Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

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Every year we get to travel down to the Great Smoky Mountains for a few days of fun and relaxation.  There’s nothing like being in the mountains – escaping from reality for at least a few days.  My parents have a time share in Pigeon Forge so we make the short 5 hour drive from Ohio once or twice a year.  I’ve been going to Pigeon Forge ever since I was a baby. I can’t remember a year that has gone by where I haven’t been.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen

Thursday night, we all ate at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge.  It’s a family style restaurant nestled in one of the newer developments on the strip.  Honestly, I enjoyed Paula’s Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Georgia more than this particular restaurant.  The food was pretty good, but the prices were a little too high to my liking. The good thing about the food was that there was more than enough food to go around the table.  I highly recommend trying this restaurant if you visit Pigeon Forge!

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

MagiQuest

On Saturday, it was nearly 100 degrees outside!  Not uncommon for it to be this hot in Tennessee this time of year.  We decided to do something fun indoors so we went to a really cool place called MagiQuest.  MagiQuest is a live-action role playing game where you take on the role of a Magi.  You are equipped with an infra-red magic wand which allows you to interact with many different objects throughout the course.  Pointing your magic wand at a nearby treasure chest will cause it to open and award you a certain amount of gold that saves to your individual user account.  As you continue to progress through the game, you can unlock secret passages and extra goodies.  The quest takes an hour (timed), but you go through the hour so quickly because you are working hard!  The kids loved this! Our time ran out, but the good news is that your progress is stored for up to two years!

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Cooper was super-excited to wave his magic wand at everything he possibly could! This particular tree stump lit up and made noise (we were in the training room). His curiosity and excitement for making things magically come to life lasted for about 15 minutes.

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Carlee had a great time on her quest!  She was so determined to unlock secrets and passageways.  I was proud of her for not giving up!

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Chad and Cason used their MagiQuest books to figure out what was next for them to collect in their quests. This interactive screen gave them hints and clues to use along the way.

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Chad and Carlee had fun finding the magical book!

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

 

Before we went on our quest, we played a round of mini golf on the first floor of MagiQuest. I met a couple of interesting characters who agreed to take a break from their mutiny to pose with me.

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation
Smoky Mountain VacationSmoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Hard Rock Cafe, Pigeon Forge

It’s been years since we’ve eaten at the Hard Rock Cafe, so after a thrilling start at MagiQuest, we stopped by Hard Rock for a late lunch.  Cooper was NOT interested in staying in his chair at all.

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Being Silly in Grandma’s Room

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Smoky Mountain Vacation

Grandma decided that she and the kids were going to pretend to be babies.  All participated except for the baby – he’s too busy reading!

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

By the looks on their faces you would never know that they were being spoiled rotten on vacation!!

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

 

Smoky Mountain Vacation

He stayed awake most of the day until we got ready to meet some friends at the Apple Barn. No way I’m waking up a sleeping toddler!

 

We all had a great time with the kids and family on this little mini-vacation!  Seeing the smiles on their faces was well worth the 5 hour drive time.  I will say this – if you do decide to go to Pigeon Forge, try not to go in the middle of the summer. Late fall is a great time to go. It’s not too hot or crowded.  There are still plenty of things to do in the middle of the summer, but be prepared for massive humidity.

Have you ever been to Pigeon Forge? What is your favorite thing to do while visiting?

Every other month we will ship you (6) of our Classic Series wines (4) reds and (2) whites each chosen for the varietal and regional character. These wines are chosen from hundreds tasted each month delivered with a 20 page newsletter

Kids and Hot Cars

Kids and Hot Cars

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Why Are Kids Left Behind in Hot Cars?

Here we go again!  Another summer is upon us and news stories are already flooding the web and TV of kids being left in hot cars by their parents.  I don’t understand the stupidity! Why is it so hard to understand the consequences of leaving kids in a hot car? Not only is it dangerous in today’s world to leave kids in the car at any time, but especially in the heat! If anyone can think of a reason to leave a kid unattended in a hot car could you please post it in the comments?

It’s sad that this day and age people have to come up with inventions that alert a driver that there is a child in the car. It’s a good idea because people have become so self-absorbed. I highly doubt any of these parents that left their kids in the car forget to get their cell phones out too. I know I’m being a little judgmental, but come on! I hardly ever heard of these kinds of stories growing up in Georgia, and it got to 100 degrees regularly in the summer!

How Do Parents Forget Their Own Kids?

I also don’t understand how parents forget that they have their kids in the car.  I know we are all busy, but our kids’ lives rise above everything else that we have going on throughout the day. I feel sad for those kids that have lost their lives due to this completely preventable issue, and fully believe those parents responsible need to be held accountable for their actions.

