Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

You know it was a happy spring break when it takes you 3 weeks (ish) and 4 separate blog posts to finish writing about it.  This was that sort of year, and if you missed the first few parts, you can catch up here:

Part I– The Shirt War

Part II– The Funny Stuff

Part III– Legoland Discovery Center

 

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

We now live in Georgia, so we decided it was time to re-visit Callaway Gardens. It has been 15 years since we were there before. 15 years ago to the day we re-visited, almost. Alan proposed to me on March 25, 2002, on the lake beach there. We returned on March 26, 2017. Pretty cool, huh?

Us, 2002, Callaway Butterfly Gardens. He proposed on the beach there.

We enjoyed re-enacting it for the boys. Caleb took pictures for you, but I didn’t like how I looked,so those will be on the blog never…

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Daniel, taking off for that beach.

The boys were all supremely disappointed that they didn’t have their swimsuits with them, but it was a touch chilly for swimming still, and we wanted to scope out the whole place that day. We can go back to swim anytime.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Ever since we left California, and my beloved Point Lobos, I have had no place here to go and just revel in the beauty of nature. Actually, my back yard is pretty awesome because I do see red cardinals and an occasional snake (*shudder*), and I find little brown balls that lead me to believe that deer are occasionally jumping our fence, but Callaway goes beyond that.

Here at Callaway, our little family was all at peace and excitement, as we hiked the trails, visited the butterflies, and even got to see a captive falcon with a wingspan as big as me!

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Caleb will tell you. Everyone in our family knows it. It is not possible to take Caleb anywhere that there is water of any kind and bring him home dry. He will always be beckoned in so far that he will always leave soggy. We love that about him.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

This was a half-mile trail, but in the southern heat, it feels like more. Thankfully, some of it is shaded. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It felt like home to me.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Me, feeling like I’d found my new Pt. Lobos.

There is something about being outdoors that is nourishing not only to your body but to the depths of your soul.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Friends, come visit us. We will take you on this trail.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

There is something splendid about a boardwalk over water, and yes, there were turtles and fish to gaze at.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

I was also reminded why, by the time I was a teenager, I thought I didn’t love being outside. When you grow up in the South, MOSQUITOS reign! Yeah, wear bug repellent if you do anything like what we were doing here. And sweat, of course, sweat. Mosquitos and sweat. Still worth it though.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

I don’t think a person can look at a bed of tulips without feeling a little better.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

A small dogwood tree! How I’ve missed dogwoods!!

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

outside the butterfly center

Normally, tons of azaleas would have been in bloom, but a week prior a cold front had come through and killed all the azaleas at my house that were blooming or budding, so there were none. I also read that azaleas bloomed early at Callaway this year. That would have been such a beautiful sight to behold, but alas, we missed it. A week later the late azaleas did finally show off in our area, so that was some comfort.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

The 4 of us squeezed onto a swing. They have a dozen of these swings outside the butterfly center. Now you know I love me a good swing.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

inside the butterfly center

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

The butterflies were of course all over, and we were all excited to be a part of it…..except John David. JD sort of whimpered the whole time and got all sorts of freaked out if a butterfly flew anywhere near him, and so our time in the Butterfly Center was cut short.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

After a butterfly actually landed on my hand for a few minutes, the boys took to trying extra hard to get one to land on them.

But alas, it never happened. Sorry boys.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

JD, in panic mode…Butterflies are apparently terrifying.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

watching an educational film on butterflies

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

The boys all took turns carrying each other on their backs, and how sweet are these 2?

Daniel kept picking John David up and carrying him, and JD only weighs 10 pounds less than Dan, so we started referring to Daniel as the ant man.

Exploring Callaway Gardens: Where Daddy Proposed

My camera phone died before I got to photograph the giant bridge with the water, over by the Discovery Center, which is one of the most beautiful parts. Next time! Because you know there will be a next time!!

 

“A cheerful heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”  Psalm 17:22

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”        Psalm 19:1

And now it’s back to work. I hope you all manage to squeeze in a little sunshine time today.

