Wednesday, February 6, 2013

We've moved!

Hello! In case you didn't know, we've spread out the Welcome mat on our new Internet home.  Please head to

to follow the same great content, new fancy look.

We'll see you all over there!

We're working on a Blogger redirect that should be up soon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Stay & Play Snack Cafe

I am sure that, by now, the majority of you have heard of the newest business for families to open in Durham.  It was highly anticipated (because the idea is brilliant) and opened this Saturday with much fanfare.  Good news - the place meets all expectations.

Stay & Play Snack Cafe is a coffee house in downtown Durham that is for families to come play. 

One big, long room is filled with toys, padded floors, and creativity so that parents can sit, have a cup of coffee or latte and a muffin from Ninth Street bakery, kids can get some popcorn from Mad Popper when they get hungry (or other snacks), and kids can play.  FINALLY - we now have a place where we can have coffee with a friend and avoid hipsters on their computers throwing us judgemental looks because our children are running around making loud noises (or is that just me?).

Stay & Play has an area for art with supplies provided by Bull City Craft, a train table, a play kitchen and dolls, a padded area with a climber and large blocks, books, a bunch of small tactile toys stored and labelled to bring out and play with, and an area for infants in the back.  Much of the toys gear towards kids under 6 or so but kids of any age are welcome - just have the older kids bring Angry Birds on their iPads or whatever it is they do nowadays (Lord, I hope you all help me when I have older kids).

Surrounding all this kid-joy are chairs and tables and sofas for parents and caretakers to sit on (although let's be honest, we still don't get to sit much).

There are all kinds of events going on, too.  There are art times (for a small additional fee for supplies), storytimes (no extra charge), and Stay & Play has invited some of our favorites - Healthy Moms and My SweetArts - to come in and offer classes (these classes cost additional money).
I love that Emily, the owner of Stay & Play, has thought of everything.  In the bathroom, for example, in addition to a changing table there is step stool for the sink, a step stool for the toilet, a toddler potty seat, free breastpads, and more.  All over the cafe there are antibacterial wipes hanging in beautiful canisters.

Prices are reasonable across the board.  Snacks for kids come in cute little muffin cups and are $1 per cup.  You do have to pay to play and stay here (unless you are taking one of the fee-based classes).  Adults are free (I think because we end up drinking a lot of coffee so we more than make up for it) and the first child is $4.50, each additional child is $3.00.  I thought this was worth it.  You can buy membership at a variety of levels, too, which would be worth doing if you know you will frequent this spot.

You must wear socks to play and everyone has to leave their shoes off at the door (yes, even adults so make sure you wear your socks without holes in the toes).  Also, you can't take strollers back in to the cafe (you won't need them) so unless you are doing some heavy duty walking to get there you can leave the stroller in the car.  Our group ended up heading over to Bull City Brewery for some burgers afterwards but this isn't too far from some of our other Durham favorites either.

There is street parking available if you want to search but you can also park across the street in the garage ($1/hr weekdays, free on weekends).

Truly, my only complaint about this new business model that has come to the Triangle is that no one has opened one in Chapel Hill.  I feel like Stay & Play Snack Cafe meets a need that has existed for a long time in a elegant and desireable way.

Stay & Play Snack Cafe
405A East Chapel Hill St

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Paper Plate Dinosaurs

From Sarah C.:

Next Wednesday is "Draw a Dinosaur Day." Seriously. Having a certain 3.5 year old in my home who loves dinosaurs, I couldn't think of a better 'holiday' to get crafty for. Surely there are at least a few dino loving kids in the MiCH crowd?

While D did draw a dinosaur to share as part of the 'holiday,' I didn't think a tutorial was necessary for drawing a dinosaur. Instead, I thought I'd share how we crafted one from a paper plate.

  • paper plate
  • markers, crayons or paint to color the plate
  • scissors
  • brads (glue or tape could also be used)

To start, hand your child a paper plate to color. We used markers, but crayons or paint would also work.

Cut the plate into 3 pieces as shown below by cutting it in half and then cutting one of the pieces in half. 

From the one of the quarter pieces, help your child cut a tail. Start at the smooth portion and cut a curve back toward the outer edge of the plate on the opposite side of the piece to create the tail. Don't toss the extra piece. Set it aside. Then take the other quarter piece and cut a neck/head shape. Again, save the remaining portion. Attach the tail and neck/head using brads (glue or tape could also be used).

