As with many other aspects of life, children come with their own unique set of needs. Praise and affirmations for children can make a huge impact on the development of their confidence and identity. While a simple “good job” or “way to go” feels natural and sufficient, children need to hear more specific words and phrases. Especially in the first 3 years of life when they are learning increased autonomy, purpose, and growing their skillset. Children benefit from hearing specifically what they are doing a ”good job” at. An example would be instead of saying Good Job, you can say That looked hard, you did it! The goal of these types of affirmations are for children to be intrinsically motivated. This means they are working for the personal satisfaction it provides, not to please others.
On the flip side, when a child is upset or having a hard time regulating their emotions, they again need to hear specifics instead of a generic “it’s/you’re ok”.
Here are a few example scenarios to get your gears in motion to help you think of specific ways to offer affirmations to children. Next time you feel inclined to throw out a quick “good job”, take a moment to pause and say “Hmm, I see that…” (then describe what you see). “You look proud…are you so glad you…” (describe what they did), “I’m so glad you,” (describe again what they did). It sounds repetitive but that is good for children and is practice for us at observing and commenting positively on what we see.
In anything new, give yourself grace as this may be a difficult shift or habit to acclimate to. Here are some situational examples:
I fully acknowledge how difficult it can be to hear your child struggle with emotions and even cry, however, helping them understand and identify their emotions early on will help them strengthen their emotional intelligence and self-regulation. I started with Thompson when he was an infant with a chart I found at Dollar Tree. It had 9 basic emotions and I was able to glue it to a posterboard and present it to him. I used a pointer finger tool and spoke about the face I saw and what emotion it was. We have used that tool regularly and he is now 4 years old. This has helped us when he is feeling an emotion such as frustration, anger, or sadness. He can now verbalize that emotion. We have not had tantrums or blow outs for this reason. He has the words to describe the emotions and then we can spend time in our calm corner, do deep breathing, counting, snuggle a blanket, or give big hugs to help regulate those emotions.
When your child seems to be upset in some way, rather than saying “It’s Ok” try something like “I see you’re having a hard time.…you seem ____(angry, upset, frustrated, confused). What do you think would be something we can do to help you right now? I am here and listening.” Being present even during difficult emotions shows that you are consistent. That even during their hard times you are still there to support and love them. I find that I get heightened with really loud noises, so I use earplugs or headphones sometimes to lessen the volume. Thompson is aware that I am using these tools to help my ears not hurt but that I can still hear him and be near him with his big feelings. A great book for this type of presence is called The Rabbit Listens. It starts with a little boy’s blocks falling over and animals try to come help him in ways he did not find helpful. The story goes on to the end where a rabbit comes and is just beside the boy. He does not try to fix it or tell him what to do, he is just present. So, remember, if uncertain what to do, being present is a powerful tool.
Now, I know I just said to avoid “it’s ok”, however, when validating emotions this phrase has it’s time and place. Letting children know “it’s ok to cry/be upset/etc.” or “you can be angry but you cannot ____ (hit, bite, spit, hurt others)”. This helps children learn appropriate responses to emotions and feel safe expressing themselves.
There are many ways to incorporate affirmations into a child’s daily routine. As a caregiver, you can speak these affirmations to your children regularly. You can also write them out and place on their mirror, lunch bag, or bookbag. I love to ask Thompson to stand in front of a mirror and look at himself and then I speak affirmations over him. I love to see his face brighten up and a huge smile come across his face. I also ask him to repeat them after me so that he becomes used to giving himself praise and affirming who he is. I often do this with what the Word of God says about him. That he is wonderfully made, mighty, powerful, loving, and worthy.
A Child of God
Fun to be around
My parents love me
I attract great friends
I show others respect
I can control my emotions
My words matter
I am good at solving problems
I don’t give up
Making mistakes help me grow
I don’t have to be perfect to be worthy
I have many talents
I hope that these helpful child development tips and affirmation ideas will support you in encouraging and loving your child. I would love to hear what ideas you try and how they make a difference in your child and your relationship with them. Please feel free to reach out anytime!
As adults, some of us like to have plans so we know what to expect and others like to fly by the seat of our pants and go with the flow by the hour. Either way, research has shown that all humans need some level of routine in their life. This may be waking up to music, drinking coffee, working out, going to work, winding down doing yoga or reading a book. Most people have a sequence of events that they do daily that helps them feel regulated, safe, and in control of their day.
As a Certified Child Life Specialist, I spent many of my years learning about how developing children cope with stressors so that I could properly assist and support children experiencing challenging or life-threatening events to adapt. For children, routine and consistency are super important. When they are admitted to a hospital or have an unexpected illness or injury, that consistency and routine is changed instantly. Studies have shown and I have seen that routine and consistency with minimal transitions help children to have a sense of normalcy because they can predict what is to come. Life happens though and we know that transitions will inevitably happen. Small transitions for a child may be some of the following: moving from screen time to bath time, finishing homework before playing with friends, or shifting from eating on the couch to eating together at a table with family. Larger transitions may be going from in-person school to virtual school, having family all working together in one home when they used to be in separate spaces, or going from one home to the other during a divorce process. No matter the size of the transitions, these 3 tips with tangible examples are all beneficial ways to help young children adjust.
Example: Dad walks over and takes the Ipad away from the 3 year-old son in order to get out of the car to eat lunch. The son has a complete meltdown with tears, screaming, and crying. How could this have been modified?
