Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tubing With Friends at Liberty Snowflex Centre, Lynchburg, Virginia: A Mother’s Review


Don’t let the title fool you. This post isn’t just about Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. It is about so much more. Isn’t it always?
The ins and outs of middle school relationships can be hard to navigate, and not just for the students. As parents, it is our responsibility to help guide our children in making healthy choices for themselves.  I have been reading articles lately on how to handle these middle school years, and have found much of the focus on how to handle the negative aspects of middle school socialization, with less emphasis on what we can do to foster healthy relationships. While it is important to know how to handle unwanted behavior, it is also important to learn how to cultivate the good. I have been talking with my middle school-age daughter to help guide her toward identifying positive influences at school, and have made a commitment to help her cultivate the healthy relationships that she has formed.  
Courtland has a few friends at school that have all of their core classes together and get along really well. They walk to and from classes together and sit together at lunch. So she and I decided to plan a special day for the four of them to spend together over Christmas break. She and I quickly agreed that a trip to Liberty Snowflex for some tubing and girl time was in order.

This was the perfect trip for these girls to bond over the holidays. A day of tubing together meant fresh air, exercise, no electronics or screen time, adventure, age appropriate silliness, a sense of empowerment, mutual encouragement, and a lot of fun! These girls laughed and laughed and had so much fun!

Courtland is not fond of heights and was so nervous about riding the tube. Her friends were so sweet and patient, though, encouraging her and waiting with her.  They knew that she would enjoy it if she would only try.  She finally did, and as predicted, she loved it!  
Owned by Liberty University, situated atop a hill overlooking Lynchburg, Virginia, The Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre offers tubing, snowboarding, and snow skiing to both students (LU students are free) and general public all four seasons.  It is open Monday - Thursday: $11.00 for the first hour & $6.00 every additional hour, and Friday - Sunday: $13.00 for the first hour & $8.00 every additional hour. *Price per person, plus applicable state and federal taxes.  
The beginner slope is 80ft long. The advanced slopes are 300ft & 500ft long. There is no actual snow at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. The tubing runs are constructed using a material called Neveplast. A misting system is often used to keep the tubing runs fast and fun. 
Participants must be either 5 years old or 36 inches tall to ride the advanced tubing runs. Those not meeting these criteria may still use the beginner slopeGuests under 18 must have a parent/guardian sign the release form, which can be found on the website here and printed in advance
In addition to the slopes on Liberty Mountain, there is a beautiful lodge with a cozy fireplace, snack bar, and restrooms, perfect for hosting birthday parties and groups. There is also a trail system on the mountain consisting of over 50 miles of single and double track trails and logging roads perfect for hiking and mountain biking. 
I couldn't be more pleased with our tubing trip at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. As a mom, it so refreshing to see girls being themselves, bonding, and building their friendship by encouraging each other, being patient, kind, and silly with one another, and just having good, wholesome fun.
When we first planned this trip, we found a great deal of Groupon. There are lots of other great deals  out there now, such as this one to the Mill Mountain Zoo, this ziplining adventure near Hanging Rock State Park, a great deal on admission to the Virginia Museum of History. There are so many fun ways to spend the day helping your kids to cultivate their positive friendships. These years can be tough, but we can and will get through it. Our girls will, too. In all you do, best of luck to you and yours. I'll be right here cheering you both on! 
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom
20% Off Local Promo Code

Friday, January 20, 2017

Deb's Daylilies Wine and Flower Event, Charlotte County, Virginia

It is a dreary, soggy, January day, but my daylilies evidently didn’t get the memo. I have green nubs peeping through the dirt and mulch. I am always excited for springtime, but this year, I am especially excited about seeing my new daylilies bloom that I bought at Deb’s Daylilies and planted last summer.  
Deb’s Daylilies is a daylily garden located here in Southern Virginia. What began as a hobby for owners Debbie and Randall Parsons of Randoph, Virginia (Charlotte County), became a family owned small business in 2008. The company prides itself on growing many different varieties of quality, healthy ground grown daylilies.  They currently have over 400 varieties, some ready to sell and others are in growing beds, with the goal of adding more varieties each year.   
This past summer, some girlfriends and I spent a Saturday afternoon at Deb’s Daylilies’ 4th Annual Wine and Flowers event.  It was a lovely afternoon, warm, sunny, pleasantly un-crowded, and colorful. 
A musician made a stage on the front porch of the cabin on grounds, and a local food vendor served barbecue with all the fixins. Hunting Creek Vineyard was on site with wine and their famous-around-these-parts  sangria. 
We strolled through the rows of daylilies, with glasses in one hand, and clipboards in the other. We wrote down our favorite daylilies, and before we left, paid for our plants, which were dug out of the ground, placed in plastic bags, and delivered to the trunk of our car.  
It was too pleasant of a day and too pretty of a venue for me not to share.  If you love a lazy, country day, a song wafting through a warm, sunny breeze, beautiful, locally grown flowers, and the sweet taste of sangria from a local winery, you might love Deb’s Daylilly Festival in Randolph, Virginia.  
Just as their website says, daylilies are truly the perfect perennial. They come back year after year, require little maintenance, and the blooms are beautiful.  Deb’s Daylilies is located at 636 Adams Road, Randolph, Virginia in Charlotte County.  The garden is open May-August, Tuesday through Thursday 4pm - 7pm and Friday & Saturday 9am - 7pm, and other times upon request. Peak bloom time is June and July, with the Annual Wine and Flower Event held each June.  Several club luncheons were held last year at the garden.  If your club or group is interested in having a luncheon, please call 434.542.4488  to make arrangements.   
Did I mention that we had fun? The daylily garden is picture perfect, so how could we resist this? 
Thanks to attending the daylily event, I now have some of these daylily varieties peeping through the ground in my yard right now! I am so looking forward to seeing them bloom this spring. Until then, I'll enjoy scrolling through these pictures below, and will start planning another girls' afternoon at the garden. Who's with me? When it comes to wine, flowers, and friends, the more, the merrier!
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom



