Tuesday, January 31, 2012

S'Kids Drop-In Childcare

A special post about a drop in childcare spot in Apex.  I am in Chapel Hill so didn't get to try this out hands-on but a very good friend of mine has taken her almost 3 year old here a few times and here's what she thinks (PS, we have more childcare spots around the Triangle at this link here.  Don't be afraid to use the good ones, we all deserve a break now and again!).:

It can be very difficult to find a trustworthy and reliable babysitter that is also available when you need them, rather you need to get some work done, do some shopping, or simply take a nap. I live in South Cary near Holly Springs, and have been taking my 2.5 year old son to S’Kids Drop-In Center in Holly Springs for the last few months, and we both love it. He is happy when I drop him off, and is always just as happy when I pick him up.

No reservations are needed, and they are open early in the morning during the week and late in the evening on the weekends.  The rates are cheaper than hiring most babysitters at $8/hr, and all staff members are CPR-certified, have criminal background checks, and a significant amount of child care experience. Everyone has been very friendly and remember my son every time we walk in. They watch children from 12 months (and walking) to 12 years.

They have plenty of fun activities for the kids, although my son seems to only have eyes for the train table and dinosaurs. They provide natural, organic snacks. Lunch and dinner are only $4 extra, or you can provide your own food.

S'Kids Drop-In Childcare
5160 Sunset Lake Road

Monday, January 30, 2012

Takeout Services

When I wrote about eating conveniences for parents over on Chapelboro.com Katie and I started chatting about Tarheel Takeout (and services like it across the Triangle).  Well, alas, they won't come to where I am but Katie has tried them out.  Here's her take.:

I am all about things that make Mom’s life easier.  While I am also all about cooking for my family, let’s face it, there are nights that dinner just isn’t going to make it to the table in any sort of decent time if I have to cook it, but I don’t necessarily want to go out, either.  That’s where Tarheel Takeout comes in.   If you haven’t already heard of them, or tried them, you don’t want to miss this.  You see, for a small fee, Tarheel Takeout will go to your favorite restaurant (as long as it is on their list),  pick up your food, and deliver it to your front door.  This isn’t your run of the mill pizza and Chinese delivery (though we like that, too).  They deliver from so many Chapel Hill Restaurants including Sandwhich, Bandidos, The Carolina Brewery, Mama Dips, McAlisters, Butternut Squash and oh, so many more.  And, get this, if you want food from several different restaurants, they will do that, too.

The service has always been fast.  They ask you to allow an hour for delivery, but ours has almost always been delivered much faster.   Of course, it also depends on weather, traffic, and the restaurant you choose. 

The fee is $4.99.  You can also include additional restaurants in the same order for a small fee per restaurant.  It really is quick and easy.  You can go to their website (see below), browse the restaurants and menus, and order directly from the site.  Tarheel Takeout takes care of the rest!  Feeling left out in Durham and Raleigh?  Don’t.  They also have Raleigh Takeout and Durham Takeout. 

The only downside is for the folks who live in Chatham County.  As of the date of this post, they do not deliver to Chatham, though it’s a wish I will hold on to.  I’ve got plenty of friends in Chatham County who would love to have use this great service, too! 

Overall, it’s a great deal whether you are looking for a night off from cooking, a meal for guests, or having a dinner delivered to those friends who just had a baby!  We are certainly repeat customers.

For more on Tarheel Takeout, visit our post on Discovering the Southern Part of Heaven.

Tarheel Takeout

Raleigh Takeout


Durham Takeout


Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 4

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 4 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. How did you do?

From Allison:
So instead of giving you a day-by-day blow today, I am going to share three things I learned this past week:
1- Turns out 6 am Group Fitness Classes work best for me.  Who would have thought!?  I hate that time of day!  But when you are up feeding a newborn from 4:30 am -5:30 am then your toddler will wake you up at 7:30 am to start a hectic day, getting the workout in early is key.  And given I am already up, might as well go to the gym...Plus, Group Fitness Classes push me in a way I do not push myself.
2- I am in love with yet another app on my phone.  I already talked about Endomondo.  This week I discovered My Fitness Pal.  This app tracks calories in and calories out, which is really what weight loss and management is all about (you can keep your fad diets, I need a bagel every now and again).  Since it is right on your phone, you just log in whenever you eat or work out to record it.  At the end of the day you get bar graphs and net calories and all other stats.  The trick is that you have to be honest!
3- I need new tennis shoes.  Tuesday I went jogging outside, I totally need to hit Fleet Feet.  I worked out every day this week (nothing this weekend) and I think I deserve it!  Right!?  So, what did you learn?

From Katie:
Hurray for Week 4!  Don’t get me wrong, it has had it’s challenges, but I managed to hit the pavement 4 days this week!  Sunday (oh yes, it was cold), Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I headed out for a walk/jog, managing at least 30 minutes each day.  Those last three days, I loaded H into the jogging stroller and we spent lots of time outside.   Saturday, I just couldn’t force myself inside with such gorgeous weather, so we went for a jog at Briar Chapel (hello, hills—I now have a better idea what I am in for), and after lunch, we walked all around Fearrington.  I think that should count as weight bearing exercise, since I carried H for the last half.   Overall, it was a great week!  I didn’t do any extremely intense training, but I definitely got back in the exercise groove.   Next week, I need to revisit that rowing machine! 

