Ultimate Mother of All Bonding Experiences

By Stacy Thompson

So I’m sitting in a hotel room near Lake Bled, Slovenia (more on that later), getting ready to begin another awesome hike with Mom.  Whenever I start one of these, I always spend a little time reminiscing about past hikes and some of the incredible experiences we’ve had—one stands out, and fortunately I have the video journal to give you some of the high points of the journey.

As with many of the crazy, challenging things I’ve attempted in life, the Ultimate Hike was Mom’s idea.  It is a solid enough premise—raise money to help fund children’s cancer research—with an unbelievable physical challenge—27.3 miles on the Foothills Trail in one day.  Yes, 27.3 miles. In. One. Day.  Though I thought my mother had truly lost her mind, I once again reminded her of my words to live by “I will never say no” to any experience she offers up.

So we began months of hiking with our Midlands SC team at Harbison State Park—our hikes became longer and longer as the day of the CureSearch Ultimate Hike drew near.  The night before the Hike we were in bed by 7 a.m. for our 2 a.m. wake-up call (to be safe, I called in a wake-up call, set the alarm in the room as well as alarms on my phone,  Mom’s phone and my iPad—sounded like a maniacal clock factory explosion the next morning).  We were on the trail by 4:45 a.m.–hiking in the dark for the first leg and then continuing on through until around 7 p.m. that evening—and here, for your amusement, are three excerpts from our video journal:

Part I

Part II

Part III

In all, an exhausting but exhilarating day—and one we plan to repeat in the future for sure!

December Wish List

By Ashley Whisonant

December is a month my family and I wait for all year long. I especially love the excitement it brings to my little ones, not just on Christmas morning. I am making an effort this December to focus more on family time together and not get wrapped up in having a “perfect” Christmas.

Here is my top ten list for things to do together as a family:

  1. Bake Christmas cookieschristmas-cookies-553457_1280
  2. Watch at least one Christmas movie a weekend
  3. Visit Santa as often as possible
  4. See the lights at Riverbanks Zoo
  5. Volunteer twice before Christmas
  6. Surprise Elf one of our neighbors
  7. Stroll through Saluda Shoals Park
  8. Decorate an ornament
  9. Send a surprise package to a friend
  10. Attend Christmas Eve mass

I hope this list is just the tip of the iceberg for my family this holiday season. I want us to focus on the times together and not the things we receive.

Happy Holidays, friends!

Spring Must Do List

By: Ashley Whisonant

With Spring officially here, I have been dreaming of flowers blooming, warmer temperatures, and outside fun with my boys and friends. In honor of my favorite season, I have created a short to-do list to help keep my priorities in check!

Spring Must Do List

  • Set up a mini Easter Egg Hunt in our backyard. Fill up eggs with little treats, stickers, and Lego people.
  • Clear out a small patch of grass for a *few* veggies to grow
  • Sit on the back porch, reading a book and watching my boys play
  • Walk the neighborhood after dinner three times a week
  • Clean out the playroom
  • Visit Saluda Shoals Park to bike or trail walk
  • Make a day trip to Charleston to walk The Battery and Rainbow Row
  • Have a picnic lunch at Virginia Hylton Park
  • Meet girlfriends for Happy Hour at a restaurant with an outside patio
  • Drive home with the windows down
  • Walk Lake Murray Dam during my lunch break
  • Attend an event at Icehouse Amphitheater

What am I missing?! Post your suggestions for spring below!

Hometown Tourists

By: Ashley Whisonant

congaree park

This past weekend, my boys and I had absolutely no plans. This is a very rare occasion. Between soccer games, play dates, vacations, and birthdays our weekends have been jam packed. My husband and I wanted to spend the free day as a family, outside enjoying the beautiful fall weather, but we didn’t want to drive too terribly far.

Enter Congaree National Park!

Just a 50 minute drive from Lexington, we packed the car and headed down to arrive at nine. With lunches in book bags, we first stopped at the Visitor’s Center. They had tons of displays for the kids to look at and learn from. We also picked up two scavenger hunts for them to complete as we “hiked.”

congaree parkThe trails were perfect for my two and five year old. There was tons to observe and only a small amount of mosquitos! The trails did have some roadblocks because of trees falling, but the boardwalk was amazing. It stretched close to a mile over some swamp areas. That area was my favorite!

After two hours of hiking around, we stopped at the picnic tables to have lunch before heading home. It was the perfect morning! Don’t miss out on this amazing park in our backyard!

EdVenture Excitement

By: Shannon Shull

Those of us who live in South Carolina are incredibly lucky to have a wonderful local children’s museum. Back in the late 90s, before I had moved to California, I worked in public relations for the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce. While there, I was present when EdVenture was proposed to the leaders of the city. To see this great vision become a reality is truly spectacular!  EdVenture’s mission is to inspire children, youth and the adults who care about them to experience the joy of learning. Their vision is to create new generations of lifelong learners. For every child who visits EdVenture, seeing will be believing and doing will mean remembering. All exhibits at EdVenture are hands-on and experiential. Being a supporter and teacher of arts integration, I personally love this form of hands-on education and love to see children of all ages interacting with the exhibits.

My Aunt Susan recently treated my kids and me to a fun visit to this impressive place. I thought I’d share some of the fun from our recent visit! If you have not yet checked out the excitement of Edventure, I encourage you to take advantage of this interactive, educational adventure.

Me & My Aunt Susie feeling like kids again! 

Our visit to the North Pole

Inside the Arctic Blizzard!

Running around Eddie, the World's Largest Child!

My girl Mina grocery shopping at the Edventure Grocery Store

Time After Time

By: Roshanda Pratt

I would like more time.  There, I said it.  Last month, I talked to you all about my late nights, which resulted in a lack of sleep. I need more time.  No, actually I need to prioritize.  I have gotten better at getting to bed before the start of the next day. However, I need to be a better steward of my time – between dropping kids off, working from home, picking kids up, supervising homework, making dinner, going to bible study, and the list goes on and on and on.  I have recently decided I am going to make my days and my time count! How about you?

I have started by making time for my family.  In our busy-ness, we sometimes forget the people that matter the most.  In our home we always have Friday nights as “Family Fun Night.”  We have three young children: 2, 4, and 6 years old.  As you can imagine, when we first started family night, it sometimes ended in complete disaster: sibling squabbles, crying, and me saying to my husband, “We are not doing that AGAIN!”  But we stuck it out, and I can say my children look forward to it now, so much so we have added another day.

I am a big fan of creating memories with my family.  Children grow up fast!  Have you discovered that?  Some of our favorite family memories have been putting a puzzle together, tag at the park, playing the matching game, and eating out at our favorite restaurant.  I am so serious about family time, I have made a rule that I do not speak to clients on those two days.  Time is a precious and valuable commodity.  Years from now, you won’t want to look back and see that you wasted you precious time, so spend it with those who you love.  Make it a point to prioritize your time.  Time is a gift, so make sure you give it to the right people.

Here are some “Family Friendly” ideas. You can get the complete list at Discover Fun.  Have you tried any of these? Let us know what you do with your family!

  • Attack a household chore as a team – then go out to celebrate!
  • Build a fort with pillows from the couch
  • Have a backyard vacation
  • Make up a funky dance with your children
  • Play miniature golf
  • Have a cooking or baking party
  • Get some old magazines and glue to put together a collage of your dreams
  • Make vacation plans for somewhere outrageous. Then work as a family to cut down on expenses and save money so you can actually go!
  • Set up an “Olympic Games” obstacle course in the backyard
  • Create a family “workout routine”
  • Go camping or fishing – or both
  • Do charity work together