Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kidzu's Messy Art in the Morning

We've already talked about Kidzu, including their new location, but it is great to be able to sample one of their ongoing events and share it with you!  Here is a post from Katie about a craft time that this children's museum hosts once a month.  *Sneak peek alert* - If you love ideas for crafts you can do at home with your kids, just wait until you see the all-new feature we've got coming your way starting tomorrow!:

I am all about arts and crafts for toddlers.  I think messy art is great, and it is even better when it somewhere else!  So, when I saw in my email that Kidzu hosts a "Messy Art in the Morning" drop in craft time for toddlers once a month, I put it on the calendar….clearly...in ink. 

Messy Art in the Morning happens one Wednesday morning a month (at the time of this publication the next one is scheduled to happen March 21, 2012) and is geared for kids ages 2-5.  We got there and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect.  The arts and crafts area in the new (temporary) location is just behind the baby section.  It is a small space but very efficiently used.  In fact, the folks at Kidzu effortlessly moved us from station to station without any toddler traffic jams!  MiCHill Note: That is pretty impressive since I feel like I have toddler traffic jams at my house all the time and I only have one!

The craft changes each month and this particular day it was shaving cream painting.  When we first got to the art area H put on a smock (which made his day, seriously) and Kidzu staff helped him pick out his three favorite colors.  I loved that they had the colors typed out, in the color named, to help him learn.  They took care of putting the shaving cream and paint in a tin.  Then we moved to the next station where H got to swirl the paint with a popsicle stick (another big thing in our world!).  Once the paint was swirled, they helped him put the paper down on top of it.  Then it was on to the next station where they helped remove the shaving cream and we cleaned up.  We left the art to dry while we headed over to play in the other Kidzu exhibits. 

All in all the craft probably took five or six minutes, which I think is perfect for a tot.  The craft time is drop-in generally from 10-12 on the day they are having it (check their website to confirm each month), and it is free with paid admission (or membership).   If I didn’t have a membership I don’t know if I would pay admission solely for the craft time, but I don’t think that is how it is intended.  I think it is meant to be a fun drop in activity during your trip to Kidzu.  And in that respect, it is more than worth it!

Happy Crafting!


Kidzu Children’s Museum's Messy Art in the Morning
www.kidzuchildrensmuseum.org
123-B West Franklin (in University Square)
Chapel Hill

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 8

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 8 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. Are you keeping up with the challenge?

From Allison:
I hit a wall this week.  Between a lot of appointments for my boys, combined with a nap schedule for two to contend with, mixed in with general frustration over lack of progress, I just had a hard time this week.  So I tried to mix it up and got outside to hit pavement as much as possible.  That included biking outside (down where my parents live, in beautiful Virginia countryside) and running outside while pushing baby B along.  Lesson that I learned this week?  I no longer believe in the old adage "for every uphill there is a downhill."  Because I swear when I was outside I had waaaaaay more uphills than down.  The good news is that although mentally and emotionally I hit that proverbial wall, I could tell my body was stronger and better suited to run and bike and generally endure than it had been 7 weeks ago.  Progress has been made, although I am starting to realize that I don't believe a 5k will ever feel "easy."  Hence, I am really looking forward to the sense of accomplishment we will all have as parents who managed to do something as awesome as a 5k for a good cause.  I do hope you're out there working hard and planning to join us (run or walk!).

From Katie:
What a gorgeous week—okay, post snow, what a gorgeous week (even though we enjoyed seeing a little of the white stuff over here!). Over the week, I’ve stayed in the groove of walking/jogging four times a week, sometimes with friends, sometimes with H in the jogger, sometimes on my own. I have to admit, it seems easier, and faster, when I go with friends—they definitely keep me motivated.& just being with them pushes me beyond my normal limits, or at least the point at which I would generally call it quits.

Here’s where I am going to ask all of you for advice. I’ve gotten in the habit of exercising again, but I admit, it isn’t always easy. My biggest challenges are a sick little one (oh, the ear infections) and schedule, schedule, schedule (work, taking care of the family, various board commitments). How do you make exercise a priority? How do you keep it fresh so that you aren’t bored with it? I can’t wait to read your responses!

From Sarah:
This was a bit of a "group" fitness week for me. Monday was my only solo day. DH got off work early so I left D with him while I did the Ease into 5k routine. On Wednesday, we took a family outing to explore a new park and walked 1.6 miles on part of the Cary Greenway System. I got back into my usual routine on Thursday with D in the jogger while I used the app. And on Friday, D & I joined friends for a visit to the NC Zoo. I walked the entire time covering 5 miles - part of it pushing him in the stroller (he really enjoyed the ride when we went uphill! There's a workout for mama!). I was hoping to get a 3rd running day in, but, I confess, just didn't feel up to it in the cold & wind yesterday even while reminding myself only 8 weeks to race day - it's coming up fast now.