From Sarah:
This has been the week of "listen to my body" for me. Monday I had already promised D we would put together the new climber I bought for him over the weekend so that took priority immediately after nap. I have to say, I got a bit of a workout there from the scrubbing (it was a used find so it was a little dirty) and assembling process. In spite of the cold, I was a good bit sweaty afterward and just not in the mood for my walk/run. Later that night, I did a WiiFit yoga workout instead - much better choice. On Wednesday, perhaps my body took a cue from the gorgeous sunny & warm weather, I was itching to get out and do my usual routine with Ease into 5k. I won't say I breezed through it, but it felt great! Exactly what I needed. Friday afternoon I again followed the app routine. I completed Week 4, Day 1 and wow did it challenge me. Not that I've found the workouts easy, but this was the toughest for me since week 1, day 1. It was one of my slower runs, but I finished it and that was enough for me to feel successful!

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, January 27, 2012


From Sarah C.:

Always on the look out for a new place to explore, especially indoors, I was excited to stumble across Kidz-N-Play in North Raleigh. The website alone had me interested so D & I ventured there to explore. It was fantastic!

Kidz-N-Play has only been open for about a month so everything is fresh, new and clean. The space is fairly large with toys and activities spread out leaving for plenty of space to enjoy. We arrived right after opening so D got to watch the bounce house inflate - that alone was a huge hit! Once that excitement was complete, we could finally move in and explore.

At the very front by the office is the toddler room. It is great for smaller children, especially crawlers. The flooring is padded, colorful tiles. Except for the door opening, the entire space is walled off with either full or half-walls. It is filled with a number of age appropriate toys to enjoy.

Beyond the toddler room, there is plenty of fun for older kids. Two areas feature great imaginary play options. There is a space with a small climber, train table, doll house, Duplo table and reading area as well as a second space featuring a market (complete with grocery carts & cash registers!) and a kitchen.

The two imaginary play areas are separated by the bounce house. It has ample bouncing space plus a climbing wall with slides down either side located along the back. D was able after a few attempts to figure out how to climb up on his own. Smaller children might require parental assistance to make it to the top.

For older kids, there is an Xbox Kinect, air hockey table, arcade console, basketball goals, etc.

There is a comfy parents zone at the front with seating and a couple of televisions mounted to the ceiling. Also a few chairs/sofas spread throughout so you can sit and watch your child from a closer point.

Restrooms and a water fountain are located all the way at the back. Nice features inside the women's room included a rocking chair for nursing, 2 padded diaper changing stations and a step stool at the sink to help smaller children reach with mat underneath to prevent slipping.

Throughout the facility are small white lidded 'trash' cans labeled for tasted toys.

Also note, there is a party room and you can celebrate your child's next birthday at Kidz-N-Play. Visit the website or contact the store for more details.

**Be sure to check the specials section of the website (now through March, Wednesdays are $1 off for toddlers and $2 off for kids ages 4 & up) and remember your socks!**

Walk-in Play Mon-Sat 10a-8p and Sun 11a-6p
http://kidznplaync.com (pulled link do to user name/password request? 6/29/12)
2431 Spring Forest Rd, Suite 157
(919) 876-1119


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kiwi Crate

We've given you guys some ideas in the past for indoor activities to do with your kids, but we stumbled on another idea out there on the Internet (I first heard about this service here) that we love and had to share: Kiwi Crates.  And since it looks like rain is coming our way again and summer breaks aren't that far away for traditional schools (!) let's chat about these.

Kiwi Crates are at-home activities for you to do with your child.  You subscribe for $19.95 a month (shipping, handling, and taxes for NC residents included in that) and once a month you get a new "crate" at your front door.  You can subscribe for 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months (with discounts at the 12 month rate).  These crates are meant for kids ages 3-7 but you do, upon subscribing, tell them your child's age and the packages are slightly modified accordingly.

Each crate comes with everything you need for at least 2 super activities based on a theme.  For example, our theme this month was "Under the Sea" and we had one activity that is arts & crafts combined with fine motor skills practice and one activity that is a science experiment.  All directions and supplies are included and easy to understand.  I was so happy to see that in addition to the disposable materials necessary for the projects we were also given a very nice set of pastels and a pair of toddler scissors.  We have stuff to keep!

If the 2 activities provided are not enough entertainment you can head to Kiwi Crate's website to get more ideas related to the theme at this link here.

Here are the things I love about Kiwi Crate:
- Educational activities that show up at your house, all ready to go.  Not that you couldn't find the same things on Pinterest, but it does take some of the searching and putting together out of the equation, making it easier and saving time.
- The high quality of the materials.  They are well made and well assembled.
- Again, we receive nice art supplies to keep.
- C gets a package addressed to him (he loves getting mail).
- You don't have to return anything.  Everything sent to you is to keep.
- What's inside the box is always a pleasant surprise.

The downsides to Kiwi Crate:
- Only 2 activities (although each activity can take significant time to fully explore) so if your child doesn't respond to one of the activities or it seems out of their grasp, that's just kind of the way the cookie crumbles.
- It is an investment of almost $20/month.
- You have to wait for it to come in the mail.  So if you want a project to do RIGHT NOW, this is not your thing.  But if you want to plan ahead sign up for these great crates.

Kiwi Crates can also be fun gifts to give, by the way, so keep that in mind for birthdays and such.

Keep Kiwi Crate in mind for your kids as summer, heat, and thunderstorms roll in.

Kiwi Crate

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 3

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 3 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. How did you do?