Dad: Son, we are about 5 minutes away from the restaurant where we are going to have lunch. When we get there, we will turn your show off the Ipad before we go in to eat? (Then, when stopped at the restaurant before getting the son out of the car)
Dad: Ok, son, first we are going to turn the ipad off, then we are going to eat lunch. When we get back after lunch, you can finish watching your show.
It is helpful for children to have time to think about and process transitions so giving verbal preparation with a tangible amount of time is helpful. Using “first, then” language helps children understand sequence and what is coming now and later.
As mentioned above, giving children time to transition with verbal
preparation is helpful. Combining that with a visible time reminder can be
Mother: In 3 minutes, it will be time to clean up the blocks and get undressed for bath time.
Be sure to have a visible timer that children can either hear clicking or see the numbers on the front panel. A timer with an audible ring or beep can help children understand it is time to transition.
Child: I do not want to take a bath (as he sees the timer begin to count down the time).
Mother: The timer has not beeped yet so you still have 2 minutes to clean up before time to get in the bath.
Mother: What did I hear? Did you hear that? Your timer went off, reminding you to get undressed and get in the bath. Let’s go! Can you help me squirt some bubble bath into the water to make you some bubbles?
Creating a visible schedule can also help children see what is first and what is coming next in their day. This does not have to be an exact time schedule but can be more of a block of time so that the child sees: first they eat breakfast, then they have free play, next they go to the park, and then they take a nap, etc.
Children may not like transitions and will express themselves in a variety of ways. Some children will pout, throw things, yell, scream, cry, throw tantrums, hide, or even push or hit. It is important to maintain consistent and safe boundaries for children with their bodies and those of the adults around them. It is appropriate to tell a child that it is ok if they have feelings and want to express them but it is not ok to hurt themselves or other people around them while doing so. Wording for this may appear as:
Parent: I see that you have tears coming down your face and you seem very angry as you are swinging your fists at me. I cannot allow you to hurt me. Your hands are to be kept to yourself. What do you think will help you to be less mad right now?
If they do answer with some solutions, a parent can guide them to help make that solution happen if appropriate. If they do not have a solution, a parent can offer them ‘would you like to give yourself a big hug with your arms and take a deep breath while blowing out to the count of three’? If that does not work, then you may ask the child if they need a hug to help them feel safe or redirect their angry feelings to an inanimate object such as a pillow to push on or punch when angry. Then, when de-escalated, teach them how to take deep breaths and reduce their anger without using any physical actions towards things or others.
Another example would be a child who is throwing their belongings or begins to act out in various ways before it is their weekend to go to their other parents house. Children living in separate homes who transition spaces every other weekend, or however it is written in the parenting plan, can have challenging behaviors prior to those transitions. Acknowledging their feelings and allowing them to problem solve may look like this:
Parent: I see that you are rolling your eyes and not packing your clothes to go to your (dad’s/mom’s house). What do you find difficult about that or what would you like to share about how that makes you feel to go to (dad’s/mom’s) house every other weekend? The child may state that they do not like to take clothes or their own toys each time. They may explain how they do not have their own space or have to share when at the other home with step-siblings. Some solutions to transitioning to and from two homes may be brainstorming how some clothes and toys can stay at the other parents home so they are there consistently and do not have to be carried back and forth. It may also be creating standard expectations that apply to both homes so that the child knows what their rules are at each place and boundaries are the same.
The concept behind these three tips can be applied to many transitions in a child’s life. The goal is not for children to be guarded from all of life’s challenges but instead to be able to experience them and come up with healthy ways to cope with them, process their own feelings, and brainstorm solutions. This will create resiliency in them and prepare them for hardships they may encounter later in life. Thanks for giving these tips a try and feel free to comment below on any helpful tips you have to share that have worked for you and your child when adjusting to transitions.
With the continued impacts of a pandemic and the challenges and confusion that has caused, I thought I would start with “Talking to children about germs and how to stay healthy”. Now more than ever, children are aware of germs in the environment and how those spread. Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, I was constantly playing in the dirt and outside because I loved it and my family encouraged it. Now, when I see a surge in the promotion of fresh air and connectedness to nature from many healthcare professionals, stating it builds the immune system, I want to say, well duh! However, I cannot assume that others have grown up the way I did or have access to nature the way I did and do now. I can continue to help families build nature activities into their schedules and hopefully provide ways to explain germs and the environment to children.
Preschool: Developmentally, this age group is soaking up everything in their environment at accelerated rates. Anyone who has interacted with this age whether through their own family, at church, or anywhere will describe them as “little sponges” or “monkey see, monkey do”. With good intention, adults often think shielding them from complex information is best. However, their imaginations are fully engaged and active. Therefore, they will fill the gaps with their own, made-up scenarios or information if not given accurate information. To support this age, they need concrete, factual information in simple terms they can digest. In reference to germs, they need simple, concrete details. An example would be “there are healthy germs that support our bodies and germs that can make us sick and harm our bodies”. We can protect ourselves by covering sneezes and coughs in our sleeve, washing hands with soap and water, eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, and getting lots of time outside in nature with lots of sunshine.” This lets them know the why behind our actions and empowers them to feel in control of their own health.
