Friday, March 30, 2012

Shutterbugs

A shopping post from Katie today you may want to read before you go buying Easter clothes at Target...just sayin'...:
 
Easter is just around the corner, and we love cute Easter clothes in our house.  Okay, I love them, but I’m the one who dresses H.  Therefore, I have to tell you about Shutterbugs in Raleigh, just across Oberlin Road from Cameron Village.

Shutterbugs is a small boutique with adorable, high end children’s clothes  (think Little English, Sara Louise, Luigi, Kissy Kissy, Bella Bliss, Vive La Fete, etc.).  If you need clothes or shoes for a special occasion, or some super cute clothes for preschool, it is a fabulous stop!  Of course they also have really cute pajamas and shoes as well as some gift items. 

The shop is attached to Burnie Batchelor Photography so it isn’t huge, but they have a very good selection and provide impeccable customer service. 

In fact, let’s talk a little more about that customer service.  Not only are they always more than willing to look for items they actually appeased my cranky son while I was trying to finish my transaction.  He started crying so they whipped out a pack of Annie’s fruit snacks (they did ask me if he could have them first).  To this day we drive buy and he says, “Stop, Mommy!  Nice lady has special treats!” Talk about a smart business move on their part.

Of course, there is the matter of price.  For these gorgeous boutique clothes prices can get expensive.  The good news is that when they have a sale, they really have a sale.  I have gotten incredible items for H at super prices, you just have to go in and check things out frequently to catch the sales.  Or make sure you keep a check on their website (see below). 

In terms of logistics, make sure you keep your eyes peeled the first time you go as it is very easy to miss.  Also, there is very limited parking in front, and it can be a little tricky getting out as you need to back out onto busy Oberlin Road.  We always park in the back or in lots behind the buildings close behind and make the short trek to the store.

Writing this has me thinking about a little Easter shopping now...hmmm...  And, by the way, they have an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday, March 31, 10 am-12 noon.  A cute outfit for an Easter celebration?

Happy Shopping!

Shutterbugs Boutique
http://www.shutterbugsboutique.com/
619 Oberlin Road
Raleigh, NC 27605
919.833.7527                        

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Melted Crayon Suncatchers

I got a fancy new iron from my brother for Christmas.  It made me feel old not that I got an iron as a gift but that I actually was excited about it.  I loved this gift so that I could work on my sewing and also so that I could do fun artsy projects like this one.

Note that this project certainly involves adult help.  But I remember doing this with my mom as a kid and was happy to try it with C.

Supplies:
  • wax paper
  • scissors
  • crayons without wrappers - think old broken crayons for this
  • pencil or crayon sharpener
  • iron (for adult helper only!)
First, cut out 2 pieces of wax paper the same shape and size with your scissors.  C and I did a heart shape since we were thinking of doing a Valentine's Day theme when we first tried this out but, really, whatever shape you want will work.
 Using your sharpener, create small bits of crayon of various colors.  Place bits onto 1 of the pieces of wax paper.  The way you do this can vary.  I actually shaved the bits for C then had him place the pieces on the wax paper.  Older kids can sharpen their own.
Place the other piece of wax paper on top.  ADULTS: Using your iron on the lowest setting, slowly but constantly move your iron across the top piece of wax paper.  You will be melting the crayon bits between the 2 sheets of wax paper.  Note that melted crayons can ooze out the sides.  You may want to place an old rag or a piece of newspaper on top to protect your iron or just iron carefully.  (I didn't take any pictures of this step since, while I love my camera, I am not about to try to work with a hot iron and photo that at the same time... I am not that good!)

When done, you will have a lovely, colorful, and drippy suncatcher.  If you like, once the wax is dry you can punch a hole on the top, run some string through it, and hang them.  But otherwise allow the light to shine through!

 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NCSU Farm Animal Days

From Sarah C.:

NC State's Farm Animal Days is a great opportunity for preschool and school aged children to get an up close look at livestock. The event includes a variety of animals to see - rabbits, turkeys, goats, sheep, swine, cows, horses and baby chicks. A few of the animals visitors are able to pet. (Note: There are plenty of hand washing stations throughout the area.)

There are also tractors on display that the children can climb into, a weigh station where you can see your own weight or even get weighed with friends, and a fake cow to try your hand at milking. After all this fun, you can end your visit with free NCSU Howling Cow ice cream.

The 2012 Farm Animals Days runs today through Friday, March 30th, 9am - 2pm each day. If you missed pre-registration online, you can still attend. Either way, check in at the registration table immediately inside the barn to start your visit. The entire event is free. Donations are accepted. Allow an hour to see all the exhibits.


Strollers are welcome. There is a 'stroller parking' area you can use inside the barn. Be aware if you push your stroller through the exhibits that you will need to maneuver around crowds of children and through natural ground cover (ie, dirt in some areas and higher grasses in the parking field).

NC State University Farm Animal Days
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/farmanimaldays/
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory
Beef Educational Unit
4505 Mid Pines Rd

Raleigh

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

YMCA's Darkness to Light Program

We have a  very special post today from the YMCA in Carrboro/Chapel Hill.  This community resource is currently working on a very serious issue and trying to make a huge impact in our neighborhoods for our children.  We want to take a moment to use our blog space to highlight these efforts and encourage you to participate.  Keep reading below.:
 

April is Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Month.  Did you know it is statistically proven that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday?  What's scarier is that in 90% of these cases the abuser is someone the child or family knows and trusts. While these numbers are certainly alarming, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro YMCA is offering adults an opportunity to join the prevention movement to help change these statistics for future generations.  There are many ways in which you can help.

