My Favorite Things to Do in Gatlinburg, TN? Head Over to Sevierville for Fun!

Thanks to the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce for hosting my family over the weekend. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own. 

Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in our country? It actually wins by a landslide, drawing roughly 9 million visitors a year, which is double the amount that the second most visited national park receives. The park is located in Tennessee and North Carolina and on the Tennessee side, is right next to the city of Gatlinburg.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that so many people are searching for things to do in Gatlinburg to compliment a trip to the Smoky Mountains. But I’d like to let you in on a little secret: some of the most fun things to do in the area are actually just down the road in Sevierville, TN. Sevierville is within very easy striking distance of Gatlinburg and the national park and it is also filled to the brim with fun activities for the entire family.

We recently headed up to Sevierville for the weekend and absolutely LOVED how many cool things we could do, all within a 5-10 minute drive of each other! I want to highlight two fun destinations that are perfect for families with kids.

Rainforest Adventures

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Rainforest Adventures is a very fun spot for any animal lovers. The attraction is largely indoors (and fair warning, it DOES smell like a lot of animals call this place home!). You can see a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and bugs. There is plenty to see and some really interesting material for older kids and adults to read.

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We got to watch this fellow snack on a fly, which was AMAZING! Those tongues are crazy fast, y’all! And we also spent a little time with the serval cat, who was most excellent at providing great photo ops.

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In fact, the entire place was filled with really fun photo opportunities of super cool animals. My kids were thoroughly entertained for about an hour, and I think if your kids are able to read the info signs they might want to stay about 2 hours. This isn’t an “all day” attraction, but it is certainly worthy of a piece of your day.

rainforest adventures review 4 The outdoor portion of Rainforest Adventures includes opportunities to feed llamas, ostriches, sheep, goats and even a pig. Bring your quarters (or get change made in the gift shop) so you can purchase some food. I think we spent $1 and that was the best dollar we spent all day because Layah was positively tickled by the experience. She laughed and jumped and squealed the entire time. It was priceless!

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Rainforest Adventures is open 9-5 every day of the year except Christmas Day, and children under 3 are free, kids 3-12 are $7.99, adults are $12.99 and those over 55 are $10.99. You can actually get discounted tickets if you purchase them in advance online, so be sure to take advantage of that savings opportunity!

 Wonderworks

One building you can’t help but notice on the road between Sevierville and Gatlinburg is the one that’s upside-down.

wonderworks review 1 This is Wonderworks and it is an excellent destination for kids, tweens and teens, as well as for the adults who are with them. While younger kids may work through the displays more quickly, I think tweens and teens can stay entertained for an entire afternoon here! You can also come and go as you please during the day that you purchase your ticket, so leaving to grab lunch or even to go take a nap is no problem, which I really appreciate, since kids can be unpredictable at times and you might need to cut your visit short for some reason.

Wonderworks is overflowing with highly interactive displays, many of which are based on matters related to science. For example, perhaps you want to experience category 1 hurricane winds. My father-in-law thought they were “a breeze” (hee hee) but I was “blown away!” (somebody stop me!).

wonderworks review 2 Or maybe you want to touch a powerful electrical current but not get hurt. No problem! Put your hand in the chain mail glove and see what happens!

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You can also feel the exact temperature of the water the night that the Titanic sank and see just how long you can keep your hand in it before you need to pull it out. My mother-in-law did 40 seconds, which was 10 seconds longer than the person who went before her. It really helps you understand how the unfortunate victims would have died very quickly in water that cold when you see that you can only stand it, yourself, for a matter of seconds before you remove your hand.

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One of the coolest things we saw, though we didn’t attempt it because our kids were too small, was the obstacle course that was WAY up high in the air. I could tell it was very popular with older kids!

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Tim tried out the bed of nails with great success, though it freaked our kids out a bit!

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I think our very favorite exhibit (and I’ve only scratched the surface of the exhibits with the above photos!) was the bubble making area. We spent a good deal of time there making bubbles that were absolutely enormous. SO much fun for kids and adults, alike!

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Wonderworks is $15.99 for kids and $24.99 for adults. So it isn’t cheap! For that reason, I would hesitate to recommend this for families with kids 6 and under, unless you have a 5 or 6-year-old that is very adventurous and willing to jump in and try everything out. But if you have older kids, I think this is very much worth the money because there is just SO much to do! I also like that you can go in the morning and play for a bit, leave for a spell, and come back and do it again in the afternoon. That can really help you get your money’s worth!

Have you been to Sevierville, TN? I’d love to hear about what you did there, or if it is a place on your radar to visit! I actually have a vacation giveaway coming up, so stay tuned!!! :-)

The Greatest Invention Since Camera Phones: FREE Instant Movie Maker (No Skills Needed!)

Special thanks to the Mom It Forward Blogger Network and to OneDay for including me in this compensated opportunity. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and I only promote what I love.