Interested in more up-to-date details on what we're doing or want to share with us how you are doing in the Fitness Challenge? Leave a comment, visit us on Facebook, or join along in the Challenge chatter on Twitter (use hashtag #MiCHillFit2012).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Upper Haw River Hike

A while ago now DH, C, and I hiked the Lower Haw River.  The hike was gorgeous, and we loved being so close to the river.  The only issue we had was 1- finding the path and 2- staying on the path since it seems to get lost (note that we don't get lost, the path does).

On the other side of 15/501, still on the Haw, is a hike that is much more readily found and followed and popular.  So DH and I tried that out with the kids (now 4 of us!).

A little note about the Haw River: the trail along the Haw River is a 70 mile one that starts in Burlington, NC and goes to Jordan Lake.  Thus when you go online to look for information you are predominantly going to see information about the Haw River trails up that-a-way.  Even moreso since the Haw River trail is going to, eventually, be part of the Mountains-to-Sea trail and that's where all the major renos are happening.  But there are some great hikes near us and the "Upper" Haw River hike, as we are calling it around here, is a good one.

Unlike the Lower Haw River Hike, this hike has a well marked parking lot just off of 15/501 as you head towards Pittsboro, before you cross the bridge over the Haw.  You have easy access down to the water right where the big dam and trail starts (note that this is a kid's site, so we're not cursing, we're being accurate).  You can only go one way on foot from here, upriver.  So take that path and away you go!  Psst!, we really liked looking at the dam and bridge, too.

This path is more well worn so we didn't find it quite as scenic as the other hike.  There was actually a little bit of litter and the flora was well-trodden.  What this hike has going for it, though, especially with kids in tow, is accessibility, ease of direction, and access to the River itself for sticking your feet in and indeed getting a full soak if the weather cooperates.

You are going to have to cross some wet spots and some running water along this path so wear appropriate footwear.  Our toddler did this walk independently just fine and loved walking on his own - the terrain was easy enough.  No strollers on this path though so bring your carrier if you have ones who need it.

Along this path, about a mile from the 15/501 parking lot, you can find an area down near the River called "The Spot" (so we think).  Here is rope swing and great access to the water.  I will tell you that I was an English major and read way too many novels (most of them disturbing since that is what tortured literary types do best) and The Spot definitely looked to me like a "spot" where some seedy high school happenings could go down.  It looks like this is a place where older kids go to camp out for a day of playing hooky - there was litter but the litter was permanent.  Think old inflatable rafts to sit on. And some of the equipment doesn't look too sturdy at all.  Of course, we were the only ones there in the middle of the afternoon on a gorgeous weekend, so I am sure I am just being dramatic.  In general this is a great big area down near the River with easy access to get in a swim.  Just really use your head when letting your kids frolic here.

This area of the Haw is huge for paddling and kayaking.  In fact, at the damn and parking lot there is a portage path to get you around the dam - like I said, very kayak friendly around these parts.  There is some nice flatwater but the moving water can get to Class 2 and 3 (DH and I did these years and years ago and managed to do it while keeping our beverages upright and open).

Now get out there this weekend and enjoy some o utdoors!

"Upper" Haw River Hike
I couldn't find a great link or map for you, but you can feel free to check these out.  In general, from 15/501 S towards Pittsboro you will see the parking lot.  Head down to the River and start walking west.  It's actually the only direction you can really go.
http://www.hawriver.org/
http://www.thehaw.org/Land_trail/Land_trail.html
Pittsboro



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Duke Park - Durham

The big park
Can you believe it SNOWED here?!  I, actually, was pretty happy and hope that you all got lots of pictures of your kids frolicking in the 0.5 inches we had.  I sure did.  Anyhow, it is going to be playground and park weather later this week and we've got a new one for you that is great!  Duke Park in Durham is a great playground area for you to hit and, really, has nothing to do with Duke University.

Duke Park has a really interesting history.  There was an old bathhouse here (that structure still stands, although you can not get in to it) and a very popular pool on site during the '30s and '40s.  You can read more about that at this link here, complete with some fabulous old pictures.

Duke Park is located in a beautiful, historic Durham neighborhood and sprawls across some rolling hills with old growth trees.  It is quite beautiful.  You can see a vista of playground equipment across some of the more scenic pieces of Durham's land.  If you are not a parent that probably doesn't do much for you, but I loved the line of sight and the vision.