From Allison:
As predicted, I was spastic-worker-outer this week.  No plan.  I can't even really remember what I did except I know that I tried hard and didn't lose a pound.  Let's see....Monday I did an at-home DVD that made me sore.  Tuesday my DH actually kicked me out of the house to go to the gym.  Apparently I was a little short nerved.  While that maybe should have bothered me, I took the opportunity to take a 'me-break' and went to the gym for a good slog on the elliptical.  Wednesday I did the at-home DVD again.  Thursday I met a friend for a great walk/jog on the Bolin Creek Greenway Trail (what!? we don't have an article on that?!) but afterwards promptly negated any calorie loss potential with the Bloody Mar we got to reward ourselves.  TOTALLY worth it, though.  Saturday I did the gym again first thing in the morning.  Hey, did you know that a 5k is only 3.11 miles!?  And according to About.com a moderate speed is 1 hour.  I am *so* thrilled to say that each time I walked/jogged/ellipticalled (is that a verb yet?) I went the distance, kinda close to moderate, too!  Friends: it's not as far as you think.  We can do this!

From Katie:
Week 3 was another tough one for me.  I started the week with a sick toddler again.  So, while I cannot say that I met my goal, I can say that things were looking up toward the end of the week:  Tuesday.  Bicycling and lots of tag with H.  I broke out the bike and enjoyed part of the afternoon  riding.  Then, H decided not to nap, and it was gorgeous outside, so we did lots of “racing” and playing tag.  Wednesday.  More bicycling.  I love riding around our neighborhood, and it is such a tremendous stress relief for me! Thursday.  Gym.  I hit the elliptical, the bike, and reintroduced my core muscles to my old friend, the rowing machine!  Saturday.  Walking.  We’re visiting my parents, so I took advantage of the free babysitting,  put on my sneakers and hit the pavement during a break from the rain.  This week, I also found an app I’m going to try for 5K training.  It’s called 5K runner and takes 8 weeks.  The other thing I found was that I can stream fitness videos through DH’s DVD player!  Maybe an awesome way to mix it up and exercise at home when life throws me curveballs!

From Sarah:
After being a little off schedule week 2, I finally got back on track this week. On Monday, I took full advantage of DH having the day off and took my first solo run/walk. I was energized and enjoyed it. Kind of a nice change not having to push the jogger + my 30lb toddler. I definitely had a quicker pace. Wednesday I hesitated for a moment. We had spent the morning at the pediatrician and, while D was acting fine, he was sick. As I thought about it, I realized getting us both outside in the chilly air would be good. One of his ailments was croup and cold air is helpful - so, no excuse, mama, get out there and run! That mindset helped push me to get us out on Friday even with the threat of rain. I finished my workout just as the rain started and, with the weather shield pulled down over the jogger, D was snug & dry the entire time. Saturday morning I had my usual massage I get every 4 weeks as treatment for my migraines. It was extra nice this time as I felt like I had really earned that relaxation with my hard work keeping up on this challenge! My bit of encouragement there to you all that are joining us on the challenge, remember to reward yourself every once in a while. You've earned it.

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).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Orange Co. Gymnastics & Open Gym

Update 3/11: Well, then, that was joyous but short-lived.  Due to zoning issues Orange County Gymnastics had to move out of UMall.  March through April 2011 they will be at 1714 Legion Road in Chapel Hill, after which time they will be moving in to and announcing their new permanent location.  Stayed tuned to their website.

Our Fitness Challenge post is running late this week (we're parents, it happens) so while you bite your nails waiting for that, I thought I would share with you some information on Orange County Gymnastics.  There has been a lot of interest in and chatter about this little gym!

This spot is in a prominent location in University Mall.  But did you know this is actually the old Sport Art Gymnastics, moved?  So same owners, a lot of the same staff (although Nancy had to leave due to some physical ailments, unfortunately), and same equipment. Just a better location.

Here's the scoop we've got for you: the idea is for Orange County Gymnastics to relocate back to a renovated Homestead Road location at some point in the future.  HOWEVER, they are interested in staying in University Mall if they can get the right lease terms.  Anyone else with me when they say that they would much prefer UMall?  Anyone?  Bueller?  If you feel strongly, you can engage in a grassroots campaign to keep them where they are - get on University Mall's Facebook page and/or email them and let them know what you think.

Ok, politics done, let's talk about the Open Gym.  We're already reviewed the classes (which we liked for their laidback, neighborhood feel, their flexibility, as well as their reasonable prices), so I will fill you in now on what they call "Family Fun Gym."

One of the things about Gymboree Play & Learn that was great was that they had open gym times, but not so great was that you could only use those times if you were actively enrolled in a class.  The Tumble Gym in Southern Village has open gym time for anyone but isn't in the best location for everyone.  So Orange County Gymnastics is on to something when they started scheduling a lot of Family Fun Gym times.

For Family Fun Gym kids ages 18 months to 18 years old can come to a 45 minute open session of play.  ALL of the equipment is available for use.  There are instructors and supervisors present (3 instructors to 20-some-odd kids when I took C to this, everything seemed in control).  The cost is $10 for the first child and $5 for siblings.  (Note that this is actually a little more than The Tumble Gym's open gym rates.)

If your child is over 3 years old (or, if you negotiate with the front desk folks, a mature 2 1/2 year old) parents can actually leave the children and come back later to get them.  So you can head over A Southern Season and do some shopping/eating or go the new Joe Van Gogh coffee cart outside of the Library location.  Beauty.

Right now the Family Fun times are listed for the weekdays on the Orange County Gymnastics website (see below).  Weekend times are not listed as of the time of this publication since they will be changing.  Right now Orange County Gymnastics is putting together their weekend class schedule, which will affect open gym times.  Everything should be finalized in the next 2-3 weeks and the website will reflect weekend open gym times.  In the meantime, call to find out the open times for the weekends but in general they've been running every other hour.