A favorite activity for this age is to use glitter to emphasize the spread of germs and the importance of hand hygiene. Simply sprinkle some glitter (aka: the germs) on your child’s hands and tell them to rub them together. Afterwards, have them wash their hands and as they do, dialogue about how much effort it takes to get the glitter off. Explain how important it is to wash hands after using the bathroom, picking their nose, before eating, etc. Having a healthy microbiome in children and adults helps our bodies’ abilities to absorb nutrients, regulates the immune system, and can influence mood. A microbiome is the microorganisms that make up a particular environment such as our gut. Gut health is super important and so we want to be cautious not to kill all helpful organisms with the sole use of sanitizer. Instead, using soap and water can cleanse the skin of germs without compromising the body’s natural immune system or causing antimicrobial resistance.
Source: Handwashing vs Sanitizer What’s the best way to clean my hands during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? | MD Anderson Cancer Center
Source: Sanitizers cause antimicrobial resistance Heavy use of hand sanitizer boosts antimicrobial resistance (phys.org)
Using a fun song or familiar tune can also make hand hygiene a fun activity. Many like to sing the happy birthday song twice or other fun songs. Daniel Tiger also has a great episode with a fun tune you can access here.
Another all-time favorite resource for preschoolers is Sesame Street. They have an army of behind the scene professionals whose backgrounds are in child development, so they have a beautiful way of explaining complex topics to this age. View their video explaining germs here.
School Age: By the time children are in this stage of life, they have a need to feel purposeful and industrious. They have a need to feel capable of doing. To encourage this, they love to be assigned jobs. When working with children of this age in the hospital preparing for medical procedures, I would often tell them “Your job is to ____ (hold still, take deep breaths, etc.) so we can take care of your body”. By giving them this direct and specific instruction, they feel they have control and a purpose in the situation. This helps them follow instructions to help themselves even when experiencing stressful things. To help them understand their role in protecting themselves from germs, you can give them the same direct specific instruction “your job is to be mindful of your body by noticing if you are not feeling well and telling me, that way we can support your body in the ways it needs”. “We can also try to prevent spreading germs to others” or “it is your job to wash your hands after ____” or to cover your cough. Explaining things clearly in the preschool stage coupled with fulfilling the need for purpose in the school age stage, you are setting your children up for success developmentally.
A sticker chart works great for this age! It makes them feel accomplished and they can see their progress as they work toward a goal. The key here is to keep the motivations intrinsic so that they value the goal they have set. Not one that we create for them. I like to work with children to attach a special reward that they have created alongside me to a set number of stickers. For example, after they fill up 1 row or 5 or 10 stickers, they can pick from an established list of rewards. Rewards don’t always have to be tangible, they can be experiential, which I find is most helpful. Examples of these are movie night, special daddy/mommy day, extra outside time, or a visit to the zoo or park/playground. Including children in the planning fosters more autonomy and control by giving them a choice of the chart colors, stickers, and rewards that motivate them internally. This can be fun and can offer moments for you both to get creative and tailor specifically to your child’s interests.
Teenagers: Anyone who has gone through the teenage years with a child, grandchild, niece or nephew can tell you they come with their own set of unique challenges. Teens are attempting to find their identity in terms of who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to be perceived. With sickness being such a commonplace topic now after a pandemic, they might have formed their own opinion or beliefs based on the influences in their environment or the ever-present impacts of social media and the news. While we want to foster this sense of independence, it can be hard if their emerging ideas don’t align with you or your family’s. Ultimately, you are the one who sets the values within your home and family. Working together alongside your teenager, you can guide them to reliable, accurate resources that can help when they are conflicted or struggling with who or what to believe. Simply letting them know you are open to conversation and exploring their opinions and ideas can go a long way, especially if they are different from yours. This will help them feel valued and will build a foundation of trust that can set them up to feel they can have additional or harder conversations down the road with you, when necessary.
When educating children about how to keep healthy, here are some things I love to share for an overall picture. I explain that the body is a system with many parts and that when the parts work together, they are healthier. I like to share about the emotional, social, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of health. Emotionally, being aware of how they feel and being able to express their feelings appropriately is key to stress reduction. Reduced stress helps our immune system stay strong. Socially, being connected with a strong support system, positive relationships, and family are key. This helps regulate our emotions and provides our bodies with healthy hormones. Mentally, being able to share feelings and thoughts with others, ask questions, and process information accurately is helpful in understanding overall health. Physically, reducing sugars and increasing exercise and fresh air are recipes for healthier bodies. Spiritually, encouraging children to lean on God and talk to and pray for protection, wisdom, and covering is important. Having mentors to ask tough spiritual questions is beneficial also.
Ways to promote overall health include, but are not limited to:
Modeling for children the above choices that promote health, helps them see your example and the benefits. We can encourage them that it is good to get a little dirty by connecting back to nature, to be still and listen to the sounds around them, and to be present in each moment. Now that you have the developmentally appropriate resources to equip your child to understand health, germs, and hygiene, they can feel empowered to continue to explore their environment while remaining safe, healthy, and happy!
Let’s be honest, are you 100% still working wholeheartedly on your New Year’s resolutions? There are many things in life and distractions which can cause us to lose momentum. How can we continue to be motivated and keep momentum with a healthy pace throughout the year?