Parking was odd.  I tried to pull in to what looked like the park entrance but it was locked shut.  So I went around to the side where there is public parking provided (near the port-a-john, which is the bathroom facility here, by the way).
The toddler playground
There are 2 playground structures although warning that it is somewhat frustrating that they aren't closer together. It would be hard to have 1 kid on 1 structure and 1 kid on another and keep an eye on both.  There is a toddler structure in the gulley for younger kids.  That had fairly good shade and a synthetic ground cover in parts.  But the massive beauty is the huge 5-12 year old play structure up on the hill.  This thing is tall!  Yet let me assure you that it is safe.  Obviously you will always want to keep an eye on your child while at a playground, nothing is foolproof, but C wound his way up that hamster cage of a tower with glee and easily but he is almost 3 and experienced in the art of playgrounds.  I would not have let him up that 1 year ago.

The tower

Beyond the looming tower of play structure, this place also has some nice climbing structures, musical exhibits, interactive play, and other imaginative stations that a lot of these newer playgrounds have.  There are benches surrounding the area and a lot of picnic tables off to the side.

The big playground doesn't get a lot of shade, so watch out for hot days.  Ground cover is mulch.

This playground is off of a community greenway so expect to see a lot of dog walkers and neighbors.

We really had a great time at this playground and would gladly go back.  By the way, this is over near Northgate Mall, so stop by for a Chick-Fil-A storytime (make sure to call ahead!) or to hit the carousel if you would like.

Amenities:
  • Greenway Access
  • Grills(5)
  • Picnic Tables(18)
  • Playground
  • Picnic Shelter(SMALL)
  • Water Fountain

Duke Park
http://www.durhamnc.gov/
106 West Knox Street
Durham

Monday, February 20, 2012

Starrlight Mead Tasting

Ah yes, places where parents can do adult-like things yet kids can come along and be appropriately and fantastically entertained.  Love places like that.  You know, Fullsteam Brewery and Rock of Ages vineyard, like places you used to go B.K. (before kids).  Well we found another one of those spots for you: Starrlight Mead's tasting room in Pittsboro.

This spot has been on my to-do list for awhile and when I saw online that they welcomed kids too, I was in, and drug a group along with me.  If you aren't familiar, and we weren't, mead is honey wine.  That's wine made with honey instead of grapes.  Mead tends to be really sweet, of course, given the high residual sugars in honey but Starrlight does a fantastic job of making a diverse and truly interesting collection of wines.

But that's not why I am here.  I am here to tell you why this is fun to go to with kids.  The interior in and of itself isn't terribly kid friendly.  Think lots of glass bottles.  Yet we had two 3 year olds and one 7 year old with us and they had fun.  That's because the owners here offer honey tasting to kids while adults taste.  While we were drinking our mead the kids were getting to sample various types of honey, see a true honeycomb, and learn a little about bees from one of the owners.  They all decided that marshmallow honey was their favorite.  I am not going to divulge any more about honey or why it is named so here - you have to go to find out!

This place was surprisingly busy for an off the beaten track Pittsboro spot (perhaps that has to do with their recent Living Social deal).  So we did have to wait 15 minutes or so to get a spot at the counter.  But while the adults waited for their mead tasting and the kids waited for their honey tasting there were blocks for the kids to build with in the tasting room.

Above all, the owners here are so incredibly friendly.  The gentleman who makes the mead actually sat on the floor with our kids and played blocks with them while we tasted.  He even let them borrow a little stuffed honey bee to play with while there.  They genuinely welcome kids and family.  They just want people to come taste their mead and learn more about it.

Outside you can see a bee hives where the bees are hard at work making wildflower honey.  We didn't get too close with the kids, of course.

Starrlight gives tours of the meadery and operations at certain times on Saturdays and Sundays (see website, below).  We opted not to do this with kids.

Tastings are $5 per adult.

Chatham Marketplace with their fantastic sandwiches, outdoor sandbox with toys, and covered porch with toy box is a great stop, too, while over in this historic mill.

Drink up ye little vikings!

Starrlight Mead
http://starrlightmead.com/
Thursday, Friday, & Saturday noon - 6 pm; Sunday noon - 5 pm
480 Hillsboro Street
Pittsboro
919-533-6314

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 7

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 7 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. How is your training going?

From Allison:
We're running a bit late on this post this Sunday since my arms hurt so bad from going back to BodyPump (first class since taking maternity time off) that I can't type.  Ok, I exaggerate...but only slightly...  I worked hard this week, friends.  Most importantly I conquered The Beast: The Treadmill.  Lordy I truly hate that thing.  But a promise to do a 5K is a promise to do a 5K.  So I did 3.15 miles on it.  I ran the whole distance, slowly, no hills.  And it was NOT pretty.  I could barely walk the next day.  Who  has pointers for me!?  I realized that good gear is essential (fantastic shoes, moisture wikking (sounds so witchy) socks, good sports bra, and ear buds that stay in) but I would love to know what other tips you runners out there have to make it not hurt so much.  I am getting nervous!

