Bartos family, Planning, State Park Project, Thoughts

out with the old, in with the new

The response to our state park goal has been fantastic! Ever since our Charlotte Agenda article was published in December, I’ve been getting messages from other families excited to start their own “amazing adventure” challenge! I have a spreadsheet with the details of our 23 trips to 41 parks, plus our mileage and cost for each trip, which I’m happy to share with anyone who wants a copy.

This week Union County featured us in their January edition of “Telling Union County Stories!” We filmed an interview with Liz Cooper a few weeks ago and she put together a great story using footage and voiceover from that plus parts of Greg’s state park video.

Also, Greg & I finally finished our NC state park guide: rankings of each park + suggestions for fun family activities. I really hope it’s a helpful tool for any families looking to get outdoors this year!

Meanwhile, it’s been difficult to find a new family challenge for 2020. We’ve tossed around dozens of ideas and eliminated them for being too easy, too boring, too quick, too expensive, or a variety of other reasons. We have a big interest in national parks, and hope to visit several of them this year, but that didn’t seem like something we could focus on all year long.

All that to say, we’ve ended up with an idea we’re calling Berry Adventures, which entails a series of mini-challenges with the kids. We’ve sketched out plans for each month that are a) fairly ambitious, and b) something we’ve never done before. Some involve travel, some don’t. One, for example, is our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains –  I’m having second thoughts about it but Greg already paid for the campsite so I can’t back out now!


Greg & Morgan, Personal, Planning, Thoughts

2019 goals revisited

This week we reviewed our goals for 2019 to see how we did. We have a few categories for our annual goals and I keep track of them in an online spreadsheet. Our categories are travel, faith, children, and family (Gregory keeps track of his professional goals separately). Here’s a quick look at our list for last year:

  • get away for our anniversary / DONE March 2019
  • complete the NC Amazing Adventure challenge / DONE January-October, 2019
  • spend a weekend at the beach / DONE May 2019 and October 2019
  • go to the Hope of Israel Sisterhood Retreat (Morgan) / DONE May 2019
  • go to Canada for Megan McDonald’s bat mitzvah / DONE November 2019

  • become FFOZ Torah Club leaders / changed our minds about hosting Torah Club
  • have family prayer time before the kids go to bed / DONE
  • continue attendance at Bella Torah Fellowship / DONE
  • host a seder / DONE April 2019
  • have tefillin inspected / didn’t happen
  • get an oil menorah / didn’t happen
  • finish writing a children’s Torah portion guide (Gregory) / didn’t happen

  • move Eva into the girls’ room / DONE September 2019
  • teach Aaron Henry how to dress himself / DONE
  • start preschool with Aaron Henry / DONE September 2019
  • start first grade with Zoe / DONE September 2019
  • start second grade with Sophia / DONE September 2019

  • have a monthly date night / didn’t happen
  • set up our empty upstairs bonus room as a family space / DONE October 2019
  • renovate our laundry room / DONE March 2019
  • have a monthly gentlemen’s dinner (Gregory) / didn’t happen
  • get together with grandparents monthly / DONE
  • reach our annual savings goal / DONE
  • tile the upstairs bathroom floor / didn’t happen

Continue reading “2019 goals revisited”

Bartos family, National Park Project, Planning, travel

cuyahoga valley national park

With the state park challenge over, it seems that we need a new project. Should it be national parks? There are 61 official “national parks” in the United States (although there is a movement in the park community to disregard the 61st park, established by President Obama, as it is entirely man made). This number doesn’t include everything managed by the National Park Service (national monuments, national forests, national scenic byways, etc), which is over 400 locations. Continue reading “cuyahoga valley national park”

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.

Continue reading “an attempt at tzom kal”

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, 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.  Continue reading “if you had one day in the outer banks…”

Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Planning

no place like home

We bought a house today. {!!!}

After a few months of searching, we found an adorable little house in the heart of Indian Trail {Union County} and made an offer on it. The negotiations concluded this morning as we signed the deed, becoming homeowners for the first time! We are thrilled at how perfectly this worked out – our apartment lease is up in a few weeks, and we are ready to transition our family into a new home. Baruch HaShem for His direction and provision every step of the way!
Time to start packing…