The Y’s Darkness to Light ("D2L") initiative focuses on each adult’s responsibility in helping to protect the children in our community. And the Stewards of Children Training (which hails from national non-profit Darkness to Light) trains adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse ("CSA"). "Stewards" is an empowering, evidence-based training presented from the perspective of adult CSA survivors and the Y brings this training to you.  For free.


In these trainings participants learn how to talk to children about personal privacy and boundaries, how to encourage child-protective policies within organizations, and how to respond if a child discloses information to you. Through grant funding the YMCA is currently able to offer this 3-hour training for free and is reaching out to parents, PTAs, daycares, faith communities, and other organizations that impact the lives of children.  The more adults that are trained to recognize warning signs of CSA and are prepared to help children navigate this issue, the safer all of our children will be.

Currently the YMCA has a goal to train 5% of the adult population in Orange, Chatham, and Durham counties, which is the number needed to be a tipping point causing a cultural shift to occur. Because children are involved in so many activities and interact with so many people on a daily basis, it is crucial to spread awareness and prevention knowledge surrounding CSA throughout the entire community. Of course, ultimately the Y’s goal is to create a culture and environment where CSA is not tolerated or enabled through silence and where children are empowered to reach their full potential.

Trainings will be offered throughout the month and restaurants will participate in Join the Movement Mondays, donating portions of their profits to the initiative which allows the trainings to remain free for a longer period of time. Below is the calendar of events for the month of April (please note that dates are current for the time of this publication in March 2012).

To register for a free training email D2L@chcymca.org. The YMCA will also lead private D2L trainings organizations, neighborhood associations, or friend groups.  To arrange these email D2L@chcymca.org.

For more information, check out the local initiative’s website at http://www.chcymca.org/d2l/. To participate in "Join the Movement Mondays" all you have to do is dine at the restaurants on the specific Monday listed below and tell them you are supporting Darkness to Light.

Join the Movement Monday -
remember to tell the restaurant you are there for the Darkness to Light Initiative
Mon, Apr. 2, All Day- Red Bowl in University Mall (dine in or takeout)
Mon, Apr. 9, 5-8pm- Qdoba on Franklin Street
Mon, Apr. 16, All Day- Red Bowl in University Mall (dine in or takeout)
Mon, Apr. 23, 4-11pm- Sweet Frog on Franklin Street
Mon, Apr. 30, 5-7pm- Chick-fil-A in University Mall (special green milkshakes and a prize wheel)

Stewards of Children Training-
email D2L@chcymca.org to register
Wed, Apr. 4, 4:30-7pm- UNC Campus Health Building, Room 233
Thurs, Apr. 12, 9am-12pm- YMCA Children’s Center at Carol Woods
Sat, Apr. 14, 9am-12pm- United Church of Chapel Hill
Sat, Apr. 21, 9am-12pm- Seymour Senior Center
Tues, Apr. 24, 5:45-8:45pm- YMCA Children’s Center at Carol Woods

Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA-
Come enjoy an afternoon of family fun at the Y! D2L will be at the event with information about our community initiative to end child sexual abuse. Stop by to learn more about D2L and participate in fun activities for the kids!
Sun, Apr. 1, 1-5pm- Camp Royal in Pittsboro
Sat, Apr. 28, 1-4pm- Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA

Prevent Now! Community Awareness Meeting-
Tues, Apr. 17, 12:00-1:30pm- YMCA Children’s Center at Carol Woods

‘Because Parents Matter’ Summit- 
Parents, learn how you can tackle some of the most pressing health and safety issues facing teens today at this event, sponsored by the Orange County Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force. D2L will host a workshop on how to prevent child sexual abuse in our community. Contact rvalentine@ocrcc.org to register.
Sat, Apr. 21, 9:30am-1:00pm- El Centro Hispano in Carrboro

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giveaway: Free Healthy Moms Classes

Since you all know we've been pretty dedicated to fitness around these blog parts lately, I am super excited to announce that we are giving away 3 Healthy Moms classes.  That's right, 3 classes FOR FREE!

These classes are for the Healthy Moms of Durham and Chapel Hill classes and can be redeemed any time within the next year.  If you aren't familiar, we've talked about Healthy Moms here and here and here.  There are prenatal classes, classes you can do with your baby, and classes just for mom.  Recently, too, owner Tiffany has added classes for mom that also have childcare arrangements.  So, really, no excuses!

We love these classes.  They have a very dear place in our blogger hearts since that is how Sarah C. and I met some years ago - through Healthy Moms prenatal aqua.  Truly, Healthy Moms is about community as well as fitness.  We're also excited that Healthy Moms has just started off on a blog venture, too, which you can find at http://healthymomsdurham.blogspot.com/.

Here's how you enter:
- Leave us a comment telling us your favorite exercise/workout (either pregnant, not, or with your kids, we want to hear it all!)
- Extra entries for each:  following Healthy Moms of Durham & Chapel Hill on Facebook and following Healthy Moms on Twitter.  Let us know in your comment below if you have done this.  It will be honor system (and remember that we're moms so we have eyes in the back of our heads).

The winner will be picked at random and announced next Monday, April 2nd.

Best of luck and here's to healthy moms all over the Triangle!