From Katie:
It has been a tough week.  Everyone in the house has been sick, so while I cannot say that I’ve trained hard, or even stuck to a program.  I have spent some time nearly every day pushing H around the neighborhood in the jogging stroller.  I’ve spent plenty of time wondering if I am really making progress, which brings me to this:  I need a way to track my fitness goals that isn’t entirely dependent on an app devoted to one training program.  That’s when I remembered Sarah C’s post on Spark People and BabyFit, so I signed up. I am one of those people who needs to keep a log, and I have to say, it has helped tremendously!

I am excited about the upcoming week—I have my first meeting with a personal trainer at the UNC Wellness Center and there are a couple of classes I am hoping to try.  In the meantime, I can’t wait to walk/jog with some of the new friends I’ve made, and I’m ready to try giving a full 3.2 miles a try!

I’d love to hear:  How do you fit in workouts when things don’t go according to plan? How do you make exercise a priority in your daily life?

From Sarah:
Finally! I managed a good MWF workout schedule. I used the same Ease into 5k routine all 3 days - Week 5, Day 2. While I managed to complete it on Monday (with D napping in the jogger), let's be honest, it kicked my behind. Knowing then that we had over 9 weeks until the race and the app is only 8 weeks, I knew I had time to work in some repeats. Wednesday I found it to be a tad easier and on Friday, I finally felt in control. Although part of that might have been the awesome weather and the ability to run jogger/toddler free since DH had the day off (amazing how loosing those extra pounds make a huge difference!). Yesterday, I treated myself to a full body massage. Hello, legs, did they ever need that! Wow! I have a few new stretches to do thanks to my massage therapist and feel ready to tackle Week 5, Day 3. Now I just need the weather to cooperate!

Interested in more up-to-date details on what we're doing or want to share with us how you are doing in the Fitness Challenge? Leave a comment, visit us on Facebook, or join along in the Challenge chatter on Twitter (use hashtag #MiCHillFit2012).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sears Farm Road Park - Cary

From Sarah C.:

With our mild winter, I've been trying to get D and I outside to play whenever we can. Looking for a new spot to explore, I came across Sears Farm Road Park in Cary. I had been near it many times but didn't realize it existed until last month - and what a find! The park is tucked in between a neighborhood and elementary school in west Cary and features numerous ways to entertain kids. The parking lot is located next to the playground with a fence separating the two. The moment D spotted it (before we had even pulled into the parking lot!), he was pointing and yelling excitedly. Needless to say, the playground was our first stop.

The playground features two climbing structures (age 2-5 and 5-12) with mulched ground cover that are separated by natural space and swings. There are two swing areas with toddler style bucket, accessible and standard swings. Next to the smaller play structure is a sandbox. I regretted having pulled our sand toys out of the car a few months ago until we saw plenty of trucks, apparently left by neighbors (reminded me a bit of American Village Park in Durham in that aspect), so D had plenty to play with.

When I finally managed to pull D away from the playground to see what else the park had to offer, the elementary school behind had released for the day and kids were streaming in from the greenway connecting the two. A neighborhood resident in the play area told me many of the kids walk back there to be picked up. Good to know - expect that influx after school on weekdays and plan your trip accordingly.

We walked a bit, explored the open spaces, tried out the porch swings and watched the older kids playing on the basketball courts. A nice way to enjoy a warm afternoon.

Amenities:
  • Play Lawns
  • Playground
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Basketball Slab
  • Kinetic Sculpture
  • Restrooms w/diaper changing station

Sears Farm Road Park
http://www.townofcary.org/.../Sears_Farm_Road_Park.htm
5077 Sears Farm Road
Cary

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chapel Hill/Carrboro YMCA

It is time for summer camp registration (already!).  In fact, YMCA summer camp registration for members is currently underway and registration opens for nonmembers Feb 20th (2012).  So let's talk about the Chapel Hill/Carrboro YMCA (CHCYMCA).  This place is like a military base to get in to, I swear.  You must be a paying member or accompanied by a paying member to use the facilities - no daytime, one time, trial passes at all.  But there are some tricks to this that I am here to share with you!  (By the way, if you are Apex side of town, check out our little article on the Kraft Family YMCA and that fabulous pool.)

As far as the facilities go, the CHCYMCA has an indoor pool (on the cold side, but still warmer than what I remember the Chapel Hill Community Center pool being) that is a nice addition.  This pool has 2 family changing rooms nearby  There is a cardio deck for working out as well as weights. There is a fantastic, fenced in playground available for members to use when not in use by a program.  There are basketball hoops, youth rooms, child care and more here.