Today is a great day, friends, because I have just learned about a FREE app that will revolutionize how you capture video of your kids. I have severe mom guilt about the lack of videos I have of my children, despite how easy it is for me to whip out my camera and just start filming. I often find myself missing those adorable (yet brief) moments, or thinking that something going on is just too long to film and then not filming anything at all. Do you do this, too?

FREE Instant Movie Maker: No Editing or Video Skills Needed

free movie maker app

The OneDay App is an AMAZING answer to this conundrum of what to film! After downloading the app you will see a series of video themes that you can choose. Each theme has a series of questions that you can ask you child and then record them giving their answers. Then the app will turn those short video responses into one seamless video that will absolutely make parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and maybe even perfect strangers just melt! It is truly as simple as hitting the record button. The app takes care of everything else for you.

Here’s a quick video I did with my 5-year-old this morning with a Valentine’s Day theme. It was such an easy way for me to capture her understanding of how people fall in love (she doesn’t get it), her DEEP love for chocolate, and her thoughts on Cupid (which cracked me up!). I didn’t even have to think of the questions for this fun video. I love how easy it was!

http://share.onedayapp.com/video/78AA8F0E-B3A6-4BE5-901A-D80536488BAA

OneDay has provided several prompts for me to use so that I can share fun memories of my children through a story. The app even adds a background song and shows each question before the answer is offered by the child.

Here’s another example of a quick video I would not have thought of on my own: if you have a young toddler, how about recording their animal sounds? Now that I have this video of Layah on hand I can tell you that I wish with all of my heart that I had something like this of Darah. They only sound like this for such a short stretch of time, and then their language skills evolve and change and that moment is over. I’m glad I’ve got this on video now!

http://share.onedayapp.com/video/ED4FCCB0-A08C-42E2-9AD4-BFEF43EF0C52

OneDay also makes it very easy to share your videos via email, Facebook or Twitter, as well as to save them to your camera roll. Just imagine how thrilled grandparents will be to receive such adorable little vignettes and how easy it will actually be for you to make them.

oneday story library

You can sort through the story possibilities by holidays, or by focusing on stories for kids or stories for adults. No matter the topic, the questions asked are always thought-provoking and fun.

I’m gonna be honest: I don’t understand why this is a free app. I would pay for this service in a heartbeat. But I’m not going to argue with the creators over price, especially since they have decided to charge NOTHING. So basically here’s what you need to create short movies of you or your kids: no money, no editing skills, and no video skills beyond hitting the record button. Sign me up!!!!

How to Get the OneDay App

Downloading the app is super simple and super FREE! Click here to get started. You can seriously have a beautiful video created 5 minutes from now. What are you waiting for???

 

Did you #PledgeToLose This Year? Then Get Ready to WIN!!

Did you make a resolution to improve your health this year? I did, and I’m down 4 pounds and more importantly, working out 6 days a week, on average. I’ve also majorly increased my water intake.

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photo credit: blacklerphotos via photopin cc

Did I do these things because I’m amazing and have incredible willpower and discipline? Oh heck no! In fact, my lack of discipline is what got me into the situation where I needed to shed some weight! But let me tell you what IS helping: being part of a group of like-minded people who are also working on their goals. Having a place I can go to talk about my goals, my challenges and to share ideas and offer encouragement with other people who will do the same thing has made all the difference between me succeeding (I did 3 miles on the treadmill just last night!) and giving up by the second week in January like I do every other year.

Contest Alert

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One great resource for people looking for a system and for support is Nutrisystem. And right now they are hosting the Nutrisystem Pledge To Lose Contest. I just entered and it took me all of 30 seconds. You simply need to provide your name, email and the reason why you pledge to lose this year. You are then entered to win a 3 month membership to Nutrisystem. The accountability group I’m in actually ends in mid-February, so I’m gonna be real here: I REALLY want to win! But I also want you to win, and fortunately, they are giving away several great prizes, so I’m spreading the word so that anyone with interest can have a shot at a great prize.

If you want to get an advanced peek at the great resources and support Nutrisystem offers, do what I just did and Join Nutrisystem on Facebook. I’m impressed with the great content they are posting there, and I love seeing all the support and encouragement they are so quick to offer to folks leaving comments!

You can also check out the Nutrisystem Diet Plans to see just how much variety is available. I’m impressed by what they have to offer, and you just might be, too! Take a look and leave me a comment about your health-related goals. I’d love to hear about them and cheer you on!

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That! Tips to #FightFlu

This post is part of the blogger program by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)and The Motherhood, who compensated me for my time. Opinions shared here are my own.

Have you had your flu shot this season, friends? My entire family got vaccinated this year and we plan to continue to all get vaccinated every year, and as early in the season as possible. In 2012, when Layah was just 6 months old, she contracted the flu. So did her big sister. So did I. All at the same time, 3 out of 4 people in the house were very VERY sick. Poor Tim. Even though he was fortunate and didn’t get sick, he really had to take one for the team that year. It was a miserable experience, and it was extremely scary to have such young children sick with the flu, especially. Tim had to watch them vigilantly to make sure that their symptoms didn’t decline, because little ones are at a higher risk for requiring hospitalization.