The Barbershop for Men

When we announced on our Facebook page last Tuesday that Peek-A-Doo over at Southpoint was closed to relocate we found out a lot of you felt as dismayed as we did.  But not all is lost since we found a new place thanks to our blog contributor Laura M.
The Barbershop is not specifically targeted towards kids.  And it isn't open for the ladies, either (sorry gals).  However, it is a great place to take a boy for a haircut and here's why...

The waiting area has kids toys.  You aren't going to get a train table but there were coloring books and blocks and a Leapfrog toy that kept my son thoroughly entertained, plus more.  The waiting area also had a tv (but on ESPN, of course, so just 'meh' on that one) and a big barrel of peanuts to shell and eat.  Yum (although sorry to those with allergies and to my diet).  There were even Highlights magazines available to read.

Once you get back to a hairstylist - which Saturdays and Sundays are walk-ins only and we didn't even wait 15 minutes - each area is basically a cubicle. This diminishes potential distractions.  Plus each cubicle has its own tv with cable.  So while we didn't get a cute little airplane to sit in and Curious George on DVD, we did get a distraction-free zone with Nick, Jr. and Yo Gabba Gabba.

The stylist we got, which just happened to be whoever was available, was great with C and seemed to really enjoy kids.  The rest of the stylists, all women, were also very excited to see him and clearly loved having a kid in the place.  He felt so special.

But can I tell you what I really loved?  The price.  For $11 cash (it's $11.50 if you use a credit card) boys and men alike get a shampoo & condition, cut, massage, and hot towel treatment.  While we opted to forgo the massage and hot towel treatment for C, I told my husband that this is the place he needs to go for his haircuts from here on out.

There are two The Barbershop franchises in the area.  We hit the one in Durham in the Hope Valley Commons shopping area, but I was told that the one in Cary is exactly the same except that they decorate with airplanes instead of motorcycles.

Feel free to head towards Chubby's, too, for some cheap tacos during this outing.

Great find and thanks so much for the recommendation Laura M.!

The Barbershop Salon for Men
http://www.thebarbershops.net/
Durham
1125 W NC HWY 54 Suite 205
Durham

919-490-8600

Cary
280 Meeting Street Suite 107 - Centrum Station
Cary
919-747-4637


Monday - Thursday: 9:00am - 8:00pm
Friday: 9:00am - 7:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am - 4:00pm

Monday - Friday are both appointments and walk-ins. Saturday and Sunday walk-ins only, but you can still request your barber/stylist.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 12

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 12 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. Only 27 days to go ... are you keeping up?

From Allison:
Let me tell you how much I ran this week.  None.  At all.  I did get my booty in to the gym, though, and pushed myself hard.  I did my usual BodyPumps, BodySteps, and Sh'Bams.  This week I even tried out CrossFit!  I am so hard core, right?!  Really, I bought a Living Social deal for some CrossFit classes in a moment of "smelling some crazy salts" and "sleep deprivation." Then I had to use the classes so I wasn't "wasting money."  I'll fill you all in on that in a separate blog article.  That pushed me muscularly and I am actually going back.  But I am starting to worry that I am not getting enough cardio in.  I just really am having a hard time finding the time to run.  Which is a shame since the weather has turned nice (finally).  I think, since I want to be honest with you all, that I find running while pushing a stroller SO hard that I avoid it if possible.  How do all you running mamas do it?!  What are your secrets?

From Katie:
Half the point of us doing this fitness challenge is to keep us honest on how much we’re exercising. So, as much as it pains me to admit this, I only exercised twice this week - not my goal of four times a week. It just got hard to fit things in (lame excuse there, isn’t it?). I need to take a cue from Allison and put it on my schedule in ink, possibly in Sharpie. For those of you who know any of us personally, you know we’re all in love with the new Martha Stewart organizational products. Certainly there is some pretty organizer in that line that will help me keep my schedule?

In the spirit of honesty, though, I have been keeping a secret from you. This Mom in Chapel Hill is expecting baby number 2! We are over the moon! Guess when I found out, though - about three weeks after I agreed to the fitness challenge! I thought, “no problem, I will just keep doing what I’m doing. It is good for baby, and for me.” So, I was right on the good for baby and for me part but, really, the keeping up what I was doing is proving difficult. I just don’t remember morning sickness being soooooooooooo intense with H! So, if it seems like I’m slacking some weeks, well, I am. 24/7 nausea and fatigue make it hard to get fired up about running (for me), but I keep on walking. My goal was originally to run this 5k. My goal now is to finish it. Maybe now that I’m into the second trimester I’ll have a little less nausea and a little more energy.

In the meantime, I so need your advice! Tell me about your pregnancy fitness routine! Are there classes you love? If you already have a toddler, how do you do it?

From Sarah:
I fell shy of my goal of three runs for the week, but I did get in two plus a 2 mile walk with my mom & D midweek. I also moved forward one day in the Ease into 5k app - I ran 27 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday using Week 7, Day 3. That leaves me with 3 "official" training days as part of the final week in the app at just under 4 weeks out to race day. My goal is to use each of those days repeatedly over a week's time (ie, this week focus on Week 8, Day 1 and next week move on to Week 8, Day 2) so that I will be at 30 minute runs with a week left before the race. I still have some work to do, but when I look back at Week 1 in our challenge, I'm proud of how far I've come and feeling more confident that I can complete the 5k on April 21st.

