We're changing names!

Happy Trails, Wild Tales

I'm excited to announce that Long Live Learning is growing, expanding and changing direction. Along with this comes a name change. The site will n...

Preschool Hiking

Five Tips for Hiking with Preschool...

I had the pleasure, this past weekend, of taking my grandson on his first hike. By pleasure, I mean practice in patience. He's a boisterous 5-year-old...

First Look from Fort Mountain Overlook

Ahead of the Storm or How To Be On ...

  [caption id="attachment_869161" align="aligncenter" width="600"] First Look from Fort Mountain Overlook[/caption] We've made a habit of h...

Benefits of Traveling with Other Families

4 Benefits of Traveling & Bunk...

Camp Cook Chronicles - Traveling & Bunking with other Families We're crazy lucky to be friends with some amazing families who enjoy traveling &...

Travel & Adventure

First Look from Fort Mountain Overlook

Ahead of the Storm or How To Be On Time

  [caption id="attachment_869161" align="aligncenter" width="600"] First Look from Fort Mountain Overlook[/caption] We've made a habit of hiking every Wednesday. We've gotten so good at it that I even coined a hashtag to connect ...

Benefits of Traveling with Other Families

4 Benefits of Traveling & Bunking with Other Families

Camp Cook Chronicles - Traveling & Bunking with other Families We're crazy lucky to be friends with some amazing families who enjoy traveling & outdoor adventures as much as we do. In fact, as I'm writing this, one of those famil...

October’s Twitter Power Hours & PowWow Posts

October Power Hours and PowWowsRegular followers and friends know that I love my Power Hours. I schedule these hours on twitter, throughout the week, to shine the spotlight on great blogs I enjoy reading and the interests I follow. October is no different… I’ll still be sharing my fave posts, but my format is evolving! Follow me for tweets about #FamilyTravel, #OutdoorFamilies, #HikeOnHumpDay, #GeorgiaMom and more.

My October Power Hour schedule is as follows:

  • Monday: Follow hashtag #FamilyTravel at 10am est to tune into the Family Travel Power Hour.
  • Tuesday: Follow hashtag #OutdoorFamilies at 4:30pm est to tune into the Outdoor Families Power Hour.
  • Wednesday: Follow hashtag #HikeOnHumpDay to follow our weekly expedition and discover one of the Fantastic Fall Hikes near Atlanta, Georgia
  • Thursday: Follow hashtag #GeorgiaMom at 5pm to tune into the Georgia Family Power Hour
  • Saturday: Look for the weekly Power Hour PowWow post, right here on Happy Trails Wild Tales, for a recap of the week’s Power Hours.

Now, about that new format….

During the first half-hour of the Power Hour, I’ll be featuring one blog that I really enjoy reading. I’ll launch into sharing posts and tweets from other featured blogs for the second half-hour. It’s simple!

I’m also adding a recap post, The Power Hour PowWow, every Saturday. This will give even more exposure to these great blogs and keep track of the Power Hours for anyone who misses them.

Which Power Hour are you following? 

Dear Dead Husband: A Letter from Your Widow Three Years Later

Dear Dead husband A Letter from your Widow

Dear Dave,
It’s been three years since I last heard your voice over the phone saying you’d call me right back. I don’t know if you know what happened. But, you were on a road call, at work, changing tires for a motor grader and had a fatal heart attack. I was at home and had this lonely feeling that prompted me to give you a call. Clearly, you were out of breath which isn’t uncommon. You told me you’d call right back, but when you didn’t and wouldn’t answer your phone I called your boss. They told me something happened and they thought you might have died.

It’s not easy to write to a dead man, which is why I’ve avoided it for over 3 years, now. Not for obvious reasons like you’re dead and can’t read it, anyway. It’s just not easy to think about the fact that you’ve missed the past three years. It’s not easy to think about you missing out on all the rest of them, either. But, I’m gonna do it, today– the eve of your youngest son’s 11th birthday. After all, his was the first birthday we celebrated without you after you died.

I continue along the path we had envisioned for our sons, together, and move through this life without your presence. There have been some challenges, but you know me well enough to rest assured that I overcome them all and make it look easy. But, it’s not easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, to raise the boys without their daddy.

