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Search, Find, & Explore

November 7, 2016

With a love of the outdoors from my childhood spent on Shelburne Farms, Vermont, I am always on the lookout for ways for my children to enjoy exploring as much as I do. As they’ve gotten older, I put my Art Degree to good use and began sketching quick illustrations of things we would find in the woods, or at the beach, even in our own neighborhood block. It was an instant hit, and quickly became something we looked forward to doing weekly as a family or with friends. As time went on, the need grew to have all the essential tools at our fingertips when we were exploring. Thus, my “Search & Find: Adventure Kit” was born, complete with a sturdy pair of binoculars, a magnifying glass, a small marker, and a trusty Search & Find Adventure Card.

One of our favorite things to do is hike in the woods, especially in First Landing State Park. As parents of three small boys (five years old and under), my husband and I have experienced the highs and lows of hiking with children all over the country, and we like to think that “we’ve got this!”

Enjoy these photographs from Jess Hill Photography of our most recent hike, and I’ve written a few tips at the bottom of the photos on how to have a great hike with your kids.












Type of Adventure
Hiking while teaching your children an appreciation for nature, a fun family activity, and exercising

Any woods big or small

Things to take into consideration while packing

  • Plan for “the sagging wagon”: Might need a kid carrying item: We love our backpack!
  • Snacks? Trail Magic (nuts & dried berries), sandwiches, apples or carrots
  • Water? Yes. Plenty.
  • Activity? Woods: Search & Find Adventure Kit
  • Protection? Be aware of the season when you’re hiking and what you’d need: sunscreen, or bug & tick protection

While on the Adventure

  • Be prepared to stop as many times as they need to
  • It’s Progressive. Don’t expect them to hike for over an hour!
  • Go in intervals – take your time! Snack between intervals, throw stones, collect nature items


  • Collect leaves, sticks, stones, or nuts. (our rule: anything not living)
  • Bring your child’s friend – might get you another 30 min – 1 hour of “hiking”
  • Skip stones into water

And most importantly, have fun!





Back to Basics

How Does Your Garden Grow: Week 2

October 11, 2016


With bad weather (Hurricane Matthew) in the horizon, I knew I had a few days to get things into the ground. I laid out the plants from Brad of Veg Out Gardens, in a general location of where they needed to go. The Elementary children studied the root balls of kale and lettuces, and smelled the assorted herbs plants. I pointed the different shapes of the plant leaves, and we talked about what things help a plant grow (especially those worms we had plopped into the dirt the previous week). The children carefully measured the advised spacing directions, and with small beach shovels substituting as a garden trowel, they each dug a hole, placed the plant into it, and moved dirt around on top of it. I was surprised no one bulked at the idea of getting their hands dirty.

~ Brad’s tip of the month ~

The first frost is around Thanksgiving (November 22nd with a 50% of probability), so be sure to have your transplants in your garden soon. They need at least one month of growth and root development.




“Straight” rows of kale & lettuce!


Happy herbs.


Excited Kindergarteners were up next to plant the carrot seeds in the smallest of the raised beds. Carrots are usually planted in the spring, but I wanted to give it a try in the Fall, and I had a row cover (of a soft fabric like material) that I wanted to test out as well.

This group of children had participated in the worms, so they were curious as to where the worms were and if they could find them. I had organized the number of carrot rows we would have, and had marked them with chopsticks and garden markers beforehand. The children pulled a string from one side to another, to make a straight line, and then used a trowel to make a small trench. Seeds were carefully pinched into the trench trying to give everyone enough space as to not over lap each other. Afterwards, eager hands covered each row with soil and patted them down. We talked about coming back each week to check on their progress.



This sums up the end of week 2 in our school garden. I checked on the gardens today (3 days after the rain and winds of Hurricane Matthew struck us), and most of the plants survived. There are even carrot seedlings poking up from beneath the soil. So good so far!

Local Spots

Ice Skating in Virginia Beach

December 12, 2014

Vintage Ice Skating TessaDo you remember the first time you squeezed your feet into a pair of ice skates?

I was four years old.

In Vermont, most people grow up skiing. I figure skated.

Back then Lake Champlain froze, as did our driveway (very often). So there were a lot of opportunities to practice my skating moves. I fondly remember my green lycra leotard with a skirt attached. Underneath it, was a VERY thick layer of tights, wool socks & a turtleneck. I still have the stack of colorful skating badges that I had worked so hard to earn. I loved the way it felt racing friends across the rink, pushing your legs to go as fast as you could possibly . After skating lessons, we would sit in the bleachers of Gutterson Fieldhouse as the Vermont Ice Hockey Team barreled onto the ice. I was always disappointed when the players failed to perform a “sit spin” or “swizzle”, and instead raced around and around and slammed into the walls.

When I asked my mother what she remembers from those years, she told me that I fell on the ice, A LOT. And that the ice rink was freezing cold. Unfortunately, my figure skating career didn’t last past the realization that I would have to propel myself up into the air, and land on the ice balancing my entire body on ONE sharp thin blade. No thanks.

You can only imagine my excitement when I saw that an ice rink was being built in the Rudee Inlet loop, right off 3rd street in Virginia Beach. The Oceanfront Ice Park opened on November 26th, and has been going strong ever since.

This is the perfect activity to do with your family, friends, or on a romantic winter wonderland date!

What you’ll need to go ice skating at The Oceanfront Ice Park
Thick, warm, and comfy socks
Warm and comfortable clothes that you can move around in
• $12 for admission & skate rental
• Be over the age of 4 years old
 Call ahead to make sure there isn’t a private party: 757-296-3404

Local/Community Resources & Online Inspiration
Wikipedia’s definition of ice skates
 Glossary of Figure Skating Terms
• Pinterest