I learned my lesson that year in a major way: do NOT skip the flu shot. I really wasn’t planning on skipping it, but I hadn’t gotten around to getting it, yet, when the flu hit our home.

Are you in that exact situation, perhaps? You keep meaning to get your flu shot but for whatever reason just haven’t? And are you starting to think that it’s too late now and the season is almost over so you can just skip it?

Well, let me be the one to very politely but firmly tell you that YOU ARE WRONG! I feel like I should apologize after yelling at you, friend, and I am sorry that it came to my using all caps to get my point across, but I want to really REALLY make sure that you understand that you still have time to get your flu shot, because you certainly still have time to catch the flu this season (a friend of mine got the flu in early May of last year, just sayin’). The peak is between December and February, which would be RIGHT NOW!

I Heard the Flu Shot Didn’t Work This Year

The flu shot typically protects against 3-4 different strains of flu, and unfortunately, this year’s vaccine was a poor match for the H3N2 virus, which is the strain that really took off this year. HOWEVER, it is NOT the only strain of flu that is afflicting people! The flu vaccination may still offer some protection, especially against other strains of the flu that will likely circulate late in the season.

Preventative Tips

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu this year is the get a flu vaccination. Additionally, the CDC has 6 tips that can help you avoid exposure and help prevent others from beng exposed to the flu, as well.

  1. Avoid close contact (with people who are sick).
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  4. Clean your hands with soap and water.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits (get plenty of sleep, be physicaly active, drink plenty of fluids, etc.).

If you already consider yourself to be a healthy person with healthy habits, that is great! You still need to get a flu shot, though…

Did you know? That anyone even young, healthy adults can get sick from the flu and spread it to others. Buzz buzz (text message: You coming out tonight? I can't I have the flu. My niece and girlfriend have it now too.) The short time it will take you to get a flu vaccine. Can help protect you and the ones you love. The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. #GetAFluVax

If You Get the Flu

If you happen to get the flu this season, there are some important measures you can take to minimize your pain and suffering (although it is going to suck, just gotta be honest).

The most important thing is that you really need to get yourself to a doctor as soon as you start to experience flu-like symptoms. That’s because there are prescription flu antivirals that can be prescribed to you, and they are the most effective within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Early treatment can have an impact on the severity of your case and the length of time you feel sick. People actually die from the flu every single year, so the fact that there are prescriptions that can help if used quickly is really important to know!

Hopefully you haven’t gotten the flu this year and you won’t, but be sure to take all necessary precautions, including getting a flu vaccine, practicing healthy habits AND getting prescription antivirals as soon as you suspect you may have the flu. Because friends, NOT getting the flu is super awesome!

 

 

The Kickstarter Campaign I’m Backing: Crystal Wash 2.0 (It’s a Laundry Revolution!)

Thanks to Crystal Wash for partnering with me on today’s post. I was not required to contribute to their campaign, but I chose to due to how awesome it is (as you will soon see!).

Imagine doing your laundry without using detergent (and the clothes actually coming out clean!).

Imagine getting an alert on your phone when your wash cycle was complete (no more mildewed clothes due to forgetting!).

Imagine being alerted to just how clean your clothes were getting so you’d know if modifications need to be made for optimal results.

Crystal Wash has made all of this possible right now, and I am super pumped about it!

crystal wash

I absolutely LOVE the integration of smart phone technology with a domestic life task that simply can’t be avoided: laundry. I’m very connected to my phone and I’m also quite forgetful when it comes to my laundry. Check out the device located within the Crystal Wash 2.0 that can alert me when a load is ready to be moved to the dryer. It can also alert me when the bioceramics inside the Crystal Wash need to be recharged. The recharge process is as simple as putting them out in the sun for an afternoon roughly once a month. But that’s easy to forget, too! Crystal Wash 2.0 is going to let you know when it’s time so you don’t have to try to remember on your own.

crystal wash inside

I’m always looking for laundry options that are eco-friendly AND that work, and this seems like the very best of both worlds. I have backed this Kickstarter campaign at the $50 level, and that means I’m getting the Crystal Wash 2.0 when it comes out in September AND I’m getting it for a better price (it retails for $60). It will wash an average of 1,000 loads before it is all used up. That equals to about .05/load. Compare that to name brand laundry pods which average about .31/load. That’s a remarkable savings in and of itself, and the technology capabilities are one heck of an icing on the cake! Here’s a closer look at exactly how all this awesome is made, and how you can get one:

I cannot wait for this product to be produced in large quantities! If you think this sounds like the type of product you would love to have, now is the time to get signed up! They have a limited number of opportunities to get that early bird price that I just snagged, so be sure to jump on it!