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, March 23, 2012

Robert V. Godbold Park - Cary

From Sarah C.:

Earlier in the month, D & I visited Godbold Park in Cary. It's located near the intersection of NW Maynard and Chapel Hill Roads. I hadn't been to this park since my college days and, suffice to say, it's changed a lot! It's a wonderful spot to play, exercise and enjoy art.

When you enter the parking lot, the tennis courts are on your left. Continue straight back and you can park a little closer to the playground. It features a single play structure, swings (regular & bucket style), see saw and sand box. The entire space has mulched ground.


Restrooms are located in a small building next to the playground and tennis courts. This might be a good post-playground spot whether heading home or further park exploration. We chose the latter and headed back to the parking lot and up the hill where the basketball courts, skate park and dog park are located. Unfortunately, our visit was the in morning so the skate park was closed. I'd really like to visit again when it's open. You can see through the chain link fence and I'm betting D would enjoy watching the older kids.

We also, to his disappointment, couldn't see very well into the dog park (plenty of landscaping!) but that didn't stop him from checking out all the fun painted fire hydrants outside of it. After taking a good look at several (eyes only - I have a strong feeling a few have been, um, used by visiting dogs), I finally convinced him to explore part of Black Creek Greenway. We followed it past the Lowes shopping center, through a tunnel and up to the corner of NW Maynard and Chapel Hill Roads. Here we got a close up look at part of "The Arts Alfresco" sculptures. I confess, I've always been curious about these people and benches made of brick when driving past. One safety tip here, do keep a good grip on young children as this is at the corner of a very busy intersection. D wanted to walk that day so I insisted on his buddy harness to allow him a little freedom and allow me to glance away for a moment while I took a photo.

Besides the added benefit of the art education and the fitness aspect of the walk from the park to the corner, look behind the drumming brick man and you'll spy a building that houses Starbucks and Jimmy Johns - perfect if you need a little refreshment during your visit.

Park amenities:


Robert V. Godbold Park
http://www.townofcary.org/.../Parks/Robert_V__Godbold_Park.htm | The Arts Alfresco
2050 NW Maynard Rd
Cary

Black Creek Greenway
http://www.townofcary.org/.../Greenways/Black_Creek_Greenway.htm
See also, our Cary Greenway System post.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Shake & Paint

From Sarah C.:

Do I have you thinking of dinner? Shake & Bake ... Shake & Paint. I wouldn't suggest eating the latter. It is a lot of fun though. Here's how ...

Supplies:
  • lidded cylindrical container (ie, formula or oatmeal containers work great - just rinse out crumbs & dry ahead of time)
  • white paper
  • acrylic paint
  • small crayon bits or marbles

Start by rolling a sheet of paper to fit inside your container and press it to the walls. Then squirt in a little bit of paint and drop in a few crayon bits.


Now place the lid back on the container and be sure it is secure. Encourage your child to shake it and or roll it. These movements send the crayon bits flying around leaving painted streaks all over the paper.


When your child is done, carefully pull back the lid and peek in.


If the painting is complete, pull it out and set aside to dry. If not, leave it in and shake some more. Add more paint if necessary. There is no right or wrong to this - it's simply fun art.

Here's a look at a few of the masterpieces we created ... be sure to show us yours!


This post originally ran as part of Painting Fun on Sarah's blog, 2paws Designs, last summer.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baldwin Park- Carrboro


A park review from Katie during this gorgeous week!:

I was so excited last Friday when our playgroup decided to give a new (to H and me) park a try!  I have to admit, I knew nothing about Baldwin Park.  In fact, I am somewhat ashamed to note that in my ten years in Chapel Hill (albeit, spread over several short “spurts"), I had not even driven down Broad Street.   Even though this park is considered a Carrboro City Park, it is a smaller park that seems to primarily serve the surrounding neighborhood as opposed to being a large park (like Wilson or Anderson parks).

So first, the great parts:  The equipment is pretty new, in great condition, and, well, fabulous.  Honestly, I want to play on it!  While there is only one playset, it is pretty large and it has activities for toddlers and older children.  The ground cover in this area looks like mulch at first glance but it has a nice rubberized material.  In addition to this area, there are swings (2 bucket and 2 regular) and a sand area with the cool diggers like they have at Wilson Park.  There is plenty of shade to be had (hurray for large, old trees!).  H had a wonderful time (read as, I had to drag him kicking and screaming away).

Now, the details H doesn’t care about but I do:  There aren’t any bathrooms.  There is a picnic shelter set away from the park, but no tables.  Parking is on the street, and only on one side.   There is little buffer between the play area and the street, with no fencing.  All of these are things I can work with, but things that as a Mom I like to know what I am in for.  

My biggest concerns were that in that incredible sand area there were broken glass shards (which looked to be from glass bottles) which I discovered when H was digging them up.  And over close to the slide, there were discarded cigarette butts.   Certainly, this could happen at any park but I wouldn’t be painting an accurate picture if I didn’t tell you.   So, I did a quick internet search and I found some comments that the park is underutilized but I can certainly vouch for the fact that work is going on there to build community participation and involvement.  In fact, there is an awesome new community garden, and NC State recently completed a Stream Restoration Project there.  Hopefully, as work continues and the park gets more family/community use, the broken glass and discarded cigarettes will become a thing of the past.

