Light –

Light –

After the Boston marathon bombings in 2013 Peter H. Reynolds painted A reminder: There is more good than bad in this world, more light than darkness and YOU can make more light.

A print of this quote hangs by my front door and serves as a daily reminder that I can be LIGHT. Skirt Sports has helped give me the ability to be the light because it has been my light when I need it. I am generally perceived as a positive person yet the reality is that I have a very dark mind. It is something that I have continually battled with over the years. In 2013 Troy [my husband] was injured [by an IED in Afghanistan] and his perspective on life completely changed; he became a more positive person but I did not. In 2014 I discovered Skirt Sports through the moms running group I was a part of in Savannah, Georgia. This company was looking for “models” aka local women for an upcoming photoshoot [they don’t use actual models they use every day women in their promos]. I didn’t say yes because I was pregnant with Mikey (my 4th) at the time and I didn’t think they would want to feature someone like me [I would be proved wrong when a pregnant woman was featured the following year]. When the pictures came out I fell in love with the clothes and bought my first skirt shortly after Mikey was born. In 2015 I applied to be a Skirt Sports ambassador and have proudly served as one since then. 2019 will be my third year as an ambassador captain.

Skirt Sports is more than a clothing company. It is a sisterhood fueled by positivity that is a strong light in my life. Yes their clothes are cute and functional but it’s more than that. These adorable outfits help get me out the door. They help me to reach out of my darkness and to others to be the light in the world that I was truly created to be. The sisterhood supports me and also serves as my light. I have built many amazing genuine friendships these last few years with women of all backgrounds from across the country.

It truly is an honor to serve as a Skirt Sports Ambassador Captain I cannot thank Nicole & Noelle enough for seeing a light in me that I initially didn’t see. It is because of this company and sisterhood built around it that I can live with such beautiful light.

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Sophia [THE] Rose is 11!

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Truly a tween now, Sophia [THE] Rose is eleven years old today!

Every year I like to recount the day of her birth.  How Troy wouldn’t let me go to the Y to get one last swim in because it meant we would have to drive past the hospital and be up even earlier for the big day of her induction.  How Troy and I watched episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm as I labored.  How I totally lost my mental labor game and started freaking out and ended up getting an epidural that I swore I would never get.  How I’m thankful for that epidural because she ended up being in distress and had to have vacuum assistance to get out because they feared her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck.  Thankfully it was not her cord but her hand!  Baby girl came out sunny side up with her hand in her face, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” and she was born completely that way.

Sophia is my wisdom.  I know many people brag on their kids but really she is something else.  She is such a kind soul.  She is a soul well beyond her years, she always has been.  She is her great grandmothers “Dolly” and I know that Nana is truly with Sophia in spirit.  That whenever I’m on the verge of a breakdown because of Tedy’s latest antics Sophia comes up to me and just hugs me.  She has so much compassion for others it amazes me.

Her stories drive me batty sometimes though and I admit I am the world’s most mediocre mom because I tune them out.  Yet her imagination is VIVID and she is a great author.  I can’t wait to celebrate when her first book is officially published.  She says she wants to be an author when she grows up and I tell her that she already is.

She isn’t into organized sports as I had once dreamed she would be but I’ve learned to be ok with that.  She has found her path in life that she enjoys and it is on the trail.  She has hiked some extremely difficult trails and not complained at all but absolutely loved and marveled at God’s beauty out on the mountain top.  She loves camping as well and participating in American Heritage Girls.

To my Sophia [THE] Rose – HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY – the girl who made me a mom – I love you!

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These are a few of my favorite things – winter gear

***Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for Skirt Sports & BOCO gear but the opinion in this blog post is all my own.***

How did I ever used to live in the north-east land of snow?! How did I ever used to work at a ski area and regularly go snowboarding in freezing temps?! How did I ever used to walk from the pool to my dorm room in the snow wearing a swimsuit, towel & flip-flops after swim practice in the middle of winter in Massachusetts?! What happened to me?! What happened to my body?!

I can’t imagine doing much of that anymore. My body has been southern sissified since 2005. Actually my 30s smacked me pretty hard and after Ceci was born I was diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency as well as Raynaud’s.

