Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tough Lessons

You know how there are some things that kids do exactly as their parents do?
They play the same sports, drink the same beverages, even brush their teeth the same goofy way.

Then there are others that they do exactly the opposite?

Like the teenager who says, "my parents were so strict!" So, ten years later their own children are running around crazy and end up being the "we unschool and spend all our time in a family rock band" type clan on Wife Swap.

Both are the result of how you nurture your kid.

I want to think that you can teach them to be good with money works the same way we will (one day - a long time from now) teach them to drive a car.... You start teaching a little bit one day, more over the next few weeks and then watch closely and pray they do the right thing before setting them free.

I want to think that. And if wishing and hoping could make it happen. It would be awesome. Totally and completely awesome.

But here is the truth. I don't think it works that way with finances.

Dang it!

But I'm gonna try my best to make my kids money smart anyway... and at some point in their 20's or something I'll probably want to wring at least one of their necks for doing something stupid and feel like it was a total waste. But still - I'm gonna try.

So tonight at the grocery store I tried.

We were on the fruit snack aisle. It was already dinner time and it was just me and the kids. We needed to get some fruit snacks, get some cheese and head home. We needed to be quick and I didn't feel like dealing with a melt down.

I really didn't want to hear any fussing or crying. We'd been having a great afternoon.

Then it started. I picked up our normal box of fruit snacks. I turned to put them in the cart. And in the moment between my hand and the bottom of the shopping basket the whining started.

"But I want the Tianna fruit snack."

Ugh.

"But these are the ones we get because they are healthier and a good value, and its time to go home."

Totally the typical way that I handle questions.

Then I paused. I looked at my daughter and said, "Do you know what I mean when I say a good value, or would you like me to explain?"

She picked explain and I laid it out for her.

The fruit snacks that Mommy buys for us are a good value because they cost less than the others and we have a coupon. So, we have extra money left over that we wouldn't have if we bought the princess ones.

That is when I looked over and could tell she didn't get it.

So, I started over.

If we buy the fruit snacks that you want we need almost all of these four dollars. If we buy the ones Mommy usually gets we need one dollar and a couple coins. So, we have almost three dollars left over.

Three dollars isn't a lot, but we buy fruit snacks every week. If we do it Mommy's way after four weeks we will have enough dollars left over for two people - like you and me - to go to a movie.

(Okay, so it would have to be a matinee and not in 3D, but I'm trying to make a point.)

"Really?" She says.

"Yep," I reply. "So knowing that what would you do if you were the Mommy?"

"I'd buy the same fruit snacks as you and take my kids to see Nemo like they talked about when we went to Brave."

Sweet. She made the choice I wanted her to make.

Guess we'll end up at Nemo in 3D.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Seventh Birthday Recap

We have a pretty awesome family tradition going for birthdays. Its pretty simple and super meaningful, especially since I work outside the home.

To celebrate birthdays I take the day off from work and spend the day with the birthday child. Its a time to connect one-on-one. Something my daughter and I haven't gotten to do a whole lot since her brother was born. Most years we spend most of the day hanging out just the two of us.

When she was little I picked the activities. For her first birthday it was a simple trip to her favorite park, a few rides, and lunch at Chick-fil-a. Come to think of it we did the same thing for Little Man's first birthday too!

Its a sweet tradition that I really hope she will not outgrow anytime soon.

This year since Big Girl is well, big, and seven, she picked out the activities and I just figured out which ones were realistic (um, no we can't go snorkeling in the Bahamas again quite yet!) and how to fit them into the day.

This year started with an early morning - i.e. early for the girl that sleeps like she is 17 not 7 - toast with sprinkles and a candle in bed.


...Another example of my excellent not so excellent photography skills.

After the 7 a.m. wake up it was downstairs for presents, playing with presents and some snoozin' on the couch. (Did I mention a little teen like sleeping going on?)

Then it was onto Chucky Cheese for games and pizza.


This was followed by the movie Brave.

Honestly, I should have done more research on this one, and take Andrea's advise. It was scary for her and she cried and asked to leave. We didn't because the scary parts past (mostly) quickly, but it was the biggest downer of the birthday.

After the movie it was on to a swim meet for more fun. I'm not big on bragging, but if you have an athletic event on your birthday, isn't it pretty sweet to win? She did.


Also got to swim her first relay with the 7 and 8 year-olds. They got third, so she was super excited about that as well.

All in all, a fun day.

Do you have any special traditions with your kids? Anything special you do for birthdays? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Snorkeling

When we went on vacation to the Bahama's a few weeks ago we took Big Girl snorkeling. It was a completely fantastic experience.

Our boat left from the Hilton in Nassau. There is no way to describe this place other than downright beautiful. I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing from, but here is a shot from their own site.

www.hilton.com
Seriously y'all. We were here. Has to have been one of the coolest places I've ever been.