The facilities are  like most YMCA facilities I have seen (outside of that fancy Kraft Family one I already mentioned), which means they aren't going to be the poshest Globo-Gym places (like that reference?) but the CHCYMCA is still relevant and clean.  They are on board with many of the latest fitness crazes, like TRX, and offer a good mix of Group Fitness Classes.

However, in my opinion, the real reason to join the Y is for the youth programs like organized sports, classes, and summer camps.  Membership gets you discounts and preregistration to these programs (although the programs are open to the public) and the fitness facilities are an added benefit.

Right now, we are enrolled in a swim class at the YMCA, not as members.  We love it.  The staff has been so welcoming and the instructors excited to be there.  The classes are for all ages and levels, albeit they fill up fast so if you want to take on, sign up early!  Swim lessons are offered for folks ages 6 months to adult.  (Remember that the Y also owns and operates the outdoor pool at Meadowmont during the summers so figure that into your membership consideration.)

The organized sports offered through the Y are great, too.  They offer soccer, baseball, volleyball, and basketball.  Some of the leagues start at ages as young as 3.  There are even adult teams as well as Home School team times.  To give you an idea for registration fees, in general members will pay $75 for a sports league participation and nonmembers will pay $90.  Members also get preferred registration.

Summer camps are for 3 1/2 year olds to 17 year olds.  There are some really great programs here.  In fact, there is a "first time campers" program for kids ages 3 1/2 to 5 that happens at the Meadowmont location.  The day camps are about adventure, field trips, swimming, arts and crafts, and games.  But the CHCYMCA also offers specialty camps with focuses on topics such as cooking, art, movies, and outdoor education.  They have a special Teen camp as well as camps at the Camp Clearwater location complete with transportation.  The Y also offers an "extended day" camp option where, for additional money, you can extend the hours your child stays at the Y.  Members get up to and around a $30 discount for camp registrations.

As of date of this publication, membership for a family is a $100 sign up fee and then a $68 per month draft, with access to the Y at Meadowmont an additional $250.  Do the math to see if this makes sense for your family - it's a gym membership for parents, recreation for kids, and discounts to some great youth programs.

Dangerously, this is very close to Foster's.  But it's also close to Flyleaf Books.  You can feed your body and mind after working out!

The Chapel Hill/Carrboro YMCA
http://www.chcymca.org/
980 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.442.9622

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Afternoon Date - Valentine's Thoughts

I've got my thoughts on Valentine's Day out there on the Internet, and here is another fantastic perspective from Katie today.  Remember that many drop-in childcare services are around and about in the Triangle to help you with your romance.  And regardless of what this Valentine's Day has in store for you, we love you, our readers, and appreciate you!:

It’s February.  It’s Valentine’s Day.  Love is in the Air.  Romance abounds.  Okay, so, really, that went out the window for DH and me sometime just after my son was born.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this man with all of my heart and we’ve had some really great dates in the past 2 years, but if you are a parent and you are reading this then you know what I mean.  More often than not, late night feedings replace late night romance.  Croup and ear infections seem to take up residence in your house.  And why didn’t anyone tell me that the addition of one child would mean ten times the laundry?  When Friday night rolls around, or Valentine’s night, for that matter, lots of times we’re just plain tired.  We want to go out (and we do, or I couldn’t write Discovering the Southern Part of Heaven), but we pay more than cash for it.  (Ask me how often I need a refill on my under-eye corrector). 

When I read Leigh’s post on her HinesSightBlog, Tinsel on a Christmas Tree Can Hang Longer than Parents Can at Night, I can only say that it had my name written all over it.  She even says that maybe the daytime TV dramas are onto something with “Love in the Afternoon.”  I think she is right!  In fact, I so think she is right that DH and I gave it a try.  (No worries, I’m not going NC-17 on you here.).  We booked a sitter for an afternoon and set out.  We didn’t feel guilty at all—H was down for his afternoon nap and we were free to explore a museum and have an early dinner.  We headed over to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and had a wonderful afternoon learning that the Museum isn’t just for children!  Then, we grabbed a somewhat quick dinner in downtown Raleigh and, get this, we actually had great conversations where no one was “zoned out” from a long day at work or a long day of chores.  There was no “well, maybe we should just head home early” talk, which we frequently have if we try to make it to dinner and a movie.  Yes, we may have lost some cool factor we thought we had (emphasis on thought), but we had a seriously great time.  And the best part: we were home and sleeping soundly at a very decent time of night!  