Having poor circulation means that my body takes a bit of a hit in the winter and I have to take care to layer properly. Here are some of my favorite things to help me layer this winter.

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On the bottom: For hiking I generally wear a pair of my Skirt Sports go the distance tights or triple pocket tights underneath my sanitas pants. If I’m running then it’s the tights paired with my toasty skirt.

On the top: layering is soooooooo important. Charlotte bra has been my go-to to help with nip coverage.

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Ladies, you KNOW what I’m talking about. Having the proper bra on makes a HUGE difference for nipple pain in the cold. Then I wear a tank or a t-shirt depending on what the temps will be and if the sun will be out or not. Followed by a long sleeve if it’ll be super cold and then my tough chick top and if it’ll be super cold or windy I top off with the toasty vest.

The toasty collection is my new favorite from Skirt Sports. It is cute and functional and can be worn as active wear or a nice layer for everyday wear as well.

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I’ve been pairing leggings with the toasty skirt when we go to the ice rink for Ceci’s lessons.

Covering my hands are the new BOCO gear converter run gloves. These are faaaaabulous!!! It’s a glove AND a mitten! If your fingers don’t need the extra layer then you can tuck the mitten into the little front pocket. That pocket is also a good slot to put a hot hands for extra warmth.

The pointer finger and thumb have touch screen material so you can easily use your phone [that you have tucked away in one of your many skirt sports pockets] to snap pics. There’s also a towel like material between those two fingers. I like to call it the snot spot. Great for wiping your runny nose that inevitably comes with the cold.

Another item I really like is the versatile BOCO gear neck gaiter. It can be used to cover your neck or mouth or ears, etc. Or if it gets warm you can use it as a headband or wrap it around your wrist to wipe your snot or sweat on.

If you’d like to try Skirt Sports use code: 207DeLi for a discount*

*exclusions may apply.

Epic January Birthdays Trip

What do you get a boy who doesn’t exactly talk and can’t really tell you what he wants for his birthday and a girl who simply says “I don’t want anything, I don’t know, can I download some more books?”

My two oldest kiddos are January babies [twins two years apart – they actually had the same due date but Sophia was late and Tedy was early] with birthdays only a couple of weeks apart. I had been wracking my brain like crazy to try to figure out what to do for them for their birthdays but kept coming up empty-handed. Then as I was putting together the new years calendar I realized that they had an unexpected long weekend and a Friday off for teacher workshops. So I decided to ask them what they thought about going to check off some more North Carolina State Parks in our passport. Tedy loves to go hiking so I knew he would be game and Sophia enjoys exploring as well and said yes. I did some more research on the parks and their locations then I found a hotel and asked Troy to book it for us. My goal was to hit 4 parks in the Northwest part of the state, 5 parks would be our reach goal depending on the weather and I would be happy if we even got just 3 in.

Friday morning I set my alarm a couple of hours earlier than usual with the hope of making it out the door by 6 AM. The reality of me being a functional being in the morning and getting 5 kids up and going is something else; plus Toby [my dog] had me up at 3:30 AM and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Anyways, I was happy we were only delayed by an hour and left as the sun was rising around 7 AM.

Our first stop was Stone Mountain State Park #32 for our passport adventures.

The park ranger was super kind and told us about the park and where the Kids TRACK Trail was located.

We enjoyed a beautiful out and back hike to the Stone & Homestead. The kids asked all sorts of questions as we read over the signs and wondered what it would’ve been like to live there in the 1800s. After our hike we loaded into the van and I gave everyone their sandwiches for lunch.

We had our lunch in the van as we ventured over to the next park. Bringing our lunch is something I typically try to do when we go on these adventures because many of the parks aren’t near much of anything but they all have spots to picnic. Plus it helps save some money.

New River State Park was our second stop of the day; #33 on our passport adventures.

I’m glad that I have learned to download my maps offline on my phone because I had zero signal in Stone Mountain State Park [hence why they had a pay phone at the trailhead] and signal was spotty most of the drive to New River State Park. I did have signal at New River State Park though.