Thanks for taking time to read about this local business and beautiful garden here in Southern Virginia. For more articles like this one, head to the SoVA Mom Home Page and make sure to Follow Southern Virginia Mom on Facebook. xoxo, Erin, Southern Virginia Mom

Sunday, January 15, 2017

OUR MAGICAL, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK CITY


   
Our Christmas gift to our children this year was a trip to New York City. On Christmas morning, they received tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway, the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, hotel and dinner reservations, and gift cards to spend shopping in the Big Apple! We left a lot unplanned, which meant time to explore the city and see the sites. Our Christmas Trip to NYC was pure magic!
Day 1 began with the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan. To get from our hotel to Manhattan, we took the free ferry each morning and night. It was a special part of our daily routine that I am glad we got to experience. It went right by the Statue of Liberty, and we were able to see all of the financial district lit up at night. 
The ferry brought us to the southern-most tip of the financial district. We bought one-week subway passes, and headed toward Times Square. New York is always crowded, but is even more so at Christmastime, and the week we were there, between Christmas and New Year’s, is the most crowded week of the year.  It took the first morning to acclimate to the crowds of people. 
Throughout the day, we ate New York hot dogs and warm pretzels from a street vendor, wandered through the city admiring the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations, and finally made our way toward Central Park, where we had dinner reservations at Tavern on the Green. Just outside of Central Park are rows of bicycle-pulled carriages and horse drawn carriages offering rides through Central Park. We took one of the rides through the park, which was quieter and more relaxing that the rest of the city, stopping at certain sites, such as the “Friends” fountain and Alice in Wonderland Statue, before being dropped off at the front awning of our restaurant. 
Here we are seeing the sites on a bicycle carriage ride through Central Park, before being dropped off at the front door of Tavern on the Green in time for our dinner reservations. We had Steak Au Poive and Lobster Risotto and chocolate brownie sundaes, then took the Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty lit up at night. The day started very hectic and Manhattan was a madhouse, but all's well that ends well! We hadn’t planned in advance on the carriage ride, but am so glad we splurged a little on this. We saw more of the park than we would have if we had walked, it was a fun and different way to spend an hour and a half before dinner, and it is one of my favorite memories of our trip.
The Tavern of the Green in Central Park is one of the most iconic, and was once the most expensive, restaurants in New York, adorned with a huge crystal chandelier and a long waiting list. The previous owner passed away decades ago, and the restaurant declined over the years, finally ending in bankruptcy in 2009. It was purchased in 2011 by a couple of investors and underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, reopening in 2013. We enjoyed the very warm atmosphere and wonderful food. Our server was very charming. There was a large Christmas tree in the courtyard, in front of which we had our photo taken by a couple who had just become engaged. Our dinner was a beautiful ending to what began as a hectic day. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Day 2 we saw the 9-11 Memorial, Wall Street, Charging Bull, had lunch at Sardi's, saw Hamilton on Broadway, and ate real New York Pizza. I loved creating these memories with my crew!
We can use all the good financial luck we can get! We had to wait in line to do this, so we're not the only ones! (Courtland told me she will kill me for posting this picture, so let's keep this just between us.)

 
Walking by Wall Street through the financial district, we stumbled upon Trinity Church, and saw Alexander, Eliza, and Philip Hamilton's graves. We knew that they were buried at Trinity Church, but didn’t know where it was located, so stumbling upon this was another one of those really awesome moments that took us by surprise in a good way. The church is an architectural gem located in the financial district.
In the heart of New York's Theater District, Sardi's has been the toast of Broadway for 90 years, and is known for its walls of framed celebrity caricatures. A friend told me that this is a tourist spot and to go for the experience, not necessarily the food, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. I had Orange Teriyaki Glazed Salmon with Caramelized Ginger Sweet Potato Puree and Spinach with a nice Sauvignon Blanc. It was absolutely wonderful! It was my favorite meal in NYC. There was a large bridal shower happening next to us, and our waiter was wonderful. He put our order in before everyone else's because he knew we had a show to attend. He was also very funny and kind to the children, and offered to take our picture.  
Word to the Wise: Just because something is a “tourist spot” does not mean the food, service, or atmosphere is inferior. There is most likely a very good reason it has become famous.
 
