Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Vermont Maple Festival

As many of you know, I love to travel and visit new places, experience life to its fullest you could say. I also have this crazy idea that I want my children to visit each state in our country before they graduated high school. Children not only learn about different cultures but they learn about themselves during the process. What better way to learn, first hand! Yes, I am a kinesthetic learner and so are my children. We have some grand adventures!

When you think of Vermont what do you think of? Me, it’s maple syrup and farms. Close your eyes, are you thinking? Yup, can you see it, the syrup on the farm in the winter. When we travel we have a couple of rules, one of which is to do something that is known to that area or that is the only place you can do this particular activity. It helps us to keep focused and enjoy the state for what it is worth.

Introducing the Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans, Vermont! Sounds amazing doesn’t it?  Here is the official web page for the event.. vtmaplefestival.org

The festival is held in St. Albans, Vermont (stalbansvt.com) every year for the past 48 years. St. Albans is about 29 miles north of Burlington, VT in the upper north east corner of the state. It is about a 40-minute drive from the Burlington International Airport. One of the things that I love about driving through Vermont is all of the little towns and hidden gems everywhere. St. Albans was founded in 1896. The festival is usually held in the last weekend of April. The weather is finally starting to get warm and it is the end of sugaring season. Big business in Vermont, everyone knows someone who knows someone who “sugars” as the locals call it. You drive down the roads and people sell the syrup on the side of the roads everywhere. Trust me, it is a big deal. Vermont is the biggest maple syrup in the country.

The festival has so many events that it is impossible to do the festival in one day, actually one weekend. Many events are free and there are some that cost a few dollars. It is a very family friendly event. The event kicks off on Friday with an different event every year, the year my kiddos and I went, the event kicked off a dog show. During the festival, there is an antique show, a carnival, booths set up with different vendor that usually change between Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday morning there is a big maple festival parade, with the maple festival grand marshal, bag pipers, scout troops, the Maple Festival Ambassadors, local political office holders, children groups and dancers.

When you plan your trip to the festival you have to pick and choose what you want to participate in because it is action packed. Having gone with my children most of the events we choose were children friendly. We parked at the local high school stadium, the local bus service provides free shuttles all day long throughout the event. Let me tell you, it is a must to park and take this, parking is horrible., It will save a lot of hassle for you. In Taylor park, which seems to be the center of the festival, we started our day with balloon hats and animals from the balloon man! Yup, free my favorite kind of activity. We then watched a dog demonstration from dogs at the local animal shelter.

The main street of the festival is covered with food vendors, again we still o the rule, what is known or special to the event. We ended up having maple flavored everything, (I was maple sugared out by the end of the day) Taylor park also offers pony rides, which the children did how could we not? It was a very inexpensive activity (I want to say about three dollars for a five minute ride) I know what you are thinking that isn’t a very good price. Normally, I would agree but considering the place, the venue and the amount of people there, it was a good deal. On the street, there are the food trucks; we had maple creamees (ice cream but in Vermont they are called creamees), maple flavored soda, maple candies, pizza and maple flavored pretzels. Told you, lots of maple flavored items.

On Saturdays only the local sugar houses are open and (free!) tours are given. The Maple sugar association members gives a guided talk on the bus ride that takes you to the sugar houses. They explain the general process of sugaring, every house does it slightly different but the general process and cost are explained. We toured the Hilltop Maple House, they had just finished their first year of sugaring. During the tour, we were given maple sugar cookies to try and spoonfuls of syrup to try. Umm yay!!! We learned how the sap is taken from the trees and funneled down the hill to the plant and how it is cooked and turned into syrup. Honestly, it is a little more complicated than that but I could make an entire separate entry about that!

After the tour we went back to the Taylor park area and got the kids face painted, again free and they do a beautiful job, it’s not just a little animal it is an entire face painting.

During the festival there are food and cooking shows and tasting, what I loved about them is you can just walk up and sit and listen to a demonstrate, often times, they give you a sample and then you can go on to something else. On Saturday morning they do a big pancake breakfast at the local school, this is a pay event, it cost about $5.00 a person to eat a huge breakfast with of course maple syrup. Throughout the day there are vendor booths that you can purchase specialty items from local vendors, such as soap, cutting boards, maple syrup (like you couldn’t have guessed that one right?), clothing, and Vermont knick knacks.

The historical society has the doors open to the local history museum, which again offers free admission to tour the history of St. Albans, Vermont and some of New England, The museum is amazing, you can see different medical equipments, railroad items and more. It is a must see for the museum lovers.