At the park we talked with the lady working the visitor center about all of the quilt squares we saw on barns throughout the country side.

It was such a neat thing to see and the kids really enjoyed pointing them out which makes for a smoother car ride with kids when they can be actively engaged like that. The visitors center also had beautiful quilts hanging all over. She directed us to the Kids TRACK Trail which was just behind the building and we set off on our second hike of the day.

 

During this hike the kids decided to play their own version of Wild Kratts and at the different trail markers they would pretend it was their creature power disc and transform into a new creature. Can you tell animal athletes has been one of their favorite Kids TRACK Trails adventure brochures?!

Since we had been making great time and we would arrive at the next spot before check-in time I decided to head to the park that was just down the street from our hotel. Mount Jefferson State Natural Area; #34 on our passport adventures.

This is where y’all can laugh at me. I thought that the last look out would be similar to all the other ones we drove by and would only be a short walk up to the lookout. Oooops. I was wrong and we totally ended up hiking a STRENUOUS Trail! Sophia and Tedy absolutely loved it! The other kids not so much; Ceci was upset with me because she had to go potty and the bathrooms up there were winterized and not open and the trail was so rocky and narrow that there was not a safe place for her to pop a squat. Mikey was whiny because I inadvertently lied to him since I said it wouldn’t be a hike. Audie fussed the whole time because I wouldn’t allow him to hike on his own and made him stay in the carrier. I just laughed and laughed because it was pretty funny just how wrong I was about our “walk” aka 300 ft elevation change in about a mile. All in all they were good sports about mama’s mistake and the whole crew was happy when I reminded them that there was a pool at the hotel and that’s where we were headed next.

The views at Mount Jefferson were absolutely stunning! We were there on a perfect day since the skies were sunny and clear you could see for miles and miles, mountain after mountain.

When we got to the hotel we relaxed for a bit before heading to the pool. The next morning we woke up to snow! I knew this was going to happen because I had been keeping an eye on the forecast all week but I had hoped we could get at least one if not two more parks in before heading home. After breakfast we loaded up the van and headed to the next park. Side note: Holiday Inn Express in West Jefferson was an on point hotel! Great location to all these parks and a FABULOUS view!

Elk Knob State Park; #35 on our passport adventures ended up being our final park stop for the Epic January Birthdays Trip.

The snowy rural roads of the Northwest North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains were more than my minivan could handle. Getting to this park was on our route back home so I’m glad we were able to stop and chat with the ranger for a bit before heading home. Y’all, the staff of the NC State Parks are like no other. They are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. The ranger at Elk Knob made sure I had a safe route down the mountain and wished us well and said to come back in the spring/summer. Before y’all get crazy judgy on me for how much I’ve wussed out when it comes to driving in the snow let me tell you the speed limit on most of the roads for this mountain are 15-25 on clear days! Most of what we saw on the roads were Christmas Tree Farms and Cattle Farms. Plus with the conditions expected to get worse over the weekend it was best for us to get off the mountain and head home. My nerves didn’t settle until we hit Winston-Salem area and stopped at Trader Joe’s for some goodies. On the rest of the drive home the kids recounted their favorite parts of the trip and it made me feel great that they had really enjoyed our adventure. 35 parks down 6 to go. Wander Often Wonder Always.

Outfits: Skirt Sports* Sanitas Pants, Tough Chick Top, Toasty Cheeks Skirt, BRF Bra. Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear. Socks by Smartwool courtesy of Great Outdoor Provision Co. & the NC State Parks Passport Program.

*use code: 207DELI for a discount at www.skirtsports.com I am an ambassador for this company I do not get a commission from them, just sharing my love of their gear.

Did I peak in my 20s?!

As I lounge in my recliner with baby cinco [who isn’t much of a baby anymore – he’s 2 and a half for toddler sake] nustled into my shoulder because God forbid he sleep without me…the dark thoughts sweep in. I glance back at what’s behind me, all those kiddos in my big bed [everyone but Sophia, she was always good about sleeping on her own] and Athena being their protective pup [Toby is on Sophia duty tonight] the darkness sweeps in a bit more. It’s not the darkness of night but the darkness of my own mind. A place that I do not often share with people because I do not like to admit that such a darkness exists. That such hate for myself can be so incredibly real. That I battle it over and over. The thought has been irking me more and more lately; did I peak in my 20s?!

