Thursday, June 30, 2011

Field Trip Friday: Pea Ridge National Military Park

Today I’m welcoming my dear friend, Lana, as my first guest poster. Since I’m busy packing for a getaway, I’m grateful for her willingness to share her experience to Pea Ridge National Military Park in Arkansas.

We met Lana and her family when we first arrived in Alabama and though she’s since moved with her family, I still love to hear about the many outings she takes with her children….plus she e-mails me and tells me about the places in Arkansas that she thinks my family will enjoy!


Pea Ridge National Military Park sits a few miles outside of Rogers, Arkansas. I can't tell you how many times I have passed the park entrance in the eleven years of living in Northwest Arkansas but I have never had the desire to stop until the last year or so. We were living in Alabama and had taken the kids to see a reenactment of the Battle for Decatur. My daughter enjoyed it so much that in my mind I knew we just had to attend the one held at the Pea Ridge National Military Park. However, we missed the reenactment held there this March.

On a recent trip to Northwest Arkansas, I decided that we would just ride out to the park and enjoy the day. I was so glad we did. I love when spur of the moment trips turn out so good!

Upon entering the Pea Ridge National Military Park visitor center we were greeted by a Park Ranger who asked if the kids wanted to participate in the Junior Ranger Program. I have a friend (that would be me! ) who had told me all about these programs and I was dying to try one out.

So the kids and I walked around the exhibits filling out the questions. We stopped in to watch the orientation film that was already in progress and I was quiet impressed that the kids watched as much of it as they did. It was almost over when my 7 year old got fidgety and cried out, "Why? Why did they have to die!"  It was then that we made our way to the car to begin the seven-mile road tour through the park.

Sadly, you can not enter the tavern.

There are 10 points of interest on this battlefield. (I had no idea that the Trail of Tears ran right through the park but I was intrigued). We stopped, ever so briefly, at most of the stops. It was hot! The children and I loved the East Overlook, "...the best view of the battlefield in the park."  They also loved Elkhorn Tavern that was used as a "field hospital caring for both Union and Confederate wounded" during the battle.

Pea Ridge National Military Park contains 4,300 acres. An orientation film and exhibits are available in the Visitor Center. A seven-mile tour road provides access to the battlefield and stops at important points of interest. This park has numerous outdoor recreation opportunities, including, walking, jogging, bicycling, picnicking and equestrian riding. There is an entrance fee that is collected in the visitor center. Living history programs are offered during the summer. Their battle reenactment is held the weekend closest to March 7th and 8th.

You may be wondering how my children liked the Junior Ranger Program. They loved it. They had to answer a few very easy questions and as we drove through the park they had a checklist of things to mark off as they saw them on the tour. They were so proud of their Junior Ranger badges. Unfortunately, my daughter left hers at the Buss Stop a few miles north of the park. If you ever get a chance to get an ice cream cone from the Buss Stop, I highly recommend a large. Yes, they come in sizes.

Becoming official Junior Rangers

What Civil War battlefields have you visited?

Interested in linking-up to Field Trip Friday? It’s easy, read the guidelines and join the linky below.

Until next month, Happy Field Trippin’!

LEGO® Imagination Center at Downtown Disney® Marketplace

When we visited the Downtown Disney Marketplace in May, the LEGO® Imagination Center was high on my list of places to visit. My boys have loved building LEGO® creations for years and I had to see the famed Sea Serpent for myself.

LEGO Serpent

I had no idea that the store that caters to the public’s love of interlocking blocks had undergone a major renovation and had recently reopened. That could explain the crowd, but somehow with the ‘build your own race car station’ in front of the store and the ‘design your own LEGO® set computer station’ inside, I’m more inclined to think that there is never a dull moment at the LEGO® Imagination Center.

You don’t even have to be a fan of LEGO® to be impressed. The stunning sculptures outside the store make it clear that you really can build anything that you can dream of with LEGO® bricks.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs LEGO sculpture at Disney

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has always been one of my favorite Disney movies so it’s only natural that I’d be impressed with this statue:

Snow White LEGO sculpture

While my boys loved seeing Woody fly away with Buzz…

Or Prince Philip slaying Maleficent, the Villain in Sleeping Beauty.

