Great Smokey Mountains National Park

 

Did you know that Great Smokey Mountains National Park has more visitors per year than any other national park in the US? It’s big! We are focusing on the North Carolina portion this stay with the intention of seeing the Tennessee side during a different stay. The areas we saw today were really beautiful.

2021-04-03T12:06:53-05:00March 15th, 2021|Jude, RV Life, Taryn, Zachary|

9th year of learning at home

Scenes from our first day of homeschool today. I can’t believe this is our 9th year of learning at home! It was a decision we initially felt forced to make. Taryn’s school and teacher kept exposing her to foods she is allergic to. She was constantly sick as a result. She had a 504 everyone ignored and we were told by the principal it’d be easier for them if homeschooled her. You can imagine that comment (and many others) didn’t go over real well. We had an advocate and fought. In the end, we could put our energy in to advocating, year after year, and still deal with constant allergic reactions, or we could put our energy in to educating our daughter and keeping her healthy. At the time we brought her home we had a teenager in public school plus a toddler in private school. We were all over the place. Eventually Jude asked to come home, then to our shock so do our oldest. And as much as the decision to homeschool terrified us in the beginning, it has been the biggest blessing in our family. We’ve done numerous programs, college lead, co-ops, hands on, online, parent taught, teacher taught virtual, unschooling, road schooling, etc. We’ve done fun theme weeks and we’ve done months of absolutely nothing because that’s what life threw us (trauma and covid come to mind). I had so many people message during quarantine, friends thrown in to suddenly learning from home, asking how do we do this. My answer wasn’t helpful, during quarantine, we stopped. We didn’t learn at all with any structure. It was a totally unrealistic expectation for anyone to take that on. Staying in all the time, that’s not what homeschoolers usually do, it was hard on the most seasoned of home learners. So, we just didn’t. And my kids are fine. We caught up eventually this past year and they are right where they should be. We don’t spend 8 hours a day doing school, it just doesn’t work for us. We are 2-3 hours max, 4 days a week, March-October. That’s changed through the years too. We’ve definitely learned to be flexible, we let our kids guide us toward their interests and I’ll share the best advice I ever received when we started: let them get bored, that’s where the magic happens. ❤️

2021-04-03T12:21:01-05:00March 2nd, 2021|My Family, Homeschool, Jonah, Roadschool, Taryn, Zachary|

Visiting Kennedy Space Center during Covid

This weekend was so busy I’m still catching my breath! As our Christmas gift, Jason’s parents gave us an adventure and we chose Kennedy Space Center. We are so thankful, we had a blast!!

My kids were so excited to explore the grounds and the rocket garden before we ever even entered a single exhibit. Kennedy Space Center is is very well done.  Getting to see the space shuttle Atlantis was a highlight! We’ve seen the Discovery at Udvar Hazy in Washington DC too. The cool thing about Atlantic is that it’s suspended between several floors. We were able to walk right up next to it and under it. The other cool thing is that the side of it is open so you can see in close range. Also, the exhibit leading up to its reveal is really great! There’s a video showing the Atlantis flying, the screen it’s playing on rises and there she is! Very dramatic and we loved it!  I think we could have spent a full week at the Atlantis exhibit! It ignited their imagination and curiosity in such a big way! Roadschool win!  My kids loved sitting in a mock cockpit and pushing alllllllll the buttons!

Then, what started out as a fun looking tube crawl through a tunnel that reminded us of R2D2, ended very differently! The last stretch takes you through a clear tube suspended over 3 flights of open exhibits and people bellow. Zachary took one look, stopped, turned to Jude and said “NOPE”. 😆 I’m so thankful Jude was there to encourage him so Jason didn’t have to go on a rescue mission! With Judes help he did it! I was impressed!

One of my favorite exhibits was honoring Challenger.  When the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986 I was watching it live on TV from a middle school classroom at Boyet Junior High in Slidell, Louisiana. I remember how excited all the teachers were to see on of their own, Christa McAuliffe, go up with the teacher in space program. I’ll never forget the stunned silence in that room or the moments after. And I’ve never forgotten Christa McAuliffe.

The new Play Planet exhibit is AMAZING! After seeing a photo of it a few weeks ago it’s all Zachary could talk about and he was looking forward to it the most! It lived up to all his expectations and more! It’s so well done! The slide was his favorite. After you start going a rocket appears under your butt and you ride the rocket down! I can’t wait to put our YouTube video together for our time here, it was amazing!

What was supposed to be a short video ended up being our last photo of the day after a throw down at the NASA ball 😣🤪 Good thing it was time to leave anyway!

A few tips for visiting Kennedy Space Center during Covid:

  • Definitely get tickets in advance and be there at 9:30 when gates open. You’ll need every min to see it all since they close at 4 pm.
  • I’d head to play planet first because the lines got long and we barely made it in before closing. Some people were turned away because they are limiting capacity but not how long you can play.
  • After that I’d head out to Atlantis. We spent a ton of time there.
  • The shuttle launch ride was worth it. Z wasn’t tall enough but there’s a staging area to do a parent swap for anyone under 44 in so our kids got to go twice only standing in line once.
  • It’s so tempting to do the rocket garden first because it’s right there but I’d recommend doing it last.

If you visit, have a blast! So much to see and learn!

 

2021-04-03T16:04:35-05:00February 22nd, 2021|My Family, Jonah, Jude, RV Life, Taryn, Zachary|

Hollywood Studios!

Jude and Zachary’s big birthday surprise: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS!!! One full day at Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land!! Both were still being built the last time we were there is 2018. Plus this time Z is tall enough to go on all the fun rides. So exciting!! Big thanks to my mom for making us these fun shirts!

We’ve carried these Mickey ears for 3 years and many miles through 30+ states. I’m sentimental about very few things but this was one because he wore them for his first birthday at the magic kingdom. And when Z insisted on wearing them in to this park today, it was worth every mile carried and space sacrifice in our tiny home. He was so ready for a day of magic!

Our very first stop was the Lightning McQueen Driving Academy. This was pretty cool, the screens were huge and while it wasn’t a ride, it was still fun, Z clapped along with wide eyes. We were very impressed with Lightning McQueen, it kinda freaked me out it was so realistic. Z said he wished he could drive though. Our original plan for this year was Disneyland and I hear there’s more Cars there than Florida. We still hope to visit Disneyland someday! Has anyone been to both? I’d love to hear what you think!

Galaxy’s Edge is incredibly well done! So much detail. We loved it!! Jonah got to talk to the storm trooper and we loved the massive millennium falcon. The ride was one of our faves! We also hit Star Tours again and I’m glad we did because it was different than the last time we rode it 3 years ago.

 

2021-05-02T16:05:17-05:00February 11th, 2021|My Family, Jason, Jonah, Jude, Lyndsay, Taryn, Zachary|

DIY Star Wars Mandalorian costume

We homeschool on an alternative schedule and have been on break the last few months. Taryn spent a chunk of that time creating this DIY Star Wars Mandalorian costume. The entire thing, even the helmet, is created with cardboard! I’m so impressed with her, the detail is really amazing right down to the intentional dents – it was so much work! She even made the blaster and carved the knife herself. Her costume is based on a character named Vhipir.

2021-04-03T21:25:34-05:00February 9th, 2021|My Family, Craft Projects, Roadschool, Taryn|
Go to Top