Did I?! Am I done?! Will I ever be more than this again?! Why can’t I be thankful and happy for what I do have?! Why can’t I truly feel it?! Why do I have to constantly battle myself to say “Liz, be thankful for what you do have…” I mean, I am thankful for it but I also feel worthless.

Did I peak in my 20s?! In my mid 30s now I’m wondering if life will ever be more than being a mom and TRULY feel that way. Sure I can say to myself “I’m more than a mom.” Yet I don’t feel it often.

Did I peak in my 20s?! I used to be at a director level in my work field, the boss, a higher up. A “suit” who often wore a bathing suit but still. I had employees and a budget and taught hundreds of people life saving skills and saw those skills in action. I even had one of my students end up saving my life! That’s all gone now. All of those certifications have long expired. I know deep in my heart stepping away from my job when I did was absolutely the right choice at the time but now I wonder, almost a decade later, if I threw it all away and lost all my chances at ever being more.

Did I peak in my 20s?! I’ve applied for full time jobs recently and I’ve been outright rejected and I’m pretty sure laughed at when my application comes across a desk, ‘surely this mom must be joking’ is probably what they cackle over. Or in the army world I live in it’s probably more like ‘surely this dependa can’t be serious.’

Did I peak in my 20s?! Can I gain a bit of me back?! I mean I know I’m here but come on ladies, even men, I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about right?! I can’t be alone with this can I?! I had dreams and goals and ambitions…yet I’m still mourning the loss of the woman that I was and trying like heck to not let this darkness sweep my life too much and take over so I can no longer see what else could be.

I did peak in my 20s but life isn’t just one peak. It can’t be. Look at our world, so many peaks and valleys. I like to hike, maybe this year I can find my way to a clearing.

Adventures with Autism – Happy Birthday Tedy

Today Tedy enters into his last year of single digit numbers. 9 years old. Many days I’m amazed you’ve made it this far. Between a scary start to pregnancy with you, severe illness as an infant and the many days when you somehow defy multiple hospital trips with your crazy antics.

You’re doing fabulous with the communication device at school and I hope we will have one for home soon. I would love to crawl inside your brain I’ve said that many times before; especially when you’re extremely giddy and being a jerk and when you’re uncontrollably upset.

I fear for your future and so we take life day by day. I have hit caregiver burn out over and over again with you but still love you dearly.

Since you’re not the type of kid we can buy gifts for we are going to go on a trip this weekend and do one of your favorite things, hiking. I’m so glad you enjoy hiking and being out in nature. It has opened up a new world to us and shown me that you really do know how to read because you can interpret most trail signs if I ask you.

I wish you the best my Tedy bear in this final year of single digits. Remember no matter what, mama loves you very much. Thank you for opening my eyes in ways I didn’t know they needed to be opened. You’ve taught me an extreme level of patience and to have empathy for others and not snap to judgements.

Cheers to 9 years kiddo, I’m sure you’ll enjoy some fries for your birthday dinner.

Love,

Mama

2018 – The Year of the NC State Park

I already know that my goals did not align with the reality of my life in 2018.  We moved, Troy deployed… I’m going to do my year in review a bit different than in years past.  Instead of looking back and seeing how I did versus the goals I set forth I’m going to look at the biggest highlight of my year which was something that we stumbled upon.  Beginning in July we officially started the North Carolina State Parks Passport Program.  There are 41 total state parks and in 2018 we visited 31 of them!