********Don’t forget to enter the Bottle Flip Game giveaway! It ends Tuesday night at 11:59pm!!**********

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

As much as we’d love to be a Disney family, high tailing it off to Orlando a few times a year, that’s not really practical for most of us, is it? No, and even if you do, there will be plenty of time between to fill up with memories at home.

Here are 3 things I’ve found lately to have a BLAST with my children without spending much money at all and without leaving our house.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family

Retail $34.95 on Amazon. I got it for $3.95 at Goodwill! Hurray!!

Board Games

This one can be even cheaper than you think. I buy almost all of our games at Goodwill or other local thrift stores. Part of Daniel’s birthday gift this year was an Angry Birds game I found for $3.95 at Goodwill. Maybe $3.95 doesn’t sound cheap, but when you figure the whole family could play it, it was in perfect condition, and retail it would have been more like $34, it starts to sound like a steal.

This morning we paid Spongebob Monopoly, and while 3 of 4 boys quit early on from boredom, Daniel hung in there and beat me SOUNDLY.

So did everyone have fun? Sort of. Everyone did for a little while. And one of them had the special honor of beating mom. Also, he learned so much about counting money and making change.

 

We bought this net for ~$40. This one at Amazon actually comes with birdies and rackets.

Playing Sports Outside…..and yeah, sometimes inside

What we play depends on what they are into at the time. Last year it was always baseball. Now it’s mostly basketball, but lately we’ve been all about badminton.

Here’s my best tips for introducing your kids to badminton or tennis:

  1. Buy any racquets at thrift stores. Thrift stores almost always have tennis rackets, and when you are playing at home, you can totally play badminton with big giant tennis rackets. In fact, it makes it easier for the kids to hit the birdie.
  2. If you don’t have a net, designate a line on the driveway as your “net”. By the way, the one above is a nice one. You can also buy super cheap ones, but I can’t vouch for how good they will be, but they might be better than just the line on the driveway. Ha!
  3. Our family just used the crack in the driveway as our “net” until we had time to go buy a net.

Most sports can be simulated at home without actually owning the equipment. In most cases, you just need a ball.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

Charades!

ABSOLUTELY FREE: CHARADES!!!

Alan took some papers, cut them into squares and wrote names of people we know, movies we’ve watched, and places we’ve been to on them. Then he made a paper bag for each category, and put the papers in the bags for us to draw out.

The boys LOVED it. It was more personal this way. We used family members, and then they’d act out what they’ve noticed about those family members. The cutest was when they were being their cousin Wesley, and they got on their knees, to show they were short, and then went around hugging everyone! Ha!!!

For places, we used random ones like the driveway, the pumpkin patch, and places we used to live. Just talking about it makes me want to do this again. We all laughed so much.

Include the little ones too. Just whisper in their ear how to act it out. As long as there’s one person to guess, you’re good. When toddlers get involved, I promise it will be hilarious. They may even announce to everyone who they are being, like JD does, and that’s okay.

Turn something they LOVE into a family activity!

Light sabers? Family jousting tournament

Legos? Building contest! And name a different prize for each kid. Maybe even make little construction paper ribbons.

Dancing? Dance Party.

For example, the ever so obnoxious BOTTLE FLIPPING!!

Does any mom or teacher out there not hate this activity? Why? It’s loud. It’s annoying, and it always spills water.

Did you know they make games for Bottle Flipping? As in board-game like games? They do!

 

We chose this one. It’s $24.95 on Amazon.

 
I decided to give this a shot. This is the very first time I had ever attempted to flip a bottle, and I’m here to tell you it is way HARDER than it looked! I have new respect.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

Best of all, my older boys got a real kick out of me participating in bottle flipping with them. My oldest wasn’t even going to play with us at first, but once he saw us having fun, he joined in and then insisted that we play again.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

Score board, caps, and cards are all included. Cards are funny. One said, put your elbow in your shirt, and flip the bottle like a T-Rex. Haaaa!!!

In fact, I want you all to join in on this fun, so this week we are giving the Bottle Flippin’ Game away for FREE to one of you!

***This giveaway is sponsored by the Bottle Flip Game.***

I love giveaways!!!