Orange County Gymnastics also has a KinderCamp program, currently on Friday mornings.  Kids ages 3 -5 can come and play for 3 hours while parents leave to take care of errands, chores, or, again, shopping/eating at A Southern Season.

Because this is a temporary location the gym studio isn't the swankiest we've seen (and we've seen a lot).  The dry wall is roughly patched in places and it could really use a coat of paint inside.  But it is safe, fun, and kid-tested for enjoyment.

This was a great cold-dreary day weekend outing for us.  As one parent said: "It is so easy to get the children in to the gym; so hard to get them out."  So it must be good.

Orange County Gymnastics
University Mall
201 Estes Drive
Chapel Hill

Friday, January 20, 2012

Piedmont Wildlife Center & Leigh Farm Park

I can't tell you how many times I have driven by Piedmont Wildlife Center ("PWC") and Leigh Farm Park and not even known it.  In fact, one of my friend's has a backyard that abuts the property.  I had no idea.  And such a shame, too, because this is a great program -  I wish I had known about it earlier and really look forward to going back!

Leigh Farm Park is 1 of 2 Heritage Parks the City of Durham has (the other being West Point on the Eno).  The 7-acre core of the 82-acre property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.  There isn't much at the park outside the old buildings currently used by the PWC besides a disc course and some picnic benches.  Yet right now the City is doing some site plan development to make the park more friendly to the public and a full-fledged "city park."  What I read is that a grand opening is slated for Spring of 2013.

That means that the PWC is really the bones of this park.  It is enough, and it is fantastic.  The PWC offers programs to children and adults of all ages that include things such as birthday party rentals, summer camps, a mentoring program, teacher workday special events, a camp and program geared specifically towards teenage girls (the Artemis program), and so many more creative and unique programs.

My friend and I took our toddlers to the Dragonfly Walk, for kids ages 0-5 years old who are accompanied by guardians.  These walks are held the 2nd Monday of the month (see schedule at the website listed below).  Registration is required and the cost is $10 for children over 1 (accompanying adults are free).  The program starts at 10 am and is scheduled to last until 12 pm.

I had 2 concerns going into this: 1- would our toddlers be entertained for 2 whole hours and 2- being outside on a cold, January day sounded not fun.  But honestly, this was a near-perfect experience.  Each month's walk has a different theme and activities throughout the 2 hours that rotate quickly.

We did bundle up and the program started outside with "heat creating" activities (like freeze tag) and some experiments where the kids were introduced to the theme and got hands-on with the topic.  I was also worried that the instructor was talking over the kids' heads, but the joke was on me for doubting my 2 year old's ability to understand.  The children followed Ms. Natalie easily.  She did a great job with them and had an easy, natural way with kids.

After the introduction to our theme we went on a walk through the property, woods, and wetland to find things pertaining to the subject of the morning.  We didn't lose a single toddler to the wetlands mud, either!

To thaw out a little, we entered one of the very old and historic cabins on the Leigh Farm property.  We happily sat on the old, dirty floor (wear clothes you don't mind getting messy!), did a craft again related to the theme and very age-appropriate, listened to Ms. Natalie tell stories, and had a snack.  Some of the animals that live on the property were on display in the cabin, too, and our boys loved looking at the snakes (what is it with boys?!).

I honestly could not believe how fun and easy this event was.  It was educational, too, which gave me another parental warm and fuzzy.

The grounds of the PWC do need some TLC.  The buildings are old and haven't been given the care they needed over the years, but it looks like, given the information I found from the city, Durham agrees with me and I look forward to Spring 2013.

Yet even until then, my friend and I highly recommend these programs, and the Dragonfly Walks in particular.  Education + outdoors + fun + crafts + Popsicles = a winning combination and well worth the money.

Piedmont Wildlife Center & Leigh Farm Park
364 Leigh Farm Road

Leigh Farm Park

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rock Ridge Park - Pittsboro

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love Pittsboro Parks (well, for the most part).  A lot of the new Pittsboro Parks have these incredible naturally built play areas.  They are beautiful and also entertaining.  So I was excited when the Pittsboro Parks Blog announced that Rock Ridge Park had its grand opening and the playground was available for use.  When I had the opportunity to test it out with some other fantastic mamas, I went.  This spot did not disappoint.

Rock Ridge Park is newly built and more is on its way in the future. This is just Phase 1 and right now you can have access to: a mini ampitheatre, gentle & paved walking trails, and a playground.  There are also pavilions and picnic benches around.  The entire park rests on 52-acres, meaning there is a lot of space for growth.  Phase 2 will include (as funds permit) a disc golf course, mountain bike trails, a dog park, more walking trails, plus some.

The playground is really great.  Again, this is built with natural building materials and is very creative.  You can't see the playground from the parking area.  Bear right and after walking a short distance you will happen upon a woodland fun area for kids.  The play structures are made out of 'wood sticks' (um, that's the best way to describe it, although it is completely safe) with slides and bars and climbing walls and things for kids of all ages (no swings).  For older kids there is an 80 foot zipline nearby and a pendulum swing (age appropriateness is up to your discretion, they are designed for children and I saw kids and adults of all ages on these while there).

The hardest part is finding this park.  Directions, as from the Pittsboro Parks Blog-  "From Pittsboro, head south on US 15-501 about 3 miles until you get to Charlie Brooks Rd. Take a right on Charlie Brooks Road and follow it until it dead ends onto Old Sanford Road. Take another right on Old Sanford Rd and go a few hundred feet past a nice brick ranch home.  You'll see a long driveway with a stout metal gate on your right.  That's the park."