Take the "extra" pieces left from cutting the tail and neck/head and cut 4 legs. Attach these to the body as well.

That's it - you've made a dinosaur! (How my son got his to stand on it's own is beyond me! Preschooler magic?)

Share your dinosaur or any project inspired by our Arts & Crafts Thursday posts on our Flickr group here. We'd love to see what you and your kids have made!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stone's Education Superstore

From Sarah C.:

Stone's Education Superstore has been a fixture in Raleigh for years. I recall driving past during my days at NCSU when I thought it was "teachers only." I just recently ventured in for the first time both for the purpose of sharing and to search out a specific item for D. What I discovered? I'll be visiting a lot.

This store is huge! Well, far greater than I ever imagined it could be. It's in a fairly nondescript metal building along Tryon Rd. Step in through the doors and the world of education is spread about you as far as you can see. It encompasses so much more than "just" teacher supplies. Sure, you'll find bulletin board decor and flash cards but you'll also find Melissa & Doug and Playmobil items.

I was so taken in by everything, I had to ask for directions to the specific paper I was looking for. There is plenty of order to the layout. I just hadn't expected so much and was trying to keep a grip on my 3yo who wanted to run and explore every inch as well.

He also wanted to play which made our discovery of the kids play area behind the registers a huge hit. We found it pretty early in our visit and D wanted to stay and play and play. A train table, Playmobil pieces, Mr Potato Head, puzzles, books, etc. It had plenty to entertain.

Besides the number of options & fun play area available under one roof, I was also impressed with the knowledge the staff possessed. I had come in search of lined paper for D to practice writing his letters on. Something so simple but I was struggling to find in other stores. I mentioned earlier that I asked for help in locating it. The sales associate led me to the options - there were a lot - and then chatted with me about it. I explained to her a couple of things we were working on such as holding a pencil correctly. She immediately had suggestions including a special pencil. I did end up buying it and it really has made a difference. He's not perfectly holding all crayons & pencils now but does understand is getting closer to correct. I was pleased that she took time to listen to me and make recommendations of how to help him learn and grow. That's huge to any parent.

If you're in search of a new workbook, homeschooling literature, or even a toy for your child, I highly suggest visiting Stone's.

Stone's Education Store
3800 Tryon Road

Monday - Saturday 9a - 6p
Sunday 12p - 6p


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

DAC's Toddler Art Workshop

We are recovering from the fabulous event at Northgate Mall yesterday.  Estimates hit my in-box today that it was over 1,000 attendees - the largest that this event has seen.  NC MomsRising did a fabulous job organizing and thanks to Lango Kids, the Durham Mothers Club, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Mothers Club, and Northgate Mall.  I was pleased to be a part, even if my wild and crazy boys meant we had to skip the second session.  I look forward to helping with this again next year.  In the meantime, here's another love-for-Durham post today....Enjoy!

As you know, I try to get crafty with my kids when I can.  Art can open so many doors and encouraging kids' creativity is important to me.  Yet it can be messy.  And I can have a hard time coming up with ideas.  Hence why I was more than happy to try out the Durham Art Council's Toddler Art Workshop.  (The DAC is the same organization that brings us the clay workshop.)

These workshops change on the schedule frequently so you really need to stay tuned to the DAC's website (see below) to find out when they are.  For this session, through April 2013 for certain, they are going to be held for 1 hour on Saturday mornings.  However, in the past they have been on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and sometimes Fridays.  It is worth getting to if you can.

For $12 per child you are given access to a room with 4 tables in it.  Each table has a different art/sensory experience for your child.  An artist named Brenda puts it all together, comes up with the ideas, and provides all the supplies you would need.  She clearly loves what she does and is very warm and inviting.  When C and I attended there was a table of homemade playdough with various tools, a painting table (very popular), a table to decoupage your own jars and containers, and a table to make collages on old CDs or paper.  At one point Brenda also whipped out some paper plate puppets.  You, of course, take your finished projects home with you and can participate in each activity more than once or not at all.

There are sinks for cleaning, everything is toddler-proof and, best of all, someone else cleans up the mess when you are all done!  That's worth the money in my book.

The class is advertised for kids 18 months - 4 years of age.  There were kids in there encompassing that age span so I would say that is accurate.  Yet do note that there are a lot of baubles so if you have a young child still prone to sticking everything in his/her mouth this is best saved until they get older.  The room does have a door and the kids were very entertained so you don't have to worry too much about runaways.  All you have to do as a parent is sit with your child and do art with them.  Not a bad deal.