Take it from this Mom in Chapel Hill, afternoon dates are completely underrated.  Book a sitter, swap afternoon babysitting with a friend, head out while your child has a playdate.  It doesn’t have to be on Valentine’s Day, but in the spirit of romance (or just a little grown-up time), give Love in the Afternoon a try.  Who said date night had to be at night?

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 6

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 6 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. How is your training going?

From Allison:
With a toddler undergoing surgery to have ear tubes inserted and a newborn diagnosed with a bad case of acid reflux, it was a wild week where I had a hard time finding time for "me."  But, again, I went back to my tried & true gym course of action.  Monday and Saturday I was at the gym for classes and Tuesday I hit the elliptical.  I am feeling stronger in my work outs, but I am also feeling oh-so-very tired these days.  You know what I have learned this week?  Working out energizes me.  Majorly.  I know that there have been loads of articles and research on this phenomenon, but it takes me experience to learn a lesson.  So while this past week wasn't about progressing in my fitness journey, it did help me stay sane through an otherwise very emotional, rough week.  If sanity isn't worth working out for, not sure what is...

From Katie:
Really? Has it been six weeks? In the past six weeks, I’m happy to say that exercise has once again become a habit. I can’t exactly say that I’ve trained hard, but I’ve gotten my body moving, and regularly. Last week, I asked friends, acquaintances, and readers to join me, because working out with a buddy is always better. I am so happy I did, especially since winter (okay, what constitutes winter for this Southern girl), decided to pay us a visit! I have to tell you that on several very cold mornings, the only reason I followed through was that I knew I would leave some poor soul out there waiting, teeth chattering, wishing they hadn’t met me, if I didn’t show up. Once we got going, I was so happy we did. I have been amazed at how quickly time passes, and how painless working out seems, when you have someone to chat with. I have learned about great places to walk and the best places for a vacation with children. I’ve bonded over activities for toddlers, great ways to organize and ways to manage a busy household. I’ve gotten back in my car refreshed, renewed, and looking forward to another walk/jog and along the way, I’m building friendships that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Now, it’s time for me to focus on the task at hand - the 5k. It’s coming up, and suddenly, April 21 seems to be just around the corner. My goal is to keep moving, and keep training, and keep building great new relationships with other Moms.

From Sarah:
Admittedly, I let the weather affect my routine this week. I know a MWF schedule works best for me, but on Monday I just didn't feel up to heading out into the cold! I did get out both Tuesday and Thursday and used the Ease into 5k app. On the latter, I completed Week 5, Day 1 of the training. I made it through, but wow was that a challenge! I told myself I'd get in a 3rd day of training yesterday. It didn't happen. The cold was a factor, but also I let myself get caught up in other things that a Saturday presents. This week I really need to push all those excuses aside and get out & moving! After the cold that has hit us in the last 24 hours, the week's forecast looks really good with highs of 50+.

Interested in more up-to-date details on what we're doing or want to share with us how you are doing in the Fitness Challenge? Leave a comment, visit us on Facebook, or join along in the Challenge chatter on Twitter (use hashtag #MiCHillFit2012).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Moonshadow Medical Massage

Who doesn't enjoy a little extra pampering from time to time? Whether as a reward for keeping up with our Fitness Challenge or perhaps a gift for someone you love for Valentine's, here's a suggestion from Sarah C.:

Moonshadow Medical Massage, to me, is one of those great little treasures tucked away in a nondescript office building in Cary. I found it over 10 years ago thanks to a recommendation from a coworker. My initial reason was searching for alternatives to medications in helping control my migraines.

The therapists at Moonshadow are licensed and trained in a number of massage and body work techniques to help you feel better and to improve your overall well being. One some of our moms might highly appreciate - pregnancy massage. I'll admit, I was there once a month throughout my pregnancy. They have a wonderful wedge support with cutouts at the chest and belly making it safe and comfortable to lay face down. In my third trimester, just the act of laying on that wedge, feeling the weight shift and my spine begin to stretch out was like a slice of heaven. Add a massage to that and I was one happy pregnant mama!

Yes, I confess, I look forward to this little bit of 'me' time each month. We moms (and dads!) work hard and deserve something special once and a while. And the massage work I have had done has definitely improved my health - decreasing migraines; releasing tension in my back, shoulders & neck from long hours working at a computer and now all that lifting of a toddler!

You can find further information about Moonshadow Medical Massage and the services they offer by visiting their website listed below.