CM180630-1611560011. Raven Rock State Parkwas the first park we ever visited but we did so before we knew about the passport program.  It is the park that we have attended the most; visiting a total of 8 times since our first visit in April.  It’s also where I sprained my ankle on a solo trail run attempt down a trail that was way more technical than I was prepared for.  Luckily my family was near by and it gave me a rest that I was needing anyways.  Some of the programs we attended at this park included a special event with the Fort Bragg Exceptional Family Member Program [EFMP – aka special needs families] and a program where we learned all about the owls in our area.  [outfit – Skirt Sports  High Five skirt in black (retired item, you may be able to find it on resell pages or Amazon]

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2. Jordan Lake State Recreation Area  was a spot we enjoyed for swimming and kayaking.  We attempted to go here on the 4th of July but had no idea how insanely busy the lake would be so we ended up having to turn around and go home.  Jordan Lake is one of the few places that has a fee to get into the park because of the swimming and boating but it is per carload so it’s not too bad.  Plus they offer a military discount or you can purchase an annual pass if it’s a place you plan on frequenting.  [outfit – Skirt Sports Cool It Skirt in Aquamarine & Skirt Sports Mantra Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear]

carverscreek20183. Carvers Creek State Park was where we learned about the NC State Parks Passport Program as well as the Kids In Parks Program.  July 5th is when we officially began our NC State Parks Passport ADVENTURE!  We also learned about the NC 100 Mile Challenge and set out to accomplish some fun goals that included these three things.  This park is the closest to our house and is our second most frequented park of the year with 6 visits.  They have an excellent staff here and some great programs as well.  We’ve attended a pond life program and heritage day, where we got to take a tour of the Rockefeller home that’s on the property.  This park is currently small but mighty.  It is going through some upgrades and they’re adding more trails; I can’t wait to see what this park will be like in the future.  It has an interesting history, the most fascinating thing [to me] is how there is no longer a pond on the property because of a past hurricane.  [outfit – Skirt Sports Hover Skirt in black & Skirt Sports Ambassador Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear]

4. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park was the first park we went to where the kids did a moderate trail; the trail descended down to the Neuse River.

[outfit – Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Tantrum (retired print) Free Flow Tank in Razz & Skirt Sports Ambassador Ladies Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear]

5. Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve was a park we liked to frequent for their programs.  This is our third most visited park of the year with a total of 4 visits.  Some of the programs we attended included Junior Ranger Badge Course & trail restoration from the hurricanes as well as a wreath making class.  This park is also not too far from our home which is why we can easily attend programs there.  I learned so much at the wreath making class and am so thankful I had put that program in my phone calendar ahead of time with an alert to leave an hour before the program began because I had totally forgotten about it!  This park is also where the kids participated in their first Kids In Parks Track Trail adventure.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Dakota Capri in Razz]

6. William B. Umstead State Park was a park we enjoy taking other people to when we are in the Raleigh area; we brought Troy’s brother Ryan & his wife Jaimie there when they were in town visiting.  It has a fascinating piece of art; there is a huge downed tree and they had artists come in and carve animals into the tree; it is so cool to see!  This is a park where we often see people out on their horses as well and we were fortunate enough to meet a couple who let Cecilia live her dream by sitting on one of their horses.  The kindness of strangers has been something we’ve experienced at each of North Carolina’s State Parks.  Whatever trails we’ve been on if we’ve encountered other people they’ve been nothing but kind and we’ve often struck up great conversations with the other adventurers.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Frolic (retired print)]

CM180710-1452580037. Jones Lake State Park was a park we went to after a doctors appointment one day.  I figured heck, let’s keep adventuring, this isn’t too far from where we are right now, let’s keep on driving.  So we did and then we enjoyed a nice hike around the lake.  [outfit: Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in Enchanted (retired print)]

IMG_20180710_1511168. Singletary Lake State Park was the only park we visited this year where I didn’t get a picture with the park sign because it isn’t a park like the others.  We went only to get our passport stamp because it’s more of a place for group camping, like if you were to go on a retreat or something.  We quickly visited this park after we had finished up at Jones Lake.

9.  Eno River State Park was another park we decided to visit after Tedy had a doctors appointment at UNC.  This is a park we like to go back to whenever he has appointments up that way if we have the time.  It has a really neat suspension bridge (even though it triggers my vertigo whenever we cross it).

[outfit: Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in Free Love (retired print) & Skirt Sports Ambassador Tshirt]

10. Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area was the park that led us to the ER.  We visited this park on the same day that we visited Eno River State Park for the first time.  This is a beautiful park but intense.  It leads you up to the highest point in the area and you can descend down into the quarry as well.  We did nearly 350 feet in elevation change in just a mile and a half of hiking.  So how’d the ER play in; on the way back down the trail to the parking area Tedy slipped and sliced his knee open on the rocks.  Luckily he didn’t need any stitches but he does have a pretty rad scar on his knee now.  It’s also good that this park isn’t too far outside of civilization like most of the NC State Parks are, this one is fairly close to Duke but we went to a UNC ER since he is a patient with UNC (that’s where he sees all of his specialists).

[outfit: Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in Free Love (retired print) & Skirt Sports Ambassador Tshirt]

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11. Lumber River State Park was the first park we went to while Troy was on block leave and it was also our first big hike since Tedy’s injury.  This park is so close to South Carolina that we decided to go down to South of the Border afterwards to get some ice cream.  [outfit: Skirt Sports Hover Skirt in Shatter]

12. Morrow Mountain State Park was our take a chance on the weather trip.  It rained!  Luckily though, it ended up clearing up and we enjoyed a few beautiful hikes in this park.  One of our hikes at the top of the mountain was one of the most difficult trails we had done yet; for the majority of the trail you’re at a diagonal and trying to not slide down the side of the mountain.  We had a ton of fun at the top taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful view.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in Free Love (retired print) & Skirt Sports Ambassador Ladies Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear]

13. Falls Lake State Recreation Area was where we went for the day while waiting for my moms flight to arrive in Raleigh.  We enjoyed a nice hike along a portion of the Mountains-To-Sea State Trail and then we went to one of the beaches to swim.  Falls Lake swimming areas do cost a small fee per carload but again, if you have the NC annual pass, it’s included as one of the places to visit under that pass.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Hover Skirt in black & Take Five Tank in Razz Stardust / Marine]

Parks 14 – 18 were part of our epic adventure to the Outerbanks of NC (aka OBX) and you can read about that here in my Adventures with Autism – Surfing blog post.  Those parks included: Goose Creek State Park, Pettigrew State Park, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Dismal Swamp State Park, and Merchants Millpond State Park.

Parks 19 and 20 were part of our Girls Camping Weekend Adventure which you can read about in that blog post.  Those parks included: Carolina Beach State Park and  Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.

21. Hanging Rock State Park was where we went to meet up with an old friend of the family, who has literally known me since before I was born.  We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch here and a hike down to one of the waterfalls.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Frolic (retired print) & Skirt Sports Ambassador Trucker by BOCO Gear.  Chaos Coordinator Muscle Tank is one I made]

22. Pilot Mountain State Park we visited after our fun afternoon at Hanging Rock.  The weather took a turn though as we were going up the mountain so the kiddos stayed in the van with their Nana and watched a movie while I went up the final little bit from the parking lot to the summit.  It was beautiful and refreshing in the rain and is for sure a place I would like to return to on a clear day.

23. Lake Waccamaw State Park was our longest hike as a family, completing a solid 10K (aka 6.2 miles) along the beautiful lake.  Most people were out boating since it was Labor Day weekend and a few of the boaters that stopped to talk to us thought we were a bit crazy for tackling the trail that day.  Luckily the Take the Lake event had been going on that morning so there was still plenty of water along the route since it was a hot day and we went through our water fairly quickly.  The dragonflies were absolutely amazing on this trail and we were able to get some great pictures.  This was also the last park we got to adventure to as a family before Troy left for Afghanistan.

[outfit – Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Tantrum (retired print)]

24. Medoc Mountain State Park was where we reunited with my friend Erin and her kiddos.  We had planned on going to this park much sooner but due to Hurricane Florence we had to reschedule this trip.  It was so nice to hike and picnic with our friends.  Even though we hadn’t seen each other in years it was like the kids had known one another all along.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Jette Skirt in Romance (retired print) & Skirt Sports Mantra Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear]

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25. Kerr Lake State Recreation Area was where we went after meeting up with our friends.  We did the Kids Track Trail here as well.  This is another area that would fall under the NC Annual Pass for swimming if that was open but since it was fall and since the hurricane had done some damage, that was not open.  I hope that they’re able to clear everything up and get it running again come the spring.  Our state was hit two months in a row this fall by devastating storms.