Just for you blog readers, here is a picture of the park entrance (I missed it the first time by):

Right now there is a port-a-john for a restroom but part of the subsequent plans include a permanent bathroom.

(By the way, Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park used to be called Rock Springs park, so don't get confused.)

Rock Ridge Park
1397 Old Sanford Road

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Babiology Consignment Store

Like all good thrifty parents, we love consignment.  Here is a post from Katie about a consignment store in Raleigh.:

When my son came along, I was a little daunted by boy clothes.  I quickly found adorable boutique clothes, but I’m always looking for a great deal.  Enter the consignment shop.  If you are anything like me, you want to have more than one on your list of tried and true shops.  So, I was thrilled to visit Babiology in the Five Points area of Raleigh a few weeks ago!  

It was started two years ago by two Raleigh Moms who saw the need for a consignment shop, and boy have they delivered!  Babiology isn’t huge, but it is very well stocked, with both infant and children’s clothes and maternity wear (not to mention, some great nursery items).  Their toy selection in particular is great! Again, not huge, but the big items they have (think furry, cozy, rocking horses) are in incredible shape.  Of course, as with all consignment shops, the selection will vary on any given day, but if you are looking for boutique clothes, this is your stop.

Let’s talk service.  They are so friendly, but on top of that the service they provide surpasses that of many boutiques.  I love that when the owner (both of whom work in the shop) found out I drove from Chapel Hill she told me to call if I had specific needs and they would tell me what they had, and that if they didn’t have it they would keep an eye out for it and let me know when it came in.  Fabulous!  I love shops that make my life easier.

Speaking of making my life easier, don’t you love a children’s store with a play area?  Theirs is great.  It is near the back of the store, and while it isn’t huge, it had just enough to keep H fully engaged while I shopped.  And by fully engaged, I mean, I had to tear him away from the bouncy horse, saying “2 more minutes” for the fifth time. 

The prices.  I would have called the prices reasonable when I was first browsing.  Then I bought two items, and they came up, in total, to less than what I thought one item would be.  Oh yes, the consignment store sale/markdown! 

Parking is available on the street.  If you go around lunchtime, be prepared to make a couple of passes to park, because the very popular Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery is just a few doors down.  (We haven’t been yet, but they do have a children’s menu, so it might be a great stop post shopping!).  We found parking easily within 5 minutes. 

This is one of those stores that will become my first stop in looking for new clothes for H.  In fact, I think it’s about time for me to start looking at spring items! 

2012a Fairview Road
Raleigh, NC 27608


Monday, January 16, 2012

Chapel Hill Library Storytime (Ages 3-6)

We've already had reader and blog-friend A.G. review the toddler storytime at the Chapel Hill library for us.  But this past Monday, when it was dreary out, C and I took baby-B for his first storytime.  For kids ages 3-6.  Ok, so B slept the whole time.  But C really enjoyed this!

If you missed it the Chapel Hill Public Library is, at the time of this publication, currently in a temporary location in University Mall.  That means the program room for storytimes isn't anything to win awards.  It is small, the acoustics aren't great, and it doesn't feel very warm (nothing like the totally awesome Chatham Community Library children's room, for sure).  However, this was still a great storytime!

Everything was centered around a theme, with songs and stories to fit.  The ages are for 3-6 but, due to school schedules, most of the kids were on the younger side when we went.  What really made this storytime fantastic was the woman reading, Susan.  I loved her.  In the front of the room two children were having a smacking fight to see who could get closest to the book.  For some reason no guardians intervened, but the storyteller did a fantastic job gently controlling the situation while keeping everyone focused on the books.  I was so impressed with her ability to calmly control the children while still obviously loving her job.

It is recommended that you get a pass at the circulation desk before storytime since space is limited (although we had no problems).  The pass will be collected at the start of the activities.

I like exposing C to new books, themes, topics, and community leaders.  And this storytime delivered on all those fronts.  Check it out sometime!

Chapel Hill Public Library
Storytime for Ages 3-6
Mondays 10:30 am, Tuesdays 3:30 pm

University Mall
201 S Estes Dr
Chapel Hill


Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 2

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 2 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. None of us seemed to meet our personal goals this week, but we are still so pleased we are moving at all.  How did you do?  Was it a crazy week for you, too?

From Allison:
Me = flu.  Toddler = 2 burst ear drums.  How would you do in that case?  My only goal this week was just to start walking a little further (I want to get to walking a 5k distance soon, then I can work on running it).  But considering our week I was just happy and proud to make it out at all in any way any how.  I went walking (even did a little lite jog at the end) on Tuesday morning with the Jeep jogger, walked again on Friday, then on Saturday I actually was able to hit the gym thanks to DH and did 4.21 miles on the elliptical.  I won't tell you how long it took me to go 4.21 miles.  The point is I did it (and learned a lot from Cupcake Wars in the meantime).  Today, Sunday, I managed to walk and jog a little again.  I still tracked my progress on Endomondo, I am moving, baby B has been able to listen to "I Whip My Hair" a few times, and I feel better for meeting just my little personal challenges this week.

From Katie:
I really expected that this week would be easier since I got off to a good start in Week 1. I was wrong. We had a sick week this week, so while I met my goal of exercising 4 times this week I just barely met it and it was a struggle. Here’s how it went:

Sunday and Friday: Walking. Sunday, with my husband and little guy—really more racing down the Meadowmont Trails. Sometimes with my 2 year old competing, sometimes with him riding on my back yelling, “Mommy, go, go, go!” Friday, pushing a trike (we really had to get out after four days inside).  Thursday and Saturday: 45 minutes at the gym both days. If I weren’t doing this challenge, I don’t know that I would have exercised all 4 days. I have felt better for having done it, and I’m looking forward to setting some new goals and trying some new things next week. In the meantime, what do you do to fit in exercise when you have a sick little one(s)?