Moonshadow Medical Massage
http://moonshadowmassage.com

216 E Chatham St, Suite 110
Cary
(919) 466-9494

3500 Bush St, Suite 103
Raleigh
(919) 466-9494

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Strays

MiCHill Note: I have received a lot of emails about Strays.  They do, indeed, have a pottery studio in the back (Feather Foot Studios) that has offered occasional pottery classes for kids.  Currently classes have been on a little break (the owner was on maternity leave).  But GOOD NEWS, this is coming back bigger and better than ever.  I talked to Feather Foot Studios owner, Erin, and she is getting ready with a new website, a new room design, and more classes and scheduling options.  It's all very exciting.  Classes will resume February 21st for toddlers through 5th graders.  Right now the best way to get information is to email or call Erin directly (featherfootpottery@gmail.com or 919-923-2466).  We'll be sure to let you know when the website is launched.  And, of course, we'll get you a review of Feather Foot Studios when it's time.  In the meantime, here is some information from Katie about a spot in Southern Village that has parent-friendly shopping as well as gifts for kids and babies.  (Psst-For more errand-friendly shops, check out this article here.):

Don’t you love a store that is child-friendly?  I know it definitely makes my life easier!  A few weeks ago, I was looking for a birthday gift for a friend and wanted to get something by a local artist or craftsperson so my first thought was to stop in at Strays in Southern Village.   I took H with me, but I confess that I’m always a little nervous taking him in stores with, well, things he could ruin, especially when I’m short on time.  When we went into Strays, though, I was pleasantly surprised—they have some children’s toys set up in a corner of the store to keep little hands occupied!  Hooray!  Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t talking about a huge play area, we’re talking about a few toys in the corner, but H was so happy, and I could see him from all points in the store! 

If you haven’t been to Strays, it’s a one-stop-shop of sorts.  It used to be Pack and Ship, and they still do shipping, but they have art and crafts by over fifty local artisans, from jewelry to prints to gorgeous baby blankets, hats and booties.  So, you can shop, and, if necessary, ship what you’ve bought, all in one stop, and all while your child plays in the corner of the store.    Prices vary by artist, but I have found many reasonably priced items.

Another great thing about Strays, and other stores in Southern Village, is the proximity to several great parks, including Southern Community Park, Newell Street Park, Hillspring Street Park, and Edgewater Street Park.  You could even stop in at Town Hall Grill for lunch and make an afternoon of it!

The downside—H didn’t want to leave!  I can’t wait to go back for the Second Friday Artwalk!  For more information on Strays, check out our review on Discovering the Southern Part of Heaven.   

Strays
http://southernvillageshipping.com/
710 Market Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
919.933.4202

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bolin Creek Greenway Trail

By request, and because I can't believe it's not on here already, a little post about the Bolin Creek Greenway in Chapel Hill!  Note that we've already done a short article about the "Bolin Creek Trails."  Those are quite different.  Those trails are rough, for hiking and mountain biking, albeit beautiful.  The Greenway is a paved, well maintained path that runs through Chapel Hill.  And as you are most likely looking for some great running trails as you train with us for the 5K coming up, here you go...

My friend and I jogged the Greenway the other week.  We got on the Greenway near the Rose Garden at Chapel Hill Community Center.  The path is 1.5 miles long and takes you out to MLK/86 near the Foster's (Chapel Hill) and Flyleaf Books.

This path is really beautiful and the terrain is not too difficult.  It is also a well-used path so the couple of times I have been on it I have never felt as though safety were a concern.  Although staying out of the way of bikers was a little bit more of a challenge.  You do not need a jogger for these paths.  Lightweight strollers could do these.

Also note that from the Community Center there is a Battle Branch trail that goes the other direction.  That trail is NOT paved.  Check out the Town of Chapel Hill map below for the full details.

And get pounding the pavement!

Bolin Creek Greenway
http://www.townofchapelhill.org/
Map here

Monday, February 6, 2012

The GrEAT Mongolian Grill Restaurant

From Sarah C.:

Looking for a new spot to dine out one evening, we headed to The GrEAT Mongolian Grill in Cary. DH & I have both been to and enjoyed Mongolian restaurants in the past, but this one was new to us and D's first experience. It was, pardon the pun, great!

When we arrived, we literally had the restaurant to ourselves. We were seated at a table near the buffet line (is that even the proper terminology here?). I made sure to place D's highchair where he could see both the line and the grill at the back.

For those who haven't experienced this kind of dining, you head to the buffet line to fill your bowls - one with noodles & veggies and the other with meats. Add dry seasoning of your choosing. Select colored sticks to indicate your sauce and heat level. Then take the bowls to the grill to be cooked. There you are given a choice of white or fried rice and handed a number for the server to bring your meal to you. We dawdled at the grill area a bit to let D watch - he was fascinated by it all.

Once seated, that highchair location was key. More people had come into the restaurant. Throughout our meal, he could watch people as they made their bowls and watch the food being cooked. Plus, he loved the food! We chose to just share ours with him which turned out to be plenty of food and he completely stole my bowl at the end. It was a full dinner and a show for our little guy.