We went with Blue Hole Water Sports and the boat went out with just six people on it. So much better than my prior snorkeling experience on spring break in college with 100+ people! This was small with a really great guide.

The fit us for our gear before we got in the boat to make sure everything worked correctly and fit us just right. While they fitted people one-by-one we got to hang out on the totally awesome beach!! Then, our captain Mark took us to two different locations.

At six, my daughter is a pretty strong swimmer.

She jumped right out of the boat and into the water and was off. The coral and fish and even just the scenery off the side of the boat were amazing.




At one point our guide asked if we wanted the fish to come closer and threw out fish food. The little guys came right up to us. It was amazing.

BG asked if it was okay to pet them. (Which made him chuckle.) So, he save her a handful of food that she dropped around her belly. The fish of course came right up and she got to pet them.


After the snorkeling ended we got a quick (about 15 minutes) side trip through Atlantis. More amazingness.

Totally in awe I forgot to take pictures until we were leaving.
It was a fantastic experience at a great price. If you head to Freeport, look them up. Blue Hole Water Sports. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fish. Fish. Fish.

Mid vacation we took a beach break and visited the Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach.

We usually steer clear of touristy trap kind of places. Okay, not so much recently considering we went to South of the Border last month..... But. We'd been to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher several times and decided to try something new.

 It was the middle of the week and it was pretty crowded. Fortunately, when we walked in the door there was no line to meet the Mermaid - one of the big crowd draws - so we jumped in line and met the real mermaid right away.

She was probably in high school, but did a great job interacting with the kids. Big Girl thought for sure she was Ariel from The Little Mermaid (even with brown hair!) and they chatted about King Triton.

The costume looked pretty good and the kids didn't question if she was real or not. All the girls around us (some older than our daughter) thought she was real.

We were a little bummed that you couldn't take your own pictures with the Mermaid, so no photos of that one.

After hitting the touch tank.


 ... another big hit, we grabbed a seat early for the Mermaid show.

I'm gonna be honest here. It was pretty goofy. But the kids loved it. Not just ours, but all of them gathered around.

The mermaids in the show were older than the meet and greet one. They jumped in the tank with several of the large fish and small whales and swam all over the place for the crowd.

They did flips and turns and blew bubbles in heart shapes. Even sitting on the floor, the kids loved it.

Then it was onto the Underwater Glide Path. This was pretty cool. First off you were on a moving sidewalk, so it really helped with the crowd flow. The sidewalk took you through a tunnel of fish called the Dangerous Reef.


There was tons of bright coral and of course plenty of "fish."




On the way out, we decided to see the dinosaur exhibit. If we had it to do again, we would probably skip it. The line was pretty long, and the dinosaurs were all motorized.

Suprisingly, Little Man wasn't freaked out by the dinos and liked a few of them. The cool part here is that you could touch the dinosaurs. There wasn't very much in the way of educational materials, but by that point in the trip, I wasn't even taking the time to read all the names. We were all getting tired and were ready to head back to the beach house.

Overall, Ripley's was pretty cool. It was kind of pricey. For the three of us (toddlers are free) tickets run over $50. For two hours of entertainment. The kids did enjoy it, but I really wish it hadn't been so crowded and that we could have taken our own picture with the mermaid.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ocean and the Sand

My son loves to be outside. Any activity. He is fussy, you say, "Want to go outside?" and he is happy again.
So, we were looking forward to his second trip to the beach. Outside. Sand to play in, wind (he couldn't get enough in Chicago). Plus the fact that he loved it. last year.

So. We thought the beach would be fun for him.

Not so much.

He didn't like the loose sand. He didn't like the wet sand. He didn't like the firmly packed and slightly damp sand for more than 10 minutes and wouldn't sit on it for anything. He didn't like the waves. He didn't like the water.

Pretty much the only thing that he liked was his shovel and bucket and sitting in his little froggy chair with his legs sticking out in front of him.

After a few days we convinced him (with flip fops and t-shirt on) to squat and dig in the dirt.

Dirt. We couldn't call it sand. He would flip out.
It made me sad. My daughter and hubby love the beach. Since her first steps on the sand together, they've been inseparable.

Cuteness back in 2007!
I like sitting on the beach and watching them play and being alone with my thoughts. Its fantastic. It leads to napping. I also like going for walks. And napping on the beach.

The view from under our tent.... If only I'd gotten to spend more time here!
So, while LM and I spend short intervals on the beach (no more than two a day) the rest of the crew had fun, we enjoyed the air conditioning and snuggles and snacks.

Not the traditional beach trip, but it was ours.... and we are already thinking about next year!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Food on the Floor, Wine in My Hand

You know the Zach Brown Band song Toes?