There are few tools that I wanted to share with you that have helped myself and my family to create healthier rhythms, stay encouraged, and live a balanced lifestyle. Having healthy rhythms and mindsets will fluctuate and change. It is essential to keep in mind that perfection is not needed nor expected, so give yourself grace. Trying something new can be scary and exciting. It takes time to really get into a rhythm, feel balanced, and feel encouraged on a regular basis.
The tools that I hope will help you are as follows:
This planner has been wonderful for me. I was searching for something that helped me prioritize self care, was not overwhelming, and allowed me to be creative. I love this planner because it has a coloring page, habit tracker, mood tracker, self care ideas and support, as well as an online community. I use the app to connect to others and see how they complete their planners or what they are doing to help themselves. The planner is different monthly so I feel like I get a fresh start each month. It refreshes me and helps me not feel stressed or stagnant. I chose the 3 month subscription but there are other options also. Each month, I get excited to go to the mailbox for my planner. It is an investment but to me well worth it because of the community, creative outlets, and ways in which it encourages self care. Another aspect of this planner that I love is that it is truly a scrapbook for me when finished. It is something I can save and look back on in the future to see what life looked like or remember certain times.
Find it HERE
As I was trying to organize myself individually and figure out how I was going to function daily after the death of my mom, I realized that I also needed something to help our family. I located the Family Plan Calendar and loved how it included the entire family and everyone’s individual plans all in one place. I love how this calendar has more than just dates and space for things to add on. It has a prayer request section, grateful list, meal plan for the week, grocery list, and chore or to do list. Everything is all in one place, it is large enough to be visible, and inspired us to have weekly family meetings to organize ourselves and communicate better. You can see Aaron and I talk about how we started using this plan and see the plan more in detail here.
These are a great way to incorporate inspiration into your daily routine. Having a personal planner and family plan are great tools, but adding affirmations will help encourage you daily as you create new rhythms. These do not have to be big, grand gestures or a huge time commitment in your day. Just by simply reading & repeating affirmations, you are already on your way to building a new positive habit! As you read special quotes to you or affirmations below, notice any limiting self beliefs that pop up. Take a self inventory by noticing them, not judging them, and then replacing the negative thoughts with the truth. The truth is what God says about you, that you are loved, perfectly and wonderfully made, and capable of love and being loved.
Here are some other simple ways to build affirmations into your daily routines:
Before becoming an Airbnb superhost and property manager, I loved decorating my own spaces. I enjoyed being able to change my living room, bedroom, or office spaces every 6 months or so in order to give my mind a refresh. In college, my major was Child Development and the department I was in was called Family and Consumer Sciences. In this department, I took classes such as Interior Design, Culinary Arts, and Textiles. I wondered at the time, the purpose of these classes, but then when I was in them I realized how fun and practical they were. I was able to design some hypothetical spaces such as my dream cabin, a future children’s hospital, and an orphanage. Of course, while designing those, I had no budget. That meant I could design away without worry or restraint. Now, of course, managing properties for myself and other owners, I have to design and renovate spaces on a budget. That is what this blog is for, to inspire others with some of my creative ways to redesign spaces without breaking the bank!
It is helpful to see a space and decide what type of theme or feel that you would like it to have. Are you seeking minimalist, clean lines? Modern or rustic? Is this your personal space or a rental and what is the desired function of this space? I ask myself these things and then narrow down the vision based on my answers. For example, when we bought our very first camper, it was an older model and hideous inside with old floral patterns on all the fabrics. The wall colors and cabinetry colors were white, bright, and neutral so I left those. I decided on a Shabby Chic theme and knew I wanted to keep the colors bright for accent decor and fabrics. The color pallet I chose was yellow, gray, and white with design themes such as arrows, chevron patterns, and varied textures. This came out beautifully and was a very successful Airbnb rental. Deciding and sticking to the theme for your space will keep you from purchasing items that are out of theme or not necessary. This helps the design stay consistent while keeping the purchases only to necessities.
Once you have your theme, it is important to assess the space and figure out how to repurpose what you already have. Can that antique dresser be used as a bookshelf instead by removing the drawers? Can those drawers then be used to hang on the wall and hold books or decor items? Is that old coffee table that has water marks on it able to be topped with a quality liner paper to continue to be used instead of buying a new one? I have redesigned spaces on a budget by salvaging a lamp with an awful lampshade just by updating the shade to match my theme and the same goes for recovering decorative pillows instead of purchasing all new pillows. Once you repurpose all that you can, then you can buy only what you need. It also never hurts to ask around to your family and friends for items. My in-laws were looking to downsize their Christmas decor and I had asked if they had anything I could use for Beary Viewtiful cabin? They were so happy to have items go somewhere to be put to good use and have their space decluttered while I was happy to have some extra Christmas decor!
I have successfully found items such as lamps, runner rugs, end tables, and decor on Facebook Marketplace. My tips for using that platform are to find local items that are close to you for pick up. Spending a ton of time or money driving here and there to get items is not efficient. I try to find sellers in the same area that I live or where the properties I am designing are located. Then, I try to buy more items from one seller if they have multiple things for sale or from other sellers close to that seller. This really saves me time and energy when picking up items plus, some sellers offer discounts when buying more than one item from them. I also ensure to ask the seller if I can do porch pick up so that I do not have to arrive at a specific time but can give a time range instead. This allows me to strategize and map out my pick up plan to save time and gas.