This year they had a children program at one of the local schools, the children participated in different activities, and were given a “passport “ book to gather stamps at the end they traded their stamped book in for a treat. They had a puppet show, take your picture as a maple sugarer, ring toss, balloon events and more. This again was all free. The planning event committee of this event does a fantastic job of balancing activities for the children and their parents without breaking their pocketbooks.

Through out the entire show, they have maple syrup competitions, it is a huge competition and throughout the state you can see people proudly displaying their ribbons.

We finally ended our very long and event filled day with a trip to the carnival. Now, usually I don’t participate in carnivals because they are over priced and money suckers. I was reluctant to go but one of the vendors there gave us a book of 50 tickets, for answering and playing a game. How could we resist/ The children were able to ride and play games for the next hour.

I am excited to hopefully be able to return as the children are a little older and do more of the other events but I would highly recommend a trip to the Vermont Maple Syrup Festival. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Long time no see!!!!

For the longest time I have stressed over making my blog something worth reading (and I hope you find that it is as well) I have taken a long siesta from writing in for the simple fact that I have been working on me and subsequently the blog. I found myself writing and doing this just to have something to blog about and that is far from what I wanted my blog or my life to be. When I started my blog, it was to share what I knew, what I learned and hopefully help a person or two along the way. I found myself dreading the everyday writing and that just broke my heart because at one point I really loved the idea of blogging.

After lots of praying and meditating, I realized that I am supposed to blog, but blog my way and not anyone else’s. God created me to be me and that is exactly what my blog is, me and my journeys with my children, as their mother, as a wife (at one point) and now as a single mom. What have I learned, what was my journey and how can my journey help someone.

About two years ago, you might remember me blogging about Mr. Barefoot and our life together. Well that came to a screeching halt when I learned that my life was not what it appeared to be. Mr. Barefoot was living a dual life. Now, before you start bashing, I have heard it all and been told it all, so please just save it and let me share the story. Mr. Barefoot wanted his cake and to eat it as well. I loved our life so much that I never realized that it wasn’t a life at all but a show.

Mr. Barefoot left about 15 days before Bean was born. Just up and left, I had been a stay at home mom and had no income. Well, as long of a journey it has been, the children and I are doing well. I have returned to work and adjusted my life to being a single mom of three adorable and loveable children. I hope that you can continue to share our journey with us and learn with us as we go.

One thing I have learned in the last couple of years is that, your faith is the only thing you can count on in this world. You must reflect, you must repent and you will be blessed. The children and I have purged and purged, not only things but emotional baggage that just tears you down. We have learned to live life with a purpose and share the blessing that we have been given with others.

I hope you enjoy our journey and continue to stay Barefoot in Paradise with us.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A new perspective?

I left my camera at home. I know what you are thinking you are crazy, but stay with me here. I am one of those moms, that has my camera or my phone all of the time. I love photography; especially those pictures of my babies J

Every once in awhile, I like to just enjoy my time with my kiddos and not worry so much about “capturing the moment.” Don’t get me wrong some of my favorite photos came from just playing and happening to have my camera, but lately I have found that I have been so focused on having my camera to catch those moments that the kids were living and I was not. Not cool! I don’t want my children to look back and be like “wow, these are great pictures, but where was mom?” I only ever remember her taking pictures.

This particular day, I found myself playing in the river with the kiddos and what a beautiful view it is.

We love to explore, we love to play and on this day was another day to soak up the sun and just love being with each other.

I watched as my children problem solved to figure out a way to get to another part of the river, I watched my Bean learn what happened when you throw a rock, I watched my pumpkin climb different rocks and work on her balance, I watched peanut be like George of the Jungle and swing across about 10 feet of river! Go Peanut. I was very impressed it took him three tries!

At times, I missed my camera especially when the kids asked me to take their picture. “Mama, take my picture!” Then I got a goofy face or a gigantic smile, I mean who wouldn’t want to take it? But the point was to enjoy the moment and make a memory not capture it in my camera! I would tell them that I was doing something more important, I was taking mind pictures.


We spent the next two hours playing in the water, catching crawfish, fetching rocks, digging in the dirt, pretending to hunt fish like our early ancestors, and just enjoying the day together.


It is by far one of my favorite days with them. I am not saying you should never take a picture but think about this a few years ago (ok, maybe more than I would like to admit.), digital was this new thing and not many people had them. You took pictures with a film camera, and you maybe had 24 tries! There was something about taking the pictures and hoping that it turned out, then driving the film to the store to be processed, drive back pay for them and then look at your pictures, holding them in your hand. As crazy as it sounds, I almost feel more appreciative of them, it seemed that you really had to work and wait for your pictures. Now, just as everything else that we have it is instant and onto the next thing.


Saw this sign on Pinterest and just had to add it here, how appropriate. Remember to breathe and just be every once in awhile.

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