.  They have a lot of events on their calendar so if art interests you, visit CAArtsCouncil.org for more information.

There you have it, those are my top picks for a day trip to Shelby, NC.  If I left off anything you think I should have included please let me know in the comments.

Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond, Va

Maybe it’s the rain but I’ve been day dreaming of visiting another nearby town and spending the day there.  It’s certainly easier than a full scale vacation and it’s a great way to learn about the surrounding area.  If you live within driving distance of Richmond, Va I hope you’ll enjoy my recommendations.  This Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond, Va post is brought to you by a Richmond business, PearsonChryslerJeepOnline.com.

RVA Trolley Tours

  • 1. RVA Historic Trolley Tour

If you know me, you know my love of Mister Rogers.  It’s true.  There is a deep love I have for that precious man and the work he left behind.  Loving him, means loving Speedy Delivery and all things trolley related.  I’ve watched his trolley tour episode with my kids over and over.  I would love to ride a trolley some day and a trolley tour seems like a great way to do just that.  You get to see a trolley up close and see the Richmond area at the same time.  The RVA Historic tours website boasts, “This two-hour historic tour will give you a great overview of the history of Richmond! See and learn about the State Capitol, St. John’s Church, Libby Hill, Monument Ave, James River, and much more!”  To learn more visit RVATrolley.biz.

  • 2. Food Tours

How come this isn’t a thing where I live?  This should be a thing everywhere!  You can pay one price and enjoy a 3 hour food tour of the best eateries in the area.  I couldn’t pick just one to share because they all sounded so good.  Here are your three food tour options straight from their website:

-Dive into Church Hill, Richmond’s oldest neighborhood! Get a taste of the barbecue, baked goods, and everything else that makes Church Hill a food powerhouse, while uncovering Richmond’s origin story in this must-visit neighborhood.

-Explore Carytown from an insider’s perspective as you enjoy food and snacks from 5-6 different restaurants, cafes, and shops and learn from our expert guides about the fun and quirky history of Richmond’s most exciting neighborhood.

-Discover Richmond’s hip Arts District! Savor mouth-watering food and snacks from local restaurants and bakeries, meet the people behind these culinary destinations, and hear the stories of one of Richmond’s defining neighborhoods.

I really don’t know which one I would pick because they all sound so good!  To find more information visit RiverCityFoodTours.com.

  • 3. Museums

Last but certainly not least, museums.  Richmond boasts of museum after museum after museum!  There is The Valentine, the American Civil War Museum-White House of the Confederacy, The American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar, Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives, Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Children’s Museum of Richmond (two locations), Chimborazo Medical Museum, Edgar Allen Poe Museum, Virginia Holocaust Museum, and so many more!  To see all the museums that Richmond has to offer visit VisitRichmondVA.com.

There you have it!  Those are the three things I would do if I had a spare day or two in Richmond, Va.  I would take a trolley tour, eat a lot of good food, and expand my mind with museum after museum.  If you love Richmond and have something to add to my list please feel free to leave a comment below.

How to Keep Kids Happy on a Road Trip

How to Keep Kids Happy on Road Trips

  

Wear comfy clothes, pack back up clothes just in case of a water spill or some unforeseen emergency.

     

  • 4. Music.

Let them have a turn choosing music.  (On that note, you may want to see my Top Road Trip Tunes)  Sing with them.  Dance.  Let yourself have fun, which brings me to my next point.

  • 5. Be Silly.

Wear silly glasses and act like it’s normal when another car sees you.  Enjoy being with your kids.  Be that mom or dad that seems more like a babysitter instead of a parent.  That’s harder than ever to do on a trip but it’s that much more important to do then.  If you’re having a good time then they’ll have a good time.  You can control your attitude and in turn your attitude will greatly influence theirs.

  • 6. Play games WITH them.

Punch Buggy (although that’s honestly not a favorite of mine), License Plate Bingo (that’s right up my alley!), anything to pass time and keep their minds occupied. Who can spot the most pickups in 20 minutes? How many yellow cars are in the state of Virginia? (See my Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond post if you’re near there!) Make up the games as you go but whatever you do be part of the fun and you’ll probably find that it makes the trip go even faster for you too!

  • 7. Stop often.

Plan ahead of time for stops and allow the kids to stretch their legs at a rest stop or even a park.  A quick game of catch could be just what the kids need to get the blood pumping and burn off some energy.