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand Life is good today, life is good today Perfect for a sunny day. Perfect for the beach. Perfect for this week if you ask me. Even more perfect if you change up the words just a little.... I got crumbs on the floor, wine in my hand Not a worry in the world, a good time with my fam Life is good today, life is good today Well, the car pulled up just about three o'clock And the drive still on my mind babies and cousins-s danced in my head I was still in the 'ol bridge line Concrete and cars are their own prison bars Like this life I'm living in But the drive brought me farther, I'm surrounded by water And I'm not going back again I got my toes in the water, kids in the sand Not a worry in the world, a cold drink in my hand Life is good today, life is good today Adios and vaya con Dios Yeah, I'm leaving today And if it weren't for tequila and helpful fam I'd have no reason to stay Adios and vaya con Dios Yeah, I'm leaving today Gonna lay in the hot sun and let the kids run And get my nap on and play
I could go on with the awesomeness, but I'll go back to the beach instead.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dinner, the Internet and the Kitchen Sink

The other night we were sitting at dinner and my husband was retelling a story that a friend told him at work.

It was about a home repair/upgrade that sounded really nice. I was asking to see a photo of the work when all of a sudden our daughter jumped in and started asking questions.

Now, let me stop for a moment before I retell the story to say this: I didn't find the story to be the most believable, but if someone says they did a fantastic home improvement project, who am I not to believe them? I mean, we pull of some pretty astounding things, and its always interesting to hear other people's stories....

Okay. So.

The guy says it all started with a sink. His wife wanted a new kitchen sink. The worked out a deal and got a great deal on the sink (sweet!).

Then. He got ready to install it and it didn't fit.

Could totally happen to us. Something about measure twice, cut once that I am still not good at.

So, the guy decided to go ahead and get a new counter top.

The story goes like this. He went out in his backyard, dug up a big piece of granite. Cut it. Polished it. And, installed it himself with the help of a relative.

Amazing story? Right? I was impressed.

Big girl thought this was so cool, so we went to YouTube to find a video about granite and counter tops.

I put it something like "making granite counter tops."

While the computer was thinking, I started thinking. Wouldn't that be pretty heavy? I mean really heavy. In your backyard? In North Carolina?

But the guy said it was true. Hubby said he questioned it, so I went with it.

And this is what I found.

At this point, Big Girl was pretty impressed, "He did that in his backyard? I wanna go watch." Hmmmm. It just made me curious, so I went to eHow.com to learn more. Maybe there was another method that wasn't on YouTube. Here is what we learned: "Granite usually occurs in large deposits, many times referred to as slabs, throughout the world. Mining operations use different methods of cutting to extract the different deposits from the ground in places called quarries. These slabs are then polished, put on trucks and sent to fabricators. The fabricators will then cut the slabs into the appropriate sizes and length for commercial and home use
Since granite needs to be extracted in large pieces, typical methods of large-scale blasting and collection will not work. Instead, large teams of workers with a series of large, specialized equipment and products such as high-capacity extractors, cranes, tamb rock machines, and chemicals. The teams will then slowly dig around the slabs of granite to break them free. Once the slabs have been broken free they are pulled to large trucks capable of carrying heavy loads, or are processed on site depending on the mine. These granite slabs can weight as much as 40 tons."
Wow.
Then from the mouths of babes - the truth, "Mommy. Its like the TV commercial says, "they can't put anything on the Internet that's not true."

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Shirt

Every day kids learn something new.

With toddlers its a constant stream of new words.

Car.
Dog.
Shoe.
Milk.
No.
Yea.
Um.
Yuck.
Hat.
Eat.
Shirt.

Shirt. Simple enough. For you and me.

I say to him, "lets get your shirt on."

He says, "a shit on."

I say, "put a shirt on."

He says, "aw shit."

I say, "Honey, a shirt. To cover your tummy and protect it from the sun."

He says, "oh shit."

Yea. So that is about all I can say about that without offending someone with a, "he's certainly a _____ (insert which side of the family I think should claim him)" or all the men with a, "boys. boys. boys." type of comment.

So. Enjoy the sun this afternoon and make sure you take a shit shirt.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 4th

Is there really a great option for kids and the 4th of July. Between the heat and the crowds, loud noise and traffic, is there a smooth hassle free option?

We are starting to wonder.

When it started raining we decided to stay indoors. Then it cleared, so we headed to Brier Creek for fireworks.

It was a good show. The kids loved them.

Little man was sweating (literally) and shaking (literally), but after a few minutes of my hands covering his ears, he just sat watching.

It wasn't as crowded as other places in Raleigh, but the traffic was terrible. It took us about an hour to get home after.