The park is in the Lloyd/Broad Street neighborhood of Carrboro, and also serves the Northside Community of Chapel Hill as it sits right on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro border.  If you need a point of reference, it is roughly behind Milltown, just off of Main Street in Carrboro.

Baldwin Park

http://www.carrbororec.org/PDFs/CarrboroFacilityBrochure.pdf
400 Broad Street
Carrboro

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Raleigh's St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival

Wow.  I had no idea Raleigh had such a love affair with St. Patrick's Day.  Usually DH and I are, unfortunately, out of town for St. Patrick's Day.  But this year I was around and tagged along with some friends to the Raleigh St. Patrick's Day celebration.  It was amazingly large and Irish-tastic.  I am so glad I went, especially since this Scottish gal really loves this holiday.

Raleigh gets packed at this annual event.  For 30 years now it has been going strong and each time it gets bigger.  Pile on gorgeous weather this particular year and you have a downtown festivus miracle (wait, wrong holiday).

The parade itself was big (no Chapel Hill/Carrboro Christmas Parade, but still..).  It lasted over 2 hours and the floats and paraders kept coming.  There were Irish dancers, marching bands, and lots of bagpipes.  The Shriners had mini-Mac trucks and there were, of course, martial arts demonstrations.  It was really fun!  Although they didn't throw stuff at the crowd as much as I like (we want beads and tshirts!) it was really cool to see a bunch of local "celebrities."

This is a very family-friendly affair.  There were so many kids and strollers around it warmed my soul (and would have made Maclaren and Graco proud).  The biggest issue is just dealing with the crowds.  My crew and I got downtown 1 hour early.  The parade started at noon and we found free public parking in one of the garages downtown 1 hour beforehand.  It was a prime location but was filling up fast at this hour.  I would guess that 15 minutes after we arrived the garage was full.  NOTE that even though parking in this area is free and really close to action if you want a quick getaway you may want to consider parking further away and enjoying the walk.  I left the parade a little early (ah, babies) but it still took me over 30 minutes to exit the garage.  My friends left when the parade was over and it took them over an hour to get out.  So be prepared either way.

The center of everything is Moore Square.  The parade ends here and the huge "Wearing O' The Green" Festival happens in Moore Square from 10 am - 9 pm.  The Festival includes fair rides and other fantastic games and activities for kids (these are all ticket-based and to be honest aren't cheapest in town - the bounce house, for example, was 2 $1 tickets for a bounce).  Moore Square also has a stage set up with live entertainment, and it's good stuff.  For example, Carbon Leaf (one of my faves, too bad I didn't get a sitter) headlined this year at 7 pm and dancers and other fantastic acts preceded them.  The Festival also has many street vendors selling jewelry, crafts, food and BEER.  That's right, this is one of the few Raleigh events where they actually sell beer outside for you to enjoy!  You can get a Guinness on the street and stand to watch the parade.  (Get IDed at the ticket tents first.)

We watched the parade from a spot right off of Moore Square and, while crowded, it really wasn't ridiculous.  We still had a great vantage point even being a few rows back, had Moore Square and vendors available, and also had some ground to spread our picnic blanket on.

Raleigh puts a bunch of port-a-johns brought in just for the festivities in one corner of Moore Square but it was still a wait to get some tp love.  So, again, plan ahead.  Good news was that the port-a-johns were really clean and brand new.

Take a cooler.  While the street vendors are totally great and fun they aren't the cheapest either and you are certainly permitted to bring a cooler and enjoy your own spread while taking in the festivities.

I can't wait to go again next year and will really plan to spend the entire day.  Just be prepared to deal with the crowds and Slainte!

Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade
Annually on a Saturday around St. Patrick's Day
http://www.raleighstpats.org/



Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 11

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 11 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. How's your training going?

From Allison:
Let's talk about how hard it is to do this stuff and be a parent.  Seriously.  Time is already fleeting for us parents and finding time to squeeze in a workout is really hard always, right?  Then add in school-related cruds that seem to keep passing through my house and pile on some seasonal allergies and you've got yourself a full blown challenge to keep training.  I have found that I succeed when working out is scheduled in my Google calendar (ding! goes the reminder to my phone) and done as early in the morning as possible.  Otherwise it does.not.happen.  Period.  I guess you could say I have embraced a "Carpe Exercise" philosophy.  Or that Nike has brainwashed me as I repeat the mantra "Just Do It."  If I procrastinate, if I wait for later, that doesn't happen for me.  Which is all my way of building up to one big, fat excuse as to why I didn't run this week.  Oh I worked out.  I taught my classes (see previous posts for more on that), I took classes, and I did a workout DVD at home which, after 45 minutes of me kinda working, ended in me eating some dark chocolate on the couch while watching the video folks do some ab work.  Hey, keepin' it real for you here.  But I am still a believer that I will reach my life-long goal to complete a 5K in April.

From Katie:
Has this week been beautiful or what?  It has made it much easier to strap on running shoes and get moving.  I can’t exactly say I’ve been running: I’ve walked three times and jogged twice.  And honestly, the jogging was more chasing my son, who has decided that he no longer needs to be in the baby jogger (hello worn out toddler)!    But really, how many times can I tell you that I’ve walked or jogged?!