Those are my 7 best tips for how to keep kids happy on a road trip.  If you have anything to add to my list please leave me a comment!

Homeschooling on Vacation

This post is sponsored by Browning Dodge and contains affiliate links.  If you’re in the market for a new reliable vehicle for travel check out BrowningDodge.com.

How to Homeschool on Vacation

While I’m just setting off on this homeschooling journey of ours I’m jumping in with both feet.  That’s nothing new though.  Since both of my kids have been born though I’ve been talking to them about everything I do, reading to them every chance I get, telling stories when we’re not around books, asking them questions, helping them explore the outdoors around them, and instilling in them the values and manners that are so important to me.  I’m intentional.  Very intentional.  So much so that it’s exhausting some days and then we loosen up and try again.  Life is a constant struggle like that, isn’t it?  Try, try, try, try too hard, don’t try, wait – okay try again, try, try, try.  Balance.  Balance is such a simple word to say and yet it’s the most difficult one to live out.

We’re officially starting school tomorrow and yes, cute stage photos will be coming along shortly.  While I have my lesson plans ready and all my hand picked curriculum laid out in a row I’m going to work at my plans diligently and try to make learning as fun as possible.  Learning should always be fun!  Then a handful of weeks later I’m going to throw it all out the window for a five day break.  Why you ask?  Because we’re going on vacation!!!  I’m very excited about the time away and am just as excited about teaching my kids, especially my daughter about the beach.  We just picked a travel date yesterday and I’ve already got our packing list made and our meal plan ready.  Now I’m starting on what I can teach my kids about the beach before we go.  Just because I like to throw my thoughts out on a page sometimes I’m writing this post.  Additionally, I’m hoping it will be helpful for others who want to combine homeschooling and vacations.  If you’re a seasoned homeschool mom I would love your opinions and ideas so feel free to comment with those below.  Now, onto my plans…

Plan the Trip – I’m hoping to show my daughter the state we’re traveling to on a map of the US.  I also want to show her a detailed maps of roads and highways and show her the different paths we could go and let her highlight the way her mom and dad have already chosen to go.  Maybe we could even put stickers on places that would be great for rest stops.  She’ll also love to watch our gps in the car as it travels along our chosen path.

Read – Because we love reading this is a natural fit for our family.  I’m excited to research fish, sea turtles, other ocean life, and books that include swimming.  For my son the book list will probably look like: Rainbow Fish bath book (bonus points because I can take it to the beach since it’s a plastic book!), Dr. Seuss’ Clam-I-Am (All About the Beach), Over the Ocean (In a Coral Reef), Seashells by the Seashore, and Curious George Goes to The Beach The beginning reading list for my daughter includes: The Berenstain Bears By The Sea, National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles (I just discovered that National Geographic has early reader books, how exciting!), The Usborne Internet-Linked First Encyclopedia of Seas & Oceans (there are several copies on Amazon now for $0.01 + shipping! I just bought one and thought I’d share.), Secrets of the Seashore Shine-a-Light book, and Seashore beginners book.  I also want to check out the state and area we’re traveling to and see if there is any history that would be appropriate and interesting for young kids.

Audio Books – Maybe we’ll listen to audio books, maybe.  Maybe we’ll just talk and have a blast singing Justin Robert’s tunes at the top of our lungs.  Yea, we’ll probably just do that for the majority of the trip but we’ll have an audio book cd or two packed just in case.  Lamplighter audio books are superb.  We love all of their material that we’ve read or heard.  Adventures in Odyssey is another great choice – check out their The Ultimate Road Trip: Family Vacation Collection.

Plan the Itinerary – I want my daughter to help plan the itinerary of our trip.  She won’t get the last say of course and itineraries are meant to be broken but it will be fun to work together on our plans while building the anticipation of the trip.  We can plan for things like a sea shell hunt, going for ice cream, ordering something we’ve never tried before at a restaurant (maybe a buffet is a good idea to try this at!), playing putt putt, and drawing a picture of the ocean from our balcony.