I'm searching everywhere for someone with an outstanding experience so we can refine our plan for next year but haven't found one.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Heat and the 4th

Is anyone else in North Carolina? If you are not, allow me to update you. Its hot. Fry a freakin' egg on the road hot.... And clearly its not just here. My main news source, wral.com, broke it to me yesterday: This Summer is What Global Warming is Like.

No kidding.

With all this warmth and UV rays, how are we supposed to get out and celebrate America's birthday? If its 105 with no clouds in the sky (thank goodness that forecast from a few days ago has changed) how can you even go outside.

Its enough to make me think about skipping out on fireworks this year.

Do we really want to take the kids out into a big crowd? Chase a toddler around, stay out "late" and then deal with the traffic getting home (never mind the drunk people that think they can drive!).

Its enough to make me want to watch on tv from the comfort of my couch. It really is.

But that is probably not what we'll do.

Gardenin'

Last summer I spent a lot of time sharing the ups and downs of gardening. From the squirel attacks to the slow growing veggies and the fall broccoli.

I haven't really updated the crowd on the blog this year, and a few people have asked if we put a garden in.

The answer is yes.
Big Girl right out of the car following swim practice. "Mom! Don't take my picture!"
We've got three varieties of tomatoes, sugar snap peas, blueberries, onions, watermellon, cucumbers and a variety of herbs and seasonings.



We are so excited. Love our garden! More pictures on Instragram. Look for us as RaisedinRaleigh.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Left Behind

We recently returned from vacation to be reunited with our carry-on suitcase. Yep. You read that correctly. About 30 minutes after our South of the Border adventure we were driving down I-95 in the middle of no freakin' where when I had a huge "oh s#!%" moment.

The last suitcase to get zipped up and put in the car didn't get zipped up and put in the car. It was our carry on. For the whole family. It was essentially a survival kit.

In my mind, if the kids and I lost our other bags, it would be rough, but if we had this one bag, we could make it through. Well, at least until we found civilized shopping. That is until we I we forgot the bag.


At first - almost 4 hours from home - hubby said "do we need to go back and get it?" For a second I almost said yes. Then after a little more cussing. And a few more faces and even a, "you need to stop saying that," from him I got my s#!% together and we pulled out of the rural as all getout gas sttion and head on to Charleston.

As he drove I did two things simultanioiusly. I started making a list of everything that was in said missing bag. I also started up the Target ap on my phone. I say started up, because we were in the land of 1x showing where its supposed to say 4G on my phone.

Y'all. I didn't even know that there was still 1x. That is like what happened when I used to walk between the tall buildings on campus in college. "oh man, I think I'm going to go down to 1x from the cool 3x."

That junk loaded my ap sooo freaking slow. I almost lost it. Finally after what was seriously about an hour it said there was a Target at the next exit. Perfect!

Here was the list of everything that was in the bag:
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Juice Boxes - veggie and apple
  • Yogurt puffs
  • Wine 2 bottles
  • Anti nausea medicine – both kids, adults
  • Kids Tylenol, Pepto and pedilax
  • Back pain medicine
  • Denim Skirt
  • Undergarmets - 1 set for each family member
  • Bathing Suits for each kid
  • Markers, Construction paper, Stickers
  • Toys
  • Pacis 
  • Flatiron
  • Camera battery and charger
  • Sunscreen – spray, liquid, aloe
  • Fruit snacks
  • Sippy cup
  • Snack cup
  • Juicebox holder
  • suitcase
  • first aid kit
Then we got out of the car and it was raining. Then we got in Target and they were remodeling the grocery/food section. Then we got to the baby section and they were re-doing it as well. I left Hubby and the kids in toys while I had a mini meltdown.

I'd prepacked and pre-shopped the heck out of my coupons to save money and here were were shopping at the almost in tourist central Target and paying full price for sunscreen.

Ugh!!!

But in the end it really was okay. We replaced almost everything that was in the carry on bag and managed to make do without much of the rest (denim skirt, spare undies, juicebox holder).

And, it was seriously better than if we'd forgotten of lost a suitcase of clothes when we were on ship. Could you imagine a) what you would find to purchase on a cruise ship to dress appropriatly for said vacation for five days or b) how much that junk would cost. Yikes. That would seriously have been worse.

They don't have apple juice on the ship except for at breakfast in one spot. And there were no yougurt puffs or kids veggie juice. Not happening. And the diapers and wipes. I would have needed a second job when we got back if I had to pay $5 for two diapers and three wipes. (Tried to take a picture of this junk but they asked me not to!)

The worst to replace by far was the spare camera battery and charger. They were both cheap themselves, but the shipping to the hotel needed to be overnight to make sure it would get there between Sunday evening when I got to a computer to place an order and Wednesday when we needed to be ready to get on the boat. Over night. $50. Just for the shipping.

You'll thank me when you see the pictures. Really. You will.

PS - Here is one more picture of the bag. Waiting just where we left it when we got home.