Hamilton was incredible, worth every penny and worth the long wait! The children listen to this on repeat, so we know every line to every song inside and out, but there are certain nuances you just don't get until you see it live. The choreography, the spinning stage, and the great talent were so amazing! I was in between laughing, crying, and spine shivers the whole show. The new cast was incredible. The new Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson (Seth Stewart) is insanely talented and funny. We can’t say enough great things about this show!
After Hamilton, we wanted real New York pizza. I looked at online lists and found that about 5 of the top pizza restaurants are on Staten Island, so we hopped the ferry back to Staten Island and stopped at Tony’s, which happened to be on the way to our hotel. It was so good.  

My husband has never met a stranger, and before we knew it, he had made friends with the waitress and another customer named Frank. As it turns out, Frank and his wife own and operate a bakery on Staten Island, and he invited us back to the bakery, where he gave us three types of cake to take back to the hotel with us. This was not just any bakery, by the way.  These cakes are artistic creations that also taste scrumptious, are shipped around the East Coast, and have been featured on the Rachel Ray show. The bakery is Jackie’s Cake Boutique, and can be found  at www.jackiescakeboutique.com.       Thank you Frank and Jackie for the cake and for the warm Staten Island hospitality. You and your kind and generous fellow New Yorkers are truly what made our trip so special. Thank you!!
Day 3 we shopped and had lunch at Dylan’s Candy Bar, visited Rockefeller Center, saw more Christmas decorations and lights, attended the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, went for a scenic cab ride, and topped off the evening with dinner at Joe Allen in the theatre district.
At Dylan’s Candy Bar, Courtland ordered a mock tail, the bottom of which was filled with nerds candies, and came with a packet of pop rocks and a cotton candy straw. So cute! I had a toasted marshmallow drink, and the children got a kick out of them torching the marshmallows at the table.
On our final day in New York, I was able to see something I have wanted to see for as long as I can remember, the inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral at Christmas. 
It was as grand, intricately detailed, and beautifully majestic as I always thought it would be. I am so grateful for this whole experience.

The Rockettes show was so much fun. The lobby of Radio City Music Hall is a sight to behold by itself. The show had a 3D component which required 3D glasses, Santa Claus, the Rockettes dancers, and closed with a nativity scene that included live camels and farm animals. It was beautiful.  
After the show, you can meet and take your picture with a Rockette. You can also schedule a tour of Radio City Music Hall and meet the Rockettes as part of a package. Look into this when purchasing your tickets online.
Note: We were able to get discounted military seats through the USO. If you would like military tickets to the Rockettes or another event, contact the USO at www.usonyc.org.   
The children were grinning from ear to ear on this cab ride at night. The lights in Times Square are so bright it looks like daylight! Hence the old nickname, "The Great White Way!" We were on our way to dinner at Joe Allen, a fitting end to a fabulous week. 
The kids and I came to New York to  play, but Mark admittedly came to eat. He had New York hot dogs, pretzels, and pizza, and now New York Strip. He said that made his trip complete. 
When we set out to make trip dream trip a reality, we chose to make this their Christmas gift. Instead of unwrapping gifts from us, they would receive experiences, in hopes that they would always, always remember this gift. What began as a gift for the children, turned out to be a gift to all of us, one that I do believe we will always remember with a feeling of magic, beauty, and wonder.
I recently bought a new camera, and I enjoyed capturing the moments - the smiles and laughter, the lights, and the sites. One special moment for me was when we rode the ferry past the Statue of Liberty at night, I looked behind us, and the skyscrapers on Manhattan were all lit up against the black sky. We just happened to be there and I noticed it. I love those auspicious moments that catch you by surprise the most. 
We were most impressed by how safe we felt, and by friendly and helpful New Yorkers are. People could not have been more friendly and eager to assist us, and I truly believe that the real magic of New York is in the people. There was Frank and his wife Jackie and their gift that was so much more than cake, our waitress at Tony’s Pizza who endeared us to her hometown of Staten Island and its residents, our Navy Lodge staff, including the front desk attendant who has worked for twenty years at the Navy Lodge, who hugged the regular customers and wished them safe travels until they met again. There was the young lady in running gear and earphones who noticed we were lost and stopped what she was doing to approach us to offer assistance. The taxi cab drivers gave us tips and advice for the trip, and there was the carriage driver who went out of his way to deliver us to our restaurant even though it was off his normal route, and so many people who offered to take our pictures. Even our dinner neighbors complimented our children and shared stories of their own grandchildren. Our kind waiter, who is also an incredible photographer, brought us a complimentary dessert, and we celebrated our final night in New York.  We realized that you can plan out your whole trip in advance, but the key to a truly special trip is to be open to those auspicious people and magical moments - the ones that catch you by surprise - and be ready for them when they grace your path. You can not plan these moments, and they are, after all, what made our trip so Magical, Beautiful, Wonderful! 
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom