Bartos family, faith, Planning, Thoughts

an attempt at tzom kal

This Sunday ends the “three sad weeks” between tzom Tammuz and tisha b’Av. Have to say I’m ready to get back to normal life! This particular area of Judaism spans a wide range, both in Jewish and Messianic practice, ranging from no observance to a list of limitations that grow increasingly strict as the ninth of Av approaches. Personally I think it’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure. For us, we’ve developed a structure for our family that limits our enjoyment (shopping, partying, traveling, swimming, and movies, for example) during this time in order to join with Israel in mourning over Zion and praying for the swift return of Messiah.

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Bartos family, Berries, Planning

passports for kids: a quick & easy guide

We submitted passport applications for all four of our children this week. Our next adventure is on the horizon: we came up with the idea to “reward” the kids for their amazing work on our state park goal with a trip to Canada! Our first international trip will be to attend a little friend’s bat mitzvah in Ontario this November. It’s a surprise for the berries, so don’t tell them! I’m hoping we can pack up and leave in the morning as if it’s a normal park trip, but then we keep going… all day… (ha)

The passport process can be a little overwhelming, not to mention costly. We learned a few things along the way, which I’ll outline here as a resource for other families. Continue reading “passports for kids: a quick & easy guide”

Bartos family, State Park Project

singletary lake & jones lake

State parks #34 and #35 were checked off the list last weekend! After laying low for four days to bounce back from our epic Outer Banks trip, we drove out to the coastal region on Sunday to visit a set of side-by-side bay lakes about 40 miles west of Wilmington.

We visited Singletary Lake state park first and found it scenic but completely deserted. It looked like we walked onto the set of an “abducted by aliens” movie. The park office, a dilapidated garage, was locked; the silence broken only by the howl of a lone dog down the road. A small wooden box mounted to the wall held the all-important passport stamp. Continue reading “singletary lake & jones lake”

Bartos family, Planning, travel

if you had one day in the outer banks…

Here’s our “Bartos Family Travel Guide” for the Kitty Hawk/Roanoke Island area:


Go on a Wild Horse Adventure tour! We had a fantastic experience with this company. The cost is completely worth it (and we saved $$$ by booking the first tour of the day, 7.30am). They use a customized Hummer H1, with wide comfortable seats, including boosters for kids. Eva and Aaron Henry used their own car seats for the tour. It’s a little bumpy going over tire tracks on the sand but we felt safe! The Spanish mustangs are beautiful wild horses and it’s amazing to see them out on the beach.Β  Continue reading “if you had one day in the outer banks…”

Bartos family, State Park Project

pettigrew, goose creek, & cliffs of the neuse

We drove home from the Outer Banks on Tuesday with stops at three coastal parks, bringing our total for the trip up to six. The morning started early with a latte from Front Porch Cafe, cheerful kids, and bright sunshine. “Greg,” I said, “can we stay here? Let’s toss our schedule for today and just have fun!” Surprisingly, Greg agreed to this. So instead of hastily packing up, eating breakfast on the road, and having lengthy visits at each park on the route home, we grabbed our swimsuits and drove over to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for a few hours and soaked in the sun. It was incredible. Continue reading “pettigrew, goose creek, & cliffs of the neuse”

Bartos family, State Park Project

merchants millpond, dismal swamp, & jockey’s ridge

Our adventure this weekend was spending three days in the Outer Banks! This trip was the culmination of months and months worth of planning. It was toward the end of 2018 that we started talking about the State Park passport program, and studying the North Carolina map to figure out how we could visit all of them. We realized right away that we would need to travel to the Outer Banks area because it’s just not feasible to day trip there from Charlotte. We booked a cozy rental house in Manteo, NC on January 13, 2019, and almost exactly six months later here we are.

The original plan for this trip was to travel to Manteo in an upward swoop, visiting Merchants Millpond and Dismal Swamp on our way out, spend the next day climbing sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge, and then come home via Pettigrew, Goose Creek, and Cliffs of the Neuse. Making kind of a large oval as we cross the state and then return.

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Bartos family, Personal, State Park Project

lake james

Last week we had the privilege of hosting friends from Canada. Over the last few years it’s become a summer tradition to spend a week with David & Julie McDonald, and we love it! They have been a wonderful source of encouragement to us, in our marriage, our parenting, and our faith.

Early Sunday morning, after a busy few days together, Julie & I split like bananas. She and her family headed up to Baltimore to visit relatives on their way back to Canada, and I drove up to Lake James with my family for our 27th state park trip.

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