“Daddywagon” writes: FREE Summer activities in the High Country

A dear friend and teacher here in the High Country, Christ Watson writes a blog called “Daddy Wagon.”   I always look forward to what he writes. He has such a casual, humorous style, while touching on deep issues related to life and parenting.

I just had to share this post, with some fun, free summer frolicking right over in Ashe County!

Free Swimming in new riverAh, the teacher’s summer. No working…Just relaxing, sleeping in, and losing track of what day or time it is. Not to mention all that free time for trips to the beach, Disney World, and the Caribbean. Right? …Wrong! As it turns out, a lot of teachers have to go to workshops, meetings, and a few more meetings. In addition, teachers (especially the single parent types) have rather small household incomes…Never the less…I believe (and I’d say my kiddies would agree) this summer has kicked butt so far. Why? Because I’ve discovered the best kept secret in the High Country: Railroad Grade Road in Fleetwood, NC. Here’s my short list of some favorite, FREE family activities.

1. Play in the shallow, pristine New River! Sure the pool is great…but who wants to swim indoors on a 90 degree day? Our only outdoor option is a glorified baby pool with one diving board, a McDonald’s style plastic slide, and some fountains. It’s a nice pool…but way too small. So…..we go for the free, less crowded, absolutely gorgeous New River. The access spot that we use is located just south of the Fleetwood post office where Railroad Grade Road and Liberty Grove Church Road are joined by a low-level bridge.

Click here to read more about Chris’ family adventures, and how to find your own.


A Moment 4 Moms: Snow Day Activities!

When the first snow of the season began to fall, way back in December, we asked our readers for some snow day ideas for when the kids are home from school. Hopefully, we won’t need these this week, but it’s always good to have them on hand for a day at home.  Also great for a weekend day, you can use these activities to fill the time when they say, “We’re bored, Mommy!” Of, course, I always give them the list of chores that need to be done, and they usually find something to do.

Last week, we started the Moment 4 Moms podcast on two local radio stations: 102.3 FM and 106.1 FM! It’s just two minutes of inspiration and motivation for busy moms! The schedule is posted on our Moment 4 Moms page, along with the podcasts you can listen to.  Soon, you’ll also be able to listen to,  or even download, the podcasts at www.goblueridge.net.

This week’s topic is Snow Day Survival with your kids, where I’ve highlighted great suggestions from Watauga County teacher Jennifer Lacy. Last week, we gave ideas for saving money with grocery coupons!

Upcoming topics include:

  • Grocery Saving Tips: Saving on Meat
  • Busy Moms’ Fitness Tips
  • Kids Eat Free in the High Country
  • Tips for  Mom Organization

Visit our Podcast Page to hear all the episodes, or listen to this week’s Episode below:

M4M Snow Days

High Country New Year’s Eve Festivities (continuously updated)

We’ve started to find information on New Years Eve Activities for families (and parents) around Boone and the High Country. We will be continually updating this post as we find more activities! If you know about something we missed, add it in the comments or contact us here.

New Year 2011

Yule Log Bonfire

DATE: Thursday, December 30th , 2010

TIME: 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Beech Mountain Town Hall Sled Hill Area

DESCRIPTION: Join us for good tidings and great joy as we welcome the New Year with a Yule Log bonfire, marshmallows and s’mores, hot cocoa, hot apple cider, winter carols and songs with a guitarist, and stories.

MORE INFORMATION: 828-387-3003

Rockin’ Family New Years Eve Bash

DATE: December 31st, 2010

TIME: 6:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Buckeye Recreation Center

DESCRIPTION: Ring in the New Year with an early evening with your little ones at Buckeye Recreation Center. We will provide dinner, a bounce house, games, music and a good time for the whole family. All of the fun of New Years, just without the late bedtime!

MORE INFORMATION: 828.387.3003.

Help Build Our Snow Day Survival Kit!

It has begun early again this year! The dreaded (or awaited, depending on who you are) snow season! I would love to create a Snow Day Survival Kit for Moms, when their kids are home from school!  I have some great ideas, HOWEVER…

I think it’s more fun when we all chip in and share, so we at the Mom Squad would love it if you would share your best suggestions for Snow Days with the Kids! If you have an idea, would you leave it in the comments? I will include these suggestions on a new page, called “Snow Day Survival Kit!

Here are the categories:








Please post the Category, Your Idea, and the Name you would like to use.  (Your email address will NEVER be shared).

Billy Jonas Comes to Farthing Auditorium October 19th: Limited Space, Reservations required

The Watauga Arts in Education Partnership, consisting of Watauga County Schools, ASU’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, and the Watauga County Arts Council has offered a regular performing arts series to Watauga County students for the last seventeen years.

Billy Jonas at Farthing Auditorium Boone, NCThis year, as a part of that series, we are bringing back the energetic and well-loved children’s musician, Billy Jonas, to perform for K-2 students at Farthing Auditorium on Tuesday, October 19th at 9:30 am.   AND, because Billy Jonas is so beloved by younger children, we are opening up this performance to parents and their preschool children age 3 and up.

Normally the policies of our Touring Arts Program specify that only children who are ages 5 and up may attend our performances. This policy has been in place for a number of years and with very good reason. We are not changing that policy…but we’re making an exception to it for this ONE time.

Because seating at these performances is very carefully counted and choreographed, parents of preschoolers who have older children attending the performance are asked to sit in the separate designated guest sections of the auditorium to which they are assigned (and not with their school aged child). Children who are not attending with their school must, regardless of age, be accompanied by their parent and seated on their own (not trying to ride or sit with school age siblings). Please understand that this is a ONE-time exception and that seating is quite limited. Therefore, we’ll accept your pre-paid reservations as long as we have the available seating. We will not be able to admit anyone who does not have an advance, paid reservation. All audience members must be seated by 9:15 am.