I think about the things that you wanted to do–or things I am pretty sure you’d love– and I make it a point to do them for you. I had elk tenderloin for dinner the other night.. I know you would have loved that. The carolina trout was fantastic, too. For a long time, it was really difficult to do the things you loved and things you’d dreamt about doing and things I know you would have enjoyed.. I did what I could, despite the deep and cutting pain. Now, it doesn’t cut so deep. There’s still a pain, there, where you should be–but, it’s changing. It brings me something else, now.. a connection to the spirit you shared on planet earth, a content and happy spirit of perseverance and simplicity.

I introduce your sons to things I thought that you would show them one day. We’ve been camping–a lot. Sean and James even start and tend the fires, all by themselves, now. We spent two nights on Cumberland Island. Remember, we’d talked about doing that when they got a bit older? Well, we did it. Standing all alone out on that isolated beach, as the sun set, was possibly the most simultaneously painful and glorious thing I’ve ever done, besides give birth and bury my husband. It’s indescribable. I’m thinking you might know what it feels like.

While we were there, I’m pretty sure we heard a space shuttle take off from that place in Florida. It was super loud and I checked the internet and they had a launch scheduled. I remembered you saying you heard it–or saw it– when you were in South Georgia, close to the Florida border. We went boating in the Okefenokee–I remember the stories, of your friend with the alligators all laying in his yard like tired dogs. We took a road trip around Florida and saw even more alligators in the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. James played in some big waves. Remember, how much he loved the waves when we visited Jekyll Island? He loves them even more, now. I took him to the Keys and he was almost in tears over the calm water! I took Sean to see manatees, in the wild; and we swam with dolphins, Dave. We swam with dolphins and it was amazing.

We hike mountains–James loves the amazing views. He said his favorite part of our hikes are the plants and Sean is amazing at identifying them. That kind of surprised me. I remember you telling me that you and your friend built your own kayaks and took them out on the river. We went kayaking with an ecologist, in a National Estuarine Research Reserve. That experience inspired me and sent me back to school to become one of those guys.

I’m attending an Outdoors Woman workshop in October to learn how to fly-fish.. Because, you said you always wanted to do that. I’m doing it for you and I’ll be able to take your sons to show them your dreams and teach them the things you would. I’m learning.

Tomorrow, for James’ birthday, we’ll be learning how to ride dirt bikes–one of your favorite past times. I hope he enjoys it as much as you did and as much as he loves mountain biking. Did I tell you we go mountain biking? I gotta get some sleep, Dave. 5:30AM wake up call for us new dirt bikers.

One last thing, I made this video for you. I often find myself thinking about how you must be so worried about me, if you hadn’t heard anything from me. I tried to answer all the questions, I imagine you’d have, with the video.. How have you been? What have y’all been doing? Is everything OK?

Those last frames with my “Thumbs Up..” It’s become my default pose and it’s been my secret that those are all for you.. they’re all to let you know that everything is good. We’re OK. Thanks for blessing me with an endless supply of unconditional love, lifting me up and strengthening my freedom to be me. I may not be a rich woman, but I’m a very wealthy being– and, much of that wealth was acquired during my life with you. I strive to be able to share that with your sons and as many people as I can. I know you’d be proud of your little family and how they drive their time machines along through the universe.

Love,
Your Sweet Cat, Wild Cat

Gear Guide: Kinemaster Video Editing App for Android

Gear Guide: KineMaster Video Editor Android App

KineMaster is a sleek video editing app that I used to create a quick video for #HikeOnHumpDay. It was fast, easy and best of all–a complete, professional video editor that goes with me everywhere I carry my Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Disclosure: I will be compensated for the time it took me to create a sample video and review this app. Compensation for my time does not influence my review.

What I like about KineMaster Mobile Video Editor..

It’s portable. The features are robust. It renders quickly. It uploads HD videos straight to your social media empire. It was so easy to use, I didn’t even have to ask my kid for help. There’s not a lot to dislike. KineMaster is simple to learn, particularly if you have any experience using another video editor. I quickly pieced together my first video in a matter of minutes using my video clips and photographs coupled with KineMaster’s transition effects and background music. Check it out!

Keep in mind, that’s just my first video! I’ve played around with the app several more times since I made this video. It just gets more amazing as I get the hang of utilizing the features.