26. Mayo River State Park was where we went after a month of not being able to go out and adventure due to more storms and school being in full swing.  There were two parts to the park.  First we did the Kids Track Trail and then we went over to the waterfall.  It was a gorgeous fall day and we enjoyed playing in the leaves on the trail.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Sanitas Pant in black, Tough Chick Top in ruby & Skirt Sports Mantra Trucker Hat by BOCO Gear]

27. Haw River State Park was our second park of the day after visiting Mayo River.  We had just missed the guided hike with the ranger but they kindly told us the route and we enjoyed a nice loop taking in the gorgeous colors of fall.

28. South Mountains State Park was our stop on the way to Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  Another month had gone by since our last visit to a new state park.  Here we did the Kids Track Trail with Grandpa Billiam who tagged along for this adventurous week of winter break; the kiddos really enjoyed seeing and playing in a bit of leftover snow from a storm that hit the area the week prior to our visit.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Sanitas Pant in black]

29. Chimney Rock State Park was our first stop on the way home from our trip to Asheville.  This area is where part of the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed.  Chimney Rock is much different than the rest of the NC State Parks.  There is a per person fee to get into the majority of the park but they do offer a military discount and children under five years old are free.  It had been raining but we still checked this park off the passport list while we were in the area.  We were lucky that the elevator up to the chimney was open since the trails were a bit slick and my dad is afraid of heights.  I would absolutely love to return to this park one day with just Troy and spend time going even further up the trails.  After taking the kids up to the flag pole of the chimney we went back down to the Kids Track Trail.  This was hands down the most interactive Kids Track Trail we have yet to visit.

 

lakejames201830. Lake James State Park was the next stop on our travels back home from Asheville.  We didn’t do much here because the weather had gotten crummy again and Tedy was in a terrible mood.  I would love to return when it’s warmer and enjoy the lake and all the activities it has to offer.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Tough Girl Skirt in black & pony tail beanie by PNW Threads]

31. Crowders Mountain State Park was our final North Carolina State Park for 2018.  What a way to cap of the year too.  We set out on the Kids Track Trail but missed our turn somehow and ended up going on a moderate trail, hiking up the majority of the mountain, turning around where our trail met the trail for the final ascent up.  It was an incredible adventure.

[outfit: Skirt Sports Sanitas Pant in Gray Heather, Coffee & Adventures Long Sleeve, Skirt Mantra Reversible Performance Beanie by BOCO Gear]

I am incredibly proud of my kiddos for tackling these parks with me.  They were even featured in the Kids In Parks Newsletter for our summer adventures.  When we first started the passport program I thought we might hit 20 or 25 parks before 2018 came to a close so reaching 31 was a HUGE accomplishment to me!  We have just 10 parks left to visit and while I would absolutely love to complete the Amazing Adventure Challenge by visiting all the parks before our 12 months is up I do realize that these parks are not simple day trips away and would require overnight stays by either camping or getting a hotel and since Troy is deployed this would mean finding a dog sitter as well.  Realistically I would like to have visited all of the parks before we leave North Carolina so by the end of 2019.  We will continue to attend programs and revisit some places we’ve already been simply because we have enjoyed being in the parks and are fortunate to have about a dozen parks around 100 miles or less away from where we live.

Cheers to the New Year and NEW ADVENTURES!

Disclaimer –

Outfits:  I am an ambassador captain for Skirt Sports and I do receive a discount on their products however all opinions on their products are all my own and I am eternally grateful that they make such adorable and functional athletic apparel for women.  If you like any of the outfits you see please use code: 207DeLi at www.SkirtSports.com and you’ll receive a discount*

I do not work for NC State Parks, I am just a resident of this beautiful state.  The Passport Program is FREE and open to all who visit North Carolina State Parks; you can pick up a passport and begin you adventure at any of the State Parks.  The Kids In Park Program can be found in various states across the county.

*some exclusions apply please follow Skirt Sports on Facebook or Instagram for the latest