Soooo…let’s talk about how I got that exercise in, and where I went.  First, daylight savings time helps tremendously!  We are making a concerted effort to eat earlier in our house, since we don’t like to put H to bed immediately after dinner, and he needs to be in bed by 7:30.  Earlier dinners + daylight savings mean we have a perfect window to get outside an exercise as a family after dinner.  We’ve been hitting the road around our neighborhood, we’ve hit the trail at Meadowmont, we’ve been for a stroll UNC's campus, and I feel like I have logged miles…and miles…and miles…at the Museum of Life + Science. (Have you ever noticed they have mileage marked on their outdoor trails—for instance, the sign at the dinosaur trail says it is 0.5 miles—and we go around, and around that thing).

How have you been doing?

From Sarah:
Not one of my best weeks. I did get two runs in using the Ease into 5k app. Both times I used recent routines (Week 6, Day 3 and Week 7, Day 1) backing up to where I felt comfortable. On Friday, my DH had the day off so we took a family trip to the NC Zoo and walked at least 5 miles while there. My goal for the week ahead is to get in 3 runs and I'd like to advance in the routine by at least one day. I still have plenty of time between now and race day to get there. Just need to keep pushing myself.

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, March 16, 2012

Bennett Place

I love historic sites...now.  As a kid, not so much.  I remember wrinkling my nose because they were sooooooo boring.  Yet today I am glad my parents and school system force-fed me education and a sense of history.  Now I can appreciate the history and wealth of the Triangle area.  In Hillsborough I really enjoyed HOST, Burwell School Historic Site, and Ayr Mount.  In Durham we've already been to the Duke Homestead and now I am pleased to tell you a little about Bennett Place.

Bennett Place is the spot of a very important event in the Civil War: the surrender of the Southern Armies under General Johnston.  Even though this event happened post-Appomattox Court House surrender and did not involve a battle, it is the largest troop surrender of the Civil War.  Since Union General Sherman was in Raleigh and Confederate General Johnston was in Greensboro meeting at the Bennett farm, a civilian farm representative of a typical family in those days, located in Durham suited nicely.  There is even a Duke involved, but you have to visit the farm to find out how!

When you visit you will enter a nice visitor's center that has a very small museum in it (nothing hands-on here) and also a well done 15-minute movie explaining the significance of the site.  Every hour from 10 am - 2 pm there are guided tours on site as well (call ahead the day to confirm availability since this can change).

This site is certainly more for older kids who can appreciate and understand the significance of the location (even if they do still wrinkle their noses).  There is a reconstructed old farmhouse where kids can get a glimpse into life on a farm in the 1860s (just looking, no touching). 

There is a lot of outdoors space here - over 30 acres of land.  There is a Nature Trail to explore and a huge group of picnic tables in a nice shady spot.  Not only can you walk the same path legendary men from the Civil War walked, but you can run around and shout here, too.  Bring a jogger with off-road tires or your carrier for the little ones.

Bennett Place is very popular with school field trips so you may want to call ahead before you go on an outing here or, alternatively, enjoy the other kids frolicking about and learning, too.  I personally think the key to a good Bennett Place trip with kids will be to find a special event at the grounds, such as a reenactment or festival, and go to one of those.  There are always fun and interesting Civil War events happened at Bennett Place - stay tuned to their website (see below) for more information.

Admittance in to Bennett Place is always free; it is closed Sundays and Mondays.  This is a popular spot with Civil War buffs by the way (it is on the Civil War Trail for North Carolina) so be prepared to learn from even the casual tourist and don't be afraid to ask questions of the staff here- they are very knowledgeable!


Bennett Place
http://www.nchistoricsites.org/bennett/
4409 Bennett Memorial Rd.
Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 383-4345
Email: bennett@ncdcr.gov

Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday, and most major state holidays.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: TP Roll Painting (Shamrocks)

Arts & Crafts time! And I am so impressed with myself on this one.  It can be for St. Patrick's Day or it can be a year-round project today.  It is stamping paint with a toilet paper roll.  It sounds lame but I assure you it is so much fun.  This is another classic art project, by the way, that has been tried and tested not only in our house but in houses all over the country.

Here's how it works...

Supplies:
  • one old and plain toilet paper roll
  • paper
  • paint
  • if you want to add stems to the shamrocks you will need a paintbrush
To get started, I took the roll and bent it into a heart shape.  It was really easy to do and keep in mind it doesn't have to be perfectly symmetrical (for all you engineers and architects out there).
 You dip one end of the heart into the paint, and stamp!
If you want to make shamrocks, you merely place the points of the hearts together to make the shape.  Go for extra luck and make it a 4-leaf.

To be really professional you can paint a little stem on your shamrocks.  We didn't do that.  In fact, C was having so much fun and so decidedly not interested in the shamrocks and St. Patrick's Day element of this project that he just ended up stamping various colors of hearts all over the paper.

I <3 it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Old Chapel Hill Road Park - Durham

Like I said, we've been park hopping a lot lately.  I don't usually post articles mid-day... but since we have been to this park a few times already and were back just this morning, since the weather is gorgeous, and since both my boys are napping, it's a bonus!
About 6 or 7 months ago the City of Durham put in a playground at the Old Chapel Hill Road Park right off of SW Durham Dr.  I am so, so glad they did.  This park is very close to New Hope Commons and places like Red Robin, Jason's Deli, Panera, PetSmart, McAlister's Deli, Barnes & Noble, Buy Buy Baby, Starbucks, and whatever other fabulous places you visit often.