I can only guess how many LEGO bricks were used to create these amazing creations. Keep in mind that my son is nearly 6’ 5” and you’ll see that this is no tiny Buzz.

Buzz Lightyear LEGO sculpture

And if Buzz is nearby, you know you’ll find Woody too.

Woody LEGO sculpture

Can’t wait to visit? You’ll find the LEGO® Imagination Center at the Downtown Disney® Marketplace
1672 East Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: (407) 828-0065

It’s well worth the stop!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let’s Put the Education in Travel

wild ponyWhen I was a 8 years old, my parents pulled me out of school for two weeks so we could take a family vacation to Chincoteague, Virginia. The school gave me a list of lessons which I was to complete before returning. I would wake each morning, complete my lessons and spend the rest of the day relaxing and learning with my family.

Two years later, I read Misty of Chincoteague by Margaret Henry for the first time. The words on the page combined with my memories and the book came alive for me. 

Want to hear more? Please join me at the Homeschool Blogger Company Front Porch as I share some of the tips I’ve learned over the years to mix education and travel and share some of the ways that you mix the two. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets: Perfect for Travelers

There’s one thing that I especially hate to do while we are traveling; laundry. Really, who wants to trade fun for the more mundane? Not me. However, sometimes washing clothes is a necessary evil when you’re vacationing and right now we are planning our longest road trip yet. There is no way I can pack enough clothes for five people, for three weeks in my van and still have room for the important stuff, like my family for instance.

I either need to plan a pit stop or two at a laundry mat along the way or make sure that some of the hotels we stay at offer machines for their guests. In addition to lots of quarters I need to pack laundry detergent which gives me horrifying flashbacks from a few years ago when we were traveling. I’m not a fan of Laundromats, especially when it’s an area I’m not familiar with and after waiting for every stitch of clothing that we owned to find it’s way to the dirty clothes basket,  I finally made it to a laundry mat. I washed every bit of our clothes only to find out at the hotel that I’d failed to screw the lid on the detergent properly. The liquid had oozed all over my clothes and carpet in my vehicle. Talk about an icky mess.

In the past I’ve discovered that laundry samples are great to eliminate the mess but recently I found something even better!   

I've been trying my hand at couponing and a few weeks ago I managed to pick up four packages of Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets for less than $1 a package! I was pretty impressed with myself, but it wasn’t until a few nights ago that I really began to appreciate how remarkable my purchase truly is when it dawned on me that  Purex 3-in-1 is the perfect traveler’s companion!

It’s leak proof, easy to pack, and takes up virtually no room, especially if you only pack what you need.  Just check out how thin these laundry sheets are! One sheet will wash one load of clothing. If you’re only going to be away from home a week or so, you could easily stash a couple of these in a Ziploc bag and toss them in your purse so you don’t have to worry about loosing them.          

Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheet

There’s more, this innovative new laundry detergent is more than meets the eye. This single sheet is a detergent, fabric softener and anti-static all in one. Simply toss it  into the wash cycle and transfer it with your clothes to the dryer. No mess and stress free.   

I can’t think of a single product that is better suited for simplifying laundry for travelers!

Have you tried Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets yet? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Time for a New Look and a Name Change

new blog header

The end of July marks one year since our new adventure began and we walked out of the motor home and settled back into life pretty much as normal once again in home without wheels. Since then I’ve wanted to update my blog design to match but since I was unsure of what I did want and have been contemplating a move to Wordpress, I just couldn’t bring me to spend the money on a new design.

You may have noticed that I’ve slowly been making a few changes on my own.  I made new sidebar titles using GIMP, a free downloadable graphics editing program

new side post titles

That was easy enough.

I also followed directions and made a horizontal drop down menu in Blogger.   It wasn’t overly difficult, but very, very time consuming. I spent HOURS on this project. But I love the end result.

new menu bar 


I wish I could have figured out how to get a screen shot with the tabs exposed, but you’ll just have to nose around a bit and discover them for yourself. Just keep in mind that though I’ve spent a huge amount of time organizing our destinations by city & state or by type of attraction, I still have a LONG way to go.  