To reserve your seats, call the Watauga County Arts Council at 264-1789 BEFORE Monday, October 18, at 5:00 pm or come by our offices during regular gallery hours of 12:00-5:00 on Tuesdays-Fridays. No reservations will be accepted past that point. We can accept cash, checks, or Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. All seats (regardless of age) are $5.00.

Our gratitude to Holiday Inn Express of Boone, who is sponsoring this year’s Touring Arts Program by providing lodging for our performers..

Curious About 4-H? Attend this Information Series

4-HLooking for engaging activities to nurture your children? Find out about opportunities for youth at the 4-H Information session. New groups are starting: a 5-8 year old group, a 9-10 year old group and more. 4-H is open to 5-18 year olds to explore a wide range of topics, from science to plants and animals. The session is Tuesday, September 21 at 6:00 at the Agricultural Conference Center. For more information, contact 264-3061..

SNOW DAY! What to do in the High Country?

What a crazy year we’ve had with snow and ice! We have enjoyed the extra family time, but  we are downright stir crazy! Hopefully today, we’ll be getting out of the house to do some indoor activities in the High Country.  It’s just way too cold to do anything outside today!

So we’ve created our Winter Family Activity Guide to bring together some of the best indoor and outdoor things to do on a cold day in the mountains!

Click here to see what we’ve featured, and leave a comment with anything we’ve forgotten!!.

Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic this Saturday: Treasure Chests

Does your child like to tinker and build?  Do they wish they could play with their dad’s tools? Well now they can do it in a safe environment, and make something cool at the same time.  The best part is that it’s FREE!

At Lowe’s Harware Build and Grow Clinic this Saturday (7/11/09), kids can make this Treasure Chest.  You have to register online for the clinic, but it is free. Click here to register.


According to the website, There are participating stores in these towns.  Call before you go just to confirm the event.

  • Boone
  • West Jefferson
  • Banner Elk
  • N. Wilkesboro
  • Lenoir
  • Elizabethton, TN

On Saturday, July 25 the Build and Grow project will be a helicopter! .

Tie Dye Returns in July to The Children’s Playhouse

Splashed with color, a tie dye t-shirt is the ultimate summer souvenir. At the Children’s Playhouse, they make it easy for you to make your own wild and wacky masterpiece without spattering your kitchen or buying a million supplies.

For the whole month of July, this local nonprofit children’s museum will offer tie dying from 10-5

Miles Spell sports a playhouse tie dye

Miles Spell sports a playhouse tie dye

Tuesday through Friday and 10-3 Saturday. (The Playhouse will be closed July 3rd and 4th.) Playhouse director Kathy Parham explains, “We make it easy by stocking everything you need. Take home your special t-shirt home and leave the mess here!” In addition to high quality Procion dyes, the Children’s Playhouse will have t-shirts in adult, youth and children’s sizes. Cost: $7 per shirt for members, $12 for nonmembers (includes admission to The Children’s Playhouse).

Located at 400 Tracy Circle near downtown Boone, The Children’s Playhouse is a great rain or shine option for families with children from birth to age eight, boasting many fun play areas including a pretend vet clinic and a brand new climbing wall. Admission is $5 per person. A great line-up of special music and art activities add even more to the mix to keep kids happy. For more information, visit their website, www.goplayhouse.org, or call 828-263-0011. Most programs are free to members or with paid admission to The Children’s Playhouse.

Other July Programs at The Children’s Playhouse

Art/Sensory Activities
In addition to tie dye, a rich variety of other art and sensory activities are available all day, every day The Playhouse is open. Here are some of the weekly highlights.
July 7-11: Volcano in Dino Land, Collage à la Eric Carle
July 14-18: Cardboard Castle, Imagination Paper
July 21-25: Popsicle Stick Puppets, Geo-Constructions
July 28-August 1: Invention Station, Sea Animal Prints

Summer Stories with Mrs B.
10:45 Wednesday July 8th
Children’s librarian Carol Bollini returns with a fun-filled story times for kids three and up.

Learning Through Song Concert
10:30 am Tuesday, July 14th
Lisa Baldwin’s highly interactive program combines singing, playing instruments, reading, movement, and other activities both fun and educational.

Expressive Arts Workshop
10:45-11:30 Wednesdays July 15th & July 29th
Led by Dana Larson, this workshop invites parents and kids to express their creativity together.

Free Science Workshop: Float Your Boat
10:30-11:30 Thursday, July 16th
Come learn about floating and sinking with brain-stretching experiments involving clay and water with Molly Russell. Suitable for kids 3-6 years old.

Sing-A-Long & Play-A-Long
10:30-11:30 Wednesday, July 22
Join Vanessa Van Valin for a musical sing-a-long and play-a-long. Kids and parents will have fun learning finger songs, playing instruments and singing together.

Polymer Bead Workshop for Ages 4 to Adult
3:30-4:30 pm Wednesday, July 29th
Shari Galiardi will share secrets of African beadmaking she learned on a recent trip to Ghana. $3 for members, $8 for nonmembers (includes Playhouse admission)..

Calling All Vacation Bible Schools and Religious Activities!

I know there will be lots of Vacation Bible Schools and other Religious Camps/Activities going on in the High Country this summer! I want to provide a platform for Mom Squad Readers to share what is going on at


your place of worship this summer!  It doesn’t matter which church, denomination, or even religion, feel free to share

your events for kids in the comments below!

Please include:

  • Dates, and time
  • Location
  • Ages
  • Theme or any special activities that will be going on!
  • Contact number or website for more information.

Just scroll down the page and leave a comment!.