Heat aside for a second, it’s also idiotic to leave kids in a car unattended because of the dangerous people in this world. How easy would it be for some stranger to steal the car and/or kidnap the kids? I have never left my kids in the car alone – even when running into a store for a split second.  I won’t even do it at a gas station. Why other parents decide it’s a risk they are willing to take is beyond me.

I’ve sat in a hot car before and I could only withstand a few minutes before I had to open the windows or get out.  It’s hard for me to imaging what a baby or young child has to go through because they don’t have the luxury of being able to roll down their window.

To all parents reading this:  Think before you get out of the car.  A quick glance to the back seat is all you need. Put your focus on always making sure your kids are safe.  It’s worth being late!

What do you think we should do as a society to prevent more heat-related deaths in cars?


Here are some recent news stories:

6-Month-Old Child Dies After Left in Hot Car: Collin County Sheriff’s Office

Mom arraigned after leaving children in hot car

Could New Technology Help Prevent Hot Car Deaths?

Kids left in hot car start fire with cigarette lighter; father charged

Dear Kids

Dear Kids, Volume 18

Dear Kids,

We had a wonderful weekend!  It was Father’s Day weekend so on Saturday, the four of us went to Welcome Stadium for the All-Pro Day.  Unfortunately, the three of you really didn’t want to hang around long, and didn’t see anything fun to do, so we were only there for about 20 minutes.  I managed to snap some good shots in the short time that we were there!  After the All Pro Day, Cason had a baseball game.  Later on in the weekend, we went to the pet store.  Mommy really wants a cat, but they didn’t have any in the store on Sunday.  Thank you all for the wonderful Father’s Day gift.  I can’t wait for you to paint your hand prints so that I can hang them in the office.  It’s a gift I will treasure forever!  I love you all very much!

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The three of you posing for daddy in the endzone.  Touchdown!
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Cason watching as Chad and Carlee run the length of the football field (twice!)

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No one in your way Chad, take it in for 6!

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Carlee posing for a half-smile/half-exhausted from running 200 yards photo op.

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Chad very satisfied after running 200 yards. Barry Sanders would be proud!

Of course no weekend in the summer is complete without a kid-pitch baseball game.  You pitched very well, Cason!

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The next Johnny Cueto?

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Cason in the on-deck circle. Took 4 pitches and walked!

After the games we made a pit stop at the pet store.  I think Cooper wants a pet fish!  He was shouting, “Bishy!  Bishy!”

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Cooper glued to the fish tanks.  I wonder if he’d make a good fish dad, or if he’d try to grab it out of the bowl?  Ah….toddlers!

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Chad sporting his baseball uniform.  He racked up a pair of hits!  Chad loves fish!  He has a pet fish named “Mikey!”

All four of you watching cartoons together on Sunday morning.  It was fund spending Father’s Day curled up with you all for a little while.

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Hello?  McFly? Anyone home?  The TV has your attention, but I was still snapping shots!

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father’s Day!

 

Happy Father's Day!

I don’t know where I’d be today if it weren’t for my dad.  He is the one person that has helped me become the dad that I am today, and I am grateful that I still have him.  He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a retired minister and teacher, and a loving husband to my mom.  I am blessed to be his son and thankful that he taught me to love God, my family, my neighbors and to be a responsible father.

I live 7 hours away from dad and only get to see him several times a year.  It makes it really difficult, but I am really glad we are able to carry on our father-son relationship even with the long distance.

My kids love their Pawpaw and always get so excited when they get to visit him. I always love it when they talk to him over the phone or FaceTime. I always dreamed that my kids would have a great relationship with their grandfather, and I can truly say that they love him and he loves them.

Happy Father's Day!

My parents got divorced when I was a teenager which was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to go through.  Going to dad’s house to visit was so strange.  I’m so happy that mom and dad found each other again and got back together.  There is no question that they truly love each other.  With the serious medical issues and the loss of a close family friend my mom has gone through the past year, dad has been right at her side catering to all of her needs.

Becoming a dad was the most rewarding  moment of my life.  My 4 wonderful kids are the love of my life, and I would do anything to protect them.  I really enjoy spending time with them and teaching them the things that they need to know to be successful, contributing and loving human beings. I would not trade being a dad for anything!  Being a dad is a blessing!  God blessed me with these beautiful babies!  I am so thankful!

Happy Father's Day!

And I wouldn’t be a dad without my beautiful wife, Amy.  She is such a loving wife and a fantastic mom.  There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for her!