Other changes that I’m excited about is my About Page, and my new contact forms which I easily created using Google Docs.     

contact me

Now if you ever have a question about something that I’ve shared here, you’ll be able to get in touch with me easily.

When I first began my blog, it was simply as a means to keep in touch with our family and friends at home in Ohio. They always joked about the adventures we were on and adventure or not, I tried to make our experiences fun for my kids, no matter what the circumstances were. So I called my blog, Live the Adventure.  But that domain name was unavailable so I simply registered The Traveling Praters, not realizing how confusing that could eventually become. So, I officially changed my name. I am now, The Traveling Praters. 


Which meant that I needed a new header, which I created using Picnik and GIMP through trial and error.  

thetravelingpratersheader Border

So, what do you think? I know it’s not perfect, and certainly not the design that’s floating around in my head, but other than the massive amount of time that I’ve stuck into it, it was free, serves the purpose and I do think it’s kind of cute.

Have you ever attempted to pull together your own blog design? What resources did you find helpful?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Medieval Times Ticket Winner

Congratulations to Tiffany-  winner of the Medieval Times ticket, selected by!    

medieval times  

I just need your address and your ticket will be on the way! Thanks to everyone that entered- I wish I had a ticket for all of you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Harmony Park Safari; A Hidden Gem in Huntsville, AL

My family recently discovered what could possibly be the best kept secret in Huntsville; The Harmony Park Safari. 

Harmony Safari Park sign

I have to admit, my teenagers were not excited to be pulled away from their electronic devices when my husband and I announced a family outing, but by the time we’d arrived at Harmony Park Safari, they finally quit whining and surprisingly for them, all enjoyed our excursion.

Not far from Ditto Landing Marina, the Harmony Park Safari is tucked away in a rural area of Southeast Huntsville.

The safari costs $7 per person, under two is free and for five or more paying guests you receive a large bucket of food that normally costs $5. If you’re thinking about saving the five bucks and skipping the food, I urge you to reconsider. The animals are all too eager to scurry over to your car if you present an offering.


We saw many animals at the safari. Most of the animals are roaming around unrestrained while a few like the monkey, pot bellied pig and iguana are housed in cages.


There were ponies, goats and deer...


and a zebra. This is the first time I can remember getting a picture of a zebra’s head and not its rear.


The camel was fenced, but he was still able and eager to reach his neck over the fence and into our bucket of food.

I was surprised to see the peacock wandering about.  He did fan his feathers but by then we were too far away to get a good shot.


The Texas Longhorn was busy eating the hay.  

The Bison was cooling off in the water.

There are even a few giant exotic Brazilian birds. 

The tortoises were surprisingly active  IF you visit before bedtime. By six o’clock they’re ready for bed so make sure you don’t visit in the evening if you want to see them.  


There is also a reptile house which is included with your admission. We saw lots of snakes, crocodiles, and alligators.

There is a small picnic area for guests who’d like to get out and stretch and savor the day.  Allow 30 minutes minimum to one hour (a bit longer if you really take your time or are really interested in the animals) to drive the two-mile path through the park-like setting, to walk through the reptile house and to see the tortoises.  Fun for the whole family- Harmony Park Safari gets a thumbs- up from my family!

Ready to plan a visit of your own? You’ll find Harmony Park Safari at 431 Clouds Cove Road Southeast Huntsville, AL 35803, or you can call (256) 723-3880 for more information.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Join me at The Homeschool Village for a Frugal Field Trip Idea

I have some exciting news. Today I am writing about something near and dear to my heart at The Homeschool Village….field trips! And not just any field trip, frugal field trips!


Here’s an excerpt from my post today: 

I’m always on the lookout for free or frugal field trips. One trick I’ve learned over the years is to seek out the attractions in your community first. I know this is easier to do in larger communities, but with a bit of digging and creativity, you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find in even the smallest town.

Historic markers, county museums, public buildings and parks are all places that could offer opportunities but today I’d like to focus on one often overlooked treasure trove; ….