Kids 4 & under eat free every day. Kids 10 & under eat free on Monday.

If you have some free time after your meal, Once Upon a Child is just a couple of doors down.

The GrEAT Mongolian Grill Restaurant
http://great2eat.com/
Harrison Pointe Shopping Center
243 Grande Heights Drive
Cary
919-388-3660

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 5

#MiCHillFit2012 With just under 11 weeks to race day, here's our wrap-up for week 5 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. How is your training going?

From Allison:
Have you noticed all the totally awesome posts I have done this week!?  No!?  Well that's because my behind has been AT THE GYM.  Booyah!  That's right, I am back at it.  We're talking RPM on Monday, BodyStep on Wednesday and Friday, a jog outside on Tuesday, and before this Superbowl junkfood fest I am about to embark on today I did the elliptical at the gym.  I love the gym.  Alright, not like this is new news if you know me, but the idea of being able to put your kids in a childcare arrangement that is in the same building, yet then take 1 hour to focus only on you, listen to inappropriate music, talk to other folks who are so wonderful, and maybe get some HGTV in while at it seems so worth whatever gym monhtly rate they ask for.  I have no idea if I am on track to make it 3+miles in a run in a few months, but I do know I am having a great time working out right now.  Oh, and yes, I did get new shoes, thank you for asking...

From Katie:
This is about the time things become routine, and maybe I start to slack off a little. I did keep up with walking/jogging four times this week, but I admit that two days it was because I wanted to, and two days, well, it was because I am accountable to Allison, Sarah, and all of you. Instead of telling you every little detail about my walks/jogs, I thought I’d tell you how I am mixing it up to keep on going! First, I’m exploring different trails and locations. A change of scenery is fun, and I don’t feel like I’m doing the same old thing. Also, I decided that I need some exercise buddies. After all, I can be accountable in cyberspace, but I’m much better at being accountable if someone else is waiting for me! And time goes by that much faster when you get to chat with friends. So, I posted to a couple of listservs I’m a member of, looking for a walking/jogging buddy. Think of it as my exercise personal ad, and I got a great response! I can’t wait to meet up with some of these folks next week. If you’d like to walk/jog with us, and would love some friendly, in-person accountability, oh, I mean, support, send me an email at southernpartheaven@gmail.com, and we will see if we can’t get a group going. In the meantime, happy training!

From Sarah:
Mark this my semi-lazy week. D and I took a road trip to visit my parents in Virginia for the week. We spent a good part of Monday in the car and I did little beyond settle us in and visit once we arrived. On Tuesday, my mom entertained D at the playground of a local park while I completed Week 4, Day 2 of the Ease into 5k routine. The weather was gorgeous plus trying a new trail and running alone (ie, no heavy jogger to push) made for a great workout! I had planned to follow the routine again on Thursday but our plans kept us busier longer than I had expected. I did spend two hours on my feet walking and shopping Ikea at Tyson's Corner. Surely that counts as something, right? Friday was another long car day and, well, yesterday I was busy playing catchup around the house. This week, back at home, my goal is to get back on schedule including getting those workouts in!

Interested in more up-to-date details on what we're doing or want to share with us how you are doing in the Fitness Challenge? Leave a comment, visit us on Facebook, or join along in the Challenge chatter on Twitter (use hashtag #MiCHillFit2012).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sweet Oven Bakery

With so many spots in Pittsboro closing their doors lately it seems, it is great to see a nice, new addition.  Sweet Oven Bakery in downtown Pittsboro is a fun little stop-in spot to get your kids a fresh baked treat of deliciousness, or yes, treat yourself (especially if you've been participating in our Fitness Challenge!).

Sweet Oven offers pastries, breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, granola, and more.  They don't have the largest selection in the area but what they do offer is heavenly.  The lemon cream cheese muffin I got absolutely melted on my tongue, it was so light and fluffy.  They brew Caribou coffee so, despite no more coffee shop on 'main street,' you can now get a good, strong cup of coffee in downtown Pittsboro.

Sweet Oven does not have any seating available as of yet (they have a spot where they are planning to put some small tables) but this is a great place to grab and go.  Despite it being downtown, parking has always been easy for me.  You can swing on by and do some shopping at Pittsboro Toys while there or grab some sweet carbohydrate delight and head to Rock Ridge, Mary Holmes, or the Kiwanis playground to enjoy some unseasonably warm weather!  (Do plan to get there early though since they usually close at 2 pm and run out of goods quickly these days.)


Sweet Oven Bakery
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sweet-Oven-Bakery
84 Hillsboro Street
Pittsboro
919-545-BAKE