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Many people don’t have their dad physically on this earth any longer, or sadly, they don’t have any type of relationship with them.  Men who are dads, remember that you are a leader in the household and that your kids look to you for guidance.  Rise to the occasion and show the love to them that God commands.  Be a role model, be active, be present with your kids. Don’t just go through the motions.  Kids need a loving, kind, and caring father. May we all strive to be the best fathers and husbands possible. God has called you to be a dad and a husband.  Be one!

Happy Father’s Day!  I love you dad!

Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Today I’d like welcome back guest blogger, Peter Minkhoff.  Peter was so kind to provide a post on Father’s Day (which is tomorrow, ladies!).  Enjoy!

Father’s Day is just around the corner and we’re assuming you are looking to make the dad of your family happy and appreciated. Whether you are shopping for your husband (who’s recently become the father of your bundle of joy, hence the father attribute) or you are hoping to find something worthy of your wonderful dad, showing them you care by purchasing a gift that will bring a smile to their face is the best thing you can do – especially if they’ve been the best father in the world!

No matter how challenging picking the right present is, with the right guidance and fresh ideas – all is possible. To help you out, we’ve put together a great list that will most definitely make your never-ending dilemmas go away.
Without further ado…

A classic watch

Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Vintage or new, a classic watch will make every man happy. Timeless and chic, men watches are that one piece of accessories that can turn even the dullest of outfits into amazing attires, so you want to be super careful with the style and color of the watch you are choosing. Before actually purchasing the watch, take your man’s taste into account – don’t just pick something you’d want to see on his wrist, but something he’ll be happy to flaunt around.

Adding the inscription would be absolutely wonderful; a note like “to the best father”, “you are an amazing father”, “i love you”, “the time spent with you is making everything better” and similar will make his heart melt.

An extended weekend

Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Yes! This present would make anyone happy, let alone a tired businessman and a father; you can make this present a joint venture and tag along or simply give that man some rest and let him enjoy his time. Try to find out (although you may already have this information) what his desired destination is, and book a room in the best hotel you can. Foot the bill and just present him with the ticket. He’ll be overjoyed!

A gym membership

Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Being a parent usually associates with getting out of shape and letting yourself loose; unfortunately, this is not something parents do intentionally – it just happens. Not that we’re suggesting the man you are buying a present for is out of shape but we’re simply putting it out there. Staying fit and healthy is amazing in every sense and buying a six-month gold membership card for that man will definitely make him happy. Follow up with some trendy gym wear for men – and you’ll see him glow with happiness!

Take him shopping

Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas

More often than not, busy fathers forget to take care of themselves and their personal style but rather focus on juggling their careers and, at the same time, staying amazing dads and husbands. To give the father some confidence and remind him how hot he used to be, be the wind at his back and take him shopping. Followed by a luxurious lunch and a day out, this one will be a real thrill. Or, you can always gift him a shopping voucher for his favorite brand and let him go on his own time. Either way – it’ll work!

A gadget/video game

Perfect Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Men are crazy about their gadgets and video games, so buying that phone he’s been eyeing for the last few months or the latest edition of his favorite game will make him love you more than ever! These types of gifts can get a bit costly, though – but you’ll do anything for love, right?

The point of celebrating Father’s Day is to show your love, appreciation and gratitude to that one man in your life that’s made or is still making all the difference. Make sure you do well and make him happy. One little gift can make someone’s entire month… a year, or a lifetime. Good luck!

Peter Minkoff is a writer at Voiceboks.com.  He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/minkoffpeter and on Twitter @MinkoffPetter

Alligator Attack in Orlando

Alligator Attack in Orlando

As I read the news of the precious little toddler who lost his life at Disney World a few days ago, I couldn’t help but feel pain and sorrow for his family. As a parent of a toddler myself, I can’t begin to imagine the horror and sadness that they feel.  The little boy was just trying to have a good time on vacation with his family, but now he is resting with the angels in Heaven.

This tragedy has been on my mind ever since the little boy was attacked.  I prayed that by some miracle he would be found unharmed. But, at the same time, I knew that chances were unlikely that he would have survived such an attack.  I know that the family will rely on their faith and the support of their family and friends to get through the tough job of burying their child. Parents always want to be the ones that go first.  To see a child go before us is our worst nightmare.

We as parents all try to do our best to protect our children, and we are always on the lookout for dangerous situations. We aren’t perfect, but we keep trying to protect them at all cost.  Sadly, the parents lost a battle surely to be won by one of natures most dangerous creatures. It brings to light again how important it is to heed warnings posted in the environments in which we are in.

I hugged and kissed all of my little ones last night and let them know that I loved them. We just don’t know when something like this is going to happen, and we pray that it never happens. We know the little guy is in Heaven with God, and our trust in God assures us that all of those that have gone to Heaven before us we will see again one day.

 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.