For hardware, cabinetry, plumbing items, or other renovation type items, I always check Habitat for Humanity Restores first. They have a lot of supplies for way less than major home improvement stores. For example, I was able to purchase a new, in the box toilet for my Farmhouse Tudor remodel for $60 instead of $120 and a vanity with sink for $125 instead of $350. I added a coat of paint to match my theme and done! Each savings helps and they do add up. For furniture, I love to go to local antique and thrift stores. If you are ever in the Nashville area, I highly recommend Thriftsmart. They have a great selection and discount tag colors and days for seniors and teachers. In the Franklin area, Graceworks is the place to go. They have high quality items for amazing prices. The owners of the Farmhouse Tudor found an amazing genuine leather blue couch that matched the theme for only $300! Another great benefit of these locations is that they give back to the community. For example, Thriftsmart gives 100% of proceeds to local nonprofits. Graceworks uses funds to combat poverty, homelessness, and to provide food to those in the area. This means you can shop knowing you are also helping others.
After I have obtained all I can from the thrift and resale stores, I then move on to the larger brand stores such as Bargain Hunt or Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby discontinued the 40% off one item coupon, but I still plan and go on the half off days for the items I know I may need. The reason I choose their store is because they have so many themes and I can shop for multiple properties at one location, which again saves time and energy. For Bargain Hunt, I purchased a living room coffee table with an end table set and asked for a discount because one corner end was peeling off. I was easily able to glue that and received 15% off at the store. Win-win! I was also purchasing a rug, another table, and some lamps and was able to ask for a bundle discount on that since it was a larger furniture package. All they can do is say no, but they said yes so I received an additional 5% off.
These are some of the ways that I have found tried and true for redesigning a space on a budget. You can do so much to a space with small changes but when you need to make larger purchases, following the above tips can save some money! Remember, that budgeting not only applies to physical dollar spending, but you should also budget for resources like your time, energy, and efforts. My goal is to redesign spaces thoughtfully and beautifully while being conscientious of monies spent and my time away from my family. I hope you love these ideas and that they help you redesign your home spaces or get into designing for others.
When 6 inches of beautiful, white, fluffy snow falls in your area, what do you do? You go out and get some and make ice cream with it, of course! Haha! Well, this is what our family does anyhow. We love when snow falls in our area and after spending time playing in it, we like to collect some and make delicious snow cream. Thompson is also dairy free so we will share with you what we add to make dairy free snow cream! Follow the 4 easy steps below…
1 Cup of milk (almond or your preferred milk if dairy free)
1-2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (depending on how much vanilla flavor you like)
1 Pinch of Salt (we use Himalayan Pink Salt)
½ Cup Pure Cane Sugar
Planning a trip to High Country, North Carolina soon? Don’t waste your precious time researching fun, family-friendly activities. Let “Glory Be That’s Me” do the work for you! Sit back, relax, and read on to explore some of my personal favorite spots that are sure to make lasting memories for all ages. Below you will find the best sights to see, places to go, and things to do while visiting High Country, all mapped out and ready for you to explore. Enjoy and be sure to leave us a comment to let us know your favorite High Country adventures!
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster:
I am an adrenaline thrill seeker and this did not disappoint! With multiple 360-degree loops, it is fast enough to get your heart racing at 27 MPH yet safe enough for everyone in the family to enjoy. New in 2020 and a first of its kind, the Alpine Coaster is nestled in the base of Sugar Mountain and is a mix of a roller coaster and sled run. Open every day year-round including winter ski season! Hours vary according to each season so check their website below before you go.
Grandfather Mountain is a non-profit, state park near Linville, North Carolina. Encompassing the highest peak on the eastern portion of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, this park offers a variety of activities so everyone in your group is sure to find an experience unique to their interests. Their website has an ample amount of information to help plan your visit including FAQs, accessibility information, local weather, and much more (too much to detail!). Some notable information to point out is your admission fee allows you to drive your own vehicle throughout the park. Fees vary by age and park hours vary by season both of which can be found by clicking here. With a variety of hiking trails, wildlife exhibits, the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge and many more sites to explore, you will for sure feel like your money was well spent. Being a passionate educator myself, I love how they also offer many events and classes encompassing a variety of interests (additional fees may apply). Not only does this park behold some of God’s greatest work they also work diligently to preserve the natural beauty of Grandfather Mountain. From EV charging stations, to biodegradable products in their restaurant and even creating renewable energy, you’ll be sure to feel good about your visit knowing you are contributing to the preservation of God’s beauty for many generations to come!
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery:
For the wine enthusiast, be sure to check out the family owned Grandfather Vineyard Winery. Owned and managed by the Tatum Family who originally purchased the land to begin a common business practice in this area of the country: Christmas Tree Farms. While they may have switched focus to a vineyard, the deep-rooted family friendly atmosphere is evident in every corner of the property down to their multiple Vineyard/Winery Dogs! The Tatums use a variety of 10+ grapes, making wine since 2003, which is sure to please any palate from dry whites and reds to sweet wines and a bubbly for every occasion. They also maintain a year-round, diverse event calendar with my favorite being the live music. Does it get any better than relaxing on the banks of the Watauga River with a glass of locally crafted wine while listening to an invigorating mixture of banjo, guitar, and bass transporting your mindset miles away from the buzzing and beeping of our ever-present technology and devices?! And, after you leave, you can always hop online to order their award winning wine shipped straight to the comfort of your couch to help recreate your favorite vineyard memories. Open 7 days a week with afternoon hours and welcoming dogs and children, Grandfather Vineyard Winery will quickly become one of your favorite High Country stops.