Curious? Head on over to The Homeschool Village to read the rest of my post and tell me if this is a field trip you’d be interested in taking.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mid-Week Linky Love: A Bit of This-n-That

Helpful Blogging Links

Are you a blogger? Are you familiar with Windows Live Writer? Ever thought of giving it a try? 

I’ve been using Live Writer for about a year and I have to tell you that it has been a HUGE time saver! I honestly don’t know how I ever blogged without it. Really. It has certainly simplified the process to the point that I don’t even open my Blogger dashboard unless I’m organizing or moving things around on my blog.

I found this overview of Live Writer on Reviewz ‘n’ Tipz and decided I’d share it. Be sure to read what they have to say about inserting photos into a blog post- that’s the one feature that completely sold me on this FREE blogging tool.     


Have you ever wanted to make a cute little blog button but had no idea where to start? Wonder no more! Honey, at Sunflower Schoolhouse, has a blog button tutorial that will walk you right through the process. Easy Peasy.  

Helpful Homeschooling Links

I love the Almost Unschoolers blog, talk about using every opportunity to learn and have fun! Every time I pop over I wish my kids were younger so we could join in. Sigh. I was actually on StumbleUpon when one of her posts about learning the bones of the hands with cookies popped up. Right away I knew I wanted to share it with my readers and while I was on her site I found another post that I couldn’t pass up.

Yesterday I shared my experience at the Be the Dinosaur exhibit so I was intrigued to see how she approaches studying paleontology with her children from a Creation perspective and really enjoyed her insights.      

Sweet Phenomena

Tiffany, at Sweet Phenomena, has a great ongoing series titled, “So You Think You Wanna Homeschool?” She candidly (and humorously) shares some of the knowledge she’s gained over the past two years homeschooling her daughter.  

Do you stress out over scheduling your homeschool year? This post at the Homeschool Classroom walks you through several alternatives.  

Helpful (or just Fun) Travel Links 

I also discovered 500 Places with Kids, an adorable blog written by a mom who is on a mission to travel the globe with her children, visiting as many places from Frommer’s 500 Places to take your Kids Before they Grow Up book as they can. They are on #52, not a bad start.  Right now she’s sharing their DC Adventures, if you dream of visiting the Capital, you may just get a few ideas…. 

We may no longer travel in our motor home, but I do LOVE to read about the families that are still on the road and here’s one I’ve followed since the beginning of their journey, The Lundy 5.   If you’ve ever thought about living a life on the road or are just curious about the places they’ve seen you’ll enjoy reading about their adventures.

I hope you’ve found a tip or two, an interesting post to read or a  new blog to follow.

What posts have you enjoyed from around the blogosphere this week? Go ahead and leave a link in the comments so I can check it out too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Medieval Times Ticket Giveaway for the Atlanta Location

Atlanta area friends, I have one adult ticket to Medieval Times good for the Atlanta location that I would like to give away.

I received the ticket by participating in a survey about our field trip to Medieval Times several months ago and unfortunately won’t be able to make it back to the area before it expires so I asked Medieval Times if I could offer it to my readers and they assured me that I could. 

A bit more about the ticket:

To be used at the Atlanta location ONLY.

The admission ticket is valid for any Sunday-Thursday performance through August 30, 2011.

Upon receiving the ticket (from me) you will need to call Medieval Times to set up your reservation.

The ticket may not be sold!

Remember this is a live dinner theater with strobe lights and horses in an enclosed area. 

Find out more about Medieval Times at their website.

Unfortunately, I only have ONE ticket to offer. You will need to purchase tickets for anyone else in your party..

To enter the giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post. No need to be creative, the winner will be determined by

You can receive additional entries by taking the following actions:

1. Follow Live the Adventure.

2. Follow me on Twitter.

3. “Like” Live the Adventure on Facebook.

Please leave a separate comment for each action that you take.

Hurry, this giveaway is only open until this Friday, June 24th, at Midnight.

I will announce the winner on Saturday here on my blog and through email. You will have until Monday night at midnight to supply your mailing address or I will select another winner.  I want to make sure you have plenty of time to use the ticket.