From Sarah:
Like Katie, I had high hopes for week 2. My plan was to start the 3 days of week 2, Ease into 5k on Sunday. The weather forecast looked good outdoor walk/run on Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday. Unfortunately, Sunday morning I had a migraine so I accomplished nothing but R&R. Monday I felt better and wasn't going to let the rain hold me back. I did a yoga routine using WiiFit.Tuesday I finally got outdoors and completed Week 2, Day 1 walk/run. On Thursday, I was ready to rock my workout minus the cold wind. This is where trying to workout with my toddler in the jogger gets tricky. At 1 mile into the routine, D tells me he needs to 'go'(forgive my honesty here, but I think it's safe all parents reading this get this moment!). It was one of those moments where I was trying to remember why I thought potty training now was a good idea. Proud he had told me and with high hopes, I turned us around and went as fast as I could back the mile to our house. I didn't quite finish the routine but I was definitely moving faster than I had previous days! Go figure, total false alarm. I then intended to do Week 2, Day 3 of the routine on Saturday, but, as happens, my Saturday plans changed last minute and did not include getting in my workout. Today, Sunday, I did manage a 3 mile walk with my boys in the 37 degree morning air. Brr! The cold kept DH & I moving fast while D seemed to enjoy his snug warm ride tucked into the jogger with the plastic weather shield over it. One lesson I have already learned in the past 2 weeks, I do best if I can get my Ease into 5k training in on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Thankfully, this week the forecast looks like I will be able to do so.

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, January 13, 2012

Music Together - Morrisville

From Sarah C.:

Music Together offers parent-child classes from birth to age 5. D and I recently experienced a taste of the class during a free evening at our local library. The class was held in the same room where we typically attend storytime and, as usual, we had to wait for the door to open before we could head in. D was beyond excited waiting to get through the doors and up close to the drums that were set out. He literally ran through the children's area saying, "door open! Door open!" and, yes, we were the first inside.

The room filled quickly with children of all ages. Each excited about the drums and tapping out their own rhythm. When it was time to move on to the next activity, I was surprised to see how well each of the kids helped at putting the drums - they loved those drums! Fortunately, the two instructors, Ms. Chris and Ms. Jody, kept the kids moving easily from one activity to the next. We sang, we clapped, we shook egg rattles, we wiggled, and had the chance to play with more instruments before the class ended. Even the parents joined in on the fun and had a great time.

The classes are held in 10 week sessions. For a point of reference, cost for the Morrisville class at Cedar Fork Community Center beginning Monday, January 23rd is $170 (for first child; each additional sibling over 9 months is an added fee) plus $5 registration fee for first time parents. Along with the classes, the fee also includes 2 cds and a songbook. Of course, verify cost with the instructor when registering for a session as the prices do vary some. Instructor websites and contact information are listed below.

Some of the current sessions have started. There is a Saturday session in Morrisville beginning tomorrow morning, January 14th, as well as the class mentioned above that starts on the 23rd.

Music Together

Music Mom of the Triangle
http://www.MusicMomoftheTriangle.com | Calendar
Chris Schlachter 
* Currently offering classes in Cary & Morrisville

Little Birds Music Together
http://www.littlebirdsmusictogether.com/ | Calendar
Jody Berry
* Currently offering classes in Morrisville


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NC Museum of Natural Sciences Storytime

A post today from Katie.  As we found out, you all do love to know where your kids can see animals, so this should be a hit.  Enjoy!:

After reading Sarah’s post on the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, we had to give it a try.  When I checked out their website I found that they have regular storytimes and meet the animal sessions, so we built our trip around the morning storytime (this actually included some meet the animals moments in the 30 min session).  

On the day we went, the theme was beach animals.   The session leader that day had selected a story about hermit crab habitats at the beach.   It was a beautiful picture book and simple enough for 2 year old H to enjoy and follow, but the staff member made it engaging enough for older children to enjoy it as well.   She stopped frequently to give the children hands on examples of habitats in the book, including rocks, driftwood and shells.  H love getting to touch each item, and the interaction clearly held his attention.  

Once the story was finished, the leader discussed the different animals that you might find at the beach with the children. She explained where they live, what they eat, and how big they grow.   As she discussed them, she brought the animals out for the children to meet.  H loved them.  From a small alligator that I have to admit was pretty cute, to a diamond back terrapin to a sand and green rat snake (which H and DH loved, and I…well… didn’t), the animals were a huge hit.  She carried each animal, out of it’s container, around the room for everyone to see up close.  H even cheered for the snake.  If you, like I, cannot stand the sight of snakes, don’t worry.  When the leader came around with the snake, I turned my head and she steered clear, letting H see it as much as he wanted, but keeping it away from me.  I never had to say, “I may freak out if you come any closer.”    All of the children there seemed to have a great time, and we all learned quite a bit.  

The session lasted nearly thirty minutes.  I was impressed that so many children, of so many ages, paid attention for that long.  Our session wasn’t completely full, but the session after ours (meet the animals only), was packed.   While our leader was very willing to open the door to latecomers, the front desk staff told us that if you arrive late, you might have to wait for the next session.  There are several meet the animals sessions each day, each lasting around 30 minutes. 