This park is great, too.  As one of the moms just this morning said, "This is the sort of playground IKEA would design."  It is.
All the equipment is Kompan and brand new, of course.  The area is large and has something for all ages even if not designated with specific age signage.  There are 2 regular swings and 2 bucket swings, a huge rope climbing structure with some interesting apparatus hanging off of it, a little skater-board-type-ramp-thing, a big wheel that turns, bucket seats that turn, a plastic car with tactile exhibits, a huge climbing structure, a tot-sized slide, and more!  There are benches for parents. But be careful because it seems like all the pieces have hidden moving parts.
The ground cover is mulch and there is not a lot of shade here.

Something to note: You can not see this playground from the parking lot.  Park then take the paved path that goes by the soccer fields towards the middle school (if you are looking at the restrooms it is the path on your right).  About a half mile in you will come to the playground.  So keep walking, it's there.  And, like I said, it is paved so strollers work.

By the way, just for a bit of fun take a look at the map that is posted at the park near the restrooms and see if you can spot all the errors.

Enjoy this new playground!  We're glad it's here and hope you are, too!

Amenities:
  • Athletic Field
  • Playground
  • Basketball Courts
  • Soccer Fields
  • Restrooms (permanent structures seasonal, there is a port a john)
  • Greenway Access
  • Field Lights
Old Chapel Hill Road Park
http://www.durhamnc.gov/
3751 SW Durham Dr
Durham

Monday, March 12, 2012

North Forest Hills Park - Chapel Hill

Aren't you loving this weather!?  Perfect park weather and since it is a free activity that works so well with multiple kids we've been park hopping a lot lately.

Last week Sarah C. and I met S'Rich and her gang for a picnic at the park.  We're always looking for things based on location since we live all over the Triangle and given that North Forest Hills Park isn't too far from 40 and the Timberlyne area we gave it a go.  (Keep in mind that this is different than Forest Hills Park in Durham.)
This was a cute park.  The playground equipment states it is for kids ages 5-12 but our boys are younger and did fine.  There are poles and wide ladders that have fall-potential but our kids are playground savvy and nothing was ridiculous.  The play structure is also not too far off the ground (unlike that crazy Duke Park tower!).

The structure itself is surprisingly large with some nice tactile exhibits and some ramps but no swings at this park.  Also, no shade and the ground cover is sand.

There were about 4 picnic tables under the nearby picnic shelter that we utilized (I even brought a picnic of sandwiches I had picked up at Foster's Market over on MLK).

There is a basketball court here, too, that is paved.  There are some paved paths that lead off the playground area but don't be deceived, these aren't really for walking.  They are short short short.  They really are just paths to get from one place to another (up to the basketball courts or down to the adjacent neighborhood).

There are restrooms but they are closed off-season from October through April so there is a port-a-john there in the meantime.

The best thing about this playground, really, is how little known it is.  It is buried far back in a community relatively close to the popular Homestead Park.  We had this playground completely to ourselves the whole time we were there and I think it's mostly because a lot of folks just don't know about it.

Amenities:
  • paved parking lot
  • basketball court
  • playground
  • restrooms
  • picnic shelter
Hope your park hopping is going well!  Please tell us all about it!

North Forest Hills Park
http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/
121 Collums Road
Chapel Hill

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 Fitness Challenge - Week 10

#MiCHillFit2012 Here's our wrap-up for week 10 of our 2012 Fitness Challenge. Just under 6 weeks until race day. Are you keeping up?

From Allison:
WHAT DID I DO!?  Why, oh why did you all let me sign up for this?!  This is madness.  I have been working out but limited to taking and teaching classes at the gym.  I have not run ONCE.  Will these other things I am doing help?  Do they count as preparation!?  Please give me good news and please tell me that you are feeling more confident than I!  I have been teaching Sh'Bam and BodyPump and taking BodyStep. (Yeah, that's really me in that photo.)  I also did a DVD at home on Friday.  And while I love these programs and feel like I am getting stronger and more fit post-baby (even if the baby pounds aren't melting off) I am still FREAKING OUT about a 5K!  Eek!  Please share your successes with me so I can feel like our team is making progress.  Thank goodness that Sarah is doing so consistently well.  I may ask her to carry me across the finish line (and considering she'll be without a jogging stroller on race day, she may have the strength to help me).

From Katie:
Do we really only have six weeks to go? I guess less than 6 right now! When Sarah tweeted that yesterday, I nearly fell out of my seat. Six weeks to go - no pressure there. No, seriously, we can do this! It’s just time for me to step things up!

In the meantime, I’ve had a pretty boring workout week, and thus a boring update. Three times walking/jogging, and I can make it three miles (5k is only 3.1mi, right?). I’m thankful we’re in daylight savings time now, because I keep telling myself that I’ll get in a walk after dinner, while DH gives H a bath. So, enough of my workout week, I cannot wait to hear about what Sarah and Allison have to tell you……

From Sarah:
Minus the chilly wind on Monday (where I totally wimped out and stayed indoors!), it was a gorgeous week to get outside and run. I managed to get in three runs - Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. I'm making progress and tackling longer timed runs with a pretty consistent pace. Still have some work to do to get a full 3.1 mile run completed (the app distances include warm up & cool down walking), but looking back over the last 10 weeks I am proud of how far I've come. I have time, just have to keep up my training.

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, March 8, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Marble Painting

It's time for another ACT (Arts & Crafts Thursday, of course!).  Last week Sarah C. shared a timely St. Patrick's Day craft.  I am not as in tune with the holidays as she (she rocks like that) but I am going to pass along our favorite art activity here at home: marble painting.  My son loves this.  And considering he isn't really into art so much, when there is an art project that he asks to repeat, I consider it a hit.