Banner Elk Consignment Cottage:
From the exterior, don’t discount the unassuming Consignment Cottage of Banner Elk on your trip to High Country (see what I did there? discount = consignment). In all seriousness though, this charming little store has a diverse selection of classic furniture, art, and home goods sure to compliment any décor. While they don’t have an official website, their Facebook page provides up-to-date information including new inventory and hours and are very responsive to messages regarding pricing and dimensions. Be sure to stop in and grab your own unique piece of North Carolina to take back home with you!
Sugar Mountain Resort:
Ask anyone for ski lodging recommendations in High Country and they are sure to list Sugar Ski & Country Club at the top of their list of must visit resorts. With an extensive FAQs page, their website is a great resource to help you understand what they are all about! They are located within close proximity to all the attractions listed in this blog. One of their best-loved details is the fact that they offer slope side lodging and are the area’s only true ski in/ski out lodging center during the winter months (2 bedroom units only). If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing don’t count them out. There are several other activities right outside your door such as hiking and biking trails, golfing, gem mining, and local seasonal festivals. Each condominium is individually owned ensuring a unique experience each time you book your stay (because trust me, you are going to want to come back and experience this place again and again!).
If you check out any of these amazing locations or activities, be sure to post a picture and tag me @glorybethatsme! I would love to see you enjoying all that the area has to offer.
Also, if you need somewhere in the area to stay while in town, check out my AirBNB property, Sugar Chic, here.
Thanks for reading!
Since I was a child, I have been visiting the Smoky Mountains near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. This area was close enough for my family to make a day trip and enjoy time together. I remember they took me to Silver Dollar City which is now called Dollywood and Hillbilly Golf as a child. Now that I am grown I still visit the area, often. Before I owned my cabin properties, I would come with friends once a year if able and rent a cabin to watch or participate in Rod Runs. This car fest draws tons of people each year and I loved to see all the unique and fancy cars and trucks. Now that I own my own cabins, I am in the Smoky Mountain area once a month to maintain those properties. In my time there, I like to create balance and ensure we have a little fun, in addition to the work. I thought I would share some of our favorite “tourtisty” and local things to do while in the area.
Let’s start with the places I visited as a child, Dollywood and Hillbilly Golf. Dollywood is an amusement park created by Dolly Parton. It is an all day type of place to visit and unlike other theme parks is more shaded with the natural setting so you do not get as hot while waiting for rides or walking around. I love that each season there are new and unique themes to see such as Barbecue and Bluegrass, Harvest Festival, and the spectacular Smoky Mountain Christmas. I also like that it is a wholesome, Christian park where Gospel, bluegrass, or Dolly’s music is playing throughout. In the past, we have saved money by getting the Gold Season pass so that parking is included and we receive 20% off purchases once in the theme park. This is good for us if we plan to visit multiple times a year but if you plan to go just once there are less expensive options. I have so many things to share about Dollywood that it could be a blog in itself. For now, my favorite things to do while there are to ride the many awesome rollercoasters, watch their amazing shows with talented cast members, and to ride the steam train to enjoy the scenery.
Hillbilly Golf has been around for nearly 50 years now and even survived the wildfires in 2010. It has two Appalachian themed, 18 hole miniature golf courses on the side of a mountain. I love that you get to ride a tram about 300 feet up the mountain and then golf down. This obstacle golf course features things that are typical Appalachian mountain items such as tractor equipment, moonshine making setups, and old forest logs. These things make for challenging yet fun holes that create a unique atmosphere for great putt putt. There is even one hole where you turn your putter around and use it as a pool cue to tap the ball down a Plinko-like game table before it lands near or in the hole at the bottom. It has many fun aspects like great history, beautiful landscaping, and entertaining family fun!
You can find them on FaceBook @Hillbilly Golf
I took my first big swig of homemade moonshine when I was five or six years old. This was not intentional, but my daddy carried around a jug that was clear and had a thumb handle on it. We were visiting Grandfather Mountain on a day trip and I saw that jug and was thirsty. I took a big swig of ‘water’ not knowing that it would burn all the way down. That was an interesting time which made for a good laugh, for sure! Ole Smoky Moonshine opened up in 2010 and up until then I had only ever had homemade ‘shine. I was not even sure it was real ‘shine since it was legal to distill and distribute then. So, I tried it and no offense to all ya’ll that like it, but it was nasty to me! I did not like the flavor, the consistency, or the after taste. After that I just stuck to my local mountain water and didn’t give it another thought. Then, in 2014, Sugarlands Distilling Company opened in Gatlinburg and began offering samples of Sugarlands Shine. So, I went to give it a taste and now I highly recommend visiting their location when you are in the area as their ‘shine is mighty tasty. When you arrive you pay $5 to sample 12 different ‘shines. They have multiple tasting stations where a local person helps tell about the ‘shines and pours samples. Tips are recommended afterwards if they do a great job. What I like about this is that you can try 12 different types or flavors of ‘shine and then use the $5 you paid for the tasting to go towards a bottle of ‘shine to take home. This is a great daytime activity, evening date night, or group activity. I took my Momma there for a daytime fun visit and needless to say we were good to go for the rest of the day and had lots of laughs together. Personally, I do not care for all the frou frou flavors. My favorite may not be one most folks like because it is stout at 100 proof. Again, I think I like it because it is what I was raised up on. The traditional, unaged corn whiskey is closest to the kind that used to be bootlegged throughout the Appalachian mountains and has a crisp, sweet tone. Others that are similar to what I had back home are the Blackberry, Peach, and Apple Pie kinds. Definitely worth a taste to see what you think and they are less proof around 40 or 50 so you may not feel the ‘impact’ as much as the traditional ‘shine.