This would be particularly great if you have 2 children in that age span and can bring them both.  They do limit the number of participants so get online to register.

These are held at the DAC's building downtown so we popped over to the Durham Farmers' Market and then over to Daisycakes afterwards to treat ourselves.

Durham Arts Council's Parent/Child Toddler Art Workshops
Durham Arts Council, Inc.
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC 27701

Friday, January 18, 2013

MLK Celebration on Monday

I am so pleased to share with you details about a really great event this coming Monday to celebrate MLK day.  As you loyal readers know, usually we don't do articles on specific events but, well, I am actually going to BE at this one with my TMOM partner in crime Kristen so I really want you to come out and say hi!  I will be the frantic-looking completely wild-haired mom trying to chase down a 3 year old boy and a 1 year old boy who are going in different directions simultaneously.  In fact, if you say hi, please feel free to also grab one of my children and bring them back to me.  Thanks in advance.

In all seriousness, this event was huge last year and we're hoping for it to be even HUGER (I make up words sometimes) this year.  So come see us.  Here are the details-

Dr. King came to Durham!

This year we’re also celebrating the important role Durham and our city’s young people played in the Civil Rights struggle. We’ll be talking about the sit -in movement and how, in one of the earliest sit-ins, a group of three women and four men from Durham sat in at the Royal Ice Cream Company on June 23, 1957 to protest segregation. We’ll honor their efforts by sharing stories learning freedom songs, doing related crafts, and celebrating with an ice cream social and sock hop featuring music from the Civil Rights Era.

What: Join us for a free story time, songs, crafts, ice cream social, and sock hop as we celebrate MLK’s life and legacy in a way that kids can understand. In continuing Dr. King’s commitment to service,participants are asked to donate nonperishable food or toiletry items (soap, toothbrushes,diapers, etc) for Durham Urban Ministries to help them serve local families in need. Voter registration and information will also be available.

When: MLK Day, Monday, January 21, 2013.
Parties will begin at 10:30 and noon. Each will include a story time followed by an ice cream social, sock hop featuring music of the Civil Rights era, crafts, and more.

Where: The Center Court at Northgate Mall, 1058 West Club Blvd, Durham

Sponsored by: NC MomsRising, Lango Kids, the Durham Mothers Club, Carrboro/ Chapel Hill Mothers Club, Northgate Mall, and more

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arts & Crafts Thursday: String Hearts

Since it looks like we may be stuck in the house with some wintry weather on the way, here's a craft to help you enjoy being indoors and get you thinking about Valentine's Day. 

  • yarn
  • cornstarch
  • water
  • heart-shaped cookie cutter
  • parchment paper
  • scissors
Adults will also need access to a stove.


Make a glue out of cornstarch and water.  Start by mixing about 1/4 cup of cornstarch and 3/4 cup of water in a saucepan, stir it, and heat it until it is smooth.  Allow it to cool.  Once cool, you may need to modify the mixture so that it is thick enough to have a little sticky to it.  Note that If you allow it to cool overnight or for too long you can reheat it in the microwave, just add more water.

Cut yarn of any color into any length you want.  We went with anywhere from 6-12 inches.  C was in charge of cutting so no promises that they were anywhere uniform in length.

Put your cookie cutter on to a piece of parchment paper.  Take a piece of yarn, place it in the glue mixture, and soak it well.

Pull the yarn out of the glue mixture and remove excess by running your fingers over it. Put the piece of yarn in the cookie cutter however you want.  We had no method, just sort of shoved it in there so it fit.

Continue to do this until you have completely filled the heart.  Ideally you would get one thin layer of yarn but no need to be scientific about this.  Too little yarn you risk losing the heart shape, though, so go ahead and pile it in.  A lot of yarn just means it takes longer to dry but that's not a huge problem unless you are on some sort of weird crafting-deadline I don't know about.

Allow the yarn to dry for about a day.  C and I removed the cookie cutter then, pressed out any remaining moisture that might still be left using a paper towel, and reshaped the heart as we wanted to/needed to.

I have read online that you can speed up the drying process by placing the heart (without cookie cutter) and parchment paper in to an oven set on "warm" for up to 2 hours.

Honestly, I am not sure what we are going to do with our completed hearts but they look very pretty, have a neat texture we keep poking at, and we sure had fun making them.