Busy Bags – Between now and our departure date I plan on making lots and lots of busy bags for our trip.  Some will be simple activities like a Melissa & Doug Water Wow book (no paint, just water – I love these!!), Dover Sticker Activity books (the prices vary but they’re always under $2 shipped from Amazon – these are great for little ones sitting in church too!), lacing cards, Melissa & Doug Scratch Art (I haven’t tried these before but they look fun for kids!), and The Cube (a smaller version of the Rubik’s cube. It’s 2×2 instead of 3×3.  I don’t think I would instruct them on how to use it but let them have fine motor fun with it.).  I also plan on including my own homemade busy bags that may include felt pieces of clothes for the felt doll, or clothes pins that have a number on them that need to be clipped onto the correct paper with that many items, etc.  I’m thinking of randomly rewarding my kids for good behavior on the trip by giving them a small toy.  My daughter would love a small princess doll or anything that came from the dollar store and my son would love any figurine puppy or Thomas the Train Minis (Have you seen these?  They are so tiny and adorable!).

Games – In the evenings before bed I think it would be fun to spend time relaxing together playing a board game.  My son is just now at the age where he can comprehend the basic rules of games.  I think the game Cootie would be a great game for us as a family.  We can talk about the colors, count the pieces, and of course the counting on the die.

Observation – I’m hoping to try and observe as much as possible and point out things to my kids.  Sure, sometimes I’ll just be exhausted, hot, and ready to put the kids down for a nap but most of the time I’m hoping to be a fun mom.  Observing which toy makes the biggest splash in the water is still fun.  I don’t plan on finding a butterfly and waxing on about metamorphosis.  Just taking opportunities to observe and talk about the things we see is an incredible way to bond as a family.  Learning is a bonus!

I think that’s all I have.  As I said earlier, if you have any other ideas to share please let me know.  I want to have a fun, relaxing, and educational vacation without having to go to museums all day and I think that’s possible!

Car Essentials for Day Trips With Kids

Essentials for Day Trips with Kids

Summer is here, and that means the kids are out of school, the weather is hot, and it’s time to take some fun day trips! Whether you’re going for a day at the park or a cross country vacation, it’s a good idea to keep some items in the car, ready to go at all times. Now, there are plenty of mechanic kits and emergency boxes available to get all your tools, flares, and other break-down necessities in order. Those are important, but today we’re going to be talking about some extra items to keep around just for summer trips with the kids.

Water
The first thing you always want to have in summer is a good supply of water. If the car breaks down, you’re going to get hot and thirsty, and you’ll be glad you have it on hand. Busted or leaking radiator? Let the car cool down, add water, drive, repeat. This isn’t a long term fix – don’t leave the house with this as the game plan. But if the car starts to overheat and you just need to get the family home, water will save the day. Even when the car runs perfectly, water will come in handy! After a day at the beach, a bottle of water is perfect for rinsing off sandy feet before getting in the car. If the kids have a sporting event or get a little hot while playing, pouring a little water over their heads can cool them off and clean them up.

Toys
Keeping some toys the kids like in the car will be useful in multiple ways. Having some outdoor toys like a ball will give you a chance to spontaneously play with the kids at a park or field on the way home from errands. Toys will even help out in case of a break down! A few indoor toys will keep the kids entertained while Mommy and Daddy figure out the car troubles. Choose some toys that don’t take up a lot of space and that the children are ok leaving in the car, that way they don’t get taken out and end up missing when you really need them.

Sifter
Speaking of toys, visit the toy aisle during the summer season and buy a sand sifter to keep in the trunk. Sure, it will be tons of fun if you happen to have a day at the beach. But where this item really shines is when someone loses something on the beach, in the sandbox, or a gravel or dirt playground. You simply reached down to pick up your toddler who’s doing everything in their power to stay in the sand box for the next three weeks, when suddenly your wedding ring slips off into the sand. The kicks and flails of toddler legs pushes the ring under the surface, and it’s gone. Having a sifter in the car will save you hours of frustrated searching.

Cups
Finally, keep a steady supply of paper cups in the car. You’ll need cups if you keep a gallon jug of water in the car and need a drink. Kids screaming for a snack the entire trip, claiming their stomachs are going to explode? Use cups to separate a trail mix bag from the gas station, or as an easier to handle container for some chicken nuggets. Keep one in the cup holder as a mini trash can, then take some to the sand to build a castle. If you forgot the toys and get desperate, you can even set the kids to stacking up cup pyramids. The uses for a simple cup are endless!

Now think about the places you go, and what items you’ve thought “ugh, if only I had one with me now this would be a lot easier,” and find a way to add them into your summer car kit!

This helpful post is brought to you by Sandoval Buick GMC.