To enter just Log in with Facebook or your email below, and click one of the options. If you have trouble, just send me your email address, and I’ll enter ya.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good luck!!!

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Our Morning at Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Legoland Discovery Centery

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

We all had to see how much we weighed in Lego bricks.

If your kids have never been to Legoland Orlando or Legoland in Southern California, you should totally just tell them this is Legoland and never have to book the larger vacation. They’d probably be totally satisfied.

Of course, we actually did go to Legoland California, and I wrote about that here and here. Our boys are obsessed with all things Lego, especially our younger 3, so these vacations were the perfect fit for us.

This year we saved $$$$ by staying local for Spring Break, and Legoland Discovery Center was the perfect fit. The boys knew going into it that this was not going to be like the theme park. It’s more of a play center, and they saw a commercial for it on one of their Lego movies, so they were all happy.

We are firm believers in managing expectations. Give them low hopes and over deliver. That, my friends, is the key to spring break happiness.

 

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

mini Atlanta, built out of Lego bricks

Legoland Discovery Centers are scattered throughout the country, in many of the bigger cities, and this was our first time to visit one. This particular one is located in a large shopping mall, deep into Atlanta.

By the way, Atlanta traffic was not nearly as aggravating that day. We miraculously managed to keep our car moving forward, not sitting still, the entire time we were on the road.

 

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Every kid in the place was quite impressed with the Lego Braves baseball field.

We booked in advance because that saves you a few dollars on each ticket. When you are a party of 6, a few dollars on each ticket adds up fast.

I also found this deal on Dealspotr. It will give you a free child ticket with purchase of adult ticket, and it expires April 30, 2017.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

There are several Lego-building stations.

When you book in advance, you also choose a time to arrive. We did that because we didn’t want to drive all the way over there and then the place be full and have to wait in line. We waited in no line to get in, and we waited in the shortest lines ever to go on the rides. That makes this non-line-waiting-Momma very happy.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Check out Daniel’s stylish new, overpriced bomber jacket.

Did you know that these bomber style jackets are in this spring? Yes, indeedy, but the only one of us to own one is Daniel because he was so cold the morning of Legoland, and it was his BIRTHDAY, so we went into one of the pricey mall stores and bought him this cute jacket.

It wasn’t cold once we got inside Legoland though, so he didn’t even get to wear it that long. But that’s okay. No one should be miserably air-conditioned cold on their birthday.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

This shuttle has a count-down and then goes up a foot.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

How cute is this tiny Lego NASA control room?

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

not happy JD–We had given him the Lego man kit, but he wasn’t happy until it was built.

As soon as we got in, JD began to ask to build Lego men. JD’s interest in Lego is pretty much limited to just the men at this age. All of our 3-year-olds have been that way.

But JD took the request to the level of whiny, repetitive begging that will put your teeth on edge. All the building stations are for bricks, not tiny men.

After listening to his tale of woe for a solid 10 minutes–I mean it could have been 5, but when you are listening to a toddler in despair 5 minutes feels like 45 minutes—-Alan said, “Well, I wanted to wait to give them their men until we get home so they don’t just lose them.”

“What Lego men? Is that what’s in that yellow bag? Our admission tickets came with Lego men???”

“Yeah, but I mean it’s just like this policeman. I don’t know…”

“Alan, pleeeeeaaaase. I cannot keep listening to him saying ‘where’s the Lego men? I want to build Lego men.’ over and over again. I can’t.”

So we went on our first ride, a really fun one where you shoot the Lego bad guys with a little light that blinks, just like at Disney World, and that kept him completely distracted.

After that was over, we gave him the one Star Wars Lego man in the bag. He doesn’t even care about Star Wars, but he was so happy to receive a Lego man it didn’t matter. He was content the rest of the day. Yay!!!

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

all 4–It’s rare for me to get all 4 in a shot. How cool is the giant Lego Merlin?