Overall, it was a great outing, and one I am certain we will repeat regularly. 

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Storytime at 10:30 am, Meet the Animals at 11:00 am
Weekdays (they have meet the animals on weekends, as well)
11 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 


Monday, January 9, 2012

Ride the Bus

I have to admit right off that this was not my idea.  My friend, Cate, is a long-time Chapel Hill resident and a very savvy mom.  She told me about this excurstion and it is great.  This is a free activity for those of you in Chapel Hill and Durham.  In Raleigh you can still ride the bus, of course, but it is going to cost you.  Somewhere around a dollar or so.  Yeah, not too bad!

For C, this was a very exciting adventure.  He sees buses around town all the time.  He is at that age where he is obsessed with various modes of transportation and just thinks they are cool (he kept talking about them at the parade).  To keep things simple for us (and because I was still pregnant at the time), we had a someone drop us off in downtown Chapel Hill on Franklin Street.  After lunch at a favorite, Med Deli, and a coffee at Caribou, we caught the NS bus to the Southern Village park & ride where we had a car waiting for us. But you can easily make this a round-trip excursion.

Getting on the bus and getting off is so easy.  The ride is smooth and kid-friendly.  Honestly, the hardest part is figuring out what bus you want to take and where you want to go.  I was a city girl for years who took public transportation like any good wanna-be-Democrat-living-poor-in-the-city should.  Yet I had a hard time figuring out what bus route I wanted.  Add in a whole new level of anxiety given that I didn't want to get "stuck" anywhere with a toddler and the planning of this excursion got a little stressful.

Just relax.  The bus routes online are easy to follow, accurate, and make sense if you just spend a second with them.  Also, you can use the online trip planner (or see link below) that integrates ALL area transit systems to get where you want to go.  This planner is so detailed that it will even give you walking directions to the station from the park & ride.  You can do this.

If you feel overwhelmed or get out there and can't figure out if you are at the right bus stop...ask.  We asked some folks waiting on a bus where our bus was goign to be and they were so on the ball they knew exactly where we needed to go and at what time.

Waiting for the bus was half the fun for C.  Added benefit for mom was that the bus was on time.

What was so great about this outing?  We got to pair it with another enjoyable activity and spot we love, it wowed my kid, and it was free!  We were on the bus a total of maybe 15 minutes, and my child kept talking about it for days.

I wouldn't do this outing during primetime commuting hours.  But if you have the flexibility to go during "off" hours, I recommend this trip!  Learn more about how great our transit system actually is in this area while entertaining your kids with a cheap outing.

Ride the Bus
Trip Planner: http://www.gotriangle.org/
Cary Transit: http://www.gotriangle.org/go-local/partners/cary-transit/
Chapel Hill Transit:http://www.chtransit.org/
Duke Transit:  http://parking.duke.edu/buses_vans/bus_sched/index.php
Durham Area Transit Authority: http://www.gotriangle.org/transit/data-schedules-maps/
NCSU Wolfline: http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/trans/
Raleigh, Capital Area Transit: http://www.raleighnc.gov/transit
Triangle Transit: http://www.triangletransit.org/

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 1

Here's our wrap-up for week 1 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge.  If you've been following our progress on Twitter (see information below) you will note that the words we keep using seem to be "baby steps."  We're just starting on this journey, so none of us are ready to take off on a 3 mi run today.  But we're moving and getting ready.  Here's how we fared; how did you do?!

From Allison:
Three weeks postpartum, can I get a HOLLAH for even moving at all?  I mean, more movement than feeding a newborn, putting him down, then walking over to get an Oreo cupcake....I got out a little this week.  I downloaded Endomondo to my phone just to track my distances and speed.  I am not yet technically cleared by my docs for physical activity so I did cardio-lite.  Walking.  (Although I have a bone to pick with Endomondo - it doesn't account for extra calories burned when you have to push a 30+ pound toddler and a 8 pound newborn in a Snap n Go while you walk.)  Monday and Thursday we got in some great walks, my boys and I.  Sure, I had to stop to insert a pacifier a few times and I was trying to heave the Joovy up the hill while also explaining where the moon goes during the day to C, but I still worked up a sweat and did over 1.5 miles on each walk.  Saturday we stayed at home and C and I did a dance DVD at my house.  Turns out exercise can be fun and a great bonding experience with my children.  I am hardly ready for swimsuit weather right now, but it felt good to move at all.  Having a goal has been a huge motivator.  Does our April deadline motivate you?

From Katie:
My goal for January is simply to get moving, and to exercise at least 4 days a week. I will likely need a more formal training program for the 5k, but for now, I need to put one foot in front of the other and start going.

This past week, Monday and Tuesday were a wash - lots of excuses. I had dropped them by Wednesday when I hit gym the for 30 minutes of bike time. Thursday: I put on my gym clothes before dropping H off at preschool, and hit the gym on the way home. Armed with People Magazine and music with inappropriate lyrics (hey, I get bored on the bike), I finished 6 miles on the bike and 2 miles walking. Friday: gorgeous day, but sore from Thursday (hello, motrin!). We took H for a walk in Meadowmont, where he wanted to race, so the walk quickly turned into lots of jogging in spurts. Not really fast enough to be sprints, but more than walking. Saturday: 6 miles on the bike, 2 miles on the elliptical, and another Meadowmont walk/race with H.

I’ve logged 18 miles on the bike, and somewhere between 6 and 8 walking/jogging. I’ve been sore. I’ve been tired. I’ve felt stronger for having done it, and proud of myself for getting moving. And when I stepped on the scale, I felt thrilled to see 4 lbs of weight gone! Next week, I’m throwing in a bellydance class. Stay tuned!