*Note that since this involves marbles, this is not recommended for younger kids who still like to put things in their mouth!! *

Supplies:
  • one pan with edges (since I use washable, nontoxic paint I just use an old kitchen pan)
  • a sheet of paper (cut to size of pan by adult)
  • paint
  • marbles
The directions are about as easy as you can get with art projects, which is why this is such a can-do hit.

Place your sheet of paper in the pan with edges.
Roll your marbles around in the paint, place them into the pan, and hand it over to your child.  I let C explore this as he wants.  Sometimes that involves him pushing the marbles around.  Sometimes that involves him picking up the pan and rolling the marbles.

Whenever he is ready he places the marbles into the paint again and puts them back into the pan for more rolling.

I think that C loves this not only because it is really neat to watch the paint streak but it also makes loud noises as the marbles bang into the sides (note: do not do this during quiet time!).  He laughs hysterically the whole time.

As a parent, I appreciate how easy this art project is in all ways from tools required to set up to clean up.  But I also have to say that it makes some pretty beautiful art pieces.  We have actually framed two of them in our house and get compliments on them all the time.

So, parents, pop in those ear plugs, stick the art smock on your kid, and let the art times roll!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Carolina Railhawks Soccer

I love soccer.  Love it.  I never played, but the game moves so fast and is so dynamic it appeals to a prone-to-boredom gal like me.  Such a shame that it isn't bigger here in the States as a spectator sport.  However, TONS of kids play soccer, love soccer, and embrace soccer.  So when the chance came to take C to the Carolina Railhawks game at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary I jumped.

The season has just started.  Generally games are in the evenings (7 pm), but occasionally they offer games outside of this timeslot.  We can't do a late game with our youngun's but the season opener was at 3 pm on a chilly Sunday and great for us.

The Railhawks are a professional soccer team in the NASL, one tier under MLS.  They do sometimes take on a MLS opponent and the level of play is always good.

Soccer and WakeMed Soccer Park makes for a great family-friendly outing.  This arena is small and, therefore, very accessible.  Parking is easy (costs $5 in cash).  And wherever you sit you are going to be really close to the field with great views.  For cheap you can get really great seats.

Which brings me to the point that tickets aren't expensive, for a pro sporting event that is.  Kids under 3 are free; kids 5-10 are $5 regardless of where you sit.  If you want to sit at one of the ends by a goal you will only pay $10 per adult.  You can also spring for Club seats for $20 or Premium seats (by far the most options in the Staidum) are $15.  Really, though, there isn't a bad seat in the house and plenty of leg room in the stadium.

One seating issue to note: soccer games usually have a section of loud standing/chanting fans.  Railhawks are no exception.  One section is devoted to fans who stand, yell loud things (no profanity while we were there, very clean fun), bang on drums, and have cymbals crashing.  This is all in section 309.  If your child is really sensitive to noise, try to sit away from that.  We sat in the section next to them and my toddler, who loves noise and instruments, found it a nice addition to the game, but just be warned!

There are concessions available for purchase, including adult beverages, but not a whole lot of options.  I did see fans bringing in their own items to eat and drink, and there was no bag check at the front gate (this is all very casual), but I can't find official Stadium policy on bringing in outside items.


Carolina Railhawks Soccer Game
http://carolinarailhawks.com/
Games March - September
WakeMed Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Drive
Cary

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MacDonald Woods Park & Hinshaw Greenway

From Sarah C.:

MacDonald Woods Park in Cary is tucked into a neighborhood directly west of Kids Together Playground at Marla Dorrel Park. The two parks are connected via the Hinshaw Greenway. We started our visit by walking the greenway to Marla Dorrel Park. The two parks are 0.80 miles apart. Not too far from MacDonald Woods Park, the greenway reaches US Hwy 1/64 and crosses it with a pedestrian bridge. We thought D would find this neat - and he did. It was loud, and a bit windy during our visit, but he was totally fascinated by the vehicles passing under us.

We continued to Kids Together Playground to let D play for a few minutes and to see how the path was. The entire path is wide and paved. An easy walk although there were times we carried D so keep in mind if you want to bring a stroller along for the adventure.

Overview of MacDonald Woods Park
When we returned to MacDonald Woods Park, he was still full of energy and eager to play. We were glad we made the visit. The playground has a few "typical" pieces (play structures for younger and older children, sandbox, teeter totters), but also a merry-go-round and a nice small toddler play structure. The latter featured a single step, a ramp, hand rails, objects on the sides to touch/spin and a mirror inside to view themselves. Really a nice find if you had a crawler or little one just starting to take steps.

The playground does have rubber surface. Beyond it is an open field, picnic tables and basketball court. Do note there are no restroom facilities here. Plan accordingly or visit those at Marla Dorrel Park.

Full list of amenties:
  • Trail Access to Hinshaw Greenway
  • 1 Basketball Slab
  • 1 Open Play Field
  • Playground
  • Picnic Tables

MacDonald Woods Park
http://www.townofcary.org/.../Parks/MacDonald_Woods_Park.htm
1601 Seabrook Ave
Cary

Hinshaw Greenway
http://www.townofcary.org/.../Greenways/hinshaw.htm | PDF map
See also, our Cary Greenway System post.

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