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

You can’t go wrong with the giant playground.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Daniel, running through the giant playground. Hmm. I guess he wore that jacket longer than I realized.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

See his little hand clutching the Lego man? Happiness came with our ticket. If you have one of these guys, go ahead and open the yellow bag and give them their Lego man.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Selfie with Mom—or just Mom selfie…no one else seemed to notice. But you know I’m happy when I’m taking selfies. This was a fun morning. Of the 3 rides, 1 was actually a 4D movie, which I enjoy. Some kid activities are torture. This one was not; however, we also don’t have a baby anymore, so I’m less stressed than I used to be at these places!

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

This started out as JD building a tower. Joshua decided to help out his little brother.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Pretty soon the tower got pretty tall.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Everyone joined in.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

They were collecting blocks from everywhere.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

and it just kept getting taller

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

and taller

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Until it was as tall as Dad!

And the little boy who started the tower in the first place (JD) was long gone, up in the pirate tower shooting a cannon over and over again.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

You might say we felt like successful parents for a good solid 2 hours there. 😉

That’s why family outings and vacations are so important. You get out of your house, away from your screens, away from your friends, away from your JOB, and you have no choice but to focus on each other for a little while. You have fun together, which strengthens your bond as a family.

I hope you all get to go on a few good family outings or vacations this summer. We did this and we did Calloway Gardens this Spring break. I’ll tell you all about Callaway on a future post. Did you know that Alan actually proposed to me at Callaway?

We also spent a ton of time chillin’ at home, with a lot fewer cares than we normally have. I wrote about that in Part I and Part II of my Spring Break 2017 series. We enjoyed those days too. Who can go, go, go ALL the time? That’s plain exhausting.

 

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

We did everything there was to do at Legoland Discovery Center, except for eat at the snack stand. Instead, we went to Johnny Rocket’s right across the hall.

We did everything in 2 hours, and everyone left happy. Everyone. Oh, and of course, we made time for the Legoland Discovery Center Store.

Legoland Discovery Center, Atlanta

Batman!!!!

I zipped through the store picking out a little box for their Easter baskets, yeah, it’s going to be an awesome Easter, and then I parked myself on a bench outside the store. Anytime I go to Lego anything with Alan and the boys, I spend time sittin’ on the bench. I don’t see how they manage to fill up that much time gazing at Lego sets.

This was a perfect family day out for us. It was such a breeze sticking to day trips this Spring Break, rather than a big vacation. Come back this weekend for Spring Break Part 4: Callaway Gardens! My new favorite spot in Georgia!

 

 

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10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on Your D.C. Vacation

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on your washington, d.c. vacation

our 10th anniversary

Last year, we went to Disney World for vacation. This year we need something more affordable, so we are going to Washington, D.C.!!!!

Alan has been after me to write a post about how to save money and hassle on a D.C. vacation for a while now because it’s something we loved. When we lived in the D.C. area, we had so much fun taking our friends and family around to see the monuments and Smithsonian museums.

So I finally got around to it. I wrote an article for Monterey Premier about Saving Money and Hassle on a Washington, D.C. vacation.

Here’s a snippet:

#8. Most importantly, buy a Metro pass, and you will be fine.
The Metro is a perfectly safe form of transportation, and it is the most affordable way to do D.C. There are even buses that run between Metro stops that you can hop on with your Metro pass.
I used to walk around D.C. with my Metro map, but now that everyone has smart phones, you can give your Google Maps app a good work-out on this trip! Which leads me to my next tip…..

#9. Download the Metro app!!!……..

Click here to read more!

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on your washington, d.c. vacation

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on Your Washington, D.C. Vacation

 

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Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the TRex

“I want to hug Olaf! I want to hug Olaf!”….”No. No. I not hug him. I scared o him.”

We’ve been back from vacation for a few days now. Daniel keeps asking when we’re “ever going back to America.” By America, he is referring to our home in California. It was amusing to listen to Caleb trying to explain to Daniel that we are still in America.

In the short time that we’ve been back from Disney World, 7 of us caught a cold. 6 of us developed a hacking cough. (I have escaped it so far.) 2 of us have projectile vomited. Maybe that’s why Dan is ready to head back to “America”!

I think this was the first time in our 10 years of being parents that we were awakened to the sound and FEEL of projectile vomit at 5:50 am. I’ve never jumped out of bed with so much quickness!! We got him changed, us changed, stripped the bed, cleaned up, and all gathered in the living room to watch Planes, JD’s current favorite movie.