From Sarah:
It's been some time since I had a consistent workout routine. Well, minus chasing after a toddler day in and day out (that counts as a workout, right?). Thus, I have started out slowly. With D strapped firmly in the jogger, my iPhone snug in it's spot & connected to the jogger speakers so we can both jam, and my Ease into 5k app turned on, I hit the pavement 3 days last week. I admit Monday and Wednesday I half thought I had lost my mind with the cold and the wind. On Friday, I was ready to roll. I felt empowered by sticking to my routine on the colder days. The sun and warm 60s beckoned to me. And D was very excited not having to be bundled up like the Michelin guy in 40 layers of protection from the cold and from the promise of time at the playground at the end. My goal this coming week is to continue following along with the app and walk/run 3 days. Minus a slight threat of rain, the forecast of 50s and 60s looks very enticing!

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, January 6, 2012

Honeycutt Park - Raleigh

A post today from Katie about a park in Raleigh that sounds nice (and we're taking advantage of warm(er) weather whenever we can).  We've already mentioned this park in our post about Upper Crust Bakery.  Don't forget that Simply Crepes is also in Lafayette Village, close by as well!:
Oh the weather outside is…well, not too terribly frightful these upcoming days.  And it has to get pretty cold before H and I stop going to outdoor parks to burn off some much needed steam.  A couple of weeks ago we happened, quite by accident, on Honeycutt Park in Raleigh.  For this Mom in Chapel Hill, Honeycutt Park is a hidden gem.  Located off, you guessed it, Honeycutt Road in relatively close proximity to 540 and Lafayette Village, it was just the outdoor outlet we needed after a morning of Raleigh errands.

Let's look at the park...  The playground equipment is new and in very good condition, with two distinct play areas, one for toddlers and preschoolers and one for the bigger kiddos, with a set of swings  (2 bucket, 2 regular) in the middle.  H loved all of the climbing sections of the playground equipment, and, as usual, the swings and the slides were a big hit.  He also loved running back and forth between the two playsets.  We easily spent over an hour and got back in the car with one very happy, and very worn out, 2 year old.

I snuck away for a moment to check out all the details while DH and H worked hard at climbing and racing.  Ground cover is primarily mulch/wood chips.  There are bathrooms that are quite clean for a public park, with a changing table.  These are located just off the covered picnic area that looks out onto the playground.   The playground is next to a wooded area, and so was shaded when we were there, but I can only imagine that at certain times of day some of the equipment could get hot.

There are also ball fields and other facilities for more organized sports.  Parking is ample.  One of my favorite things, though, is that Honeycutt Park is on the Capital Area Greenway, so you can easily pack your stroller, bikes or trikes and get some exercise for the whole family.  (The Honeycutt Park section of the Greenway is 0.36 miles of paved pathway.  For more information on the Capital Area Greenway System, click here).

Happy Playing!  We will definitely be going back!

Honeycutt Park
1032 Clear Creek Farm Road
Raleigh, NC 27615


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Birthday Party for Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a HUGE event that happens every year around this time...Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday party. And we want to let you know about it now so you can plan to be there!

This event happens at Northgate Mall and is sponsored by some of our favorite organizations in the area: NC Moms Rising, Chapel Hill/Carrboro Mothers Club, Durham Mothers Club, Lango, Northgate Books, and Northgate Mall.  Last year over 200 families attended this fabulous event and this year the planners are aiming to double that.  Here at MiCHill we think they can do that.  Why?  Because there is a lot to this event making it worth your family's time.

This year's event is happening Monday, January 16, 2012.  The big draw this time around is the visit of Paula Young Shelton. 

The daughter of civil rights activist Andrew Young and a first grade teacher (and Duke alumnus!), Ms. Young Shelton realized that there lacked books and resources to teach young children about civil rights and so she wrote a book about her experiences growing up during the Civil Rights Movement.  Her book, Child of the Civil Rights Movement, is a beautifully illustrated book that describes her childhood growing up in Atlanta during segregation, having dinner with Dr. King, and marching with her family in Selma, Alabama. Her book creates great starting points for talking about equality and justice and service and how we interact with them in our lives. 

Ms. Young Shelton will read from her book at two readings, with Spanish translations,  A reading for preschool aged children will be held at 10 am and another for elementary aged children at 12 pm. Each reading will be followed by freedom songs, crafts, and cake. 

I love the way one of our readers explains the importance of this event and this day:  "Equality. Justice. Service. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. Civil Rights. How does one start teaching children about them? What about teaching young children? An important part of being a parent is passing on values and history, but sometimes it is hard to know where to start. Dr. King's dreams and legacy are still important today and there is a need to pass his messages on, but my question as a parent is how?"

If that wasn't enough to pull at your heartstrings, did you see that there will be cake!?

Also, please note that to honor Dr. King's commitment to service participants are asked to donate nonperishable food items or toiletry items (soap, toothbrushes, diapers, etc) for families served by the Durham Urban Ministries.

To further encourage civil rights, a voter registration for parents will be set up. 

A special thank you, in advance, to all the fabulous businesses and organizations putting time and supplies and effort into this event.

MLK Day Event (annual event)
2012 details as follows:
Preschool story time at 10 AM; School-age story time at 12 PM.
Ms. Young Shelton will be signing her book at Northgate Books at 11 AM and 1 PM.

Northgate Books at Northgate Mall
1058 West Club Blvd
Contact: Beth Messersmith, NC MomsRising, 919-544-8781 or beth@momsrising.org

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