Now, who wants to win?

Sue T. Rex: Be the Dinosaur

Update: I saw Sue at the USSRC in Huntsville, Alabama but Sue is a traveling exhibit and has moved on. She'll be visiting the Science and History Museum in Jacksonville, Florida in May 2012.

Be the Dinosaur is an exhibit compiled by the famed Field Museum in Chicago and designed with assistance from world-renowned paleontologists to become the world’s first dinosaur simulation. The exhibit is full of interactive displays and computerized animations that allow you to travel back in time to the Cretaceous Period. *

dinosaur simulator

You’ll learn what the world could have been like in the time of dinosaurs through a series placards, hands-on activities and displays.

You can view the world through the eyes of a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a Triceratops.

You can ride through the dinosaur lands in an adventure jeep and uncover dinosaur bones in the dig pits. Young paleontologists are even permitted to keep a fossil as a souvenir of their day.

As fun as the simulators and digging for dinosaur bones can be, the highlight of the exhibit is clearly A T.Rex Named Sue. At 90% complete, Sue is the most intact T-Rex skeleton that has ever been uncovered. She also happens to be the largest ever found at 42 feet long and 13 feet high at the hip.

Pretty fierce, isn’t she?

The massive dinosaur was discovered on land that was part of a Sioux Indian Reservation, but the land belonged to a private rancher, which created quite a controversy. You’d think the skeleton would belong to the rancher right? Well, it turns out that the land was held in a trust by the US Government. Who owned Sue? The rancher or the government?

After five years a judge ruled that the fossil did belong to the rancher, who offered Sue at a public auction to the highest bidder. After only eight minutes of bidding, Sotheby’s had sold Sue to The Field Museum in 1997 for a whooping $8.4 million~ the most money ever paid for a dinosaur fossil.

Workers at the Field Museum spent over 30,000 hours preparing the skeleton that consists of over 250 bones and teeth. To share Sue with those that are unable to travel to Chicago, they completed fully cast replicas to become part of the traveling exhibits.

For a brief time you can experience the Be the Dinosaur exhibit and see Sue at The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama before the exhibit moves on to Denver. You can view the exhibit schedule at the Field Museum’s website.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center One Tranquility Base Huntsville, AL 35805 1-800-SPACE

You’ll find hours of operation and admission prices here.

Personally, I believe in a Young Earth, not that we’ve evolved over millions of years. I’m not looking to stir up debate here, I just feel like I should comment for those of you that share the same worldview as myself. As you could imagine, this exhibit is steeped in evolution and it’s kind of hard to get around it. After all, you are stepping back into the Cretaceous Period, that should be a tip off. :) That being said, Sue is really cool to see.

I experienced the Be the Dinosaur exhibit as part of the #SCTweetup at the US Space and Rocket Center.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Kids Love I-75~ A Review

kids love 75 

You know I love to travel with my family. I also love resources that save me time when it comes to planning those trips. One of the resources that I have used repeatedly over the years and can wholeheartedly recommend is the popular Kids Love Travel publications by George & Michele Zavatsky.

I own and have used Kids Love Ohio, Kids Love Kentucky and Kids Love Tennessee for years so I was excited to have the opportunity to review Kids Love I-75: A Family Travel Guide for Exploring the Best “Kid-Tested” Places Along I-75- From Michigan to Florida in the new e-book format.

Kids Love I-75 offers hundreds of kid-approved suggestions to help you make the most out of your road trip along this popular interstate. Not only does it list all the attractions worth stopping at that are within 10 miles of the freeway, you’ll also find a few lodging and restaurant suggestions that will appeal to your family as well. 

With nearly 400 pages, this resource begins by offering general travel tips and information to ensure that your trip is fun, memorable and stress free. There is also an overview that shows you how to get the most out of your guide- though I found the book extremely well-organized.

Kids Love I-75 is broken down into sections by state. After reading a quick introduction of what you may see in each state, you’ll find possible activities listed by topic and exit number for easy reference. The topic categories include amusements, animals & farms, history, museums, outdoor exploring, the arts, tours, science, sports, welcome centers and suggested lodging and dining. You’re sure to find something that appeals to each member of your family. 