I sat there with my coffee, so thankful for our automatic coffee maker, trying to force myself to wake up.

I was so happy to see Caleb walk into the living room at 6:10. I snuck off to his bedroom and went back to sleep in his bed. (Mine was still wet.)

Daniel does have some happier summer vacation news. He has an exciting new accomplishment to add to his name: underwater swimmer! He can now go under and swim without even pinching his little nose. He mostly taught himself. That’s how Daniel rolls.

We’ve sent summer out with a bang. Here are the photos from Day Three of vacation, which we spent at Hollywood Studios.

It’s taken me so long to blog about our Disney trip, you may think we spent three weeks there. But no, I’m just slow. We were there for four days.

 

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the TRex

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

The almost disaster

This ABC cafe was a huge hit with our boys because they have tv’s everywhere. We couldn’t get a word out of the boys or a question answered the whole time. They were total tv zombies, watching ….a cooking show. Lol!

Ordering food for six people at Disney is confusing. No, ordering food for six people anywhere is hard to keep straight. You know that feeling when you go to the drive-thru window with 6 people in the car? And they all order something different? That is our life, ya’ll!!  Every meal of vacation!!

I thought nothing of picking up these adorable chocolate cupcakes for the boys. I kind of wanted one myself.

So a miracle happened. No, I’m telling you, our almost disaster was a miracle.

Now, normally Joshua eats all of his food and then starts eating everyone else’s. But this time he did NOT. Weird. Feeding Joshua is like feeding a teenager. He’s only 10, but it is. My mom, who fed three teenagers at once, has already confirmed this.

I figured he would surely tear into that cupcake, but he looked at it, a CHOCOLATE cupcake, with CHOCOLATE icing, that looks like Darth Vader even, and said, “No, I don’t want it.”

That was a stop the music moment right there. I was all, “What? But it’s so..look at it. You don’t want it?”

Alan said, “He must be full. Can I have it, Joshua?”

Joshua agreed to let Alan have the cupcake, and Alan took one bite and discovered……peanut butter filling. Pure peanut butter!

Aughhhhhhh!!!!!

Oh my goodness. If that had happened to Joshua, we would have had to use the EpiPen, which we did have, and then Day 3 would have abruptly ended with a ride to the local ER in a nice Disney World ambulance.

Nut allergies are an easy thing to drop your guard about because for the most part, it’s pretty easy to just not eat nuts. We were way more vigilant after this cupcake incident.

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

It was about 95 degrees in the Indiana Jones show.

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

JD made it halfway through the show, but when cars started blowing up and catching fire, JD insisted that we leave. So he and I exited early.

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

We left the park around 3pm, sweaty and tired.

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

Even bus rides are fun and exciting to children. I wish I could get that level of enthusiasm back for myself.

IMG_4768 IMG_4783

 

The T-Rex

That evening, we ate supper at Disney Springs, at the most themed out restaurant I’ve ever seen. Hard Rock Cafe has nothing on this place.

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

T-Rex entry and gift shop

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

Magma, Sea Creatures, an Ice Age in the back, roaring dinosaurs, a giant octopus. This place delivered the atmosphere, and the food was delicious too.

Hollywood Studios, the Almost Disaster, and the T-Rex

JD had only managed a 10 minute nap that day, so by our 6:30 dinner, he was ready to collapse.

That evening, we ate supper at Disney Springs, at the most themed out restaurant I've ever seen. Hard Rock Cafe has nothing on this place.

So he nodded right off to sleep, right on Joshua’s shoulder.

That evening, we ate supper at Disney Springs, at the most themed out restaurant I've ever seen. Hard Rock Cafe has nothing on this place.

He slept until we were all the way back AT our hotel. And then he woke up hungry and with more energy than the rest of us.

IMG_3279 IMG_3282 IMG_3298

Enjoy the rest of summer while you can. It’s almost over! Don’t forget to keep in touch. I’d love to hear about what you’re doing with the rest of your summer.

 

 

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