Download the free KineMaster app from Google Play Store and give it a try. It doesn’t add any weird stuff to your phone. There are no ads within the app and no push notification ads from it either.

What I don’t like about KineMaster Mobile Video Editor..

You know, I actually hesitate to say I dislike something about KineMaster because it is so versatile being loaded on my phone. But, I couldn’t figure out how to rotate images – that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I just couldn’t figure it out. The only other issue I ran across was precision. It was hard to trim a clip down to the milliseconds. But, that could be chalked up to the inaccurate use of my fingers on the screen. Next time, I’ll try using the Note’s stylus to see if I have a better result.

Gear Gauge

Gear Gauge for KineMaster Video EditorKineMaster is full of features to create fantastic videos. The rendering speed is fast which is a huge deal for me. The fact that I can use it anywhere I have my phone and upload my new videos straight to social media and youtube is invaluable.

The app is free to use with the KineMaster watermark. You can remove the watermark for a $40 annual subscription. I’m no stranger to video creation. The software on my computer costs hundreds of dollars. .

I think it is definitely worth the money. I will be purchasing a subscription to use KineMaster without the watermark. It’s the perfect tool for me to record snippets of our adventures to share with family and friends.

New Fall Photo Scavenger Hunt on Instagram! #FallFunPhotos Contest

Fall Fun Photos Instagram ContestThe new Fall Family Fun instagram scavenger hunt will challenge you to discover a wide array of fall family fun, notice the seasonal changes in nature and share your photos of beautiful change! Hosted by @365AtlantaFamily and @HappyTrailTales, this family fun photo scavenger hunt runs throughout the fall season with new items posted every two weeks. Thanks to Gwee, we even have a prize for our favorite fall family photos entered into the contest. Read more to find out how to play and how to win!

Read more →

Happy Trails, Wild Tales

We're changing names!

I’m excited to announce that Long Live Learning is growing, expanding and changing direction. Along with this comes a name change. The site will now be titled, “Happy Trails, Wild Tales,” and is now accessible via the domain HappyTrailsWildTales.com.

This was not an easy decision to make. After all, I just had 500 business cards printed with “Long Live Learning,” that I’ll be passing out at a conference this weekend. Go ahead and laugh… It’s funny. The thing is, I have several posts sitting in draft that I am struggling to publish because I fail to see how my current direction matches the original purpose of the site - homeschool resources.

I started this thing on the heels of the most devastating experience of my life, the death of my husband. How was I to know that, despite my best efforts, that event would change everything about my life? Now, that I am picking myself up and dusting off, I can more clearly see that I have clawed my way out of the darkness as if I were buried right alongside him and left to dig my way out of the grave.

For three years, I have uncovered myself one suffocating handful of darkness at a time and as I turn away from that pit of loneliness, I see a new direction for me to take my life. This is where Happy Trails, Wild Tales is born – from experience, exploration and an appreciation for this life on planet Earth.

For the most part, I have already been making more posts in the direction I’m taking the site – outdoors! Here are some things appearing more regularly on Happy Trails, Wild Tales.

  • Outdoors & Nature
    We spend a lot of our time outdoors and I want to bring more of that experience to the forefront. I am currently a student, enrolled in college, studying Environmental Science. All of us are campers, hikers, kayakers, mountain bikers, budding naturalists and always looking for a great place to explore and broaden our knowledge of planet earth.
  • Family Travel & Adventure
    I’m offering encouragement and inspiration to other families who want to hit the road, whether it’s a staycation or a road trip. I’m sharing my fears, doubts, and the challenges I overcome to give my boys (and myself) the experiences that we really want for our lives.
  • A Personal Perspective
    I’m posting more of my photos, more meaningful thoughts and feelings about our life experiences, probably some history and behind-the-scenes. You’ll read more about that woman behind the camera, behind the veil; the captain of this particular time machine on planet earth.
  • Gear Guides
    Let’s face it… Being a mom, a writer, a student, an outdoor enthusiast and a photographer all come with huge collections of favorite and failed gear. I’ll share my experiences in gear guides to help outfit y’all with your own collections of field-tested faves.
  • Video
    While there is little chance of me going viral, I’m definitely seeing the benefits of moving some of my content to video. I’ve already created a few. But, you can expect the quality and regularity to improve.

That’s it! So, be like a tree and stick around for Happy Trails, Wild Tales!