Anakeesta is where we go anytime we are in town and have a half a day at least to explore. We have season passes so we are not pressured to stay all day or long periods of time if we have lots of cabin work to get done. My family loves the chairlift that takes you to the top of the mountain in Gatlinburg where you are dropped of at Anakeesta. I recommend getting tickets online and in advance to avoid waiting in long lines. Anakeesta is our favorite for many reasons. There are spectacular mountain views from so many areas. The activities offered provide something for all ages. The swinging tree bridges in the canopy tops are fun to enjoy in the daytime or when lit up at night. They have special lighting that makes it apewar like lighting bugs are flying all around. There are a variety of food selections from ice cream shop, outdoor dining with a view, an indoor fancier supper option, and coffee and snack vendors. We love to sit in the rocking chairs enjoying a rest while staring at the mountain views. They have added AnaVista tower where you can see from every angle, long range mountain views for miles and miles. A mountain coaster and zip lines are available for the thrill seekers, as well as a splashpad for children. The thoughtfully setup photo op stations are convenient and make for stunning pictures. Anakeesta is a great place for single travelers, couples, and families. It is a romantic spot for a date day or night as well.
There are umpteen options for folks as far as scenic drives and hikes go in the Smoky Mountains and several guides and reviews of hikes that can be found online. So, for this section I am just going to chat with you about the 45 minute scenic drive from Gatlinburg, TN to Clingman’s Dome in Bryson City, NC. This drive is absolutely breathtaking and there are several areas to pull off and admire the scenery or take a hike, including the Appalachian Trail. So, for now I will focus on Clingman’s Dome and you can do your research and find the hikes you want to try along the drive up there. My tips to you are to leave early to arrive early as the parking lot gets full quickly and the half mile walk/hike from the parking lot to the top of Clingman’s Dome takes about 35-45 minutes and is somewhat strenuous. Not because of the path as the majority is paved but because of the steep incline of the path. I have been winded just taking my time and walking up the path because of that. It is definitely well worth it at the top of the observation tower at 6,643 feet, the highest peak in the Smokies. Be sure to take proper outdoor gear (comfortable walking or hiking shoes, a rain/windproof jacket, sunscreen, water, snacks, binoculars, and layers of clothes) as the weather at the higher elevation can change quickly and is typically 10-20 degrees cooler than where you start. Take a camera and be prepared to see nearly 100 miles if the weather is clear!
Through my many years visiting the Smoky Mountains, I have enjoyed tons of fun activities. These listed above have come to be my favorites. So, try these out next time you find yourself in East Tennessee and tag me in your pictures!
Nashville and the surrounding towns offer so many cool spots to make memories with loved ones. Scenic parks and hiking trails, cute cafes and restaurants, and exciting and unique activities and events are some of the many things you can experience with your family, significant other, or friends. Who says you can’t be a tourist in your own city? Here are some of my personal favorite places.
For breakfast or brunch, I highly recommend Eggstravaganza Café just outside of Nashville in Antioch. It’s such a cute and cozy establishment, with several delicious options for a sweet or savory breakfast. There’s outdoor and indoor seating, reasonable pricing, and the location provides several close-by activities for after your meal!
Assembly Food Hall on 5th and Broadway offers so many delicious options for any meal. Think of a mall food court, but fancier! With a wide variety of cuisine choices, late night hours, beautiful views with their balcony seating, and so many activity spots nearby, the heart of downtown Nashville pulses here. Definitely recommended for picky or indecisive eaters since there are several restaurants and bars to choose from!
If you’re visiting Nashville and asked a friend (or Google) where you should eat, you were probably told to try Nashville’s famous hot chicken at either Hattie B’s or Party Fowl. They’re not wrong; you definitely should! Both Hattie B’s and Party Fowl have several locations in and around Nashville, so no matter where you stay, you probably have one close-by! And there are many fun activity spots near each location for you to try afterwards. And if you don’t care for spicy food, that’s okay: both restaurants have non-spicy options for you, too. (Photos by @hattiebs)
The Frist Art Museum is located in downtown Nashville on Broadway, and has fresh new exhibits every few months, which means you can go several times a year and there’s always something new! They also host special events, like musical groups, cultural events, meet and greets with local artists, and much more.
The candle bar is a unique experience, with hands-on candle making workshops and at-home candle-making kits you can purchase as well for a fun activity you don’t have to leave the house for! There are locations in both The Gulch and Berry Hill; Berry Hill is reservation only and The Gulch is pop-in only, so definitely check out their website before you go. (Photos by @paddywaxcandlebar)
The Love Circle is in the heart of Nashville, and a perfect spot for couples. It’s a street that makes its way up a hill and then looks out over a park. The views and the distance from restaurants and other cute spots make it the perfect place for a date. Bring a picnic and plan to spend some quality time soaking in the wonderful views of our great city!