You’ll also find dozens of maps that break down the interstate in 20 mile increments all the way from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Miami, Florida. The maps list the indexed attractions at each exit, rest stops along the way and popular fast food restaurants with notations for an indoor or outdoor playgrounds, making it easy to find stops to stretch your legs. 

The bulk of the book includes brief reviews of each of the sites. You’ll learn what the attraction is about or known for, what to expect and a few tips when appropriate.  The address, website, phone number, hours of operation, and admission prices for each attraction are also listed though I’ve found (and the authors suggest) that it’s always a good idea to call ahead and confirm these details prior to your arrival.  As a homeschooling mom, I also appreciate the references to teaching materials when they are available through the individual attractions website.  

As much as I love to hold physical books, I have to admit that the convenience of e-books have really grown on me. The e-books are available as an instant download, work with your computer and other e-reader devices such as an iPad, Nook Color and Kindle 3, and allow you to effortlessly follow the links to the websites that are sprinkled throughout the pages of the book. I also appreciate that I can highlight portions of text directly on my computer that I don’t want to miss, add a sticky note with my own thoughts and print only the pages that I need. You’ll find more benefits of e-books at Kids Love Travel.

If you’re looking for an incredible resource to help you plan out a field trip, daytrip, side trip, weekend away from home or even a full-blown vacation, the Kids Love Travel guides are full of fun ideas and places to see with your family.

Why do all the work when it’s already been done for you?

Would you like to learn more? Now you can take a look inside the cover of Kids Love I-75 at the Kids Love Travel Publications website. You’ll also find Kids Love I-95 and 15 other state guide books in the series and other resources to make your family travel trips unforgettable. 

Kids Love I-75 is now on sale for $17.95 plus shipping, while the electronic version costs only $15.95 through

Are you familiar with the Kids Love Travel books? Which one(s) have you used?

**I received the Kids Love I-75 e-book free of charge in exchange for offering an honest review of the product to my readers. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal, Summer Edition ~Week 2

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

We’ve been super busy. Last weekend we visited Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia for a special tweetup event. If you haven’t been there and ever get the chance, GO!!! It was incredible. You can read my post, Ten Reasons You’ll Love Callaway Gardens to see all that they offer.

On the way home from Callaway Gardens, we stopped at the Alabama Gold Camp to pan for gold. We didn’t strike it rich but it was a really inexpensive and fun outing. I’ll be sharing more on that trip next week.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

This afternoon I ran my kids to our local mall for a fun scavenger hunt for the teens that my daughter arranged for our local teen group. She was excited to organize the event and pleased that she had a decent turn out. We didn’t know it when we planned for it, but it ended up raining so today was the perfect day to be indoors! 

Chelsea divided the group into teams. Each team had a list of 20 things that they had to do or find in order and document by taking a picture with their digital camera. Some of the items on the list were easy- take a picture of a team member reading a book or magazine. Easy ‘nuff. Others weren’t that simple- get four strangers to spell out YMCA or sing Happy Birthday to a stranger.  Hmmm….yeah. Believe it or not, they did it!

The first team to complete all their tasks and return to the meeting point were deemed the winners. Each of the kids received a small bag of candy for participating and the winning team won a small prize.

If you’re looking for an activity for your own local teen or homeschool group, this may be just the thing.  

My favorite thing this week was…

Spending time at home!

What’s working/not working for us…

The Great Courses DVD program on the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I mentioned last week is a hit! Nickolaus and I were excited about visiting the Met before but now we really can’t wait!    

Things I’m working on…

With all of our running here and there I’ve really neglected our house. My goal for the weekend is to get it back in order- or at the very minimum to find the floor in my bedroom once again. *sigh* At least my laundry is caught up- I’ve learned not to take clean underwear for granted.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

One of the views we’ve come to love in Alabama.

Want to share what’s going on in your homeschool this summer? Stop by The Homeschool Chick and link up to The Homeschool Mother’s Journal.

Until next week~ Happy Homeschooling

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