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Staying Local: Families Explore at Home

Cheri&AnyaPicnicAre the summer doldrums setting in? We asked our Mom Mentors their favorite things to do in their own backyards. Visit with them & let us know about your own local adventures, too!

Q. Where do you live and what are some of your favorite things to do there with your child?

Chere Williams: My daughter and I live in Takoma Park, Maryland, a small suburb that borders Washington, DC. As you can imagine there’s always something to do in the nation’s capital. On weekends we often explore the museums, monuments, and the many events that take place all year round. However, in our little neighborhood we always have fun going to the farmer’s market, coffee shops, and just taking walks along the trails and creeks. We love road trips, and we’re a family that is always up for an adventure! Sometimes we’ll wake up early and drive to Berkley Springs, West Virginia, and have lunch and afterward visit all the quaint antique shops where we’re sure to find a few treasures. One of our other favorite places to spend a lazy afternoon is on Solomon’s Island where we’ll sit by the water and just talk about anything and everything! My goal is to create long-lasting precious memories, those special ones that I know she’ll carry with her. One such memory we created was last week when I picked her up at school during lunch, and we had a picnic in the park (pictured above). It was lovely, sweet and simple, which are always the best times.

Kona&SonsKona Brown: I am blessed to be planted in Johannesburg (called Jozi or Jo’burg), the 2nd largest city on the African continent. Jozi is the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees. At the beginning of October the Jacarande trees are in full bloom, clothing this amazing city in streeks of purple! One of the places we like to visit to see the trees is Northcliff Hill, a 1807 meter high vantage point that houses the local water tower and that offers a panoramic view of the city. There are also bolted rock faces where we enjoy some rock climbing. Jozi has an amazingly mild climate and in the early mornings and on weekends you will see the urbanites run, walk or cycle on designated parks and paths—the Browns often joining in. Another favourite is the Jo’burg Zoo, a Jozi institution since 1904, and a place I remember visiting often as a child—specifically to see the polar bears. Our zoo has the only 2 polar bears on the continent! I pray my boys will grow to love this city with its scars and gems as much as I do!

Melissa Newell: We are blessed to live only an hour from one of the best cities on this planet! Living so close to New York City affords so many special opportunities for the children and me to explore and investigate (hubby dislikes the city). On any given day you can find us at The Bronx Zoo checking out our favorite animals or in the fall, apple picking at one of many orchards bursting with fresh apples.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFall in New York is a small glimpse in what is in store for us in Heaven.  The color palette that is sprinkled on the leaves and fall blooms can only be made by God. The holidays in New York are like no other. From the start of the season with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade all the way through until the ball dropping on New Years Eve in Times Square. We love to take the train in and see shows, shop and just take in the people, smells and hustle of the season. I am grateful every day for the area we live in. I am thankful that our children can see the beauty of the country (where we live) and the fun that is offered by the city.

JulieKierasJulie Kieras: We live in Connecticut, and I enjoy the four seasons here because we get to spend so much time outdoors in nature with our children. Our favorite activities vary with the weather then! Springtime might find us going on picnics or taking light walks or bike rides with the kids in the trailer—Connecticut has a lovely Rails to Trails System and walking/biking paths along the Connecticut River. Summer we often go to the beach on Long Island Sound or camping in neighboring states. One aspect of Connecticut that we love is the ability to reach events and activities in SEVEN different states in under three hours driving time! In the fall, hiking, apple picking, and hayrides abound—truly, fall in New England is the place to be for seeing an incredible display of God’s handiwork! For winter, we typically stay closer to home or enjoy indoor adventures at museums and libraries. We love when a good snowstorm allows the boys to tunnel through the snowdrifts and make tracks around the yard.

TiffanyMalloyTiffany Malloy: Our little tribe lives in Madison, Wisconsin and we love it here! We’ve learned that the weather doesn’t stop people from playing outside, so as the weather is turning cooler, we’re still visiting parks (over 150 public parks in Madison!), having picnics, and visiting the (free!) Henry Vilas Zoo. One of our absolute favorite parks is the Dream Park in Monona. It has a play structure that looks like a castle and a dragon that looks like it’s coming out of the ground. We’re not as hardcore about winter as some of the Madisonites, so as the temps dip below freezing, we stay indoors. As a result, we frequent a really great children’s museum that allows for some indoor exploration and play. And of course, we are well known at our local library—meeting new friends, attending story times, and checking out an absurd number of books.

SusanHeimSusan Heim: My family and I live in southeast Florida in Palm Beach County. We are blessed to be able to spend plenty of time outdoors thanks to the year-round warm weather. In fact, I can’t remember the last time my boys wore jeans or jackets! Needless to say, swimming is a favorite pastime. One of my sons is on a swim team, and they practice at an outdoor pool all year. His twin brother plays Little League baseball in both the Fall and Spring seasons. Going to the beach, fishing, and camping are also favorite activities. Having grown up in a blizzard-prone state, I always dreamed of living where I could enjoy summer weather all the time, so I feel fortunate to live in Florida! We really feel God’s presence here when we see all of the evidence of his creation, such as the birds, flowering trees, and gorgeous sunsets. I love raising my family here!

DustyShellDusty Shell: We live in the foothills of the NC mountains. I was born in raised in the city so it’s been quite a transition for me to settle down into the more slowly paced country life but it’s been a fantastic place to raise children. Our family loves to take “Sunday drives” in between church services up into the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  The scenery is amazing and there are so many places that serve as gorgeous backdrops for family fun. We also love to explore the bits of history scattered throughout like the old home of a Revolutionary War general, Fort Defiance, or the location of an old Native American love story, Blowing Rock. As homeschoolers, we love to find hands-on ways to learn like this, and we have great fun together while doing it!

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