Sometimes on the farm, you will see a hen that will go broody. This means that she has begun to lay on the nest of eggs in an effort to hatch chicks. This oftentimes happens when eggs are left in the nest box too long or sometimes hens just love being broody! In our case, we had 2 hens that became broody at the same time. They are both Maran chickens as far as breed. When hens go broody they stop laying, so this can become a problem for homesteaders as egg production goes down. We have so many chickens, so in our case, that was not the issue. We just did not want to have to take care of chicks ourselves this time around if mama hen decided to leave them.
It got to the point, when Aaron, my husband, would go to collect eggs, these broody hens would literally try to tear him apart. So, naturally, the eggs did not get collected as often haha! Another hen decided that she should join the party. She was a Maran breed, as well, and became broody in the 3rd nest box. Now, we had all 3 nest boxes occupied!! That means that our other 15 hens could either join in and lay at risk of getting pecked or could find somewhere else to lay. They did both, but I will get to that later. I gloved up and quickly began trying to collect eggs that I knew had just been laid but we still had a LOT of eggs under the hens. That evening we candled some, meaning held a bright light up to them when it was super dark, to see what was inside. Some we could tell were the beginning of chicks and others we could not tell. So, we left them all in there as we didn’t want to risk throwing ones away that might be ready to hatch. We had been out of town for a week and our homestead helper did not want to reach in and get pecked either. You see a trend here?!?!
Believe it or not, a fourth hen (a Columbian Wyandotte) squished in with one of the other hens, resulting in four broody hens sitting in 3 nest boxes. This was the point when I realized, it was time to take further action. It even got to the point that other hens were laying in our pig Bonnie’s igloo house! I realized that because Bonnie came out to greet me one day and had a yellow circle on her hind quarters. I could not figure out what that yellow circle was until I realized she had laid on an egg and it was then that I found the nest in her igloo house! This cannot be happening, I thought! Smart hens though because her igloo does have straw in it, so they make a nice round nest in there.
I put my big girl panties on and decided it was time for ‘PLAN A.’
Plan A: I reached in and marked all of the eggs with an X with a Sharpie marker. I did it on both ends of the eggs, being very gentle to pick them up and lay them back carefully in the same place. This would help any life trying to form to not be damaged. The hens tried to peck and tear me up, which was not fun. They fluffed their feathers out to make themselves look very large and then they made a growling type trill noise, which I knew was trouble. After all eggs were labeled, Aaron placed an old piece of fencing over the nest boxes, allowing hens access to food and water, but keeping other hens out. That way we would know that these eggs were the same eggs and no new ones would be added, or so we thought. We even added 3 new nest boxes for all the other hens to lay in. They never laid in them and somehow flew on top and tore off the fencing and got back into the nest boxes with the broody hens. We collected the extra unmarked eggs and went on to ‘PLAN B’, an hour of time gone!
Plan B: We gently moved all the eggs and hens into their own smaller coop so the other hens could lay in their regular nest boxes. This is risky for several reasons. For example, a broody hen can leave her eggs, they can go wild and squawk like crazy for long periods of time, and they can crush eggs trying to figure out what is happening. I often tell Aaron that the best tool when farming or homesteading is observation. It tells you so much about life, animals, and what is happening on the farm. So, we observed. The hens quickly exhibited all three of the red flags above as they left their nests. This was not going to work. We put all the eggs and hens back into their original locations. Thankfully, they stayed there and kept sitting on their eggs. Another hour of time gone! On to ‘PLAN C,’ as we were frustrated at this point.
PLAN C: A chick finally hatched but was dead outside the nest box. We could not figure out why. The next day we found 4 more chicks that were dead under different hens. I noticed one had it’s head missing and then saw a peck mark. Some of the hens must have become cannibals, yikes! So, I observed and finally saw 2 hens that were fighting over the head and instantly removed all the eggs. As I was about to run off the third Maran, the Columbian hen pecked her away herself. I knew then that she was protecting her nest. So, we left her there and sure enough she hatched her chick and took great care of it. The rest of the eggs went to the incubator and a sweet friend of mine said she would take them if they started to hatch. She needed to replenish her flock and we did not want to take care of more ourselves, so it worked out great.
One chick hatched in the incubator and I thought I would try to integrate it with the mama hen and other chick. I took my time to cover her and not have my scent on her and then placed her under mama hen. This is risky as the chick can get pecked and hurt but I was right there to watch and see what was going on. The other chick, which was one day older, took to pecking the new one day old chick. I could not blame her though because the chick was cheeping non-stop, not helping herself. The mama hen did take to her, but even still, did peck her a few times to get her to be quiet. I think the chick was hungry because after I placed her beak into the chick crumbles and water, she went under mama hen and slept. It was several days before other chicks began to hatch in the incubator, but we went ahead and took them to our friend’s house. She now has 5 beautiful chicks!
Overall, this was a mini-fiasco on the farm, but we are happy with the end results. Long story short, collect eggs twice a day if you do not want broody hens. If you do want them, then be sure that they are not eating their chicks and have a suitable place to raise their chicks. Our nest boxes are up high and I got worried the chicks would fall out, so Aaron built them a ramp (that never got used) LOL. Anyhow, that is our story about Broody Hens, Incubating, and Integrating Chicks, OH MY!